Game of Thrones Season Three Recap: Second Sons
Their son will be your nephew, after you’re wed to Cersei, of course. And you will be the king’s stepfather and brother-in-law. When you marry the king, Joffrey’s mother will become his sister-in-law. And your son will be Loras’ nephew? Grandson? I’m not sure. But your brother will become your father-in-law, that much is beyond dispute. – Lady Tyrell
We put aside the round robin of characters, and over arching themes of power, love and so forth this week. Instead there was some good old fashioned betrayal, blooding and bedding. We put aside story lines for good and ill — the relationship with Jamie and Brienne was missed, but we were spared watching Theon’s ongoing life as snuff film. Instead, with the exception of the bookend scenes, we focused on Dany, Stannis and the Lannister-Stark Wedding nobody but Tywin wanted.
Our two bookends: Gilly and Sam are still struggling through the forest, but they do discover a very important plot point: that obsidian shatters white walkers. Arya’s plot point wasn’t as earth shattering, but it does change her opinion of The Hound when she learns he’s taking her up to The Twins to be reunited with her family. If they move fast enough they might even make it in time for the Frey wedding.
Stannis has been an overlooked character this season, so it was good to spend extended time with him. It seemed, with Davos thrown in jail, he’d given run of the shop to Melisandre. At least Gendry will have a bath and decent clothes before the sacrifice she’s brought him back to Dragonstone for commences. Poor Gendry’s slightly intimidated by the wealth in which he finds himself immersed. With her talk of him never seeing the knife, at first the plan seemed to be blinding him with wealth. But what is more blinding to a young man than sex? (Also, what a great euphemism: “Come Fight Death With Me.”) But the knife turned out to be leeches, and the horror for Gendry just a good old fashioned blooding. Why? Because Davos demanded proof that a King’s blood actually was going to do something.
Yes, Davos, who we last saw sitting in a jail cell, where Stannis comes to find him. He’s spent his time learning to read. At first it just seems that Stannis has come down to tell his former confidant of how well Melisandre has things in hand, but Davos knows him better. “You didn’t come see me yesterday or tomorrow. You came today.” Yesterday Gendry was not here. Tomorrow he’ll most likely be dead. Today there’s still a chance to change the boy’s fate, and though Stannis believes fervently in the Red God and the vision he saw in the flames, there’s still a part of him that’s knows it’s wrong to slaughter innocents, and if there’s one thing Stannis always does it’s the Right Thing. So we must convince Davos it’s the right thing, no?
Dany is learning that betrayal can work in her favor. Into Dany’s tent swagger the three heads of the group of mercenaries the City of Yunkai pays for protection, known as The Second Sons. (This was a condensing of the book’s story lines and it felt like it.) It was interesting to watch Dany play the “young girl” bit to disarm them, but since no one was interested in her much, it was mostly for naught. Mero, known as Titan’s Bastard, spends nearly the entire negotiations telling Dany how much he would like to fuck her. The second Captain didn’t make much of an impression. The last was Daario Naharis, who has no interest in killing Dany, for flimsy reasons such as “beauty.” (This is pretty close to the books, actually.) When he draws the coin to be the one to go slip into the Unsullied camp and kill Dany in her sleep after negotiations fail, you know that’s not how things will go down. He appears, but instead of killing her presents her with the heads of Maro and his second. Because betrayal is random and fun for him? Sure. Just like that, the Second Sons are hers. This is going all too easy for Dany.
I loved Lady Tyrell’s convoluted ponderings of who will be related to whom after this series of weddings is over, but it’s just bitterness disguised. This wedding is a moment of defeat for the Tyrells. Oh the wedding! The show has considerably softened the original blow this was to read. Sansa’s self-betrayal was cut, and so was the handmaidens tricking her into trying on a wedding dress, only to SURPRISE WEDDING! (DO YOU? DO YOU? GOOD, YOU’RE MARRIED KISS HER!) Joffrey’s delight at giving her away stayed, plus his threat of rape after the ceremony. They kept the terrible moment for Tyrion where he has to ask her to kneel to receive her wedding cloak, and added Joffrey stealing Tyrion’s step stool for good measure. Tyrion does recognize Sansa’s just moving to a different sort of prison with this marriage. But not enough to not drown his own humiliation, leaving her very much alone. Meanwhile, I loved Cersei shutting Margaery’s “We shall be sisters!” subtly sunny manipulations: “If you ever call me sister again, I’ll have you strangled in your sleep.” Subtle is not something Cersei trades in, as she employs the same shut down on Loras later: ”Nobody cares what your father once told you.” But what I wasn’t expecting was Cersei telling Joffrey to go talk to Margaery at the reception instead of further torturing Sansa. It marks the only time I’ve seen her either encourage Joffrey to talk to Margaery, or attempt to do anything kind for Sansa.
The big highlight of the wedding of course was Tyrion’s shutting down of Joffrey’s attempted humiliation of Sansa with the bedding ceremony by threatening to cut off his cock. Tywin may despise Tyrion, but he steps in to stay Joffrey’s rage by letting him play it off as the drunken ramblings of a buffoon. Sansa is too myopic to appreciate what Tyrion did for her. (Fourteen! I thought she was older than that!) But told that Tywin has ordered Tyrion to get her with child, Sansa drinks and mechanically strips. This child does her duty. But Tyrion is too decent. In his own way, this is his rebellion against his domineering father. He won’t fuck the girl just because he’s ordered to. He’ll only do so when she wants him. When Sansa asks what happens if she never wants to sleep with him, Tyrion make reference to the celibates in the Night’s Watch and proceeds to pass out in a chair instead. Shae may be angry about how this all went down, but there is a moment of softening when she sees he stayed true. The real question is if she’ll hide the evidence of the clean sheets.
We’ll find out in two week’s time, as next week HBO takes off for Memorial Day.
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