If four seasons of Game of Thrones have taught us anything it’s that you shouldn’t judge a season by the initial handful of episodes. It’s the series’ credibility that has made what’s otherwise been a near endless stream of plotting and maneuvering tolerable since we can all but be assured of a satisfying payoff come episode 9. For the more impatient among us, there hasn’t been a whole lot happening just yet save Jon Snow’s transformation into the most interesting man in Westeros.
After entering The House of Black and White, Arya is impatiently waiting her training with Jaqen H’ghar. Another young girl ( a rival for Jaqen’s apprenticeship perhaps) in the house isn’t interested in befriending her let alone offering Arya any guidance as to her new choice of lifestyle. Jaqen appears ready to begin Arya’s training to become ‘no one,’ but first she has to abandon all ties of Arya Stark. The clothes and pocket change collected from her adventures with The Hound come easy, but as she holds Needle, the same sword her dear brother Jon gave her, Arya can’t do it and hides it in a pile of rocks. Oh Arya, attachment is forbidden for a Jedi…
Over at King’s Landing, it’s out with the old and in with the new as Margaery finally gets her king (Take 2). Since regicide receptions are so last year, we skip right ahead to Margaery making good on the marriage this time consummating the marriage with the new king. Tommen can’t get enough (we’re sure he’s not Robert’s kid?) and is more than happy to listen to Margaery’s suggestions that Cersei being overprotective of her ‘cub’ diminishes him and perhaps the queen mother would be happier back home at Casterly Rock.
Cersei gets her chance to sway her son that her influence is needed now more than ever, but the potential of sex on the regular proves far more promising for Tommen who proposes Cersei return home.[irp]
With that option looking increasingly less promising, Cersei tries to make good with Margaery, who goes with a brutal jab of asking Cersei if she’d like some wine and remarking that Tommen may soon make her the queen grandmother. Ah Cersei, losing control looks good on you.
On to Winterfell, where Bolton and his bastard Ramsey are enjoying a meal with Ramsey’s lapdog Theon pretending not to listen. Bolton is trying to get Ramsey to understand the changing dynamics of Westeros with the crumbling power of the Lannisters with Tywin’s death. After all, there’s still a number of Northerners still loyal to the Starks and Ramsey can’t subdue them all by flaying them (seriously that kid needs some serious couch time) as the Lannisters won’t be coming North to help them. No, to solidify their position in the North, Ramsey will have to get married and his potential bride is en route by way of … Littlefinger.
Yep, Littlefinger hasn’t stopped his machinations. He’s brokered a marriage arrangement with Bolton to give Sansa’s hand to Ramsey. Initially, Sansa is repulsed by the thought of marrying into the traitors who killed her brother and mother, but Littlefinger suggests the Starks still have allies in the North awaiting a true heir of the North to rally them.
While trusting Littlefinger seems a dubious proposition at this stage, Sansa is swayed when he tells her she’s seen terrible things done to her family and now it’s time to stop being a bystander and avenge her family. Hopefully this involves a knife and Ramsey’s throat and Bolton’s head on a jacka$$. Yes, I still have some deep seated issues after Robb’s death and I freely admit it. As Sansa settles in her new quarters, a chambermaid assures her that the North remembers. It dang well better!
In the episode’s most tender moment, Pod and Brienne have an honest exchange as she tells him of her childhood where she was mocked for her height and face, but Renly Baratheon came to her aid sparing her further humiliation and earning her loyalty. With the Stark girls rebuking her aid, it appears Brienne finally has a more interesting objective — she’s going to kill Stannis for killing Renly and train Pod in the ways of the … knights as well.
At the Wall, Jon Snow’s intriguing story arc continues. While he’s been named Commander of the Night’s Watch, Stannis still wants to honor his promise to make him Jon Stark, lord of Winterfell, if Jon will follow him in battle against the Boltons. Stannis understands Jon’s sense of honor even if he doesn’t agree with it and suggests Jon at least send Alliser Thorne and his supporters away from The Wall. Jon prefers to keep his enemies closer and is more interested in how long Stannis plans on crashing at The Wall with his forces since food isn’t cheap and winter is coming, you know? Ser Davos stays behind and mentions a line in the Knight’s Watch oath about protecting the shield (presumably of the rightful ruler of Westeros), which gives Jon a reason to stand alongside Stannis on the battlefield.
Before he address this new loophole, Jon has to dish out assignments. When latrine duty comes up, Alliser is all set to start shoveling, but Jon shows mercy and good sense in assigning it to a brother not bothered by the crappy detail. Alliser gets a position as the First Ranger while his ally Lord Janus gets sent to a position in need of major repair. Janus loses his mind and starts mouthing off so much that even Alliser knows this is bad business. When Janus refuses the assignment, Jon has some of his brother’s escort him to the chopping block. Like his father before him, Jon knows the importance of a leader tackling the hardest role of executioner. Janus begs for mercy, but Jon decapitates him. Anyone else have a problem with Jon Snow? The only way this scene could have been better would have been if Jon dropped the sword like a mic and walked off. Stannis observes and seems very impressed.
In a subplot sure to be developed further, but did little in this episode, Cersei meets the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) after some of the chaste Sparrows humiliated the High Septon for cavorting in one of Littlefinger’s brothels. High Sparrow is a hero to the lower class for standing with them and giving up luxuries to help the less fortunate. Cersei seems impressed saying she had the High Septon placed in jail as she agrees with the High Sparrow’s take on faith.
On the longest road trip since Dany went full Khaleesi, Tyrion is going crazy in the caravan and needs to look at another face besides Varys. That they happen to stumble onto a city with easy to identify prostitutes makes it all the better for our favorite imp. But to his surprise, Shea’s betrayal has killed Tyrion’s interest in paid companions. That’s like Cookie Monster deciding cookies aren’t his thing anymore.
As he goes for a window side urine break, Tyrion gets lassoed by Ser Jorrah (!) ready to make amends with Dany by bringing Tyrion to her. Poor Jorrah, Dany’s too reckless and believing of her own hype to accept any gifts or advice from a ‘traitor.’ The real question is how this will impact Tyrion and Varys’ attempts to help her capture the real throne that matters?
Sansa and Jon may be in line to actually get some payback for House Stark, which means they’re high on my list for characters to get killed off come episode 9. For now, I’m enjoying their journeys this season. How do you think it’s playing out so far?