Monday, December 26, 2016

An End-of-Year Thank You

As 2016 draws to a close, the Society would like to thank its members for their continued membership, its contributors (especially Shiloh!) for their work, and those who have been reading what we have been writing. We couldn't do it nearly so well without you, and we appreciate what you do for us!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Game of Thrones Rewatch 3.9: "The Rains of Castamere"

Read the previous entry in this series here.
Read the next entry in this series here.

3.9 “The Rains of Castamere”
Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by David Nutter
Commentary by Richard Madden (Robb), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn), and David Nutter

Well, here we are. The episode that spawned a million reaction videos on YouTube and practically broke the world when it aired. The extinction-level event for the Starks. All the chickens coming home to roost (okay I’m done).

Before they actually head into the Twins for the wedding, Robb and Cat have a moment where Robb admits he was an idiot for not listening to her about Theon. (He doesn’t admit that he was an idiot for not listening to her about Talisa, Lord Karstark, or Jaime.) He asks for her advice on his plan to take Casterly Rock, and she decides it’s a good plan if they can get the men they need from Walder Frey.

Outside the Twins, Arya’s staring down at the army with a hungry yet terrified look on her face. On the “behind the episode” thingy, Benioff and Weiss claim that she’s afraid that she won’t make it to her family after all this time—and that’s what the Hound tells her, as well—but there’s much more to it in the books. Arya’s been through a lot. She’s changed. She’s killed people. She’s terrified that Catelyn won’t want her back. It’s an irrational fear, but she’s ten. Only so much of that can come across on screen, though. (Again, we lose so much by not being in these characters’ heads.)

Walder, of course, has to be as gross as possible before getting the festivities started. He forces Robb to face the girls he rejected in favor of Talisa and apologize to them. (Edmure’s face looking at all these plain and unfortunate-looking girls is hilarious.) The look on Talisa’s face is hard to read; is she sad for the girls? Guilty about helping Robb break a vow? Maybe being faced with the girls who could have been “the Frey girl” is different than having an abstract notion of “the Frey girl,” and Talisa is beginning to understand that they made a decision that actively hurt people. It’s hard to tell.

Talisa doesn’t get off scot-free in this encounter, either; Walder insists on seeing her and makes exceptionally gross remarks about her body, one of which (“I can always see what’s going on under the clothes”) sets up Talisa’s particular death later. He’s clearly trying to provoke Robb, and it almost works, but Cat puts a hand on his arm and holds him back.

The actual wedding goes off without a hitch; Edmure is pleasantly surprised by Roslin’s looks, Talisa and Robb exchange goo-goo eyes during the vows, and Brynden studiously ignores the older Frey women who are giving him goo-goo eyes. The feast is uneventful, as well, until the bedding. All the “innocent parties,” as Nutter puts it, leave the hall, and Black Walder closes and bars the doors. Cat starts to notice that something’s wrong, and then the band starts playing “The Rains of Castamere” and she’s certain of it. Walder calls for attention, and as he’s talking, Cat realizes that Roose Bolton is wearing chain mail under his finery.

At this point, all hell breaks loose. Black Walder comes up behind Talisa and stabs her in the belly five times. Robb takes a crossbow bolt. Cat takes a crossbow bolt. Throats are slit, everyone’s dying.

This scene is meant to be horrifying and shocking. Martin intended it to be. It’s obvious for anyone with eyes that this is the inevitable outcome of all Robb’s decisions, but it’s still horrifying. There are rules in this society that are supposed to protect from things like this, and Walder breaks all those rules. In case anyone got complacent after Ned’s death, here’s a reminder that this society is unforgiving and brutal and even “heroes” aren’t immune. That said, Benioff and Weiss turned it up to eleven with Talisa. Not only did they bring her to the wedding (Jeyne Westerling didn’t go; Robb thought it might be too much of an in-your-face insult to Walder), not only did they make her pregnant (Jeyne never did manage, despite all their trying), but they killed her in a very specific way—by stabbing her in the belly and letting her bleed out on the floor. So the manner in which she’s killed focuses specifically on her femininity and her status as an almost-mother. They don’t just slit her throat; they make a point of killing the baby first (sort of; they stab kind of high for that considering how early in the pregnancy she is).

So not only have they replaced a perfectly reasonable love interest for a young king with a sassy, not-like-other-girls, exotic, mysterious young woman who doesn’t mind getting dirty and tends to dress below her station, they’ve made her pregnant, brought her to a place where her very presence is actively insulting to a man whose honor has already been shown to be “prickly,” and then make her death all about her pregnancy by stabbing her in the belly. Not only that, they made the Red Wedding all about her—her existence, her marriage to Robb, her pregnancy, her attending the wedding—instead of about the power plays that were going on and consequences to Robb and Cat for the choices they’ve made up until now. In short, Benioff and Weiss dropped every possible ball in trying to replace Talisa, and then those balls bounced over to the Red Wedding (and I’ve lost my metaphor here) and I’m really glad Martin forced them to change her name, because they were going to call her Jeyne (as if she’s remotely the same character anymore). I can see tying up loose ends by getting rid of her at the same time as everyone else, but the way they went about it was super gross.

Arya’s outside, and it’s her point of view that shows us all the Stark bannermen dying, as well as Grey Wind. She tries to get into the Twins, but Sandor knocks her out and hauls her off.

Interestingly, recording the commentary was the first time Michelle Fairley had watched the episode, and by the end of it, she’s sobbing. That sets Richard Madden off, and the end credits (completely silent; no music) are punctuated by the lead actors of the episode crying, not just because the episode is rough, but because they miss working with each other so much.

The Red Wedding isn’t the only thing happening in this episode, amazingly enough. Daenerys is also sacking Yunkai—or, sending a small strike team in to Trojan Horse the city. It’s Daario’s idea; he knows the back gate will be open for him because the Second Sons have been using it to visit the brothels. Dany waits nervously and impatiently for the battle to be over, with Barristan refusing to give her any indication of whether her nerves are justified. Just as she’s on the verge of a panic attack, Jorah and Grey Worm pop up and tell her they were successful and the city has been taken. Dany’s first question is about the whereabouts of Daario, which makes Jorah’s face do a thing; he does everything for her and it’s never quite enough. 


This scene has some different undercurrents than in the books, wherein Dany has grown progressively more frustrated with Jorah and less likely to trust him. A lot of this is driven by the “three treasons will you know” from the House of the Undying, which they dumped in the show. They also lost a chance for a bit of historical exposition; Barristan spends this time in the books telling Dany about Rhaegar and the Great Tourney at Harrenhal. Finally, the announcement of victory shifts the entire focus from Dany’s great tactical win to her thinking Daario is pretty. In the book, she immediately asks how many men they’ve lost (maybe twelve) and whether Mero (alive in the books because they consolidated the Stormcrows and the Second Sons for the show and it’s the Stormcrow leaders’ heads Daario brings her) or the Yunkish emissary have been captured. That’s it. She doesn’t ask after Daario at all. She asks questions that make sense for a leader in wartime. To the best of my knowledge (and my notes), she doesn’t ask Jorah this question after a battle at all. She thinks Daario’s pretty, but doesn’t let that distract her from waging a war and ruling a city. (Daario actually gets pretty cranky that he can’t distract her from ruling the city.)

Bran and Jon have one of their near-misses; Bran, Osha, Rickon, Jojen, Meera, and Hodor are at the windmill Ygritte admired last episode, taking shelter from a storm. The Wildlings (and Jon) are chasing down the guy with the horses, and catch him at the windmill. The storm and the sounds of battle start to freak Hodor out and he starts bellowing. Jojen tells Bran that he needs to calm Hodor down (how he expects him to do that stuck on the floor is a different question). Also, this whole scene reminds me of this:

Because they took a perfectly reasonable and careful tone of voice—“Be quiet, Hodor. Bran, tell him not to shout. Can you get the sword away from him, Meera?”—and turned it into make him shut up or they’ll hear it and we’ll all die! Either way, the end result is pretty much the same: Bran wargs into Hodor and puts him to sleep, then kind of freaks out by what he just managed to do. The fallout of this is different and slightly troubling, too. In the books, they don’t really have the time to figure out what Bran managed to do, and later the story of another warg hammers home that warging into other people is wrong. Bran’s continued warging into Hodor (which he never admits to anyone he’s doing) is clearly set up as a violation of Hodor’s bodily autonomy, and is described in terms that sound remarkably like rape. Yet in the show, Jojen figures it out immediately and thinks it’s cool. That it shows how powerful and fated Bran is, because nobody, not even Wildling wargs, can do what he just did. The books set up and question toxic masculinity, in which only a man’s ability to enforce his will on others, primarily through physical means, is truly respected, regardless of how hard these standards are to live up to and how much all that violence takes a toll on everyone involved. Bran complicates that in the books; he’s got a different kind of power and makes massive waves in the world despite not being “whole” and having people think he should kill himself rather than “live like that.” That the showrunners took this incident and Bran’s ability to warg into people as a positive thing just further shows how they don’t understand Martin’s point about toxic masculinity at all and instead showed him mentally overpowering a disabled man as a positive show of strength.

And wow, that was a lot more italics than I intended to use going into that paragraph.

Meanwhile, the Wildlings are pushing Jon to kill the farmer to prove that he’s not a man of the Night’s Watch anymore, and Jon can’t quite bring himself to do it, so Ygritte does it for him. All hell breaks loose, and Jon kills Orell, who wargs out at the last second, and Jon gets a hawk to the face. Jon steals one of the horses and rides off, and Rose Leslie does some of her best face acting all season.

So at the end of the penultimate episode of season three, we’ve reached nadir Stark. This is about as bad as it gets for them (in the books; we’ll discuss how much worse it gets for Sansa in the show later). The fall of the Lannisters isn’t far off, though.

RIP (oh, geez):
Robb Stark
Catelyn Stark
Talisa Stark
Grey Wind
Wendel Manderly
Joyeause Frey
Horse farmer
Uncounted numbers of Stark bannermen and soldiers
Lots of Yunkai guards

Next week:  Happy holidays! But after that: Sansa and Tyrion bond until she gets the news. Joffrey gloats. Gendry goes on a trip. Dany crowdsurfs.

Images from Harry Potter gif from

Monday, December 12, 2016

Game of Thrones Rewatch 3.8: "The Second Sons"

Read the previous entry in this series here.
Read the next entry in this series here.

3.8 “The Second Sons”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Commentary by Michelle MacLaren, Hannah Murray (Gilly), and John Bradley (Sam)

Alliances formed, alliances broken, and some serious foreshadowing about how easy it is to say one thing and do another.

The titular Second Sons are the mercenary company Yunkai has hired to help defend the city. Daenerys decides to test their resolve a bit and invites the captains up to her tent. Mero, the clear leader, is a caricature of disgusting, entitled masculinity. He propositions Dany, harasses Missandei, and promises that after the battle, he’ll subject Dany to gang-rape and come looking for Missandei personally. Once they’ve gone, Dany tells Barristan that, if they should have to fight the Second Sons, he should kill Mero first. Barristan says it would be his pleasure.

Back at their camp, they discuss what to do about Dany; after all, if they take her out, they won’t have to fight all those Unsullied. They decide on an assassination and draw lots, and Daario’s given the task. Of course, the whole thing involves a barely-dressed bed-slave and Mero being gross. But that lets them contrast Mero with Daario, who’s kind of a romantic at heart; he doesn’t like bed-slaves because it’s not truly consensual, and he likes fighting. I’m not sure how I feel about this portrayal of Daario, who in the books, let’s be honest, has more than a little Mero in him, but I never understood what Dany saw in Daario in the books anyway. Daario’s response to drawing the “winning” lot is “Valar Morghulis,” which makes it sound like he’s accepted the responsibility.

Of course, he hasn’t. He does disguise himself as an Unsullied to gain access to the camp, surprise Dany in her bath, and offer her the heads of his fellow officers and the entire Second Sons. There’s an interesting moment where Dany has to decide whether to cower in the bath until he goes away or be a boss and just get out of the bath all naked. She goes with being a boss, and he does an interesting thing where it looks like his eyes are on her face the whole time, but he still clearly enjoys what he’s seeing. Missandei (poor, freaked out Missandei) puts her robe on her, and Daario takes a knee to swear his and the Second Sons’ allegiance to Dany.

Meanwhile, another alliance is being formed in the Seven Kingdoms, one which nobody involved is truly happy about. Sansa and Tyrion get married. First, Joffrey has to humiliate both of them, of course, first by being the one to walk her down the aisle because “your father’s gone” (as if that wasn’t entirely his fault), and then by removing the stool that had been placed for Tyrion so he could reach Sansa’s shoulders to cloak her.

This scene includes a small yet interesting change that on the one hand makes sense based on the other changes they made (giving Sansa a few days’ warning and a discussion with Tyrion before the wedding) but on the other takes away a small but significant moment of agency for Sansa. In the books, she’s stuffed into a gown, swept away to the Sept, shoved in front of Tyrion at the altar, and told to marry him or else. When the time comes for the cloaking, she refuses to kneel, to help Tyrion at all, because why should she give one inch more than she has to for a Lannister? Joffrey eventually calls on Dontos to be a step-stool for Tyrion so he can cloak her. She feels bad about it later, because it’s not like Tyrion has ever been anything but nice to her, but she keeps a tiny bit of her pride in the whole mess. Here, she and Tyrion have a whole relationship, as weird and awkward as it is, and there’s no Dontos, so keeping that bit would have made Sansa come off as much more of a jerk than she does in the books.

The wedding feast is even more awkward; Tyrion gets falling-down drunk, Loras tries to talk to Cersei and gets completely blown off, and Joffrey threatens to rape Sansa. When Joffrey decides it’s time to initiate the bedding, Tyrion tells him they’re not going to be doing that, and threatens to geld Joffrey if he forces it to go forward. Only Tywin’s intervention and Tyrion’s willingness to play the drunken fool saves him from immediate death. The best part of the whole thing is Olenna trying to sort out exactly how everyone’s going to be related once Joffrey and Margaery and Cersei and Loras are also married.

Tyrion manages to keep the peace between himself and Shae and himself and Sansa by refusing to have sex with Sansa despite his father’s orders. He asks Sansa how old she is—fourteen—and by the look on his face, he knew she was young, but not that young. He says he won’t do it until she wants to, and she asks what if she never wants to. Even for the new relationship they’ve made in the show, this is an incredibly brave question. In this society, it’s a wife’s duty to bear her husband’s children, whether she wants to or not. In this society, it’s well within Tyrion’s rights—even expected of him—that he get her pregnant by whatever means necessary. Sansa is his property now, and nobody would blink if he raped her (of course, Martin believes that medieval marital rape wasn’t a thing, so . . .). However, as Daario points out in the next episode, “you can’t make love to property,” and Tyrion’s always been a lover, not a fighter. We lost the scene where he told Bronn to keep his mercenaries from raping while clearing out Flea Bottom, but that same idealism is in the Tyrion of the show. However, Sansa has no way of knowing that, and her suggestion that she may never submit to duty and have sex with Tyrion isn’t her being a brat, as I’ve seen some fans suggest, but her finding out just how much bodily autonomy she has in this relationship. (We lose so much by not being inside the heads of these characters.)

Stannis is rekindling his relationship with Davos, letting him out of prison if he promises not to raise a hand to Melisandre again. Davos says he can’t promise not to disagree with her, and finds it interesting that Stannis has chosen now—when Melisandre just turned up with a Baratheon bastard whom she intends to sacrifice to R’hllor—to come get him out of prison. Davos knows Stannis needs his voice to balance Melisandre’s, and really to be the person to stand up to her because Stannis has no spine when it comes to his Red Priestess. She’s already talking about poor Gendry in terms of lambs and slaughters, and doing her usual trick of stripping naked to get Gendry to do what she wants—in this case, lie still with no shirt on so she can put leeches on him to get blood for the magic she’s about to do.

Generally speaking, I find it really irritating that the showrunners focused on this insignificant facet of her magic. There’s so much more to it in the books than making shadow babies. She can see the future (interpreting those visions is a different matter), see outright threats to her own person, resist the effects of poison, and influence events normally outside her control. Assuming the books go with the same plot points regarding Jon Snow, she can also raise the dead. And assuming the books hit another plot point in the show, she’s also incredibly old and is using illusion magic to keep herself looking young. So the fact that the showrunners keep reducing Melisandre to a sexual witch who gets what she wants through seduction all the time is really irritating. I’ll come back to this point in later seasons, I’m sure.

Finally, we’ve got a small scene with Gilly and Sam that shows that the White Walkers actually have a weakness. One of them comes for the baby, and Sam tries to fight it off, which also adds a layer to his characterization. He might call himself a coward and freak out if he has time to think and get himself all worked up, but when all he has is a moment and an instinctive reaction, he can actually be quite brave. Putting himself between Gilly and the Walker is not a coward’s move. Throwing himself at the back of the Walker that’s already broken his sword and thrown him twenty feet through the snow, armed only with a random dagger he picked up at the Fist of the First Men, is entirely not a coward’s move. He had no idea the obsidian dagger was going to have the effect it did, but he did what he had to to protect Gilly and the baby. Also, the scene shows us that the Walkers do actually have a weakness and fighting them isn’t going to be entirely hopeless.

RIP: Mero (good riddance)
Prendahl na Ghezn
White Walker #1

Next week: the episode that broke the world.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Game of Thrones Rewatch 3.7: "The Bear and the Maiden Fair"

Read the previous entry in this series here.
Read the next entry in this series here.

3.7 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”
Written by George R.R. Martin
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Commentary by George R.R. Martin and Michelle MacLaren

While the title of the episode, as Martin points out, comes from the bear pit incident at the end of the episode, it also sort of gestures to the amount of relationship issues that are happening in this episode. It’s a very romance- and sex-heavy episode, in just about every sense, from gentle, loving pairings to outright manipulative torture-porn (literally).

Martin claims that only about half of this episode is actually his; during editing, a lot of the scenes got moved around so that a lot of the episode is Benioff and Weiss’ work. On my first viewing, I’d already guessed at one of the scenes that Martin says isn’t his—in any way. Doesn’t appear in the books, and he didn’t write it. On watching all these episodes and listening to the commentaries, I’ve seen a pattern with the writers; sexposition and other unnecessary nudity scenes are almost always entirely the responsibility of Benioff and Weiss, and the other writers are quick to pass the credit (or blame) to them rather than taking it on themselves. I know there are professional and contractual obligations on the part of everyone involved in a show to not bad-mouth the show, but I wonder how much of this is the (other) writers being deeply uncomfortable with just how much nudity is in the show and how often Benioff and Weiss add it to their episodes, and thus how often it appears under their names.

The scene in this particular episode is the one in which Ramsay devises a new form of torture for Theon—sending in two of “his” girls (invented entirely for the show) to get Theon all worked up before preparing to take away his “most precious body part.” It’s clearly a scene meant to further establish just how horrible Ramsay is (they’re still referring to him as “the boy”), but it falls over a line into torture porn. The girls play with Theon, who is clearly freaked out and in no mood to attempt any kind of sexytimes. The blonde one shoves her hands down his pants multiple times even though he keeps pulling away from her and asking her to stop. The brunette gets naked and climbs on top of him, trying to manually stimulate him. Only when Theon does start to get turned on and does start to participate does Ramsay burst in, verifying Theon’s fear that this was all a setup. So, essentially, Theon is sexually assaulted and then has his penis removed (that part, at least, isn’t shown on screen). Once again, this takes Theon into a feminized realm; most of the time, men aren’t/can’t be sexually assaulted (at least, that’s the attitude in this sort of hyper-masculine culture). However, instead of just threatening him and then having him rescued this time, Benioff and Weiss not only have Theon sexually assaulted, but do it via two young, pretty women in such a way that seems calculated to titillate and even arouse the audience. It is, in short, one of the more disgusting scenes they’ve put on screen so far in the series.

Interestingly, while discussing this scene with Michelle MacLarin in the commentary, Martin says (of one of the actresses having a Brazilian and that not being period-accurate), “This is a fantasy world, so we don’t have to hew to actual medieval cultures; we have different religions and different gods and different sexual patterns, so anything is possible if you say it’s possible, I guess.” It seems that the necessity of historical accuracy varies by how important it is to Martin for something to be exactly the way he wrote it. (Sorry, was that a bit snarky?)

Meanwhile, lots of other not-disgusting stuff is happening in this episode. Robb and company are heading to the Twins for Edmure’s wedding, and Robb seems extremely flippant about facing a man who’s well-known to be prickly about his “honor” (mostly because he has none) and to whom he swore and oath that he then broke. Only Cat seems to truly understand just how badly this could all go, and nobody’s listening to her. The men have always been terrible about taking advice from Cat, and that’s really what got them into this entire mess, but they persist in not listening to her and pushing forward with their stupid plan.

Once Robb and Talisa are alone, they have some amazingly non-exploitative sex, then Talisa tells Robb she’s pregnant. Because what this plot needed was one more way in which everything could go terribly wrong. Robb and Talisa, of course, are very happy, but then as has been demonstrated, Robb and Talisa are incredibly na├»ve, bordering on stupid. At least in the books, Robb doesn’t have the benefit of Cat’s frequent reminders that he’s got to keep his word to Walder, and we don’t know just how complicit in breaking his word Jeyne Westerling is. In this case, Talisa has all the information, was raised a noblewoman and so should be quite cognizant of the importance of Robb’s betrothal, and still goes along with him breaking his vow and putting everyone in danger.

Jon and Ygritte are in a similarly fraught relationship; he knows that Mance can’t win this fight because in the past thousand years, no attempted incursion by the Wildlings south of the Wall has succeeded. She thinks he’s underestimating them and worries that he’s going to switch sides again, leaving her alone (or making her kill him). That doesn’t mean it’s all angst all the time; there’s a great bit of a scene where Tormund is giving Jon advice on how to please Ygritte, and it’s actually pretty good advice that focuses on the woman’s enjoyment and not just “taking” her, which I thought was a nice touch. They also have an adorable moment where Ygritte teases Jon about growing up in a castle and Jon teases Ygritte about thinking a windmill is a great feat of building and Ygritte knocks Jon’s sexism down a peg or two. The actors have really great chemistry and Kit Harrington’s constant attempts to not break out laughing at Rose Leslie’s antics really sell how cute these two are.

One issue that becomes evident with Jon’s “not all girls are like you” line is that by streamlining the plot and taking out a few characters—namely Val and Dalla—they’ve fallen into the “not like other girls” trope with Ygritte. There are lots of women like her—spearwives—in the Wildling army, but they got left out of the show, leaving her as an exceptional woman when she shouldn’t be.

Margaery also tries to counsel Sansa on her upcoming wedding. Sansa’s of course very upset about it, and calls herself “a stupid little girl with stupid dreams who never learns.” Margaery tries to convince her that maybe being married to Tyrion won’t be so bad—he’s “hardly the worst Lannister,” after all—and since it’s going to happen, she might as well try to find the best in it. She assures Sansa that sex isn’t so bad, and that Tyrion will likely know how to please her, at least, and nobody knows what they like until they try it. This makes it very clear that Margaery is far more experienced than her book counterpart, whose “sluttishness” and sexual manipulation were all in Cersei’s head. The problem I have with that particular characterization is it means Cersei isn’t just power-mad and delusional, but has an actual point when it comes to Margaery. This will become even more problematic later.

Bronn and Tyrion are also discussing the marriage; Tyrion’s just as unhappy with the idea as Sansa is, but from the opposite side. Sansa’s a child, and Tyrion’s deeply uncomfortable with the idea of having sex with her. Bronn thinks Tyrion’s got it made, with a pretty wife, a great mistress, and the entirety of the North as his own kingdom once Robb’s been removed. Tyrion doesn’t think it’s going to be that easy, and his discussion with Shae about the marriage bears that out. Shae doesn’t like the idea of sharing Tyrion with anyone and once again asks him to run away with her. He, once again, refuses. Martin points out what a lot of viewers/readers have already noticed at this point: this is a very different Shae from in the books. Book-Shae is just a prostitute. She likes Tyrion well enough as long as the money and jewels keep coming, and she’s not too bothered about the marriage because she knows Tyrion will keep coming back to her. Show-Shae has genuine affection—even love—for Tyrion, and seems to resent that she can never really be more to him than his “whore.” It changes the entire dynamic (and makes the end of next season a bit weird) but also lends some depth to a major character who doesn’t have a lot in the books.

The most interesting relationship that’s building in this episode is between Jaime and Brienne. Jaime’s leaving Harrenhal, as is Bolton, which leaves Brienne with Locke and the rest of the Bloody Mummers. Brienne has accepted her fate and tells Jaime that as long as he keeps his word and returns Sansa and Arya to Catelyn, she considers the debt between them paid. She bids him farewell and calls him “Ser Jaime” for the first time ever, which makes his face do a thing, and then he leaves. 

On the way out, there’s a hint of foreshadowing about which way Bolton’s going to fall when he specifically asks Jaime to give his regards to Tywin, and Jaime flippantly asks him to send the Lannister regards to Robb and Edmure since he can’t make it to the wedding. Out on the road, Jaime has a discussion with Qyburn about how he lost his chain (Qyburn, of course, makes it sound monstrously unfair and not like he was playing with black magic at all), and Qyburn tells him that Brienne probably isn’t going to last the night. Jaime’s having none of that, and forces the entire company to turn right around and go back to get Brienne.

When they get there, Brienne’s in the bear pit. This is another area where failing to set up the Bloody Mummers meant missing the foreshadowing for this scene; in the books, they bring the bear in a good bit before this ever happens. Instead, just all of a sudden there’s a pit and a bear and Brienne’s being forced to fight it with a wooden sword. Jaime yells at Locke for a bit to get him to release Brienne, and Locke tells him (verbatim) to go fuck himself, so Jaime jumps down in the pit to try to rescue Brienne, as though he’s going to be able to do anything with no hand and no weapon. He tells Brienne to get behind him, and she says “I will not” and now they’re essentially fighting over who’s protecting who and is this the best “bromance” in the entire series or what?

So Jaime boosts Brienne out of the pit and Brienne hauls Jaime out of the pit (so they’ve rescued each other and they’re even), and as they leave the courtyard, “The Rains of Castamere” begins playing.

A few other, not so friendly, relationships are established in this episode, too. Tywin shows Joffrey who’s boss while Joffrey’s trying to show Tywin who’s boss. Tywin wins, obviously. Daenerys shows the Yunkish ambassador who’s boss because she has dragons. Arya rejects Beric being the boss and runs away, only to get grabbed by Sandor.

A couple of quick notes of interest:

  • Rather than letting Gendry fade into obscurity, they give him Edric Storm’s plotline and have Melisandre haul him back to Dragonstone
  • Missandei isn’t wearing That Dress anymore; her costume now covers her breasts completely
  • Dany’s new costume has a cut that mimics the slave-collar motif without actually being a slave collar. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet.
  • It’s really unfortunate that the casting choices pull the whole slavery thing away from a mish-mash of whoever they could capture and force into chains and instead make it look very much like race-based slavery. I’ll have more to say about this during that unfortunate crowd-surfing scene later.

RIP: nobody (!!!!)

Next week: The first appearance of Daario Mark I. Sam becomes the Slayer. Arya and Sandor shenanigans. Melisandre uses her assets (again).

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