Game of Thrones: Dark Wings, Dark Words

“May I speak my mind, Your Grace?”
“Have you not been speaking your mind?”

When was the last time we got a funny episode of Game of Thrones? Back in Season One, with Jane Espenson’s “A Golden Crown”? GoT isn’t afraid of a little well-placed sarcasm (that’s one reason Tyrion is so important), but rarely has an episode made me laugh as much as this one did. And that’s in the middle of some important character development, although not a lot of real action.

If there’s a theme this week, it’s honesty: nearly all of the characters came clean about motivations, about histories, about their worries and irritations. Theon, for instance, was more than honest on the…rack thing. (Was it a penis rack?) He came to Winterfell for confused reasons involving daddy issues and revenge.

Catelyn was equally straightforward with Rob’s wife, although her speech about Jon Snow represents a rather intense departure from the book. (One we can talk about in the discussion thread if we want.) Her scenes were indicative of the larger pattern of this episode: events are happening (Catelyn’s father’s death), but what matters is everything else the characters are talking about.

Take Tyrion and Shae, for instance. Their conversation made me laugh out loud, since it was such a perfect, funny-in-retrospect fight between a couple. Who hasn’t lived through some version of this conversation?

Tyrion: “Now that the Lannisters have discarded her, Sansa will have many suitors. A great beauty, a very old name.”
Shae: “A great beauty?! Oh, a great beauty.”
Tyrion: “Yes, she is, objectively, very. Her face is quite pleasing…to other men, and to women. People, in general. But not to me, of course. I only have eyes for you.”
Shae: “You pervert. You want her. This child!”
Tyrion: “I don’t even want to talk about her.”
Shae: “But you are!”
Tyrion: “Because you’re making me.”

Shae and Tyrion are being honest while still speaking around their larger concerns: how they can trust one another in a place where trust is the equivalent of idiocy. They are, at this point, the one good thing in each other’s lives. And I’m going to stop there, since I’m headed somewhere best reserved for the discussion thread.

Even Arya and Gendry were fairly honest: Gendry admitted to being a smith’s apprentice in King’s Landing, and Arya came close to the truth in saying her brothers taught her to fight. (It’s not entirely incorrect.) That honesty is useless, of course, since The Hound! has returned to the show just in time to identify Arya as a Stark pup. And since all the Starks are feeling honest, even Bran got into the game when he opened up to Jojen Reed (!) about the nature of what Osha calls his “black magic” dreams and his warging ability, which was conveniently explained by Ygritte and Mance up beyond the wall.

However, honesty isn’t always the best policy. Brienne described Catelyn as “an honest woman,” and Jaime riposted with, “For all the good it’s done her.” Honesty can be a weapon, or a trick, or just a dumb move. Shae seems to genuinely want to help Sansa, but Sansa doesn’t believe she should trust anyone—so she doesn’t tell Shae about Littlefinger’s murky plans.

But Sansa does tell Lady Olenna about Joffrey. Lady Olenna, played by the delightful Diana Rigg (née Mrs. Peel), is one of the highlights of the books, and she’s even better on screen. She’s snarky in a way that makes it seem like she is brutally honest, and therefore trustworthy, but notice that she gives up no useful information. She just gets it.

Is that bad? Shouldn’t Margery know that her little fiancé is a monster? Or are there larger consequences to Joffrey’s monstrosity. Neither of the Tyrell women seemed especially disturbed by the revelation.

All of which brings me to the one conversation that clearly wasn’t honest: Margery talking to Joffrey and his phallus crossbow. Thanks to Sansa, Margery knows that violence and “degeneracy” are the ways to get Joffrey’s attention. She kept up the pure-virgin act, but added a twist of “depravity” so Joffrey could feel disgust at his predecessor. In doing so, she reloaded his crossbow, so to speak. And what a crossbow it is. As Margery said, “I imagine it must be so exciting to squeeze your finger here, and watch something die over there.” (At that point, I had to pause the TV while I got my laughter under control.) Joffrey says Margery “no longer belong[s]” to her father. But he has no idea that Margery is doing everything she can to wrap him around her little finger.

Dark Words:

• Cersei: “Give it to Margery for her wedding gown. There’s more than enough fabric.”

• Cersei: “Her concern for the well-being of the common people is interesting.”
Joffrey: “Not to me.”

• Lady Olenna: “Loras is young and very good at knocking men off of horses with a stick. That doesn’t make him wise.”

• Tyrion: “Is there an idiot in any village who trusts Littlefinger?”

• Did the waiter bring Lady Olenna an entire bowl of cubed goat cheese? Why does no one ever bring me a bowl of cheese? I can snark with the best of them.

• I think any episode with scenes that take place beyond the wall ought to come with a warning: Watcher, beware! You will get cold just watching this scene! Bundle up before resuming the episode! Drink hot cocoa!

• It’s exciting to see Thoros of Myr, although I always pictured him as black, so I was very confused for a few minutes.

• Don’t forget that book spoilers happen in the discussion thread, not in the comments on this review.

Three and a half out of four cave people. Because everybody hate the cave people.

Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, True Detective, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


Morgan India said...

Even if people absolutely despise Joffrey, you can't really fault Jack Gleeson with his portrayal of Good King Joffers.

Josie Kafka said...

Ah, Morgan! I meant to include this link in the review, but forgot. Courtesy of Nadim:

And courtesy of Mark:

Sadly, we seem to be alone in our chihuahua fixation.

Morgan India said...

How can people not see that he is a chihuahua?

sunbunny said...

I totally get the chihuahua vibe from Joffrey. :)

Morgan India said...

Sssssh, Jack is lovely. Jack and I were Twitter BFFs. Jack told me he would wrestle a koala and that he'd win.

I really liked the parallels between Joffrey/Sansa with dressing and the mirror. And the Cersei/Joffrey conversation.


This is what happens when Shameless ends and I have to hold onto my tears until a more suitable time to cry.

Mark Greig said...


It's a British thing.

Jess Lynde said...

This really was a rather funny episode. I laughed myself silly over Cersei's line about that little slip of fabric being enough for Margaery's wedding dress. And Brienne and Jaime had me grinning from ear to ear for most of their story. That look he shot back at her when the farmer identified him to Bolton's men was priceless.

Another thing that made me laugh myself silly: the very obvious aging of Isaac Hempstead-Wright. He looks so damn different now, and his voice has changed. The growth in the other Stark kids isn't nearly as noticeable. But Bran is clearly two years older, even though far less time has passed in the story. Aah, well. Nature of the beast.

Thoros of Myr was different than I pictured him, too. I always thought of him as a big, Arabian type. But I still found myself immediately drawn to him. It's often fun to see how they merge particular characters and compress storylines on the show. The Hound showed up much earlier than anticipated.

Iago said...

It wasn't just the humour that got me in this episode: it was the full range of emotions it made me feel. I nearly fell off my chair with Jaimie's quote about Renly and the throne, I was squirming with disgust in the Joffrey scenes (seriously, just eww!) and Theon's torture, and both Sam and Catelyn's scenes got me choked up.

I loved the introduction of the Reeds. Thomas Sangster is a great actor so I'm particularly looking forward to his work. Jaimie and Brienne are going to be so great: I loved how easy she made the fight look at the end, how contemptuously she brushed him aside.

The one bit I didn't like was the Shae/Tyrion scene. It didn't work for me.

celticmarc said...

Gee whiz Josie ! That is FAST delivery !

It was (indeed) a blast seeing Diana Rigg. It was an even more blast with her lines. I have the utmost respect and admiration for a no censorship matriarch !

(People please ! this site is a cat's place first and foremost)

And, on a personal level, there are so many beautiful landscapes in this show, a pleasure for the eyes.

Anonymous said...

Josie, I wasn't sure Tyrion *was* being honest when he was telling Shae that he wasn't attracted to Sansa. I remember in the book he was - it stuck in my mind because she's what, thirteen or fourteen? Normal in their world, I know, but it's pretty creepy to us.


Juliette said...

I'm been sort of assuming that the action in the TV series is slower than in the books (though Arya's hair would seem to disprove that theory!). It seems to me they should just assume all this is taking a long time, though I suppose when I think about it that wouldn't work for Robb and Catelyn's story. But still. As long as no one on the TV gets pregnant (giving a precise timescale) I'm going to assume years are passing!