What They Say:
The end of the Baratheon rivalry drives Catelyn to flee; Tyrion is alerted to Joffrey’s flawed defense plan; Arya receives a promise; the Night’s Watch arrive at an ancient fortress.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the full on crazy moment at the end of the previous episode where something quite evil looks to have been birthed, it’s been interesting following the reactions to it since it wasn’t something that was expected by those that hadn’t read the books. While that was a key moment at the end there, the show picks up elsewhere here as it’s back to Catelyn as she continues to try and work things out for Robb in order to make sure that there are enough forces in order to take down Stannis and then deal with the further threat back in King’s Landing itself. Unfortunately, securing that agreement does not help in the short term at least due to what was birthed that has now come to kill Renly.
The shift in power this sets forth is certainly interesting since many of Renly’s men now move to stand behind Stannis, and news of that moves very quickly even as rumor hits as well as to how Renly died. Tyrion’s attempting to get Cersei to see things as they really are, but she has her own views of the world and continues to be of the belief that the money they control will give them what they need to stand against Stannis. Stannis, for his part, has come completely under Melisandre’s sway at this point and won’t even listen to Davos when it comes to what he’s learned about her. His insistence on trying to get him to listen is not going well though and it’s something that others have picked up on, giving them believe that Melisandre is controlling him.
The show covers a lot of little bits of ground here throughout, from an interesting segment with Arya where she now has three favors owed that can be used for killing men, and she has at least one on her list to be taken care of. There’s a great subtle quality about this as she comes to understand it and the power that’s now in her hands, at least for the moment. On the flip side, Jon Snow himself is in an interesting place beyond the Wall where they’re advancing to a deep, snow filled place where the “First Men” once ended up in an attempt to deal with things in years long gone by. There’s a starkness about it to be sure, but there are some neat comments about the history of Westeros here and a bit of potential foreshadowing when talking about what could be out there in the wilds.
The newly introduced area of Qarth does come back into play here, allowing us more time with Daenerys as well as her dragons as we do see one of them getting a little time out of the cage to play a little. Through the time here, we get a little bit more of a look at the things that go on here at a gathering that occurs as one of the Thirteen does show up that’s a bit unusual, calling himself a warlock and part of the Undying, a group not well thought of by some as they view the magic they do as little more than parlor tricks and easily dismissed. There’s certainly nuance to be had in Qarth and plenty of elements reaching for favor and advantage not unlike other cities. But there’s just something a little more off here, a little more carefree in a way, that separates it from the others.
There are some really good moments to be had in Qarth, especially as Daenerys is getting nudge and massaged into a particular direction. It’s one where ambition fully comes into play and you can see that she wasn’t exactly expecting it and didn’t expect to go along with it quite as much as she did. With the news that she gets, long delayed, about the situation in Westeros proper with the kingdom, the death of Robert and the ensuing fighting, she sees it as the chance she’s needed in order to take the iron throne. She does get rather well manipulated here easily, but there’s a good way to anchor her. But in the end, it’s the knowledge she gains that really is important here as it sets her more firmly on her path.
The halfway mark of the season definitely produces some interesting results as it moves along and we see so many parts of it moving in tandem and affecting and impacting each other. While there is war going on as Tywin pushes back against Robb, we don’t see much of it here. Instead, we see what it’s affecting and how those sides are changing their courses because of what they learn. Death is ever present in the series as well and we lose a few more here, known and not known well, which again changes things in a big way. The intrigue continues and there’s always some very slick moments that come out, especially with Tyrion as he deals with things in King’s Landing. You could do a whole series of him just administering a city and I’d be all over it. There’s a lot to like here as it continues to do the slow, steady and intense build that should have quite the payoff as it goes on.