If Game of Thrones follows the pattern, that episode—the ninth—will be as awesome as “Baelor” and “Blackwater.” Until then, though, we’ve got some standard updates: Arya is still with the Hound, and he’s hoping to return her to her family in exchange for gold at the Twins, where the Freys hope to marry one of their daughters to Robb’s uncle. Dany continues to win against the odds: as she said, a fortnight ago she had no army; a year ago she had no dragon. Now she has the mercenary Second Sons, led by the sultry Daario Naharis.
The Second Sons are interesting. (Well, okay—interesting if you’re me.) In naming the army, George R.R. Martin was likely drawing on the works of Georges Duby, a twentieth-century historian of the European Middle Age who argued that the Crusades were so popular because so many second and third sons were just looking for something to do after primogeniture left them without an inheritance. I like the way he worked that real-world research into his books.
The title of this episode, of course, doesn’t just refer to Dany’s new army. It refers to many second sons: Stannis, Tyrion, and the Hound, for instance. The Hound continues to struggle with his brother’s general tendency toward atrocity. Stannis is struggling with the morality of Melisandre’s desire to dress Gendry up and then bleed him like a sacrificial lamb. And Tyrion…
Oh, Tyrion. The wedding and bedding scenes were very similar to those in the books, and made me just as uncomfortable as when I first read them. I don’t think I’m alone in liking Tyrion best (he’s GRRM’s favorite, too), and that makes his discomfort all the more squirmy, especially since so much of it depends on everyone in Westeros being uncomfortable with a high-born “dwarf”—and very comfortable making fun of him.
As wedding days go, Tyrion’s was an unmitigated disaster: the thing with the wedding cloak, Joffrey threatening to rape Sansa (even though she didn’t tell Tyrion about it), Tyrion’s drunken threat against Joffrey (which will surely not go unpunished down the line). But it is Sansa’s line about not wanting to ever sleep with him that breaks my heart: “What if I never want to?” she asks.
Tyrion, of course, is gentleman enough to never force it—but it’s not just gentlemanliness that keeps him from spousal rape. It’s that he wants, like everybody else in the entire universe, to be wanted. And now he’s tied for life to a woman who never will want him because she can’t see past the two things he can’t help being: a dwarf and a Lannister. At least he has Shae, who was clearly happy that Tyrion and Sansa had not slept together. Her morning-after look was quite fun.
As was Sam’s awkward flirty discussion with Gilly: he’s a natural pedant and kind of a doofus, but John Bradley-West really owned the character’s vulnerable complexity when he asked Gilly not to name her son Randall. Sam may have daddy issues, and he may be convinced that he’s craven, but him killing the very same white walker who gave him the hairy eyeball in last season’s finale was quite brave. Sam’s resourceful: using the dragonglass dagger was smart, as clearly it’s the only thing that can kill the zombies. (Leaving it behind, as he seems to have done, was perhaps less smart.)
Grumpkins and Snarks:
• Cersei threatened Maergery so blatantly, and wrote off the lovely Loras with quite a cutting line. Cersei doesn’t really know subtlety, does she?
• Interesting juxtaposition: Melisandre tying Gendry up, then Joffrey threatening to do something very similar in the next scene.
• Sansa’s wedding dress made her look even taller than she usually does.
• “Come keep me warm under the furs” is apparently the wildling equivalent of “Hey, wanna get a drink sometime?”
Three out of four leeches.
(Reminder: book spoilers live in the discussion thread.)
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?)
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