“Game of Thrones” has two things on its mind this week: love makin’ and procreatin’, and the result is an episode that’s operating at a very different speed than the rest of the season. We barely see any of our regulars both old and new, and got to see a lot more of Danaerys Targaryen (like, literally A LOT) and spend some time celebrating the kickoff of wedding season in Westeros. It’s once again directed by the excellent Michelle MacLaren, who helmed last week’s episode, and really has an eye for staging and an ability to play with pace and focus, resting on characters for an extended period of time, rather than hopping around, which serves the latter half of this season well (also sexy time. And ass). So let’s pour some wine and raise a toast to Episode 8, “Second Sons.”
At the end of last week’s episode, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) ran out of the clutches of the Brotherhood Without Banners when they decided to take a detour to raid a Lannister party. She ran right into the arms of The Hound (Rory McCann), one of her sworn nemeses, and now as she awakes next to their camp, she grabs a rock and is about to cheerfully bash in his head when he cracks an eye and tells her she has one try to kill him and be free, but if she doesn’t kill him, he’ll break her hands. Soon they’re on their way and the Hound is trying to convince her she’s actually lucky she ran into him, because he’s not as bad as she thinks, having stuck up for her sister and all. Also, he happens to be taking her to her uncle Edmure’s (Tobias Menzies) wedding at The Twins (The Crossing) to the Frey daughter, hoping to get some ransom from her mother and brother. Could this be? Finally a family reunion for Arya?
Arya’s bestie Gendry (Joe Dempsie) makes land at Dragonstone Island with Melisandre (Carice van Houten), and he’s still not quite sure just how his king’s blood is going to come in handy for her, though everyone else seems to know: it’s sacrificing time! Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) doesn’t know why they have to clean him up and feed him if they just want his blood, but Melisandre wants her lamb docile and sweet. She boasts that she’s killed many lambs and “none have seen the blade.”
Stannis pays a visit to his ol’ buddy ol’ pal Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), who he’s locked up in the dungeon, where he’s learning how to read with the book Stannis’ secret daughter gave him. Stannis makes friendly chit chat and tells him about sacrificial lamb Gendry, who must die in order for Stannis to be king and save everyone from the imminent darkness, blah blah blah. Davos isn’t quite having it, saying that Gendry’s just Stannis’ innocent nephew, he hasn’t done anything, and oh, why did you come down here to let me go and also tell me all of this? You wanted me to say it’s a bad idea, right? Stannis just babbles about his “duty.” K, buddy.
Gendry’s still in awe of his (creepy) surroundings, as Melisandre ingratiates herself to him and plies him with wine. Before long, she’s taking off all their clothes and saying, “come fight death with me” (which is the best pickup line ever) whilst mounting the hapless teen in the nude. Of course it’s too good to be true, because she hops off after a few thrusts and pulls out a box of leeches to drape all over his torso and penis. While Gendry writhes, Stannis and Davos enter and she explains it’s a demonstration of the power of King’s Blood. She and Stannis toss the leeches on the grill, while intoning incantations about Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon and Balon Greyjoy. The leeches sizzle and then explode. Uh, was that the demo? What happened?
In the Land Across the Narrow Sea Danaerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her advisors Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and Ser Barristan (Ian McElhinny) are scoping out the competition: the “powerful friends” the Yunkai lord referred to in her meeting with him. This army is the Second Sons, led by a guy who goes by Mero, or the Titan’s Bastard (Mark Killeen), and really, how can you choose between two such names? Khaleesi requests a meeting with him and he shows up with two other mercenary warlords, Prendahl (Ramon Tikaram) and hunka hunka burnin’ love Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein). Mero aka Titan’s Bastard is generally extremely rude to Khaleesi, which she puts up with by planning his imminent demise. She asks them to join her army and leave the Yunkai, promising the mercenaries riches in the future and referring to her own quick rise to power. She sends them with a barrel of wine to think about it.
Think about it they do, with Mero and Daario debating what’s better to fight for: money or beauty. D’s got some lofty ideals about his sword, while M’s are literally in the gutter, along with his mind. And mouth. He decides they will sneak into Danaerys’ camp and kill her instead of dealing with the 8,000 Unsullied. His whore hands out the coins and Mr. D is the one selected to do the dirty deed, which he smirks at, because he seems to be constantly smirking.
Later, Danaerys is getting a bath and chatting about languages (NERD ALERT) with new BFF Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) when Daario sneaks in and deposits the heads of the two other captains at her feet. Gross dude, you can just bring flowers or something. It turns out that he disagreed with the whole “kill Khaleesi” plan because he fights for beauty and she’s the prettiest of them all. Pretty much. He swears his allegiance, his army and his heart to her. Looks like Danaerys is a single lady no longer.
King’s Landing It’s Sansa Stark’s (Sophie Turner) wedding day, a solemn affair because she’s marrying Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), not exactly the handsome gay prince she was hoping for. Still, he tries to calm her before the wedding and says he will never hurt her, and promises lots of wine drinking. Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) have a nice little heart to heart about ambitious familieswhich ends with Cersei hissing, “if you ever call us sisters again, I’ll have you strangled in your sleep.” Oh familial joy. Little punk ass king Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) gives away Sansa, and pulls a prank at the altar, snatching the stool for Tyrion to cloak Sansa. REAL MATURE, JOFFREY. After the tittering, it’s on with the ceremony!
The reception is like any other wedding reception really: the groom’s wasted, the bride’s uncomfortable, the king/nephew of the bride is threatening to rape-impregnate her later that night, and Grandma Olenna (Diana Rigg) is trying to figure out just HOW incesty the whole situation is. She can’t. Engaged couple Cersei and Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) couldn’t be more miserable, and the father of the groom, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) is scolding his son about getting too drunk to perform in the bedroom. We are family, get up everybody and SING! Instead, Joffrey suggests a “bedding ceremony” involving Sansa being carried nude to her chambers. Charming. This is what you get for letting a teenage boy be in charge. Tyrion defends his bride’s honor by threatening Joffrey that he’ll be “fucking [his] own bride with a wooden cock” if he doesn’t sit down and shut the hell up. Tywin diffuses the situation because he just wants Sansa pregnant with Lannister seed, and Tyrion laughs it off in a show of drunken stupidity and junk jokes.
This consummation proves to be a bit difficult even for the “drunken little lust-filled beast” who’s suddenly overcome with guilt about bedding a 14-year-old girl who clearly has no idea what sex even is. They make a gainful effort (pounding wine and getting half undressed) until he declares he won’t bed her until she wants him, even if that means taking a Night’s Watch style vow of celibacy (“celibacy”– this is Tyrion we’re talking about here). His lady love Shae (Sibel Kekilli) comes in the next morning to bring breakfast and she seems both pleased and consternated about the lack of blood on the sheets. This lack of Lannister-Stark baby is going to prove to be a bit difficult to pull off.
In the North Beyond the Wall
Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and his girlfriend (girl who is a friend?) Gilly (Hannah Murray), daughter-wife of recently cannibalized Craster, continue to run throughout the snowy woods with her baby. They come upon a tree with a face on it (an Ent!), several ravens (crows? Who can tell?) and decide to seek shelter in the decrepit shack nearby. Sam’s trying to make chit chat while they try to stay warm, suggesting baby names for the little lad, when the bird flock outside starts to squawk so loudly you would think Tippi Hedren’s inside. He goes outside to investigate (terrible idea) and finds the entire tree full of ravens, and some ominous crackling in the woods. Gilly knows what’s up: it’s a White Walker coming for it’s missing snack, little mister unnamed baby. Sam’s sword shatters into a million pieces in its icy grip, so he resorts to the dagger he found in the Fist of the First Men, and it turns out that thing is a straight White Walker Destroyer. The zombie-vampire turns to ice and dissipates into snow, as Sam and Gilly take off into the woods, ravens in hot pursuit. But um, did he leave that dagger there? Homie best be returning to pick that damn thing up.
Not seen: Robb Stark (Richard Madden), his mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) and the rest of the Stark/Frey wedding prep. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is sure to be canoodling with Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and preparing to attack his old stomping grounds, Castle Black, with the rest of the Wildlings. No Gingerbeard (Kristopher Hivju) this week :( x a million. Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and pals are ostensibly still on the road to Castle Black. Baelish (Aiden Gillen) hasn’t been seen since his rousing/depressing speech in “The Climb,” and no word yet on just what might have happened to Theon Greyjoy’s (Alfie Allen) tender bits after last week’s near cock severing. Speaking of severing, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Colster-Waldau) and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) are sure to be on the road to King’s Landing and we can’t wait to see what happens at Cersei’s wedding when those two show up.
What’d you think of the episode? Favorite threats? I’m partial to “you’ll be fucking your bride with a wooden cock,” and “I’ll have someone strangle you in your sleep,” those Lannisters really have a way with a phrase.