Title: Game of Thrones
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Watched: Episode 23 – April 14, 2013
Title: Walk of Punishment
Summary: Hands off to Weiss and Benioff!
There is a lot going on in this episode. Several of the threads are very brief, while others are vital, plus there is a substantial chunk of character development. Like last week, I’ll break stuff down by narrative thread instead of by segment.
Robb/Cat – Uncharacteristically, we don’t begin were we left off (exactly), but with the funeral of Lord Tully, Cat’s father. It’s nice to finally see Riverrun, even if only a dead Lord Fish. The bit of conflict/rivalry between Cat’s brother (the new lord) and uncle (the missing Blackfish, finally making an appearance!) will be pretty opaque to non book readers. It did have me thinking that firing a flaming arrow at a far away boat would be pretty damn hard. Afterward, Robb lets out a little steam on his uncle, the Lord, for botching his plans. At times like this he has a nice commanding presence, and than at other times, he can be a tad sniveling.
Segment two has Cat and the Blackfish reminiscing in a moment that is almost entirely characterization. It’s nice that the pacing this season allows for this. Plus, they picked a lovely spot on some Irish river for Riverrun. Even the river bird sound effects are first rate. The thread winds down with an oddball segment were Robb’s queen teases the two captive Lanister boys. I have to assume they have a relevant role in the future to warrant this, but I can’t remember what it is, even after several reads.
Tyrion – Joins his father at the small council and it seems Littlefinger is off to the Vale to “court” Cat’s crazy sister, so Tyrion is awarded with the position of master of coin. Hard to tell if this is an honor or a burden, but there is this little bit at the start with the chairs that’s pretty amusing. In the second segment, Ty visits Littlefinger to pick up all the books, and this being HBO, no opportunity is spared with regards to whores. The actual dialog is amusing and Littlefinger and Tyrion both trade off their knowledge of each other’s goings on, which is a common game between any and all of Ty, Littlefinger, Cersei, and Varys. Tyrion “pays” Pod back for saving his life in quite an amusing fashion. Contortionists. Excellent. It’s a two part scene, again, more fun room for characterization. We also have a new threat introduced: the crown’s debt to the Iron Bank of Bravos.
Arya – Arya has only a very small segment this week, at the mill where we’ve twice been before (where Sansa’s wolf died in episode 2 and where Tyrion was arrested). Other than showing that Thyros doesn’t like the Hound, and Arya is still with him, the main point is to wish Hotpie goodbye. His little wolf cake is kinda cute though.
Jon – Very small segment for Jon, but with important ramifications. They reach the Fist of the First Men and those crazy white walkers have been at it again, arranging horse parts in a creative fashion. Mance sends Giantsbane and Jon off to climb the wall and attack castle black — uh, oh! I’m stilling waiting for my Ygritte time!
Sam – Sam and the men in black get all the way back to Craster’s pig sty — which is appropriate as the old man compares Sam and women in general to his porcine charges. It also turns out Gilly’s having her baby, and a boy at that (uh, oh again), but why isn’t anyone bothered when Sam pokes his head in on the affair? Although that’s not the only head poking into the tent!
Theon – Theon gets pulled off his cross by the mysterious rescuer and given a horse. In his second segment he’s riding across the Irish moors when his captors appear. This results in a nice little horse chase, which like this whole Theon bit is totally not in the book. It had me wondering if they were just padding out this part of the storyline, when bam, more reversals.
Stannis – The king of boredom (not my favorite character) is wishing off Mel the red lady — albeit not happily. He’s much more into her here than in the book, but she gets a chance to reveal her fondness for a little princely flambé.
Is it me, or does it feel like some elements of the story are moving pretty rapidly through A Storm of Swords? Or maybe I forgot how huge the book is?
Dany – A very good (and relatively lengthy) Dany segment here. She walks along the shore line past the “walk of punishment” and the line of crucified slaves. For me this added to the Babylonian vibe of Astapor as Nebuchadnezzar, ancient king of Babylon, was famous for lining roads with the impaled. And the view of the harpy castle was awesome. Inside, is more of that fun double talk involving the slaver lord and his translator. The writers must have wracked their brains to come up with so many insults. There is great multi directional interplay between the parties here, with Dany, Jorah, and Selmy all on slightly different pages — not to mention the slavers. At the end, Dany makes another hard bargain…
Brienne and Jaime – Last, but not least. In A Storm of Swords Jaime and Brienne was one of the highlights, and it’s the same here. Even tied to a horse (and doesn’t Brienne look a helluva different without her armor?), their banter is hilarious. The way in which Jaime simultaneously tries to work it and also betrays his increasing respect for her is very deft. Plus, I even like Bolton’s men’s authentic-sounding folk song.
In the second segment, last of the show, things get even better. Not only are both principals excellent, but Bolton’s hunter is surprisingly effective for a minor character. Jaime does Brienne a real solid and saves her from some nasty business, but he really really fails to estimate his captor’s personal daddy issues, loyalties, and dislike for the likes of him. The ending of this episode is one of those Martinesque moments — the man knows how to make his characters suffer — and hands off to Weiss and Benioff for pulling it off so well…
Hehe. I couldn’t resist.
Missing this time around is a lot of the Kings Landing action: notably Marg, Sansa, and Joff, plus Bran. Still, this is a meaty episode, moving forward some disparate story lines and really cutting at least one to the bone.
Oh, and the credits are scored with Hold Steady’s modern folk-rock version of “The Bear And The Maiden Fair”… this is a thorough production indeed and this odd credits musical juxtaposition is very HBO.
Below is a video about making this episode: