SPOILER WARNING: Whether you’ve read all five books or only watch the series this post is for you. I have read the books (multiple times) but I will not go beyond the scope of the TV series (save a wink or a nod every now and then that only my fellow readers will catch on to). All events that have occurred in the TV show up to and including yesterday’s episode are fair game. You’ve been warned.
Note: With the biggest cast in television it can be hard to keep all the names and faces straight. Thus the first mention of each character contains a link to a picture of them which will open in a new tab.
You’re nothing without your daddy and your daddy ain’t here.
We’ve been joking for a while now that Jaime and Brienne’s road-trip buddy comedy would bring them closer together. These two polar opposites would begin to think maybe they’re not so different, underneath it all. But how? Their final scene in last week’s episode seemed to offer the simplest possible answer to that question: introduce a common enemy, force them to work together.They were captured by Locke, one of Roose Bolton’s loyal soldiers.
Wait a minute, you say, Jaime and Brienne aren’t banding together to escape their captivity. Far from it. They remain as boorish and brusque in their interactions as ever. Jaime tries to use his father’s influence to win Locke over, telling him to look at things rationally: the North doesn’t have the manpower or the gold to win the war, switch to the winning side and Tywin Lannister will reward you with lands, gold, women, and perhaps some golden women. Locke’s not hearing any of it though, and his response is the closest thing this episode has to a unifying theme: “You’re nothing without your daddy and your daddy ain’t here.” And then? Boom goes the dynamite! I mean, off comes the hand! I spoke last week about the feeling of wholeness that was clear in Jaime’s eyes and body language as soon as he got Brienne’s sword in his hands (almost like I knew something like this was coming). “He moves about and casually swings the sword like it’s a part of his arm. It’s been ages since he held a sword, meaning it’s been ages since he felt whole.” And now he’s lost the appendage that allows him this feeling permanently. Jaime may be nothing without his daddy, but he’s even less without his sword hand.
Alright, you’re saying, but what does any of that have to do with Jaime and Brienne banding together in the long-term? Well, Jaime got his punishment despite his fancy words. Brienne did not, and while her daddy rescuing her would surely sound like a good idea, it is not Selwyn Tarth who saves her but Jaime’s fancy words. He convinces Locke that his cause would be better served if Brienne’s honor remains “unbesmirched,” because Brienne is from Tarth, which they call the “Sapphire Isle.” He assures him that returning Brienne safely will net Locke her weight in sapphires. He does all this before he makes his play, before it fails, he’s still working under the assumption that just saying the name Tywin Lannister will get him what he wants. That means Jaime tried to save Brienne for no other reason than—dare I say it—compassion. Could it be? Character development! Hurrah! Next week, Jaime will be the one in pain, the one unable to defend himself. Will Brienne leap to his aide? Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
Tywin be errbody’s daddy
Meanwhile in the capital, we get our first glimpse of a Small Council meeting with Tywin in charge. Luckily for Tyrion and Cersei, they’ve still got their daddy around. But they’re not the only ones. Tywin seems to be serving as a surrogate daddy for Littlefinger, Varys, and Pycelle to boot. At the very least, Tywin’s the most powerful guy around, and everybody knows it. That’s why his presence at the head of the table is just as commanding as Dad’s when he sat down for dinner. But it’s more than that. Everyone knows what they want, but they need Tywin to get it, and the way they react to the game of musical chairs around the table wordlessly sums up each of their desires in relation to Tywin and each other.
Littlefinger, the powergrabber, brushes by Varys to take the seat on Tywin’s left hand, while the reserved Varys and the obedient Pycelle take the middle and far seats, respectively. It’s clear Tywin set the room up how he did on purpose. Cersei is the first one to defy his intentions by dragging her chair to the other side and taking her “rightful” place at Tywin’s right hand. She is saying, in so many words (or more accurately, none) that she is Tywin’s true heir, his equal. She knows it, but unfortunately no one else will recognize it because of her stupid vagina. Finally, I’ve got two possible interpretations of Tyrion’s decision to drag a chair to the end of the table opposite his father. Is he, trying to gain his father’s respect by saying, much like Cersei, that he’d be recognized as his father’s true son if not for his physical deformities? Could be, but having two characters say the same thing (even if it’s wordlessly) seems beneath this show. No, I think he’s trying to show Tywin and the rest that he’s not playing their game but one of his own devising with his own rules, and it’s got naught to do with Tywin or anyone else’s expectations.
I’m going to make this very clear: your daddy ain’t here. Because this is his funeral.
We just spent a lot of time talking about a scene that got across everything we needed to know and more without a word being spoken. Well, guess what, we’re about to talk about another one. Robb, Catelyn and most of the northern army has returned to the Tully’s ancestral castle of Riverrun site of the viking funeral for Hoster Tully, father to Cat and the newly-introduced Edmure and brother to the Blackfish. As his father’s corpse floats downstream, Edmure attempts to ignite the funeral boat with a flaming arrow and misses. He notches and draws another, and misses again. He does it a third time, ending in his third miss. The Blackfish grabs the bow from him, and casually flings an arrow onto the boat despite it being nearly out of eyesight. That’s all you need to know about these characters right there, as we find out in the next scene.
Edmure expects to be congratulated for taking the fight to a host of Lannister men and routing them, despite Robb’s specific orders to hold the line and wait for the enemy to come to them. It seems Robb had a fantastic plan worked out to corner Gregor Clegane and put an end to him once and for all until Edmure went and screwed it up.
It’s hard to miss the daddy motif when you’re literally watching the funeral of a major character’s daddy. Every scene Cat’s in, from the funeral to her monologue about waiting for Hoster to return from wars and trips to the capital, a luxury Bran and Rickon will never again experience, screams “You’re nothing without your daddy and you’r daddy ain’t here.” The same rubs off on Robb, although perhaps not in such great fashion. Obviously, Robb’s daddy ain’t here, it’s the cause of almost every plot thread we’re involved in. But that’s nothing new, the absence of Eddard has been driving Robb forward since before they removed his head from his shoulders.
Gang of Three becomes Gang of Two
As is the case with Robb, Eddard’s absence has been a major motivating factor for Arya (as well as his other children, namely Bran and Jon Snow). Arya’s brief interlude this week has some parallels with Jaime’s. She’s the prize captive of the Brotherhood without Banners, a gang of, well, what are they? Outlaws, sure, but the rape and pillage kind or the Robin Hood kind? Hot Pie is allowed to leave the Brotherhood’s captivity because the innkeep wants him as a cook, and the Brotherhood says fine because Hot Pie is of no value to them. Arya, on the other hand, is a Stark, a valuable commodity. The Brotherhood is sure to be richly rewarded if they can return the girl to her family (or even more richly rewarded if they bring her to the Lannisters, it remains unclear just who they’re fighting for, if anyone). Of course, if Eddard had never died neither Arya or the Brotherhood would’ve ended up where they are now, although the fact that her daddy ain’t there isn’t any more important now than any other time since his death. Anyhow, Gendry and Arya continue down the path to wherever they’re going, and the Hound is along for the ride. Should be a doozy.
Champion of Abolition Trades Dragon for Slaves?
Like some other characters we’ve discussed here, the absence of Dany’s father has been a major force in her life. It wouldn’t be unfair to say it is the major force in her life. After all, she is the last of her line, and her life’s work has been returning to her rightful throne. Here in the present, Dany is intent on buying Unsullied, awesome slave soldiers who feel no pain. She tells the slave dealers she wants all 8000 Unsullied, as well as the half-trained boys. But they retort that even if she sold her ship, all her gold and possessions, and her Dothraki followers into slavery, she could afford only 23 Unsullied. But Dany is intent on buying them all, so she uses the only bargaining chips she has left: she offers them a dragon. Her devoted knights Jorah Mormont and Barristan Selmy immediately, well, flip the fuck out. She later chastises them, saying she appreciates their honest counsel in private, but that they must never question her in public. Pretty queenly if I do say so myself. The only question that remains is whether Dany truly intends to sell a dragon for some (admittedly awesome) slave soldiers. Dany, the show’s greatest champion of abolition, is going to sacrifice one of three living dragons for slaves, tacitly supporting that institution which she purports to hate so much. Could that really be what’s going on? That’s for me to know and you to find out (or you can get to work reading the books). All I’m going to say is don’t count anything out either way. Could you have predicted Jaime’s hand was coming off this week? Of course not. So anything could happen when we return to Astapor.
A Few More Things:
-Scenes we couldn’t get to: 1) Jon and Mance find endless horse heads arranged in a spiral shape by the “artists” currently known as White Walkers at the Fist of the First Men. All the men who died there are Wights now.
2) Sam and what’s left of the Night’s Watch return to Craster’s Keep, where he discovers that Gilly has given birth to a boy.
3) Theon escapes with the help of a man who claims to be in league with his sister. When guards catch up to him, the same man saves him yet again. Who is this guy? Is he for real?
4) Melisandre is going away and Stannis is going to miss her.
-Oh yeah, the actual purpose of that meeting is that Tyrion is the new Master of Coin while Littlefinger travels to the Eyrie in an attempt to woo Lysa Arryn.
-The scene regarding Pod’s ostensible sexual exploits was humorous, but I’m hoping it comes back to have some further purpose later on.
-Riverrun makes its first appearance in the title sequence.
-Tobias Menzies was fantastic as Brutus in Rome, and I’m sure he’ll be a great Edmure Tully, but he’s got a suspicious lack of red hair. Just saying.
-Arya asks the Hound if he recognizes this inn. He doesn’t. It’s the same spot where he killed Mycah, the butcher’s boy, in season one.
-”Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, and Rhaegar died.”
-One of Pod’s whores could perform a “Mereneese knot.” Ha!
Check out the preview for next week’s episode below and follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.
Tags: Arya Stark, Barristan Selmy, Blackfish, Bran Stark, Brienne of Tarth, Brynden Tully, Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Edmure Tully, Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones blog, Game of Thrones Season Three, Gendry, Grand Maester Pycelle, Hoster Tully, Hot Pie, Jaime Lannister, Jon Snow, Jorah Mormont, Littlefinger, Locke, Lysa Arryn, Mance Rayder, Missandei, Nate Kreichman, Robb Stark, Roose Bolton, Sandor Clegane, Thoros of Myr, Tyrion Lannister, Tywin Lannister, Varys