My oh my, things escalated quickly this time around, didn’t they? It’s been almost a week since “And Now His Watch Is Ended” aired, and the repercussions of what transpired in its final moments are still rocking the foundation of ‘Game of Thrones’. Seeing Daenerys pull a fast one on Kraznys, who’s been bad mouthing her from the moment she arrived, was the first true power shift of the season and one of the most satisfying sequences of the series. Oh, and the big reveal that Dany does in fact speak Valyrian and understood every single insult that Kraznys threw her way? That was awesome, and it shows how dangerous and methodical Dany has become. Yes she is still in possession of her dragons as well as the Unsullied, but more importantly she’s learned how to beat her enemies at their own game. When men look at her, they see a dumb bimbo who is easily tricked and led astray. And she knows it. By feigning ignorance and decimating the slavers once she gained the advantage (a plan that she kept entirely to herself), Dany proved that she has become a force to be reckoned with. It wasn’t the most honorable way to get what she wanted, but to hell with honor. The only thing honor’s gotten anyone on this show is a one-way ticket to the chopping block.
Things aren’t going nearly as well for the Night’s Watch, who are sick and tired of starving and freezing. Craster may have believed that he was a godly man, but he wasn’t a very smart one, or he wouldn’t have continuously harassed a bunch of armed men who hated him in the first place. I can’t say he didn’t get what he deserved, but it was a bit unsettling to see the Watch implode and nothing Commander Mormont said or did could prevent his men from revolting. People in the show like to joke about how those who take the black are nothing but rapists and thieves, but no one was laughing when Rast shoved a knife in Mormont’s back and his collaborators joined him in forsaking their vows. It is now quite literally every man for himself, and Sam understandably hightailed it out of there with Gilly and her newborn son. With the exception of a couple standouts, there’s not much to like about the Watch these days and maybe the Wildlings would be doing everyone a huge favor by offing these criminals once and for all.
And then there’s Jaime, who undoubtedly has seen better days. Not only has he been forced to wear his hand like a grotesque necklace, but then Locke’s men make him drink horse piss and brutally beat him into the mud. Talk about adding insult to injury. When Locke took Jaime’s hand, he took his identity, and Jaime would rather die a prisoner than live on as a cripple. That is until Brienne questions his manhood and points out that common people suffer misfortunes similar to his all the time, but have no choice but to keep on truckin. What started out as a reluctant association characterized by disdain is slowly morphing before our eyes, and you can see the mutual respect growing between these two. Jaime’s story that saved Brienne from being raped might not have worked out so well for him, but it didn’t go entirely unnoticed, though he wasn’t about to admit that he helped her.
One of the more interesting subplots thus far is Arya’s time with the Brotherhood without Banners, and the addition of the Hound has made this situation all the more dynamic. The grudge between Arya and Sandor over the butcher’s boy, Micah, has existed since season 1, which coincidentally is the last time we saw Beric Dondarrion. I doubt many people even remembered who the hell Beric is, especially since he was played by a different actor in his only scene in the series, so technically I suppose that makes him a new character. No matter. One thing this show does so wonderfully is blur the line between heroism and villainy, and while you may feel inclined to side with the Brotherhood since they are looking out for Arya, the Hound isn’t guilty of any of the atrocities that they are accusing him of. Plus, he only rode down Micah because Joffrey told him to. I mean come on, have you seen what happens to the people who tell Joffrey no? Anyway, its been a while since our last trial by combat, so I’m looking forward to the Hound’s showdown with Beric.
Meanwhile, Joffrey is moonlighting as a tour guide, while Margaery is doing everything she can to mold her betrothed into a noble king who treats his subjects with adulation instead of cruelty. Suffice to say, Cersei is less than pleased. It irritates her so much that she presents her concerns to Tywin, suggesting that he do something about it and complaining that he’s never given her the respect she deserves. Tywin then proceeds to do what Tywin does best, and that is completely and utterly belittle one of his children, only this time it wasn’t Tyrion. See, he’s a dick to everyone! Varys actually makes more than a cameo in this episode and we finally get to hear the story of how he was cut. It was even more demented than any of us hoped it would be. As usual, Varys is back to scheming and spying, with a little help from Ros. This leads him to a meeting with Lady Olenna and neither of them want Littlefinger to marry Sansa, because that’s just perverted as all hell. Oh, and it would give the guy too much power. Now the Tyrells are planning to let Sansa marry Loras, which is totally ironic seeing as she has no idea that he plays for the other team. It kind of makes you shake your head that Sansa doesn’t even realize the Tyrells are leading her down the primrose path, but I suppose we should all just let the girl dream.
I don’t envy the writers’ task this season with Theon, as this marks the first time they’ve had to crank out a storyline for a character with no source material to guide them. And while Theon’s admission that his “real father” died in King’s Landing got the feels going, people are still pretty pissed off at him for betraying the Starks, so I don’t think anyone felt much pity when he was unknowingly led back to the torture chamber. And Bran is having all sorts of family reunions in his dreams lately, this time coming across Catelyn as he tries to reach the Three-Eyed Raven. It was such a happy moment too, what with Catelyn screaming at Bran not to climb anymore before shoving him out of the tree. I like what they’re doing with Bran so far, but it would be nice to see him interact more with the Reeds. In time I guess.
This was an extremely busy episode, and it will go down as one of the more memorable ones thanks to the incredible closing segment. We seldom get to see our heroes triumph, and so Dany’s sacking of Astapor is by far one of the most crowd-pleasing events to date. The intrigue and stakes of season 3 increase with every week, and I expect things will only get more and more intense as we hit the mid-season point.