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!
3.3 Walk of Punishment
New credits! The addition of Riverrun, the seat of House Tully that oversees the Riverlands. Not sure why we don’t get the Dreadfort yet- perhaps they are waiting for the reveal of Ramsay to do that. Anyway, this is more or less of a setup episode- lots of quick, establishing scenes to show certain people in certain situations, so there is a comprehensive sequence of events in the next few episodes. As this can get boring, this episode is injected with a lot of dark humor or small amusing nuances so it doesn’t feel so long and the result is an episode that still matters and is still memorable.
Walk of Punishment is a direct reference to a little walkway in Astapor, where the disobedient are put on display after being tortured and punished as a warning to the rest of the slaves. Fin.
The episode opens with Lord Hoster Tully’s funeral, as Cat, her brother Edmure, uncle Brendyn, Robb and such set him off on a Viking funeral and Edmure aims to set the boat on fire. He’s no Bronn and his arrow ON FIRE misses by a few feet… and the next one… and the next one, before Brendyn comes over and does it himself. I feel like Brendyn and Bronn would make a great pair. It’s some darkish humor and I like the levity it adds. Also, I just want to point out how majestic Cat looks in this scene. Hair and costuming did a great job. Michelle Fairley is every bit the noblewoman Cat is supposed to be. Originally, Cat was supposed to be played by Jennifer Ehle of Pride and Prejudice fame and who I also hold dear to my heart- but Fairley brings a soft regality to Cat that I don’t think everyone can nail. If they were ever to remake Harry Potter or like, Young Minerva McGonagall, I could absolutely see Fairley stepping into that role.
Edmure whines that he’s not getting any opportunities for glory after being chastised for attacking the Mountain on the spot instead of luring him into Robb’s trap for long-term gains- he’s got the cockiness of Jaime but without the skillset to match. Edmure took a bunch of Lannister younglings that don’t really have value as they’re not Tywin’s and not Kevan’s and therefore have no immediate effect on Tywin’s legacy- it’s cool that Robb can read into this trait without ever having met the guy. It just shows how much people talk about Tywin and what he values most isn’t gold or anything else of material use. Worse, Edmure has lost Robb over 200 men that he sorely needed- it’s not like they’re in the North or in the Riverlands all the time and Robb can’t just go home and recuperate or just have men in reserve. As he’s on the move in some unfamiliar territory, he needs to preserve his resources as much as he can to operate at full strength.
Meanwhile, Tywin is just waiting for these things to run out so that Robb has no other choice but to turn home. Or lose. Preferably both. In my favorite bit of the episode, Tywin awaits the Small Council, who stumble in and wait for orders. Another power move as Tywin just sits down without saying anything and Pycelle, Varys, and Littlefinger trip over themselves to get to the seats of favor. With no seat near Tywin, Cersei opts to pick up a chair and sit at her father’s right, while Tyrion goes in the opposite direction and moves his char to the foot of the table. Great awkward silences all around. Tywin demands to know why none of the men sitting before him know where Jaime is (I presume it’s because they’ve been off the roads). Varys feeds some information about Hoster Tully and Harrenhal, ribbing Littlefinger about not occupying his own castle in the meantime. Tywin outright calls Harrenhal a dump and says Littlefinger’s title now makes him a suitor worthy for Lysa Arryn, Jon Arryn’s widow and mother to the Lord of the Vale, Robin Arryn. Littlefinger goes on a bit of a rant about how Lysa is fond of him, they have history, and Conleth Hill as Varys is just the master of background acting here- he’s completely ticked off and it’s clear he has a lot to say about Littlefinger that he’s keeping to himself. It’s also nice to see the glances between Varys and Tyrion to tell the audience they are still on the same side.
Littlefinger’s future alliance with Lysa shifts a whole lot of pieces into place. For one, the Vale and the Eyrie will now be aligned to the Crown and it won’t be possible for Robb to call on his aunt. It also sets up Littlefinger to be Robin’s stepfather and acting Lord of the Vale. In Littlefinger’s absence, Tyrion will serve as Master of Coin, which… I think this is the joke of the Small Council. The crown never really seems to give a shit of how much they are spending or how much they owe.
Anyway, in the woods, Locke and his Bolton men are leading a rousing rendition of The Bear and the Maiden Fair while escorting Brienne and Jaime to Harrenhal. They’re sitting on the same horse with Jaime facing the back, which can be interpreted in a few ways- there is a more literal interpretation of the pair not being able to see eye-to-eye on things or always at odds with each other. Or it can be perspective- Jaime can see the situation for what it really is while Brienne, riding forward, has a bit of tunnel vision. Or they just wanted to make him look silly. They bicker for a bit before Jaime warns her not to put up a fight when the Bolton men try to rape her and Jaime thanks the gods that he’s not a woman- must be nice to not have to think about these things, huh.
Elsewhere, Arya is still sour that the Hound killed her friend in the first season. They lost Hot Pie, who chooses to stay at the inn as the fighting life isn’t for him- but he does like to bake!
Back at Riverrun, Cat is reminiscing about her father and how she used to wait for him when he rode off and she’s overcome with grief as she’s reminded of the two boys she left behind- waiting for her in the same way.
Talisa is tending to the two Lannister prisoners aka Tommen 2.0, Dean Chapman. They’re just kids. They mean nothing right now and won’t, not until a future episode.
Up Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder has reached the Fist of the First Men, where they find a massacre of horses splayed out in a spiral, just like the spiral seen in the very first episode of the series. It’s not likely that the majority of the men have made it out alive, but Jon fibs and says there were 300 men on the ranging party, meaning the number at Castle Black must be higher. Mance orders Tormund to climb the wall with TWENTY GOOD MEN and to take Jon for Intel so they can attack Castle Black from both sides and light the biggest fire the North has ever seen.
Back at Craster’s Keep, the Night’s Watch are in bad shape and while they are resting up, a woman is wailing in pain- it’s Gilly! She’s given birth- to a BOY. This also means nothing and will matter more in the next episode.
AT THE DREADFORT (we all know that’s where it is), Theon is again helped by a stranger, who takes him off his X and helps him onto a horse, telling him to ride east to find Yara.
In Dragonstone, Stannis is displeased with Mel, who is leaving without an explanation. Stannis thinks she is abandoning him and begs her to make another Smoke Baby- but Mel tells him he doesn’t have the strength for it and that his fires burn low. He tries to get her in the mood, but it’s clear that Mel wears the pants in the relationship- she can be sensual when she wants to be and when there is use for it and right now, she definitely does not care. It strikes me in this scene that she’s already given up on Stannis or at least is suspicious that she was wrong in her theory. She’s trying to back it up by finding the blood of some other people that share the Baratheon line, so she’s keeping Stannis and his family in her back pocket. Her remarks should have been a huge indicator to Stannis of her straying loyalty- Stannis can’t be the one true King if his blood isn’t automatically more powerful than everyone else’s, right? Right?
Over is Astapor, there are a bunch of slaves who have been beaten and put on crosses for punishment on a section of Astapor called the Walk of Punishment. Barristan begs Dany to leave Astapor to find soldiers elsewhere and not pay into the slave system, but Dany is determined to not let innocents die on her behalf. Jorah says that the Unsullied are perfectly loyal to their leader- they will only kill who she commands and won’t bring harm to others if she commands it, and so there is value in the army. Barristan pushes that there is also value in loyalty and admiration for a leader, someone who can lead people who will follow willingly. Dany opts to buy all of the Unsullied, while Missandei tries her best to translate Master Kraznys’ perverted language into diplomatic negotiation. Dany offers to trade a dragon for all the Unsullied, as well as Missandei, who immediately feels comfortable with Dany. In this particular setting, seeing the two women come together is a striking moment and quite a middle finger to the extreme patriarchy and display of masochism in Astapor. Lots of literal dick measuring in Astapor that Master Kraznys always wins.
Back in King’s Landing, Littlefinger is handing over the records and books to the new Master of Coin and Pod is entranced by her generous bosom. Littlefinger advocates for Pod to be rewarded significantly for how he saved Tyrion at Blackwater. Bronn and Tyrion have discussed this already and have opted to get Pod his very first time with a lady as well as an orgy. With a contortionist. Because why not.
Reviewing the books, Tyrion finds that Littlefinger and thus the Crown has been borrowing a ton of money from the Lannisters as well as the Iron Bank of Braavos, who will send violence as a form of collection. Pod comes back in to return the money from the prostitutes, saying they wouldn’t accept it. Apparently, they had such a good time with Pod, that their delight was payment enough. Pod is a Sex God. Sex God Pod.
Back somewhere over a lush green field, Theon is getting shot at! He’s being chased by a group of men and is knocked off his horse before the mysterious fellow comes back and slaughters the group for the assist. He’s using a bunch of bows and arrows- and I forgot how early Ramsay’s archery skills were emphasized.
Somewhere else in the woods and kicking off the Scene of the Episode, the Bolton men discuss who gets to rape Brienne first and Locke voices exactly what Jaime had warned- that Brienne is basically worthless compared to Jaime and so they can do what they like with her. Jaime feeds Locke a lie that the Tarth’s are rich with sapphires with their seat named for them and Locke opts for the possibility of being paid a ransom. Jaime keeps playing into Locke’s greed, saying in addition to sapphires, Tywin would pay him in gold for Jaime, titles, and lands. We see a bit of Jaime’s old habits and arrogance peeking back here as Locke grows more interested in what Jaime has to offer, much more in line with Season 1 schmoozy Jaime and the arrogant Jaime that tells Cat he’ll keep her bed warm in place of Ned.
For some reason, Jaime is unfamiliar with the Bolton ways- the Boltons enjoy a good power game, especially if they get to torture people! It’s just a part of their culture and this whole “negotiating” scene is just Locke enjoying luring Jamie into his trap, which is a place of victory and feeling comfortable. Locke goes so far as to let Jaime loose from his bonds and offers him food before ridiculing Jaime for getting everything he ever wanted and his arrogance. Lock knows all the power lies in Tywin’s words and that Tywin isn’t there to protect him- then chops off Jaime’s hand as a lesson. We linger a bit on Jaime’s scream of disbelief before the screen turns black and a punk version of The Bear and the Maiden Fair plays over the credits.
One of the best endings to a Game of Thrones episodes ever. You know something is going to go wrong, but you didn’t think it was going to be that horrific. This is the start of Jaime’s Redemption Tour to find out who he is without his sword hand and his fighting skills. His confidence not only came from being a Lannister, but being one of the best swordsmen in Westeros, so this is going to force him down to the bottom of the barrel to find out what else he truly is and what he really values and lives for without that identity.
On deck: 3.4 And Now His Watch is Ended