Season 3, Episode 2
"Dark Wings, Dark Words"
I must say, Vanessa Taylor did another great job writing Episode 2 of Season 3 ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’ which is an echo from the book series. Taylor wrote two episodes last season, “Garden of Bones’ and ‘The Old Gods and the New’. What I thought was done exceptionally well this week was the juggling of scenes and making each glimpse into a story line important. That is the struggle of the platform for this show – with so many character perspectives it can be difficult to keep up and also to become emotionally invested in any particular story line Readers of the series are invested in a different way than viewers who have only what is being played out in front of them as viewing material.
Because this is a game of thrones, it makes sense that there would be a play of secret alliances, bonds being made, relationships and realizations about characters trusting other characters. This episode explored this aspect of the conflict and necessity of alliances.
Bran has linked up with the Reeds on his leg of the journey to the wall. Jojen and Meera are odd but delightful and in terms of the show they will bring more life and direction to Bran’s story line In the books they are with Bran at Winterfell, but I a fan of the way the show has chosen to playout this introduction. Jojen has green dreams like Bran, and because he shares this gift he can help Bran to embrace his power – which is something that Osha was discouraging. Bran now knows he’s a warg, or skinwalker, and this is another gift he can hone and control. The Reeds and the Starks are a good alliance; they will help each other because their relationship was not only foreseen psychically, but because their fathers were friends.
Sansa and Shae have developed a bond that is a definite departure from the book, but one that works really well in the show. Shae is concerned about Sansa trusting Lord Baelish and even goes so far as to tell Tyrion about the recent schmoozing from the prior episode. Maybe because she is a seasoned whore, Shae wants to protect Sansa’s innocence, and the girl iscompletely alone in Kings Landing. Or maybe not. The Tyrells have taken an interest in the information locked with Sansa about the true nature of Joffrey’s character. Lady Olenna, a breath of honest straight forwardness smartly played by Diana Rigg, is the Queen of Thorns to the Tyrell rose. As Margery’s grandmother it is plain to see where Margery gets her cunning. Sansa tells the two new allies (we hope) that she has been subject to Joffrey’s cruelty and he is “a monster.” Promises of confidentiality may or may not play out in Sansa’s favor, we will have to see, but what we do know is the information was a political tactic to get more information on how Margery can get close to the King.
In a conversation largely dismissive of his mother, Joffrey demonstrates to Cersei that he is a man and he is okay with Margery being told who to be and what to do because it means she will be an obedient Queen. While on one hand I am glad Joffrey isn’t listening to his poisonous mother, her warnings would serve him in his later interaction with Margery. I love Margery in theshow. In the books, she does not come across the way Dormer plays her in the show. But her sexual presence and intelligence is what makes her a formidable player. With someone like Joffrey, he is a beast that must be tamed and she is testing the waters to see how it can be done. Through violence and flattery apparently. Joffrey doesn't quite react well to her over sexual advances, but as soon as she inflates his power ego with giving him the power of king that his mother wants to stifle you can see him react. Then the crossbow brings together his want of brutality, power and when he wraps his arms around Margery we get the idea that if she really wants to make him her ally, Margery must embrace his cruel nature and play with him. It’s morally ambiguous territory, but fascinating. And the scene was rather intense, I kept feeling like Joffrey was on the verge of exploding and turning against her, but she walked that tight rope and made it to the other side. Tyrell win.
Arya and her band of misfits are back, still wandering around the war ridden north hoping to bump into friends. Well, they bumped into the Brotherhood without Banners. We get to meet Thoros played by the always intriguing Paul Kaye, whose roguish wit seems a fine match for Arya’s feisty nature. The plot line here is more streamlined than in the books, bringing the Hound into the scenario much sooner and revealing Arya’s identity – but it works. Now we are left to question what will happen when this unaffiliated group learns that they have one of the Stark children in their midst.
Speaking of Stark children, whoa Mama Stark. That story she told about her prayers for Jon Snow’s baby death and then her prayers to save him from dying was naked emotional honesty. The depth of Catelyn’s guilt for not loving a motherless child seems to have nestled inside her psyche as the cause of her children’s misfortunes. I think only a mother could feel this way. After hearing about the death of her father and the burning of Winterfell with no sign of Bran or Rickon and her other two children’s lives hanging on Jamie (not so noble) Lannister, she’s a bit on edge. She confides in Talisa while Rob is off dealing with his disintegrating army. Lord Karstark seems to think Rob started to lose the war the minute he married Talisa, but the march to Riverrun is breaking all of them down and purpose is lost whilst the South bands together the force of Highgarden and Casterly Rock.
· Theon Greyjoy is being tortured by Roose Bolton’s bastard. I mean, we all think he kinda deserves it, but there is also an ignorance that Theon possesses that is innocent. This is a big shift from the books. Readers don’t know what happens to Theon after the burning of Winterfell in book two until book five. We learn of his torture, but we never read his perspective of it – so I’m really intrigued by this and can’t wait to see how the show takes this on.
· Samwell Tarly is struggling beyond the wall. It’s good to know that Lord Commander Mormont still takes the vows of the brotherhood so seriously or that really mean guy would just leave Sam in the snow. But the idea of vows and brotherhood is what will keep Sam alive and Mormont knows that. This is another important bond in this episode. I know that while this bit of scene isn't very gripping, it is important that we stay connected to Night’s Watch as viewers and what happens as they make their way back to the wall.
· Jon Snow is learning about wargs and solidifying his own newly formed alliance with Mance Rayder. This is the second mentioning of wargs in this episode, a clue to viewers that this ability is pivotal to the plot in some way. We learn that Mance’s ruling philosophy may not be all that different from the Lannisters. He rallied the free people under the unity of fear of a common enemy. The big difference here being that the enemy in the North is actually an enemy, while the Lannisters manifest the enemy for political gain.
· Jamie and Brienne are still fussing about on their journey to Kings Landing. I enjoy their banter, and the sword play. We get to see the great Kingslayer bested by a woman. There was a lot of strength in women highlighted this episode, and yet – no nudity. This episode was written by a woman so perhaps that had something to do with it. I am excited for the show’s writers to explore what being weak does to the Kingslayer’s psyche. You can tell that he is exhausted after just a couple of swings against Brienne, she defeats him holding her sword with one hand. It’s a sad display. The two are discovered by the Boltons. They seem to be everywhere in the North. What is now a feud between Jamie and Brienne may turn into an alliance if either of them wants to live.