Game of Thrones "Walk of Punishment" Review: Scoot Your Chair In for Comedy

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Let's get this out of the way so we can get straight to the "comedy-a-palooza" I mean "insightful analysis" I mean "blabberings of a loser who gets names wrongs" (sorry "wArgs" and Paul Kaye): "Walk of Punishment," the third episode of Game of Thrones' third season, was an outstanding hour that touched on every aspect of why we love this show. Impeccably written to capture the sentimental, humorous, and dangerous side of Westeros, "Walk of Punishment" was easily the most complete episode of this young season so far. And a lady-like curtsey to the directors, who masterfully put a keen eye on all the happenings for a truly beautiful episode. 

A quick visit to Wikipedia says we can thank showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss for all of the above; as if the Hodor-sized task of adapting George R.R. Martin's books for HBO isn't enough, the two are credited with both writing and directing "Walk of Punishment." It's the first episode the duo has directed, and it was a confident outing. And maybe that's because the heavy lifting of the first two episodes was already out of the way, but "Walk of Punishment" felt like a more comfortable hour for the show, shaking off the jitters that come with having to reestablish things and swapping them for lean scenes that lent themselves to funny business and a better understanding of show's characters. 

Can you tell I liked this episode? Anyway, light your dead brother on fire with a flaming arrow and let's talk about it!

"I could have had his head on a spike by now. Instead I have a mill." —Robb Stark

Ain't no funeral like a Tully funeral! It would have been easy enough to show Edmure Tully's (Catelyn's brother) incompetence via the reaming he took from Robb over letting The Mountain scurry away, but "Walk of Punishment" opened with a monumental botch on his part during Lord Hoster Tully's (Catelyn's father) viking funeral. Edmure took three flaming-arrow shots at his dad's floating coffin and whiffed on them all. It doesn't get more embarrassing than that. Frustrated, Catelyn's uncle Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully snatched the bow out of Edmure's hand, gauged the wind, and nailed the S.S. Watery Grave in one go, turning away before he even saw it land, like a true badass. I'd pay money to see The Blackfish and Thoros's skilled archer Anguy shoot the apples off people's heads from 500 yards away. 

It was a wonderfully uncomfortable funeral scene, the air of solemn silence (there was zero dialogue in it) broken by snickers and "oh geez" looks from those in attendance. And it was pretty emblematic of many of the scenes in this episode; there were several moments where everyone went out of their way to be more entertaining with small flourishes and dark comedy, but the meaning of each wasn't lost in the process. Lord Tully is dead, and that's sad, but it doesn't mean his funeral has to be only tears. There's room to grow new characters with small touches. 

The uncle-nephew feud continued in Robb's temporary kingly quarters at Riverrun, as Edmure's incompetence showed even more once talk turned toward his recent "conquests" in battle. Edmure boasted that he sent The Mountain running with his tail between his legs (the analogy would have worked better if you were talking about The Hound, Edmure), but Edmure must have been asleep during the big team meeting because that wasn't the plan. This is why you don't work with your family, folks. Edmure is the Cooper Manning to Robb's Peyton and Eli (Brits, substitute your favorite footballin' family here), a man who doesn't just botch things, but thinks he's doing good when he's actually screwing up. Edmure is the kind of chessmaster who captures two pawns (in this case, some Lannister squirts) while letting the King wriggle away; Robb was fed up with him, letting Edmure have it with a stern talking to. Richard Madden has shown some real chops when he needs to knuckle down as King Robb, and in this scene he was downright regal and mean. 

Catelyn continue to extend her world record for longest self-inflicted guilt trip, bemoaning the "loss" of her two sons Bran and Rickon. Hey lady, they're not dead! But she doesn't know that, and it was pretty painful to watch her stare out the window like a teenage girl whose boyfriend just moved away. It was a double-doozy this time around because her dad died and (unlike in the book) she wasn't there for him in his final days, and she wondered if Bran and Rickon had waited for her like she used to wait for her dad and like my cats wait for me. Someone get this woman a Klondike bar and a hug, STAT! Will she ever learn the truth, or is this show going to continue to torture her and us? Comforting her like a Snuggie was The Blackfish, who in just a handful of scenes has already become one of the series' truly good guys, perhaps the most honorable man we've known since Ned Stark. So obviously he's going to die any minute now, because if this show has taught me anything, it's that nice guys finish dead.

Lady Talisa got her own scene this week! It was a short one, but she was bandaging up blondilocks Martin Lannister—"Tywin's father's brother's great grandson," as Robb put it. She went reverse Patch Adams on the little lion, confirming the lies about Robb's lycanthropy and his preference for eating children during a full moon. Was there a real purpose to this scene? Not really, but any scene in which a Lannister kid craps his pants in fear is a winner in my book.

"My brother ain't no king, I'm not a Stark of Winterhell." —Hot Pie

Guys! I think Arya's luck might be turning around! The little Stark who inherited her mother's knack for having everything go terribly wrong got a piece of bread! That's a step in the right direction, Arya. Next thing you know she'll move up to sleeping on a pile of hay and peeing in a toilet. it's time to play the lottery, young lady, because things are definitely on the up-and-up.

But until then, she's still semi-voluntarily a captive of Thoros and his Brotherhood without Banners, and they seem like a pretty good lot to be stuck with, if you ask me. Anguy (the archer) is as on-target with his mouth as he is with his bow, and he hounded The Hound by insinuating that he likes close combat because it favors his homosexual tendencies, then threw a hood on the dog not because he didn't want The Hound to know where they were going, but because he's "one ugly fucker and [he'd] rather not see [him] anymore." Did you guys notice how this show is becoming a comedy? If YouTube doesn't have a supercut with a laughtrack added by the end of the week, the internet has failed.

But the real highlight of Arya's lone scene was a tearful goodbye to Hot Pie (tears on our part, not Arya's, because Arya doesn't cry). The chubby doughboy was sold to the innkeeper who hosted the Brothers Without Banners as payment for the dinner tab, which would normally be an insult to anyone with an ounce of pride. Thankfully for Hot Pie, the only sense of pride he has is with his baking skills, which he'll put to use as the inn's oven master. But the farewell between Hot Pie and Arya and Gendry served up a fresh loaf of melting hearts. Hot Pie baked Arya some brown bread in the shape of a mammal (he claimed it was a wolf but somewhere out there, a bear is saying, "Hey that's me!"), and as Arya rode away on the back of Thoros's horse, she yelled back at Hot Pie, "Hey Hot Pie, it's really good!" And that sweet sentiment was that.

"When it's time I'm going to light the biggest fire the North has ever seen!" —Mance Rayder

It was another quick visit with the North this week with just a scene each for Jon Snow and Samwell. The white blanket of the North was interrupted by some very cool White Walker performance art. Horse bits were carefully arranged in the pattern of the spiraling tendrils of a galaxy, and the art critic in me wants to say, "The White Walkers combine the raw shock value of Damien Hirst with the naturally influenced Andy Goldsworthy for a piece that stirs thoughts of mortality in an ever-expanding universe that cares none about the notion of individuality humankind so dearly hangs onto. Alas, The Godfather did it better with more subtlety. B-." 

But the real star here was Mance Rayder, thanks to a fierce performance by Ciarán Hinds. This is the first time Mance has seemed like the Wildling King, all cranky pants and chest-thumping bravado as he spit dialogue like, "Whether he's Lord Commander of the Night's Watch or a blue-eyed corpse, he's a long way from home" and "If he's useful, good, if not, throw him off the wall. See if crows can fly."

Mance also set up a plan that's bad news for the Night's Watch stationed at Castle Black. With the forces of the Night's Watch split up (and hundreds possibly now soldiers for Team White Walker), war-hungry red-beard Tormund Giantsbane will CLIMB THE WALL and hide out in a pile of snow until Mance gives the signal, at which point he and 20 others (including Jon Snow) will pluck every crow they can in their sleep. All they have to do is climb a 700 hundred foot wall of magic ice first, no big deal. 

Elsewhere in the North, Lord Commander Mormont led the tired members of his murder of crows back to Craster's Inn of Incest, the motto of which is "where your mother can be your sister." Craster hosted the Night's Watch and made Sam his black kettle, reeling off fat joke after fat joke even though he's no Adonis himself. To escape the ridicule, Sam left the room and followed the sounds of incessant shrieking and moaning to his pretend girlfriend Gilly, who was popping out another product of Craster's dirty deeds. We don't know the sex of the kid, but does it really matter? Either it's a girl who can look forward to a life of... well nothing, really, or it's a boy who becomes a White Walker snack. It might be better if the kid has boy parts so it can be over quick. But knowing Sam, he's going to do something stupid!

[UPDATE] As many of you pointed out, Baby Gilly Craster definitely had a penis, making him a boy by the rule of nature. Due to the poorer quality of DVD screeners, I didn't catch it the first time. That, and I really felt weird about rewinding and pausing to enhance the screen on a baby's private parts. Usually, there's public outcry for me noticing a baby's penis, so this is like a Freaky Friday situation.

Now this means Baby Gilly is in immediate danger, which will force Sam's noble bravery/ill-advised stupidity sooner than we thought.

"You're a long way from home, and winter is coming." —Theon's mystery savior.

Once again, Theon had a few scenes thrown in that didn't give us much to go on. Could this time with the young Kraken be better spent with Bran or Sansa? Probably. His unidentified helper, supposedly under the employ of Theon's sister Asha, freed him from his binds and later saved him from being on the wrong end of reenacting a scene from Deliverance. Who is this guy? Last week I thought it was Ramsay Snow, the bastard son of Roose Bolton, but now it appears as though he's an all-new character. Whoever he is, he's handy with a bow, and that final kill execution style was particularly nasty. Ride, Theon! Ride your horse all the way to the Iron Islands (I hope it can swim) and run back to daddy!

"Your fires burn low, my king." —Melisandre

A quick check in with The P-Whipped King and his fiery new-age therapist. Melisandre is "following the flames" to who knows where, which sounds like code-speak for "It's not you, it's me." Stannis gave it one last shot, gruffly mumbling what I'm sure he thought was a seductive "I want youuuuuuuuu" into Mel's ear, but she responded with a burn of a response: "Your fires burn low, my king." Ouch! I don't know what that means but it sounds a lot worse than standard breakup talk. That's why you don't fall for gypsies, Stannis. Their wanderlust is greater than their manlust, they can't be tied down. They sweep you off your feet, break your heart, and steal your stamp collection.

"We're going to need details. Copious details." —Tyrion Lannister

The King's Landing drama started with one of my favorite scenes from the series of all time. I mean this opening bit with the Small Council was absolutely brilliant. Tywin is the new Hand of the King, and all the suck-ups did their best to jockey for favorable position in the Game of Thrones version of The CW's Oh Sit!. Cersei calmly and smugly grabbed a chair and moved it to the other side of the table next to her daddy, outsmarting Littlefinger, Varys, and Maester Pycelle. But it was Tyrion defiantly and purposefully dragging his chair to the opposite end of the table from Tywin that was downright hysterical. It put him as far away from Tywin as he could be yet still directly in his line of sight, a direct response to his father taking his job. 

The talk turns to Littlefinger marrying Lady Lysa Tully-Arryn, Catelyn's sister, to which Littlefinger says something along the lines of, "She's always wanted me." That got a perfect eye roll from Varys and a smirk from Tyrion, who quipped, "Far be it for me to hinder true love." Have fun with that psycho lady, Littlefinger. Tyrion also noted that if Littlefinger runs off to The Eyrie, King's Landing would be without its Master of Coin when the city needed it most to help prepare for Joffrey's wedding to Margaery. Without missing a beat, Tywin made Tyrion the new Master of Coin, the job no one wanted. Cersei got the giggles from this and sarcastically said, "I have no doubt you will prove equal to this challenge," with that look plastered across her face. And to make things even worse, that sycophant Pycelle follows with a "Here, here!" This was everyone crawling over each for power or the last word and reveling in each other's misfortune. This was exactly what this show should be.

Later, Tyrion got the boring accounting paperwork from Littlefinger and discovered the King's account owed a lot of money to Tywin, but Tyrion had a more important debt to pay. It was time for his squire Podrick Payne to be rewarded for saving Tyrion's life, and apparently Tyrion's life is worth an afternoon with three whores, one of whom is the lovechild of a human and a pretzel or has no bones in her body. There were more laughs as Bronn and Tyrion huddled around Pod asking for details after the ladies refused payment for their services. This episode was too funny! Game of Funnybones more like it.

"He was not the last dragon." —Daenerys Targaryen

Dany soaked in some Astaporian culture, which mostly consists of slaves hanging out to die on the boardwalk (Lonely Planet calls it a must-see attraction). She did not like this and tried to give one of the slaves water from her own supply, which is a really good way to get mouth sores. Ser Barristan had only been a member of her posse for about a day, but already he was butting heads with Ser Jorah over the advantages of having an army of soldiers who love their king versus a robot army.

I get the feeling Dany wanted the best of both worlds and was looking to turn an Unsullied army into robots who love her, so she went straight to work on negotiations with Master Kraznys to acquire ALL OF THEM and the little ones in training. But in order to get all of them, she had to offer her most powerful dragon in exchange. She crazy! But she's got some sort of plan in the works, right? I mean, you don't just hand over one of your three dragons when your whole political platform is built on dragons. A dragon in the hand is NOT worth 8,000 men in the bush, or whatever the saying is. Maybe she'll send out Ser Jorah dressed in a rubber dragon costume or something. That's what I would do. Man, I would OWN Westeros with my sneaky mercantile techniques.

"If I was a woman I'd make them kill me. I'm not, thank the gods." —Jaime Lannister

I'm not sure the Bolton men are doing it right. They had Jaime and Brienne tied together riding on a horse, but some of their own men were walking? Someone needs a lesson in villainy. Jaime was still in denial about getting his butt kicked by Brienne, so he changed the subject to one that couldn't be denied: Brienne, monstrosity that she is (his words, not mine), was going to get raped. "Just close your eyes, pretend they're Renly," Jaime told Brienne, continuing his string of quotable life advice which should be compiled into a book and sold at an Urban Outfitters near you. 

When it came time for her defilement, Jaime stepped up big, telling the leader Locke that Brienne's dad would pay her weight (and she's a big one!) in sapphires for her safe return. As off-color as Jaime can be, he's also a suave dude who has a way with words, and a few SAT terms later, he'd convinced Locke to unchain him and let him eat. Alright! I was sure nothing could go wron—OH MY GOD Locke cut off Jaime's hand! His right hand, too! 

Well, I'd guess Locke just signed his death certificate there, and now we have firmly established an us (Brienne and Jaime) versus them (those jerks) situation. I can't wait for Jaime to pick up his severed hand and slap Locke in the face with it. Maybe Jaime can create a chainsaw attachment like Ash or a knife attachment like Merle Dixon. Either way, shit just got real for Jaime. Who has one thumb and is really pissed right now? That guy.



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:
"Walk of Punishment" boasted a handful of standout scenes (the reconvening of the Small Council being the best) that showed off the series' humor and sentimentalism. We didn't see Bran or Sansa this week, but neither felt missed as big things happened elsewhere. Dany's storyline continues to impress, and Jaime and Brienne have just been pushed over the precipice toward major changes. The reorientation period is over, and big things are getting started. 

1. "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 had a funeral for her father, Hot Pie said goodbye to Arya, and Jon was headed to The Wall.


2. "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. 


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

We saw Arya, Jaime, and Bran for the first time in the 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.



NOTES FROM THE RAVENS

– I promised my mom I wouldn't be so blue in these reviews, but I can't finish this reviewcap without mentioning the brilliant boob smash cut between Missandei's airy dress and Ros' bent-over cleavage as we lept from Astapor to Littlefinger's quarters in the brothel. Sorry mom! But it's art! 

– Bronn's nickname for Tywin: "Twatbeard." Sounds about right.

– The Bolton man who lopped off Jaime's hand appears to be the replacement for the nasty Vargo Hoat from the book, which kind of surprises me. According to people who know better than I do, this character's name is Locke. 

– Ghost sighting!

– Jorah's line, "There's a beast in every man, and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand," was said in a way that only Iain Glen could make it sound so cool. That dialogue should inspire many tattoos. 

– Look, I'm not saying "The Bair and the Maiden Fair" isn't a decent song, but I don't know how intimidating it makes a bunch of sellswords look when they sing it. What's their next battle song, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat?"



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter for all your Podrick fanfic needs: @TimAtTVDotCom

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