Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Game of Thrones, Season 3, Episode 3: Walk of Punishment

 Riverrun: Robb, Catelyn, the Tullies; abandon all intelligence all ye who enter here
It’s Hoster Tully’s funeral , somewhat ruined by the archer who is supposed to shoot the burning arrow at the body being not all that good at archery and Robb having an inappropriate giggle fit. I’m like that at funerals, I’ll be all sombre and then I catch a glance of Aunt Mabel’s hat and I’m gone. Anyway, an archer who actually checks the wind fires the arrow and the job is done before the body goes out of range down the river.

Time for a council where Brynden Tully (the Blackfish, Cat’s uncle, the dead Hoster’s brother) snarks with Edmure Tully (Cat’s brother, Hoster’s son, the new Lord Tulley. Sometimes the guide is really helpful on this show). And it seems that Edmure, in a quest for glory, ignored the battle plans and went charging after the Lannister forces lead by Clegane rather than drawing them into a trap. Oopsie. Now Clegane escaped, Robb isn’t happy either. And the hostages Edmure boasts about are completely inconsequential. And yes, he caused more casualties than he took – but the Lannisters have more.

Cat has a moment with her uncle, Brynden, about dead Hoster. She remembers waiting at the window for her father to return from war or visiting the capital, and breaks down as she thinks of Bran and Rickon waiting for her – and she’ll never see them again. Brynden urges her to stay strong for Robb.

In the dungeon, Talissa is treating the injuries of the Lannister hostages – they’re boys who believe all kinds of wild stories about Robb Stark and how he turns into a wolf. Talissa both reassures them and encourages the stories.

Kings Landing: The Lannisters, their toadies et al
It’s a meeting of the King’s small council – but Tyrion and Cersei have both been relegated to the end of the table away from the Hand. They’re not having that – they move their chairs. Tyrion snarks – but Tywin wants to know about Jaime – and they know nothing. Some spy masters they are

Varys fills in Tywin about Hoster’s funeral and makes a snide remark about Bolton holding Harrenhal (Baelish is technically lord of Harrenhal). Tywin’s more interested in the title rather than the castle (well, ruin) since Baelish having the title means he is of sufficient social standing to court Lysa Arren (Cat’s sister, the Widow to the Lord of the Vale, one of the 7 Kingdoms). Tyrion speaks up that, with the war, winter attending and the upcoming royal wedding, Kings Landing needs someone to manage the finances – which is Baelish’s job. Tywin agrees – and appoints Tyrion as the new Master of Coin. Tyrion doesn’t relish the role – a lifetime of “outrageous wealth” hasn’t taught him how to save money. The council – especially Pycelle and Cersei (his enemies) approve of the position.

I think giving Tyrion any position and power, no matter how much of a burden, means he’s sure to use it against you with great skill.

Tyrion goes, with Pod his squire, to collect the royal legers where they are kept in one of Baelish’s brothels. Some fencing follows between Baelish and Tyrion, with Baelish wondering why Cersei thought Tyrion and Roz were close (because Cersei heard Tyrion was in love with a prostitute and didn’t realise it was Shae). Baelish further advises him that the accounts are just numbers on a page – easily managed.

They leave through the brothel, past many bare breasts (hence the reason we’re in a brothel, of course. An episode without naked breasts last week was too much for the writers to endure). And Tyrion has arranged a reward for Pod for saving his life – 3 prostitutes. Of course.

Looking over the legers, Tyrion comments that Baelish was known for always being able to find gold for the crown – turns out he’s been doing that by borrowing 3,000,000 from Tywin Lannister. Bronn assumes Tywin will forgive the debt with Joffrey on the throne and Tyrion is amused by his naivety.  Bronn wonders what happens if they don’t pay the debt and Tyrion isn’t worried about Tywin’s consequences – but the 10s of millions they owe the Iron Bank of Braavos, who will fund their enemies if they don’t pay them back. Apparently they always get their gold back.

And Podrick returns… with the money. Tyrion is bemused – apparently the prostitutes turned down payment despite providing their services. And it can’t be to curry favour with Tyrion because they’re more than happy to accept his gold. Tyrion asks if they seemed to like what he did – Pod says yes but Bronn adds that that’s their job, they’re paid to pretend to like it. Though they weren’t paid. Apparently the ladies enjoyed themselves so much that they gave their time for free. Tyrion and Bronn get to their feet, pour wine, sit Pod down and insist they need details.

I call shenanigans. Even assuming for a moment that Pod is a positive incubus of sexual skill, no matter how much a prostitute enjoys herself she’s rarely in a wealth or class position (to say nothing of her employer) to give her time and services for free. While it makes for a joke, it ignores the class levels that are extremely likely to be at play here.

On the Kings Road: Jaime and Brienne and lots of snark
Lesser known fact about Lord Bolton’s army – they’re a skilled choir in their spare time.

And Brienne and Jaime are tied up on the same horse so they can snark at each other – this time Brienne getting her hits in after beating the famed Jaime Lannister. Banter aside, he warns Brienne that, as a captured woman and a noble woman of no value, the men will probably rape her when they stop. He urges her not to fight them so they won’t kill her. She says he wouldn’t do the same if he were a woman, he is thankful that he isn’t.

That night, the men come for Brienne and she fights while Jaime watches, still restrained. She’s dragged into the dark, screaming. Jaime tells the leader of the band who Brienne is – daughter of the Lord of Tarth, from an island that produces all the kingdom’s sapphires. It’s a fabulously wealthy house and she’s worth a lot for ransom – but only alive and her “honour unbesmirched”.  She’s brought back, hurt from fighting but still fully clothed.

Now talking to the leader of the band, Jaime talks about how very rich his own father is – adding that the North has neither the money nor the men to win the war. Being on the winning side with Jaime’s ransom as well would be very good for him. Also, unchain Jaime from the tree for the good of his back.

They unchain him and offer him food, behaviour obsequiously and kindly. They take him somewhere to act as a table to eat his dinner – then pin him down and hold him at knife point. They’re not impressed by him repeatedly calling on his father or that he’s always been able to do that to get him out of trouble – and the man cuts off Jaime’s hand. Oooh, dramatic.

Brotherhood without Banners: Arya and hangers on
Arya is a “guest” of Thoros who claims he’s keeping her safe and the woods aren’t safe for Lady Stark. Gendry has found a use for himself as a smith. Sandor Clegane is still a prisoner – and they say goodbye to Hot Pie. The bread he baked for the inn owner was the best she’s ever tasted – and she’s taking him as payment for the hot meals she’s been giving the Brotherhood for free. It’ll probably be safer for him as well.

The North: Many whiny people freezing bits off
Mance, Jon (because of course the whiny one now follows the king everywhere), Ygritte and the worgy fellow who has animal visions arrive at the site where he said there were many dead Crows (Nightswatchmen). There aren’t – there are lots of dead horses laid out in a pretty, macabre pattern. There should have been 300 men there – and now they’ll all be White Walkers. Some could have escaped (Mance doesn’t bet on Mormont dying) but they lost a huge chunk of their fighting men. Either way he’s not there – which means it’s Mance’s chance to attack the Wall and Castle Black – taking Jon with them.

The Night’s Watch continue their long march back to the Wall –watched by Ghost. They arrive at Crastor’s, though they have to intimidate their way inside. As they eat they hear a woman struggling in childbirth which Castor brutally demands to be silenced. He also claims to be “right with the gods” which will protect him from what’s out there (Mormount questions how “godly” the vile Crastor is). He also makes a crack about Sam’s weight and eating him. Sam leaves – outside he hears the woman’s distress and goes to investigate. The woman gives birth – it’s a baby boy. Castor leaves baby boys outside for the White Walkers, allowing only girls and women.

Somewhere he Really Wishes he Wasn’t: Theon
Theon’s friend helps him off the cross he’s tied too and urges him to move – they need him to be able to ride to escape, despite his injuries. He’s free and rides off to find his sister.

He rides for some time – before being chased by his torturers. A horseback chase follows (he’s chased into a wood by a man wielding a flail. On horseback? In a wood? Could there be a worse weapon choice? Just keep riding until he gets his weapon tangled on a branch or bashes his own horse’s head in). He’s joined by several cohorts with more sensible weapons, including an archer. But it’s the man with the flail that manages to get ahead of Theon and knock him off his horse with a blow from the ball and chain.

Their planned punishment for his escape is rape. Until an unseen archer unerringly picks off all of Theon’s captors.  It’s Theon’s rescuer, who finishes off the flail armed guard at point blank range. Theon continues cowering until the rescuer helps him to his feet. He tells Theon he’s a long way from home and Winter is coming. He likes his portentous statements.

Dragonstone: Stannis and Mellisandre and dear gods can we kill these people off yet?
Melisandre is going somewhere – even she doesn’t know where, somewhere the fires tell her. So somewhere flammable then. Stannis isn’t happy on her escaping the paranoid, ranting ship but she insists. He wants to make them all pay, ALL PAY! MUAHAHAHA! *ahem* so wants another shadow baby like she made to kill Renly. Unfortunately, he’s fresh out of juice (not an innuendo. Behave) and making another would kill him

Astapor: Daerneys Continues the Tour of Uncivilised Brown Folks
Daenerys and retainers take a little trip down the Walk of Punishment were slaves are nailed up to remind us how horrible and brutal the city is. Daenerys can’t stand it and gives one of the severely injured, tortured slaves water, but he would prefer to die (we later learn this is because there are no masters in the grave). Ser Barriston wants her to leave the city – they can find mercenaries elsewhere and Ser Jorah has a little jealousy moment at him counting himself among them so soon.

Ser Jorah points out if she wants to win back her throne, she’s going to have to kill people. Daenerys says only the blood of her enemies, not innocents. Jorah’s not impressed – he asks the old knight Ser Barriston how many wars he’s fought in (3) and in each of those innocents died in their thousands. Jorah adds that the Unsullied are a slave force and will only kill when ordered – they won’t cause the indiscriminate slaughter and rape he has seen in previous wars. Barriston disagrees, Rhaegar (Daenery’s brother) commanded armies because people loved him. Jorah’s counter – yeah and he lost and died.

Also, given that Rhaegar’s daddy was the one who brutally tortured Nedd’s father and brother in full view of the court and Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna (Nedd’s sister, Robert’s fiancée) I call shenanigans on how many people supposedly loved him. Daenerys asks about Rhaegar (Barriston praises him highly) and Daenerys objects to him being called the Last Dragon.

Daenerys returns to the master of the city, Krasni and says she wants to buy all the Unsullied – and we have another sparring moment while the excellent translator acts as go between while not translating Krasni’s offensive and misogynist insults. Daenerys wants the 8,000 Unsullied and those in training – though Krasni and his crony worry that if the half-trained soldiers fail it will ruin their perfect reputation. Krasni doesn’t think she can pay for them – so she offers to give them one of her dragons.

Ser Jorah and Ser Barriston are shocked (they’re not the only ones!) But Daenerys goes ahead and trades one of her dragons for the army – and throws in the translator as well. They leave and Daenerys drags them both over the coals for questioning her judgement in front of strangers. (Oh Daenerys, we’ve been questioning your judgement for a whole long time now)

The translator is called Misandre, so I can have a massively fun time confusing her name with Mellisandre with this show’s 8 gazillion characters, and apparently has no family. She also warns Misandre that they’re going to war and it could be dangerous – Misandre responds fatalistically that all men must die. Daenerys counters “we’re not men” and Misandre has a brief smile.

Game of Thrones has a terrible record of sexualised violence that could never make Jaime’s conversation with Brienne sit well – but at the same time it’s also an acknowledgement of the evils of war and what can face captured women in men’s hands, something openly acknowledged and openly challenged in its wrongness. Even Jaime giving thanks that he isn’t a woman underscores awareness of this sexual violence. I still would have preferred Brienne to kill several men with her teeth

Sam is fat. We know he’s fat. Why does his weight get mentioned in every last scene he’s in? There’s far too many storylines to develop in this show without wasting so much screen time reminding us how big Sam is.

In a show that has so much gratuitous female nudity it’s glaring that Theon, being tortured, is fully clothed – after all, if one wishes one’s victim to feel vulnerable nudity is normally one of the first steps.

Daenerys has found a new WOC slave to pretend to be her friend! Just like she had with the Dorthkraki. It’s all kinds of nasty the first time, but repeating the trope and having her get a Black slave as her next one is an extra layer of awful.

Ok… are we actually going anywhere? It’s the problem with these 10 bazillion plot lines – they’re moving through treacle. There are 8 entries up there, 8 places we’ve focused on. The only plot lines that have developed are Jaime & Brienne (Jaime lost a hand. Yes that development is 3 seconds long), Theon (he escaped. Yes, brief summation again. And, really is Theon a character worth any time at all?) and Danaerys buying her army. This is part of the problem with Game of Thrones – far too many characters, far too many plot lines, far too little happening.