Much like the Western film did for World War II and Vietnam, GOT offers up an experience of violence that is made safe because it’s in another, impossible, fantastical realm. We choose to experience it onscreen because it serves as a cathartic way for us to reason with violence and bodily destruction and the abject fear that all of us have because it. Is. Real. Our deep-rooted phobias of amputation that GOT used in that scene became catastrophically, life-changingly real last week for those runners in Boston. Maybe this is explains some of the popularity of GOT. It’s not the sex or the nudity (though that is fun, too), but the chance to grapple and reason with some of these issues of murder and conspiracy contained within an hour of fantasy storytelling per week.
These are just some of my thoughts as I attempted to put everything into perspective on Monday, and now I will jump down off this soapbox and we can discuss just what happened with the hand!
On the Road to Somewhere (Possibly Harrenhal, Possibly the Torture Castle in the North)
Things pick up shortly where we left off... with the grisly de-handing of Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Colster-Waldau) at the hands of his Bolton captor (Noah Taylor). They’ve stuck him on a horse with his hand for a necklace. GOT doesn’t shy away from the ick and gore in this opening sequence, as Jaime slides right off his steed and into the mud. But despite his loss of blood and that he only has a stump, his knight’s spirit still compels him to fight back, wielding a sword one-handed against his captors. Before his unfortunate incident, he had come to the defense of his former captor, female knight Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), who was about to be “besmirched” in the bushes, and now she tries to do the same for him, attempting to come to his rescue despite being bound. However, it’s all for naught as the sadistic Boltons stomp Jaime into the mud.
South Westeros/King’s Landing
King’s Hand Advisor, Master of Whispery Secrets Varys (Conleth Hill) has the sorcerer who cut his balls off in a box, whom he shows to Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) after a long monologue about revenge. Good lord, what is he going to do with him? During a gossip sesh with Lord Baelish (Aiden Gillen) assistant Ros (Esme Bianco), she spills the T to him about Pod’s (Daniel Portman) sex magick during his deflowering at the brothel. She claims he has a normal sized member, but that the girls said what he did was “hard to describe.” The most compelling mystery of this season is WHAT IS PODRICK’S SEX MAGICK?? Ros also tells Varys that Lord Twatbeard/Mayor Carcetti is bringing two feather beds on his trip to marry Lady Arryn (Kate Dickie) (ick), which means he wants Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) for his nefarious pleasures!! Or something!
Varys is also new BFFs with sassy Grandma Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). Those two old queens get on thick as thieves, what with the gossip and the whispering. He tells her about Baelish’s plan to ensnare a Stark wife and increase his power/land holdings/castles, and they plot to prevent this from happening. Olenna also accompanies Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), punk ass King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and his betrothed Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) on a tour of all the old Targaryen bones in the castle. Margaery convinces Joffrey to go outside to wave to their subjects, showing him that if the people love him they will be more loyal. This control she has worries Cersei, who expresses that to her father Tywin (Charles Dance), who could not give a shit. Cersei is power hungry, but Tywin puts her in her place, as he tends to do, with everyone. As long as Joffrey is contained, he can go about his work as Hand of the King, which is basically doing all of the work of the king. He also hints that whatever war he starts over Jaime’s kidnapping is going to be a doozy.
Margaery’s influencing doesn’t just stop at Joff though, as she continues to draw in the poor, helpless, trusting Sansa. She wants Sansa and her to be as close as sisters... maybe even real sisters? Her brother Loras (Finn Jones) is in need of a beard and with this big old castle all to himself... he needs a wife (clearly the result of the plotting between Two Old Queens Varys and Olenna). And since poor, clueless Sansa has been crushing on Loras she’s taken with the idea. Oh Sansa, don’t you know all the good ones are taken or gay?
In the North and Beyond the Wall
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is dreaming/astral projecting again, this time with the aid of his fellow psychic friend Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster). As he climbs a tree, stalking the 3-eyed raven, his mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), scolds him, effectively scaring him out of the tree, and he awakes.
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) finally gets to know the helper/spy who saved him from rape and torture-- the fellow reveals himself to be an Iron Islander who saw Theon's kidnapping as a POW by Ned Stark when Theon was just a boy. Theon’s going through a serious crisis of faith and family, as he questions whether or not his father was allowing him to be tortured by the Boltons. He is preoccupied with these questions as his savior leads him to his sister Yara (Gemma Whelan), sneaking through the forest and into a giant drainage pipe. As Theon begins to realize that he has destroyed his only real home (Winterfell), he says “my real father lost his head in King's Landing. I made a choice, I chose wrong and now I've burned everything down.” Goddammit, sympathy for Theon returns. He’s gonna need it too, because this duplicitous motherfucker leads him right back to the torture crucifix and screams that Theon killed all the rapists in the forest. Back on the torture cross he goes. I still want to know who this dude is.
It’s fucking mayhem at Craster’s (Robert Pugh) this week, as he’s starving the Crows, one of whom has perished from this. Best to keep those Night’s Watch at least moderately fed, because you won’t like Rast (Luke McEwan) when he’s hangry. After demanding hidden food from Craster, the Night’s Watch just decide to say fuck it and kill the bastard (after calling him a “daughter fucking wildling bastard,” my new fave insult). In the giant brawl that breaks out, Rast kills their leader, Jeor Mormont (Iain Glen) too, for the sin of being too accommodating to Craster’s whims. There’s impaling and stabbing and the spitting dark black blood everywhere, and Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) gets the F up on out of there, grabbing his crush, one of Craster’s daughter-wives, and her newborn son. Rast vows to come after him, shouting, “RUN PIGGY” into the night.
On the Road in the Riverlands
We’re still on the caravan of the Bros Without Banners, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and Sandor Clegane/The Hound (Rory McCann). Is this a fun road trip or what? We’ve got horses, blackstrap rum, Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), that dude with the arrows, it is a part-tay. Finally we get to the real party, though, which is in a cave with the other Bros (who are Baratheon deserters) and their leader, Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer). They want to try The Hound for killing children and other war crimes, and Arya again proves herself to have the biggest balls of the bunch, calling him out for killing her friend, Micah, the butcher’s boy. It will be a trial by combat, and even though she would be up for it, Arya’s not the one to fight The Hound, that task will be performed by Dondarrion himself. Leeeeeettttt’sssss get ready to rumble!
In the Land Across the Narrow Sea
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) finally gets to be awesome again as she goes to collect her Unsullied slave army from Kraznos (Dan Hildebrand). She’s got her dragon in tow, which she carefully hands over to the slave driver. As soon as Daenerys has the overseer’s whip, she shocks everyone by breaking out her signature line, “I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, of the blood of old Valyria,” in fluent Valyrian mind you. That’s right, she has understood every derogatory comment Kraznos has made about her, and she’s pissed. She commands her slave army to kill their former masters, which they do posthaste, and commands her dragon to barbeque Kraznos to a crisp and set fire to the whole damn place. Yes, it is truly, truly awesome. After the bloody and quick revolution, Daenerys tells her army that they are no longer slaves, but asks them to fight for her as free men. They respond with a resounding pounding of their spears, and off the new Targaryen army sets. Daenerys, I have two words for you: WERK, HUNTY.
Heard But Not Seen:
Aside from the dream, not much going on with the Li’l Rascals club of Bran and Jojen. Assume they are still camping on the way to the wall. Nor any Jon Snow (Kit Harington), who has been dispatched with Gingerbeard Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) to attack Castle Black by Wildling leader/former Night’s Watch Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds).
Most notably, we get no updates from Robb Stark (Richard Madden) as he tries to reassemble his army with uncles Blackfish (Clive Russell) and Edmure (Tobias Menzies). His mother Catelyn Stark only appears in Bran’s dream.And, we still have no idea what the H is going on with Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), who is being a jealous grump on Dragonstone Island while his witchy priestess murderwife, Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) goes searching for king’s blood, because that is a totally normal and cool activity.
While there's a lot of talk about Lord Baelish's plotting and intentions, we don't see him at all. This episode finally gives us a taste of the real action that we've been waiting for this season, but no real moves have been made yet. All of the pieces are moving forward for a massive clash with Daenerys' army and the warring clans in Westeros, so to see who aligns with whom, and who rises to the top will is still a mystery. Ostensibly our heroes, the Stark family is still scattered with no real hope of reunion anytime soon. the power struggles and secret machinations going on in King's Landing seem to only drive wedges between everyone further, while the anarchy beyond The Wall means the threat of the White Walkers could bring winter to Westeros before everyone is ready. Not to mention whatever witchy powers Melisandre and Stannis are formulating. With all of the possibilites that could take place, the season is shaping up to be an exciting one, even though it's taken a few episodes to really get moving.