I own a ’99 Skoda Octavia. It is not the most fashionable, expensive or even functional car sometimes. One of its quirks is how long it can take to get going; chugging away for a while before the engine eventually catches and bursts into life, becomes a still respectable machine.
Season 3 of Game of Thrones is like my car, then; as it took a while but it’s really gotten going.
Rather than going through each individual scene – this will get tedious for both you the reader and I the writer as the series progresses and some characters get only a few minutes of screen time per episode – I’m going to concentrate on the strongest moments and the overall impression the episode gave. And the overall impression was very good.
Many of the key characters missed in Seasons 1 and 2 or introduced in Book 3 of A Song of Fire and Ice, make their way on screen during this second episode of the series and they have very strong showings: the Queen of Thorns, Lady Olenna, puts in a stellar appearance by holding a woman’s tea with Sansa and asking about King Joffrey. One of the many moments I laughed aloud was the “We will have cheese when I say we do” moment; Jojen and Meera Reed accost Bran on his way North, with Meera in particular being as much of a badass as I imagined her in the books; Thoros of Myr and the Brotherhood without Banners are introduced and again thrill and entertain fanboys like myself; and the sharp-eyed among you might even have noticed the rather excellent casting of the Bastard of Bolton.
One of the main themes of the episode was the politicking of Margaery Tyrell, starting with her presence at the Lady Olenna’s lunch and continuing with Cersei warning her son the King against her intelligence. In a later scene between Margaery and King Joffrey, her shrewdness and her cunning come into play when she not only turns the vicious Joffrey her way whilst he threatens her with a fancy crossbow but manages to gauge Sansa’s judgement that he is a monster whilst making him think she’s aroused by him. Margaery as a whole has been very well-handled in the series to date, one of the better points for them to expand upon and stretch book three out into two series.
The episode also did a great job of keeping most of the plot threads ticking along nicely; we check in with Sam, Jon, follow Robb in his march back North and have a very poignant scene between Jeyne Westerling and Caetlyn Stark, in which Cat blames herself for all that has happened to House Stark because she made a promise to the Seven to love Jon Snow but couldn’t. It’s an excellent and well-placed downbeat.
The Brotherhood without Banners are well-portrayed as well, with the excellent Paul Kaye adding his own spin onto the Red Priest. The subtle marking on his forehead was a wonderful touch and the dialogue between him and Arya, whom the Brotherhood discover on their travels, is nicely delivered and well-written. This impression only intensifies when the Brotherhood take a captive, the Hound, and he reveals who Arya really is…
The writing as a whole was much stronger in this episode, showing us Theon’s torture at hands unknown and giving us some excellent scenes between Jaime and Brienne. Brienne is one of my favourite characters and Gwendoline Christie does an excellent job portraying her. She drags Jaime through the countryside, continuing on her quest to return him and reclaim the Stark girls, but Jaime frees himself and a swordfight ensues. A poorly directed one, I must say, which really got going once Brienne claimed the upperhand. But before she could tie Jaime back up some bannermen of Lord Bolton appear to reclaim the Kingslayer and we end on a cliffhanger, leaving us wanting more.
There was more, no doubt. that I’ve forgotten. Tyrion and Shae had a nothing of a scene which annoyingly didn’t get across Tyrion’s fear for Shae’s life and they keep harping on that LITTLEFINGER MUST NOT BE TRUSTED but it was still a very, very good episode which made me laugh, fangasm and look forward to episode 3.