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“You’re nothing without your daddy, and your daddy ain’t here.”
There’s too much going on in any one Game Of Thrones episode for there to always be a grand, unifying theme—too much serialized story to get through, too much background info to unpack. But the closing lines of the episode, delivered by Locke (Noah Taylor) to poor, poor Jaime (whoever thought I’d be typing that?) definitely have a profound ring to them.
If the first two episodes felt like a lot of setup (and they did) we are now just starting to bite into the meat of season three. The map has been updated to include Riverrun, ancestral home to Catelyn Stark, where she goes to attend her father’s funeral, and that whole experience just screams “You’re nothing without your daddy, and your daddy ain’t here” to her and Robb.
Catelyn’s brother, who’s now in charge of everything, is called Edmure and is played by Tobias Menzies (who I remember best as Brutus in Rome) and is a bit of a preening idiot. He’s been leading his men on worthless military missions against Robb’s orders, but as we learn from an incredibly symbolic first scene, he can’t even shoot the ceremonial flaming arrow in his father’s Viking funeral and will obviously remain an ineffective headache for Catelyn and her son.
He does have a terrific uncle called Brynden the Blackfish (British character actor Clive Russell) who is every bit and grizzled and bullshit-free as Edmure is not (he’s the one who eventually lands the flaming arrow). He has another in what’s becoming a scene of very nice, well-acted, melancholy Catelyn scenes where she reminisces on waiting for her father to return to the castle as a child, and fears that Bran and Rickon did the same to no avail with her. It doesn’t quite have the fearsome power of her monologue the week before about wanting baby Jon Snow dead, but the show is doing a great job keeping her relevant even though she’s not really part of the action right now.
The Stark children certainly miss their daddy but it’s too much to say they’re nothing without them; it is amazing how Ned’s strength of character continues to echo through the show more than a season after his death, especially in Arya’s defiant leadership of her little band of misfits, and Bran’s ethereal connection to the ghosts of the past (no appearance by him this week though).
Arya only gets one big scene this week but it’s a very sweet one, as she and Gendry bid goodbye to Hot Pie who is taken on as a baker’s apprentice at the inn the Brotherhood Without Banners has led them to. It’s an amazing full-circle moment since this is the same inn where the Hound casually slew the baker’s boy for being an innocent bystander to the wolf attack on Joffrey; that was her major loss of innocence moment, but now she has a chance to reverse it (in a weird way) with the Hound a captive of the Brotherhood’s and Hot Pie replacing poor Mycah. He bakes Arya a little bread wolf to bid goodbye and the whole thing is so darn adolescent and cute I just can’t stand it.
Tyrion and Cersei do have their dad still around, lucky them, and the extent of their power-playing is summed up in that wonderful opening scene where the two of them craftily arrange their chairs around the new Small Council table, a beautiful mix of silent comedy and bristling tension. Tyrion is now master of coin (Littlefinger’s old position), which leads him to quickly realize that Petyr’s main approach to raising money has been borrowing extreme quantities of it. This is all interesting enough, but then we get bogged down in a weird, irrelevant-feeling storyline about Pod the squire’s insane properties in the bedroom, which…what? This had better have a bearing on some future episode because here it felt like a waste of my valuable time.
Daenerys doesn’t do a ton this episode but it feels like she’s setting up some gigantic power play, promising the slaver one of her dragons in exchange for all 8,000 Unsullied soldiers, all the trainees and Missandei the translator slave, who she quizzes about the extent of the soldiers’ training. So far Barristan’s role appears to be as a counter-balance to Jorah; he gives similarly weighty advice, but tinged with more respect for honor and the past. Unsurprising, since he was a golden knight and Jorah is a disgraced former slaver himself. All their scenes together had a feeling of “watch this space,” however.
The most engaging and gripping material of the night comes in Jaime and Brienne’s storyline, which has sadly switched from fun odd couple buddy movie to creepy torture experience (yet another one, considering we’re also suffering through Theon’s confusing captive state). Locke and his buddies supposedly work for Roose Bolton, an ally of Robb’s, but I get the impression they’re playing by their own rules. Jaime, obviously, has to be delivered alive, but Brienne is in real trouble, being both a woman and a prisoner of no importance.
The two have a disturbing exchange near the start of the episode about Brienne’s likely fate: if not death, certainly sexual assault and brutalization, especially if she resists. Jaime advises her to lie back and take it, essentially, but he’s giving this horrible advice in his typical, cold-blooded Jaime way—he’s considered all the eventualities coldly and decided that’s the least torturous. Of course, Brienne will fight back, given that she’s a woman of honor and considerable strength, and Jaime intimates that he understands. “If I was a woman, I’d make them kill me. I’m not, thank the gods.”
But it all shakes down rather surprisingly, with two final-act twists: one that was a little cheesy, utterly necessary and vital for Jaime’s development, and one that was truly shocking in that holy shit Game Of Thrones way where it smash-cuts to black and credits and you vainly scream for more, more, more.
Jaime tells Locke that Brienne is also a valuable prisoner, from the rich “Sapphire Isles” ruled by Lord Tarth, and is worth a fortune if delivered with her honor unbesmirched. He has no real reason to spare her except compassion, a quality Jaime has certainly lacked until now. It’s an obvious development but, as I said, a necessary one with intriguing implications for the future.
What else has intriguing implications for the future? What about Jaime’s hand getting CUT THE FUCK OFF in the closing seconds of the episode, as he tries to finagle his way out of his chains in his typical sneaky way and quickly realizes he’s dealing with a different kettle of psycho-fish. “You’re nothing without your daddy, and your daddy ain’t here,” Locke says. Which has a ring of truth to it, but more importantly, Jaime is nothing without his sword hand. To repeat: holy shit.
- Tyrion protests that he’s no good as a master of coin. “I’m quite good at spending it, but a lifetime of outrageous wealth hasn’t taught me much about managing it.”
- Gendry and Hot Pie bid each other goodbye. “Don’t get stabbed.” “You don’t… burn your fingers.” Aww.
- Oh, apparently Mance Rayder is off to attack the wall. Good for him?
- Bronn nails Petyr with a new nickname: “Twat-Beard.”
- The slaver remains his uncouth self in negotiations. “And this because I like the curve of your ass.”