In this episode, we see many interesting things that didn’t happen in the books. Now I understand how people who haven’t read the books feel when watching this show. It is totally exhausting. Lots of spoilers in this post – please watch the episode before reading!
Before I get into the actual review, can I firstly just share some love for the theme music and title sequence of the show? It’s just perfect. Some may complain that the theme music is too slow or long, but every time I hear that music it transports me straight into the world of the show. So great.
Michelle MacLaren was the director this episode, which meant that the direction was universally excellent. I’ve always been impressed with her work on both Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, so I actually look forward to seeing her name at the beginning. She’ll be directing episode five as well. Bryan Cogman was the writer, so that also meant the dialogue was fairly great. He’s great at writing anything to do with Jaime, so of course we got to see quite a bit of him this episode.
First off, we see Missandei and Grey Worm, Daenerys’ best girl and army leader respectively. Missandei is teaching Grey Worm the Common Tongue, and this was a great moment of character development for both of these characters. Unfortunately this nice moment is broken up by Dany walking in and telling Grey Worm it’s time to lead the slave rebellion. For me, it was nice to see more of Grey Worm interacting with Missandei because I’ve been wondering when they were going to develop both of their characters a little bit. Grey Worm’s powerful speech to the slaves of Meereen, to convince them to kill the masters of their city and take control over their destiny, was very rousing indeed. Loved it.
It was great to see this moment between slaves that we don’t see in the books. This is what the show is meant to do regarding showing unseen moments from the book – expand on the existing story, rather than dragging other things out unnecessarily. I’m thinking specifically of the invention of Ros, a prostitute with a heart of gold, who lasted three seasons and wasted so much time. With the non-book moment before the slave rebellion, I felt it added more to the story rather than causing it to lag.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the full uprising; just Grey Worm’s amazing speech, a group of slaves murdering a master, and the Targaryen flag draped over the sacred harpy statue on top of a Meereenese pyramid. We then see the aftermath – Daenerys is celebrated as a saviour, walking through the streets upon broken slave collars. The slaves call out to her and are clearly overjoyed that they have been liberated from their masters. The music is great in this scene. Daenerys wonders what to do with the masters of Meereen. How many children did they nail to mileposts as Daenerys and company approached the city? 163.
Daenerys is faced with a choice. Should she choose to be merciful, and let them go? Or should she be merciless, and do to them what they did to those 163 children? The answer is clear – she will answer injustice with justice. On to the mileposts they go. The crucifixions were pretty graphic and gross, and I was eating dinner at the time. But this moment marks a very important development in Daenerys’ leadership of Meereen. She has started off her ruling in a very strict fashion. She comes from a family line that does tend to get slightly crazy with power. Is she headed towards the same fate? We’re treated to a beautiful shot of Daenerys overlooking her newly-acquired city from the top of a pyramid – but it must be noted that there are dark clouds in the background. Perhaps a storm is brewing.
After Jaime’s and Bronn’s fun fight scene, Jaime visits Tyrion in his dungeon. This scene was interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, the amazing dialogue:
Tyrion: So, how is our sister?
Jaime: How do you think? Her son died in her arms.
Tyrion: Her son?
GENIUS. Secondly, Tyrion makes a great point about the odds being against him no matter what – even though he’s getting a trial, everyone thinks he’s guilty anyway, and the judges already believe he’s guilty, and Cersei will have him killed no matter the result of the trial. Things do not look good for him. But luckily Jaime wants to help him, regardless of what Cersei wants. Jaime believes Tyrion is innocent because he knows that there was more than one person who wanted Joffrey dead. After this scene, Jaime is the nice guy again and we can all forget what happened last episode.
Also – “the kingslayer brothers”! What a title. There are already t-shirts with a “kingslayer brothers” design available for purchase on the internet. That’s how catchy that line was. Tyrion gets the best lines.
I’ve been waiting to see more scenes with Cersei in them that involve some character development or personal insight into her psychology, and we got a very brief scene with her and Jaime. Cersei is drinking wine and asks how many Kingsguard are posted outside of the future king Tommen’s door. Jaime tells Cersei there is one guard. Cersei is in full paranoia mode, understandably since her firstborn son was killed a couple of episodes ago. She believes there may already be plots to get rid of the young king who hasn’t yet been crowned.
It’s interesting to see Jaime interacting with Cersei and having a conflict between his oath to Catelyn Stark to find her daughters, and his loyalty to House Lannister. As Cersei says, he made a “sacred vow to the enemy”. She questions the reason why Catelyn released him, and essentially asks Jaime to find and kill the Stark girls. Will Jaime find Sansa and return her head to Cersei? Or will he continue to assist Catelyn Stark, even after her death? It was good to see Jaime sticking up for his beliefs and telling Cersei that he believes Tyrion did not kill Joffrey. Unfortunately, Cersei is unmovable in her belief.
Love those Tyrells. More interesting stories from the Lady Olenna in this episode about how much of a seducer she was back in the day. She tells Margaery that she’s leaving, and I really hope that she actually isn’t leaving. I love Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell, so much. Olenna tells Margaery all about her duties as a future-wife to the young Tommen. She essentially tells Margaery that she has to jump in and start influencing Tommen before Cersei can. Which is a really smart idea, because we all know how Joffrey turned out. She also heavily insinuates that she was involved in Joffrey’s death. Margaery stares at her as if she didn’t already know that Olenna is the real HBIC of Westeros.
Later, we see the beautiful and sweet young Tommen up late at night – he can’t get to sleep, and that boar with a crossbow through its eyes is putting him off. He hears a noise in the distance – is it his cat, Ser Pounce? Firstly, I’m so happy that Ser Pounce got a mention on the show. Cutest name for a cat, ever. However, it’s just Margaery, visiting Tommen late at night to have a nice conversation with him and get to know him better. They agree that they should know more about one another before they’re married – Tommen is clearly enchanted by her, and she’s very charming towards him without being overtly sexual. It’s funny because in the books, Tommen is under ten years old. By having him cast as about fifteen in the show, it makes his innocence look a bit silly, especially considering his family history. But at the same time, Tommen is very endearing and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of king he’s going to be.
In this scene we’re shown that Margaery can be just as manipulative as Cersei, but hopefully in a good way. Margaery tells Tommen that their meeting is “our little secret”, and kisses him on the forehead. By encouraging Tommen to keep secrets from his controlling and increasingly paranoid mother, she tells him that he’s allowed to have an identity outside of her influence. So this will be very interesting indeed.
We also learn that Joffrey threatened to skin Ser Pounce alive and mix his innards up in Tommen’s food so that Tommen didn’t know he was eating his own beloved pet. Good old Joffrey! Still entertaining in his horribleness, even into death.
Brienne is one of my favourite characters in this show. I loved her scenes with Jaime (he got a lot of screen time this episode). Jaime presents her with the sword that Tywin gave him. He tells her to use Ned Stark’s sword to defend Ned Stark’s daughters. They discuss the kingslayer name – Jaime is stuck with it, regardless of any great things he does later in his career in the Kingsguard.
Jaime also presents Brienne with a beautiful suit of armour. Perhaps both the armour and the sword will come in handy during her journey! Jaime encourages Brienne to find Sansa and Arya, as this is what Catelyn Stark wanted her to do all along. To find her daughters, and make sure they were safe. Brienne says that she will find Sansa, “For Lady Catelyn. And for you.” – Legitimate tears.
But, Jaime has one last gift for Brienne – one Podrick Payne, grinning from ear to ear in one of the more humorous cutaways in the show. Brienne says Pod will slow her down, but Jaime isn’t having it. Pod and Brienne 4ever. Brienne names her new sword Oathkeeper, which tells Jaime that she will keep her oath to Catelyn Stark to find her daughters, and in doing so keep Jaime’s oath to Catelyn as well; he isn’t an oathbreaker after all. The saddest part of this scene was the look Brienne gave Jaime as she was riding away with Pod. I’m not one of those people who wanted these two to be in a relationship, but I really loved the development of Brienne and Jaime’s reluctant friendship during their roadtrip across Westeros. It will be sad not seeing them in a scene together. No spoilers here, just saying.
I’m skipping ahead and briefly mentioning some things that I don’t have the emotional energy to write about in dotpoints below!
The scenes in Craster’s Keep were pretty full on. We see that a man of the Nights Watch named Karl has become more or less leader of the mutineers at the Keep. Men who are recruited for the Nights Watch are generally criminals, so it’s not too surprising that some shady activities are going down at the Keep. Firstly, Karl is drinking wine out of Lord Commander Mormont’s skull, which is nice. Secondly, it looked like he threw a human foot at his friend, so there may or may not be some cannibalism going on. Thirdly, heaps of sexual assault. But also lots of humorous swearing.
One of Craster’s wives enters with a brand new baby boy – Craster’s last son. What did Craster do with sons? “He offered them,” the lady says. He didn’t kill them, he ‘offered’ them to the White Walkers. Craster’s wives begin chanting, “A gift for the gods”, over and over again. This moment is supremely creepy. The baby is taken out and left in the snow, where a White Walker arrives to pick it up and take it away to somewhere mysterious that book readers don’t know anything about, because that isn’t really mentioned in the book so we don’t know anything about it and…
Whaaaat? I couldn’t contain myself at this point. So much good non-book content this episode!
A White Walker comes to pick up the baby. We haven’t seen one of these guys in quite a while. He carries the baby away on his horse, over land, and a huge frozen lake, towards a huge mountain that has a big frozen waterfall and what looks like a beautiful aurora borealis in the background.
The White Walker takes the baby over to what looks like an ice version of Stonehenge, with an ice block altar in the centre. At this point, I was absolutely freaking out. There were some amazing shots from above the scene as the White Walker was taking the baby to the altar, and also from inside the transparent ice altar. We see every detail of the scene from these angles, including the twelve other White Walkers in the distance that watch the scene, stark black against the white snow of the background.
One of the White Walkers approaches the baby on the altar. We see his hands lifting up the baby. Then we see his face – totally different to the others, no decomposition of facial tissue, and what looks to be a thorny crown on his head. He somehow looks more powerful or important than the others. He touches the baby’s cheek with a fingernail and the baby’s eyes freeze into a bright blue colour, just like the White Walkers’. Fade to black as the most ominous music sounds.
I just can’t deal. There’s so much amazing non-book stuff that makes my head spin. And I’m not complaining – I love it! I always wondered what Craster did with those babies, and the show finally gave me an answer. Did the show accidentally spoil the content of the books? Who knows until GRRM finally publishes the next book, in roughly fifteen years’ time. Seriously.
Some small thoughts:
- Through another Bronn and Jaime fight scene, Jaime is reminded that people don’t always “fight pretty”, after Bronn pulls the golden hand off and slaps him in the face with it. I think Jaime already knew that. However this scene did serve the purpose of reminding viewers that Tyrion did ask for Jaime to represent him in the fight scene at the Eyrie in the first season. I’m liking seeing Bronn and Jaime together on screen as their chemistry is very different to other characters’, in a good way.
- Littlefinger, get away from Sansa. So creepy! At least he let her know where they were going (to the Eyrie), otherwise Littlefinger would be at maximum creep capacity. I liked this scene because it showed the beginning development of Sansa’s political awareness, and Littlefinger also told her that she’s pretty much responsible for Joffrey’s murder, so there’s that.
- Enough Sam and Gilly drama. I get bored just hearing him asking about her.
- I really loved Jon Snow this episode but I just couldn’t muster up the words to write anything about him. I’m just so emotionally exhausted by everything else. But he was great this episode and it really is wonderful to see him taking charge, even if the higher-ups at the Nights Watch aren’t fans of him.
- Jon Snow wants to head off beyond the wall to Craster’s Keep to prevent the mutineers of the Nights Watch from being interrogated by wildlings. Little does he know, that Bran is there! What will happen?!
- Lots of ominous music whenever Locke talks to Jon Snow. I wonder if they’re trying to tell us something?
- Seeing the men of the Nights Watch taunting Hodor made me so sad and angry! Hodor is the best. It broke my heart a little bit to see him in pain.
- Bran finally got to do something, and that something was get captured. This didn’t happen in the books.
- I don’t have any energy to even start thinking about Bran.
- Jojen looks really, really sick.
- Where is Stannis???
The trailer for the next episode looks pretty amazing! As aforementioned, I’m super looking forward to it because I do enjoy Michelle MacLaren’s directing style. From the looks of the trailer, we’re going to see a bit of Daenerys plotting world domination, Tommen’s coronation, Lysa meeting Littlefinger and Sansa at the Eyrie, more Arya and the Hound, more Bran and friends, more Nights Watch/Craster’s Keep fun, and some nice swordfighting. Looks to be a jam-packed episode!
Episode rating: 4/5