Season Three, Episode Four
"Now His Watch Has Ended"
Written By: Amanda Lowery
There seems to be a running pattern with each season of Game of Thrones that it takes the season a couple of episodes to really build and establish investment in particular characters and their journeys. I feel like after last night’s episode the audience is now pulled into the inner circle of a show whose multiple story lines are moving quickly and unexpectedly (if you haven’t read the books).
Jamie and Brienne
We began last night’s episode with Jamie Lannister, his severed sword hand rotting around his neck and his resolve to live is being beaten out of him. The dynamic between he and Brienne has shifted once again and she now has a deeper concern for Jamie – not for the sole purpose of returning him alive in exchange for the Stark girls, but I think she actually feels a great sense of compassion for him now. She knows that he saved her from being raped, and she is a knight, she knows what the loss of his sword hand must mean to him. Jamie even says to her, “I was that hand,” which is a self-depleting thought. With some goading Brienne talks Jamie back from the edge of extinguishing himself from existence. I’m so curious as a viewer to see how Jamie’s character evolves in the show and how they will explore his brokenness. This story line is definitely one of my favorites.
Initially, my reaction to Theon's part in the episode wasn't my favorite. I was left wondering what the point of it all was: him being freed, hunted down, saved, then locked up again all by the hands of the same person. But then I thought about who this person is who has claimed to be an Iron Islander - is this Ramsay Snow, the Bolton bastard? If so - then this interaction between the two of them establishes Ramsay as a sadistic man who has a way with cruelty and manipulation. The information he got from Theon was enlightening. We were exposed to Theon's regret for what he did at Winterfell, that he feels like Ned Stark was in fact his real father, and that the Stark children are still alive. This didn't happen in the books, so I am really interested in following Theon's transformation while in captivity.
How about that conversation with Varys about the loss of his genitals and his path from the slums of Myr to the small council? I was not expecting the sorcerer who cut him to be in that crate and it casts a shadow around everyone’s favorite spider. He is more likeable that Littlefinger, but his influence is far reaching and
The other storyline involving the Red God is Arya’s expedition with the Brotherhood without Banners. The Brotherhood arrives to a cave where Beric Dondarrion is hiding out. He was dispatched at the end of season one by Ned Stark to stop the Gregor Clegane from ruining the North. There was some interesting talk about Beric having risen from the dead several times, which I imagine we will learn more about as we move on into this season. Thoros of Myr is the one who communicates with fire and speaks to the same Red God as Melisandre worships. The previews for next week promise that there will be more revealed about this. But this week we got to watch Sandor Clegane shoot down all charges against him for murder and he even weaseled his way out of Arya’s accusation that he killed Mika. Beric challenges Clegane to a trial by combat.
Beyond the Wall
There was quite a bit of betrayal beyond the wall as the Night’s Watch unraveled. When your order is composed of mainly ex-criminals and you’re being under fed, your’re freezing, you’re afraid of white walkers and you don’t agree with the commands you’re being given then mutiny is always a risk, especially with their depleted numbers. We could sense the unrest among the men growing, so when someone finally killed Craster we weren't as surprised as when they also killed the Lord Commander. In a story line that has been kind of dragging - last night was definitely a turning point. We see Sam take off to find Gilly and escape into the wild beyond the wall, and I’m sure we’ll pick up with their adventure next week. This is all very interesting in the larger scope of things because we know that Mance Rayder has just ordered a unit of soldiers including Jon Snow to infiltrate the wall and attack the Night’s Watch from the inside. Now that everything is falling apart with the Night’s Watch it’s going to make defense of Castle Black very difficult.
Back in King’s Landing there are a bunch of plot lines floating about. We got to explore the great Sept of the Seven that the Targaryen dynasty built. And Margery had a great point about the Targaryens and that even though they did some horrible things – they built the Seven Kingdoms and kept them united until Robert’s Rebellion. We also get to see some really amazing in this scene, and that is Cersei’s face when she realizes that Margery has greater influence over Joffrey than she does. In her short time in the Capital, Margery has
I think my favorite part of the episode was when Cersei visited her father to tattle. Tywin sure does love to write letters. He doesn’t stall his actual work as Hand of the King while Cersei speaks to him. Cersei makes the pitch that perhaps she is the one that he should be confiding in instead of her brothers, she takes the slight as one that means she’s less important because she is a woman. Tywin quickly corrects her assumption and tells her he doesn’t trust her with his strategies because she isn’t as smart as she thinks she is. This is so true. In the books, when you are inside Cersei’s perspective and you are able to follow the train of her crazy paranoid thoughts you know this – but as a viewer having her told off by her father is very satisfying. She’s the one always saying to Tyrion that he isn’t as clever as he thinks he is, but as Cersei’s power steadily fades she grows increasingly distrustful of the Tyrells. Tywin tells her he is glad Margery is able to manipulate Joffrey, because Cersei has failed to do so and Joffrey has rained ignorance and cruelty all across the Seven Kingdoms because of this.
The plot for Sansa Stark’s future thickens. I love the Queen of Thorns. Olenna is a great character who points out to some of her granddaughters that the Tyrell rose sigil and words “grow stronger” are among the weakest in the Seven Kingdoms. Well, we can all see that the most recent maneuverings will surely change all that. After a visit from Varys about Littlefinger’s plans to steal Sansa away and marry her to become Warden of the North, Margery proposes to Sansa a marriage to Loras. This is sad in many ways because Margery knows that Loras is gay, and Sansa is obviously gullible and in love with the idea of being married to a handsome knight. For the Tyrells, a marriage with the Starks would mean they would have Highgarden to the South and Winterfell in the North and King’s Landing with Margery as Queen. They will have, at that point, grown strong.
Speaking of growing strong, Dany has just single handedly sacked the slave city of Astapor. Last episode she agreed to trade her largest dragon in exchange for the whole Unsullied Army. In a play that even surprised her old men advisors, Dany pretended not to know the Valyrian tongue and followed along with the whole scheme until she held the Unsullied whip in her hand. She then revealed to everyone in an angry rendition of the language that Valyrian is her mother tongue and she ordered the Unsullied to kill all the slave masters. She then of course spoke the word of destruction, “Dracrys” and set fire to the city. In the smoke of the aftermath, Dany freed the Unsullied soldiers. In last week’s episode her advisors warned her against winning the Seven Kingdoms on the backs of slaves which wouldn’t translate well in a land that doesn’t endorse slavery. So Dany frees them and asks them to stay with her. As the camera pulls away and we see the extent of the Unsullied army with Dany at the lead and the three dragons flying overhead it is the first time as an audience that we can see Dany as capable of taking back the Iron Throne. She is a conqueror, a survivor, and a compassionate Queen, but all we’ve seen since season two is her struggle to gain an army and momentum to take back her birthright – and now she has it.