Game of Thrones Season 3 continues with more torture, more sword-fighting, but still a notable (and praise-worthy) absent of breasts or prostitutes. Seems like HBO is finally learning that no one appreciates those gratuitous scenes in Littlefinger’s brothel.
This episode makes the questionable move of introducing a number of new characters, swelling a cast already bloated beyond reason. Perhaps the best of these is Thoros of Myr, an instantly lovable swordsman and a member of the Robin-Hood-esque Brotherhood Without Banners (which, if you were paying super-exra-attention and have a very good memory, you may remember being mentioned by all those evil dudes in Harrenhall in Season 2). We also meet Margaery’s cunning and grouchy old grandmother, the Lady Olenna, a character who is well written, and well acted, but should still probably not exist. In the book, Margaery was a much younger and more innocent character, so the conniving grandmother was necessary. Here, Margaery is portrayed as shrewd and calculating, so adding another shrewd and calculating Tyrell to the mix just seems like overkill, especially when we have so many characters in the show already.
The most significant new additions are the Reed twins, the children of one of Robb Starks; bannermen who literally show up out of nowhere to help Bran do–something. Yeah, this aspect of the episode felt a little weak. HBO can still redeem itself by explaining in future episodes how these two kids managed to get so far north without any guards in the middle of a war, and why they were looking for Bran at all. Apparently he IS the three-eyed raven. Well, that sounds profound. While the banter between Osha (aka Tonks) and the Reed twins made for some snappy dialogue, the presence of these twins remains Season three’s first major plot hole. Come on, now, HBO. You haven’t even finished filling in the big plot holes you dug at the end of last season–are we ever going to figure out exactly what happened to Winterfell?
This episode suffers from a bit of mood whiplash as we cut between the witty, biting banter between Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth and gratuitous scenes of Theon Greyjoy being tortured in a castle by some decidedly shady-looking dudes. Judging y the shape of the torture device Theon is trapped to, one can easily deduce that these dudes are affiliated with Lord Exposition–I mean Bolton–Robb Stark’s leading bannermen. It’s safe to say one of the shady dudes is none other than Lord Exposition’s bastard son. They want to know why he took Winterfell. The better question would be why his sister didn’t help him hold Winterfell, since taking the castle was part of their original plan, but I guess that’s one question we’ll never find out the answer to.
At any rate, the scenes between Brienne and Jaime are without a doubt this episode’s highlight. It’s now a toss-up as to which comedic duo is the most enjoyable–Bronn and Tyrion, Arya and Gendry, or Jaime and Brienne. But it seems as though Brienne and Jaime might just be destined to take the cake.
With regards to Robb Stark, HBO is going 0 for 2. His scenes this season have just not been very good, though there’s still time to turn this around. After watching some decidedly awkward dialogue between Robb and his wife (seriously, this scene might have been written by George Lucas), and a scene in which Lord Exposition shows up with a couple of letters (seriously, is this guy the lord of the UPS or something? Why is he always the one delivering letters?) Robb bickers with one of his bannermen, Lord Karsnark, who is apparently losing faith in Robb’s cause. “You don’t think we can win,” Robb says. “I think you lost the war the day you married her,” Lord Karsnark says, indicating Lady Talisa what’s-her-name. Did I miss something? Robb’s won every single battle he’s been in. While marrying Talisa was dishonorable, how bad was it, really, considering they already crossed the Freys’ bridge. Do they even need that bridge anymore? Yet the show would have us understand that Robb is losing the war–despite freeing the Riverlands, conquering Harrenhall and the Crag and having a clear road of attack to Casterly Rock with Tywin Lannister out of the way. What gives?
The only saving grace with the Robb storyline thus far is a perfect scene with Robb’s mother Catelyn, that tugs at the heartstrings and addresses one of her biggest character flaws–her horrible treatment of Jon Snow. Turns out she once prayed to save Snow’s life. It’s a departure from the books, but a welcome one. This scene is to episode 2 what the Tyrion and Tywin scene was to episode 1–the emotional highlight.
The episode’s best moment, though, might have been the interaction between Joffrey and Margaery. The tension in this scene was palpable, as Joffrey’s charming demeanor begins to slip for the first time, revealing the dangerous psychopath we all know and hate.
No Danaerys this time around, which is something of a shame, because her story got off to such a crackling good start last episode. I suppose there really was no way to squeeze her in.
Hopefully next episode will include a good scene involving Robb Stark, more of Jon Snow, and an explanation of how the Reeds got to Bran. Then I’ll be happy.