TV & Radio
As the show with the most foetuses in jars on television continues, Nelson Mail reporters and bloggers Sarah Dunn and Adam Roberts continue their discussions about the land of Westeros.
Note: Sarah is on holiday this week, so Nelson Mail web editor and Tyrion fanboy Lee Henaghan will be standing in for her.
With last week being all about the gross-outs, this week’s episode was more political and provided some background on some characters. But it started out with some action.
We open with the promised Hound v Brotherhood Without Banners eyepatch man fight, with the flame-loving eyepatch man immediately lighting his sword on fire, and the Hound given a wooden shield.
My first thought was that they probably should have held this fight in a less cramped cavern, as eyepatch guy is a bit of a liability, diving around into spectators etc.
My second thought was that if there’s one thing I’ve learned from years playing video games, it’s that if you bring a wooden shield to a flaming swordfight, you’re gonna have a bad time.
But somehow the Hound prevails, slicing through the other guy’s sword and into his shoulder area, with the requisite gross sound-effects.
But then the eyepatch man comes back to life, saying the Hound will burn in hell, but not today.
I’m not clear on whether these fire obsessed dudes consider burning in hell to be a reward or a punishment, but either way he lost the fight but seems in good spirits.
To be honest, I really like the Hound. I agreed with his decision to cut and run at the end of last season, it fits in with my opinion that the actual Game of Thrones is just a bad scene that you should stay away from.
Meanwhile, with the Wildlings, Gareth from The Office AKA the Warg wants the skinny on the defenses of the Wall.
Jon Snow tells him the castles to watch are Castle Black, Eastwatch by the Sea, and the Shadow Tower – which, from the fornames, I could have probably told him.
J Snow claims he’s not still a crow, but Gareth says we’ll find out soon enough. In the next scene, in fact.
Because, this being Game of Thrones, there’s only one way for him to prove whether he’s loyal.
Ygritte does a bit of flirty-flirty, chasey-chasey into a cave, where she jumps him.
‘‘Let’s not go back,’’ she suggests after they’ve finished getting it on. Yes, exactly! This whole invasion idea sucks, just chill in these hot pools and avoid the snow zombies.
Then there are a few scenes I can’t be bothered going into, one involving the Hound getting released, the other involving Jaime hearing his sister/lover is still alive, and getting an operation to sort out his rotting stump.
One thing I will point out is that the doctor offers him boiling wine and milk of the poppy, which sounds like a recipe for a big night on Bridge St.
Then Tyrion and Olenna, two of the other best characters in the show, have a chat about paying for the wedding.
T wants a chilled-out, get to know one another kinda wedding, but O reminds him of how much the Tyrells have helped, dropping some numbers on T’s little head.
The wedding will distract the peasants from wanting to lynch the royal family, the Tyrells will pay for half, blah blah blah.
Then we see the Lannister boys abruptly murdered by some of Robb’s idiotic underlings. Is that the first actual child murder we’ve seen on the show this season? Probably not.
Poor old Robb is having to deal with some very incompetent staff, all things considered, but he sorts it out with a good old fashioned hanging, killing some of the guys who helped kill the children.
He then beheads the Karstark child killer, in a repeat of his dad’s execution scene from season one, which I’m sure we all remember like it was yesterday. He has been warned that this will make the Karstarks desert his army. I wonder whether that will happen?
Back to Arya, AKA the scowlingest kid in the world, and the Brotherhood sans Banners. She’s going to be given back to her family, but seems pretty annoyed about it.
Turns out the eyepatch man has been brought back to life by the Lord of Light six times, and can’t even remember them all. A neat trick, but I’d be more impressed if he hadn’t died six times. Be a better fighter.
Then we meet Stannis’ wife, I think? She loves fire, shows Stannis her nice collection of foetuses in tanks.
We then meet his deformed child, who asks about the Onion Knight.
Stannis, like the excellent father he is, explains that the Onion Kight won’t be visiting, because he’s a traitor. Sleep tight!
I’ll bet this isolated girl locked in a dungeon will be able to handle hearing that her only friend is a traitor. No worries at all.
Meanwhile, Jaime Lannister’s got his groove back, slightly, hanging out in the hot pools with Brienne, who is somehow more sullen than Arya.
Interesting how Brienne is the only woman who hasn’t been shown naked yet, I wonder why that is?
Anyway, Jaime tells the intense story about how he became the Kingslayer – which, I mean, finally.
Turns out the Mad King wanted him to kill his father and burn everyone, but he didn’t want to, but he just didn’t tell Lord Stark because he felt like he had judged him guilty immediately.
By what right does the wolf judge the lion? he asks. Good question.
Back at Stannis HQ, the Onion Knight is immediately saved by the creepy girl. Just kidding, she brings him a book! He can’t read, silly. She’ll teach him.
And we’re back with Daenerys. As someone pointed out in the comments last week, her new warriors have no food, so I have no idea how they’re going to survive the journey to the war, but whatever. They also have no horses as far as I can see.
We’re introduced to leader Grey Worm, and our girl Dany wants him to choose a new name, but Worm makes a good case for keeping his slave name.
Meanwhile, her old advisoers are talking shop, and the new old guy is telling the old old guy to bugger off so he doesn’t embarrass her. I’m totally with him on this one.
Aaaaand back to Robb, whose forces are now halved and shambolic, just like he had been warned.
He has a bit of a Gregory House ‘‘eureka’’ moment and works out a new plan: to attack Casterly Rock while the Lannisters are absent, but he needs the father of the chick he was supposed to marry to side with him so he can use his army. I feel like that won’t work?
Littlefinger manages to trick Sansa’s love interest Loras into revealing his homosexuality (to the viewer, not Sansa).
He then tries to get Sansa to come with him on his ship, his accent shifting all the while.
She’s not keen, and he gives up almost immediately. That’s why he’s called Littlefinger and not Bigfinger, I guess. Actually, his name is Petyr. All about the names, this episode.
In the final scene, World’s Greatest Dad Tywin Lannister tells Tyrion his jokes are not appreciated, and that he’s going to have to marry Sansa.
‘‘Wed her, bed her and put a child in her,’’ he says.
Tyrion’s not happy, but his sister is, smiling like a maniac until Tywin tells her that she has to marry Loras, turning him into season 3’s Renly.
I feel like the next episode will begin with them at the same table, plotting to kill Tywin. Good luck with that!
If ever one episode encapsulated everything that makes Game of Thrones the hottest show on TV right now, it was last night's instalment.
It had a bit of everything - a sword-clanging battle to the 'death', a healthy portion of scheming and backstabbing, the usual brilliant acting, writing and dialogue, and more boobs and bums than that time I took a wrong turn at Rabbit Island.
Some GoT episodes can take a little while to get going with early scenes used as a build-up to later action, but this was anything but a slow burner, coming flying out of the blocks with a brutal battle between the increasingly hard-to-hate Hound and this one of this season's best new characters, Beric Dondarrion.
As someone who has already devoured the books, I knew which way it was going but it was still thrilling to watch, with some impressive choreography and none of the half-hearted flailing that can sometimes spoil these scenes (Brienne, Jaime, I'm looking at you).
As expected, last week's Jon Snow-free episode meant that the Bastard was back this week, and as always, his bits were the only times the show felt flat. Even the addition of a steamy sex scene with flame-haired temptress Ygritte couldn't make it interesting.
I'm not sure if it's the fact that Kit Harrington's acting range only goes from wood to ham or just that he doesn't have anyone interesting to bounce off but I can't get into the North-of-the-wall stuff, which is weird because it's pretty awesome in the books. If the 'next time on GoT' post-credits teaser is anything to go by though, things are about to get pretty interesting in that neck of the woods.
The Jaime and Brienne double-act has been one of the standout features of season 3 so far, and last night gave them some welcome screen time and plenty of memorable moments. Roose Bolton toying with Jaime, using his love for his sister to mentally torture him was a nice 'TV-only' bonus scene for book fans and the bathtub section (was that a stunt bum for Brienne, by the way?) was just perfectly written, acted and paced.
As well as giving us one of the best lines of the night (''You swore a solemn oath to deliver me in one piece - not doing a very good job of it, are you?'') the Kingslayer's bathtub soliloquy was probably my favourite part of the episode, if not the season.
If last week was all about showing the transformation of Daenerys from meek to merciless, what we saw here was a completely different Jaime to the suave and smarmy knight in shining armour from season 1. The loss of the sword hand that defined him has made him more humble and vulnerable, and his soul-bearing confession to Brienne about how he came to be called Kingslayer challenged everything you previously thought about the character, and reinforced the fact that nobody in this show is entirely good or bad - the lines are always blurred (apart from Joffrey of course, he's just an arsehole to the core).
Another brilliant pairing was Tyrion and Olenna - confirming my suspicions that the writers have decided that Diana Rigg has taken his place as the go-to character for cutting one-liners and sarcastic asides. Seeing her reduce Tyrion, not a man ever known to be short of words, to a speechless, stuttering wreck was great to watch.
It was another trademark GoT scene where words were weapons and the verbal sparring partners traded blows with every line - hopefully there will be a rematch in future episodes as there's a real chemistry between them.
Another combination I can't get enough of is the weekly meeting in the Lannister Family Situation Room - as soon as you see that long table with Tywin at the head you know you're in for a treat.
Charles Dance owns every scene he's in, with the kind of screen presence that makes Jon Snow et al look even more spineless, and he dropped the bomb once again - moving his chess pieces in masterful fashion as he secured the North by pairing Tyrion with Sansa before wiping the smug grin off Cersei's face by setting her up with Lloris. Your move, Tyrells.
I haven't even had a chance to mention Robb Stark taking a leaf out of his dad's book by doing the honourable thing instead of the clever one, Lloris and Poliver making all the anti-gay marriage viewers change the channel in disgust, Davos embarking on the long road to literacy or Littlefinger's creepy scheming and even creepier accent.
Maybe Sarah will touch on those issues when she returns (along with Bran, Sam and Theon, no doubt) next week.