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Three Weddings Before a Bunch of Funerals: 'Game of Thrones' 3.8: 'Second Sons'

Television
by David Chute
May 20, 2013 5:15 PM
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'Game of Thrones'

Appreciative fans welcomed the return this week of "Peter Drunklage," a reference to a character created to universal acclaim by "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage during a recent "Saturday Night Live" appearance.

Only three episodes to go, HBO has reminded us in their recent "Games" commercials, and in the first of these countdown chapters we got the first of the three weddings that form the centerpiece of George R.R. Martin’s source novel, "A Storm of Swords," the forcible unification of doe-eyed Sansa Stark with Tyrion Lannister, the crafty schemer Dinklage plays so entertainingly.

(The patterns in Martin’s storytelling aren’t so over-neat that there will eventually be one wedding for each of the three leeches, swollen with the blood of a king, or anyway of the bastard offspring of a king, that Melisandre dropped sizzling this week onto a sacrificial BBQ grill. But almost.)

This wedding was in some ways excruciating to watch, and we certainly didn't fault Tyrion for getting hammered. But it did serve one gratifying purpose, continuing his transformation into a de facto hero -- “author backed,” as they say in Bollywood. Tyrion is one of the few characters in this medieval culture of power who has a modern sensibility, at least when it comes to practices like using innocent young women as currency, to annex kingdoms and secure alliances.

In this context, Tyrion’s gallant gesture toward Sansa, reassuring her that he will not join her in bed until she wants him to, looks downright subversive.

Another modernizer, of course, is Daenerys Stormborn, who continued her one-woman emancipation crusade against a group of mercenaries, the Second Sons, whose vile leader doesn’t see women even as currency. More like used Kleenex. His quick demise was greeted with applause.

The key introduction in this sequence, however, was Ed Skrein as Daario Naharis, a paperback cover model presence who seems to be sparking Khal Drogo flashbacks in our Khalisi. Because of bleeping Memorial Day we’ll have to wait at least two weeks to see how eternal trusted advisor Jorah Mormont reacts to this development.

The advent of Daario could turn out to be epochal, one of the turning points of the entire series, effecting events for years to come. Or not, if Daario turns out to be less secure in his masculinity than he appears to be. One discovery that is certain to make a difference is Samwell Tarley’s accidental realization that the black dagger he's picked up in this travels, chipped caveman style out of a hunk of obsidian, is just the tool that’s needed to disintegrate a white walker.


The nuclear option in the coming apocalyptic conflict with The Others could turn out to be a few shiny slabs of volcanic glass.


Weddings are apt pivotal occurrences in a show that my favorite TV critic, The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum, has called "the latest entry in television’s most esteemed category: the sophisticated cable drama about a patriarchal subculture," along with "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Mad Men," and "Downton Abbey." It is almost unthinkable that all three of the politically charged ceremonies enacted in "A Storm of Swords" could be packed into the final weeks of a season that has already been so eventful. But if they did manage to pull it off, my God, that would be an amazing narrative eruption. One for the ages.

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