Last week's conversation-heavy episode of Game of Thrones was followed up with, well, another very conversation-heavy episode of Game of Thrones. Titled "Dark Wings, Dark Words," last night's hour backed away farther still from the bloody and grotesque action of the battle fields both north and south of the wall (even though most of our characters are headed directly towards them) and seemed to instead busy itself with the emotional and mental battlefields where wars get waged by those who outwardly appear powerless — a young boy who cannot use his legs, a wretched and rejected man from the Iron Islands and, most interestingly, the women of Westeros whose fortune and survival are only as good as their own cunning. Luckily for us, most of these broads have cunning coming out of their ears.
"Dark Wings, Dark Words" begins with Season Three's first look at Bran Stark as he, all grown up and on two functioning gams, tracks a three-eyed raven through the woods with a bow and arrow. If his working legs and the three-eyed bird weren't enough to clue you in that this is a dream, the appearance of Robb Stark and Jon Snow whispering advice at his elbow should do the job. And then there's the disembodied voice of his dead father echoing the trees, so yeah, Bran's reality is not so real. Too bad — it was nice to see the Stark boys back together again. Bran takes aim at the raven and misses — good thing, too, because the little boy from Love, Actually appears in the trees and warns him that the three-eyed raven represents Bran himself. At this startling bit of news, Bran wakes up to once again find himself without working legs and surrounded by his protectors Osha, Hodor (Hodor! Hodor! Hodor!), Summer and Shaggydog.
Later, Bran meets the little boy from Love, Actually in the flesh. As it turns out, he is Jojen Reed, son of one of Ned Stark's old allies and, like Bran, a seer. Jojen is much more settled into his mystic power than Bran is and has arrived to help him come to terms with and develop his ability to see into the past, present and future. Also like Bran, Jojen lacks physical strength and only gets by when teaming up with a stronger, more athletic ally. In his case, it's his sister Meera who happens to go to the exact same hair dresser as Jon Snow. It's a creepy coincidence to be sure, but I'm more upset by the fact that Jojen Reed/the little boy from Love, Actually is now 23-years-old in real life and, oh god, we are all so terribly, terribly ancient.
Elsewhere, we finally learn the fate of poor Theon Greyjoy who, following a rousing speech in the Season 2 finale, was knocked unconscious and traded off by his own men. Turns out that the kid isn't doing so great as is often the case when you get tied up and tortured for information that you might not even have. Going against popular opinion (because I am brave and bold like Brienne of Tarth), I am just going to say it — I feel for Theon. Not to screw up our HBO universes too much, but he sort of reminds me of fellow controversial character Ziggy Sobotka from The Wire in that both boys were so desperate to be accepted by somebody that they ended up alienating themselves from everybody, not to mention fucking up everything that they touched along the way.
Theon is a tragic character, doomed both by circumstances and his own self-destructive nature. As he himself pointed out back in Season 2, he was given up by his father, raised as prisoner (an admittedly well-treated one, but a prisoner all the same), and then found a way back home only to then be treated as a failure for growing up with the people who his father had abandoned him with. That is not to say that he hasn't made some terrible (and evil) decisions of his own along the way because he certainly has. That said, I think that he is one of the most interesting, weak and truly three dimensional characters on the show.
But back to his immediate circumstances. Theon has been thrown up on the rack, had his fingernails cut off (side note: BAAAAAAARF) and had a screw put through his foot. Salvation appears in the form of a man, supposedly sent by Theon's sister, who promises to rescue him. He has yet to name himself (keep your traps shut, book nerds), so for now we will call him Simon from Misfits and assume that this will all end well. HAHAHAJKJKJKJK.
But now onto the laaaaaaaadies. Margaery Tyrell is killing them with kindness over at King's Landing — visiting orphans, flattering the right members of court and consistently bringing such a perfect A game that even Cersei, who recognizes Margaery's tactics for what they are (a power play), can't find a flaw that she can use to exploit her. As it turns out, Margaery comes from a long line of quick women as we see when we also meet her grandmother Lady Olenna (Dame Diana Rigg!). The two Tyrell women invite Sansa down for a friendly chat to get the information on life in King's Landing, Sansa's love for lemon cakes (and Lady Olenna's love for cheese plates — woman after my own heart, this one) and just how much of a psychopath that King Joffrey is. Sansa rather wisely clams up at first and refuses to tell them anything, but then, maybe after responding to being treated like a lady and friend rather than a prisoner and piece of trash for once, warms up and gives them the truth: Joffrey is a monster. "Hmm. That's a pity," Lady Olenna calmly replies.
Still Margaery is much better at the game than Sansa is and knows just how to play into Joffrey's monstrous heart — with a sexually charged and unsettling conversation about bow hunting, of course! “It must be so exciting to squeeze your finger here and watch something die over there," she coos at him, eventually following up with "Would you like to watch me kill something?” Adjust your newly fashioned codpiece, Joffrey. Your evil boner is about to show.
In the camp of Robb Stark, King of the North, Catelyn is in dire straights as both news of her father's death and the fall of Winterfell reach her on the same day. She seems close to coming apart at the seams — or at least as close to that as a stoic wife of a Northerner can get. Tearfully, she sits weaving a dream catcher to protect the lives of her children Bran and Rickon, who, for all she knows are dead already — and confesses to new daughter-in-law Talisa why she thinks that this is all her fault. Apparently she has woven these dream captures twice before — once after Bran had fallen and she thought that he might never wake up, but also when Jon Snow was just a baby and hovering on the brink of death with the pox. At the time, Catelyn felt racked with guilt — this was something that she had prayed for after her husband had returned from the war with an unknown woman's child and now the baby was dying. If the baby was allowed to keep his life, then Catelyn promised that she would love him as her own and let him carry the Stark name. Of course, Jon did get better and Catelyn never lived up to her word. Now, there are a few things that Catelyn can definitely take the blame for (like releasing the Kingslayer and treating Jon Snow like shit), but I gotta say that I putting the blame for all of the Stark family's misfortune seems like a little much. That said, if she really wants to make up for being such a cold jerk to Jon Snow, she could start by being a little warmer to her son Robb's new wife.
We've talked about the women who battle with wits and dream catchers, but how about the women who battle with steel? Arya, Hot Pie, and Gendry last about 10 minutes in the woods without Jaqen H'ghar before being captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners. Of course, Arya puts on a good show of bravery, challenging an amused Thoros of Myr to a sword fight. He beats her easily, but can still tell that Puppy's got paws. A few minutes later when the Brotherhood Without Banners brings in another familiar prisoner — the Hound — and discovers Arya's true identity, Thoros realizes that Arya is less of a simple puppy and more of a rapidly growing Dire wolf.
Then there's Brienne and Jaime who are still off on the best buddy roadtrip comedy to ever hit Westeros. Really these two's onscreen rapport and chemistry are so freaking enjoyable that I wish it would never end. Spoiler Alert: It's gonna end in about 30 seconds.
As the pair continues on their journey, Jaime does what Jaime does best — jokes and plays mind games. That said, I get the feeling — and maybe I'm being way too optimistic for the Westerosi universe here — that Jaime genuinely likes or at least appreciates Brienne. Of course, things get a little heavy handed when he makes fun of her love for Renly (RIP), then follows it up with a sincere and telling "we don't get to chose who we love." (I'll add that for as unseemly as it is, I have never for one moment, doubted Jaime and Cersei's love for one another.)
Things eventually come to blows between the two of them when Jaime gets a hand on one of her swords and taunts her by saying that her mercy and unwillingness to kill him is what means that she will never win a battle between them. Wrong. What Jaime has somehow forgotten is that Brienne is a badass knight who beats him after a wildly fun duel. Of course, Jaime's understanding of her biggest character flaw (her desire to protect the helpless) isn;t entirely off base as her mercy does come back to bite them both in the ass when a farmer who they passed earlier (and Jaime advised Brienne to kill) ends up identifying them both and leading them straight into the not-so-friendly hands of the men of Roose Bolton. ZOINKS!
Now, the nudity stats!
Maybe it's because this week's episode was such a thoughtful and sensitive one, but there was nary a naked lady in sight. Here's what we did get:
Breasts (Male): 4 (2 belonging to Theon and 2 belonging to Joffrey. Both unwelcomed.)
One half of a blowjob: Only suggested. Given to Tyrion by Shae.
One sexually charged crossbow tutorial: Delivered by Joffrey to Margaery. Or was it the other way around?
Does Sam manage to do his fucking job for once? Yes, but only because his job is "not to die."
Did Robb Stark get a perm? I say no. My friends say yes. Are they telling the truth or going out of their way to be mean to me?