Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Throne of What?!?!: A Game of Thrones: "Dark Wings, Dark Words" Review

Warning: The below review contains some adult language and content based on the content of this week's episode. Reader discretion in advised. 

Secrets and Lies, these are the weights we carry. It is fear of these dark secrets that allows others to manipulate us and forces us to take surprising actions. The truth can set you free, after a fashion.   In Dark Wings, Dark Words we see some characters haunted by the secrets they bare and others unload their burden to divergent results.

This episode also gave us a heavy dose of magic by the introduction and explanation of wargs.

HBO's Episode Summary:
In the Riverlands, Robb Stark escorts his mother to Riverrun for his grandfather’s funeral, while his sister Arya is taken prisoner by the Brotherhood without Banners – and recognized by the Hound. At court in King’s Landing, Sansa Stark meets Lady Olenna Tyrell of Highgarden and confesses to her and Margaery that Joffrey’s a monster. North of Winterfell, Jojen and Meera Reed catch up with Stark boys and explain that they’ve been searching for them.

Nord & Sud:

In the North, the King of the Grim-bearded-stinking-barbarians is escorting her mother (Catelyn) to the funeral of her father at Riverrun.

On the trail Catelyn confesses to Queen Talisa what is perhaps her deepest and darkest secret.  Catelyn was so angry over Lord Stark's affair and the bastard that it produced she prayed to the gods for Jon Snow's death.  Only after Jon fell sick she felt responsible and created a prayer wheel to attempt to save Jon's life.  She bargained with the gods, promising to treat Jon like he was one of her own sons and to convince the Lord of Winterfell to give him proper name and status. Only Catelyn could not keep her promise and she feels that all the bad things that have happened to her family are her fault for breaking her oath to the gods.

At the same time Robb is dealing with dissension and doubt within the ranks as his marriage to Talisa and the stalled war is creating doubts among his forces.  It certainly seems like the King in the North's campaign has lost its momentum.  Can Robb re-gain the initiative are the Lannisters at King's Landing to entrenched in power?

Past the wall we have Samwell Tarly being treated like Piggy from Lord of the Flies until the Lord Commander steps in and institutes the buddy system.  You have to think that Samwell makes a heroic turn at some point in our story. It's hard not to root for the incompetent and cowardly nice guy. He is basically the anti-Theon.

Jon Snow is quickly ingratiating himself in the Mance Rayder's good graces.  While Mance cautions him that he has no compunction about killing Snow if he is playing him, he also tells Jon how he keeps his amalgamated forces together. It is a simple truth, if they do not get south they will all die.  The White Walkers are on the move.  This quick snippet of story above the wall also helps explain the phenomenon of Wargs.  Snow witnesses as Orell possesses and eagle's mind and uses it's eyes to scout ahead for Mance.

Hodor, Osha, Bran, and Rickon travel the wilderness heading for the wall and Castle Black.  While Bran's 3-eyed raven dreams continue, they meet the Jojen Reed and his sister. Jojen will serve as a bit of a friend and guide for Bran has it is revealed that he is a Warg and must learn to control his powers.  While I am sure Bran will be pivotal down the road, I am fascinated by how little attention is paid to Rickon, he borders on being a non-entity almost the entire series.

Down the road at King's Landing, King Joffrey is putting his mother in her place, playing with his fancy new cross-bow and continuing is creepy courtship of Margaery.  We will get back to Maggy's motivations in a minute.

The Ladies Stark:

Sansa's luck is still going good as she hasn't lost her head in court.  She also has Tyrion Lannister rooting for her because he thinks she is a hottie.  More importantly she may have found an unlikely ally in the person of Lady Olenna Redwyne. Lady Olenna invites Sansa for Lemon cakes and cheese with Margaery to get the dirt on King Joffrey. Sansa keeps up her tough front at first but Lady Olenna's honesty and guarantees of fidelity provoke Sansa to finally say what she was trying to get off her chest.  She reveals the truth, that Joffrey is a "monster."

While this revelation isn't going to prevent the impending royal wedding, it gives Margaery to the information and angle she needs to manipulate Joffrey.  In the final scene between the two "love birds" we see Margaery getting pretty dark and playing into Joffrey's perverse depravity of pain and death with talk of killing things.  This certainly reveals a lot more about her character that the previous episode hinted at.  Just how far is she willing to go to become Queen, or is her goal not to become Queen but to simply survive the Game of Thrones that her father cast her into the middle of?

Arya's back! My favorite character makes her less than triumphant return in this episode.  Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie are roaming through the woods a bit lost when they encounter the Brotherhood without Banners.  This meeting in the woods and subsequent dinning hall scene illustrate the reasons that I adore Arya's character.  The chic thing is for female heroines to be tough chicks who can take on all comers.  The thing that is endearing about Arya is that she is a proto-heroine. She has the mixture of bravery and curiosity that gets her in trouble and also allows her to escape trouble.  At the same time she is not yet nearly as capable as she thinks she is, so she often picks fights she cannot win.

Just when Arya and her companions think Thoros is going to let them be on their merry way, the Brotherhood drags in The Hound, who reveals Arya's identity in a rather crass fashion.  What will the Brotherhood do with such a valuable pawn in the game?

Theon meets Karma:

It's always nice when a nasty fellow receives what he deserves.  Theon's rather brutal torture by his mystery hosts.  It will be interesting to see if following his liberation Theon continues to be the bumbling incompetent villain or whether he strives for some measure of redemption over his guilt of sacking Winterfell.

The Odd Couple:

Confession time.  I know he is an incest having, attempted murder, but Jaime Lannister is starting to grow on me.  I thoroughly enjoy the interplay and chemistry between Jaime and Brienne.  The revelation of Brienne's unrequited love for King Renly reveals a softer side to this hard as nails character.  Jaime's line "we don't get to choose who we love," also reveals a level of emotional depth that was often lacking in the character in previous seasons.  There little walk across Westros also provides the greatest line of the series,"It's a shame the throne isn't made of cocks, they'd have never gotten him off it."

I am calling it now, before these two get to King's Landing they are so hooking up.  They would make some mighty warrior babies.

That's all I got on this week's episode.  Tune in Sunday night for Episode 3 of Season 3, Walk of Punishment.

Episode 23: Walk of Punishment Preview


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