All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
2.6 The Old Gods and the New
I think there are a couple of different ways we can take this title- it’s a phrase that’s often tacked on to a promise, oath, or dedication of sorts similar to “I swear to god.” And the Old Gods refer to the gods of the First Men, before the Andals and this group more or less refers to the children of the forest, greenseers, wargs, magical creatures, etc that are all thought to have died out. Meanwhile, the New Gods refer to the Light of the Seven (think the Sept of Baelor)- the father, mother, maiden, stranger, crone, warrior, smith- that is the religion of the majority of Westeros during the War of the Five Kings. The Old Gods are mostly a folksy religion that’s still strong in the North and some of the Wildlings also partake in this as well.
So let’s kick it off in the North- Winterfell is under attack by the Iron Born, who are led by Theon and have just left their raid of Torrhen’s Square. Maester Luwin just manages to send a raven off (presumably to Robb or Cat). Theon’s argument for betraying his adopted family is that Robb sent him back to Pyke, basically telling Theon who to side with and Bran asks if Theon hated the Starks the entire time he was at Winterfell. Bran yields Winterfell to the crew of the Sea Bitch, and the Northern crowd immediately turns on Theon, saying they always knew he was an untrustworthy coward. As a Maester, Luwin is bound to serve whoever the Lord of Winterfell is so he shoots off a request for 500 men to Yara, who is hanging out at Deepwood Motte. For those curious, Deepwood Motte is the seat of House Glover and sits north west of Winterfell, on the mainland of Westeros across from Bear Island.
Rodrik gets a few sassy lines in, is half a step away from calling Theon a Back Alley Sally and says shame on him for turning on the family that raised him; Theon’s argument is nothing more than he was raised among the Starks but not as one of them- and this is a really weak argument and most of the Northmen can see right through it, accusing Theon of being weak minded. The crew tests Theon’s loyalty when they demand that Ser Rodrik pay with blood for spitting in Theon’s face. Theon doesn’t really want to do it, but now he’s confronted with having to really pick a side. The North urges with him not to do it, knowing that once he executes Rodrik, they’ll have no reason to defend him anymore, but he goes through with it anyway.
It takes Theon a few tries to behead Rodrik, partially because he’s not very strong, partially because his sword is probably terrible, and mostly because the show is demonstrating how hard it is for Theon to really cleave away this side of himself. It’s one of the more unintentionally funny scenes of the series.
Later on, we get Black Widow: Osha Style as she proceeds to distract everyone by either disrobing or promising them oral sex, and then killing them. She, Bran, Rickon, and Hodor flee to hide in the crypts.
North of the Wall, Qhorin is educating Jon on Wildling as they hunt to extinguish scout fires. Jon’s all proud to die for the Night’s Watch and Qhorin doesn’t want a guy who is looking forward to dying- he wants a guy who is looking forward to a fight and surviving it. They come across their Wildling scouts and slaughter them- but Jon stops when he realizes his Wilding is a girl. It’s Ygritte. It’s Rose Leslie. SHE LOOKS GREAT. I don’t blame Jon for his hesitation- he he has only fought other guys in the yard and a wight and he admits he’s never had chemistry with a female before. Ygritte reveals she has some knowledge of what’s going on, telling them to burn the bodies- but Qhorin thinks she is just trying to inavertedly light a signal to the other scouting parties. They ask her about Mance Rayder and she feeds them sparse information that there are over 100,000 freefolk that have gathered behind him. Qhorin deduces that they are going to march on the Wall and leaves Jon to execute her so they can move on.
Jon’s never killed anyone. Ever. Not a man, not a woman, not any kind of person, so he hesitates and Ygritte immediately sprints off because she’s a survivor. (Who do we think is faster, Gendry or Ygritte? Or the Waif?) It takes him a while to catch her and it’s getting too dark to search for the others, so he ties her up as a prisoner and sets up camp. NO FIRE because Jon doesn’t want to risk alerting any enemies, but he does reluctantly snuggle up to her. Ygritte, knowing that he’s not going to kill her, starts trolling him by “getting comfortable” aka grinding on Jon. This is, by far, my favorite relationship on the show. There’s an immediate sense of familiarity between the two, a sense of chemistry, and a powerful connection. It’s not hard to see why Jon falls in love with Ygritte so quickly- in the blankness of the true North, she’s vivid and lively and full of warmth. She’s a beautifully written and acted character.
Over in Harrenhal, Tywin is shaming his own bannermen for not being able to read and write correctly, mixing up houses, and nearly sending their plans over to a house in the Riverlands. They make Arya seem like a potential genius, adding to Tywin’s affection for her and he even jokes around with her a little bit saying she should probably come up with their next battle plans.
Arya’s just about to feel safe around Tywin- until Littefinger waltzes in, bringing the news that Renly was killed and that the Tyrells haven’t declared for anyone, being more focused on revenge (Loras) and queenship (Margaery) over the throne itself. Littlefinger convinces Tywin to use they Tyrells to win the War of the Five Kings and then worry about their punishment, aligning the two wealthiest families in the Realm.
Tywin likes what he hears and offers Littefinger more wine, a tactic for loosening his tongue even more and I found this extremely consistent with how he keeps taking Tyrion’s wine away. Nice touch by Charles Dance. Arya spills some wine on Littlefinger and it’s guaranteed that he finally recognizes her as he immediately drops information that he saw Catelyn as well.
Later on in Harrenhall, Tywin bonds a little more with Arya, asking her about her peasant upbringing and her ability to read and we get a ton of insight into how hard Tywin is on his family, “curing” Jaime’s dyslexia by making him read four hours a day and knowing that his son hated him for it. Tywin asks how her father died and in a really chilling moment, Arya says, “Loyalty.” Color Tywin impressed, as a young girl can understand the way people and circumstances are woven with their motives. Arya sees an opportunity to distract Tywin and asks him about his own family and he goes on a bit of a TY-rade (no pun intended but once I typed out the real thing, I couldn’t resist) about how his father ruined the family and how he had to rebuild their name from scratch and Arya steals a bit of Lannister intel.
This is vastly different from the book, as Tywin comes and leaves Harrenhal which is then taken over by Roose Bolton- whom Arya never bonds with and makes her feel extremely uneasy. She observes several odd sets of behavior, including leechings, the reading of an extremely old and worn book, and Roose’s colorless eyes. I can’t say I disagree with the change, as I think I’ll never turn down Charles Dance blasting everyone’s reading abilities and he brings a softer side to Tywin- a side that made sense to build up the animosity with Tyrion in the upcoming Season 3.
Anyway, Arya runs into Amory Lorch, who grabs the paper and is going to ask Dad about it so Arya runs over to Jaqan and names Amory as her second kill. Again, such short sightedness- if Arya had just names Tywin, none of this would even matter and it might have even ended the war. I don’t know if her emotions and the past few days she has spent with Tywin played into this decision at all- I see it more as Arya viewing Tywin as a larger-than-life, can’t be beaten kind of person and that she is still young enough to believe in these kinds of myths.
Down in King’s Landing, the Lannister Baratheon clan and Sansa are bidding farewell to Myrcella, who is being shipped off to Dorne. On the way back to the Red Keep, starving peasants accost the family and poo is thrown at Joff who demands that THEY ALL GET EXECUTED. “Kill them all” is repeated a few times, a favorite phrase of the Mad King, a Septon gets his arm ripped off, you know, the good stuff. The Baratheons make it back to the Red Keep but Tyrion notices Sansa is missing- a valuable chip in the game against Robb Stark. Tyrion, at the end of his rope, slaps Joff, calls him a fool, points out that he’s the one starving all of them and causing a stir, and commands the guards to find Sansa. She’s been chased down the hall and is nearly raped, except the Hound comes in and slaughters everyone, saving the day, calling her little bird, and carrying her back. Tyrion offers an olive branch, telling Sandor he’s don’t a good job and the Hound doesn’t give a shit. He’s like the guy who’s been at entry level for over ten years and is just over it.
Back in her room, Shae is comforting Sansa as she’s just survived her first real, physically traumatic event. Sansa really doesn’t understand that there are people who intentionally hurt others and Shae, understanding what it’s like to be poor and a woman, uses this as a bit of a teaching moment. Sansa is trusting Shae more and more, which Shae warns her to not trust anyone. I don’t think she’s feeding information about Tyrion yet- but she’s probably received offers on either him or Sansa and she’s reflecting on being tempted by the money.
Over at Camp Stark, all we need is a ten-second walk to know that Robb is still loved by his men and knows most of them personally as he charms his way through the camp. He flirts with Talisa for a bit before being totally cockblocked by his mother. It turns out Talisa’s last name is Maegyr- an old name from Volantis, most notably not a North woman or a seat of power in Westeros, and therefore useless to the political cause. Cat can sense all the sexual tension and reminds Robb of his duties as the King in the North and that part of the duty is being engaged to a Frey.
ROOSE BOLTON brings news that Theon has betrayed them and taken Winterfell and Cat drops a really guttural, “I TOLD YOU NEVER TRUST A GREYJOY.” She has one of the most remarkable voices on the show. Really. Immediately, Robb wants to head back and kill Theon, but Roose drops an equally deep, “YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF.” I love every character in this scene, but this is just way overly dramatic. Roose convinces Robb to stay on top of Tywin since Tywin is on the move and this is a good position to have him in. Robb can save men and resources, and in the meantime, Roose can send his bastard (!) and some of his pals to Winterfell and take care of that. Robb complies- but wants to kill Theon himself.
Over in Qarth we get our new drinking game, where for every “I AM KHALEESI AND I DESERVE TO BE QUEEN,” Xaro drops a, “I come from nothing.” Everyone insists on calling this guy by his full name for some reason. Whatever. Anyway, after Dany is scolded by a spice trader (who makes perfectly valid points about how he can’t risk giving her ships because it’s not guaranteed she will win and he can’t lose his method of business on a bunch of ifs), she tries to convince him that everything she has dreamt has come true. (What about dreams that make her pee the bed? Just asking.) Cue another I AM DAENERYS STORMBORN AND I WILL TAKE WHAT IS MINE AND WAHHHHHH, because everyone stops listening and All Spice heads back upstairs. When they get back to Xaro’s estate, all the guards are dead as well as Irri and – the dragons are missing. Cue the change of I AM KHALEEEEEESIIIIII to WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?
I… I can’t believe I have four more episodes of WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS. Sheesh. Presumably, they are being taken to the House of the Undying by Pyat Pree, the warlock with the blue mouth aaaaand that’s where the episode ends.
Up next: 2.7 A Man Without Honor!