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'Game of Thrones' recap: 'A Man Without Honor'

"It is better to be cruel than weak." - Theon Greyjoy

Whoa. Did Theon Greyjoy really just kill Bran and Rickon Stark?!

Moreover: Why is this show so insanely cruel to its only honorable family?

The seventh episode in the second season of"Game of Thrones"ended with Greyjoy's soliders hanging the tarred bodies of two young boys, leading the people of Winterfell (and viewers) to presume that he had killed Bran and Rickon (who I believe are only 9 and 4 years old, respectively). Theon had been chasing them ever since they escaped from Winterfell the night before. He'd had no success until he appeared with the tar-covered bodies. 

So, are the youngest Stark boys really dead? Or is this some sort of dishonorable Greyjoy tactic? Whatever the answer, Greyjoy has clearly crossed over into the villain category on this show with the slaughter of children.

(According to workplace discussions, other viewers don't seem to hate Theon with the same intensity as I do. To them, I say this: If hating Theon Greyjoy is wrong, I don't want to be right.)

As slaughters go, Theon's wasn't the bloodiest Sunday night. That honor belongs to Pyat Pree, the uber-creepy warlock in Qarth. Pree, his warlocks and Xaro Xhoan Daxos orchestrated a coup against the city's rulers, slitting their throats after Pree reveals (as suspected) that he has stolen the Daenerys Targaryen's dragons and taken them to the House of the Undying. 

I cannot wait to see how HBO will portray this dark-magic-filled house, which is the center of power for Qarth's warlocks. Dany's entrance into this house of horrors is one of the best scenes in "A Clash of Kings," the second book in the series, "A Song of Ice and Fire." If the show does it justice, it could be the most memorable scene of the season. 

Up in the north, Jon Snow spent much of the episode flirting with Ygritte, before she tricked him into getting himself surrounded by wildings. The episode ended with Snow outnumbered 20 to 1, likely making him a wildling captive. Before leading him into a trap, Ygritte made some valid points questioning why the Night's Watch is so obsessed with fighting the wildings, who are just men, after all. Um, aren't there some frozen zombies out there called The Others? Aren't those the guys you should be going after?

Snow is one of the major characters in this series and I can't help thinking that he's still under-developed on the show. The other big three -- Tyrion Lannister, Dany and Arya Stark -- have been well-developed throughout the two seasons, but I don't think we get let inside Snow's mind as much as the others. I assume that will change in future episodes.

So, Bran and Rickon are presumably dead and Jon Snow is presumably captured. Westeros is cruel to the Stark kids. And things aren't looking better for Sansa, who awoke to her first period. This wouldn't be so terrible for most girls, but it is for Sansa because it means she's old enough to wed the monstrous Joffrey Lannister and bear his children. 

Sansa is finding the politics of King's Landing difficult to navigate. There are just so many cynical, duplicitous characters around. After she tried to thank The Hound for saving her life, he snapped at her.

"Does it give you joy to scare people?" she asked.

"No, it gives me joy to kill people," replied The Hound.

And Cersei Lannister, who was one of the crueler characters of Season 1, has started to show her softer side, all but conceding to Sansa that Joffrey is a vile, despicable king and giving her sound advice. 

"The more people you love, the weaker you are," she told Sansa.

Rob Stark is still apparently smitten with some girl he met on the battlefield and has taken her with him on an expedition. While he's left camp, Jaime Lannister escaped, killing his cellmate (and cousin) and one of Lord Karstark's sons. He's promptly captured, but Catelyn Stark has to hold off the Karstarks from slaughtering Jaime in chains. Tensions are running high and all hell is about to break out in Rob's army while he's away.

The only Stark who seems to be doing well is Arya, whom Tywin Lannister has taken a liking to. They discuss history, battles, legacies and Tywin tells her: "You remind me of my daughter."

Tywin sees the coming war with Stannis Baratheon as the most important of his life. 

"This will be my last war, win or lose," Tywin said.

Speaking of Stannis, this is the second episode in a row in which he has not appeared. If the writers are building up to a huge battle between armies pledged to Joffrey and Stannis, we need more Stannis, Davos Seaworth and Melisandre on camera. Pronto.

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