Game of Thrones "The Climb" Review: A Tough Haul for All

Game of Thrones S03E06: "The Climb"

Oops. Just a couple weeks after I declared Game of Thrones' third season to be hands-down the best one yet, the series dipped into problematic territory with "The Climb." (Big disclaimer so some of you don't go into berserker mode: Even at its most problematic, Game of Thrones is still a fantastic watch.) 

Game of Thrones is based on books, so occasionally, watching it feels like reading a book. What's more, the show's source tomes double as dumbbells; at a weighty 1,000-plus pages, they're hardly quick reads, which means that at times we'll be slogging through some slow builds rather than regularly paced fire-breathing climaxes. That's what "The Climb" felt like to me, and the metaphor was not lost. No, it wasn't as hard as climbing a 700-foot wall of ice, but a lack of harmony between scenes and less doubling back to individual characters (only Jon on the Wall and the many creatures of King's Landing were seen more than once during "The Climb") made for treacherous and fragmented travel through the hour.

Of course, Game of Thrones is probably best gulped down in mini-marathons, where the viewer decides when it's time to end a session. If this were the book, we'd all just thumb on over to the next chapter, because who wants to end an evening with some spit-swapping on a giant block of frozen water? Even with the additions of "in between" storylines that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have created, they're still slaves to the chronology of the book. Maybe the way to watch Game of Thrones IS to just wait until the DVD set comes out and spend an entire Saturday immersed in it? 

Anyway, strap on your ice-climbing shoe picks and let's discuss "The Climb."

"You're both very good at skinning rabbits." —Bran Stark

Unless you're a survivalist who hunts game or your parents were killed by rabbits, I'm not sure what you could have taken away from the Super Kids Psychic Department. Osha and Meera got all catty over who was better at skinning rabbits while the "men" daydreamed. So the women do all the hunting and cooking while the men sleep? Are we sure Bran and company are a pack of wolves and not a pride of lions? 

I don't get Osha's anger toward Meera. Is this tough wildling woman feeling threatened by a teenage girl? Is their conflict even important? Bran's storyline is a drag in Season 3, with check-ins designed to make sure we know he still exists. Yep, he still exists. And yes, the kids still have dreams. But this time, Jojen's vision merely told us what was going on elsewhere (Jon is on the wrong side of the Wall!). Is Jojen getting Game of Thrones directly transmitted into his head? Can he also get Boardwalk Empire? I know I'd prefer mental replays of HBO GO over the voices that tell me to do bad things. 

One thing that was VERY IMPORTANT: Rickon said some lines! Good job, kiddo. Start your Emmy campaign. Also, where was Hodor? Was he just Hodoring in the woods? This episode needed more Hodor. Hodor.

"I  don't like that woman." —Arya Stark

Whereas Bran was just lying around doing nothing while nothing happened around him, at least Arya did nothing with interesting things happening around her. It's almost time to stop labeling this plot as Arya's and start calling it Thoros's or Beric's, but for the sake of consistency (and to honor Ned) let's stick with Arya for now. One thing we talked about last week was the power of R'hllor, the Lord of Light, and how the religion was more widespread than we initially thought. Melisandre used it to birth a shadow baby, Thoros used it to bring Beric back to life, and Stannis's wife Selyse evoked it to bless her jars of dead babies. There was a sense that those who embraced the flames and harnessed the power were new formidable foes, but in "The Climb" we saw that they have a way to go.

Melisandre showed up to the Brotherhood of Banners' clubhouse on business, but the matter of religious pleasantries came first. And what we saw was a great divide between the way Melisandre practices and the way Beric and Thoros keep it real with the Lord. Gee, one group of religious freaks does things one way, and another does them another way. I wonder where George R.R. Martin got the inspiration for that? But their discussion further explained how kooky this Lord of Light actually is. Melisandre was genuinely in awe of his (or her!) powers of resurrection, and I bet Thoros would be equally impressed if he knew she queefed out a shadow baby assassin. While various factions of the religion are fanatical in their own ways, no one knows exactly what the Lord of Light's powers really are or how they're used. And until these fire-loving nutjobs unify under one person (pick a leader and give him/her a giant funny-looking hat), they'll never take the throne without subverting the sitting king (something Thoros failed to do with Robert previously). 

But Melisandre was still betting on Stannis thanks to something a campfire told her, and her business with Thoros wasn't one of swapping religious one-ups. She was there to pick up Gendry, who as a bastard of Robert Baratheon, has some of that precious king's blood in him. I'm a fan of Gendry, so I really hope Melisandre's plans involve taking a few drops of Gendry's blood and turning him into a giant flaming killing machine instead of hanging him like a deer and bleeding him out. Any followers of R'hllor know the spell for turning a lobster into a king?

"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention." —The unnamed guy who Theon must be pretty upset with by now

How bummed must Alfie Allen be this season? After a few seasons of starring in some of the funniest sex scenes in the series and prancing around like his poop does not smell, Theon is getting the business this season. Producers: "Hey Alfie, good news! You're in Season 3." Alfie: "Hey great, because Theon isn't really in Book 3! What am I doing?" Producers: "Mostly crying half naked and almost getting butt raped." Alfie: "Ummm..."

There's really only one more question remaining with this storyline (well, two if you care about whether Theon survives or not and if you do you are a kinder person than I am), and that's who this mystery man that is torturing Theon is. The man came up with a terrible-sounding game, and had Theon guess who he was and why he was treating him so poorly. Theon had his theories: he's one of Rickard Karstark's men getting revenge on Theon for betraying Robb. Sure, the man said. Except also I'm a liar, he said. Or maybe I'm a liar, he said. It didn't really matter, because Theon could have shouted, "You are The Eggplant King and we're in The Butterscotch Realm" and the man still would have given Theon an over aggressive manicure (maybe by the time this is all done, Theon can call himself the new Littlefinger or even Nofingeratall) because he enjoys it.

I'm really enjoying this truly wicked performance by Iwan Rheon (Misfits), but that's about all I'm getting out of Theon's story this season. Seriously, it's like the show isn't even trying to pretend it isn't dragging this out. Not only did they straight-up ask the ONE QUESTION we want to know about it, they blatantly ignored answering it with a bunch of crazy talk. Was this really worth taking away time from other characters who need the screen time? How about a few minutes of Pod walking down the street like a sex panther while all the ladies go rubber-legged and get the vapors in his presence instead? 

"Can I see her first?" —Edmure Tully

How many weddings can this season pack in? Is this a sweeping fantasy epic full of dragons and sword fights or is it As the World Turns? Game of Thrones? More like Game of Betrothed! The latest to have his hand forced into marriage was Edmure Tully, who was requested by Frey reps to marry one of Walder Frey's fugly daughters as retribution for Robb breaking his own marriage promise to Walder. We all know Edmure is the toolest of all tools, but how about that comedic timing by Tobias Menzies! His "Who me?" response to the wedding request followed by the "Uhhh, NO," was perfectly suited for the character. But it was the "Can I see her first?" that put it over the top. That is a very reasonable question, people! I would have lost it if someone said, "Maybe she has a cool personality."

There's no room for fairy-tale weddings in Westeros. Everyone else in the room knew what had to be done, but that's because everyone else wasn't about to commit to a life of waking up next to a buck-toothed dog (Frey ladies are reknown for their homeliness). "I had something less permanent in mind," Edmure said of making penance for letting The Mountain run free, but eventually he relented and said okay fine. What was he going to do? Marriage is merely political in Westeros, and if it means one rump ride to sire an heir and save the kingdom, then that's what it has to be. Everyone gets their jollies on the side anyway. At least Robb promised to reward him in return, so Edmure can think of that as lifts his wife's veil on their wedding day.

"Instead you're sitting here, watching me fail at dinner. Why might that be?" —Jaime Lannister

Here's another scene that just sort of sits there, a quick catch up with one of the storylines with not much payoff. "The Climb" did a lot of checking in with characters, but didn't give them much to do. It's as if we flipped the channel to make sure they were still alive, comfirmed it, then moved on. But since we're here, let's overanalyze it. 

If we learned anything last week from The Karstarks, it's that bannermen are fairweather friends. Yeah, they supported Robb, but only when it suited them (and okay, beheading the lord of a house is reason for that house to bounce on out, but if they were true to Robb they would have chosen loyalty to their king over thirst for justice). There's a similar potential situation brewing with House Bolton, and Roose Bolton's action with Jaime definitely raise an eyebrow. At some point, these bannermen have to make tough decisions about what team they're really on. Roose has a valuable chip in Jaime Lannister, but instead of selling him off to the highest bidder, he decided that once Jaime is well enough, Jaime can skip back to King's Landing into the open arms of his father and open legs of his sister as long as he tells Tywin the truth: That Roose had nothing to do with cutting off Jaime's hand, and presumably, that the decision to let Jaime return home was solely Roose's.

Sounds like someone is trying to curry favor with the reigning champs, doesn't it? With Robb's army Karstark-less and wilting, maybe it's not such a bad idea to suck up to the Lannisters. This game is all about winning; there's no future in being honorable. Sorry, it's true! This is a practical decision on Roose's part, but Roose's absent personality doesn't make it easy to appreciate it. Are you as suspicious of Roose Bolton as I am?

"Don't every betray me." —Ygritte

Whenever a woman says that, the next thing that obviously happens is that she gets betrayed. This week Jon's story provided most of the action via a small-screen fantasy version of Cliffhanger. They climbed the damn Wall! It was thrilling, for sure—particularly the wall-valanche that almost sent Jon and Ygritte to death by gravity (and splattering on the ground). But really, the most treacherous walk Jon took in this episode happened when he told Ygritte he wouldn't betray her, knowing full well that when the time comes, he might have to. He obviously has real feelings for her, and she does too, but if Jon is still a member of the Night's Watch, he's going to have to leave her behind. If you thought redheads were a fiery bunch, wait 'til you see how a wildling redhead acts.

The climb was capped off by a stunning view from the top of the Wall, one side looking north toward wildling white and the other side looking south toward what Ygritte has never seen before. They totally went for the PDA—much to Thormund and Orell's chagrin—in a sequence that I suppose was romantic but to me was a bit too Titanic-y. There's no room for actual love in Game of Thrones! Get a room!

"You men may have a stomach for bloodshed and slaughter, but this is another matter entirely." —Olenna Redwyne Tyrell

There was no finer scene in "The Climb" than Tywin Lannister and Olenna "Queen of Thorns" Tyrell verbally sparring the only way two old curmudgeons can. These two are the most fearless people in King's Landing, equal parts immovable object and unstoppable force. They're also quite different when it comes to social matters. Tywin is a scarier version of Rush Limbaugh (actually, Rush is probably scary enough on his own); this week, he referred to Loras's homosexuality as an "affliction" and a "stain." Olenna is progressive; she's not bothered by sexual preferences and had no problem asking Tywin how much grabass he played with his young same-sex cousins growing up (Tywin's answer was a definitive "NO," but methinks he doth protest too much). 

And their verbal war was really a battle of whose family has the dirtiest laundry. Loras is gay, but at least he isn't into incest like Cersei. If the incest rumors are true, then Joffrey doesn't have a claim to the throne, and Margaery's wedding with Joffrey would be a waste to the Tyrells. But Cersei may be too old to bear children, which would make Tywin's request of a Loras/Cersei wedding also useless to the Tyrells. Ultimately, Tywin threatened to assign Loras to the chaste Kingsguard—which would ensure the Tyrell name would fade away—unless Olenna agreed to Cersei and Loras, and the old coot relented because she saw no other option for the future of her family. But not without one last swing: She broke Tywin's quill (his real power), and said, "It's a rare enough thing, a man who lives up to his reputation." Which is another way of saying, "Everyone told me you were an asshole, and they were right."

"We're all being shipped off to Hell together." —Cersei Lannister

The scary thing about all this Loras and Cersei talk is that it's just as much about Sansa as it is any of the other parts. Who is undergoing more torture right now, Sansa or Theon? The princess was absolutely clueless about the behind-the-scenes machinations, and watching her lost in Loras' eyes was about as sad (pathetic, not depressing) as it gets. But all these machinations came to a head in the second half of "The Climb," providing a dizzying finish that moved disproportionately faster than the rest of the episode. 

Tyrion told Sansa (and Shae) about their marriage. Littlefinger found out that all his plans had been blocked by Varys' countermoves, particularly his hope to marry Sansa. Littlefinger had Ros killed by Joffrey for giving Varys information, and earned some favor from Joffrey in the process. Sansa wept delicious tears. And Littlefinger sailed off to the Eyrie to marry the Iron Throne of women (in aesthetics alone), Lysa Arryn. 

The realm is indeed slightly more protected thanks to Varys' interference, but it is also chaotic in that it relies on a trio of flimsy marriages. Littlefinger, always one to make the best out of a bad situation, sees the chaos as a ladder to climb to power. Does he already have a plan ready, or is this chaos he speaks of yet to come? 

Whatever the case may be, it must be said that Ros got the biggest ripoff death in the entire series! I'm totally inconsolable over this. She's just dead, hanging there with a bunch of crossbow bolts sticking out of her like one of Arya's target dummies while Littlefinger's ladder metaphor drones on and on. Ugh! It was shocking and it was cruel. if Game of Thrones really wanted to play to its strengths about how the little person can also have a huge impact on who sits on the Iron Throne, they would have given the sweet, dear prostitute a little more of an exit. After starting off as little more than a source of boobs and a character wholly created for the show, Ros became a much more powerful player and important part of the whispers. It's a shame she didn't get that respect she deserved.



WEEKLY POWER RANKINGS

Each week, I'll rank the episodes of Season 3 from best to worst. But remember, these are just my opinions! Feel free to post your own in the comments!

This week:
"The Climb" felt like that episode—you know, the one episode of the season that's just designed to get a lot of stuff out of the way at once, a hour that just has to take one on the chin. We checked in with characters but didn't spend much quality time with them. The scenes with Bran, Theon, and Samwell didn't give us much at all and felt unnecessary unless you wanted to hear Sam sing. In terms of structure, which will always be a challenge for Game of Thrones, "The Climb" didn't work that well. I think I'm dropping this to the bottom of the list as payback for my dear, sweet Ros. I was totally going to re-enact Pretty Woman with her, too. :(  

1. "And Now His Watch Is Ended" (Episode 4)

Jaime vomited horse pee-pee, Varys crafted a plot to derail Littlefinger's plan to marry Sansa, the Brotherhood Without Banners brought the Hound to trial, Dany got her army with a little trickery, and anarchy took over the Night's Watch. 

2. "Walk of Punishment" (Episode 3)

Dany concocted a plan to buy the Unsullied from their slave master and offered a dragon as payment. Jaime and Brienne found out that being untrue will cost them a lot more than their honor. Tyrion got a new job as Master of Coin, Catelyn attended her father's funeral, Hot Pie said goodbye to Arya, and Jon was headed to the Wall.

3. "Kissed By Fire" (Episode 5)

Themes of loyalty and oaths were explored with the help of Bryan Cogman's excellent script, creating an episode unlike most. Jon and Ygritte went hot-tubbing in a cave, Jaime and Brienne went hot-tubbing in custody, and Stannis's dead babies went hot-tubbing in jars. 

4. "Valar Dohaeris" (Episode 1)

The season premiere found Tyrion wondering why he wasn't getting dap for saving King's Landing, Jon getting pledged into the Wildling fraternity, Davos pissing off his friend's girlfriend, and Dany shopping for an army.

5. "Dark Wings, Dark Words" (Episode 2)

We saw Arya, Jaime, and Bran for the first time in this season. But the most exciting parts of the episode were the introductions of the Queen of Thorns, Thoros of Myr, and the Reed super siblings. And we may as well mention that Joffrey got a boner from imagining Margaery killing things, that pervert.

6. "The Climb" (Episode 6)

Jon and Ygritte climbed a big ice cube, and Tywin got his way with the King's Landings marriages. Sansa cried, Edmure was betrothed to one of Walder Frey's daughters, and Gendry was taken away from Melisandre.




NOTES FROM THE RAVENS

– Of all the characters in the series, Dany seems to be the one the show misses most when she's not included. Yes, she's a fan favorite and role model for all aspiring teen queen conquerors, but the geographical contrasts between the North, King's Landing, and Dany's desert beyond the sea is one of the simple visual pleasures of the series (and you're kidding yourself if you don't think half the fun of watching the show is just staring at it). We ALWAYS see the icy north in some aspect, but when the tan of the sand isn't around, I feel it.

– Not much to say about Samwell and Gilly in this episode except that they were in the woods on the run, with Sam in charge, so the next time we see them they'll probably be popsicles.

– Oh sure, when Joffrey has a crossbow and dreams of killing things it's disturbing and he's a serial killer in the making, but when Arya does it, it's adorable. Double standard!

– "It's more of a brooch, really." —Loras 

– "The Lysa Arryn of chairs." —Varys (Ooh, burn!)

– Arya may not like Melisandre, but the red witch pretty much confirmed that Arya will be killing a lot of people soon ("shutting their eyes forever"), so she can't be all that bad.

– Well of course Jaime isn't going to get anywhere using a two-pronged fork to cut his steak (he eventually moved on to a knife but who knows what he was thinking when he was using a fork). Pick that thing up and eat with your hand like a real man, Jaime!

– Tyrion took Cersei's silence to the question of "Did you, or did you not order Ser Mandon to kill me during the Battle of the Blackwater?" as denial. But why? She's obviously guilty, Tyr! Why did he come to suspect Joffrey? Or is it better for Tyrion to let Cersei convince herself that she didn't have a role in it? Perhaps he took Varys's advice about being patient with regard to vengeance; in calling Cersei out about it now, he gains nothing unless he planned to get her back right then and there. He's got an extra step on her if he knows Cersei did it while she thinks he suspects it was Joffrey.


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Also, what, that picture of Dinklage wasn't worthy of captioning with the far better quote of his "I'm so ****ed" :P ?
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What exactly are these "in between" storylines they added?

And actually, interestingly enough, I've been playing catchup, and have been watching multiple episodes at a time (three the other evening in fact), but oddly I DID stop at this one and go to bed, I guess because I was tired. The end of this episode was no hand being cut off or anything, so I will admit it to falling a bit short, but Little Fingers creepy goose bumpy speech about climbing the ladder of chaos was stuff slowly started to ramp up? That was pretty cool....and yes made falling asleep admittedly mildly discomforting.
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Oh gawd Ros... I hope Joffrey's end will be painful and filled with torture like Theons story!
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I didn't even notice Dany was missing until you pointed out. Long overdue bit with Bran & Osha and How sweet are Sam & Gilly?
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I was a little late with watching this episode (due to moving halfway across the world, which nobody cares about), but i gotta be honest Tim I understand that you may not have liked this episode, but your overall negativity was completely baffling to me. I thought this episode was amazing, again the show has opted for the subtlety that the book has i when it matters. When lady melissandre showed up at the Brotherhood without banners i was like, whaaaaaaat!? But once I got it, I thought it was brilliant. Gendry is Edric. Good decision show. And after having complained about Theon's scenes for weeks, i have finally come around. This is a show and not a book, we need these scenes to get it and boy will we. Last buT not least any conversation between tyrion and cercei is a bonus in my book. Also i thonk that convo made it pretty clear that it was indeed joff who tried to kill tyrion. Just watch it again.
Honestly, I didn't even miss Dany. She's travelling right now, we need other character to have some screen time. To me the season is only getting better with episode and this one was no exception.
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I'm not so sure if Gendry is Edric Strom as much as an amalgam of Edric Storm, Ned Dayne and Justin Massey on the show.
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Yeah sure. Could totally be. I just meant that in that moment, I got where the show was going and it made complete and total sense to me :).
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Can you imagine the kid of babies Olenna and Tywin could've had together if they only would've met sooner?
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Absolutely loved the scene between Olenna and Tywin. One of my favorite scenes of the whole season.
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I loved Lord Balish's monologue about "the climb" and how the theme came through in many character experiences.
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Whilst the episode was still good I agree that it was probably the weakest of the season so far. Anyway on with my ramblings;

The opening scene with Sam and Gilly seemed a little forced to me, its great to have some time on their story to emphasise just how lost and alone they are before we catch up with them at a more exciting moment but I couldn't help thinking that the whole dagger conversation was very unnatural and screamed of the writers going "Don't forget about this weapon, Sam has it!", the usual GoT subtlety was lacking.

Again with Bran and co. in the next scene it was more as a purpose to remind us of their existence but I would prefer if they had shortened both scenes (and steal some time from some others) to have Meera tell Bran the story of the knight of the laughing tree. Although we finally got to see the frailty of Jojen that has been lacking so far.

Next up we had the two focal characters of this episode in many ways, Jon and Ygritte. I don't mind that they spent so much of the episode on them though as it was necessary to illustrate their importance to one another. Jon's mental wrestling with his loyalty to The Watch and his love of Ygritte is spread over many chapters in the books so its right that they got a good amount of screen-time to emphasise that it is more than just tomfoolery in caves between them. The final shot felt kind of strange for GoT which (similar to most shows) end with a game change, shock or if possible death, but its good to mix it up and a long drawback showing the views of South and North of the wall is nothing to complain about.

Ok, so when Melisandre left Stannis and knowing what I know she wants I assumed she must be going to Gendry as the only bastard of Robert we know of (trust me theres probably plenty that escaped the baby murdering morning, that old king got around). Still it was a brilliant surprise to see her turn up and interact with characters that I never thought would have a chance to (non book readers, this is all new to us as well). Speaking of awesome interaction, Melisandre's aversion to Arya and her comments were particularly interesting, I think its partially eluding to things that will happen with her and partially a sort of trick to make people think more of a later Arya story (book people - milk).
What is interesting is what they are going to do with Gendr'y story, whether it will follow the exact line of Edric Story (whom he is replacing) exactly. As we barley see or even hear of Edric and his fortunes I believe we will be getting a whole lot more Gendry but I'm not too certain that it bodes well for the young smith.

Ah Theon, the beginning of the pity inducing phase of his story is more properly starting. His young tormentor is certainly a nasty piece of work but I thought this whole scene was executed so perfectly. It also illustrates why it's important for us book readers to not talk about who he is, as it lessens scenes such as this. Having said that as Tim was crying it out from the get go I do wonder if there's anyone in these comments who doesn't know, after having his finger flayed I think Theon will have finally grasped it as well.

Robb and his most loyal had a nice sit down with some Freys, I loved the garb they got for the Freys, it emphasises their image as a dirty backward house with more heirs than decency. Edmure is playing the prat to perfection and his incredulous bickering to Robb was entertaining before he resolved himself to his new future, marrying the offspring of creepy old Walder Frey.

Jaime and Brienne's scene was one of the very few to be in the book (this episode had a lot of created stuff varying in how similar it was to its book counterparts wildly). Acted out by the brilliant Roose Bolton I thought the dinner was extremeley good even in its briefness. The key thing they got across is how Brienne thinks she is their equal and is part of any bargain but has completley missed the crux of their verbal sparring, Roose doesn't intend to take any blame for Jaime's hand and seems to fear Tywin's repercussions, probably a wise move as the Reynes of Castamere would attest to if they hadn't all been wiped out by the proud lion.

Tywin and Olenna had their much anticipated conversation and as is the custom of most meetings Tywin came out on top. It seems they have removed Willas and Garlen Tyrell (Loras' older brothers in the books). My prediction on this new story of Loras is that Cersei will have Joffrey name him to the Kingsguard to avoid her marriage.

Speaking of Loras, his wedding fantasizing was hilarious as was Olenna's sword eater quip.

And then we come to the conclusion, and my good favourite Littlefinger. Ok so now I see a lot more hate for him (and there already was a fair bit) but let me explain this almost indefensible position of having him as a favourite character. So the key thing is that its possible to like an evil character, this is not some condoning of his actions but rather an appreciation of him within the world he lives. Just as I liked Stringer Bell but don't condone heroin sale I also like Littlefinger but find him to be truly ruthless the point of psychopathic behaviour. Also it should be noted that in the books his dirtier secrets (of which giving Ros to Joffrey would be one) are never mentioned or really alluded to and he is portrayed more as a cunning player of the game who will stop at nothing to reach the top. So I'll keep flying my team Littlefinger flag even if the show steadily drops team membership down to just me with more amoral decisions which lead to "pointless" deaths.
Many have said that this death was pointless but really it wasn't, a) it showed that betraying Littlefinger has dire consequences and b) he gained favour with Joffrey, that is more his driving force for the actions he took to be honest, anything to climb one more rung. Also with Littlefinger now departed for the Vale, Ros would have been truly pointless and so the writers seized an opportunity to turn her end into something more impactful.


Overall a weakish episode with one or two annoyances, but still better than most other television (and certainly what's currently airing). I hole GoT to a higher standard, one more associated with The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and the like.





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Great review. I have to agree about Ros's death. While Ros was no Ned, it was shocking to see a character as likeable and street savvy of Ros go out like that, and it highlighted a more evil side of Littlefinger perfectly. He didn't just have Ros killed for her betrayal of whispering to the Spider, he sent her to Joffrey knowing how sadistic he is, to be tormented and tortured. To me this makes him worse than Joffrey. I do however disagree that he was more interested in gaining favour with Joffrey, instead gaining favour with Joffrey was a happy by product of getting rid of a snitch. I would not cross Littlefinger.
Was it just me or did the series gave away a little of what is to come in the books? Melisandre told Arya that they will meet again, and they haven't so far. I found this interesting because you can link her other comments to Arya's story. Not a huge spoiler by any means, just a point of note.
This was a slower episode, but I think all hell will break loose soon and then they won't have time for conversation, so we had to be reminded who was on the periphery. While on the subject of side characters, Sam is the only character that isn't working for me in the show compared to the book. I love book Sam, I am totally indifferent to show Sam, which is a pity. Hopefully they can bring him some life in the coming episodes, he is a fairly important character.
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I think he just did to spite Varys. If Littlefinger could've sent Varys instead of Ros, he would've done that
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The only thing about Ros that gets me is, with all her street smarts, and obviously knowing Littlefinger very well, it was pretty stupid on her part to spill his secrets. She should have known better.
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It was the only thing Ros could've done to stop Littlefinger: Ros was the Jon Snow of King's Landing and died serving the cause/House that she believed in (Sansa was still a Stark, after all).
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I'm inclined to agree about the scene with Theon and the mystery torture-loving former broom-sweep. A lot of people, including Tim I believe, have said it was a pointless scene---but I think it was essential in conveying the level of suffering Theon is going to endure, the reasons (or lack thereof) behind the torture, and the type of sadistic character the torturer is, which is essential knowledge for the future of a few storylines, if not serving much relevance in the present. It is all far from pointless, and not torture for torture's sake. And, as you said, it was all brilliantly executed. The performances were perfect.

As far as the torturer's identity go, I can see why they are stringing it out. Because to reveal his name and his affiliation would cast a shadow of suspicion over certain other people and characters and give away twists that are yet to come. So it makes sense not to reveal yet who he is....but, as said, the clues are there is you really pay attention to his scenes----not to mention if you pay attention to certain house banners.
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The last book explained Theon's state of mind due to a series of tortures that were hard to picture because the character wasn't even mentioned since the third book. The show doesn't have the luxury to skip until the last season for us to understand: it has to show us what was done to Theon to understand what will become of him later on.
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You took the words right out of my brain.
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I agree with Theons story not being pointless, but then we have book hindsight on our side :) His journey is important as it will shape future Theon. Plus it would be no good just showing him several episodes later and not explaining what happened him. Unless they did flashbacks and that would be awful!
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Exactly. That is why I was trying to get people to not discuss Theon, as if you connect the dots (which isn't hard once everyone is shouting the torturer's name) then it lessens later developments. Even finding out where he is doesn't ruin it as much as knowing the true identity of his guard.

Cheers once again for taking the time to read my thoughts, I seem to have gone overboard even by own standards this week.
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I seem to be the only one but I was definitely horrified of the “chaos is a ladder” scene?
I mean, Littlefinger is the creepiest!

And Jeoffrey, does he even care that some servant could tell someone that the king, who is recently so popular and great, is a sociopathic torturer and killer? Does he not learn from history, that a mad king is not to be long on the throne?

As to Ros, she was a very likeable character; she had wits and surprisingly a good heart! But she just wanted too much and had wrong values. She knew how dangerous her life is, even long before being beaten up by Cersei. She was so eager “to dig her way out” (her own words) , was too fixed on material values. There were so many links that she will not have a happy ending… but still I’m sad and truly horrified!

And I soo rolled my eyes on the last sequence! You are totally right, this is not Titanic or some other romantic stuff. BUT there definitely is actual love in the GoT world! (Ned/Cat, Dany/Drogo, Rob/Talissa, yes, even Jaime/Cersei, and now Jon/Ygritte)
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There is no way any servant is going to say anything about the King Joffrey. Look what happened to Ros.
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You know Tim, I adore you, but HOW could you miss HODOR?! Hodor.
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Hodor!

And Osha, Rickon and Meera. Bran & Jojen are not the only ones from that group.
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good episode. needed more Stallone.
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Tim, I didn't even notice that there was no Dany in this episode before you mentioned it.. However - I've read the books and the more I read, the less I care for the teenage queen. I wonder if I'm the only one.

Also - as much as I loved Lady O and Tywin, my favorite scene from the episode was the exchange between Cercei and Tyrion "I wonder which one of the four of us gets the worst deal...." Hilarious!
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You're not the only one. The more I read, the more I grew disenchanted of Daenerys. I like her still but I found myself just skimming her chapters in ADWD. The other thing that I'm annoyed is the fans of her. Some of those fans seriously thinks that an episode isn't as good as it is because Daenerys isn't in it. So yeah! A good character but this series has so many characters that are more interesting.
I liked the "I wonder which one of the four of us gets the worst deal...." too. I think it showed that Tyrion has some serious self-esteem problems as the viewer knows that being married to Tyrion is pretty much the safest Sansa will ever get while being in KL. Even though marrying Loras and getting OUT of KL would have been better.
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Seriously, the show can't be all Rob and Dany with their wonderful pets.

I for one greatly appreciate the character development and excellent writing we've seen the last two weeks. Chill out and enjoy the fine acting and character development. I'm sure there's plenty of death and betrayal just about the corner.
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I've been wanting to ask this question but am worried it might be a little too...um...something...even for Game of Thrones. But I noticed in the scene toward the end with Joffrey and the pincushion formerly known as Ros that Joffrey's belt was conspicuously hanging open. Do you think the implication was that he was whacking off as he shot her, or do you think he actually had sex with her corpse? Again, sorry if this question is too much, but I can't get it out of my head and wondered if anyone else had any thoughts about it.
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It looked to me that that was just the style of his belt to hang like that. In any case I don't think he did anything with her other than shoot her from across the room, as it seems that he had been seated on his little couch the whole time and was only walking toward her after she had died. Also, Joffrey's particular sickness seems to have little to do with sex. Just pain. That women tend to be his targets more so than men, I think, is merely because of the fact that he's a bully that goes for the easiest game. Ros actually hits double points in that manner because she's neither a physical threat nor a political one. She was at the bottom of the wrung and easy prey.

The non-sexual theory is further backed, in my mind, by the fact that when he was offered two prostitutes to do with as he liked his mind went straight to beating. No sexual contact as far as we know. And Margaery's skimpy dresses and overt flirtatiousness does nothing for him - he only became truly excited about her when she feigned being into his crossbow and tomb tours. As far as I'm concerned Joffrey is an asexual whose romantic inclinations are merely due to culture and show. People get married and sire children. That's just what you do. I have yet to see any real lust from him.
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You're right, Joffrey does seem to have an aversion to physical contact with women. Even in the prostitute-beating scene from last season, he had Ros do the beating while he watched. I'll have to look at that scene in Episode 6 again. It did seem like his belt was hanging open and I just wondered why they put that in, but maybe it was actually a scabbard for a sword or some other part of his kingly clothing.
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Oh that pink dress on Brienne! And Edmure's "Who me?" face. I love the show's subtle humor so much. Also, Iwan Rheon is amazing!
I think the bit about Samwell was to remind us about the knife he found on the Fist of the First Men. I think that Bran's storyline is a good example of one that doesn't transfer all that well to the tv show. It will pick up later on, but probably not anytime soon. Nevertheless, it is a very important part of the whole story so bear with it.
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minor thing: that looks like a spear-head, actually. Going out on a limb, given that it's called dragon glass, I'd imagine dragons fiery breath has something to do with making it. And the white walkers are are basically an embodiment of a cruel, cold, winter. The books are called A Song of FIRE & ICE... I think it'll definitely come up again.
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I think Brienne looks pretty in pink (pun intended, Jaime should watch more romantic comedies IMO)
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and less Brothers & Sisters.
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I normally love your reviews but I definitely don't agree with this one. It wasn't all out action but that's hardly shocking, much of the show isn't constant action and is more often focused on the interactions between the different characters and/or families.

We saw some excellent interactions and some great character development. This certainly wasn't the best episode of the series but I got the sense it was serving as a point to set things in motion for the season finale (and the run up to it).

Also, what action there was this week was great. So yeah, sorry but I just don't agree with your review and judging by the poll/comments, it doesn't seem like many others do.
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Agreed. For example, Roose Bolton's 'lack' of personality when you factor in the character of his SON, RAMSAY SNOW(the pyscho holding Theon captive). Honestly, it's easy to miss things in this show if your eyes & ears aren't glued. Lord Bolton did CLEARLY offer Robb Stark at least TWICE in season 2 to have his bastard go re-take Winterfell from Theon. So if it's mystery whose holding Theon captive, you simply missed it. No, I haven't read the books either, I just pay attention.
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Iwan Rheon's character (the guy holding Theon captive) is listed on IMDB as Ramsay Snow, so you're right. That's who is holding him captive.

See: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3701064/?ref_=tt_cl_t2
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The TV show writers invented the conflict between Meera and Osha. Bran's storyline would be much better if they'd allowed Meera to tell the stories she told in the books. I'm beginning to think the writers of the TV show just don't like women very much. They've turned almost every female character into a girl hating girl. Anyway, if anyone is interested in Meera's story look up "Knight of the Laughing Tree" and then pretend that Meera is telling it to Bran, instead of Meera and Osha bickering over dead rabbits.

Overall I thought this was a good episode. I loved Jon and Ygritte's storyline.
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I know the reviews are based on an episode to episode basis, but have faith. Every detail in this episode no matter how insginificant it may be will have a huge impact later in the overall story. I have read the books, and watching this episode made me giddy with excitement, because I know everything is right on track and everyone is right where they need to be. So advice to those of you who have not read the books...pay attention to every detail, because it will come back in a big way.
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Liked the episode. Wasn't the greatest, but Game of Thrones is thoroughly enjoyable even when it's not great.

I have to say I completely and utterly disagree with your opinion on how Ros's death was shown, and also that you minimized the epic conversation between Varys and Littlefinger to 2 or 3 lines which are actually about Ros. I know you liked Ros, but she was just a whore. A whore that came from the north and got to be Littlefingers bottom bitch, but a whore nontheless. Her purpose was to remind us that both Littlefinger and King Joffrey are batshit insane. Granted, nothing new but still very impactful in my book.

I'll be damned if that exchange between Varys and Littlefinger wasn't worth its own section in this review. As far as I'm concerned, it was way better than Olenna vs Tywin, and the chaos analogy used by Littlefinger was majestic because chaos is not only the way life works in westeros, but pretty much how it works in our world as well. Kinda feels like you didn't feel like talking about that conversation simply because you were bummed about Ros.
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Just one thing to point out - in the books there is actually very little swordplay or fighting, and when there is it is usually briefly described and moved on from. The series is really much more about political intrigue than combat.
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although I enjoy Tim's reviews mosnof the time, the interesting thing is that I find the slower, more character focused episodes at least as amising than thamn the fast paced shockers, so I love the episodes the most which are Tim's least favorite ones. I think the pace and the shifts between scenes were marvellous (feom the campfire to the rabbits, from the dream to John erc.) and while I'll admit that Theon's tortur is dragged out a bit, I think the dialogues were brilliant and important and the epusode did a lot to develope the characters we,ve grown to love/hate and know. Cersei showed a bit of her human sode again, Joffrey moved further into the realm of being a complete psycho, Tyrion proved that he is still all in for his family, Sam's love story have just became a lot more deep and complex, the cat-fight between the two wise grannies were brilliantly written and Jon Snow... well I'm mot in for sweet love stories but the development of Jon and Ygritte has come to a point where I felt more than rewarded: the last scene was amazingly poignant and metaphorical IMHO. We - and they - deserved this moment. And I do not think it was like the Celine Dion scene: this story is much more real and human. This is not a love stroy fro a fairy tale. Their love os nased on chemostry, common interest and sympathy. And yes, a bit of love too. But I felt it was a huge payoff for the viewers. I think, Tim, that if the series didn't climb up to the heights of our lives - love, true feelings, honest moments of joy and happiness, - the cruel and shocking moments, the darkness would feel artificial and false. There are highs and lows in our life and if this series wants to stay realistic as lofe itself, it mist contain true and emotional moments - that is why Martin's books have such an emotional impact: we grow to love characters, and then suddenly we losw them. Just as in reality. That is ehy I thought Ross' death was sad and brilliant at the same time: her off-screen death was totally unexcepted. Her character has been deceloped since the first season so we didn't except her life to end off screen without dignity. But I must repeat myself again: this is life. You can't be always there when a loved one dies, and many promiseful stories, lives end abruptly and unexpectedly. This way of killing off Rose just reinforces the sense that anything could happen to anyone in this wonderful but cruel
world just like in life. So while I mostly enjoy Tim's wit and cynicism, I felt it was out if place in regards to this specific episode, just how I feel about most of his reviews on lower, more emotional and character-centric ones. Sorry for my bad english, needles to say, I'm not native english. :)
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sorry for the typos, sent from a phone!
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First off, I thought you said there wasn't going to be any spoilers in the reviews. "Theon isn't really in Book 3" seems like a pretty big spoiler to me!!! Even if it isn't, I wouldn't know since I haven't read the books, it is just so unnecessary to include it!

How could you have missed Hodor? He sat up and said "Hodor" when they were fighting and he is even in the picture in the review...

I don't see how you could say that the Jamie scen was one "with not much payoff"? You even explained it right afterwards exactly why it was important! It showed how Robb is loosing control of his banner men, even without killing their leaders, as a result of greed. It also set up Jamie possibly going back to Kings Landing finally.

I thought Jon and Ygritte standing on the wall was a perfect way to end the episode and as a conclusion to Littlefingers speech. It also brought back the theme of the two of the versus "the world" that Ygritte talked about at the beginning. How they are just soldiers in a war and their leaders don't really care about them, so all they have is each other. At the end they are literally standing right in the middle of the two waring sides, the wall, and they are united right there in the middle.

Ros really wasn't that great of a character! She was likeable and kind, and Joffrey killing her in such a cruel way was a simple and perfect way of making us hate him even more. It also emphasised Tyrion's point from his conversation with Cersei where he states that Joffrey is completely out of control. I thought it was brilliantly done and made a lot of sense since Ros had betrayed Littlefinger and he is a cruel sob. It also fit in nicely with Littlefingers speech in the background.

Arya isn't stringin up naked women from the roof and practicing her shooting skills on them...

Definitely not the worst episode of the season, I'd but it 4th.
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Theon not being in book 3 isn't really a spoiler. All the stuff we are seeing is happening to him we just don't get any sight or word of it. They just moved it all so that no one would forget about him, also it makes interesting scenes and a new 'evil' character in his torturer.

Otherwise I agree with you, especially on Jaime's dinner sparring with Roose.

Your Arya comment has confused me however.
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Ok just re-read part of the review and now I understand your Arya comment, I was being a fool.
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Totally agreed. Except that I would rate it as the second ir third best episode of the season so far.
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This episode is one of those that tell you: I need to catch up with the books quickly... Because I missing a lot. Plus I want to know what is coming...
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Top 10 most awesome characters GoT:

1. Daenarys Stormborn & Dragons (Goosebumps everywhere in "And Now His Watch Is Ended")
2. Tyrion Lannister (but still expect more epicness of him)
3. Jon Snow & Ygritte (round 2 with his notorious tongue next week?!)
4. Littlefinger & Varys (more plotting and scheming and powerplays please, I love you guys)
5. Arya (I expect her to keep rising on my list)
6. Jaime Lannister
7. Tywin Lannister
8. Direwolves (not very present this season.. :(
9. Mystery torturer (really not that mysterious anymore, but this is for the non-spoiled viewers)
10. Olenna Tyrell

runner up : Brotherhood Without Banner (esp. Thoros & Beric)
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"...so I really hope Melisandre's plans involve taking a few drops of Gendry's blood and turning him into a giant flaming killing machine instead of hanging him like a deer and bleeding him out."

I don't think she *literally* wants his blood. She just wants the semen from a man with "royal blood", which apparently has different magical properties than non-royal blood. So Gendry's first few weeks in captivity will probably be pretty awesome for him.
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Hahahaha, hadn't considered that angle...She could've just told him, he wouldn't have made such a scene leaving the camp that way!
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She wants to burn someone of royal blood to awaken the stone dragons.
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Ok , it is my problem for not this episode in specific but with the whole show , I just can't keep track of characters , stories and their names! "Specially when someone who I still don't know his name is telling a story about others who I don't know their names! "-Maybe it would be easier if I read the books but that's my problem I guess !
About the episode , what can I say other than AWESOME?!!!...TYWIN/OLENNA conversation is the best conversation I ever heard in any recent TV SHOW . Sword Swallower , LMFAO !!
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As someone who has read the books, I can't even keep track of the characters. Fortunately at the end of each book there is an appendix with a full list of characters and how they are related to each other. Highly reccomended getting the books if only for this reason.
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Most of that information is on the HBO website as well.

http://viewers-guide.hbo.com/season3/#!/guide/houses/
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You cannot expect to by only watching each episode once... Not even book readers can.
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Start again with the Pilot episode and rewatch every episode untill you can keep track of all those awesome characters! Or read the books..
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Curse Melisandre! If she kills Gendry and I don't get my weekly Gendry sightings I will find her and kill her. No I'm serious. It's bad enough there's been no Ghost sightings for two episodes, but if there was no more Gendry I would just cry and do an Arya and add that biatch to my kill list. So what she queef out shadow assassins! She needs a man for that and she ain't messing with Stannis. Where's my steak knife damnit!

Okay that's my rant over with, I did like this episode. I thought that Ros' death was rather cruel, but come on, Joffrey's a twisted little freak, and Littlefinger doesn't suffer betrayal is the general message we're getting. Also, there are no double standards for me when I look at Joffrey and Arya. My reasoning? Well, Joffrey literally kills people for fun and to get a figurative boner. Arya is in it all for the revenge. So Arya immediately gets my vote. (nods) Plus she stuck up for Gendry and Melisandre got all wigged out by her. I wonder if Arya will get to kill her later on. In the books or the show is fine with me.

Also as a book reader, so much of this ep made no sense to me. Although I was so angry that Jaime didn't stick up for Brienne more. But I'm sure that'll all change next episode. All in all I was rather impressed by the panning during littlefinger's speech about chaos. But I studied media so I know what the shots are all supposed to do. LOL! Can't wait for next week. I'll still be cursing Melisandre though.
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Don't get me wrong: Gendry is no Jaqen H'ghar - or Anguy for that matter - but it would a shame for him to die, not only because of Arya but because he's the only one of Robert's children that's still alive, Joffrey killed all the others in season 2
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*Insert clever introduction here*

ONTO THE COMMENT!

(Note: For my comments this season I have decided to categorize them by character, similar to the books and Tim's reviews.)

ARYA/BERIC/THOROS/MY-LOVELY-RED-LADY:

In this weeks mini-episode of "Where in the World is Arya Stark?", everybody's favourite she-wolf encountered the hottest woman (IMHO) in Westeros (am I the only one with a shadow baby fetish? … I'm not weird, YOU'RE weird!), Melisandre. She was out and about doing the other, OTHER Kings work, and dropped in on the Brotherhood without Banners.

She wanted Gendry for some assuredly diabolical purpose, but when Beric gave him up to the Red Lady without so much as a fuss, Arya walked right up to her and basically told her off, once again proving that Arya is the bravest character on this whole show. (I think Arya and Dany would get along famously.) But when Melisandre looked in the little she-wolf's eyes there was something that troubled and perturbed her. She went on to say a half-prophecy, half-vision. Here's the quote for your pleasure:

"I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you'll shut forever. We will meet again."

WHAAAAAAAAT?! Now every sketchy character Arya meets I'll have to squint to see their eye colour. I will tell you show-only people that as of the fifth book, Arya and Melsiandre have never even met once, so this development is something of a fascinating revelation to me. Whose eyes will Arya shut forever? And does that mean killing? The questions and mysterious never cease to accumulate!

Anyway...

Only R'hllor knows how Melisandre was aware of the fact that Beric and Thoros had one of Robert's bastards in their possession (raven pen-pals?), or how she traveled from Dragonstone to the Riverlands in such quick fashion (I'm not ruling out broomsticks), but seeing her there in all her red-cloaked glory and the consequential cross-pollination of storylines was thrilling nonetheless.

When she examined Beric's fatal scars she seemed rather jealous of Thoros' power, or more accurately, the power the Lord of Light wields through him. (Btw, the LoL is definitely a Him, Tim.) In my previous comments I've brought up this God and the significance he holds in the GoT universe. This is not only a mystery in the show, but in the books, as well. What part will this specific religion play in the grand scheme of things? R'hllor's followers certainly seem to have divine-like powers. Multiple resurrections and shadow babies are no mean feats. But are Melisandre and Thoros simply magical people with cool powers in a fantasy show/book? Or are they agents of the one true God? I think it's amazing that the same question people have been asking since the beginning of humanity, we are now applying to the context of Game of Thrones. Does God exist?

In that *light* I think it's time for another instalment of…

A GoT History Lesson(!):

R'hllor, also known as the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire, the God of Flame and Shadow, is a prominent God on Essos, but has only a few followers in Westeros, where he is more commonly known as the Red God. His symbol is a fiery heart.

The religion, is based on a dualistic, manichean view of the world, R'hllor, the god of light, heat, and life; and its antithesis the God whose name should not be spoken (No, not Voldemort), a.k.a. The Great Other, a.k.a. The God of Ice and Death. These two Gods are locked in an eternal struggle over the fate of the world, a struggle that according the ancient prophecy from the books of Asshai, will only end when Azor Ahai, the messianic figure will return wielding a flaming sword called Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and raise dragons of stone. (Melsiandre believes this hero to be Stannis… Yes, THAT Stannis. I know, right? They're screwed.)

The worship of R'hllor is a religious tradition on the continent of Essos, but has not gained much popularity in Westeros. Like other types of magic, the magic of R'hllor seems to have faded after the last Targaryen dragons died, but with the return of the dragons in the east, the abilities of R'hllor priests have strengthened. Thoros, while serving at the temple in Myr, did not experience any form of new-found powers. However, since the return of the dragons he has resurrected Beric Dondarrion seven freaking times! And we all know about the vaginal power Melsiandre possesses.

Every evening, red priests light fires and sing prayers at their temples, asking R'hllor to bring back the dawn. Followers often gaze into flames in an effort to receive visions of the future. It is believed that R'hllor will occasionally answer the prayers of his followers by granting visions and abilities such as raising the dead. (Well, duh.) Some rites performed by the red priests include sacrificial immolation. Trials by combat are an accepted practice in the R'hllor faith; prayers before the combat ask R'hllor to give strength to the just party. "The night is dark and full of terrors", is a common phrase in prayers to R'hllor, and also a badass way to end a conversation.

Thus concludes another GoT History Lesson. Questions?

JAIME/BRIENNE/QUIP-MASTER-ROOSE:

Burn of the week: "You're in no place to insist on anything. I would have hoped you'd learnt your lesson about overplaying your… position."

Damn you, Roose! You can't split up Jaime and Brienne. They've got such great chemistry and a genuinely growing affection for one another. Did you notice when Jaime held her hand? Such a simple gesture, but so significant.

Jaime's monologue last week instantly became one of my all-time favourite scenes of this show. Us book readers have been waiting for AGES for this reveal, and it was even more than I had hoped for.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the chapter in the book when Jaime divulged the origins of his Kingslayer moniker. Here is an excerpt from that comment:

"That chapter is the first time you really get into Jaime's head, and you finally begin to understand the man. He killed a Mad King that tortured literally thousands of people. He killed a King that was by every definition evil. He killed a King that deserved to die. Yet he will forever be known as Kingslayer and Oathbreaker for that service he did the world. The irony of that mocks him. It made him bitter and cynical. But underneath there was still the man that wanted to be the best Knight the world had ever seen. A man that broke his oath for the good of the realm, knowing he would be forever accursed for it. He's a complex and fantastically written character."

Us book readers have seen Jaime through this perspective since the first episode in season one. When he pushed Bran from that window, we saw more than just a villain. We saw a flawed man that had chosen the wrong path for love. It's so liberating being able to discuss why Jaime is a fan favourite. There is more to this man than the salaciously superficial. There is a depth. There is a kindness. There is a man beneath the persona that others created for him and he wore with resignation. He is a Kingslayer and Oathbreaker, but he is so much more. And we're just beginning to find that out.

So, we're all on Team Jaime now, right?

THEON/I HAVE COMPLETELY SPOILED THE IDENTITY OF THIS GUY:

I'm sorry! I had no idea the show was going to tease the identity of Theon's mystery tormentor for so long. I, like many others (Tim included), was guilty of revealing who this guy is in previous comments. I spoiled it. I'm a good-for-nothing spoiler! (Don't hate me, MintberryCrunch!) I deserve nothing less than to have my skin slowly peeled off.

Speaking of peeling off skin, Mystery Man must hate spoilers too, because he's having oh so much sadistic fun toying with Theon's pathetic attempts at guessing why he's being tortured, and by whom. (I think this guy and Joffrey would get along famously.) I've NEVER been a Theon supporter (killing two innocent children for no other purpose than to save your own ass pretty much puts you in my "I hope you fucking die" books for life), but I took no pleasure from seeing Theon's chickens come home to roost. 'Cause Theon's chickens are not only roosting up a storm, but they're also shitting on everything. These are some mutant chickens is what I'm trying to say.

I'm sure there are a few Thronies who are like, "Good! He deserves it!", and there most likely others who are like, "He did some bad stuff, but no one deserves this kind of punishment". Therein lies the polarization of Theon. Some people hate him, and some people only kind of hate him. I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but even after some sickening torture, I think I'm still a part of the former… Don't give me that look!

ROBB:

Robb's favourite quote: "I've won every battle, but I'm losing this war."

I remember a time when Robb Stark was one of my favourite characters on this show. When his fathers bannermen rallied around him and declared him King in the North, he was such an important player in the game. Then in season two he proved his prowess on the battlefield time and time again, until he was dubbed the Young Wolf by his men. Back then if you asked me who my favourite GoT characters were, I probably would have had Robb directly behind the perennial powerhouses, Tyrion and Arya. And now? Well, he's somewhere in between Pod and Littlefinger.

It's not his fault. He's still as Kingly and likeable as ever. Yet the memory of the good and honourable Eddard Stark is fading, and with it Robb's righteous cause. I so very badly wanted Robb to decapitate Joffrey with his fathers sword and then throw his corpse to the cheering mob (okay, I still want that to happen). But only a fool or a drunkard would seriously think such an outcome is even a remote possibility under the current circumstances.

Ned died because of his honour, and Robb is ever his fathers son. He married Talisa because he valued her honour over his vows (I'm sure the fact that she's crazy hot had nothing to do with it). He killed Lord Karstark because he valued the lost lives of two Lannister hostages over 50% of his fighting force. He trusted Theon and Winterfell burned for it. He is a good and honourable man, and he is losing. Nice guys don't just finish last in Westeros. They are hanged, drawn and quartered.

But enough with the depressing stuff! There's another wedding to plan! Buck up, Edmure. I'm sure your bride will have *most* of her teeth.

TYRION/CERSEI:

It was beyond weird seeing these two be amiable with each other. I suppose a shared plight can bring anyone together. But seeing Tyrion reduced to a shadow of his former self has been one of the hardest things to watch this season. In season two, he was smack dab in the center of the action. He made the office of the Hand of the King look GOOD! Now he's quibbling over coin and being forced to marry by his father. I can stomach his fall from power, but for the love of god, don't take away his playful banter. I want more chair dragging and less meekness from my favourite character.

(P.S. Cersei definitely ordered the hit. But it seemed to me Tyrion bought the lie. I hope I'm wrong and he's planing some elaborate comeuppance.)

JON/YGRITTE/THE WALL:

I'm really rooting for these two. But they do have this star-crossed lovers vibe going on. Can't this show have just one happy ending? JUST ONE?!

(P.S. The CGI team had to work overtime on these scenes. The cracks in The Wall didn't look so great, but the final shot more than made up for it. Simply stunning. I think I found a new screen saver.)

SANSA:

This girl is getting toyed with! How many heartbreaks will she have to endure? But to be honest, it's hard to feel sorry for her, or for that matter, care about her situation. She's got what the commoners call "First Kingdom Problems". Oh no, she can't marry Loras! How devastating. Maybe if she had better gaydar, or any gaydar at all, she wouldn't have gotten her little dove hopes up so high (I mean REALLY, what little boy dreams of his wedding?). And what's so bad about marrying Tyrion? She should be so lucky. I don't mislike Sansa (I've never understood the hate she gets), but if you tried to convince a friend to watch GoT, would you even mention her name once?

She is the key to the North. Which makes her a very valuable pawn in this game of thrones. But that's all she is. If saying that makes me an asshole, then I'm an asshole… And I just realized I sound like a less eloquent Tywin. Damn.

JOFFREY:

Someone needs to kill this kid! I vote immolation by wildfire.

SAMWELL/GILLY:

Sam built a shoddy fire and sang a song … and I still don't care.

BRAN:

These scenes are kind of a drag. I ALREADY know how to skin a rabbit (who doesn't?). But they're still better than what Sam's got going on.

ROS:

I absolutely agree, Tim. She deserved better.

MARGAERY/DANY:

Miss you! I wonder what Margaery was wearing…

TYWIN/OLENNA:

Go, Tywin! It's your birthday! Go! Go! Go!

Finally someone was able to match the Queen of Thorns in prickliness! (Thorniness?) I still hate him for his horrible treatment of Tyrion (and just his general dickish demeanour), but I'll be damned by the old gods and the new if I don't respect the man.

After Tyrion went MIA last week in his first encounter Olenna (something that I must say NEVER happened in the books. I don't think there is even one instance when he was verbally bested), I was not only disappointed that he didn't comport himself as the jocular jouster we know and love, but I was beginning to think Olenna would never encounter a sparring partner that was her equal. This woman frightens me is what I'm trying to say. Do NOT make her wait for her cheese.

But wait...

Enter the Lion of Lannister! The Rock of Casterly Rock! He put the "Rains" in Castamere,

TYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYWIN LANNISTER!

I know some people complain about all the "boring" talkety-talk on GoT, but one of the reasons I love it so much is a seemingly simple conversation can be just as important as an epic battle in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes even more so.

Case in point: Tywin vs. Olenna.

Tywin wanted to marry Cersei to Loras, with the fates and futures of House Lannsiter and House Tyrell hanging in the balance. Not too shabby for some talkety-talk.

Tywin opened the bout with a cleverly placed jab of Ser Loras' "nocturnal activities", but Olenna effectively blocked the assault by openly admitting her grandson is a "sword swallower through and through" (tee-hee!). Olenna, ever quick to press the attack countered with the rumours of Lannister's unnatural love between brothers and sisters, but that too was quashed in kind by Tywin's refusal to even acknowledge the "malicious lie". They appeared to be at an impasse, until Tywin busted out the haymaker and knocked Olenna to the canvass by threatening to assign Ser Loras to the Kingsguard, which would prevent him from having sons and grievously damage the Tyrell lineage.

BOOM!

7... 8... 9... 10! She's out!

LITTLEFINGER/VARYS:

These two have some of the best and metaphorical laden conversations in the seven kingdoms. They wage a war of wits in every exchange, and I can only imagine what they'd be like on IM. I like that Littlefinger's ruthlessness and cunning has not been forgotten. But the whole "chaos is a ladder" speech didn't really do it for me. Personally, I liked Varys' "gaping pit" metaphor better. I suppose we learned Littlefinger is an anarchist with ambition. And that he's another character that probably deserves to die, which brings up the "deserves to die" percentage to like 85%. Add him to the list, Arya!

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Not the best episode of the season, but still thoroughly enjoyable.... My intros and conclusions are really lame.
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Ha, when I read your comments before I actually thought, 'yea its so prevalent now in all the comments and all of Tim's reviews that you might as well shout who is holding Theon from the rooftops'. So no judgement from me. Little did we know that they would string out the guessing game so excellently in this episode.

Now if only I could get people to stop referring to the big event of this season by the name it becomes to be known as, which is in itself a spoiler of sorts as it lessens the surprise factor.

(not that you have been guilty of this, but maybe I can piggyback this hope on your popular reviews).

Anyway, a good read as always FF. Team Jaime AND Team Littlefinger for me, I think one of the seven hells must be reserved for me now.
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Can you imagine another celestial being than Charles Dance to impersonate Tywin Lannister?
Anyhow, why is the lineage of House Tyrell endangered by the fate of Loras? Doesn't he have two brothers? Are they gelded?
Do also agree on the last scene with Varys and Petyr: too obvious and maybe even a little bit forced for my taste.
Finally I feel the unexplainable urge to address that I missed the critical stance in your GoT history lesson about R'Hllor. From the books, the show and the questionable game(at least the basic story was written by R.R.Martin) I am much in doubt if the God of fire is actually the antithesis of the entity behind the Others - IF there is any entity behind them at all(most likely there is but we don't know shit about them, do we?). The adversary definetively, but the antithesis? I know that's from wikipedia, but as long as George doesn't contribute himself, it's all speculation so I stick with my thoughts. Too much human sacrifice(also with infants) and too much cruel and insidious manipulation on part of that God/demon as on part of his followers for me to consider R'Hllor to be the good of mankind.
I suspect you already have been tricked by the undeniable beauty of the woman in red to believe in salvific promises like the tale of Azor Ahai or all these treacherous prophecies and visions. Either that or I'm just an old coot who just can't let go of the old gods.
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I think for the TV show they have cut Willas and Garlan Tyrell, as both are older and would come before Loras. This way they can use his Kinsguard potential as a serious deterrent. Personally I wouldn't be surprised if Cersei plots to have Joffrey appoint him anyway to avoid her coming nuptials.

As for R'hllor, I agree it is still very much open as to the nature of his true enemy. In fact Melisandre has a vision later of a certain face surrounded by a thousand red eyes, and if THAT person is turning out to be the great other then I don't know who is behind the White Walkers.
However some prophecies associated with the red god do seem to have some bearing. Azor Ahai comes again "will be born amidst salt and smoke and will raise dragons from stone", now I wonder who that might be....
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Maybe they cut Garlan, but Willas is still the heir to Highgarden - with a crippled leg but still able to "consumate". But you're right about Cersei - her making Joffrey appoint Loras as kingsguard is so totally Cersei.
All the prophecies are important and will come true. But when and for whom? Prophecies tend to bite you in the arse as someone said in Westeros.
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I think Willas is gone too, as Loras is referred to as the heir to Highgarden.

I am thankful we have the prophecies as it gives us something to ponder aside from those last couple of chapters, especially THAT chapter.
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So not Team Jaime. Yeah, he sees himself as a misunderstood valiant knight in difficult circumstances. Cry me a river. He sired 3 kids on his sister, pushed a kid out a window to hide the incest, viciously and needlessly killed Ned's men and crippled him. Even joined the Kingsguard to be with Cersei, abandoning his duty to provide a Lannister heir. And there are many ways he could have dealt with both kings he served that would be more honorable than what he chose. Not Team Jaime ever. No, he's not Joffrey, or Littlefinger, but he's still a steaming pile of s**t.
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First of all, thanks FF!! As enjoyable and insightful as ever!! You also made me laugh a lot, so thanks for that too! I don't have much time, so all I really want to say is: Now I am also wondering what one of the sexiest ladies in the GoT-verse was wearing! Damn she is soo sexy and thus will always be missed!
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I agree with most of your review, except "So, we're all on Team Jaime now, right?" NO. Bottom line Jaime is a pig who buttfucks his own sister and gives her a child; a degenarate and cynical chil, just like him.
I do accept that I felt somehow sorry for him after last weeks declaration, but all of that had absoloutely nothing to do with being a incestous pig, that was a choice he made conciously and not "int he heat of the moment" like when he decided to slay the king; he thougt it, he did it, and lived with it, not a single time has he shown any regrests for it. So once again, he might be misunderstood in many aspects but he can rott and drop body parts all the way to Kingslanding for all I care.
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Is the incest really the thing to hold against him? I mean, if it's going to be anything shouldn't it be attempting to murder a child and leaving him crippled and then later strangling some innocent pawn in order to attempt an escape? Trust me, it's not like I'm a fan of incest - but it's fucked up emotional shit that's more sad than anything else. It's a marker of a very dysfunctional family unit. But evil? Making the two adults involved irredeemable and nothing but "pigs"? Hardly. And even if his sins against Bran and his cellmate are to be held against him surely there is some counter-balancing weight to the fact that he saved an entire city from horrific death and single-handedly destroyed a psychotic tyrant?
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Knox, it's not just incest, which is deplorable on its own. It's taking a lifelong oath to your king intending from the start to betray it by porking the king's wife (who as an adult is STILL YOUR SISTER!) and siring kids on her. It's an entire life of lies. It's a public persona of honor with a private life undermines your family, your children, your peers, your liege, about the heart of who you are. That's not just sad, that's the epitome of evil. It makes Joffrey not only understandable, but probable. It allows Cersei to have survived as long as she has. And it led directly to the other abominations he's committed since. And you don't "counter-balance" that with anything.
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No, I am not putting anything in broad, worldview, apply-to-everyone terms. I think it's bad to do so. I am analyzing this case individually. And in this specific instance, with everything taken into consideration - the marriage being a political farce sprinkled with abuse and Jamie & Cersei being both blood and having had feelings for each other beforehand - I cannot see how Jamie's actions were some repulsive, unbelievable, nonredeemable betrayal. That is too extreme a judgment. I'm not saying there was nothing wrong in breaking his oath to Robert, just that it doesn't count for as much in my opinion as it does in yours. They were only words, after all. They only count for as much as the men who uttered them. And Robert respected Jamie no more than Jamie respected him. Which could lead to more conversation, since Jamie loathed Robert for beating his sister and treating her like shit whilst Robert hated Jamie for saving King's Landing from a lunatic and being a Lannister.
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The general expression of the argument you just proffered is: if the other guy's not good, I don't have to be good either. That's a recipe for universal disaster. The excuse that the other guy was dishonorable is NEVER a justification.
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True. He broke his oath of loyalty to Robert. But I think the exploration of honor and what it really means is at the forefront of the show. For example, Ned was the epitome of honor - but were all of his honorable decisions good? Was it good to reject and loath Jamie for his betrayal of the Mad King despite that it saved millions of lives? Here, with the specific issue of Jamie sleeping with Robert's wife - did he really owe the man goodness? Was the man good himself? Sibling incest aside, which again I'm counting as more of a psychological issue than an "evil deed", Jamie sleeping with the King's wife was a case where the King was sleeping with every woman in the Kingdom and abusing & neglecting said wife, who he didn't care for one tiny bit at any point. She had no reason to be loyal to him and if Jamie loved her he had no reason to be loyal to him either. I still maintain that Jamie & Cersei's relationship is the sad product of some very complex issues that I don't feel are to be judged.

Their parenting skills, however, those can be judged. Joffrey is, at least partially, both of their faults. Robert's treatment of the boy is at fault as well, as is Joffrey's own free will at this point.
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I agree.

Also maybe I'm mad but I kind of just blame Cersei for all the bad stuff Jaime does, even the blame which by no rights should belong to her but only him.

The longer he spends away from her the more he becomes likeable and honourable. She poisons his brain.
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Honestly? I'm starting to believe the only reason Jaime fell for his sister is because no other woman would love the Kingslayer after that. To have sex with him maybe, but not love him.

I think the reason he likes Brienne is because, if she fancy Renly, then there's the chance she might actually love him.
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When you say "after that", do you mean after killing the mad king?

In the books its more than implied that he could have many others but he is so maddly in love with Cersei that he would never think of it.
Remember they didn't start their whole incest thing when they reached adulthood, they've been up to it all their lives.
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In the books he's deeply in love with Cersei way past Harrenhal. On the show, however, it was established the affair only began once Cersei lost her first baby and, if I could pinpoint a moment, I'd say it ended pretty much on the bath tub scene with Brienne, Jaimei just doesn't know that yet.
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He wouldn't and shouldn't show any regrets for killing the mad king, what he did saved thousands and the capital city from burning.
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"but all of that had absoloutely nothing to do with being a incestous pig, that was a choice he made conciously and not "in he heat of the moment" like when he decided to slay the king; he thougt it, he did it, and lived with it, not a single time has he shown any regrests for it." by this I meant the fact that he's in an incestous relationship with his sister; my bad if it wasn't clear, english is not my first language.
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I thought exactly the same as you. Of course every hour in Westeros is amazing. And every scene is a great time, but so many felt without purpose this week. They probably wasted three minutes on the Sam and Gilli thing. That time is so much better invested in any other discussion. And then the rabbit thing. What were they thinking?
Maybe there is a hidden trick that we didn't see before. So that because of all this, the last 5 minutes felt so unbelievable(everything starting from Varys and littlefinger).
That is how Game of Thrones must feel and how we love it. Maybe they build up this atmosphere by some "useless" scenes?
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I didn't find those scenes wasted. Sam and Gilly's scene showed the development of their individual personalities and their relationship. Sam is just a sweetheart through and through and concerned for the welfare of others (how rare is that in Westeros?!). Gilly shows a strength and fortitude that shows she may be worthy of him. When he pulled out the dragonglass dagger to show her and then the scene fell back to a long shot with a sense of forboding as if they were being watched by someone or something -- I found that scene anything but useless. I felt the same way about the scene with Meera and Osha and Bran -- it developed their individual personalities and their relationships, and relationships/alliances have got to be of paramount importance in a place like Westeros if you're going to survive. Did you notice how quickly the girls started to shape up when Bran, the "Little Lord", demanded it? He is showing his natural leadership qualities, worthy to play the role of Ned Stark's son and heir to Winterfell plus whatever mission his destiny brings him, which I get a feeling will be epic and profound. The three-eyed crow seems to be a clue to Bran's destiny -- what do those dreams mean? I don't find much "filler" in Game of Thrones episodes, but I know a lot of people see it that way. Different points of view make for a good discussion.
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I don't think I said wasted, as mentioned, I feel the same way as you about the scenes. However, there are so many more important scenes that could be shown. (no spoilers)Okay, I read the book and I actually know a lot more scenes that could be shown, I think that is why Tim picked up on this too, but even if you don't. Take the first scene. We already know that Sam is sweet and caring, we got that several times. That time could easily increase worth, if it was put in, say Ros deathscene, or more Jaime, or anything of Danny really.
It is weird, they chose those scenes to show, for the really short time they have on TV.
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Yeah, I do know what you mean, I've read the books too (3 times). I've just decided that the show is something different and separate from the books, and it was driving me (and the person I watch the show with) crazy comparing the show to the books all the time. I've found some things on the show a big improvement over the books, especially the greater development of the characters of Brienne and Margaery. I could do without all the extra smut they've added for the TV show (the books are a lot more dignified), but that's just me.
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Sam and Gilly remind me of Charlie and Claire from Lost. If didn't know better, I could swear the baby is the same who played Turniphead/Aaron (but the baby from lost must be around 10 by now).
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Getting really bored of watching Theon getting tortured. Really, that's all it is. A pointless, dragged out, gruesome torture to make sure we get to feel uncomfortable every episode. Maybe they're really trying to make sure we feel sorry for Theon and hate whoever the other guy is, but it's enough now. Either move their story forward or stop showing them for a few episodes.

And I agree on the pointlessness of Bran and Samwell's storylines. We don't have to see them all every week. We're not going to forget they exist. Get back to them when something interesting is happening.
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Come on show, give Loras a break. He's gay, not a woman!
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He put more thought on the wedding gown than Sansa did...I kinda feel bad he never had the chance to marry Renly.
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I think it was Joffrey who ordered Tyrion killed! Cersei is always embarrassed to admit she has no control over what her own son says or does. That's why she bowed down her head. Her silence was a denial. There was a similar moment somewhere at the end of season 1 I believe... Or at the beginning of season 2. I don't remember. But I do remember the moment and I believe this was one of the same meaning!
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I know what you mean...it was when Joffrey ordered them to kill all the bastards
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Thank you!
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Rose death was as meaningles as her life. When you don't have place for actual book characters, why you need to creat Rose?

My favorite character from third book is Red Viper. Can't wait for him. I think he was in third book, but I am dissapointed that anyone from Sunspear hasn't showd up.
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They arrive pretty late for the royal wedding.
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No comment of Littlefingers speech? Or the sick transition from "there's only the climb" to Ygritte and Jon climbing the top of the wall? You usually love that stuff Tim!
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I dont think it (the arrows) was a double standard. I think they were mirroring each other, but Arya does it for revenge for her family whereas Goffrey does it for fun.
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Arya's practicing on the dummy, dreaming of the day, honing her precision.
Evil pubescent king Joff over here is randomly shooting very real arrows at a very real person from 1-2 meters away. It's not even close to double standard.
As for Ros, she was always just serving the story of a more major player, Littlefinger. This way, its just more permanent.
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I want Brienne and Cersei to met, especially after the dinner party with Bolton. IMO the Kingslayer has some explaining to do...
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Tim, it "eye's you'll shut forever". It's not a fastforward to her killing people. SPOILER It's a fast forward to her going blind the next book.

And the reason Tyrion thinks it's Joffrey is cos Cersei would never be so stupid as to order a Kingsuard to murder the Hand of the King in broad daylight.
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Stop posting major spoilers here you idiot. Just putting the word "spoiler" in all caps immediately before the spoiler isn't going to prevent anyone who learned to read more than a year ago from seeing it. (We don't read one word at a time).

I wish tv.com would stick to the strategy they stated in the first review, which was to ban people who post book spoilers in the reviews.
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Well seeing as there's a break in the line before the actual spoiler, it's still your fault for continuing to read it.

And the ban threat was for people who go out of their way to spoil people just for the sake of spoiling them. It's not for people honestly engaging in a discussion.
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Bullshit. The ban threat was for people like you. It's a shame that they're too lazy to enforce it.

The suggestion that this was *my* fault is ridiculous. I skim through each post quickly to see if there's anything I want to read in it. When I do that, I'm going much too fast to have time to interpret everything on a line before I have moved on to the next. So there was no way I could have stopped.

The suggestion that it's OK to post major spoilers as long as they're part of a discussion is absurd. It doesn't make any sense.
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This particular contribution can't be made at all. No phrasing is good.

If you wanted to discuss how the writers did a wink-wink-nudge-nudge that only book readers could understand, you could have done it at a site where such comments are welcome.

If you specifically wanted to inform Tim that he had missed something, then you could have sent him a private message.
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Well then how would you like me to phrase my contribution to the discussion?
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When have I suggested that skipping a line would have been much better? You shouldn't be posting major spoilers at all.

It might have helped if you had skipped 20 lines, because then a reader will probably think "whoa, why is there a big empty space here?". But that's still not good enough, because it's not going to prevent people from seeing the spoiler by accident when they scroll through the page looking for something.
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It isn't OK to post major spoilers as part of a discussion. That's now what I was saying. What I'm saying is that the ban is for people who intentionally spoil other users, not for people who make an honest mistake.

If your eyes are moving too fast for your brain to keep up, explain how my skiping a line would have helped you. You would have read the next line before your brain processed the word "SPOILER".
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They have completely re-done R'hllor mythology, it wouldn't surprise me "the eyes you'll shut forever" are a direct reference to the names she'll offer to the Red God as a man suggested, Jaqen definitely was a member of Mel's cult judging only by Valar Morghullis/Valar Dohares.
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Valar Morghullis/Valar Dohares isn't just for the red god, outside of Westeros it's a commonly known Valaryian saying (Dany has said one this season), only in Bravos doesn't it have a more sinister meaning as it implies the house of black and white.
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SPOILER She will not offer anything to the Red God, she will take the lifes for the nameless god, they 2 completly diffrent religions. In Bravos there are more than 1000gods and like 50diffrent temples
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I think the Red God on the show is the only true God on the show, hence why they are creating a completely different mytholy: Book spoilers don't apply anymore. Arya is the Melisandre for Jaqen's Thoros on TV: the same Valar Morghulis/Valar Dohaeris dynamic.
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"Arya is the Melisandre for Jaqen's Thoros on TV"

This sentence is scrambling my brain, can you elaborate a little bit?

Also the TV show still has all the religions of the book and don't really know what new mythology they are creating other than making Jaqen a follower of the red god.
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I think the red god is just one face of the god of many faces, who seems to basically be death, seeing as The Stranger is his persona within the light of the seven.
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Jaqen didn't serve the Red God on the books like he did on the show. For the first time, book spoilers aren't valid anymore and all bets are off: Thanks Arya!
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Whilst he didn't 'serve' the red god he does tell her she has stolen three lives from the red god, as she freed them from being burned alive, this is the same in the books and TV show.

So whilst it seems like he is a follower of R'hllor its more likely that he simply owes the lives to that god.
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Can't wait to see how Littlefinger settles in with his new stepson and weirdo wife. He seems to have fond memories of her and expects her to be the same person from before she went off her meds. FLY LITTLEFINGER, FLY!!

Favourite line this episode - "The laws of my fist are about to compel your teeth!"

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How hugely you underestimate Petyr
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he doesnt have fond memories of her, he was always in love with Catherine Stark and wanted to marry her and Lisa was in Love with him [MINISPOILER ahead if you want to read the books in the futere] and they spent the night together. She got pregnant and her father forced her to an abortion.
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Old. Oooold.

Haha. Lady Olenna smacking down Cersei as being over-the-hill is probably my favorite part of the episode. And she does it with a sweet smile and a little nod of her head. I have no illusions about the Tyrells not being entirely ruthless but I would still choose their family to be a part of over any other in the Seven Kingdoms. Endlessly power-hungry just like the rest of 'em, sure, but way more fun about it. And hey - Highgarden sounds like a pretty amazing place. You get to wear skimpy dresses and be gay all you want. Woo-hoo!

Anyway... Yes, this episode felt very patched-together and was indeed a bit of a halt in pace. We get next to nothing with Bran, Theon, Jamie, Sam, Robb. Even Jon's arc wasn't much of anything. They set out to climb the wall and then they do. The end.

But the Brotherhood bit was quite interesting. So too was the Sansa development. And while we're on that let me just say - while I agree with those who defend Sansa because of her age and very complex predicament - I think we've passed the point now where it's time for her to grow up a little bit. She still sees nothing for what it is, other than perhaps just Joffrey. If this is really the heart of her character, the "little bird"/doe eye syndrome, and something she's not going to shed I just may have to give up on her. Sidenote: I'm glad she's marrying Tyrion if she has to wed at all. He may be older, scarred, and short but we all know he's about the best guy you could hope for in Westeros.

Also - I think the show is really saying that Joffrey ordered the hit on Tyrion. I know that's not the case in the books but the show seems to be trying to make both Cersei more sympathetic and Joffrey more evil, as displayed with the Ros reveal.

And as far as Ros' death goes I too found it to be immensely shocking as well as disappointing. It seemed she had an actual part to play in the series, especially considering that she was a show-invented character, and then suddenly she's killed off-screen after having really only served to provide a few sexy scenes and get some info to Varys. I'll give GoT one thing though - it was affecting. She may not have been a big character but I enjoyed her. And to see that she went in such a brutal manner while we weren't even clued in... It was tough. For any Spartacus fans on here it reminded me of Kore's death where we she was revealed to have been crucified off-screen. That too got to me.

RIP Ros.
May the King be killed himself soon.
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Props for the shout out to Kore.
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No, but srsly. Where was Danny?!
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Please...cut it off..cut it off..cut it off....(screaming in pain)....I win.....
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Great review. But you missed something with "And Littlefinger sailed off to the Eyrie to marry the Iron Throne of women (in aesthetics alone), Lysa Arryn." No, what we saw was Sansa looking at Littlefinger's ship at anchor in the bay, and reconsidering whether she'll take Littlefinger up on his offer.
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I wish someone would inform Sansa what Littlefinger did to the last red haired he took under his wing on the show.
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I'm pretty sure it was sailing away... Why would she be weeping for all she's worth while glancing at a perfectly good chance to just go home? I imagine that'd be more a look of resolve. But watching your last chance of escape drifitng off with no hope of calling it back? That's worth a good meltdown. Additionally, that scene was over Littlefinger's line about some people "never bothering to climb" and "missing their chance (because of) clinging to (whatever)".
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"And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse, they cling to the realm, or the gods, or love, illusions...only the ladder is real, the climb is all there is."

You are definitely correct, she has missed ("refused") her chance to leave with him. The boat is sailing away and has wind billowing its sails and is leaving track-marks in the water.
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A valid interpretation, and Sansa is definitely afraid to climb, but chaos is still coming, and Littlefinger doesn't consider her to be a climber; he thinks of her as a rung.
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Oh no doubt he sees her potential but also he sees Cat in her as well, probably the only thing we know he cherishes in this world, other than power of course.

I see why you are interpreting the boat differently but it doesn't change Sansa's perspective as it leaves, in her eyes she has missed out on safe passage home.
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Or she's crying because she thought she was marrying Loras and now is slated for Tyrion, and Littlefinger's offer is looking better, but she's instinctively mistrustful of Littlefinger (he does give off that creepy vibe) and she's afraid.
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I rewatched the scene several times. It's quite clear the ship is moving. Sails open full to the wind, out in open sea, and ripples flowing behind it.
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I've read the books several times and I'll just hold my rebuttal for a couple of weeks...
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While I don't wonder why some people have a problem with Theon's storyline being dragged out, I know it is necessary ( and to be fair this storyline is far more intriguing than the whole second season of Daenerys, which was necessary too ). It would have been a massive mistake to bring Alfie back in the fifth or sixth season. The change to his character would have been too massive and to be fair, I don't think flashbacks fit Game of Thrones as well as they fit the books. Iwan Rheon is a perfect fit for the role of the torturer.
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Man, I wanna see the Queen of Thorns and the Dowager Countess of Grantham go head to head.
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Hodor can be found little over 6 mins in, when Bran tells them to stop fighting, Hodor is woken up, and says "Hodor" in a voice common to people being awoken suddenly. He isn't visible for a long period, but he is very much present and accounted for....unlike Dany...i was expecting a higher dragon on screen kill count by now, hopefully the next episode won't disappoint, given Dany and one of her dragons are in the preview.
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My main original problems with the show's portrayal of King's Landing events was that I thought it would take away from the eventual twist at the end of...'the purple one'...But I see where they are going with it. My bet is that this entire political marriage fighting for Sansa crap is going to be dropped for the next few episodes, and then when the big reveal happens in S4, it will still be a big twist.
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Arya wants to learn to protect herself. Her naming those she wants to kill are characters most of us hate and have done really bad things. In that way we can understand where Arya is coming from and are rooting for her to get some justice. Joffery is just cruel and besides, no one likes him. Lady Olenna needs her own show where she can just talk and scheme with people. I love her lines. She's old and will say whatever she wants. Jamie and Brienne seem to know each other well now. I loved how she just stabbed his stake for him so he could eat. He also knew that the knife grab meant trouble. Samwell and Gilly seem over their heads. At least Gilly seems to have some sense about her. They should be all right. And that cool thing he found has to play a role soon as we were just reminded it about it.

I loved the shot of Jon on top of the wall and one side was frozen wasteland and the other looked really nice. No wonder they want to leave the North.

This episode felt like it started to set things up for the next couple of weeks. It had that feel of let's get all the talking out of the way so we can have some serious action. It feels like stuff already happened this season, but more is coming.
More+
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"who's getting more torture, Sansa or Theon?" Ummm... that would be Theon. Also, what's happening to Theon is worse than anything he ever did. Even killing those kids. Most would choose death over being slowly tortured by someone who doesn't really want anything other than to continue torturing you. Just thinking about it gives me the creeps.
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I wouldn't be so quick to call that. I think I'd rather lose a finger than watch my father get beheaded, be forced to stare at his rotted face, and then be informed by the person who did it that they intend for me to be their sex slave.
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Theon, hands down! Sansa's "torture" reduces not to marry the pretty Loras, Theon is actually losing limbs here (not to mention, his girlfriend from season 1 or people have just forgotten Theon and Ros used to be an item?)
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She was a whore... Not really his girlfriend, lol.
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Is that a excuse to kill her? "Don't worry, Ros was just a whore Littlefinger is totally cool. No harm done" Because I don't buy it any more than the muder of the Butcher's boy.
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No one's saying she didn't matter. We're saying she didn't matter to him and he didn't matter to her. There was no relationship. But Ros still most definitely mattered as a person. Her prostitution is not a point against her - just a point against the idea that it made her Theon's girlfriend.
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lol. Pretty hilarious you think Theon would actually still remember Ros. Besides, although I think it's a little too much, Theon deserves whatever torture he gets. Or have we all forgotten that he murderered two innocent boys for cover? Sansa on the other hand has done nothing to deserve this torture.
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Theon was almost raped too you know and, maybe its just me, but his "rescuer" is nowhere near as gentle as the Hound was last season.
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You have to take into consideration the things he has done. Yeah, he was "almost raped", but those two boys weren't "almost murdered", they just plain were, by him. He made Bran and his brother watch as he murdered a man they considered family. And also it's pretty rich of someone to think that all Sansa's torture is not getting to marry "the pretty Loras". I guess we've forgotten that she's being held hostage by the family of the monster who had her father killed, who forced her to stare into his rotting head, who had his guards beat her up and strip her in court. A girl who's too scared to say a word against this same monster. But you know what? Forget all that. How dare she distract herself with some fairytale of escaping her prison with this guy she look to as "Prince Charming"
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Come on! Are we seriously supposed to feel extra for Theon because he lost his "girlfriend"? He had a crush on a prostitute he paid for a few times about a year back. They haven't seen each other since. He has no clue about her fate. They were nothing. He lost nothing when she was killed.
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I'm sorry but Torture beats wedding, and actual girlfriend beats potential gay husband in my book. I'm not going to feel bad about Sansa when Theon has REAL problems to deal with right now.
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I don't think the review is meant to mean that she's being tortured by being married off to Tyrion, but instead because of everything in total that she's been through at King's Landing. And Ros was in no way Theon's "actual girlfriend". That's just completely laughable.
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I thought the overall "feel" of this episode was way more than the sum of its parts. To me it felt epic, breathtaking, like a rushing momentum toward something beautiful in its terribleness has begun. I increasingly appreciate the way the music in this series contributes to the feel of each episode.
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