Another week of Game of Thrones and another week of very intense gender commentary. While last week's episode was all about sisterhood and what it means to be a woman in a Game of Thrones world, this week's took great care to point out that being a man, though slightly better, isn't all that great either. It wasn't all a discussion of men, women and how their lives are terrible. The episode was also fraught with another strangely pleasant and optimistic theme — friendship or, to be more specific, that a friend in need is a friend indeed.
Not so friendly — the King's Council in King's Landing where new Hand Tywin is testing everyone with awkward seating arrangements. It's telling to see how everyone reacts. Littlefinger, forever sucking ass, rushes to sit directly at Tywin's lefthand. Varys rolls his eyes and takes the next seat. Cersei, lone woman and the most courageous of them all (I don't know what it it is, but I love that wine-soaked psychopath with all my heart) loudly drags a chair all the way around to her father's other side, making it clear that she's his right hand and Tyrion, noting his sister's move, places his chair at the opposite head of the table and is promptly rewarded by being made Master of Coin, the shittiest job in the kingdom.
On the otherside of the war, Catelyn Stark née Tully is mourning the death of her father alongside her son Robb, her incompetent brother Edmure (who no one is happy with after he blew Robb Stark's defense against the Lannisters all for the sake of a worthless mill) and uncle Brynden Tully (a.k.a Blackfish). Poor Catelyn is naturally out of sorts having lost her father and thinking that she's lost almost all of her children in such a short period of time, but Blackfish tells her that she needs to toughen up for Robb's sake — her motherly fortitude will keep him strong in battle. That stoicism is so annoyingly like the Tully-Starks, isn't it? A girl can't even cry over her dead family for five minutes without a long lost uncle telling her to suck it up.
Dany, far away in Astapor is also being advised by a pair of wizened old men — in her case, on whether or not she should purchase the Unsullied to build her army. Ser Jorah, raspy as ever, points out that it's the kindest thing she can do for the war's innocent bystanders. “Unsullied are not men," he tells her. "They do not rape. If you buy them, the only men you’ll kill are the ones you want dead.” Ser Selmy feels that an army shouldn't be made up of people forced to fight for you, but rather people who choose to take up arms because they love you. Dany ends up siding with Jorah, not because she agrees with her reasoning, but because she feels sympathy for the slaves of Astapor and wants to give them a better life. One problem — it's an expensive deal that she's attempting to barter and the only way she can afford it is by giving up one of her three dragons.
Jorah and Selmy finally agree on something when they both, in front of the slave trader, voice that a dragon is too high a cost to pay. Dany promptly tells them to shut the fuck up and never disagree with her in public again. It's awesome seeing this young girl, who also happens to be the MOTHER OF DRAGONS, remind these two old bros that she's the one with the power here and that they're job is to help, not to lead. In a further display of One Big Room, Full of Bad Bitches, Dany takes particular interest in one Astapor slave woman and asks whether or not, if free, she would have a family to return to. She doesn't so instead takes a place as Dany's personal attendent, a job that might lead her straight to death's door. "Valar morghulis," the slave replies when warned of the dangers of her new position. “All men must die," Dany translates. "But we are not men.”
“All men must die" takes on an even bleaker meaning North of the Wall where the remaining Brothers of the Night's Watch are back at Craster's Keep where Craster himself — threatened by having to compete with any other dick on the dance floor — is the only man allowed permanent residence. The consequences of this rule are made horrifyingly clear as Gilly, apple of Sam's eye, gives birth to a baby boy. Whereas south of the wall, the birth of a male heir is celebrated, here it only means one thing — death. Just as Jon Snow witnessed back in season 2, Gilly's newborn will be left in the snow as a snack for the White Walkers.
Other men who are not doing so swell — Theon Greyjoy and Stannis Baratheon. Things begin to look up for Theon, son of Lucius Malfoy and true master of the Elder Wand, as Simon from Misfits helps him escape his torture chamber. Of course it doesn't take long for his captures to catch up to him (the kid is running away on two feet that have had holes drilled into them) and things then take an even more violent and scary turn. “I’m going to fuck you into the ground," says one man, preparing to sodomize a bruised and beaten Theon. Luckily, his rapist is stopped short by an arrow through the head. Simon from Misfits saves the day once again.
Stannis, meanwhile, is lookin' rough. His loss at the Battle of Blackwater is clearly weighing on him body and soul and the only way he thinks that he can fix everything is by impregnating Melisandre with another smoke baby. She takes one look at him with his dark under eye circles and and overgrown beard and is like, "Eh, I'd rather ride this canoe into the middle of the ocean" and takes off. Wise to take a hard pass at that one.
Now let's talk about who we all want to talk about: Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. Over the course of their journey, this odd couple has grown to begrudgingly enjoy each other's company as is evident after they've been captured by the Boltons, are tied back to back atop a horse and are still playfully smack talking each other. Of course the fun ends very quickly when Jaime warns Brienne of what's about to happen to her. He is the prisoner of worth here, giving him a modicum of protection that doesn't extend to her. Brienne, Jaime tells her, will be raped by the Boltons, probably repeatedly, and he advises her not to fight back. While his warnings seem cold and are laced with that ol' Lannister condescension, there's real worry and regret in his words. “If you were a woman, you wouldn’t resist?” asks Brienne, disgusted at the idea of allowing her own assault. “If I were a woman I’d make them kill me," Jamie responds. "But thank gods I’m not.”
When the sun sets, it looks as though Jaime's terrible prediction will come true. Brienne is dragged off kicking and screaming by a group of men (ever the warrior, she does not take Jaime's advise by going quietly) and her off-camera screams punch through the air, leading Jaime to do something that once seemed impossible — act for the benefit of someone who's not Cersei, one of their children or himself. He tells Locke (who once looked this sweet and innocent) that Brienne, as a noblewoman of Tarth, might not be so worthless a prisoner after all and that returned untouched, she is likely worth her weight in sapphires.
This successfully stops Brienne's rape, but then Jaime, overestimating his charm and skills of manipulation, pushes too far by reminding Locke that his father Tywin would pay even more than that for his own safe return. Locke responds to Jaime's offer by dragging a knife across his very beautiful Lannister face and, for one moment, it looks like he's about to lose an eye, but, no, Locke withdraws and we can all breathe a sigh of relief for the Kingslayer. You know that moment of relief that I was just talking about? PSYCH, just kidding. Everything is still terrible. “You’re nothing without your daddy and your daddy ain’t here,” Locke growls, before lopping Jaime's sword hand off clean at the wrist.
I'm resisting a lot of "lend a friend a hand" puns right now, so, please be appropriately proud.
Onto the skin stats!
Individual Boobs (Female): 7 (Not including Ros' cleavage)
Speaking of helping out a friend, we got our first gratuitous brothel scene of the season when Tyrion paid a group of prostitutes to take his squire Podrick's virginity as a thanks for saving his life at Blackwater. There were boobs everywhere, which was both over the top and a little comforting. This season of GoT had been conspicuously lacking in skin and I was starting to doubt whether or not I even knew this show to begin with. Also the prostitutes reject Podrick's money because apparently he's so good at doing it. Yeah. Sure. Fine.
Individual Boobs (Male): Too many to count.
No one in Astapor wears a shirt!
Butts (Female): Three
Once again, thanks to Littlefinger's brothel.
Butts (Male): One
Vaginas (with merkins): Two
It belonged to a baby.