We’re counting down to Game Of Thrones’ final season by distilling the fantasy epic to 30 essential moments. This is Month Of Thrones.
Bran, Rickon, Hodor, and Osha meet the Reeds
“Dark Wings, Dark Words” (season three, episode two)
Bran is on his feet and walking, and that’s your first indication that something’s off. Your other indication is that he’s alone, at least for a little while, until he’s startled by his prey—the black bird with the extra eye that’s haunted his dreams ever since he fell from the old tower—and joined by the older men of House Stark. By the time Jon and Robb (and Ned!) are repeating archery pointers they first gave in the series premiere, we’re fully in the realm of the slumbering, though that doesn’t diminish the surprise of the kid from Love Actually popping into frame to let Bran know that there’s no use in firing at the bird.
“Why not?” Bran asks.
“Because the raven is you.”
This is no pep-talk symbolism. In time, we’ll learn that this elliptical ragamuffin—Jojen Reed, played by aforementioned erstwhile yuletide romantic Thomas Brodie-Sangster—is speaking literally, though how literally is still a matter of some debate. Suffice it to say that these soon-to-be chums are bonded by greensight, the time-and-space bending ability that allowed Bran to foresee his father’s death and the Ironborn invasion. (This on top of his power to leap into Summer, which, as we learn from a different icon of early ’00s British comedy in this episode, makes Bran a warg.) Just as the end of season two deepened some of Game Of Thrones’ mysteries, the beginning of season three starts clearing them up, giving names to the things that mystify the Westerosi and forging connections between seemingly minor players like Bran and the show’s larger narrative.
From the experts recap: “At their best, Martin’s books provide a window into how strange it is for these characters to come in contact with the magic that’s supposedly left the world behind, and the show captures that in moments like Bran trying to shoot down the three-eyed crow in his dreams. What’s even more interesting about this is that Bran adapts fairly quickly to the idea that a kid he’s meeting in his dreams has popped up in his real life, perhaps because as someone who can’t walk, he relishes the opportunity to develop his other powers, strange though they may seem.”
Fitting for a point in the show where so many characters are on the run, “Dark Wings, Dark Words” is an episode of many paths crossing: Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie meet The Brotherhood Without Banners (and then The Brotherhood finds Sandor Clegane); Jaime and Brienne, after a spot of swordplay on a bridge, encounter a band of Bolton soldiers led by another familiar face, Noah Taylor. You’ll recognize the sigil on their banners from the predicament that Theon currently finds himself in, though a lowly servant boy offers him a word of hope and a promise to set him free (fast forward a few episodes: lol jk it’s Roose Bolton’s sadistic bastard son). Of course, the most important marquee name in this particular mix is Dame Diana Rigg, taking her first bow as Olenna Tyrell, who grills Sansa on Joffrey’s suitability as a prospective spouse while biting into the first of many zingers to come and cheese served when she wants it served.