‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2, Episode 3 recap
“Power resides where men believe it resides.” – Varys, the Eunuch, to Tyrion Lannister, essentially reminding him to fake it til ya make it.
Even the Beatles released a “Magical Mystery Tour” once in a while.
I’m not saying that “What is Dead May Never Die,” the third episode from Game of Thrones’ second season is in anyway bad… it is just unlikely to be remembered as anyone’s favorite. I trust and love the show enough, however, to recognize that sacrificial lambs like this are necessary. With such a complex narrative and astounding number of characters, sometimes you need to slow down the pace to set things up.
Let’s check in on our various areas of the Realm to see what went down this week.
Last week, beyond the Wall, it looked like curtains for Jon Snow, but turns out the creepy, daughter-bangin’ Craster just gave him a bop on the head. Night’s Watch Lord Commander Joer Mormont is pissed at Snow, despite Snow protesting that he was trying to save an baby’s life. Turns out Joer was aware of Craster’s habit of killing his infant sons and reminds us that “Wildings serve crueler Gods than you are I.”
Sounds like a good time to get the hell out of that place if you asked me.
Dopey Samwell Tarley (Snow’s fat friend) still can’t take a hint, and continues to speak with one of Craster’s daughters, Gilly. He even gives her some kind of sewing doohickey, the last item he has to remind him of his mother.
Up in Winterfell, young Bran Stark continues to have freaky-ass dreams. Instead of birds with three eyes, he is transferring his consciousness to dire wolves. Something in the water in Winterfell, I say.
Over by Pyke in the Iron Islands there’s some real family drama going down in House Greyjoy. Theon Greyjoy is getting major grief from his old man (he shoulda stayed on his ship with his insatiable wench.) Lord Balon Greyjoy has not only flatly refused to join Robb Stark in his fight with the Lannisters, but he intends to fight this so-called King in the North.
He isn’t exactly joining the Lannisters, per se, but he’s just taking this opportunity to get some vengeance, grab some land and intone all of his Klingon-esque phrases. (“What is Dead May Never Die,” the title of this week’s episode is, I hope, going to become Game of Thrones’ “So Say We All!”)
Despite making Theon very much secondary to his sister Yara, he is offered an opportunity to join the fight. By the end of the episode, it looks like he is ready to turn his back on his Stark friends.
Strangely, we do not go to Dragonstone in this episode, but we do go somewhere new: Highgarden.
An army is camped by the sea and a gladiatorial battle is going down. (Some of the only action in this week’s episode, actually.) Then a bunch of people you’ve never seen before start talking.
Luckily I was able to hit the pause button and talk it out with my wife. Yeah, yeah, I know who that dude is. That’s the other Baratheon brother. Not Stannis. The gay one. What the hell’s his name again? (Renly.) And there is an insanely hot woman by his side in a dress so low-cut it would make a Dothraki blush.
The fights ends bloodlessly and we see that Renly’s boyfriend (the Knight of Flowers) has been defeated by a big boned gal named Brienne of Tarth. (Yeah, this sequence has some of the most transgressive sexuality in the history of television.)
Brienne is allowed to join Renly’s Rainbow Guard. (Remember now, Renly, coaxed by the Knight of Flowers, is claiming a right to the throne just like Stannis is.)
Ned Stark’s widow shows up (good to see a familiar face!) hat in hand, hoping that Renly will join forces with Robb. She reminds them that they are Knights of Summer, and Winter is Coming. (Really, you can never get tired of hearing that.)
The alliance is left vague, and later the action moves to the bedroom. Renly and the Knight of Flowers are getting it on, but the KoF reminds Renly that, to be Kingly, he needs to suck it up and go hetero once in a while. Turns out the hottie from the other scene (Margaery Tyrell) is his sister and she is sent to the would-be King’s chamber.
She disrobes (finally, a naked woman! We’ve gone a whole episode!) but, well, Renly likes what he likes. Margaery, in a quite touching moment by Game of Thrones standards, offers to send for her brother to help Renly get his sword out of his scabbard. She tells him that he is a King and securing an heir to the throne is an essential duty. (Left unsaid is that Westeros hasn’t yet invented in vitro fertilization.)
In addition to Dragonstone, you know where else we don’t go in this episode? The Stark Camp. Or across the water to check-in on Daenerys Targaryen. Total rip off. We do, however, see all the courtly problems in King’s Landing.
The biggest development there is Tyrion Lannister strengthening his position as the King’s Hand. He sets up a trap to see which other members of the Small Council he can trust. Surprisingly, Littlefinger and the Eunuch can keep their mouths shut, but the old man Pycelle has been whispering in the Queen Regent’s ear.
In addition to disposing of Pycelle, he secures eyes on Sansa Stark by placing his lover Shae as her new chambermaid. It’s still hard to know what Shae’s angle is, and it is also getting hard to know how much sympathy we’re supposed to have for Sansa. Yeah, I know her father was beheaded and she is living among people hell-bent on killing the rest of her family, but this in no way excuses her for being rude to the help.
Sansa’s sister Arya is still with Yoren and his caravan to the Wall. The baddies from King’s Landing return (coulda seen that one coming) and a bloody fight commences. Yoren gets a sword shoved down the back of his neck and, when it looks like Arya has a chance to flee, she returns to help a group of caged prisoners who are about to asphyxiated. One of the dopey boys who once taunted her is killed (stabbed right in the throat, yuck!) and all are held prisoner.
Of course, the horsemen aren’t there for her, they are there for Gendry, one of King Baratheon’s bastards. In an early glimpse at just how quick and cunning Arya can be, she tells the armed men that the dead kid on the ground is, indeed, the boy they are looking for.
It’s a great moment to end on, but the fact is that there isn’t too much action in this week’s episode. Hopefully the build-up will pay off next week. For now, I’m giving this one 6 out of 10 Gay Knights.
Photos courtesy of HBO