Happy 15th Birthday, Portland Mercury! A Note from Editor in Chief Wm. Steven Humphrey
George R. R. Martin wrote last night's episode of Game of Thrones. Seeing his name at the top of the show, I expected some kind of world-shaking events to take place plot-wise. That didn't happen. Various plots certainly moved forward, but the real developments were all character-based. No cities fell or heads rolled, but we did see characters grow. Learn. Get more interesting. Also, there was shit-tons of nudity and a huge apex predator.
Robb butt! Talisa butt! BUTTS, BUTTS, BUTTS, BUTTS, BUTTS, BUTTS!
In a rare instance Game of Thrones showing us affection-based nudity, we learned that Robb’s unwisely wed bride not Jeyne Talisa is in baby bakin’ mode. This has been a fringe fan theory for some time (link contains major book spoilers) and the show seems to just be running with it. The best line from the Robb scenes, though, came from the Blackfish, who seems to be turning into a grizzled comic relief character on level with Bronn. “I’ve seen wet shit I like better than Walder Frey,” opined the Tully. Yup.
“I’m stupid. A stupid little girl with stupid dreams.” Yeah, Sansa, you are.
The Sansa/Margaery dynamic has been a pleasant surprise this season. Sansa’s transitioning from being an idealistic little girl who believes in stupid things like honor and goodness, and Margaery seems to be helping her down that path. Of course the Tyrell is trying to manipulate the credulous little Stark (see: marrying Loras) but there also seems to be a bit of real friendship there. Also, Margaery seems to have been around the block a few times. “Most women don’t know what they like until they’ve tried it,” she said. “We’re very complicated, you know, pleasing us takes practice.”
“Two women to despise me, and a whole kingdom to join them.” Tyrion was a mopey little angst puppy this episode, wringing his hands about about being betrothed to Sansa Stark. Meanwhile, he’s wondering how he’s going to handle things with his classy working girl, Shae. Shae’s affection for Tyrion seems genuine, and when she offered to get on a boat and go across the sea with the little dude, I think she meant it, at least a little. As much as it might aggravate him, though, Tyrion can’t quit playing the Game of Thrones. You can tell that he loves the planning, the manipulation, the strategizing that comes with politics. No amount of love or affection could take him away from it. If anything, he seems mostly annoyed that his involvement with ladyfolk is going to get in the way of his real love of politicking.
“You are being counseled at this very moment.” Throughout the run of the show, I’ve been consistently impressed by George R. R. Martin’s willingness to adapt his work to suit the medium. Things that work well in books don’t work well on TV, and vise versa. Last night Martin gave us a small, invented scene that showed us some of the inner workings of House Lannister, and just how powerful Tywin is.
Approaching the Iron Throne, Tywin was initially dwarfed by his surroundings. The columns, banners, and cavernous nature of the throne room seemed to tower over him. For a brief moment I was wondering if Joffrey was going to try to put his granddad in his place. Tywin, though, is much, much smarter and smoother than the little shit, and soon had the matter in hand. He was looming over his grandson, the king, and made it very clear to the viewers and to Joffrey who was actually in charge.
Slavers like guyliner, I guess. Daenerys Targaryen is on a roll. She got herself an army, burned a city, and now she’s throwing her weight around with the mascara-clad slavers of Yunkai. Did anyone else think that the Yunkai’I had horrible negotiation skills? They immediately tried to bribe Daenerys to do nothing. That’s not an effective tactic- they should have tried to approach her from a position of strength. Paying her to simply walk away makes them appear weak, which incentivizes Dany to attack.
Daenerys’ method of receiving the slavers, by the way, was fantastic. Her dragons finally seemed to be instruments of power, rather than just cute pets that she whines about losing. Everyone in Westeros talks about the dragons as a political and military asset. Last night, they finally seemed like they actually are.
“A bastard of Robert Baratheon.” Time and again Game of Thrones dispenses with A Song of Ice and Fire’s subtleties, and just makes them obvious. Melissandre just straight-up told Gendry (and the audience) that his daddy was a king who got pantless with a commoner. How is it that Melissandre was just able to sail right up to King’s Landing? Don’t they have a coast guard? A Marine patrol? Boat cops? She’s the enemy and she’s just right fucking there.
WHY DOESN’T WESTEROS HAVE BOAT COPS?
Arya books it from One-Eye and Drunky. Disgusted with the Brotherhood Without Banners, Arya (the only Stark who’s actually kind of cool) turned tail and ran after telling them that her god was Death. Then she got captured by the Hound. Hi, Sandor. Were you just sitting in those woods waiting for small children to run at you? That’s kind of weird, dude.
And now, literal torture porn. George R. R. Martin decided that Theon needed to get sexed up by two ladies, cock-blocked, and then castrated. Wow. I guess Theon's tormentor just owns a specialized castration knife? Because he cuts dicks off all the time? Why? Why do we need to revisit this shit week after week. Okay, show. You’ve made your point. Torture sucks. Torture sucks and Theon's not doing well. Yup. Got it. Nothing interesting is happening here, show. Move on. Spend time with something else.
Okay, I’ll admit that Jon and Ygritte are kind of cute. I still think that Ygritte’s a dumb character, but I do buy the relationship between Kit Harington and Rose Leslie. Ygritte never seeing a windmill before was sort of funny, and it was nice to see a bit of her provincialism on display, as opposed to seeing her as a smug little pixie always one step ahead of Snow. Their flirtiness and banter was all well done, and I’m actually sort of rooting for them as a couple. That said, I still think that all of the stuff in the North is kind of boring. Give me politicking and scheming in King’s Landing any day.
A NEW CHALLENGER HAS APPEARED! Jaime Lannister probably has the best character arc of anyone in either A Song of Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones. Yeah, it’s the standard “douchebag learns about feelings and becomes an un-douchebag” arc that’s been around since Gilgamesh, but it’s done well and in both the books and show I completely buy his evolution as a character.
In a sudden attack of feelings, Jaime decided not to press on for King’s Landing, and instead head back to Harrenhall to rescue Brienne who was being held by several of Roose Bolton’s men. Upon return, the handless wonder found Brienne fighting a bear. For her part, Brienne had some pretty gnarly battle damage going on- I kind of hope she keeps the neck scars, and even though she was in a position of being rescued, she still seemed badass, as she was holding her own against a bear. A fucking bear. All black and brown and covered in hair! And then Jaime saved her. He got in the ring, fended off the bear, and saved someone who’s legitimately become his friend. The dickwad who started a lot of the action of the series (remember when he defenestrated a kid?) just did one of the most unambiguously heroic acts of the show.
Friendship is magical, everyone. Friendship is magical.