So just getting his hand cut off is not the worst thing that can happen to a guy in George R.R. Martinland, better known as Westeros and its continual neighbors, the backdrop for the still increasingly-great “Game of Thrones.”
Preparations for two very different weddings are underway, and the characters who aren’t on their way to one or the other of them are clarifying their destiny.
Arya makes a somewhat shocking declaration that her “one true god” is death, and Dany, embracing her role as a liberator, decides on an act of conquest that has little strategic significance. Accepting, IOW, the responsibility of great power, even before she has it — and by doing so, earning it.
Stretching a point, perhaps, the increasingly demanding tone Shae is taking with Tyrion is a different kind of slave uprising–the audacity of declaring that you deserve compensation for your service, much less claiming the right to haggle over the form it should take.
The big crowd-pleasing scene this week, Jamie’s rescue of Brienne from the bear pit, is classic swashbuckling hero stuff, and pretty much completes the transformation of the Kingslayer into Sir Jamie, an anti-hero who should now be able to stand tall beside his shorter, craftier brother.
The episode was written by novelist Martin himself, and introduces some shifts of emphasis from the book that even the most protective fans may feel obliged to accept as canonical. The announcement by Robb’s wife, Talisa, that she is pregnant, is one of those, though some fans have argued that the book implies this happy news.
Either way, it’s quite a note, given the importance of who is the child of whom in the Medieval Family Values ethos of GoT. Mellisandre says as much to Gendry, the prodigal prince, when they’re looking out over the visually splendid wreckage of Blackwater. The groundwork is already being laid for the Game to continue unabated, with new pretenders, in future generations.
The show has been effective this season in weaving together several plot lines to create a sense of one great flow of forward movement. The movement of history, if you will. Viewers should bear that in mind when they’re feeling aggrieved at the awful things that happen to individual beloved characters. The scale of this story is much bigger and much colder than that.
The music under the end credits is of the setting, presented last season, of one of the most popular recurring ballads created by Martin for the books. Its subject in one of Lord Tywin Lannister’s most decisive and ruthless victories, in which a rebellious House was not merely defeated but utterly obliterated.
Here is is again: