A sign of a good episode is the fact that when it ends you can scarcely believe that an hour has already passed. Well, almost an hour anyway. That’s how I felt last night at the end of “What Is Dead May Never Die”. There have been a few lags in the last two episodes, but as with last season, this season is picking up steam as the episodes and stories advance. I can’t imagine the planning and creative process behind trying to bring this world to life and have to fit it all into cohesive hour-long segments. It’s a gigantic undertaking and so far, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have done a spectacular job.
The first season started off strong and ended even stronger. I haven’t felt that kind of strength as much this season, but even with the small dips in the premier and second episode, they’ve been pretty solid so far. With the inclusion of new lands, new characters and expanding roles for supporting cast from the first season, time is limited. Unfortunately this means less screen time for some of our favorite characters (i.e. Robb, Daenerys). Neither of which were present in the most recent episode, which was a shame. However the episode didn’t suffer because of it thanks to Jon, Arya and Tyrion.
North of the Wall (Craster’s Keep)
Last week ended with Jon spying on Craster as he ditched his new-born son in the woods and watched as…something took the crying baby away. Craster got the drop on Jon and knocked him unconscious. This week picks up with Craster throwing Jon through the door of his keep, telling Mormont that it’s time for them to move on because Jon didn’t respect his rules. Mormont sends Jon to wait outside while he tries to smooth things over with Craster. When Mormont finds Jon, the two have words once again. Jon tells Mormont what he saw, and then realizes that Mormont already knows about Craster’s despicable ways. Mormont basically tells Jon that even though they may not agree, they have to respect Craster’s ways because of the aid he’s provided to the Night’s Watch over the years. If Mormont’s choosing of Jon as his squire was to groom the lad to someday lead, Jon is getting quite the education even if he doesn’t realize it right away. Mormont tells Jon to ready his horse because at dawn, they head further North.
Sam packs up the bird, but takes a moment to talk to Gilly. She knows that they’re leaving and that she can’t go with them. Sam gives her something that his mother gave to him before he left for the Wall. She tries to refuse it but he tells her he’ll get it back when they return. It’s more of a promise to come back for her than anything else and I do believe that Sam is a bit smitten with the girl.
The stop in Winterfell is a short one this week, but it’s always good to see Bran. Maester Luwin sends Hodor to wake Bran because it’s time for his studies. Bran is dreaming once again that he’s the wolf and when he wakes, Summer is standing over him. I’ve no idea where these dreams are headed in terms of the story, but I love how they’re executing them on-screen. Bran seems to think there is more to them and seeks the advice of Maester Luwin. Luwin tells him that this kind of magic was present in the world at one time, but it’s long gone, along with the dragons. Oh…if only he knew. Luwin tells Bran that one of the links in his Maester’s chain reflects his mastering the study of magic. He tells Bran that most Maester’s don’t even bother with it, but he was young and wanted to believe. Bran tells him of the stories that Old Nan told him and Luwin tells him that they are just that. Stories. Bran seems to believe those more than the wise Maesters.
I love the relationship between these two. Luwin is standing in as a father, or grandfather type for Bran, while also serving as his mentor and confidant. Bran is a strong-willed and smart boy and his character is growing with each passing episode.
Last week we left Theon after he came to the horrific realization that the gal he tried to bed was in fact his sister. He also realized that he didn’t come home to the fanfare he was expecting, not to mention that his father isn’t quite impressed with him. This week starts with the siblings hollering at each other when Balon storms in telling them that the plan has been set. He gives Yara the command of 30 ships and Theon the command of…..one. Ouch. His plan is to raid the north while Robb, the “young pup” is busy in the South. So if Theon is to follow his father, it means he’s going to have to betray Robb.
Part of me is irritated with Theon for being a bit of a whiney bitch. He thinks he’s entitled, which he may be, but his demanding of these entitlements is what gets me. On the other hand I think his frustration is warranted because as he pointed out this week, his father is the one that gave him to the Starks to begin with. He’s being punished for something that was out of his control as a child. Looking for his father’s approval though doesn’t excuse his betrayal of Robb. He wrote a letter to Robb telling him of what his father has planned, but ended up burning it instead. These actions are not going to go unscathed. I can’t imagine what’s going to happen when and if Robb finds out.
Hosting a tournament to pass the time, Lord….er….King….whatever Renly watches (along with his new wife, Margaery Tyrell) his lover, Ser Loras Tyrell get bested by a woman, Brienne. He tells Brienne that she have whatever she wants, so she asks for a place in his guard, to which he agrees. Meanwhile, Catelyn shows up to speak with him about joining forces with Robb. Of course Renly doesn’t agree to this and tells Brienne to show Catelyn to her tent so she can recovery from her long journey. The best part of this scene was the dig that Catelyn got at pretty much everyone in earshot when she told Renly that her son is busy fighting a war, not playing at war. Burn!
Renly and Loras are enjoying some alone time, well, Renly is trying to but Loras is still jaded about the Brienne debacle. He leaves and shortly after, Margaery comes in to consummate their marriage….finally. He blames the wine for his lack of action, but ole Marg knows the truth and tells him so. She also tells him that the only way to silence the naysayers is to get her pregnant with his child.
The most action happened in King’s Landing this week, with the focus on Tyrion once again. Shae is tired of being locked up so to appease her, he sends her to work as Sansa’s handmaid. After a troublesome dinner with Cersei, Myrcella and Tommen, Sansa retires to her chamber. Shae arrives to help out but doesn’t have any idea what she’s supposed to do. There’s a method to Tyrion’s madness here, but what it is hasn’t been revealed just yet.
We do get to see Tyrion’s plotting at work however when he tells Maester Pycelle, Varys, and Littlefinger his plans to marry off Myrcella….to three different people. Of course it’s all a test to see which one will betray him and it turns out to be the old Maester. When confronted, Pycelle insists everything he’s done, he’s done for the Lannisters. Tyrion has a plan that he’s setting in motion, but one never truly knows what his endgame is. I love Tyrion, but Shae is a bit irritating. I didn’t see the needs for her at first, but knowing how he feels about her, I see it now. There has to be some weakness that can be exploited and she’s his weakness.
We end this episode on the King’s Road with Arya & Co. Everyone is asleep except for her. Instead she sits, cleaning Needle’s blade. Yoren comes in to rest and tells her that she needs to do the same. She asks how he can sleep, and tells him that she sees their faces everytime she closes her eyes. Of course she’s talking about when Ned was killed. Yoren tells her that she didn’t see anything because he made sure of it. He tells her that they aren’t so different and tells her about how he say his own brother killed. He tells her that he would say the killer’s name every night over and over, almost like a prayer until the day came when he avenged his brother’s death. That was when he took the black and because part of the Night’s Watch. Their bonding moment is cut short when Ser Armory Lorch and his men show up looking for Gendry once again. Yoren tells both Arya and Gendry to stay hidden and to run if need be and goes out to confront the King’s Guard. Refusing to give Gendry up, Yoren takes down several of Loch’s men before he gets the sword. In the midst of chaos, Arya and Gendry try to fight, and Arya throws an axe to Jaqen H’gharn so he and the two others in the cage can get free of the fire that their cage was becoming engulfed in.
It’s all for naught however when they’re all rounded up by Loch’s men. Lommy was left with an arrow in his leg and tells the knight that he can’t walk and that they’ll have to carry him. The knight laughs and makes to help him, but stabs him instead. Turning back toward the others, he demands that they give up Gendry or else. Arya tells them that they already got him and motions to Lommy. The only defining characteristic they had of Gendry was his bull head helm, and Lommy had it with him when he died.
While there wasn’t loads of time spent at any location aside from King’s Landing, this episode moved rather quickly. I really hope that we get back to Robb next week and we see more of what’s happening with Jon. I’m currently trying to tear through the book to stay ahead of the show and so far I’ve managed to not be surprised at what’s happening. I had the first book completed before the series started so there weren’t any surprises for me, but this time around I’m not sure what to expect just yet. There is so much I’d love to know, but all in good time.