Monday, May 20, 2013

something to believe in — game of thrones

It is getting harder for readers of George R.R. Martin's epic Song of Ice and Fire series to watch events unfold on HBO's third season of Game of Thrones. Will this be the episode where ... well, I don't want to spoil it for you. But the show had upped the ante so much already, by building up some of the books' more minor characters, like Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) and Gendry, that even a well-versed fan can't help but hope that something might go a little differently, a little better, a little less deadly for some of their beloved characters. And maybe a little more deadly for others.

As much as the show's creators have taken liberties with the original text, it is clear that this season, with only two episodes left to go, is building toward a bang-up conclusion. Fans of the books know that there is still so much more to come. Last night's episode, "Second Sons," moved around the Seven Kingdoms and beyond, catching up with various characters, while testing each one's faith and resolve. It opened with Arya (Maisie Williams) and The Hound. She has sworn to kill him (and all of her enemies), believing him to be a ruthless, unrepentant villain, but he surprised her many times over, by calmly telling her that he was not taking her back to Joffrey as a prisoner as she assumed, but to her mother and Robb, and that he had saved Sansa from being raped. Arya has been living so long praying for the death of the Hound and others who have wronged her and her family that her belief system was shaken to the core.

The happy couple on their special day
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) met the Second Sons — possible adversaries or allies. One particularly disrespectful and nasty warrior was just begging to be killed. His very handsome partner, Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein), made that dream a reality and Daenerys gained a new army and an ardent admirer. Does he believe in her power as a leader, as a beautiful woman, or her dragons? Maybe all three.

Witchy woman Melisandre brought lamb to the slaughter Gendry back with her to Dragonstone. Ser Davos tried to convince Stannis not to "sacrifice" his nephew. "I think mothers and fathers made up the gods because they wanted their children to sleep through the night." But Stannis, at least at present, still believes in Melisandre's Lord of Light. He did, however want to release Davos from his prison cell. Melisandre has her own plans. First up was climbing on top of not-so-little lamb Gendry. King's blood in the fire. But will they use him as a source for dark magic, or will he go out in a blaze of glory?

The highlight of the episode was Sansa and Tyrion's (Peter Dinklage) wedding. Brocade and leather abounded. Everyone was up in arms. Angry and jealous Shae. Nasty Joffrey, who gave the bride away ("Your father's dead.") Hateful Cersei, who shrugged off Margaery's attempt at friendship ("If you ever call me sister again I'll have you strangled in your sleep.") Dopey Sansa, who had to be told to kneel down so that Tyrion could put a wedding cloak upon her back. Tyrion told Sansa to drink up, but who could keep up with him? Tywin (Charles Dance), for once, seemed protective of his youngest son, telling a furious Joffrey to back off when Tyrion said something insulting to the young king. Tyrion and Sansa's wedding night was just as it was on paper, but I couldn't help but wish it had gone a little differently, that Sansa could at least understand that her husband is a kind man. She's just been too beaten down by the Lannisters to trust any of them. She can't believe in him or anyone.

The final scene was a good one. Sam and Gilly and the baby, who stil has no name, found themselves in the middle of a cold wood, in a deserted cabin, trying to start a fire. The sense of dread mounted as crows gathered and cawed above them, filling the trees outside. A white walker, coming for the baby, broke Sam's sword as if it was nothing. Sam was thrown, and then jumped up to protect Gilly and the baby, with his dragon stone (obsidian) dagger to destroy the monster. Whew.

Keep it coming, Game of Thrones, keep it coming.
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