I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s really hard to review something you love so much, considering that Saturday night’s airing of episode 7 of Game of Thrones, “A Man Without Honor”, was released almost a week ago. On the plus side, that means in less than 24 hours, I will get my next weekly helping!
First things first, though. Listen to this. Keep in mind that this video is NSFW – but if you’re at work, you shouldn’t be watching YouTube videos anyway. Carry on.Please enter the url to a YouTube video.
Congratulations! You will now sing this song every time you watch the opening credits. You’re welcome.
Following suit with my inability to review Game of Thrones properly, as made clear by my last review of episode 5, “The Ghost of Harrenhal” (which, let’s be honest, I watched at least three times and still took four days before I could push my jaw shut and sit down long enough to discuss the magic), Episode 7 had me so enthralled that when I went back to my notes for this review, there were literally 4 sentences. And not full sentences, mind you. Broken phrases were scribbled in a 12 year old’s illegible attempt at cursive so as not to miss anything on screen. Not sure if that means my reviews are getting worse, or the episodes are getting so much better as they go on that I’m left speechless. We’ll just go with the latter.
Whereas last week’s Episode 6 gave us beating, beheading, and bloodlust, HBO’s writers have toned it down a bit and given their actors a chance to flex their emotional range rather than their sword arm.
The episode starts on Winterfell’s self-proclaimed Lord By Conquest, Theon Greyjoy, who is taking a lesson from the Direwolves as he unsuccessfully tries to use pack mentality to his advantage and pull rank in his never ending quest to become a respected Alpha. Who let the She-Bitch Osha run off with the rest of the pack while he napped on fur. Theon, how are you an Alpha if you have no pack? Though he only shows up to open and close the episode, Theon’s line, “It’s only a game,” shows that the central theme of this episode is about growth.
Over in Harrenhal, where nightmares are forged by Hitler, Arya Stark is channeling her inner Trent Reznor and becoming a little too cocky in her lies. Tywin, of course, sees right through them. Who could miss that Arya is educated, quick of wit, and well spoken? Coupled with being found posing as a boy makes Tywin all the more intrigued, and he totally calls her out on all these things and more. Arya doesn’t bat an eye as Tywin recounts the history of Harrenhal, feeling out her boundaries as she corrects him on his lack of knowledge on the Targaryen lineage, pointing out that Aegon the First didn’t conqueror Westeros all by his lonesome. Arya mimics Tywin by giving him a lesson in the might of warrior women, specifically the two sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya. Tywin takes this as a bit of an insult and is quick to fire back Arya’s way, mentioning that if she is going to pose as a lowborn or anyone else, she should play the part more convincingly, which is definitely a bit of epic foreshadowing for future events. The characters clearly have a mutual respect for each other and their scenes are headed into a father/daughter dynamic, with Tywin even going so far as to say Arya reminds him of his own offspring, Cersei. It’s very intriguing, as this is new territory that wasn’t included in the original story and makes me wonder how the two will eventually part ways.
Now, lot of book purists will disagree with my claim that changing minute details is not all that bad. Yes, in the books Arya is actually Roose Bolton’s cupbearer rather than Tywin’s. Yes, Sansa had nameless handmaids, Shae never brushed Sansa’s hair, Lady Talisa is not supposed to be a battlefield medic but in actuality Jeyne Westerling, Syrio Forel was actually bald and HARRY POTTER’S EYES ARE GREEN! Honestly though – who cares? Maisie Williams is nowhere near as “horsefaced” as Arya is described in the text. Does it make her performance any less brilliant when she does not have every single attribute her written character possesses? Take a deep breath, because the simple fact of the matter is that these details are interchangeable, and fans, we will never have a direct adaption because sometimes things that play out beautifully in text just don’t translate well to screen. And I say, the less Roose Bolton we see, the better!
He may be a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch, but Jon Snow certainly did consent to being Ygritte’s big spoon awfully fast. Jon and his Wilding have a verbal sparring match about seeing the world from a different point of view, with both being too stubborn to make an attempt. And a lot of emphasis is placed on Jon’s virginity, which Ygritte seems to find as hilarious as I do. Though Jon is adamant about “knowing how to do it,” he was unable to hide his blush and bone at every remark Ygritte threw his way, not only drawing his attention away from tracking his Brothers, but also making it all too easy for the Wildlings to spot him and hand him over to their King-Beyond-The-Wall, Mance Rayder, who we finally get to meet next episode. And I may or may not have done a little flail spasm and spilled my drink when Ygritte finally uttered her famous line, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Seriously, chills.
Poor Sansa. A lot of emphasis has been placed on her flowering since season one, and as she awakens from one nightmare, she is thrust into the reality of another, as she is now deemed fit to bear children for her beloved King Joffrey. Life in King’s Landing does not quite have quite the romanticism that Sansa was expecting, what with being a prisoner and branded a traitor to the realm, and the sudden arrival of Sansa’s Fertility Song definitely hits a sour note for her. I am filled with a mixture of pity, revulsion and understanding at Sansa’s reaction to the blood soaked sheets. As Shae comes in to check on the situation, understanding passes between them with a look. Though never mentioned in the books, I absolutely love the dynamic between Sansa and Shae, most especially because though there is a large social gap between the two, they can each recognize how similar their situations are. And all of the Sandor and Sansa (or San/San) shippers out there will squee in delight at their screentime together, though I can’t decide who looked the most uncomfortable upon Shae’s return from threatening the other prissy handmaiden with A DAMN BUTTERKNIFE. Shae, you are one hardcore lady.
Sandor does his sworn duty and hastens off to tell the Queen Regent all the messy details of Sansa’s reproductive activities, resulting in Cersei’s version of The Talk with Sansa, which immediately devolves into more of an awkward, “Your future husband beats brothel wenches, but he’s still my son, so let’s have a heart-to-heart!” type situation. Cersei’s lesson to Sansa in hardening her heart is a bit ironic considering most of Cersei’s power play tactics in the Game have been based on whims of emotion that happen to suit her at the time. But for all of Lena Heady’s bad acting during the riot in King’s Landing, she really shines in these touching moments with Sansa and also later in the episode with Tyrion. Lena gives Cersei a believably hard exterior, yet glimpses at her inner vulnerability when admitting she cannot control the madness of Joffrey. It’s a side of Cersei we’ve never seen before, and kudos to Heady for giving the viewer something to empathize with, because damned if we’ve had much thus far.
North of the Red Waste, HBO continues to fall short on their promise of a dragon-filled season 2, as Daenerys’ babies are still missing. Jorah Mormont continues his tactic of beating a dead Dothraki horse and once again tries to use his position as advisor to give Daenerys unwanted advice. Though Dany doesn’t need a lesson from Queen Cersei to convince her that trust will get you nowhere, Mormont insists that he is the sole person Daenerys can count on, which backfires as Dany starts to see him in a new light. Mormont begs to know how he can best serve her, swearing his allegiance with an underlying hint of desire, and Daenerys dismisses him to the tune of finding her dragons.
During Mormont’s search, he runs into the lovechild of Lady Gaga and Labyrinth’s David Bowie, the mysterious Asshai woman Quaithe, and she proclaims that though she did not steal the dragons, she will reveal the culprit and their whereabouts if Mormont swears never to betray Dany again. AGAIN. Keep that in mind, kids, it will come in handy next season. Meanwhile, Dany interrupts the Qarth Coup as she witnesses The Thirteen become The One via the warlock Pyat Pree’s magical assassin trick, which will ultimately force her into the House of The Undying if she ever wishes to see her dragons again. Frightened though she may be, leaving the little ones to the mysterious madman is not an option, and the viewers can rest assured that next episode we will see our beloved Mother of Dragons Dracarys that city to the ground, rage quit Qarth, and continue on her path to securing the Iron Throne.
All of these things, however, fall short in comparison to the climax of the episode. Jaime Lannister. I was under the impression the writers finally decided to show us a few more dimensions to Jaime’s character, given the events that are about to unfold, but NAY! Jaime has been desperately seeking an escape route out of the Stark’s camp, and a soultion arrives in the form of his cousin, Ser Alton Lannister, who holds Jaime on a pedestal and wets himself whenever Jaime looks at him in that special way.
Alton’s admiration is clear on his face, though Jaime’s brutality was unexpected and left me a bit shocked. I suppose you always have to have a clear cut villian when dealing with visual storylines, but the thing I love most about George R. R. Martin’s world is that it is entirely constructed in this moral grey area, where you can identify with almost everyone given the right incentive. Still, Jaime is a prisoner in an enemy camp with war going on, a sister who misses him up her skirts, and a nephew-son thing left to terrorize the Capitol. Also, his captor’s bannermen want to kill him for murdering a Karstark. He’s really running out of options at this point.
Catelyn’s lines were delived with such venom that you almost want to recoil away from the TV in fear, but their conversation about semantics proves to be my favorite of the episode. And by all accounts, Jaime does have points. How is it fair to be branded a Kingslayer when the king he slayed was roasting her Father-in-law alive in his armor? As Jaime throws Ned’s supposed infedility back in Catelyn’s face and she reaches for a Brienne’s sword, the viewer can see that Catelyn has a plan that extends further than getting revenge for Jaime’s harsh words. Though it is a bit of a transparent attempt at a cliffhanger, considering Catelyn wouldn’t go to so much trouble to save Jaime from the Karstarks just to have the satisfaction of ending his life herself.
Even more heart wrenching than dragon filled cries of the episode 6 finale, “A Man Without Honor” jumps back to where it began and shows the depths a Greyjoy will sink to in order to get the respect they feel they deserve. While Theon may believe that cruelty will frighten his foes into swearing him fealty, he does not consider the actions of burning those two little boys and what will rain down on him when word spreads from Winterfell. Though knowing where the story is ultimately headed, I’m sure we will see much worse than brunt children in all the closing credits from here on out.
Beautifully crafted dialogue that was smartly delivered by each actor.
The history of the Targaryen women!
Cersei’s maternal instincts show a little bit of the human side under the veneer. Also, candlelight is Lena Heady’s best light.
NO GLIMPSE OF JOFFREY!
“…I went to Willem Frey’s wedding?!”
I’m not a fan of any deviation that makes Jaime less likable.
Less Tyrion means less one liners from Bronn. And while we’re on it, no Gendry or Jaqen this episode. :[
Still no dragons!
Four out of five Arya smirks!