Game of Thrones Season 4 reviews

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“Fuck the King!” | “You’re fine with murdering little boys but thieving is beneath you.”

Please join me in welcoming back one of the things on my “things that make life worthwhile” list, which is increasingly short given the temporary hiatus in Homeland and The Walking Dead (and the end of Breaking Bad).

I’ll be writing a short, sweet ‘flash review’ of GoT episodes as soon as possible (same day if possible). Here’s a few features:

1.       There will be spoilers for the episode, but not the books. Mostly because I can’t be bothered reading 5,000 pages of fiction and certainly not if there isn’t an exam at the end of it. This is why we invented TV (this and good grammar is what separates us from the monkeys).

2.       There will be a power chart (see below), where we track how the players’ power is evolving. [I’ll try to guess ‘potential power’ as well as current power, if that potential is very real.]

3.       There will be a count of “Boobs of Thrones” and “Violence of Thrones”. This isn’t as sinister as it sounds, just keeping track.

Ice to fire
So let’s begin. Tonight’s episode, as expected, was a scene-setter. We didn’t get much in the way of plot development. A few notables:

(a) Arya Stark & ‘The Hound’ reinforce their relationship by slaughtering a small group of Lannister soldiers. Arya gets a nice white horsey out of it. She also manages to get revenge against the killer who took her and her friends to Harrenhall to be tortured. I wonder if Arya is the one who gets vengeance for House Stark?
     I think a lot of people have been waiting for Arya's transformation into a cold-blooded killer - the fact that she's seen her father beheaded and seen what happened to her older brother means she's a bubbling cauldron of rage. With a pointy stick. I can't wait to see her whalin' on Joffrey's stupid little Lannister face. The Hound’s reluctant tutelage can be expected to play wonders, although Maisie Williams’s character knows exactly what The Hound is (see 2nd quote at the top of this post).

(b)   Tyrion and Oberyn Martell – Lannister soldiers getting it in the neck (or hand) left, right and centre! Oberyn, having maimed a poor Lannister soldier, reveals his burning for retribution for his sister Elia’s rape and murder by ‘The Mountain’. Interesting to see how this particular cold war will play out (clearly, there’s no way Martell will actually try to attack Tywin Lannister…right? Right?!). Martell's arrival was highly anticipated by GoT-ers and the 'Red Viper' did not disappoint, showing himself to be quick-tempered, arrogant and violent. Why do I get the feeling he's going to turn out to be incredibly dangerous?

(c)    Tyrion’s relationship with Shae is about to become public knowledge…

(d)   Jon Snow lets Castle Black know about the impending wildling invasion and a few discretions. Sly ol’ Maester Aemon (Targaryen) saves his bacon.

For most TV shows, that would be a lot, but for GoT, it’s below average. We did get to see new faces: medieval hunk Martell (Pedro Pascal) and his sex queen Ellaria Sand, played by the lovely Indira Varma. So far they seem caricatures, although Martell atleast has an agenda. The internet nearly broke when all those lovely women who watch GoT saw Pascal…

But let me even out the stakes…

We also met the GoT cannibals, the Thenn. Some posturing, but nowt special. I was going to list the characters we saw in this episode, but it would be easier to mention whom we didn’t see: Littlefinger, Bran and company, Stannis Baratheon and company, poor ol’ Theon (not sure why he’s around at all) and Varys (I would watch a show entirely based on him). We got screentime with everybody else, like Sansa refusing to eat because her family was butchered (understandable), Joffrey being malicious and stupid (usual), Cersei refusing to have relations with Jaime (better late than never) and a few other subplots.

The Khaleesi/Daenerys Targaryen’s narrative is coming along nicely, although I still don’t buy Emilia Clarke as this woman who’s been through hell but emerged stronger and tougher. I don’t see enough rough edges – she’s a little too ‘cute’. That being said, the character is becoming tougher and has built quite a substantial army. Her defence of the defenceless is a strong story in such a brutal setting. It would be nice to hear more about this in King’s Landing, but I suppose we’ll get intel when Varys returns.

Another thing we didn’t get to see was the White Walkers’ army, which you’d think would be on top of everybody’s minds, given the telegram at the end of last season (was Stannis the only one who got it?).

I’d also like to know just what the hell is going on in the Vale of Arryn – although last we saw Lysa Arryn, she was breastfeeding publicly and seemed to have more or less lost her marbles. And please…more Olenna Tyrell.

Random unanswered questions
(a)    To add insult to previous insults AND injury, Tywin makes 2 swords out of Ned Stark’s          sword, one going to Jaime. For whom is the other? [The sword is called ‘Ice’, I think...'Ice’      is being turned into fire…see what they’ve done there?!]

(b)   Cersei is about to find out about Tyrion and Shae – how will they get out of this one?

(c)    Why is one of the dragons bigger than the others?

(d)   How many times will we get sideboob from Margery Tyrell this season?

(e)   Will Sansa eventually eat, or will she put us all out of our misery and kill herself?

(f)     Not from this episode, but will Bran and Melisandre have some sort of meeting of minds?

g)     What about the White Walkers?

Boobs of thrones: Poor by GoT standards. 3 pairs of boobs and bums and we nearly got some -boy-on-boy action, interrupted by those arrogant Lannister boys.

Margery Tyrell sideboob: zero. Poor start.

Violence of thrones: Ok by GoT standards. A real carnival of shivving between Arya and ‘The Hound’ plus one maimed hand in a brothel.

Only 2 movements: Arya and Jon Snow



"Killing a man at a wedding…what sort of monster would do such a thing?”

A major event that may not be a game changer but changes a lot of lives...forever. We get some character development on the littlest man with the biggest heart. Let me know who you think is the killer in the poll to the right. I have a separate post specifically on The Purple Wedding.

Welcome back (or hello if you're a first-timer). I’ll be writing a short, sweet ‘flash review’ of GoT episodes as soon as possible (same day if possible). Here’s a few features, skip down for the review.

1.       There will be spoilers for the episode, but not the books. Mostly because I can’t be bothered reading 5,000 pages of fiction and certainly not if there isn’t an exam at the end of it. This is why we invented TV (this and good grammar is what separates us from the monkeys).

2.       There will be a power chart (see below), where we track how the players’ power is evolving. [I’ll try to guess ‘potential power’ as well as current power, if that potential is very real.]

3.       There will be a count of “Boobs of Thrones” and “Violence of Thrones”. This isn’t as sinister as it sounds, just keeping track.

Dickhead of the week: Ramsay Snow, for having a servant girl mercilessly eaten by hounds.

How long will it take for Oberyn Martell and Ser Loras to get it on? See poll.

Overall impression of the episode: #comeuppance (I've got a special post just about the Purple Wedding, right after this one). Reasonably strong Westerosian episode, ideologically centred around Joffrey and Tyrion Lannister. Shocking event that rocks Kings Landing ahoy! The message seems to be that all the wrong people get to be happy: the wild, crazed maniac Joffrey gets to be King and have a lavish wedding, Ramsay Snow gets to lord it over the North and Melisandre’s religious insanity gets to rule the roost in Dragonstone. Meanwhile the forces of good must scurry and hide - Tyrion, who saved the Lannisters’ bacon at war and is an all-round decent chappie, must banish his true love to another land and accept barbs about being a dwarf. The good guys get nothing. However, Joffrey gets his comeuppance.

I'll do the wedding scenes first, then chronological review.

The Purple Wedding (from the beginning)
I love the way Olenna Tyrell just swatted aside her son when she was speaking to Tywin. There’s some real power there, although it still pales in comparison to the sheer brutal finesse and ruthlessness of Tywin (he’s still my favourite character in GoT, but not because he’s ‘good’ in any way, but just, well, he’s a badass, but a sensible one at that). Every time I see Olenna Tyrell, I just get this image in my head.

We get some more context when we learn that the Tyrells have financed most of the wedding, which presents a rare chink in the Lannister armour. She also manages to forge some solidarity with the ‘Hostage of King’s Landing’, poor ol’ Sansa.

We get a faintly pointless series of exchanges between Cersei and Brienne (Cersei makes it clear that Jaime belongs to her) and Jaime and Ser Loras (“You’ll never marry her”. “Neither will you”). I get the vague feeling that one of these exchanges might become quite important. Cersei suddenly becomes a good person and protects a fair young maiden from Maester Pycelle’s overactive hands. Whatever. What you can hear, by the way, are strains of “The Bear, the fayre and the maiden fair”.

We get an interesting exchange between Oberyn Martell (“the Red Viper”) and the Lannisters, where, if I’m not somehow mistaken, Martell produced a veiled threat to hurt Myrcella Lannister, who had recently been sent to Dorne:

“People everywhere have their differences…in some places, the highborn frown upon those of low birth. In other places, the rape and murder of children is considered distasteful…but the fortunate thing for you, former Queen Regent, is that your daughter Myrcella has been sent to the latter sort of place.”

Tywin gets a look on his face like he’s just stepped in dog poo in his prize sandals and he doesn’t want his date to know. I also had a thought…is it just me or does nobody swear outside of Westeros? It looks like Westeros is the least civilised of all the territories.

And finally, Joffrey. We’re treated to a last orgy of excruciating humiliation and psychological war heaped by the “mad, idiot King”. He manages to offend almost everyone at his table with his little pantomime piece, so much so that even the usually poker-faced Margery looks like someone slapped her in the face with a trout. Long-suffering Sansa gets a good few digs with Ned Stark and Robb Stark references, as does Renly and his nocturnal proclivities. Absolutely nobody enjoys this.

Tywin manages to keep a sly smile on his face the whole time, which makes me think he had something planned. He couldn’t have enjoyed this car-crash of a demonstration of power by Joffrey, surely?! Then, Joffrey starts on his favourite punchbag, uncle Tyrion. Margery tries her best to rein him in with entreaties to join her in welcoming more guests or eating. But Joffrey isn’t quite as ‘manipulable’ as that, which means Margery spends the whole event like this:

That really says it all. Poor Margery - we thought she was a devious, conniving bitch. Turns out she's OUR devious, conniving bitch. The only hope of keeping Joffrey in line. Oh well.

After a protracted sequence in which Joffrey makes Tyrion his personal servant, this happens.

[Oh my god, Tyrion, why are you ACTUALLY HOLDING THE OFFENDING CUP?! Just run!]
And now the internet will break, as people speculate on the killer.

Let me be the first to say...I'm sorry to see him go. He really brought some spark to the proceedings and history is full of "mad idiot Kings". Although actually, he was King in the same way I’m Kate Winslet from Titanic…not at all. Tywin was clearly King. I’ll tell you what Joffrey was - a very real nuisance, to the level where he could publicly humiliate his uncle and bride-to-be and nobody in the arena would dare to tell him to stop.

All I can think of is Olenna Tyrell’s phrase, earlier: “What sort of monster would do this [kill a man at a wedding]?” All things considered, I can only think of two with both motive and temperament - Olenna Tyrell and Tywin Lannister. My money is on Tywin, but then Olenna Tyrell (a) provided the cake and the food and (b) doesn’t want her granddaughter to marry a tyrant who is already insane before he does any real Kinging. Still, an extremely bold move. Lord Varys has the poison knowledge, whilst Sansa is very long-suffering. Dammit, if only Poirot were around!

I've got a separate post specifically on this topic, but let's see what you think (poll to the right). Those who have read the books and (probably) know the answer, this is not for you!

Rest of the episode

Ramsay Snow, his crazy girlfriend and his dogs chase the young lady. The suggestion is that the lady being hunted allowed Roose to have his way with her, and then had her killed anyway. Such is the life of the unlucky in Westeros. Doing the right thing is irrelevant. And Theon has become thoroughly subservient to the sadistic Ramsay (who surely rivals Joffrey as the nastiest character on the show), which is justice of a way, I suppose, for what Theon did.

Then we get some actual plot and strategy: Bolton needs the Greyjoys in order to claim the North proper (Tywin Lannister has left him to it). Unfortunately, Ramsay’s intransigence may have put paid to that. Another titbit of plot: Theon (or “Reek”) lets slip that Bran and peanut-lover Rickon are still alive, which would rally the North if it broke out. And so Bolton, who returns from an outing with a rather large new Frey wife, has 2 plans: (a) kill Bran and Rickon and (b) capture Moat Cailin, which is all that stands between Bolton and the North. Lord Bolton is not pleased.

"How can I protect the King when I can't even wipe my own arse?"

Next, Tyrion and Jaime had a nice scene, where Tyrion was all “I understand your pain because I’m a dwarf”. Yawn. Jaime gets some male bonding time with every GoT character’s man-crush, Bronn.

Then we finally get to see one of my favourite characters on the show, Lord Varys. This time, however, he hasn’t got any bunnies to pull out of his hat, but lets Tyrion know that Shae’s position with Tyrion (ahem) has been discovered. Varys’s detached insistence that he won’t lie for Tyrion is probably for the best, as sooner or later, somebody will try to kill Shae. Later, Tyrion hears Tywin ask to have her sent to the Tower of the Hand before the wedding, which seals her fate. He’s positively beastly to her and then packs her off to Pentos. Executed by Bronn, as usual. I’m beginning to think Bronn and Tyrion are the only functioning duo on this show.

Off we go to Dragonstone, in which we learn that the religious persecution that Melisandre had initiated is beginning to reach fever pitch, so much so that wives are happy to see their husbands burned, in the name of their god. Ser Davos makes the point to Stannis that his ancestors believed in the same gods as the ones being burned. Stannis doesn’t really care, although he knows it’s all bullshit. He doesn’t care about “the lord taking their souls”. But he HAS come under the sway of Melisandre and her admittedly quite convincing sorcery. Davos, ever a practical man, points out that Florent (Stannis’s brother in law, no less) brought him many men and ships. Stannis still doesn’t care. Will he chip away at his army until there’s nobody left? I can’t imagine Davos sticking around too long, especially as Stannis reminds him he brought even fewer resources to the table than Florent, and look what happened to Florent. Stannis still has the remnants of an intelligent, gathered mind, but is almost hostage to Melisandre’s near-total control of the Dragonstone.
In other news, they’re out of food. Then we have an utterly pointless and boring scene with Stannis’s child and Melisandre. Yawn.

Penultimately, we get to see Bran, who sees some vague images of past seasons, including Ned Stark, his father. He understands that they must go North, for a reason that isn’t entirely clear, although I suspect it has something to do with the White Walkers. On a general note, I know a lot of people are thinking that he may control Daenerys’s dragons, but I’m more interested in why he wants to go North. Is there some hidden technology he could use? “Hodor”, as Hodor would sagely note.

Finally, we’re still waiting to hear from (1) Osha and Rickon (2) Lord Baelish / Littlefinger (3) Jaqen H'ghar and (4) the Vale of Arryn.

To finish you off (hur hur), here’s a look at a real-life Joffrey (sort of):

Elagabalus - “The Roman emperor Elagabalus may have taken power at the tender age of 15, but his four-year reign was anything but innocent…he went on to shock the public with his sexual excesses, which supposedly included cross-dressing, prostitution and a romantic relationship with his chariot driver…already viewed by many in the empire as corrupt, Elagabalus caused yet another scandal when he married a vestal virgin—a class of priestesses who were supposed to remain chaste—and proclaimed their union would produce god-like offspring. His debauched behavior eventually alienated the Praetorian Guard, and in 222 the 18-year-old emperor was assassinated and replaced by his cousin, Alexander Severus.” Thanks to

So there you have it. For every Henry III (King of England, 13th century) or Louis the Child (King of East Francia, 900AD), there is always an Elagabalus. For every Robb Stark, there is a Joffrey Lannister, mentally diseased fruit of two sibling loins.

Boobs of thrones: No nudity at all, although some suggested homosexuality.

Margery Tyrell sideboob: 1, sort of. Poor start.

Violence of thrones: Lots of veiled threats, a few burnings and an epic poisoning.

Biggest movers: Joffrey (down to zero), Tommen Lannister (up 4), Cersei and the Tyrells (down 1).


"Dead men don't need silver!”

A decent episode and bags of fun - some good development but also a couple of weak and pointless storylines. Theme of the week is that weak men must die. Episode included Jaime the raper, the return of Lord Baelish, Daenery's final conquest of slave cities, the education of Tommen Lannister and a lot more.

Welcome back (or hello if you're a first-timer). I’ll be writing a short, sweet ‘flash review’ of GoT episodes as soon as possible (same day if possible). Here’s a few features, skip down for the review.

1.       There will be spoilers for the episode, but not the books. Mostly because I can’t be bothered reading 5,000 pages of fiction and certainly not if there isn’t an exam at the end of it. This is why we invented TV (this and good grammar is what separates us from the monkeys).

2.       There will be a power chart (see below), where we track how the players’ power is evolving. [I’ll try to guess ‘potential power’ as well as current power, if that potential is very real.]

3.       There will be a count of “Boobs of Thrones” and “Violence of Thrones”. This isn’t as sinister as it sounds, just keeping track.

Dickhead of the week: Lord Baelish, for rewarding a man for his caring and hard work with a crossbow  shot (even if that man did lie a bit).

Overall impression of the episode: we now have real momentum and forward movement in plot terms. We got the usual Targaryen show of power (it's just too easy for her, isn't it?), the witchhunt/aftermath of Joffrey's death, a mysterious person trying to frame Tyrion and  lots of obligatory nudity around the Martells. However, the area that hots up the most is perhaps much further North, at Castle Black. The wildling army is almost upon our 'unsullied' watchers and it's 10,000+ against about 100 (including The Blind Targaryen).


1. What happened to the bastard Gendry? Maybe he's in Dorne, where they like bastards.

2. What happened to Theon's sister, Yara? Wasn't she looking for him?

Americans often amuse themselves by telling stories about their heritage, real or apocryphal. Have you heard the one about the difference between "lace-curtain Irish" and "shanty Irish"? No, not "lace curtain Irish came to America in a cabin on a ship, shanty Irish got locked below decks", but "lace curtain move their dirty dishes out of the way before they piss in the kitchen sink". Well, Game of Thrones is NOT lace-curtain. This is why, this week, we were treated to the spectacle of Jaime Lannister, one-handed head of the Kingsguard, raping his sister and mother of his three children next to the murdered body of one of said children.

According to Alex Graves, the Director, this ended as 'consensual' by the end ( This reminds me of Straw Dogs, Sam Peckinpah's 1971 film, which played a rape scene where the victim is shown 'enjoying' it near the end, which was also a play on the victim's husband's impotence subplot. Anyway, I do not approve this message - it didn't move the story on and made me feel slightly queasy, partly because I realised I wasn't that shocked by it. I mean, it's GoT. The other reason why this is immensely problematic is because we were just coming round to Jaime being a decent human being, rather than an swaggering, incestuous dirtbag. We're either meant to infer that this is the result of grief, or simply accept it as Jaime at his worst. It doesn't make sense. Anyway, I'll come back to this later, so we can follow chronologically.

Baelish: "He's a drunk and a fool."

More interestingly, we get to see the aftermath of Joffrey's death from Sansa and Lord Baelish's point of view.  Before I go any further, what the hell has happened to Baelish's voice and accent?! He seems to have gone somewhere from his existing accent to the one he sported in The Wire. As for his voice, it sounds like he's doing an intentionally bad Bond villain! The change from previous seasons is very noticeable.

Anyway, you may remember that as soon as Joffrey was declared dead, Sansa was whisked away by Ser Dentafloss Dontos, which makes me think that Ser knew more than everybody else (although it was clear at that point that Joffrey was dead). So there is a good chance that the next character we saw was involved in this plot: Lord Baelish. I've been told that he has a much more prominent role in the books and the whispering and rumour-mongering campaign led by him is more front-and-centre, while in GoT he's been relatively quiet. Here though, he's in fine form as a ruthless but suave power-player. Anyway, the whole necklace story by Ser Dontos was fabricated - turns out this is Sansa's coming-of-age moment.

Two key scenes about Baelish for me are (1) the Sherlockian game Tyrion played in Season 2 where he told different stories to different characters about the same incident, in confidence, and saw who was snitching: Baelish was the first to snitch (2) Baelish gave Cersei a sermon about how knowledge is power, but then Cersei had her guards point their daggers at him, saying "no, POWER is power". Baelish has always been the outsider with something to prove. He thinks by marrying Lady Sansa (who is less than half his age, and certainly well under 18, but whatever), he may get some shred of respectability (whether he'll actually enjoy that is another matter). I suspect he won't have moral trouble with 'consummating his marriage' with a child, unlike good ol' Tyrion.

Credit: HBO
We then get one of my favourite scenes of the episode, in which Olenna Tyrell tells Margaery how it is, when Margaery frets about her husbands have a habit of biting the dust during or shortly after getting married.

Olenna: "Nonsense, your circumstances have improved markedly. You may not have enjoyed watching him die, but you enjoyed it more than you would've enjoyed being married to him, I promise you that."
Margaery: "But I would've been the Queen!"
Olenna: "Our alliance with the Lannisters is as important to them as it is unpleasant for us. You did wonderful work with Joffrey. The next one will be easier."

I'll let a younger Charles Dance (Tywin) make my feelings clear (
I've said it before and I'll say it again - Olenna Tyrell got game. It's beginning to seem like she definitely had something to do with Joffrey's murder. It's funny how she treats her grandchild as a pawn in her game, a bit like how Tywin uses his children. However, Margaery isn't some innocent fool and almost certainly did not care about Renly or Joffrey.

Then we get to see the most dysfunctional family in the GoT universe - the Lannisters. Furthermore, the death of Joffrey has had devastating consequences: some quietly devastating, and some loudly devastating. For some reason, Tywin starts grooming Tommen to be the next King right next to Joffrey's body, even though it's barely gone cold. Tywin's lack of compassion is quite staggering, but as I've noted, he's a very pragmatic man. Having said this, I find it hard to believe he'd carry on like that right next to the body. A pragmatic man would've had the conversation with Tommen elsewhere, given that Cersei was radiating fury and loathing in the same room. Tywin quizzes Tommen on what makes a good King (I guessed "judgement"...that's the same, right?), and Tommen gets it pretty quickly...for a 12 year old, anyway.

Cersei's eyes suddenly dart towards him, either because she thinks Tywin's getting a grip on him already, or because she thinks he's smarter than Tywin. Or will be eventually. The supreme irony in this would be if Tywin orchestrated Joffrey's murder in order to elevate the more malleable Tommen, just for Tommen to outgrow Tywin and kill him, or worse, give him a crap job. Anyway, it's at this point that some of us must be thinking: where is the bastard Gendry? Wouldn't he be true heir to Robert Baratheon? I wonder if and when we'll find out.

The Hound: "He's weak and will be dead come winter!"

Then we had another weak storyline: Arya, the Hound finding and then robbing a nice father-and-daughter family who give them food and shelter. I wasn't sure what the point of this was - was it to show that she still had some love left for innocent people? I thought we'd established that she was still basically good and so was the Hound, but with considerably rougher edges. Or was it to show that nice people don't last long, like we've been seeing in GoT throughout the last 4 seasons? Yawn.

Tarly: "They all think you're just a wildling!"

Speaking of incest...we catch up with Samwell Tarly, Gilly and inbred baby (handsome though he is). This feels like a completely futile storyline, although they're not annoying as such. Plus it's good to spend some time with ordinary people rather than pretenders to the throne. Anyway, Sam tries to ship Gilly off to a nearby town to protect her, although clearly putting her in the hands of dangerous people.

Stannis: "If I do not press my claim, my claim will be forgotten. I will not become a page in someone else's history book."

Stannis continues to have an epic sense of entitlement, like Daenerys and all the other pretenders. Apparently because one of his ancestors killed the right people, he deserves to be King too. However, his story is quite tragic - it would appear that Stannis's army is all but destroyed, he has very little food and only magic to go on. In fact, I'd be willing to bet the less food they have, the more people believe in magic. Ser Davos has brought him nothing after months of work. And then suddenly, reading about pirates, he gets an idea about how to get some gold, with the Iron Bank of Braavos. It's hard to properly engage with this storyline as it's quite isolated. How does this affect Westeros in any way? Also, why hasn't Melisandre tried something outrageous with her magic? Killed Tywin, perhaps?

Then we get a pointless nudie scene with the Martells, where Oberyn says something like "make sure you've had as much sex as possible by the time your body gets saggy". Real sage advice. Tywin then bursts in and basically accuses Martell of trying to kill Joffrey.

In amongst all this is the implication that Tywin doesn't think Tyrion didn't kill Joffrey and so is on the hunt. If it's not Tywin himself, I suspect he'll make sure the killer is captured - not because he cared about Joffrey, of course, but because they cannot be seen to allow a Lannister-killer to live free...a Lannister always pays his debts. Then we get a war crimes allegory about soldiers committing rape and murder during war, without their superiors' knowledge. Oberyn wants revenge for his sister Elia's rape and murder by The Mountain, one of the most unpleasant characters in GoT ( Tywin offers Oberyn a position on the small council, which will allow us to see Oberyn as a character rather than just a wild sexual creature. In return for Oberyn sitting in on the trial and the small Council, Tywin will provide an audience with The Mountain, although how that will end in anything other than the Mountain's death is a mystery to me. The Red Viper does not make empty threats (he hasn't actually made one yet but he will). I suspect Tywin will come to regret all this, although he has managed to give the trial legitimacy by having an outsider sit on it.

Tyrion: "I will not have you die on my behalf!"
Tyrion's storyline has suddenly come to a halt, understandably on account of his incarceration. Fortunately, he might be able to call upon Jaime, who cannot seriously believe Tyrion was behind this, particularly after their cute little bonding session over food and Bronn, in episode 2. Also, Oberyn sitting in on the trial surely improves Tyrion's chances. Oberyn is temperamental and angry, but he's a man with a code, unlike Tywin or Baelish. Tyrion is ultimately the key to Kings Landing and so it's important for GoT to keep him reasonably safe. Killing him off would be a huge mistake, in my opinion. The death of Robb Stark nobbled the narrative in the North, but this would be worse. However, there's another dark cloud - some mysterious man has been trying to isolate Tyrion through Podrick. Stay tuned.

We get a brief scene showing some real brutality from Ygritte and the rest of the wildlings. Just when we'd come to like Ygritte, she goes and shows her true wildling colours! She must be angrier still, given Jon Snow's betrayal.

"Thought you'd have blue eyes by now"

The Northern story just got interesting - a set of mutinying Brothers of the Night's Watch know how many Brothers are at Castle Black and if Mance Rayder finds out, Castle Black will be laid to waste. It's interesting to note how events at Craster's Keep are coming back to haunt Castle Black. On another note, I'm amazed there's no more word on the White Walkers.

Finally, we come to that Targaryen girl in the East. Although it's bags of fun, this segment of GoT is also slightly troubling, for many reasons. And I'm not even going to go into why the slaves are dark skinned and the leaders white and blonde (e.g. Jorah and Daenerys). But anyway, all I could think of in Daenerys scene is "she should have been the one to take a piss". I didn't understand why she made that long speech when all she really needed to say was:

Credit: HBO. And me.
Ok, so she has dragons and liberates slaves. Something's not right - how can a decent human being prosper in Game of Thrones? In my humble opinion, this part of GoT is the weakest because it's basically wish fulfilment - she's good but doesn't pay for it and she does what she wants, when she wants. Her narrative so far has basically been "some hardship, naive ambition, dragons, nomads taking over slave cities". The narrative is quite stop-start with little character and plot development. We know that her army will be strongly loyal and not just working for her for money, but because she liberated them. This is some character development but simply doesn't give us the kind of depth that we get with the Westerosians. Admittedly, most of Westeros's characters are rooted to their kingdoms and so their rhythm is different, while Daenerys is building her kingdom and running a lot of shoe leather in doing so.

She has a motley crew of exiles, ex-slaves and of course, dragons. Unlike those in Kings Landing, she hasn't had to make any hard choices recently, although she hasn't had what we'd consider an easy life. Therefore, there's less to discuss with her, except how cool she is. Daenerys is an internet sensation and a fan favourite. I think of her as a counterbalance to the depravity and pessimism of Westeros, where all good men die and bad men rule. Interestingly, she calls herself "Stormborn", not "Targaryen". Let us remember why:

"No squall could frighten Dany, though. Daenerys Stormborn, she was called, for she had come howling into the world on distant Dragonstone as the greatest storm in the memory of Westeros howled outside, a storm so fierce that it ripped gargoyles from the castle walls and smashed her father’s fleet to kindling."
-A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords.

Let us remember what Jorah said about her:

"You have a good claim: a title, a birthright. But you have something more than that: you may cover it up and deny it, but you have a gentle heart. You would be not only respected and feared, you would be loved. Someone who can rule and should rule. Centuries come and go without a person like that coming into the world. There are times that I look at you, and I still can't believe you're real."

Aww! So he was a little bit heartbroken when upon seeing Meerenden's pissing contest, Daenerys declines his offer:

Anyway, with that, we've got things set up nicely for the next in these stories, although this won't happen till atleast episode 5 or 7. We've got a conflict at Castle Black, Daenerys finally forming what must be a fairly large army by now, Ser Davos's genius plan to get Stannis back in the game and much, much more. Plus surely a major face-off between Oberyn Martell and The Mountain!


Boobs of thrones: 3 pairs of boobs, 1 pair of nackers and untold amounts of bum.

Margery Tyrell sideboob: Still at 1.

Violence of thrones: 8/10. A knife in the mouth of a horse, a slashing of a Meerenden 'champion', a beating of an innocent and weak father and a crossbow at point-blank range on the seas for a former Knight. Phew.

Big 'up' movers: Daenerys (0.5), Sansa (1) and Tommen (2) & Martells (2).



"I will answer injustice with justice!” | "I’ll call it Oathkeeper”

A decent episode that laid the groundwork for fireworks later in the story. Themes of the week are (1) what justice means to different characters and, duh, (2) the keeping of oaths. Lord Baelish’s new Irish accent is coming along nicely, while Cersei seems to have forgotten all about her, um, disagreement with Jaime in the previous episode, Tommen gets to feel the full force of Margaery and Daenerys spills some blood.

Welcome back (or hello if you're a first-timer). I’ll be writing a short, sweet ‘flash review’ of GoT episodes as soon as possible (same day if possible). Let’s go!

Dorky name of the week: “Ser Pounce”, Tommen’s cat. That boy has so much to learn from Margaery.

Main plot movements:
Locke infiltrating Night’s Watch – this is potentially very serious, since we’re being set up for a major fall even if Jon manages to find Bran. Particularly dangerous if House Stark is to be rebuilt by Bran (Arya and Sansa seem a bit less equipped to do this in terms of temperament…for now). On the other hand, could Locke turn good upon seeing Jon Snow’s own benevolent nature?
Bran being captured by bad boys of Night’s Watch (Craster’s Keep edition) – Bran again. I wouldn’t put it beyond Game of Thrones to kill a crippled young boy who is one of the very small number of truly good people on the show. We deserve to see his powers wreak havoc on the Lannisters and the Freys.
Daenerys winning Meereen – seems like the conquest era is over and the governing era is beginning. Will she be as good at ruling as she is at winning? Remember Tywin’s words from episode 3, describing Robert Baratheon’s particular brand of failure: “…a King who thought winning and ruling are the same thing”.
Baelish+Sansa and Arya+Hound heading for the Vale of Arryn + Brienne (and Pod) set off looking for Sansa – there is the potential for all these characters to meet in the Vale, and this being GoT, I'm scared for them...

How and why did the slaves in Meereen write in English (“the common tongue”) on the walls?
Why does Cersei only seem slightly miffed at being raped by Jaime?
What exactly do the White Walkers want?

Game of Thrones draws in a lot of people who just want to see zombies or dragons, and ultimately that’s what goes on the ads. But I get the feeling that the show’s heart is really only in the human and political stories (particularly in Kings Landing), which although full of detestable characters, is painted with more care and colour than the rest of Westeros and Essos. This week, we saw a parable about how people care about keeping their promises and what happens when they don’t. Robb Stark didn’t keep his promise about marrying Walder Frey’s (ugly) daughter and paid for it with his life – not a result that seems proportional to the crime, but remember: in this game, you win or you die. Brienne made an oath to Catelyn, although for the above reason, Catelyn ended up dead. Jaime promised to return Sansa when he got back. Podrick swore an oath to Tyrion and turned down a Knighthood for it. Jon Snow swore an oath to the Night’s Watch and must now defend its existence…basically, a whole lot of oath-swearing going on.

[Imagine if Robb hadn’t broken his ‘oath’ to marry the Frey girl…Frey would never have turned against him for Tywin Lannister. With Robb Stark alive, House Stark would probably have wiped the floor with Tywin Lannister, even if the wily old dog would’ve found new ways to fight back. What this shows us is that events in GoT seem to turn on decisions that initially seem small, although in reality they form part of a big picture. A classic example of this are illegitimate offspring, produced by one night of passion, e.g. Gendry, the bastard who would be King.]

Anyway, on to the episode: we started off with the Targaryen girl. We finally get a more nuanced view of her world, which we've missed since the early days when she had nothing. We get to hear Grey Worm and Missandei's history. Then we get the usual Daenerys-taking-over-a-slave-city story but this time ending with an unusually vicious attempt at justice. Then we get back to more of Daenerys looking fabulous and pouting and posing on top of a building. Still kicking arse. Still no dragons though (are they on holiday or has GoT blown its special effects budget?!).

It's at this point that a potential Queen might stop to think whether it really is worth going all the way to the uncivilised lands of Westeros, when she has a great army, a loving people and (as someone pointed out to me recently) lots of hot dudes in her entourage. In fact, the charm of Valyria and the remains of the old Ghiscari Empire leave her with a lot to play with - she could build rebuild the old Valyrian empire. WHat's more, she could do it her way, without slaves [she's been quite lucky that all the people she's freed have wanted to work for her and none of them yelled "FREEEEEDOM!" as they flew out the door]. But no. Instead, she wants to 'reclaim' what is “rightfully” hers - for the simple reason that her father sat on the throne at some point...never mind that other people sat on that throne before and after, somehow it just belongs to the Targaryens. But no, Westeros it is, no matter how many slaveowners have to be crucified. As Cersei Lannister noted once, "Half the Targaryens went mad didn't they?... What's the saying? 'Every time a Targaryen is born the gods flip a coin'." Cersei would know about madness.

"You gonna fight for him now?"
Meanwhile in Westeros, we’re seeing more of Jaime, whose character arc is completely barmy. He went from Kingslayer to incestuous, preening bumhole to  Bran-crippler to desperate captive of the Starks to buddy-caper guy with Brienne to own-sister-rapist to possible saviour of Tyrion. It looks like Tyrion finally has an ally with some real power (Bronn is sort of useless outside a fight).

In our Bronn/Jaime bromance, Bronn essentially guilts Jaime into going to see Tyrion and performing the role of 'knight in shining armour'. By the way, remember Bronn's line from earlier in the season about becoming a Knight by "killing the right people"? Well, with Jaime, he's face to face with a man who killed a King, which surely ranks at the very top of that game. GoT is full of little parallels like this, which serve to add to the richness of the story. It's hard to imagine that Jaime is the same man who is responsible for Bran not being able to walk (although was the fall what helped him become a warg?). In some cruel irony, Jaime crippled Bran and is now a "cripple" himself (in his own words). Now that this particular inequity has been evened out, Jaime is suddenly a good man with a mean streak. 

Podrick looks forward to 'squiring' Brienne.
"What're you waitin' for, a kiss?!"
In developments that could have potentially significant repercussions, Podrick and Brienne are off to go looking for Sansa, as per Jaime's promise to Catelyn. By the way, did you see the look on Podrick's face? I can't imagine what it is he thinks he'll be doing with Brienne on their odyssey. Anyway, Jaime remains one of the few game-changing characters in GoT because if the game in Kings Landing was to change dramatically, he seems best placed for it - a Lannister, on the inside, with a big heart and a bigger reputation. I think his story will be most interesting. Anyway, like Tyrion, he had to ship his true love off for reasons bigger than them both - in this case, to go find and protect Sansa and because Cersei is gunning for Brienne. On another note, Cersei doesn't seem too upset about her rape. I think this storyline is a misstep for the show, as it's not clear that (a) they understand that we all thought it was a rape and (b) it's not acceptable for Jaime and Cersei to just go back to normal after that. Even GoT doesn't get away with that.

“You don’t think I’d let you marry that beast, do you?”
Speaking of Cersei and Jaime, we finally get told (not shown, mind) who killed their son. Olenna 'fesses up to having Joffrey killed, casually throwing in a reference to Margaery’s necklace as well. My detective work had thrown her at the top of the table so perhaps I should be gloating…but actually, it feels odd, because this explosive fact is revealed almost as an afterthought (a lot of people will say they'd guessed, but the players in the GoT still have no idea). I was expecting scenes of commoners talking about the King’s death (nope), main characters speculating on whom it may be (not really) or Tywin doing a tour of KL trying to find out (nope, although we got some last week). 

We also get an obligatory Margaery-and-Olenna-Tyrrell-in-the-garden (your city is called Highgarden, ok, we get it) scene. Lady Olenna also recounts a bawdy tale about her pre-marital sexscapade with Luthor Tyrell, although I’m having trouble understanding what exactly went on between them such that Luthor was the one having trouble walking the next day. My head’s saying “don’t go there” but my heart is saying “hmm?!”… 

Olenna Tyrell: "He couldn't walk for days afterwards"
“I’m Brandon Stark of Winterfell!”
The Starks just couldn't BUY themselves any luck, could they? Bran stumbles upon the crazed former-Brothers of the Night’s Watch and is basically captive along with his entourage. After last week’s strange rape-that-was-meant-to-be-somewhat-consensual, we have an orgy of rape again, and I’m told this was not in the books. HBO appears to have a contractual boobiness quota and is sure as hell trying to meet it. Craster’s Keep has a new resident psychopath - Karl Tanner, an utterly insane former Brother, drinking from Mormont’s skull who, let's be honest, couldn't give less of a damn about anyone or anything.

Also up North, we get Jon's plan to get to Craster's Keep and subdue the mutineers (before they give away any info about Castle Black) is in motion, but with Roose Bolton's henchman Locke in tow. The internal politics of Castle Black mean that Jon Snow is safe for now because of his popularity, but Ser Alliser is trying to find a way to get rid of him. We'll find out if Jon Snow really does know nothing on the trip to Craster's Keep.

Playing with the big girls now.
Then we get a short sequence with the White Walkers converting more babies into WWs in order to…bolster their baby army?! Not much to say here for now, except the visuals were mediocre, with the borrowing of some lo-fi Walking Dead extra.


In amongst all this, we also have some nonsense from Baelish about not having a motive and so being safe from being discovered. His only chance of safety is to hole up in the Vale, methinks. We also have Margaery nearly getting Tommen to soil his pants, whilst stroking Ser Pounce the cat (as if this show lacked symbolism). Overall a reasonably good episode but not enough plot movement for my liking. Next week I suspect we’ll be back with Arya, Theon, Tywin, Stanns and Ygritte.



Boobs of thrones: Unpleasant scenes in Craster's Keep with non-consensual nudity.

Violence of thrones: 8/10. No-one dies in Westeros but plenty of torture and crucifixion across the Narrow Sea.

Up movers: Tyrion and Daenerys



"Did ya learn to fight in a castle?!” | “He could be the first man in 50 years to sit on that throne and deserve it.”

Tommen gets his King on, Lady Arryn gets her kink on, Jon Snow gets his kill on and Arya gets, er, stomped on. Karl has a severe case of swordmouth. A couple of big events but otherwise another building block of an episode. Themes of the week are (a) the lives of Westeros’s women and (b) fighting dirty vs “waterdancing”. Plus a screwball theory from me about Daenerys Targaryen and Oberyn Martell joining forces (again, I haven’t read the books).

Name of the week: the Vale of Arryn’s “Bloody Gate” – the name says it all. Thou shalt not pass.

Pet theory: Martells + Targaryen link-up
I’m always fond of imagining the links between different members of GoT. Like what would happen if/when Daenerys met Aemon Targaryen (Night’s Watch)? He happens to be her grand uncle. However, that link-up doesn’t seem to have the firepower to change things. What does, however, is the link between Oberyn Martell and Daenerys Targaryen. Step forward Elia Targaryen née Martell…actually, she can’t, because the Mountain raped and killed her during Robert’s Rebellion. Oberyn has since been baying for Lannister blood. As she was a Targaryen, I can’t imagine Daenerys looking kindly upon that either. I know the Targaryens originally had some bad blood with the Martells, but the marriage should’ve ended that.

What if, just maybe, Daenerys assured him use of her army and dragons in return for some choice assassinations? Like, say, Tywin Lannister? Remember that the Red Viper is a master of poisons and he could surely do this. The only thing standing in his way would be the repercussions. But with Daenerys, her unsullied and dragons on his side, Oberyn would have all the courage and protection he needed (not that he’s particularly short of chutzpah anyway). He could be the Walder Frey in this Red Wedding, with Daenerys in Tywin’s role and Tywin in the Robb Stark role. Remember, you read it here first.

Main plot movements:
Lord Baelish – we discover that he is responsible for the act that really set off the entire story in the Game of Thrones.
Kings Landing/the Lannisters are close to being bust – Kings Landing and Casterly Rock have what you could call a cashflow problem, in that they have to keep paying interest but aren’t finding any new gold (or whatever it is they mine).
Daenerys putting Westeros-conquesting on hold – her previous conquests are sliding back into despotism and butchery, so she’s going back, to SORT IT OUT.
Night’s Watch + Jon Snow – Jon Snow is reunited with Ghost! Yes!! Also, the good guys have found the mutineers at Craster’s and butchered them all. Such heroes. Wait, who’s guarding Castle Black?
Bran et al – they’re free. And yeah, their scenes are still trippy and warg-y. Also, Locke + Hodor/Bran = broken neck for somebody.

We’re still yet to see: Gendry, Osha/Rickon and Yara.
Why does Lysa wail like a banshee during sexytime?!
Why exactly did Baelish have Jon Arryn murdered?

It’s easy to caricature Game of Thrones (“GoT”) as torture-porn in a literal and figurative sense: the good guys keep getting deper and deeper into trouble while the bad guys rule. The good guy list was: Tyrion (jailed for a crime he didn’t commit), Ned & Robb Stark (dead), Jon Snow (getting there but with difficulty), Daenerys (doing fine) and Ser Davos (jailed but now free). Then look at the bad guys: Lannisters (ruling the roost), Freys and Boltons (controlling the North), Baelish (holed up in an impenetrable fortress with a Stark and an Arryn) and so on. So it was odd to see a typical deus ex machine moment when Jon Snow’s men declared battle at Craster’s Keep just as Karl was about to “hurt” a young girl in the way Cersei alluded to earlier. Sometimes, people deserve to have their faith rewarded (guess where that’s from), particularly if they’ve sat through 3.5 seasons of unfair butchery of good guys. Anyway, let’s get stuck in.

“He could be the first man in 50 years to sit on that throne and deserve it.”

Cersei and Margaery – are we seeing an alliance? Compromise? What I do like about Margaery is her consummate professionalism. Because that’s what she is, a true pro. We very rarely see her true self, almost everything she’s said has been so disciplined and calm. It’s quite scary – she has a considerably cooler head than anyone in Kings Landing (relative to her duties, anyway).
On another note, we have another child king. Every time I hear “long may he reign”, I think…Joffrey died without doing even a couple of years!

Across the narrow sea

“I will not let those I have freed slide back into chains”

We get to see what seems to count as a strategy meeting with the Khaleesi, where she gets update with Westeros events. She seemed only somewhat interested to hear of Joffrey’s death, but more interestingly we heard some calculus of what she has to play with: about 10,000 soldiers (8,000 unsullied, 2,000 2nd sons) and 93 ships (which can hold 100 each). Oh, and 2 dragons, although nobody seems to talk about them anymore. 

Ser Barristan and Daario Naharis sound like they want to invade Kings Landing now, but Jorah as usual is the real voice of reason, making the point that 10,000 soldiers might take KL but is nowhere near enough to take Westeros or defend KL against the Lannisters’ allies. However, Ser Barristan makes the good point that the other houses will side with whoever they think will win. Remember, dragons. Dragons will win. So all in all an impromptu invasion of Westeros doesn’t sound too bad, but again Ser Jorah makes a good point: the slaves liberated by Daenerys have become, er, unliberated. And some madcap pretender has made himself emperor in Astapor.

The look on Daenerys’s face when she turns away was tremendous: at once “tired of this shit, I wanna kill more slavers” and “dammit, I’m gonna have to be good, aren’t I?”. One of my biggest criticisms of this storyline is that, well, it’s not a storyline. It’s jujst one roaring success after another and acts as the antidote to the politics-heavy climate of Westeros, as Daenerys doesn’t need to compromise or play politics. She has dragons, in an age when nobody alive has seen a dragon. However, her storyline does have the only feelgood factor to it, so that’s something. Anyway, Ser Jorah looks pleased to have maintained his “closest advisor” role. Here’s hoping that Daenerys will stay in and take over Essos and leave that shitpile Westeros well behind. About time we saw her get down to the dirty business of ruling rather than simply winning.

Lord Baelish, Lysa Arryn & Sansa

Thanks for oversharing (Lysa Arryn as we remember her).
“Know your strengths, use them wisely and 1 man can be worth 10,000”
Right off the bat we should mention the significance of Lysa admitting she killed her husband John, for Petyr. You know what this means, don’t you? This, right here, is the steaming pile of extramarital turd that kickstarted everything in the Game of Thrones. Cast your minds back to season 1 – why did Ned Stark come to Kings Landing? Robert Baratheon was suspicious about John of Arryn’s death and wanted Ned, a man of Stark-integrity (and note how naturally his head rolls across the floor) to investigate. Turns out it was all orchestrated by Lord Baelish, and definitely NOT because he wanted to schtup Lysa into next week (those sounds will never leave Sansa’s head). It turns out, then, Lord Baelish is a considerably more deadly character than I gave him credit for…not only did he kill the Hand of the King, but also a King. For all of Tywin’s ruthlessness, Tyrion’s intellectual firepower and Robb Stark’s sheer Starkness, Lord Baelish was the one spinning the top in his hand. Simply staggering. Good ol’ GoT. Anyway, despite all that, Baelish has the look of a man who thinks he might’ve made a mistake.

Later, we get a girl-talk between Sansa and Lysa, culminating in a harrowing cross-examination (or “mindfuck” if you prefer) of Sansa by Lysa, particularly in relation to what Petyr may have done with Sansa. A recurring theme in the episode is the sad comment that a lot of a lady’s worth in those times was measured by what was between her legs. Anyway, Sansa perks up slightly when Lysa tells her she’ll be the Lady of the Vale…if she marries Robin, Lysa’s son (who is also a little off-kilter, mind).

Tywin & Cersei

Cersei doesn’t want to get married to the flower Knight (or whatever Ser Loras is called), in the same way Baelish doesn’t really want to get married to the Lady of Arryn. However, Cersei’s reason is considerably more legitimate (Ser Loras being a “pillow-biter” and all). Also, only a fortnight for the mourning of Joffrey? The Lannisters really are ruthless. Allow me to direct you to some choice lines from Tywin:

On Margaery and Tommen’s forthcoming wedding: [there should be] “…no 77 course meals”.
On Robert Baratheon: He used to pat me on the back a lot. I didn’t trust him.”
On the Iron Bank of Braavos: “You can’t run from them…cheat them…sway them with excuses…”.
Tywin lets us in on some of the financial and industrial matters in Westeros: the mines aren’t producing any more mineral and the Lannisters owe a lot to the Iron Bank of Braavos. In season 1 we discovered that the crown itself owes half its debt to the Lannisters. So ultimately it all ends in a bank – what a surprise. Anyway, Tywin’s matchmaking is all a ploy to ensure that Lannister debt becomes Tyrell debt, and apparently, they’re quite rich.

As for the Iron Bank, this is the second time we’ve heard about them, the first being Ser Davos’s cunning plan (whatever it is). The Lannister empire seems to be built on debt, and Lannisters always repay their debts (whilst creating new ones). It was odd hearing Tywin sound quite resigned when talking about the Iron Bank, as a force that he cannot bend to his will. Normally, his hunger, killer instinct and pragmatism seem boundless, but here he was highly respectful, almost afraid of them. What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Why, this Iron Bank reminds me of the single greatest force mankind has ever known – the international bond markets. They can bring entire countries to their knees in a matter of days, in a way that the US, China or the UN can’t even dream of. Anyway. I wonder if this will have any interaction with Ser Davos’s plan, whatever it is…

Hound and Arya
We’ve heard about how ruthless the Braavosi are about chasing down debt, another talent seems to be poncy fighting. The Hound makes a number of references to them being greasy with a gratuitous use of the c-word. Anyway, it’s a bit difficult to place these scenes anywhere except “coming of age”. Arya learns to fight for real rather than waterdancing and, basically, the truth of the pudding is in the eating: if you live and your enemy dies, your enemy probably isn’t the greatest fighter ever. Speaking of the greatest fighter in Westeros…

Oberyn Martell & Cersei
“What good is power if you can’t protect the ones you love?”

This is a purely dramatic segment, as Cersei gets to talk about the human tragedy of it all. Oh, and she gets to tug on Oberyn’s children-loving-heartstrings, as she knows he’s on the panel to judge Tyrion. Clever little fox. We get to hear about Myrcella for the first time in a while, as she’s now a ward of the Tyrells. The only other ward we know of is Theon, and he turned out ok, right?! The theme of women and their bodies continues here, as Oberyn assures Cersei that Dorne is nice to children, but Cersei replies: “Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls”. Powerful stuff, particularly speaking to war crimes and rape in particular (remember Elia and The Mountain). Cersei’s mother died when she was four, so she’s felt loss personally. These two actually seem like an appropriate couple, unlike…

Brienne of Tarth and Podrick
We get some great buddy comedy and then a typical Game of Thrones revelation, from way back when: Podrick tells Brienne that he had to kill a Kingsguard in order to protect Tyrion. Now Brienne knows someone in power tried to kill Tyrion and eventually everyone will know. One thing about Westeros: no secrets ever get buried forever.

The North

“I saw you die tonight…I saw your body burn…I saw the snow fall and bury your bones”
My, 2 consecutive episodes in the North, Messrs Benioff and Weiss really are spoiling us! So, a lot happened here. We saw more vague but portentous future for Bran, with a red tree that looked like it belonged in some sort of 18th century painting rather than GoT. I won’t speculate on this in depth but I suspect it may be related to the arrival of the Andals in Westeros. Or perhaps related to dragonglass, which they’ll use to fight the White Walkers?

Oh, excuse me. Sorry about this...
Craster’s Keep continues its licentious ways, with Karl getting ready to do some nasty things with Bran’s friends. However, for some reason, the time shift between Jon Snow saying “we move at sundown” and Karl’s scene seemed to have a time gap in between them, which seemed odd if not quite ‘wrong’. Anyway, we get a “just in the nick of time” intervention and Bran et al get away. We get literally a few feet away from the first reunion of two Starks for a long time, but in typical GoT fashion, we don’t get it. Apparently, we haven’t earned it yet – this would be a potentially significant moment. Also, Locke’s story ends abruptly, at the hands of Hodor. Atleast Jon Snow and Ghost get reunited! A special moment.

Jon Snow seems to suffer from the same problem as Arya in that he tries to fight pretty, while Karl fights pragmatically (a bit like Bronn, you might say). Anyway, help from a Craster widow saves his bacon. The motif of women, their bodies and their freedom comes along again as the women decide to take their chances on the road rather than go back to Castle Black (100 men and about 15 women? No chance). GoT seems to loosely model a medieval Europe, where women were traded, raped and used as commodities, and although it’s been shunted to the edges, it pops up every now and again. Like Lysa’s disgust at what the women do with their bodies at Littlefinger’s brothels. The women at the brothel seem relatively empowered. While the ones at Craster’s Keep have literally been used as objects, but ultimately the result is the same for all of them. Do you remember Roz? Remember how she died? In GoT, the tragedy isn’t always about swords and sandals.


Boobs of thrones: None.

Violence of thrones: 8/10. Massacre at Craster's and a case of swordmouth.

Biggest movers: ran from 0 to 3, Daenerys from 7 to 7.5 and Vale of Arryn from 3 to 4.5.


Unbowed, unbent, unbroken



Game of Thrones bounces back from a couple of mediocre episodes with a rip-roaring and thrilling entry with a gigantic amount of intrigue, dragons and boobies. We get Law and Order: Westeros edition. Why do y’all think Shae is testifying against Tyrion? Oh, and where the hell is Bronn?! Davos in Braavos: Stannis has a meeting with his bank manager, who happens to be Mycroft Holmes. Who knew. Also, poor old Theon…there are no lessons to be learned here, just more cruelty. Themes of the week are (a) second sons/daughters (b) surviving captivity and (c) more Freudian stuff about phalluses. P.S. I would watch a show entirely made up of Salladhor Saan and Ser Davos on a stag do.

A couple of graphs first:

Stannis and co. leap above the Starks, as they can now feed themselves, atleast. Tyrion falls.

Shame, Stannis. Well, it's a start, anyway.

Architecture of the week: Braavos, who else? Even Game of Thrones’s bankers live like Kings. Real Kings.

1.       Where the hell is Bronn?!
2.       How did the Crown find Shae?
3.       Why is Shae doing this?
4.       Who gave Maester Pycelle the necklace?

Main plot movements:
Stannis Baratheon and Ser Davos – following a meeting with his bank manager, Stannis gets the loan he wants. All thanks to a Jerry Maguire moment by the Onion Knight, who was just one line away from “so who’s with me?!”
Tyrion Lannister – following a sham trial, there will be trial by combat. Oh, and Shae’s back.
Daenerys finding it hard to rule – she realises not all the masters she crucified were bad, which makes her bad. She clearly does not have an eye for detail, which should probably be left to Barristan and Jorah.
Tywin focusing on Daenerys – we see the small council discuss Daenerys at length, with Tywin attempting to place spies in Meereen. What does he have in store for her? Please no.
The Greyjoys – Ramsay Snow wants Theon to infiltrate the Iron Islands, following an aborted attempt by Yara to rescue him.

All in all, this episode was an absolute humdinger for me and clearly the best of the season. We’ve had a few scene-setters and it’s about time we got some payoff. Patient journeys and character-building by the storylines of Arya+Hound, Lord Baelish+Sansa, Bran et al and so on mean we have enough to go on. My favourite this week was probably the Tyrion storyline, which culminated in a fire and guts mini-speech by Tyrion at the sheer ruthless efficiency with which society has connived against him for decades.

So, themes of the week: the continuing theme of GoT this season: second children. This includes Tommen, Stannis, Daenerys and Tyrion. It's almost as though the crown is so heavy that it destroys first children and in reality it's the second children who get to enjoy the fruits. Joffrey had to go through the Battle of Blackwater Bay in order to stay King (although he barely shed a bead of sweat) and now Tommen gets to enjoy the unfettered power of the Lannisters. I'm sure there's a theme of wanting to prove themselves as better than the first children too. In almost every case, the older child was a cancer: Joffrey was a psychopath, Viserys an impudent social climber and Jaime a rapist. Robert gets a pass.

We've talked about this often so instead we'll focus on another recurring theme: I could’ve sworn it was centred around the consequences of a society that raises the ownership and use of a penis as justification for all sorts of actions, including war. Take, for instance, claims to the throne by Stannis Baratheon and Daenerys Targaryen, for the simple reason that they happen to have occurred from an egg fertilised by a sperm belonging to a certain man (in the case of Stannis, because he is also the son of Steffon Baratheon and in the case of Daenerys because she is the daughter of Aerys Targaryen). There is literally nothing connecting Daenerys to Westeros apart from her lineage, but she seems to think that is enough for her to walk around claiming the throne. Ultimately, it is the best combination of accumulation and use of power that will decide who sits on the throne, rather than whose daddy sat on the throne at some point.

Also take for instance, the fact that we saw Varys and Theon in the same episode, both of whom are conspicuously sans phallus. In Theon, we have someone who has lost all sense of self without a penis and refused to even be rescued by his own sister, and in Varys, a self-possessed man who revels in it and finds the empty space leaves more space for thought. Note how Stannis’s ship had to go between the legs of a gigantic statue.

Also let me say again how sad I am to lose Olenna Tyrell. I was hoping she would bring Tywin down a peg or two, although that job now belongs to Oberyn Martell. This episode, Oberyn was mostly an observer, but it’s already clear that Tywin respects Oberyn’s threat immensely. In fact, there is a hint of something more than respect in the way Tywin refers to Oberyn. Hmm, it smells a bit like…fear. The kind of fear a lion, who despite being King of all he surveys, knows that a well-prepared wolf could take him in a dark, dirty corner.

Oberyn: "Most of us live and die in the same corner and never get to see it"
Tywin would only have given Oberyn this position if he thought he could be reasonably controlled, although Tywin wasn’t entirely able to control Joffrey. Hell, Joffrey wasn’t able to control Joffrey! While Joffrey was a tremendously malevolent force, Oberyn is a different matter entirely: a man who can be passionate, thinks with his penis (drink!) but also with his head and the human equivalent of the Iron Bank: he cannot be blackmailed, threatened or cajoled. Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. As I’ve said previously, I think Tywin will come to regret appointing Oberyn to Kings Landing.

“He doesn’t just talk about paying people back, he does it!”

Davos in Braavos

Recap: Ser Davos’s grand plan that got me excited was simply that he and Stannis would ask for another loan from the Iron Bank. Such genius (!) Anyway, they get what they want thanks to a stirring speech by the Onion Knight. He shows some real analytical chops by making a salient case about the age of Tywin Lannister and the coterie of fools, inbreds and psychopaths that currently make up the succession list. Then Davos hangs with Salladhor Saan in a sauna.

Stannis Baratheon, the pretender to the crown who most resembles a dour Presbyterian minister, may finally have something to buttress his 4,000 men and 32 ships (remember Daenerys has 10,000 men and 93 ships, and she’s like, 16). Apparently, he’s got the birthright (drink!).

What I found particularly interesting here was that the Lannisters, as the bad-guys-in-chief, have so far been very strong (nearly invincible) despite having the Westerosian equivalent of the Addams Family. However, Ser Davos takes the family apart in style and proves that Tywin Lannister’s lack of supervision over his, um, unruly family will ultimately prove their undoing.

On another note, Mark Gatiss! He has a tendency to improve every scene he’s in, but then again he plays a type: Mycroft Holmes and Tycho Nestoris share a certain Shakespearian, starched-shirt look and feel. You’ll never see him play a crack dealer. On another note, with Ser Davos and Salladhor Saan reunited, we can be assured of more buddy comedy in Dragonstone. My, Stannis Baratheon, a religious nutjob/witch, a smuggler AND a pirate…what an advisory board you have.

Up north

“Everything they’ve done to him, they’ve also done it to you!”
Recap: Yara tries to rescue Theon but Theon himself doesn’t want to be rescued and Ramsay proves to be far tougher than he appeared. So she returns.

Another unglamorous chapter is created in the Greyjoy anthology: Yara’s aborted mission to retrieve Theon was tragic to behold, which is again testament to how GoT makes us grieve even for thoroughly despicable characters like Theon, who has become so brainwashed that he didn’t even recognise his sister (not that he’s known her long, but still! Call it Stockholm or Dreadfort syndrome if you prefer). It looks like the sight of Ramsay’s frenzy and his dogs was enough to scare off Yara, who after seeing Theon’s brainwashing, decided fighting Ramsay and his dogs wasn’t worth it for what was left of her brother. Anyway, Ramsay’s attempt to use Theon to infiltrate the Dreadfort will be a low-risk, high reward strategy and possibly gain him the respect of his father, Roose Bolton. And the bad guys are winning again…
PREDICTION: Yara’s dad will make her come back for him but in the meantime Theon will find his own way to the Greyjoys. This being GoT, he’ll probably end up killing half the Greyjoys or something.

Across the Narrow Sea

“I pray you’ll never live to see a member of your family so cruelly treated”
Daenerys is beginning to find ruling quite difficult, as she begins to give the farm away for minor infringements (like loss of livestock) and finds out some of the people she crucified may not have been equally responsible for the crucified children. She’s meant to be a breaker of chains, but she’s meting out injustice of her own because she hasn’t learned to take the time to analyse matters. She loves to sweep in, make grand statements and create the stuff of legend. She never had the chance to learn the tough business of sorting out judicial councils and compensation committees, and she sure as hell wouldn’t have learnt it from her moron brother, the late Viserys (he of the “I’d let an entire army rape you” fame).

On another note, it’s slightly disorienting seeing a white character put in charge of a civilisation mostly made up of golden-brown people. But then it’s all about Westeros and it’s a “white” continent.
PREDICTION: Tywin will mess with Daenerys’s dragons or plant rumours about her doing something particularly bad, which will lead to some sort of civil war.

The trial of Tyrion Lannister

Recap: The “trial” is basically a sham in which witnesses come to the stand to twist Tyrion’s words to make him look murderous or in some cases, tell outright lies. Lord Varys sells him out entirely, but the killer blow is yet to come - Shae shows up to tell everyone how Tyrion used her as a sex-slave and about his hatred of Joffrey. Bizarrely, she also throws in some outright lies, like Sansa instigating Joffrey’s murder. Tyrion gets fed up, yells at everyone and then demands a trial by combat.

I had thought for a short time that Tywin would atleast be fair in his dwarf-son’s trial. But I think I fundamentally misunderstood him – he’s not cruel but he is ruthless. Meanwhile, he doesn’t seem at all interested in finding the real killers. I am assuming, of course, that a man of Tywin’s perspicacity should have realised that the assassination didn’t match Tyrion’s temperament or method.

The attempt to smear Sansa and Tyrion indicates a wider conspiracy. I think it’s obvious that Shae is being coerced into testifying against Tyrion, but how was she found in the first place? Was Bronn forced to give it up? Podrick is far away, so it can’t be him, right? Of course, this pushed Tyrion over the edge. He saved the city, went along with the marriage to Sansa and did right by most people he met, only to be stripped of authority, jailed for a crime he didn’t commit and to (apparently) lose the only true love he ever had. All this, just to see Shae use every word they whispered to eachother as evidence in a sham trial against him. We shouldn’t be surprised: this is what Game of Thrones (or a Song of Ice and Fire) does: it strips you of everything on the surface and checks if you still have something left.

What is particularly majestic about this scene is that despite being railroaded, every now and then Tyrion “talks back” and does so in a way that goes to the heart of the problems in Kings Landing and cuts right through the crap that even Tywin tolerated from Joffrey and the society at large. When Tyron explains Joffrey’s actions with Sansa, or how Varys considered Tyrion to be the saviour of the city but won’t be counted in the history books, or being on trial for being a dwarf his whole life, he cuts through so much BS in a matter of seconds, it’s breathtaking.

What I particularly wanted to see was Margaery’s face when Maester Pycelle spoke about Joffrey’s death and being the consummate professional that she is, there was almost nothing there. What a pro.

During the recess, Jaime asks Tywin what happens to their lineage (drink!) if Tyrion is executed. Tywin doesn’t even wait for Jaime to half-finish his sentence and launches into a plan that I imagine him having practised in his head several times. Jaime’s face during this exposition is priceless – it belies Jaime’s total disbelief at Tywin’s manipulation of his own flesh and blood as well a grudging respect that Tywin had thought several steps ahead. In a strange way, Tyrion’s challenge is an act of passion as well as a supreme checkmate to Tywin. Tywin wouldn’t get to win, even if Tyrion died. A last act of unrepentant rebellion and spite. Now where’s that bastard Bronn?!
PREDICTION: With no Bronn in sight, it’ll probably end up Tyrion’s Oberyn (The Red Viper) v Tywin’s Ser Payne (The Mountain), and 2 birds will be killed with one stone. I think Oberyn will win and Tyrion will live.


Boobs of thrones: Lots in a sauna and some congress whilst Yara gets ready to rescue Theon.

Violence of thrones: 7/10. Massacre at the Dreadfort and references to crucifying.



Counting the cost


"If you want justice, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

Another strong episode in which Littlefinger's masterplan becomes clearer, Tyrion loses and then gains a champion, Sansa reflects on what she's lost and Daenerys gets laid. Dive in for detailed analysis interspersed with lots of pics and some lulz. Oh, and a chart following Littlefinger's impact on the Game...

Once upon a time, there was a wise Lord (Ned Stark) who ruled over his town (Winterfell) with a firm but fair hand. Ned was loving to his family, even to his wards and bastard children and he cared deeply for his subjects. Events caused him to travel to Kings Landing and become embroiled in the affairs of the Lannisters, who were almost the opposite of the Starks. The Lannisters were a people so consumed with a lust for power, money and various desires that it traumatised and hardened them beyond repair.

The Starks’ brief encounter with the Lannisters killed Ned and nearly destroyed the whole family, scattering their children all over Westeros, which is when we catch up with Sansa and her reverie of snowy Winterfell in this episode. This enjoyable image almost made me want to cry out “WINTER IS COMING!”, but it also led me to wonder about what other paradise has been lost because of the Lannisters. This theme was hinted at a couple of times, like the village that was indiscriminately burned down. Given Tywin Lannister’s preoccupation with winning and consolidating power in Kings Landing, the rest of the country has gone to rot. As the dying man points out, “there’s no balance”. Not since Ned Stark, anyway.

In fact, Tywin doesn’t even seem to be in control of his bannermen, like the Mountain, who tortured and killed almost all the prisoners at Harrenhal in season 3 and earlier, unbeknownst to Tywin, raped and murdered Elia Martell. This injustice drove Oberyn Martell to fight for Tyrion in the present day, so he too can destroy the Lannister family in the way they’ve destroyed other families.

On another note, Tyrion’s trial by combat is symbolic of a continuing theme this season, of cosseted, venal and angry firstborns v honest and decent secondborns: Cersei and Clegane v Tyrion and Oberyn. We also have the Hound’s story about being tortured at the hands of his older brother. I could riff on these themes all day, but on with the episode!

Oberyn: “He killed my sister…he shouldn’t have lived this long.”
Tyrion: “Every kind of filth down here except the filth I like”
Without the shadow of a doubt, the Oberyn/Tyrion scene is the heart of this episode. It’s immensely gratifying getting some background and quite funny imagining all these jaded, bitter middle-aged men and women as innocent children. Oberyn’s story was very powerful because it alluded to two themes: society’s prejudice against dwarves and Cersei blaming Tyrion for their mother’s death. Both themes are relevant more than 30 years later in Westeros. Oberyn’s story (which he remembers a little too well) shows us how even at Tyrion’s birth, he was being persecuted by Cersei, defended by Jaime and watched over by Oberyn. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose…

As predicted by many people, Oberyn will match up with Ser Gregor Clegane (the Mountain), a man who makes his brother seem like a Buddhist monk. He and Cersei deserve each other. For my money, I reckon Oberyn should find a way to poison Clegane but slowly, so Oberyn has a chance to beat him fair and square, but if he doesn’t, Clegane dies anyway. It may not be honourable, but Kings Landing doesn’t really have any rules. In this game of thrones, you win or you die. Plus I’d love to see the look on Tywin’s face.
This episode also contained a lot of spectres from the past, including a reunion.

“No balance any more…” | “They burned [my hut] down.” “Who were they?” “I stopped asking a while ago”
Dying man: “Dying is thirsty work”
Hound to Rorge: “Not having a good day, are you?”
The Hound & Arya - While Tywin is busy orchestrating machinations in Kings Landing, the provinces are burning. Literally. But did I see that right, the Hound wasting his water on a dying man? What has the world come to?! Anyway, the Hound won’t contend with fire even to fix his wound. “The Hound”? “The Bitch”, more like…afraid of a little fire?!

We had a reunion between Rorge and Arya (“Didn’t you say you’d fuck me bloody with a stick?!”), which precipitated in a union of his heart and Arya’s Needle. Rorge, of course, was one of the Lannister soldiers responsible for shipping Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry to Harrenhal. Which leads us nicely to a somewhat important meeting: Hot Pie with Brienne & Podrick (BriPod).

Brienne to Pod: “You’re not interesting enough to be offensive”.
Brienne & Podrick - Tantalisingly, we finally see BriPod on the trail of the Stark girls, which could, just could, result in something I’ve been having fantasies about (yes, really): Arya, Sansa, Brienne & Podrick in one place! However, this being Game of Thrones, that is probably too many good guys in one place and so either (a) they won’t meet or (b) atleast 2 of them will be dead before or shortly after they meet. And of course, BriPod have to get through Lord Baelish. Let’s see how that works out.

Vale of Arryn - Speaking of Baelish…one of the ehrmagerds of the episode. I’d always thought of him as a cool, calculating man, but his outrageous heaving-ho of Lysa seemed completely extemporaneous and barmy. And of course Sansa was the one who nearly paid for Littlefinger’s (deliberate?) indiscretion.

In some ways, Baelish’s plans are beginning to look like genius – broker an alliance between Lannisters and Tyrells (which frees up Sansa and saves Kings Landing from Stannis Baratheon), become Lord of Harrenhal, woo Lysa to become Lord of the Vale, kill Joffrey, frame Tyrion for it, free Sansa from marriage, kill Lysa and marry Sansa, thus somehow having control of both Winterfell (with keys to the North) and the Vale of Arryn. Tremendous. Anyway, I’ve drawn up a flow diagram of most of Littlefinger’s actions in Game of Thrones…

It’s amazing to think that Littlefinger has been behind so much of what we’ve seen. He seems to be sitting pretty, but I just remember Cersei’s words when Littlefinger told her “information is power”: “no, power is power”. Now Littlefinger has real power.

Robyn: “I’ll be able to fly anybody we don’t like”
Sansa & Robyn - We also got to see what Sansa’s future would look like if she was married to Robyn, a loon reared by megaloon Lysa. Unless she can bring Robyn under control, she’ll be marrying mean ol’ Littlefinger. Now that’s a rock and a hard place.

Bronn on his new clothes:  “…softer than a virgin’s thighs.”
Tyrion’s almost admiring reaction to Bronn’s conversion: “Because you’re an evil bastard with no conscience and no heart?”
Tyrion on fighting the Mountain: “Won’t that make for a good song?”
Tyrion & Bronn - my reaction on this?

One of the things that GoT does to us all the time is that it brings people up only to knock them down. Bronn’s bromance with Tyrion came to an abrupt but amicable end this week. Although Bronn’s argument for not fighting for Tyrion is perfectly sound, it feels a little too cold and calculated. Other shows might have spent time showing us Bronn’s conversion to pragmatist, but it’s clear enough that Bronn has thought this through and, ultimately, this is what a “sellsword” is: a man in search of a higher price. It very much looks like Bronn had made up his mind before arriving, but he does make a bloody good point in that Tyrion never risked his life for him.

The shadow of an unseen person hangs over this particular scene: Cersei, one of those Lannisters driven mad by disappointment and lust for power. Cersei is a woman so profoundly broken, so venal, angry and ruthless, that just weeks after we’ve seen her raped by her own brother, we feel almost no sympathy towards her. Even if the makers of the show have barely acknowledged the rape, we know it happened and it hasn’t dampened our hatred for her. Cersei’s cynical and brutal attempts to isolate Tyrion are a bit troubling in that she doesn’t seem interested in who actually did it. Anyway, she is, in a way, the most interesting character in Kings Landing: nobody else is as well drawn as she is: she pined for Robert Baratheon’s love but didn’t get it, she genuinely loves her children and yet her relationship with her brothers is a dysfunctional version of “kiss or kill”.

Note to Ser Clegane: “WHOM am I fighting?”, not “Who am I fighting?”! Grammar is what separates us from the monkeys. Oh. Carry on, Clegane.

Night’s Watch: this is probably the most exigent of all the storylines, although we spend very little time here. Although the NW is the closest thing to a proper brotherhood in GoT, their leader, Ser Thorne, acts like a boob, as usual. He’s letting his pride dictate his actions, which is surely a suicide mission. It looked to me like Yarwyck wanted to disagree with Thorne but was scared. Anyway, I await with bated breath. Will somebody or something come to Castle Black’s rescue?

Daenerys: “They can live in my new world or die in their old one.”
The Targaryen girl - Of course, we can’t have a GoT episode without Daenerys. My reaction when I saw what she did:


In a move that shocked and saddened me, she decided to “bump uglies” with the nearest sexy young guy, Daario Naharis. Sometimes you just have to be around to get some. Anyway, don’t worry Jorah, he was just a booty call. You go retake Yunkai.

On a political front, she’s using her gruesome feats to serve as a warning – I imagine just the appearance of her envoys will cause opponents to run for the hills. I hope this doesn’t disrupt her army, before she even gets anywhere near Westeros. We get to hear about how Ser Jorah is still only alive because Ned Stark wasn’t as brutal and ruthless as Daenerys is, thus illustrating once again why Ned was such a thoroughly decent sort of bloke.

Melisandre storyline: a lot of boobiness and great interior decoration. Oh, and also, her religion is fake. Why tell her this? Is this going to come back to bite her in the behind? Does Selyse want to bite her in the behind? She looked like she sort of wanted to. It’s tough seeing Melisandre brainwash everyone into accepting her, even getting Selyse to accept her as the other woman. Anyway, I’m worried for Shireen…time for Ser Davos to step up!

And finally, a meme.

Boobs of thrones: Melisandre puts on a show and Daario shows us his buttocks.

Violence of thrones: A Needle to the heart, a bite to the neck, a slap to a Robyn, Lysa being thrown through the Moondoor, the Mountain impaling and disembowelling several men. Phew.

Anyway, that’s all for this episode, come back next week when I take advantage of a break in the TV schedule for a Game of Thrones special: character arcs! I’ll be following the season’s trajectory for a few of the major characters. Stay tuned, folks!


Victory has to be earned



Valar morghulis. Oberyn and the Mountain sort out their differences, while Jorah and Daenerys don’t. Roose Bolton dismisses Bran as “unimportant…a cripple, a young boy”, while Lord Baelish later says “sickly little boys sometimes become powerful men”...hmm! Sansa plays the Game and bails out Baelish, while Grey Worm gets some boob and says "I love you, sorry about not having a ding dong" in the longest way possible. Game of Thrones is back and it's taking no prisoners. Oh, and yet another wild prediction from me. Dive in for the most intelligent and detailed Game of Thrones analysis you'll see on the interweb. (Read the first page for key points and the rest for more detailed stuff).

All in all, a good episode that doesn’t quite resolve the Castle Black or Tyrion storylines but gives us a massive centrepiece that people will debate for a while yet.

Rank of Thrones



So George R R Martin again illustrates his utter contempt for the twee morality shows that permeate TV today – this is no NCIS, no 24 or even the venerable Walking Dead. There are no heroes and the “good guys” don’t win…not easily, anyway – the good guys have to really, really earn it. Nobody is safe - and you know what, you can’t blame them.  The tagline for this season is “valar morghulis”.

Game of Thrones is entirely a different beast from those shows - it’s about narrative over individuals and circumstance over heroism. This is no Walking Dead, where a campaign to keep Daryl alive probably keeps the showrunners awake at night. A Song of Ice & Fire is basically sado-masochism in poetry. The only way Oberyn’s death could’ve been worse was if the Mountain had sexually assaulted him afterwards and this being GoT, that’s a real relief. Now we'll see if really nobody is safe: next week is the dreaded penultimate episode of the season, with previous ones being Baelor (Ned Stark's death), Blackwater (Battle of Blackwater) and of course, Rains of Castamere (Red Wedding). So this season, will it be the death of Tyrion? His death might be just too much for viewers and so I'd be surprised if he dies. I just hope this doesn’t get dragged into season 5.

Before I go any further, I’d like to point out a cross-parallel: Roose Bolton dismissing Bran as “unimportant…a cripple, a young boy” and Lord Baelish later saying “sickly little boys sometimes become powerful men”…very much a “hmmm!” moment.

We also bade goodbye to another character, although only from a storyline: Ser Jorah and Daenerys. This was somehow even more heartbreaking, since we’ve followed these two for so long. Jorah lost his customary calm and bared everything, only for Daenerys to throw him out. In GoT, secrets don't stay buried forever. Now a wiser ruler might have looked beyond Jorah's indiscretion and accepted that he was crucial to the operation now, but Daenerys is increasingly becoming a short-sighted tyrant. No doubt we’ll see Ser Jorah again, maybe with a rival camp.
[In case anyone is wondering why he needed a pardon, he was convicted of slave-trading, which is forbidden in Westeros. He fled prosecution and so has lived in exile since then. Why did he do this? To pay for an exorbitant lifestyle for his beautiful wife, who left him anyway.]

Amongst other notables, I love how Littlefinger tried to corral the troops at the Vale by referencing Ned Stark’s death (“Do you support the Lannisters, the house that executed your friend, Ned Stark?!”) as if he had nothing to do with it. As we now know, he asked commanded Lysa to kill Jon Arryn AND turned the Kings Landing City Watch against Ned Stark when he should have brought it to his defence.

Generally, the show has a massive ‘eunuchs’ motif: the opening scene in the tavern (“I thought you were a eunuch!”) and Grey Worm and Theon, both castrated. The former believes castration enhanced his power and dignity, whilst the latter had deposited all his honour into his penis and so was devastated at its loss


"Too bad you got a hangnail for a cock”
Eddison: "Once I’m done with this world, I don’t want to come back"

I did think, in my recap, that this and the Tyrion story were the most urgent storylines, and so the episode show bookended this episode with those two stories. The plot wasn’t moved along in a meaningful way, so I won’t spend too much time on this. In short, Ygritte can’t be all bad, because she refuses to kill babies (never mind the hundreds of dead adults in her wake). Did she recognise Gilly as a wildling as well? Wildling solidarity, y’all! I presume we’ll now spend a whole season watching Gilly and Sam slowly inch towards eachother.

Castle Black is really desperate, with 100ish against 100,000, although we haven’t seen anywhere near the numbers they keep talking about. Jon Snow and co. will have to come up with something truly extraordinary to get out of this.

Or maybe, just maybe, and I’m giving you fair warning of a Fourth Wall prediction, just as the wildlings are about to get stuck in at Castle Black (in a very literal sense), maybe the White Walkers will attack! Suddenly the Wildlings and Night’s Watch will find themselves fighting together! Now wouldn’t that be interesting…

Meereen / Essos

“If the masters never cut me, I never am Unsullied, I never stand in the Plaza of Pride when Daenerys Stormborn orders us to kill the masters. I never am chosen to lead the unsullied, I never meet Missandei from the island of Naath”.

Greatest line in Game of Thrones. Ever. Grey Worm, you silver-tongued devil, you.

Cue Missandei saying "you had me at hello! Or whatever you said in Valyrian."
Ironically, the GoT character who speaks the least "common tongue" is also the most poetic. This could very easily have been a cornball speech in any other show, but here it comes off quite sincerely and well earnt. Here is a man (well…) who has known only military service, suddenly beginning to understand humanity, affection and boobies. Dammit, I’m almost afraid to like him lest he gets his face crushed in by [random bad guy], but right now, he and Missandei are easily more interesting than Daenerys.

One more note: yet again, in Westeros, profanity is used quite prodigiously (a mere 15mins ago, in fact), but in Essos we continue to get polite euphemisms such as “pillar and stones”…

The North (south of the Wall)

Roose: “Unimportant…a cripple, a young boy”
Ramsay: “What are we without our history?”
Kenning: “The Ironborn will not surrender”

Oh, Theon. Oh, Ramsay. Both of these guys are products of a system that desensitises men and allows them to do shocking things, but with a key difference. Theon was brought up by Starks, so he feels remorse and certainly started to feel a tinge of disgust as he saw the burnt corpses of the two children (season 2), while Ramsay Snow Bolton is turned on by torture and violence.

It’s hard to identify Theon's character arc now, except perhaps in the context of penance. Unfortunately, Theon is doing penance for far fewer crimes than those committed by Tywin, the Mountain or any of the long list of villains in GoT. Also, he’s become so infantilised and traumatised, it’s actually more disgusting than the brutish violence.

Anyway, this was a vindication of sorts for Ramsay Snow Bolton, who saw his manoeuvre pay off well, earning him a West-Wing-style “walk with me” moment and the pride of place in the Bolton family. Having said that, the fort looked like it was done for anyway. The map below shows why Moat Cailin was so important to the Boltons: it opens up the whole North to them. As Roose says, “the North is bigger than all the other Kingdoms combined”.

The scene of Kenning receiving an axe in his head shortly after a bombastic display of manhood was a bit like Theon’s triumphalist war cry at Winterfell, halfway through which he was smacked in the back of his head by one of his own men. The flaying was yet another example of why nobody in Westeros is worth their word. Finally - why do I get the feeling that Roose Bolton’s dismissal of Bran as a ‘cripple’ will come back to haunt him?

Vale of Arryn

Lord Yohn Royce: “And when Jon Arryn named you Master of Coin, no-one cared. It’s always been a grubby job, why not let a grubby man do it?”
Sansa Stark: “I have been hostage in Kings Landing…a plaything for King Joffrey to torture or Queen Cersei to torment”
Petyr Baelish: “Sickly little boys sometimes become powerful men”

Lots of great lines here, including a very pointed Westerosian putdown by Royce. The way Royce was cross-examining Baelish came off like a House of Commons session or a telling off at an English Public School! (FYI, in England a “public school” is actually private and often upper-class). The Fourth Wall has often found itself being told off by public school Headmasters.

So in a way, the most quietly interesting storyline is the one where we follow Sansa finally coming of age in a brutal, uncaring world. She finally has some power and the will to use it, even making Baelish out to be a hero. We have yet another dysfunctional GoT relationship in the making: Littlefinger loved Catelyn Stark but now she's dead, he's transferring this 'affection' to her daughter (yeah, that’s not weird at all) and she’s decided ‘better the devil you know’. Hell, it’s Cersei all over again.

About being a grubby man: Littlefinger is FORCED to be grubby…in a nepotistic world where bloodlines determine who will be King, backstabbing, betrayal and whispers are the only way a commoner can grab power for himself.

We also get a short edition of the Hound and Arya show – Arya seems to be going insane. Why do I get the feeling Arya and Sansa won’t meet?!

Kings Landing

"Deciding a man’s guilt or innocence in the eyes of the gods by having two men hack eachother into pieces…tells you something about the gods”

Tyrion has long been the ‘viewer’ in Game of Thrones, making the same remarks as us, pointing out Westeros’s fallacies, inconsistencies and just plain weirdness. That he is just tickled by trial by combat (which he survived previously thanks to Bronn) just masks his nervousness. He’s lost the fatalism and bravado he displayed in the previous episode and is again worried about saving his own bacon.

Tyrion then starts bumbling about nepoticide and how there’s no family-killing that doesn’t have its own word. The story about the cousin who kept killing beetles was interesting in that it got Tyrion focused on something from his childhood, which he was holding onto as comfort. It’s interesting to note that the Orson story almost resembles a vengeful god who just “crushes the beetles” without having some sort of grand plan or great redemption. In retrospect, it seems like Tyrion’s voice was the Song of Ice and Fire warning us of what was to come.

So, onto the showpiece of the episode: Oberyn to beat Mountain, avenge Elia Martell and save Tyrion’s dwarf ass. Oh wait, this is Game of Thrones, and so naturally Oberyn dies in the worst way possible – just after appearing to win, the Mountain crushes Oberyn’s head and eyes (the internet is a bit cross because this wasn’t realistic, but atleast dragons are ok).

Dammit Oberyn, always leave 2 armlengths of space when gloating!
There's a parallel here: Arya’s lessons with the Hound. 'Water dancing' is out, brute force is in. Oberyn’s prancing with the lance was ultimately pointless against the Mountain’s sheer size. Ultimately Oberyn wasn't that interested in winning, but in forcing out the truth.

Emotions ran high: Ellaria was completely horrified by the end, but when Oberyn was winning, the look of excitement and utter joy on Jaime’s face was absolutely priceless. On the other hand, while Cersei continues to cement her reputation as Queen Bitch of Westeros, her own look of smug joy when the Mountain finally does win was quite repugnant. Tywin genuinely looked uncomfortable. But then as with so much in life, victory for the heroes was too good to be true. However, the crowd got to hear of what the Mountain did. 


Boobs of thrones: Missandei. That is all.

Violence of thrones: A particularly violent episode, mass murder in Molestown, flayings and axe-head in Cailin's Moat, crushed skull in Kings Landing and crucifixion in Meereen.


...and now his watch is ended.

Giant's weight-loss regime hadn't gone too well.

“Love is the death of duty”

Or is duty the death of love? Jon and Ygritte test the old saying. In this episode, an irresistible force meets an immovable object, Game of Thrones style. We get a non-stop thrill-ride directed by horror film star Neil Marshal, who returns after directing the Battle of Blackwater Bay in season 2. And guess what – this is faster, mightier, bolder and way longer. The entire episode focuses on the men of the Night’s Watch, and deservedly so. Faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, the Night’s Watch fought back, as did the imperious Castle Black. Dive in for the usual dissection and analysis.

“Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands and father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honour to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.” PLEDGE OF THE NIGHT'S WATCH

Valar morghulis. Boy, the North just can’t catch a break. I was beginning to feel like George RR Martin was about to sucker-punch us AGAIN, pitting 100,000 wildlings, wargs, mammoths, giants and anything else he could get his meaty hands on, against a puny 100 or so Night’s Watch (plus a boy of 10, a Targaryen and a dog). The Night’s Watch was hopelessly outnumbered and seemed to be staffed by scared little boys. But these scared little boys stepped up, as power passed from the older Ser Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt (more on him later) to the younger Jon Snow, Eddison Tollett and Sam Tarly.

But the real star here was in front of us the whole time: Castle Black. The effects are brilliantly executed and there is a real heft when the Gates or the Mammoth shake. In Westeros, Bran the Builder (not Bob the builder…) built this imperious watchtower using good old hard work and allegedly some magic too, to a length of 300 miles and height of 700 feet. Castle Black fought back along with the brothers of the Night’s Watch, throwing scythes, cold-rolled steel and barrels of fire at the wildling invaders. Consequently, Castle Black is safe…for another 12 hours or so.

This is why TV is so entertaining and epic these days: the battle scenes in this episode would hold their own in any fantasy film. Except unlike in a fantasy film, we’ve spent a good portion of the last 40 hours watching these characters and so every movement and every death is meaningful. When Ygritte or Grenn die, we really feel it. 

These episodes often provide the ‘payoff’ lacking in the rest of Game of Thrones (like if Oberyn Martell had defeated the Mountain). Here is when the hours of patient character-building pays off. Having said that, very few characters in Castle Black are as fleshed out as the ones in Kings Landing and actually, we’re only properly invested in Jon Snow, Samwell/Gilly and Ygritte. Nonetheless, the Night’s Watch is the most sympathetic part of Westeros (even if allegedly some of them are rapers and serious criminals) and even Ser Thorne departed having warmed our hearts a bit.

War is hell...
In terms of the action, we’ve got several different set pieces: the giants at The Gate, wildlings at the South gate and arrows being exchanged all over (those pesky medieval ground-to-air missiles). The Battle of Blackwater Bay was more impressive in some ways because of the wildfire, but the ground mano-a-mano action was way more impressive here. This feels the more expensive of the two episodes and the graphics are much better too. Overall, this episode felt a bit more ‘Hollywood’ than the rest of the season: all this talk of love (“You love her…I heard it in your voice”) and the usual Hollywood clichés about war ("Castle Black will stand!" and "you must hold the Gate!"). 

Although it didn't mesh with the rest of the season, it still felt earned and helped give the Brothers a sense of vulnerability. They were all obviously thinking about death. In amongst all this action, it’d be a mistake to think there were no themes, because there were: love, duty and who we are when we kill. This is inferred by Tarly’s monologue about forgetting who he was when faced with a White Walker (“I wasn’t Samwell Tarly anymore…when you’re nothing at all, there’s no reason to be afraid”). This is how these neglected, persecuted men become the rocks that Castle Black needs them to be.

At this point, many people would point to the difficult lives of people in the North in contrast to the rosy urban lives of Kings Landing and Highgarden: this is the point. The Night’s Watch does it for the whole continent but rarely gets the reward or resources (we’ve seen Cersei, Joffrey and others reject their request for reinforcements before). This is clearly a military allegory: a dangerous and thankless task done for very little money or recognition, but for a sense of duty.

Ygritte: “We’ll be up and over before they know what’s happened!” NO YOU WON’T!

Night's Watch has something to say about that...
A nice moment occurs when Sam asks about being in love (or having sex?) and Jon Snow pontificates about...something.

Jon Snow: “There’s this person, this whole other person, you’re wrapped up in them…for a little…for a little while you’re more than just you…oh, I’m not a bleeding poet.” Tarly: “No, you’re really not.”

Anyway, several strands were picked up here:

Jon Snow and Ygritte: ah yes, the ultimate star-crossed lovers, literally from different sides of the wall. Although there’s a lot going on, the key thing here is that in any other society, these two would be together and regularly go at it like lion seals on meth. Instead, Jon Snow is a “Southerner” and Ygritte is a “wildling” and so they are always diametrically opposed. A man must do his duty - Jon Snow is a Stark, after all, which means it's only a matter of time before his goody-two-shoesiness kills him. As Omar would say: a man's gotta have a code. Like Sam Tarly, Jon Snow became something else in order to be a good Night's Watch Brother.

Ygritte makes the point earlier that these lands were theirs, until they were pushed out and separated by a wall. One could make a comparison to real life, like in China, Palestine, England/Scotland being the obvious one, but GoT hasn’t spent a lot of time on it and neither will we.

“All I want to think about is how each one of these arrows will find its way into a crow’s heart”
Ygritte had a good long look at Jon Snow before she was shot, meaning that she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. What she had shared with Snow in the cave and elsewhere was just too strong – remember “I'm your woman now, Jon Snow. You're going to be loyal to your woman”?

Game of Thrones has a real problem with happy couples, in that it has none. Apart from the now deceased Starks + Khal Drogo & Daenerys (although their relationship seemed to have started with rape), these two were the only functioning couple in GoT, and now GRRM has extinguished that hope as well. Well, atleast we have Littlefinger and Sansa to look forward to! Hey, don’t run away, come back…

The moment when Jon Snow holds her in death was a true Hollywood moment, but it’s been earned; there was real pathos here.

Janos Slynt: Here's a list of things Slynt has done: (1) turned the City's Watch against Ned Stark (at Littlefinger's behest) (2) massacred Robert Baratheon's bastard children. (3) personally murdered a baby and (4) called Jon Snow a "bastard son of traitors". I hope he dies soon.

“I made a promise to defend the wall and I have to keep it…because that’s what men do!”
Samwell Tarly & Gilly – Samwell finally confronts his feelings for Gilly and they kiss, in no small part due to Aemon Targaryen. Don’t forget that Gilly is only alive because Ygritte saved her…

By the way, is Olenna Tyrell the lady Targaryen was talking about? He’s about 20 years older than her so it’s unlikely, but she did say a while ago that Targaryen boys were all the rage back then…

Pypar, Grenn and many others: we didn’t get to know them too well, but their non-witty banter with Jon and Samwell will be missed. They were true brothers and the only friendships in Game of Thrones that you knew were unbreakable. And now their watch is ended.

Aemon Targaryen: Haters gon’ hate, but playas gon’ play.

So what next? We’ll get to see some sort of “Heart of Darkness” parallel with Lord Snow going deep inside Mance Rayder’s territory to coax or kill. This is what Game of Thrones likes best, stripping narrative down to the bare bones. But if this takes him longer than a few hours, will there be anything left to defend? Where are the Greyjoys, Boltons etc. to defend the North?! It wouldn't have happened in Ned Stark's day, I tell thee! Also, hopefully we’ll get resolution on Tyrion’s storyline next week. Oh, and we haven’t seen Stannis and Bran for a while, have we?

Other observations:
Game of Thrones just gets more and more eloquent: “a nice juicy slice of ginger minge” was a particularly poetic turn of phrase. They simply don’t give a damn.

Also poetic was the justice served cold by the child Olly on Ygritte with an unusually well-aimed arrow. Who knew Olly was so good?

Apparently, the wildling version of a weird drunk sexy story involves copulating with a bear…“She was nice and soft down below”.

The Yorkshire accent seems to be the go-to Northern accent: both Jon Snow and Ygritte are Southern actors putting on ‘Northern’ accents.

“And she never offered”. Poor old virginal Sam…well, atleast you kissed her now! On a related note, he seems to have read the pledge a little too closely…

Aemon: “Old age is a wonderful age of ironies”. He must regret not taking the throne – look where it’s gotten Westeros.


Boobs of thrones: Nope.

Violence of thrones: A LOT. That is all.



"Valar dohaeris"


“Your legacy is a lie”

All men must serve - Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Stannis Baratheon and Jaime Lannister all served. We got great visuals, shocking twists and a radical change in Westeros’s power balance, in the best episode of the season. In an episode mostly about the men of Game of Thrones, we saw Stannis taking Westeros from the North downwards, Tywin shot on the shitter, Tyrion conducting an act of brazen vengeance, Jon Snow stalling long enough to save the Night’s Watch, and Jaime, the incestuous raper, salvaging some decency in freeing the only nobleman in Kings Landing. Elsewhere, we caught up with Bran’s fantastical adventures, Cersei’s refusal to marry, Daenerys struggling to rule, a nasty end for the Hound and Arya finally on her way to the late Syrio Forel’s homeland. For a story-by-story recap and analysis, dive in.

Finale overview
The invisible hand of destiny was heavy in this episode, with a step-change in many lives. This step-change was defined variously by freedom from Tywin’s tyranny, leaving Westeros, invading Westeros, and of course, death. Arya and Tyrion left Westeros, Stannis, Davos and Melisandre took their place and Jojen, Tywin and Shae left the world entirely. Well, the show must go on.

This episode feels like the best of the season, but I suspect it’s not because of its own inherent quality, but because it was the payoff in a long, unbalanced season. It provided the rebalancing needed after the bad guys won battle after battle. The episode itself had all of GoT’s classic qualities: the brooding calm, the tragic stories, the adrenaline-junkie action and the sudden paroxysms of violence. Some of the individual parts don’t always add up (like Hound v Brienne), but history has shown those insane events coming out of nowhere, so why not on the screen? Sometimes a storyteller’s bravest gambit is to put something inexplicable on the page. Why are Cersei and Jaime attracted to each other? Why did Catelyn release Jaime when she had him? Who knows. Who cares. In this game of Thrones, you win or you die. All else is pantomime. And such glorious pantomime.

What this episode also did was show small, personal stories like Arya’s and big stories like the Night’s Watch, and how the two can intermingle, vis-à-vis Tyrion. His personal tragedy resulted in the transformation of Westeros’s power balance and unlike other shows with a final reckoning, this really feels earned. We've seen Tyrion humiliated by his own family, Ned Stark’s beheading, the Red Wedding and Oberyn’s death, but then in balance, Joffrey & Tywin are dead, Daenerys is alive and Stannis is about to sort everyone out. Anyway, let’s look at the individual storylines!

Castle Black/The North/Stannis Baratheon

Jon Snow: “I know he’s the King…my father died for him.”
Well, well…George RR Martin, you old dog, you. And here with all my ideas about Oberyn and Daenerys teaming up, with white walkers forcing wildlings and Night’s Watch to work together, etc etc, I thought if I threw enough crazy ideas around, one of them would hit. Suddenly STANNIS BARATHEON SHOWS UP BEYOND THE WALL! Bravo. Now I think about it, it makes perfect sense: it’s the least guarded part of Westeros and if you can’t win starting with Kings Landing, take over everything else. The North would fight for a Stark or a Baratheon, and we’ll see if Littlefinger was serious about the Arryns, Baratheons and Starks riding together, since we could have a union of Jon Snow Stark, Stannis Baratheon and, um, Robin Arryn (you at the back, stop laughing).

Does this see Jon Snow become Stannis’s Lieutenant (after the Onion Knight, of course)? I suspect not – although the temptation to rebuild Winterfell must be strong, he needs to rebuild the Night’s Watch. Also, I dread to think what passed between him and Melisandre, staring through the fire…that lady is just trouble. Anyway, Ser Davos is the damn best Knight around! If it hadn’t been for his moxy / chutzpah, Stannis would be eating grass in Dragonstone. So what next? Stannis lends a few soldiers to the Night’s Watch and moves onto the Boltons? Capturing the North proper would be a massive coup for Stannis, particularly given the events in Kings Landing.

Mance Rayder: “…all the same, we don’t kneel”
On Mance Rayder: it’s hard to imagine, but he almost looks statesmanlike (maybe because it’s Ciarán Hinds). There seems to be a certain old world charm to Rayder, rather than the vulgar comportment of a wildling King. He almost seemed disappointed in Jon Snow. Too bad. Loyalty is a double-edged sword.

“You’ll never be a kneeler”

Duty is indeed the death of love. You know nothing, Jon Snow.

Kings Landing


" refused to die. I respect that. Even admire it. You fight for what’s yours!"

What are you going to do with THAT?!
One of my favourite scenes of Games of Thrones since the beginning has been Tywin’s scenes with Arya in S2. It was here that I realised that GoT/A Song of Ice & Fire had ‘gears’: it could do 5th gear stuff like warfare, but it could also do 1st gear stuff like Tywin just generally talking about himself to Arya. One particular exchange has always stuck in my head and it’s worth repeating (from

Tywin Lannister: This'll be my last or lose.
Arya Stark: Have you ever lost before?
Tywin Lannister: “You think I'd be in my position if I'd lost a war? And this is the one I'll be remembered for. "The War of Five Kings," they're calling it. My legacy will be determined in the coming months. You know what "legacy" means? It's what you pass down to your children, and your children's children. It's what remains of you when you're gone. Harren the Black thought this castle would be his legacy. Greatest fortress ever built. Tallest towers, the strongest walls. The Great Hall had thirty-five hearths. Thirty-five, can you imagine? Look at it now. A blasted ruin.”

That one exchange said more about Tywin than the subsequent 1.5 seasons did (not coherently, anyway). It said that he was not Master and Commander of his destiny, he was fighting somebody else’s war, again. It also said that, despite being the man who helped bring down the Mad King, his entire life’s work would rest on this new war. Consequently, he became obsessed with his family: regardless of what happens in the war, he wanted to leave behind a secure and powerful family. In these moments, I saw him not as evil (say, like Walder Frey, Ramsay Bolton or the Mountain) but simply pragmatic. He did what was required.

Remember the Red Wedding? Upon questioning by Tyrion, he replied: would you rather I warred with the Starks, leading to 50,000+ deaths, or 5 deaths that killed the rebellion dead cold? [I believe the Stark army was destroyed anyway so not quite]. His logic was unassailable. I would’ve preferred the characterisation to stay like this, portraying him almost as a tragic anti-hero, but alas, his actions across the last 2 seasons have been thoroughly detestable and he officially crossed into the evil camp by trying to kill Tyrion (you don’t think we believed you, did you, Tywin?!). So when Tywin met his end whilst defaecating, it was a complex character being unceremoniously dumped (thank you, thank you) out of the show.


Cersei: “I’m not interested in hearing any more of your smug stories about the time you won. This isn’t going to be one of those times!”
Oh, Cersei…you are at once a loathsome, loving, complex creature. As usual, Cersei was at the centre of Kings Landing, partaking in conversations with Jaime, Tywin and Pycelle. Game of Thrones, like many medieval stories, has a particular obsession with what goes in or comes out of a woman’s vagina. Yes, I’m being a bit sensationalist, but let’s see: the bombshell to bring down House Lannister is apparently not the ultimately senseless murders of half the Stark family, the killing of babies or people starving in Kings Landing, but the fact that the Queen Regent is having sex with her brother. 

Men have always coveted women’s bodies (in Lord Varys’s words, “a collection of profitable holes”) because, tragically, women’s bodies are “of great consequence”. The ability to create life is an unrivalled power, particularly in a world where bloodlines determine everything. So Cersei finally standing up to Tywin and essentially making him go “ew” was a landmark moment for her, even if ultimately moot.


Grand Maester Pycelle: “his curiosity was deemed dangerous and unnatural”
The first image was a brilliantly disgusting visual. So Cersei’s finally had it with Pycelle – I still think he must’ve touched her when she was a child, which is why she snapped so vigorously at him when he was hitting on a girl, in the episode where Joffrey dies. I can’t imagine him staying intact very long if this had come out, so it seems unlikely. I hope Tywin doesn’t find out that Cersei sacked him…oh wait. Never mind! Anyway, as I hoped, (episode 7 review) Oberyn tried to poison the Mountain to ensure his death whether Oberyn lived or not. However, this Dr. Mengele of Westeros seems intent on bringing him back stronger than ever…

Cersei: “I love my brother…I love my lover…people will whisper and tell jokes, let them, they’re so small I don’t even see them. I only see what matters.”
Let’s talk about Jaime for a minute – having spent so long being sandwiched between Tywin, Cersei abnd Tyrion, he finally took care of two of those problems in one go. You know the Lannisters are a broken family when Jaime Lannister is the one you feel sorry for. Gazing through his entry in Westeros’s Wiki, he must’ve thought “well, I’m already the Kingslayer, how could things possibly get worse?” In the meantime, Jaime and Cersei are free to continue their incest, while they still have Kings Landing, which can’t be long, surely. There is a small part of my brain that thinks that Jaime planned for Tyrion to happen upon Tywin’s room and maybe even placed a crossbow there…we may never know.

Oh, and Varys? Is he on the boat to the Free Cities as well? Poor guy. Oh well, back home it is!

Cersei’s insistence that Tyrion “killed” their mother would be very childish, if it wasn’t quite so malevolent. But atleast this time, there can be no doubt: he definitely killed their father. Although this time Cersei might be happier.

Tyrion’s story is instructive of what happens when you take a good man and strip him of his position, love and dignity. In the end I’m not surprised at what he did, although I’m surprised that a Kingslayer is housed so close to royal quarters. In reality it would be outsourced to a company working 100 miles away, right? But anyway, Tyrion got his chance and he took it. However, the appearance of Shae was a trademark George RR Martin gutpunch – I had NOT seen that coming (well, it didn’t seem significant). Until he saw Sahe, I'm not sure Tyrion intended to kill Tywin (handy having a crossbow lying around), but the sight of Shae really pushed him overboard. This is again Game of Thrones at its finest: taking a small-scale story and giving it repercussions on the national stage. Watch Peter Dinklage's face in the 'toilet' scene: there is literally nothing left in Tyrion's life. Nothing.

Also, I look forward to hearing songs about Tywin on the toilet next season (GoT doesn’t play gently with deceased people, like the incident with Robb Stark’s head).

Speaking of repercussions, let’s chart the chain of events that precipitated in Tywin’s death: Littlefinger kills Jon Arryn, Ned Stark comes to Winterfell, Robert Baratheon dies, Ned Stark tells Stannis that Joffrey is illegitimate, Joffrey becomes King anyway with Tyrion as Hand of the King, someone tries to kill Tyrion at Battle Blackwater Bay but he’s saved by Podrick, Tyrion is implicated in Joffrey’s murder, trialled, Oberyn fails to win the duel and the night before his execution, is released by Jaime, to kill Tywin. Phew.

Essos / the Targaryen girl

"The young may rejoice in the new world you have built for them, but for those of us too old to change, there is only fear and squalor"
Poor old Daenerys is still having to deal with ordinary peoples’ troubles, learning that freedom is sometimes a curse. Oh well, you can't please everyone all the time. Her solution to slavery is short term contracts, although Selmy thinks it’ll be like slavery. She’s really been bogged down, but surely with the fall of Tywin, this is her best chance to bear down on Kings Landing? I’m aware that the timelines are out of sync with the book, but what the hell! 

Unfortunately, her main weapons are decommissioned for now, following a horrific burning of a child. Daenerys is paying for not cracking down hard on them after the livestock issue a few episodes ago. The scene with the burnt child was genuinely horrific and affecting and the actor was horrendously effective. I think this was easily the most powerful scene in the whole episode, acting as a shadowing of the kind of brutality towards children that is happening in conflicts like Syria and elsewhere in real life. In real life, it's not the teenage dragons who do the killing.

Anyway, back to the show: the image of her having to lock up the dragons (her children) was also heartbreaking – ironically, she is the breaker of chains. Compare and contrast with Tywin’s children: atleast the dragons aren’t screwing each other. I hope.

On another note, Tyrion, Arya and Daenerys will be in Essos in season 5. By my reckoning, Braavos is barely 1,000 miles from Meereen. This could be EPIC.

Way up North

“He died so you can find what you have lost…you’ll never walk again, but you will fly”
We now come to the Lord of the Rings section of Game of Thrones, replete with zombie Knights, fireball-throwing ‘Children’, warging and prophesying. At first, I was dismayed at this sequence, but on second viewing I understand: this is GoT’s sop to the fans angered by the Red Wedding and Oberyn’s death. It’s fast, kinetic, pure fantasy and for my money, superbly executed. Game of Thrones can shift pretty quickly from 1st gear to 5th gear and this episode again shows how: we saw lots of talky bits in Kings Landing and the North, and suddenly we’re in the middle of a massive fight scene with zombies and fireballs. It’s a bit ‘by-the-numbers’ but atleast Benioff & Weiss are aware that they owe the fans unadulterated fun.

But then this was also about plot. We got to see a “Child of the Forest” for the first time, but even more so that Mr. More-Tree-Than-Man had been watching Bran, Hodor et al since the “beginning” and that Jojen had known he would die all along. Although none of this is fresh in the fantasy canon, it adds more value in Game of Thrones than in most films or TV shows. So is the whole of Westeros subject to people like him? Is he basically ‘God’? Will this relate to Melisandre somehow? Did he see things like the Red Wedding? Or is all this just a hallucination caused by some mushrooms we haven't seen? It’s all just so barmy…here’s my face when I saw this originally:

 Arya Stark, the Hound, Brienne of Tarth & Podrick Payne

“Her aunt in the Eyrie’s dead. Her mother’s dead. Her father’s dead. Her brother’s dead. Winterfell is a pile of rubble. There’s no safety, you dumb bitch. If you don’t know that by now, you’re the wrong one to watch over her.”

Brienne wasn’t kidding when she said she’s not a lady. But then neither is the Hound. What I did find a bit odd is that he almost WANTED to die, unless that’s just his fatalism shining through. For now, I’m going to assume the Hound is dead, although we don’t actually see him die. Nonetheless, he went out with some dignity, a very particular GoT type of dignity: as far as I can tell, he had nobody to ‘sell’ Arya to, but he protected her from the (perceived) Lannister threat anyway.

I wondered initially why the Hound didn’t ask himself why the Lannisters would send some a squire and a WOMAN to go get Arya [of course, Brienne subsequently clarified this matter for the Hound]. But again, the invisible hand of fate was present – we somehow knew there was nowhere for this storyline to go, but more importantly nowhere more for the Hound to go. Westeros had become pointlessly ruthless and barbaric, and instead of revelling in it, he became tired of it. As the final shot of this sequence shows, the last year or so had softened him up, but hardened Arya.

Speaking of whom, despite having two strong characters trying to protect her, Arya's more adrift than ever. So does she become a real assassin in Braavos, come back to Westeros and tick off her kill list? People on her list seem to die without her help, so a few years away might make the list redundant.

Oh, also, Podrick lost some horses.


Boobs of thrones: Nope.

Violence of thrones: Lots of indiscriminate killing North of the Wall, two arrows in the chest in the “privy”, a whore’s garrotting, lots of dead zombies, a multiply-stabbed Jojen, a probably dead beaten, stabbed and fallen Hound and worst of all, a burnt child.

P.S. I'll put up the usual irreverent review of all Game of Thrones seasons so far a bit closer to season 5!

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