“There’s a beast in every man and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand,” - Jorah Mormont
For the first two seasons on "Game of Thrones," terrible, cruel, unspeakable horrors tended to happen primarily to the Stark family.
The Starks were the show’s heroes, and in the sick, twisted ethos of Westeros that meant they were destined to suffer the worst.
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Then George R.R. Martin, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss started to transform the Lannister brothers into likeable, wisecracking anti-heroes.
It was only a matter of time.
First, fan-favorite Tyrion Lannister got half his face cut off in the battle of Blackwater Bay. Then, Sunday, in “Walk of Punishment,” his better-looking, better-fighting brother met an arguably worse fate.
Jaime Lannister, perhaps the greatest swordsman in the mythical world of Westeros, suffered a gruesome maiming at the hands of men pledged to Robb Stark. (In the books, they’re called the Brave Companions; I’m not sure if they’ve been identified on the show.)
Fed up at how Lannister was smoothly talking circles around them, Jaime’s captors hauled him from the tree where he was chained, and chopped off his right hand. Yes, his dominant, sword-wielding right hand.
It was a welcome moment of violence for viewers still angry at how Jaime pushed Bran Stark from a tower window, paralyzing him, or countless other Lannister evil deeds. It was also a welcome moment for fans of violence and action. For a war show, the first two episodes of this season have been pretty slow with not a single beheading or even a serious maiming. (Um, where are all the heads on spikes we got to see during Season One?!)
That changed Sunday.
I get that “A Song of Ice and Fire” is an incredibly complex series of novels that is nearly impossible to translate to the screen. There are just too many characters and plotlines to adequately develop characters while keeping the show fast-paced enough. (For instance, on tonight’s episode, we followed dozens of different characters through seven different parts of the world.) The show’s writers seem to make a conscious effort to write sex into nearly every show (such as, Sunday’s humerous brothel scene with Pod). Is it asking that much to want the writers to pace out all the immense violence in the books, so that there’s at least some in each episode?
Regardless, I thought episode three was the best so far of Season Three, and I know each week is only going to improve until we get to the Red Wedding. So I’ll stop venting and get to recapping.
Here’s what happened this week on “Game of Thrones”:
The episode opens with the funeral of Catelyn Stark’s father, Lord Hoster Tully.
When Catelyn’s brother, Edmure Tully, attempts to shoot a fiery arrow into a boat holding Lord Hoster, to complete the funeral ceremony, he fails miserably, and we get introduced to The Blackfish.
Brynden Tully, Catelyn’s uncle, snatches the bow and hits a no-look, walk-off game-winning shot. Badass.
Robb Stark then chastises Edmure for disobeying orders, and scaring The Mountain away from a trap the Young Wolf was setting for him.
Catelyn, all the while, is distraught over her father’s death and what she believes are the deaths of her youngest sons, Bran and Rickon.
Lady Talisa is growing on me, slightly. (I still don’t like it when they substantially change characters from the books.) She interacts charmingly with two young Lannister captives, allowing them to keep believing the tall tales that are being widely spun about Robb Stark’s supernatural, werewolf-like powers.
In the capitol city, Tywin Lannister has returned to take his place as Hand of the King. He names Littlefinger Lord of Harrenhal and plans to marry him off to Lysa Tully, forming what he believes will be an alliance against Robb Stark. Tywin then appoints Tyrion to replace Littlefinger as the “Master of Coin,” a job for which Tyrion is likely ill equipped.
“They’re only numbers, numbers on paper,” Littlefinger advises. “Once you understand that, it’s easy to make them behave.”
Tyrion finally rewards Pod for saving his life at Blackwater Bay, and buys him three whores.
“We’re going to need details, copious details,” the imp jokes afterwards.
As he is researching King’s Landing’s finances, Tyrion sees the kingdom owes millions to the Iron Bank of Braavos, home to some of the world’s best assassins.
“One way or another, they always get their gold back,” Tyrion says.
Road to Harrenhal
Men pledged to the northern forces have taken Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth captive.
When the men begin to beat and attempt to rape Brienne, Jaime speaks up and tells a clever lie.
He says Brienne comes from a island rich in sapphires (which isn’t true) and that her father will give a handsome amount of sapphires (also not true) to whoever returns his daughter alive with her honor “unbesmirched.”
Jaime also tells his captors he could make them rich “until the end of your days.”
The captors don’t take kindly to Jaime’s statements, however, and cruelly cut his hand off, fundamentally changing his character for the rest of the series.
Camp of the Lightning Lord
Hot Pie parts ways with Arya Stark and Gendry. There’s a touching moment of restrained emotion during their goodbye.
North of the Wall
The White Walkers (The Others) have killed a bunch of horses and left their remains in a design. (They really love geometry, don’t they?)
The wildling army comes across the gruesome sight and realizes it’s past time head south.
Mance Rayder orders Tormund Giantsbane to climb The Wall, which will inevitably mean a violent confrontation between his army and the Knight’s Watch.
“We’re finally going to war, old friend,” Tormund says.
“I’m going to light the biggest fire the north has ever seen,” Mance says.
Meanwhile, the men of the Knight’s Watch take refuge at Craster’s Keep, where Sam sees a baby boy being born. Knowing that Craster will kill the boy, Sam is forced to think about what he should do.
Theon Greyjoy is still being tortured, but his sister, Yara (Asha), has sent a rescuer for him.
After he escapes, Theon is caught and almost raped (that’s two near-rapings in one episode for those keeping track at home) but rescued again by the same boy who helped him escape in the first place.
Melisandre is departing from Dragonstone, leaving Stannis Baratheon stern and humorless. (Wait, he’s always like that.)
“I want Joffrey dead. I want Robb Stark dead,” Stannis says, then romantically: “Make me another son. … I want you.”
Melisandre informs him he’s, um, not so virile right now, and suggests they drain the blood of a relative to help fuel her dark magic.
“Your fires burn low my king,” she says. “There are others with your blood in their veins.”
In an episode with a lot of great quotes, most of them are said in Astapor.
Jorah Mormont and Barristan the Bold argue over whether Dany should purchase The Unsullied, slaves who are purported to be some of the world’s best fighters.
“There’s a beast in every man and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand,” Mormont says, arguing that The Unsullied would be more disciplined in battle and less likely to rape and pillage.
When Barristan says that he prefers free men who fight for a cause, such as those who fought for Dany’s older brother, Rhaegar Targaryen, Mormont counters:
“Rhaegar fought valiantly. Rhaegar fought nobly. And Rhaegar died,” he says.
“He was not the last dragon,” Daenerys tells them.
Upon approaching Kraznys, the slave-trader, Dany tells him, “I want to buy them all,” and offers her largest dragon as payment for more than 8,000 slave warriors.
Both Mormont and Barristan object, but Dany disciplines them.
“If you ever question me in front of strangers again, you’ll be advising someone else,” she says.
Dany also gets the slaver to throw his translator, Missandei, into the deal.
In what might turn out to be a telling moment, Daenerys tells Missandei: “All men must die, but we are not men. “