I’d like to give a great big high five to first time Game of Thrones director, Alex Graves. I felt that “And Now His Watch is Ended” was the best episode of the season, so far. I’m very pleased that we’ll get to see a second episode directed by Graves, “Kissed by Fire,” which will air next Sunday. While episodes 1 and 2 were excruciatingly slow, episode 3, “Dark Wings, Dark Words,” was a big step in the right direction. However, this week, the fourth episode, blew them all out of the water for me. I’ve read again and again that last week’s closing scene was powerful; however, I found it to be highly disappointing. This week’s ending was impeccably done and it wasn’t ruined by really bad, mood crushing ending credit music. I can’t wait to see more from Alex Graves!
This week’s episode of Game of Thrones begins with a chilling shot of Jaime Lannister’s severed hand, suspended from a cord around his neck. It seems that Jaime has lost his spirit, along with his sword hand. Weakened from his injury, Jamie falls from his horse landing in the mud, as Brienne’s pleas for someone to help him result in jeering from Locke and his men. Infuriated, Jaime manages to steal a sword from one of his captors and tries desperately to fight Locke’s men with his left hand. Brienne tries to come to his aid, but her hands are tied and she is unable to intervene. He is quickly disarmed and beaten for his attempts, Locke threatens the removal of his left hand as well, if he tries anything similar in the future. I’m loving that we’re getting to see the development of the Jaime/Brienne relationship playing out.
Later, refusing to eat, it seems Jaime has lost his will to live. Brienne is angered and accuses Jaime of being a coward, “You can’t die.” She tells him, “You need to live. To take revenge.” She continues to berate him for being sheltered and priviliged, saying, “You have a taste — one taste of the real world, where people have important things taken from them, and you whine and cry and quit.” Jaime begins to eat, and as he does so, Brienne tells him that she knows he lied to their captors to keep her safe, however when she asks him why he did so, he has no response for her. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie continue to play their parts perfectly. This is a dream team, and one that fans will surely be looking forward to seeing more of.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Tyrion approaches Lord Varys looking for proof that his sister Cersei is responsible for the attempt on his life during the Battle of Blackwater. Varys reveals his own story to Tyrion, telling him that as a young boy, he’d traveled with a group of actors until his Master had sold him to a Myrish sorcerer. The sorcerer had given Varys a potion which prevented him from either moving or speaking. He then castrated Varys, throwing his parts into a brazier. He then proceeds to pry open a large wooden box, revealing the Myrish sorcerer tied up inside, using this as a convenient teaching point to show Tyrion that revenge may not always come quickly, but that patience can prove to result in a long, sweet revenge. The bulk of this scene is straight from the books, aside from the man in the box. In the novels, we only hear about Varys’s revenge on the sorcerer, it’s never shown. I think they could have left out the man in the box, but it wasn’t far enough off of the mark for me to find off putting.
Varys visits with Olenna Tyrell in the garden at King’s Landing. This scene was an awful lot of fun to watch, as Conleth Hill and Diana Rigg are absolute masters of their craft. Varys inquires about Lady Olenna’s interest in Sansa Stark, to which she responds that she doesn’t find Sansa particularly interesting, however she admits that Sansa has had a rather interesting childhood. They discuss their mutual interest in helping Ned Stark’s daughter and Petyr Baelish’s interest in her. Varys tells Olenna that he rather enjoys Lord Baelish, but that “Littlefinger would see the realm burn if he could be king of the ashes.” Lady Olenna takes Varys’s arm and tells him that it’s rather obvious what the solution to that problem is. I found myself to be disappointed when this scene ended, I can’t get enough of this pairing!
Margaery visits the sept with her grandmother Olenna, Cersei and her betrothed. Joffrey is giving her the grand tour of the sept, showing her the Targaryen crypts and delighting in telling her the stories of their grisly ends. We hear smallfolk shouting outside the sept and Joffrey becomes visibly nervous. Margaery, however, tells him that the people truly adore him, as he saved the city. The doors open and Margaery and Joff step out to greet the people. At first the smallfolk call out for “Lady Margaery,” but soon we hear people shouting for “King Joffrey” as well. This was good use of Margaery/Joffrey screen time, really showcasing not only how taken Joff is becoming with her, but how manipulative Margaery is, as a character. I’m enjoying the chemistry between these two, far more than I did in the books!
Another well-presented scene occurs North of the Wall, where we find the Night’s Watch burning the body of Bannen, one of their brothers who has died. The men are so hungry that even the smell of the burning of their fallen brother makes their mouths water and Rast says that Craster let Bannen starve to death. Rast believes that they should take all the food that they want, as Craster is well supplied.
Inside the keep, Craster tells Lord Commander Mormont that he’ll be glad to see the last of the Night’s Watch. Mormont responds that they will leave as soon as their men are strong again, however Craster says they will never be strong again and it would be best to cut their throats or to leave them to him and he’ll take care of them. A man of the Watch speaks out, challenging Craster. When the Lord Commander tells him to wait outside, he refuses, deliberately disobeying Mormont’s orders The brother who’d spoken before then says to Craster, “You’re a bastard. A daughter-fucking, wildling bastard.” He charges Craster, stabbing him in the neck. In the confusion that ensues, the Night’s Watch fight each other, those still loyal against their mutinous brothers. Rast stabs the Lord Commander, who falls to the ground, dying. In the confusion, Sam takes Gilly and her newborn and they flee from Craster’s Keep. Lord Mormont’s death was difficult to watch, and James Cosmo will be greatly missed. He was so well suited to the role, and fit the character so perfectly. I know there were more than a few tears shed for the Old Bear, and I’ll admit to getting a bit teary-eyed, myself.
In the Riverlands, Arya and Gendry continue to travel with the Brotherhood Without Banners. They’re taken to a cave, along with the Brotherhood’s prisoner, Sandor Clegane. Here we find Beric Dondarrion, along with many deserters from both the Stark and Baratheon forces who’d been sent to take down his brother, Ser Gregor Clegane. Dondarrion tells the Hound that he’s found a new god, “one true god,” speaking of the Lord of Light. Demanding that Dondarrion murder them if that’s his intention, Beric replies that it won’t be murder, but justice, as Anguay recites a list of crimes committed at the Mummer’s Ford including babies cut in two and girls no older than seven raped. The murders of Prince Aegon and Princess Rhaenys are also tossed at him, which were actually crimes committed by his brother, Gregor.
Sandor becomes angry, shouting that he should not be accused of being a murderer if the Brotherhood aren’t, themselves, murderers. Arya yells out then, that he’d killed Mycah, the butcher’s boy. Sandor agrees, but that he’d attacked the prince, and that it wasn’t his place to question princes, as sworn shield, he’d done as he was told. Dondarrion sentences Clegane to trial by combat, saying that only the Lord of Light can decide a
man’s guilt or innocence. Sandor asks if it will be Arya who fights him, as she’s most likely the bravest one there, however Lord Beric tells him that he, himself will fight.
Rory McCann was completely flawless! FINALLY this underused, underappreciated actor is being given a long overdue chance to shine. I can’t praise him enough for his delivery, his timing, his facial expressions… he IS the Hound. I’m a long time student and lover of the Brothers Clegane, so I’m looking at any and all of his scenes with an über-critical eye, and as far as I’m concerned, he slayed that scene… with both hands tied behind his back, no less.
One of the most interesting storylines of the evening was the double-crossing of Theon by the mysterious “boy,” who has not yet been officially named. I am absolutely loving the chemistry between Theon and “Boy.” Although we don’t see this storyline begin until later in the series of books, this is one change that I’m perfectly happy to see moved forward in the time line. While it did seem to take “Boy” an awfully long time to pick the lock, it was wonderful to have the time to hear Theon talk of his jealousy of Robb Stark, the mistakes he’d made and his remorse over killing the two farm boys whom he’d used to impersonate Bran and Rickon Stark. He tells the “boy” that his real father lost his head in King’s Landing, meaning that he’d finally acknowledged that Ned Stark had raised him as his own, and he admits that he made a choice and he’d chosen wrong. Just as we begin to see Theon’s human side, the door swings open and they enter a dark chamber. The “boy” lights a torch, revealing the torture chamber from which Theon had escaped, calling out that he’d brought Theon back and blaming Theon for killing the other men. Iwan Rheon’s face as they re-chained Theon to the cross was priceless! I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens next!
Dany was just incredible in this episode, for me it was her best scene to date. I’m not a lover of Daenerys in the novels, nor have I been impressed by the treatment of her character on the show, to date. This episode, however, I became a full-fledged member of #TeamDaenerys! Upon making sure that her transaction with Kraznys was complete, she hands him Drogon’s chain, giving him possession of her largest Dragon. Speaking in High Valyrian, she commands the Unsullied to kill all the soldiers and slavers in the city, but to harm no children and to free any slaves that they find. She addresses Kraznys, telling him that she is Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen and that Valyrian is her mother tongue. She then says “Dracarys” and Drogon breathes fire, enveloping Kraznys in flames. Drogon flies free as the Unsullied carry out Dany’s orders. When the dust settles, Daenerys tells the Unsullied that they are all free men, and asks them if any will remain and fight for her as free soldiers. All is quiet for a moment, then the men begin to pound their spears on the ground, showing her their allegiance.
Beautifully filmed and powerfully acted, this scene truly showcased what both Daenerys and Emilia Clarke are capable of. Her delivery of her lines, both in Valyrian and in the Common Tongue actually gave me a little chill. Way to go, HBO! THAT is the way to end an episode!
Bran is dreaming again, running through the forest as the three eyed raven flies above. Finding the raven high in a tree, Jojen Reed appears and tells Bran to go after the bird. He does so, climbing to where he is almost able to reach the bird, when suddenly his mother, Catelyn, appears in the tree. She yells at Bran that she’d told him he wasn’t to climb. Grabbing him, she shakes him, shouting that he must promise her. Bran falls from the tree, then wakes from his dream to find Jojen watching him, silenty. Bran’s dream of Catelyn in the tree was just awful. Although Bran does dream fairly frequently in the novels, this scene was an invention of HBO. Benioff and Weiss seem to desperately want the viewers to dislike Catelyn, and it’s difficult for book readers to understand why that might be.
When Maragery Tyrell comes across Sansa kneeling in prayer beside what looks to be the stump of a weirwood tree. Margaery asks about Sansa’s prayers, but Sansa doesn’t want to reveal her thoughts at first. To get Sansa to open up, Maragery tells a ridiculous story about wishing a pox on a beautiful cousin, another waste of valuable screen time. Talk finally comes around to Margaery telling Sansa that she must see Highgarden. Sansa fears the queen will not allow her to leave, but Margaery tells Sansa that soon she’ll be queen, and if Sansa were wed to Margaerys brother Loras… We must assume that Sansa is overcome with joy, although her expression makes it difficult to tell, as she looks more like she’s holding her breath than expressing great happiness. While it’s feasible that the two should interact, there are several scenes in the novels which would have done better to illustrate their growing friendship. Margaery’s tale of “porridge pox” was slow and silly, and it served to emphasize, once again, the slow-witted, unintelligent Sansa that HBO is portraying. Sophie Turner’s facial expressions were distracting, to say the least. While many of us were lamenting the omission of Willas Tyrell, we were quickly distracted by that fact that the mention of a marriage to Ser Loras would cause Sansa to look suddenly constipated. An odd moment, indeed.
The Utterly Ridiculous
Podrick’s visit to the brothel has now been beaten to death and back again. It was boring last week, serving only to waste time, and it is boring still. It’s also highly unbelievable that Petyr Baelish would allow his employees to comp their “guests,” once again making us wonder if the writers understand Baelish’s character at all. I’m very hopeful that we won’t need to continue to dwell on this useless plot element in episodes to come. It sometimes feels as though this show is being written by a couple of frat boys, Mr. Benioff and Mr. Weiss…
We next see Varys in conversation with Ros the Whore, who continues to turn up, like a bad penny, in nearly every episode this season. They first discuss Podrick Payne’s now infamous visit to the brothel, and then the conversation turns to Ros’s employer, Petyr Baelish. We know Baelish is preparing to travel north to the Eyrie, where he will wed Lysa Arryn. Ros points out to Varys that the manifest for Baelish’s ship includes two feather beds, one of which is likely reserved for Sansa Stark. This scene is completely fabricated for the HBO series, and does not exist in the books. It’s too bad, as it seemed to drag on forever and made Baelish out to be far less clever than he actually is. Another big disappointment, and a huge waste of valuable screen time.
Ros, Ros, Ros. Why? Once again she is taking valuable screen time away from the characters that people actually care about. She doesn’t exist in the novels and I can’t see any way that she adds anything to the series. At first, one might have said that she was “eye candy,” as she was usually shown unclothed, but as she’s wearing a gown these days, she’s even more useless than she was in episodes past. Thank the Seven for Conleth Hill, as he at least made the scene bearable, but at this point her “story line” is beyond ludicrous. Petyr Baelish is a brilliant character, and to think that one of his whores would have as much power as she seems to is not believable in the least. That Ros should be so successfully spying on him is very hard to swallow, not to mention the fact that it’s highly unlikely that a whore from a tiny brothel in the north would even be literate. Every day I pray to the Old Gods and the New that Ros will meet her (long overdue) demise before the end of Season 3.
Were you impressed with Daenerys this week? Are you looking forward to Episode 5 as much as I am? Who would you like to see more of? Is there anyone who you wish would meet their demise sooner, rather than later? We’d love to hear your opinions in the comments section!
Inside the Episode: “And Now His Watch is Ended”
MJ Snow is a Canine and avian behavior specialist by day; a role player, blogger and writer by night. A long time George RR Martin fangirl and Game of Thrones Addict, MJ spends way too much time in Westeros. MJ is the founder of The Snow Keep, a short story and fan-ficiton blog and The Brothers Clegane, a Sandor & Gregor Clegane tribute blog, she also co-curates several other Game of Thrones themed blogs.