Last week, I finally found a new character to firmly root for throughout the Wildness of Westeros in Tyrion, who is once again faced with overwhelming odds with hope rapidly fading. How could you not cheer for a character like that? This week the spotlight turns to another character that is proving equally challenging not to love, albeit for far different reasons.
Jamie is not happy with his little brother’s awesome outburst at the trial, but Tyrion, still stinging from Shae’s betrayal, laughs off the admonishment while casually trying to see if Jamie will fight on his behalf. Jamie is right in the middle of this family split and it seems this is the first time he considers the loss of his hand a good thing. It gives him an out and removes him from having to pick a side. No biggie, Tyrion isn’t too worried. He’ll just have his loyal sell-sword, Bronn, fight on his behalf again. Oh yeah, this is awkward.
So Bronn, being the mercenary he’s always been and not as loyal as Tyrion would have hoped, comes to visit his friend in regal attire complete with a cape. He’s here to honor the deal he struck with Tyrion years ago. If someone bought him off, Bronn was to give Tyrion a chance to double the payoff. Alas, the funds are low and Tyrion only has the promise of being the ruler of Winterfell to offer Bronn. Cersei however, is offering him the rule of a warmer kingdom without having to fight her champion, The Mountain, (The Hound’s brother) a vicious warrior even Bronn fears. Bronn says that yes, Tyrion is his friend, but he likes himself more than dying for Tyrion. Hard to argue with that logic and Tyrion can’t either. I’m reluctant to call Bronn’s actions a betrayal as he’s always been straight up with his shadiness as opposed to many others on this show, but I’ll miss the banter between these guys.
Tonight’s most touching moment occurs a bit later as Prince Oberyn visits Tyrion. He recalls their first meeting, not long after Tyrion was born. Tywin Lannister’s monster was the talk of the region and Cersei delighted in showing off the little monster, Oberyn recalls. But to his disappointment, Tyrion lacked the fangs and tail. He was just a baby. Cersei hated him from birth saying Tyrion killed their mother and she pinched him until Jamie forced her to stop, proving a brief, but perfectly accurate account of the Lannister children’s relationship. Tyrion is fighting tears and Oberyn assures him that Cersei will not get what she wants this time. He will be Tyrion’s champion. If Oberyn hadn’t quickly become jumped to your list of favorite characters since his introduction, this scene should just about have done it.
This year’s most unusual pairing — The Hound and Arya continue their travels through the countryside. They find a man mortally wounded, a victim of an attack by two thieves. The Hound shows rare mercy by conversing with the dying man before giving him a drink and putting him out of his misery. He explains to Arya that’s where the heart is and that’s how you kill a man. They encounter two more would-be mercenaries seeking to capture the bounty on The Hound. One manages to take a bite out of The Hound’s neck. The Hound kills one and Arya recognizes the other as one of the men who threatened her when she was en route to The Wall. She asks his name to add to her list of men to kill and promptly pulls out her sword and runs it through his heart. She’s learning and The Hound approves. The Hound’s wounds look bad and after he shares how his brother burned his face while his father excused him, Arya seems to find some sympathy for a man she’s only hated and offers to wash and stitch his wounds. This has been one of the season’s most inspired subplots.
For this week’s boring Danerys check-in, she has a guest in her private quarters — Daario — who wants to prove his prowess in the bedroom since he’s run out of people to fight in Mereen. After being slightly annoyed, Danerys has him strip while she checks out his goods. For all the female degradation of this show, this didn’t necessarily feel like the tables were being turned, but for a change a guy had to strip down and Dany had some control over her sexy time now. It’s good to be queen.
And in the winner for this week’s weirdest scene, which for the second week in a work revolved around a bath, Melisandre is bathing when Stannis’ wife comes by. Mind you, I’m not at all clamoring to see naked dudes running around, but the show runners have an odd double standard about how they portray men and women. Stannis’ wife seems shocked/mesmerized (?) by Melisandre’s nakedness. Melisandre can hardly be bothered, but assures her that men fall prey to whatever Melisandre offers whether magic tricks, sex or the potions that raise a man’s lust. In one of the episode’s best exchanges, Stannis’ wife asks did Melisandre use a potion on Stannis to make him sleep with her and Melisandre sharply replies no. Ouch. Good news though as the Lord of Light has use of Stannis’ daughter, whom his wife does not like seeing thanks to her disfigured appearance. Stannis, that plan didn’t work well for Agamemnon, I doubt it will work out well for you either.
Shifting to Brienne and Pod, my soon-to-be favorite pairing, who take a break from the road and are eating at a lodge where they meet Hot Pie, Arya’s former running buddy, who stayed behind at this lodge to perfect his cooking craft. Brienne mentions they’re looking for Sansa Stark, but Pod cautions against dropping the S word so freely. Hot Pie comes out of the lodge to tell them that Arya is still alive and was captured by The Hound. Pod deduces that The Hound will try to make a quick buck and take Arya to her aunt, Lysa, at the Eyrie. Brienne isn’t sure about it, but trusts Pod’s logic and they head off to the Eyrie.
In what’s become the hallmark of this season, the last 10 minutes is dedicated to one storyline and again, this payoff was a doozy. Winter (or at least snowfall) has come to the Eyrie. Sansa welcomes the snow and indulges her age (it’s easy to forget she’s not an adult despite what she’s experienced) a little and builds Winterfell out of snow. Robin comes and accidentally knocks over a tower. Sansa is a bit annoyed, prompted a full on tantrum by Robin, who tramples Snow Winterfell. Tired of petulant future boy kings, Sansa smacks him and Robin runs off to his mother.
Petyr emerges and tells Sansa she has nothing to apologize for. Lyssa should have done the same years ago to Robin. Then he gets uncomfortably close and tells Sansa that she’s more beautiful than her mother ever was and lunges in for the kiss. Just as Lyssa sees it all from her balcony.
I was shocked when Petyr kissed Sansa. Not because of the act — the dude’s practically been lusting for her since the start of the show — but for how uncharacteristically emotional the move. After all, Petyr has excelled at the GOT long game and he hadn’t thrived this long by making dumb moves like this. What was he thinking?!?!?
Lyssa summons Sansa to her chamber and quickly flies into jealous rage, dragging Sansa to the moon door and threatening to throw her out. Petyr arrives to try and calm her down. She screams about all the things she’s done for Petyr and asks why he brought her here. He tells her to let Sansa go while assuring that he will send her away immediately as he’s only ever loved one woman — Lyssa’s sister. As the shock fully sets in on Lyssa’s face, Petyr tosses her out the moon door to plummet to her death.
From a purely making moves perspective has anyone been more deserving of the throne this season than Littlefinger? And is anyone else playing the game remotely close to his level at this point? I’m curious as to what his end game is at this point or is he satisfied with merely winning Sansa’s impressionable heart by killing everyone who dared harm her first with Joffrey and now her psychotic aunt. Or does he want to rule all of Westeros?
For those of you keeping watch on The Doomsday Clock a.k.a. Episode 9’s annual killing of an important character/major event, we’re down to just one more episode… Consider yourself warned.