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!
3.2 Dark Wings, Dark Words
This episode’s title is a reference to using ravens to carry messages throughout Westeros (like carrier pigeons)- and the news is usually grim or ill-bearing. In general, ravens are bad omens in literature so this could also be some foreshadowing on the Night’s Watch- specifically how the Free Folk call the Night’s Watch “crow” and even more specifically, Ygritte to Jon- as well as Bran’s dreams about the three-eyed raven, which is where the episode opens.
This time, Bran is hunting the three-eyed raven, and it’s a callback to the very first episode of the series as Jon and Robb appear to coach him and Ned’s voice echoes through the woods. A boy that Bran doesn’t know takes over the images of his brothers and tells Bran that he is the raven. Bran’s voice has dropped about three octaves and it is weird. He, Osha, Rickon and Hodor are STILL heading towards the Wall because the North is that damn big.
Down at Harrenhal, Talisa and Robb are still in honeymoon phase and she calls the Northmen “grim, bearded, stinking barbarians” just as my man Roose Bolton enters and he can totally use this as leverage in his whisperings against Robb’s leadership to the others. Just saying. He bears two messages delivered via ravens aka DARK WINGS AND DARK WORDS from Riverrun that Hoster Tully, Cat’s father and Lord of the Riverlands, has died. Robb plans to escort Cat to see that Hoster has a proper funeral and leaves Roose to occupy Harrenhal so that his men can recuperate. The second message he bears is that Winterfell has been reduced to a pile of ash and the boys are missing- and Cat’s heart breaks even further as her other two children- that she willingly left behind- have not been found.
Remember when Theon killed all the ravens when he took over? That’s why there has been no news of the two farmer’s sons. Anyway, Theon is given a cold shower as an alarm clock and he’s given some light torture while being tied up to a huge cross of sorts. If this looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same symbol Roose bears on his CHEST in the preceding scene and then it’s on his BANNERS later on. WHAT A DELICIOUS TRAIL OF BREADCRUMBS (if you didn’t already know). I guess with where Theon’s scene left off and since Robb seems unsure of where Theon is, we’re not sure if these are Northmen or Yara’s men or whatever- but it is safe to assume his crew handed him over to Roose’s bastard.
Down further south, Brienne has Jaime on a leash as they traipse off the road to Kind’s Landing. Brienne is so deadset on her mission that she stares at Jaime while he pees. Bored, Jaime tries to figure Brienne out, asking how she met Cat, catches onto her service for Renly, and then throws some feminine imagery about him, still trying to push her buttons. He nearly succeeds when making fun of his sexuality and then drops the line, “We don’t get to choose the ones we love,” a small theme that has come back quite a few times. Jaime tries to talk Brienne into killing a farmer who has passed them and recognized Jaime, but Brienne refuses as that would be dishonorable.
In King’s Landing, Joff is getting fitted for new clothing and Cersei tries to gage how much impact Margaery has had on him thus far. Cersei is keen on getting Joff to see Margaery’s power moves, but he waves off her marriage to Renly, saying she did it because she was told to and that’s what intelligent women do. Such fantastically written exposition that gives us a glimpse of Joff’s masochistic side and Cersei’s struggle to love her own son as she realizes what he is turning into, as well as general characteristics of Margaery, her standing in King’s Landing, the power of the families, and the attitude of the commoners.
Upstairs, Shae is trying to talk some sense into Sansa, telling her Littlefinger wants something from her and begins to educater her on men. Shae is looking out for Sansa, a really lovely trait that wasn’t in the books (Shae was a handmaiden to another noble lady from the Westerlands) and this is moreso for Sansa rather than Shae. I think it would make sense for Shae to feel protective of a young woman being taken advantage of (perhaps reflecting on herself) and to use her as a tool so Sansa can voice her feelings and what’s going on in her storyline. The dialogue with Shae gives a chance to show how young and naïve Sansa really is. Beautiful boy Loras shows up to escort Sansa to dine with Margaery and their grandmother. Sansa has the hots for Loras as he fulfills all of her fantasies about a real knight and she reminds him that he gave her a rose at the hand’s tournament.
Margaery immediately welcomes Sansa with open arms and introduces her to Lady Olenna Tyrell, the matriarch of the Tyrells played wonderfully by Diana Rigg. Lady Olenna is a loose cannon, going off on several men of power, calling Renly an idiot and her own son witless. It’s pretty clear that Sansa doesn’t quite know what to make of the woman, but is impressed and even lets her guard down a little until Olenna asks her about Joffrey. Sansa immediately shuts down before reciting some passages about Joff’s bravery- but Margaery and Olenna can see right through the act. Sophie Turner absolutely shines in this scene, floating between her practiced demeanor and outbursts of emotion with small slumps of her shoulders. Just very well done.
On the way to Riverrun, Lord Karstark is lecturing Robb, saying that the Riverrun excursion is distracting them from the war and openly says that Robb has already lost the war because he married Talisa. Double meaning in this, with Robb breaking his alliance and oath with the Freys but also because it’s an action that shows that Robb chose a foreign woman over his men and the region’s values. Cat is weaving a talisman of some sort, that mother’s make to protect their children. Cat’s woven this twice before, once for Bran in Season 1 and once many years before that- for Jon Snow, when he came down with pox. It turns out Cat stayed up with Jon to make sure he was alive through the night, because she had prayed for him to die and hated the very sight of him and what he represented. Cat promised that if the boy lived, she would love him as her own and to legitimize him- which didn’t happen. Cat is so beautifully complicated here- and it really shows the immediate effect of Ned’s actions and his decision to keep the truth from her. It’s so authentic that Cat would feel this way towards the bastard child of her husband and it wouldn’t be difficult for other people to believe Jon Snow’s lineage in seeing Cat’s treatment of him. Telling her the truth would have changed her behavior- possibly to affection and all the things she mentions here- and worse, might have caused people to be suspicious. Do I wish Ned and Cat ended things on a good note and a clean slate? Of course, but in the long run and for the good of the Realm, Ned was right in his decision not to tell Cat a single thing about Lyanna.
Beyond the Wall, Jon is getting to know Mance and Mance is speaking of how hard it is to unite seven tribes (SEVEN KINGDOMS, ANYONE?) and the skill it takes. They only united when he told them the truth about the White Walkers and that they would all die- which is what Jon does in Season 7. That’s a nice callback I didn’t remember. The skinny pirate that loses his eye in the Pirates of the Caribbean is warging into a falcon, spying on the Fist of the First Men and- dead crows. Meanwhile, Sam and the rest of the ranging party are still on their way back to the Wall and this time Edd and Grenn turn around to help him out. Jeor forces some unity on the men, making Rast responsible for Sam and to be punished if Sam doesn’t make it.
South of the Wall, Bran and Osha are approached by the boy he saw in his dream and a girl- it’s Jojen and Meera Reed, son and daughter of Howland Reed, who had been good friends with Ned. Jojen can… control Summer the direwolf, which is a threat at first, then an advantage to the party.
Down further south, Gendry is taking the role of the audience, trying to figure out why Arya didn’t request Jaqan kill Cersei or Tywin to end the wall and Arya’s answers remind us that she’s merely a child that doesn’t think of these things. They hear someone singing The Rains of Castamere- and it’s Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr and the Brotherhood without Banners! They function like Robin Hood, trying to save commoners from bullies. Thoros’ friend Anguy is my new Jory Cassel as the nice loyal character of no consequence. Let’s not get too attached because disappointingly, he’s only in Season 3, doesn’t die, and is never heard from again- why they didn’t bring him back is beyond me.
In King’s Landing, Shae is waiting for Tyrion which is against his wishes but Shae wants Tyrion to know about Littlefinger’s interest in Sansa. Blah blah blah, stuff Tyrion already knows. Shae clearly still has significant power over Tyrion, showing a bit of jealousy when he mentions other women and seducing him after he tells her to leave several times.
We’re at the Scene of the Episode! In the Red Keep, Margaery pays Joff a visit before his hunt and this is basically a way for Joff to show off how MASCULINE and TOUGH he is. Margaery immediately shows how she can play him like a fiddle, taking on the role of a obedient, submissive wife role and playing into his power trip by declaring he is the king before pretending to be ignorant about weapons and asks Joff to show her how to use a crossbow- something he takes great delight in. there’s an excellent shot of Margaery stroking the crossbow as she feigns to be impressed by his masculinity. Margaery is absolutely onto Joff’s game- and it’s scary to see how easily he falls for her and how simple it is for her to control him. At the same time, you can see just enough fear behind Margaery’s mask- excellent acting by Natalie Dormer. She’s just perfect for this role.
Meanwhile, Theon is still getting tortured when someone scrambles in and feeds him some water, saying Yara sent him before he scampers off. It’s Ramsay!
Back in Bran’s party, Jojen educates Bran on the Art of Warging and the three-eyed raven, saying Bran can see everything that has happened, anywhere. Jojen said he saw Ned die and that Howland cried when he told him.
At the Crossroad’s Inn, Thoros is interrogating Arya, Hot Pie, and Gendry about how they escaped Harrenhal. Feeling cheeky, Arya tries to show that she knows how to use a sword and Thoros promptly knocks it out of her hands. Anguy comes back in with a prisoner- and it’s the Hound, who immediately recognizes Arya and puts her on blast.
Across the way, Brienne and Jaime are taking a stroll across the bridge and Jaime mentions he’s been captive for over a year before grabbing Brienne’s sword and cutting himself free. All the clanging attracts the attention of some House Bolton soldiers, who were sent this way by the farmer they had previously passed.
Pumped that House Bolton banner are all over this last bit. If you didn’t make the connection with Theon’s torture rack, well… Now you know how bad they are.
On deck: 3.3 Walk of Punishment!