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"The Walk of Punishment is a warning..."
Those few who weren’t particularly impressed with the slower paced, world (re)building first two episodes of the season (“Valar Dohaeris” and "Dark Wings, Dark Words") surely got more than a, uh, handful of scenes last night to satisfy the bloodthirsty and sex-starved Game of Thrones viewers. “A Walk of Punishment” had plenty of both, a fantasy-exploitation episode that effectively titillated and shocked as well as provided some great moments of levity. Of course, just because the third season's storylines are starting to take shape doesn't mean the show is anywhere near done introducing new characters. That will never stop. Fortunately, enough will probably also be killed to even things out. Hm. Fortunately might not be the right word, well, depending on who is doing the dying. Nobody of significance died during "A Walk of Punishment" but there were certainly a few ancillary characters who bit the dust not to mention the plans made for future corpses.
"Rhaegar fought valiantly. Rhaegar fought nobly. And Rhaegar died."
Oh, and there's elephant in the room, Jaime's little incident at episode's end. But this time let's start the proceedings with Daenerys in Astapor. Speaking of Astapor, before embarking on the action, I think it's worth mentioning the magnificent and constantly changing title sequence which now features the city off Slaver's Bay as well as the ruins of Winterhell, sorry, Winterfell and, now, Riverrun. So rad. Anyway, back to Dany and her continued haggling over the Unsullied, first about the moral implications with her advisors (now plural thanks to the arrival of Ser Barristan the Bold) and then price with the despicable (yet, somehow magnetic) slaver trader. The price is high, Drogon, the biggest dragon, and stopping Dany is the first thing that Mormont and Barristan seem to agree on. A little jealousy from Jorah? Surely, the mother of dragons will bnot part with one of her children? There must be more to this plan that also nabbed her a sweet and smart new assistant in Missandei. Finally, I loved Dany's take on 'Valar Morghulus" and it perfectly fits into the brief talk of the women and their power from last week's recap.
"...there are others with your blood in their veins."
Another of the main threads still inching its way forward, it is only the third episode after all, is Arya's journey north. This week picked up from the cliffhanger of "DWDW" without much pomp and/or circumstance. There was no real consequence that came out of the Brotherhood Without Banners discovering that the dangerous girl was in fact a Lady Stark or the fact that it was The Hound who did the fingering. Whoa. Phrasing. Either way, her journey progressed a bit, with the Brotherhood's intentions, specifically Thoros, seeming on the up and up and Sandor Clegane getting his comeuppance. Of course, we also can't forget about the sentimental goodbye to Hot Pie, or, more importantly, the fact that Gendry is still sticking by Arya's side. Remember he's the bastard of Robert Baratheon, meaning he shares blood with a certain sickly looking stoic king. Stannis is still the hard man but cracks are showing when Melisandre shares that she's setting sea. Don't worry dude, she's just trying to re-stoke your fire. Until then, no more shadow babies! Even if you do want everybody dead. Join the club.
"Only my life. Not all that significant, I'm afraid."
And since we're on the topic of clubs that want everybody dead, it only makes sense to head to the small council and see what was transpiring in King's Landing as the others play the game in less decadent settings. Decadence was very much the topic of the first scene (correct me if I'm wrong but also the first time Cersei and Tywin have ever shared the screen, making me super excited for more scenes between Headey and Dance) where the Lannisters showed their true colors, gold mostly, with petty gesture to match petty gesture. Tywin, of course, has to redecorate to make it befitting his stature and the kids, well, they just want attention dragging those brand new chairs around. Tyrion also gets the pleasure of become Master of Coin, a duty he could do without since Littlefinger has left the capitol in so much debt. This Iron Bank of Braavos does not sound like a forgiving lot. After Littlefinger, the new Lord of the Vale whose off to wed crazy Lysa Arryn (Tully) and father that wretched Robert, shares the secret of the books, Tyrion finally thanks Pod for his life saving services during the Battle of the Blackwater. Although, something curious does come of the present. Details!
"Always the artists."
At least Tyrion is still able to crack wise and see some girls, the folks north of the Wall, whether wildling or man of the Night's Watch, are not so lucky. Well, the wildlings do have girls but Jon and Ygritte haven't been as close since they joined with the rest of the camp and Mance took a weird liking to Ned Stark's bastard. I think there's some affection there, there was certainly respect in Mance's voice when he was discussing Mormont and whether or not anyone might have survived the massacre slash masterpiece made by the White Walkers. And now that's 300 more wights for the living to deal with and again, it doesn't matter which side of the wall you were born on when it comes to the Walkers. That's not to say that the animosity between the free folk and the crows has lessened at all, it's just another enemy that they both have to deal with while continuing to fight each other. What's Jon going to do out on a Wall climbing quest with those war ready wildlings? Join them or warn the Black? The crows aren't doing so well for themselves either, holed back up at Craster's keep with him and all his daugher-wives. And after showing how despicable he is, like we needed reminding, Sam sticks his stupid face into a tent to see Gilly give birth to a baby boy.
"You little bastard."
And what a boy! Sorry. The Simpsons. Trying to break the theme of hopelessness and misery running through "A Walk of Punishment, "Theon's storyline opens with him receiving a temporary (?) respite from the excruciating pain and even possibly a prison break thanks to the help of an unknown young man. Only hooded for a second this week, he's quickly sprung from his 'X' and sent east on horseback only to soon find that a pack of men from the torture camp have tracked him down. The chase was pretty well shot, with arrows whizzing by and sticking into the occasional tree (overall, the installment wasn't the most visually striking but this is co-creator/writer David Benioff's first Game of Thrones as director) and eventually Theon is brought down by a vicious blow. And that's just the beginning of what could have been a very sordid set of events if not for the help of the same handsome helper who helped him escape. Yara sure knows how to pick 'em. However, there was something a little odd about the boy muttering the Stark's words to the Greyjoy upon rescue, no? Maybe since winter is like, for sure coming it's just a more popular expression.
"'Wait for me, little Cat,' he'd say. 'Wait for me. And I'll come back for you.'"
You can’t say ‘winter is coming’ and not then see what the most loved family in Game of Thrones is up to and, unfortunately, for the Lady of the family, it happens to be the funeral of her father. The episode opened with a fantastic, wordless introduction of two new characters in the Tully family who seem to have a little bit of a testy relationship. Probably because Edmure is always letting the Blackfish down, just like he did by not being able to set afire his own father’s death boat. To be fair, that looked like a bloody hard shot but since King Robb was snickering at the second miss and most of the crowd was aghast, I figure it was pretty shit. No worry, the Blackfish doesn’t even have to watch his shot. Nailed it! We soon learn that he and his brother (the dead boat guy, Lord Hoster) were estranged with Blackfish serving the same purpose as black-sheep. He still seems like a pretty kick ass dude and one you definitely want on your side when fighting a war, not like that blundering brother of Cat’s who botched their plan to kill the Mountain. Oddly, while Cat cries for her lost boys, Lady Talisa is tending to the Lannister wounded. At least she’s scaring them.
"On the stump."
Finally, we can talk about the most explosive thread of the week with Brienne and Jaime’s journey back to King’s Landing getting complicated at the end of “Dark Wings, Dark Words.” Now prisoners of a troupe of Lord Bolton’s men, the same Lord Bolton who holds Harrenhaal and is known for flaying men, Jaime actually starts to show a little compassion for his former captor and gives her some advice on how to handle the inevitable rapes. Speaking of rape, two close calls last night, eh Theon? Anyway, as the camera literally flips sides, Jaime realizes that he might be able to save the Lady’s maidenhood and tells Locke that she’s worth her weight in Sapphires, Tarth being known for the gem stone. The ploy works, like I said, close call, but then our ‘hero’ gets a little too cute with his captors and suffers the biggest shock of the season. The biggest shock since Lord Eddard lost his head? I’ll let you be the judge of that but for a man who is defined by his sword-hand, what is the Kingslayer to do now? Wow. And ouch. Not just the hand but also The Hold Steady's rendition of “The Bear and The Maiden Fair.” It's no "The Rains of Castamere" by The National.
Game of Thrones Season 3 returns next Sunday with Episode 4, "And Now His Watch Is Ended," at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. The series stars Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Join The Realm.