Game of Thrones – Recap: A Dragon is Not a Slave
Fans who’ve been complaining about the pacing of Game of Thrones in its third season were most likely very pleased with “And Now His Watch Has Ended.” It was as though the amputation of Jaime Lannister’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) sword hand at the close of episode three had christened the season, injecting the plot with a well-needed sense of urgency and drama. Honestly, as a reader, the HBO series is doing a pretty fantastic job of covering a monster of a novel. When you have a narrative layout that separates our cast across such an epic landscape, it would be easy to make absolutely no progress in that, all things considered, very few of these lead characters interact with one another at this point. I’m not sure the iron throne even matters anymore. Remember, the book series is called A Song of Ice and Fire not Game of Thrones. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) just dracarys-ed her way to the top of the pecking order, and all of Westeros doesn’t have a damn clue. Watch out Joffrey. Blondie is coming.
White Walker Happy Meal: You know things are getting pretty bleak when the burning body of a fallen comrade smells like the best pulled pork you’ve ever scarfed down. The men of The Night’s Watch looked to be on their last leg, as that awful Craster chugged ale and feasted on their dying dreams of survival. Slowly but surely, the men seemed to divide into two groups among themselves; those who would obey Lord Commander Mormont (James Cosmo) and those who would rather not die an agonizing death of frost-bitten starvation. Meanwhile, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) continued to sneak away to visit Gilly (Hannah Murray), Craster’s daughter who’d just given birth to a baby boy aka a White Walker happy meal. Once the mutiny started, he’d have his shot to play the hero. That’s right, the followers questioning Mormont’s commands inevitably snapped, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to enjoying the sight of a knife inside of Craster’s mouth. Watching Lord Mormont bite the dust, though, that was a tough one. The Old Bear was an amazing mentor to Jon Snow and fathered everyone’s favorite Khaleesi fanboy, Ser Jorah (Iain Glen). Sam, unconcerned with the chaos inside of Craster’s keep, nabbed Gilly and the two were off to face the cold beyond The Wall together.
Sansa Stark is so Interesting: Boy, is King’s Landing turning into its own self-contained soap opera! Firstly, let me point out, I think one of the biggest critiques I would make of this season is that we need more Cersei (Lena Headey). Whether you love her or love to hate her, Cersei face-time is pivotal. As a Cersei fan, there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching her man up. Contrasted with Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), who’s both maternal and cold, Cersei’s particular brand of icy venom always tickles my fancy. Plus, you have to be a moron to not realize that the Tyrell’s are up to something at this point. That’s not to say that Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and her nana, Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg), aren’t refreshingly amazing considering the maelstrom of destruction Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) has whirled up over the past two seasons. Cersei would scoff at the mere suggestion of waving to the starving crowd of peasants watching from below, but doesn’t it seem like a no brainer to, I don’t know, make sure the thousands of people outside of your family home aren’t thirsty for your child’s blood? Also, The Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg) needs her own standup routine. The one-liners they’re writing for this woman are good.
Meanwhile, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) took it upon himself to get to the bottom of that pesky murder attempt that had nearly taken off his nose during The Battle of Blackwater Bay. Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) came up short, for once, but offered in return some sage advice. Give revenge time, and like a dragon, it comes swooping in with the blazing flames of burning satisfaction. Varys finally offered the tale of his own “cutting.” As a Varys fan, the story of a twisted sorcerer paying Varys’ master to have his little manhood burned in a spell was devastating. Curious, though, in that we know Varys has worked with Illyrio to manage the goings-on of Dany in the East. As someone with a burning hatred for magic, how does Varys feel knowing that Drogon and his winged brothers brought that power back into the world of Game of Thrones? We don’t truly know Varys’ end game, but he never fails to play a key role in the management of peace in King’s Landing and, subsequently, Westeros. Having learning the value of a well kept secret, Varys’ vine had stretched to the ends of the earth. Inside a crate, he had the sorcerer. I’m not sure if Tyrion was shockingly appalled, overwhelmingly impressed, or both, but the lesson was learned. Whether Cersei intended to have him murdered or not was of little importance.
Speaking of the Queen Regent, Cersei met with her father, Lord Tywin (Charles Dance), to discuss the looming threat of the Tyrells and their revolting apathy for the misfortunate. How dare Margaery coyly claw her way into Joffrey, keeping him tame on her invisible leash. Tywin appreciated the girl’s clever hold over his grandson, while Cersei insisted he reconsider. True, Cersei is the Lannister most like her father, a knight born in the body of a blond beauty. Still, maybe Tywin had a point when he suggested that Cersei isn’t as clever as she thinks she is. Eh, she’s smart enough if you ask me, and there’s much to be said for straight-up ruthless ballsiness when you’re playing The Game of Thrones, right? Her family is winning.
Varys came upon some valuable information surrounding Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) thanks to a little ginger birdy, Ros (Esme Bianco). Petyr planned on stowing Sansa away on his ship to Lysa Arryn’s Eyrie. Varys, knowing Littlefinger to be a wicked combination of deadly ambition and incredible capability, needed to act fast. In an attempt to thwart Littlefinger’s quite obvious scheme of wedding Sansa and securing Winterfell, should Robb fall, he met with Lady Olenna. Seriously, has there ever been a more humorous scene than watching The Queen of Thorns virtually lambast her granddaughters for their poor embroidery skills. “Growing Strong” is a downright weak House catchphrase.
Lady Olenna: “What happens when the nonexistent bumps against the decrepit?”
And there’s the line of the season. We’re four episodes in. Wait, I think Olenna’s quip about Sansa being uninteresting might have topped that. Varys put his trust in Lady Olenna, prompting her to discretely find a suitor for Sansa that wouldn’t threaten to hand the entire North over to Baelish. Lucky for the Tyrells, Sansa Stark is somewhat desperate for any sort of positive attention whatsoever. Honestly, whether Margaery actually wanted to befriend the girl because she’s a kind person or whether she simply wanted to charm Sansa into marrying her brother, would Sansa care? Should Sansa care? Absolutely not, considering the alternative. Most young girls end up being frenemies anyway.
Poor… Theon?: Long story short, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) is seriously screwed. We all knew there was some catch to the incredibly lucky rescue at the hands of one of “Yara’s men,” but this mystery man is a lunatic. If you recall, Theon was rescued from pursuers and an impending rapist by the same man who’d aided him in his escape. This week, Theon opened up to his new “friend,” even admitting that “his real father lost his head at King’s Landing.” Hmm, throw in the fact that Theon murdered two innocent boys to stand for the bodies of Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Rickon, and the scale still tips way out of Theon’s favor.
The two finally reached their destination, only for Theon to come to the realization that he’d been entirely duped. Back to the makeshift crucifix it was. The man pretended to have recaptured Greyjoy for his torturers, and for the first time, we got our glimpse of a very different kind of crazy in Westeros. I won’t reveal the identity of the loon just yet, but you’re in for a psychotic treat, viewers. By the way, Theon doesn’t appear at all in book three, but I’m glad the show decided to expand whispers of his whereabouts into an actual visual kind of redemption for his absolutely horrendous behavior last season.
Bran Falls… Again: Jojen Reed (Thomas Sangster) continued to play the role of Bran’s much needed sleep-time mentor. Jojen Reed is the anti-Freddy Krueger, invading the personal space of Bran’s mind only to train him in the ways of the wargs. Bran continued his hunt for that obnoxious three-eyed raven, but his climbing session was cut short by a vision of his mother. Man, was Cat Stark terrifying in the treetops or what? Poor Bran. Another tremendous fall and it was back to his crippled reality.
The Wolf and The Hound: The Hound (Rory McCann) is one of those characters who’s written with a brilliant sense of dynamic complexity. He’s tragic and tortured, but also a ruthless killer when it comes down to it. This is how little Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) sees the former “dog” of King Joffrey. Remember, The Hound was responsible for cutting Arya’s butcher boy friend in two following her scuff with Joffrey during the show’s first season. He’s on her “prayer” list, and she was elated to watch him captured and in the hands of men who seem to be her friends.
Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) has found R’hllor, folks. The Lord of Light will pass judgment on The Hound for his violent ways and all-around poor family name. The Cleganes are not held in high favor in Westeros. It’ll be a trial by combat, and somebody is going to die. I have to say, even considering Olenna Tyrell, I do get a kick out of Clegane. His assessment of Dondarrion’s “Brothers Without Banners” was hilarious.
You Sound Like a Woman: Another change I’m glad the series has made in its transition of the material from the text of the books to the screens of our televisions is that Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) is slightly less shy and naïve and way more courageous and fierce. She’s a fantastic warrior in any case, but watching her attempts to defends Jaime and his honor was incredible. Jaime, forced to wear his severed hand around his neck, wasn’t looking too hot following general malnourishment and maltreatment, plus what I’m assuming was an extreme loss of blood. As he fell from his saddle, Brienne cried out for someone to help him. As Jaime sloshed through mud, enduring humiliation from Bolton’s men who’d even gone as far as to serve him horse piss in place of water, he seemed utterly defeated. The two attempted a futile fight, but the numbers were against them. That evening Brienne was there to give Jaime a much-needed pep talk. One taste of real world misfortune, and he was ready to quit life. She wouldn’t have that. She knew he was the one who’d prevented her disgusting rape during the last episode’s close. Remember, Jaime had fooled the men into thinking Brienne’s home, the Sapphire Isle, was dubbed so for its gems rather than its crystalline blue waters.
Brienne: “You sound like a woman.”
And so, Jaime Lannister ate his dinner, and all was not lost.
Daenerys “Abe Lincoln” Targaryen: This closing scene depicts my own personal favorite chapter from the book series. I’m ridiculously excited and writing this is difficult. I can’t see straight. Here goes… I can’t see, but here goes…
The time had come for Khaleesi to trade her baby Drogon for an army of seemingly soulless soldiers. The last Targaryen marched through the dirt boulevards of Astapor ready to make the awful exchange. Had the Mother of Dragons who’d slain the warlocks of Qarth to save her scaled children finally come around to the unpopular idea that a dragon is nothing more than a living weapon? The exchange was quick. Dany had the golden whip in her hand, while Drogon hovered above the slave driver, Kraznys, shrieking. Clearly, the idea of being sold into tween dragon slavery was not sitting well with our story’s unsung hero. The man’s pitiful attempt to wrangle the beast in was unsuccessful. Daenerys, meanwhile, tested out her newly acquired power over her impossibly loyal Unsullied army. Thousands walked and halted to her commands. Unfortunately for the ruthless slave driver, a dragon is not a slave.
I’m not sure the reveal of Daenery’s mother tongue, Old Valyrian, could have been any sweeter. One “dracarys” and boom, the ultimate underdog of Game of Thrones suddenly looks poised to roast Joffrey Baratheon for brunch. The soldiers were commanded to scour through the streets of Astapor, killing their masters and freeing all slaves. No children were to be harmed. Amidst the resulting rubble and ash, Daenerys Stormborm looked, for the very first time, to be a true queen. She’s a contender, group! In one final risk, she freed her shackled army from their invisible chains and offered them the opportunity to fight for her as free men. As it turned out, they do have beating hearts.
I’m not sure there has been a more powerful scene since Daenerys walked into the flames of Drogo’s funeral pyre and birthed her dragons (maybe The Battle of Blackwater Bay), but the sight of thousands of warriors pounding their spears and marching with the Khaleesi on to the next city was awe-strikingly powerful. Do I wish she’d lashed off the face of Kraznys with the clawed cat o’ nine tails whip as she does in A Storm of Swords? Sure, but the epic final ride from Astapor, which was wonderfully musically scored, made up for that. Daenerys Targaryen is the Abraham Lincoln of Game of Thrones, and she’s about to take what is hers with fire, blood, and massive internet fan base. With great power comes an even greater target planted smack on her back. It is only a matter of time before Westeros hears of the threat of Daenerys Targaryen, but why would she even care? She has three growing dragons and the greatest army this world has ever seen. I feel as proud as Ser Jorah!
What did you all think of Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 4, “And Now His Watch Has Ended”? Are you still shaking from the finale scene? Do you trust Varys’ intentions? Do you think we need more Cersei and, come to think of it, more Tyrion? Are you enjoying the progression of the friendship between Brienne and Jaime? Are you glad Theon is sticking around for the time being? Sound off in the comments below!
Thanks for reading my Recap of Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 4, “And Now His Watch Has Ended”!