Astute viewers knew something was wrong when the wedding musicians started playing the Lannister song of war and battle, ‘The Rains of Castamere’.
I remember feeling physically ill for an hour after reading the chapter in George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Storm of Swords’ that corresponded to the end of tonight’s episode.
The interesting conversation is: what happens now? What’s become of the North? The Starks are dead or scattered all across the world. Winterfell is in ruins. Where are all of Robb’s generals, like the Blackfish, and the groom himself, Edmure Tully?
The still-more interesting conversation: will viewers be encouraged enough to hang on, persist, and see this story through? Many people I know felt completely gutted after this chapter years ago, and the ones I saw watching tonight seemed doubly so – it’s quite something to see these events play out visually.
How do you hang on when the good guys get torn apart so viciously, so brazenly?
It’s getting tougher to piece these recaps together in recent weeks on account of a school schedule that’s getting busier than ever; but it’s a labor of love, and a true pleasure to get to reflect on some of the most memorable television being made. Apologies to the OL community for the tardiness! Hopefully, this look back on ‘The Climb’ will whet your appetite for the next Thrones ep we’ll have coming this Sunday.
The episode this week was a strange mishmash of plodding and excellence. Let’s start with the rotten side of the apple.
Game of Thrones has been kissed by fire in Season 3 – ratings are at a series high, and it’s easy to see why. The escalation all year has been almost out of control – new characters almost every week, new fantasy elements (to some viewers’ dismay), and new plots that aren’t in line with expectations.
The fifth episode’s title, “Kissed By Fire” is culled from a quote from red-headed wildling Ygritte, in reference to the boy that deflowered her. Red on red, as it were.
It’s a phrase very easily applied to half of Westeros, as well. The country is ravaged by war, farmlands are on fire, the religion of the Lord of Light and its affinity with fire are slowly creeping into all parts of the land, and Dany and her dragons have charred a city, and are marching to another.
And then there’s Beric Dondarrion.
This fool has had less than ten minutes of screen time and already reach maximum swagger allotment. It may have something to do with his pocket priest, Thoros of Myr – a red priest, not unlike Melisandre, Westeros’s resident shadow baby factory.
Daenerys Targaryen has quickly captured the imagination and hopes of every viewer of HBO’s Thrones. Small wonder then, that the episodes are frequently titled after her story, and focus heavily on her story, even if it’s a story that’s been mostly divorced from the war in Westeros for over two years.
The “walk of punishment” is blatantly reminiscent of the crucifixion-executions of the Roman Empire. The condemned were forced to hang, nailed to wooden crosses, in rows lining the roads surrounding Rome (historians can correct me if needed).
This walk of punishment doesn’t seem to instill fear in Dany, as intended, but instead, compassion and fury.
Welcome back to one of the most exciting and visually-astounding shows on television. The third season of Game of Thrones, based (mostly) on Martin’s third novel in the Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, A Storm of Swords, began last night on HBO.
The cinematographers on the show have a lot of fun with framing, shot direction and imagery; why shouldn’t we as well? The film student in me from a decade ago still likes to assert itself, and Thrones is a show worth recapping through its powerful imagery. There are enough recaps on the net doing blow-by-blows, so hopefully, we can dig a little deeper here and tackle things from a different angle.
Let’s do it.
Budrickton, Slacker in the North, First of His Name.
(some more specific thoughts from this otherwise straightforward-but-incredible spectacle to be rolled into a season-end post this week! Finalé’s tonight at 9pm on HBO, and it’s clockin’ in at 64 minutes! Adjust thy PVRs, and enjoy!)
Take a look at those two faces. Those are probably the two smartest, and most well-connected men in King’s Landing, and even they’re confused and unprepared. They don’t really have a handle on what’s coming next week. The capital isn’t prepared for Stannis’ impending invasion fleet. But, as with most story threads laid out in this week’s otherwise hollow episode, the hint of hope is teased for much more to come in the final two episodes of the season.
It’s fun to guess at who the man is in the title of this week’s episode. There are plenty of men without honor in Westeros and Essos. The show’s breakout star of late, Alfie Allen’s Theon Greyjoy is the easy candidate, beheading Rodrik, roasting two children alive (supposedly Bran and Rickon), and betraying the Northern kingdom that was his home for half his life. But we’re meant to sympathize with him too; he was the prisoner for that half of his life, taken from his home and his family. The Greyjoy Rebellion bred this little shit, and it’s almost easy to believe that it isn’t his fault that he’s turned into a despicable, cruel Joffrey-in-the-North.
Sunday’s hour of Game of Thrones felt a scant 20 minutes, loaded with shock factor, upheaval and the brand of Westerosi monstrosity we’ve become accustomed to.
“The Old Gods and the New” is a phrase we’ve heard many, many times in Westeros. The Old Gods were kept by the original, ‘first men’ of Westeros. The New Gods are the Seven — the Mother, the Father, Warrior, the Crone, the Smith, the Maiden, and the Stranger.
And still newer gods come from all directions; Melisandre’s Red God, which Jaqen has invoked. Syrio’s God of Death, to whom we say, not today. And certainly not least, the Drowned God of the Ironmen, to whom payment was made on Sunday, with Rodrik Cassel’s head.
Harrenhal already seems like it could be the likeliest place in Westeros for a ghost to take up residence. Arya Stark is basically dead to the world; small wonder she finds herself in a position to be Harrenhal’s newest specter, a girl whose words can now kill.
Sunday was about Game of Thrones’ characters gaining new ground in unexpected places. Finding new sources of strength where they never imagined them to be. And naturally, having those new gains define character arcs and plots for the rest of the season. A setup episode of connective tissue necessary at this season’s midpoint.
Before all that setup could happen, and just as the show was teasing us with the prospect of an alliance between Highgarden and the North, we had to see what became of Stannis and Mel’s love-shadow. And we did.