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"Burn them all, he kept saying. Burn them all. I don't think he expected to die. He meant to burn with the rest of us and rise again, reborn as a dragon and turn his enemies to ash..."
The third season of Game of Thrones started slowly, common for heavily serialized shows with large ensembles, but the last few episodes have been extra intense. Ever since the series cut to black at the end of "A Walk of Punishment" it's been one gripping sequence after another and last week's “And Now His Watch Is Ended" was one of the best of the entire series. So far, that is. "Kissed By Fire" could also easily be part of that conversation, thanks to some stellar performances and impeccably written dialogue. Something tells me that Season 3 will have a few more possible 'best-ofs' before it's over. And somehow it's already half over! Time flies when you're having fun. If watching all the characters you love or hate (or love to hate) being put through the ringer from week to week classifies as fun. I think so. Oh, and let's not forget about all the butts! When you play the game of butts, you...
This week's title is a phrase from George R.R. Martin's universe used to describe people with red hair, like the lovely Ygritte, however, "Kissed By Fire" could also refer to many of the other events in the episode. But Jon and the wildling kissed by fire seems like a great place to start, since I'm sure many people have been waiting for the former to finally break his vows and succumb to Ygritte's advances. And who can blame him? Did you see her? All of her? Hey, she insisted. Before the pair hooked up and Jon showed that he does know a little something, he had a bit of a dust up with Orell and then Tormund regarding the upcoming climb. Orell doesn't seem to like Lord Snow very much but Jon also isn't all that intimidated by the warg. He might be a little intimidated by Tormund though and Jon ends up sharing a bit more information about the Night's Watch and their defences than he would probably would have liked. He has no idea what happened to the Lord Commander last week, only that a bunch of crows died at the Fist of the First Men. They'll all find out soon enough given the title of next week's installment, "The Climb." While the wildling couple finally consummated their relationship, another one of our favorite pairings saw their time together come to an end.
"He will. But not today."
Arya and Gendry obviously don't have the same kind of relationship as Jon and Ygritte but they are just as emotionally invested in each other. Seeing them split was pretty painful, especially with Arya's final plea for them to be family because you can tell Gendry would love to say yes. But he's right. This world has rules and I don't fault him for wanting to control his own destiny. As for Arya, she's as cold as ever, wanting nothing more than to see the Hound die. Or do it herself. He's on the list. I got chills when she told Beric she'd trade his life for her fathers. Oh. And there was also the epic trial by combat not to mention Beric's resurrection by the Lord of Light. The opening battle between Lord Dondarrion and The Hound was longer than most of Game of Thrones' sword fights and it proved quite exciting. I loved watching Clegane fight through his fear of the flames as Beric advanced on him with a sword of fire only to be cut down. Once again, the Brotherhood Without Banners proves to be an interesting bunch. Very much in the Robin Hood vein, they are both outlaws and heroes. You have to admire that kind of commitment to justice and it's hard not to believe in the Red God when he can bring a man back from the dead six times. I wonder what the Lord of Light has in store for Sandor Clegane?
"The Lady Melisandre's told me everything."
Since we're on the topic of the Red God, let's take the trip to Dragonstone and catch up with Stannis as well as meet the rest of his 'kissed by fire' family. And you can kind of see why he doesn't like hanging around with his wife. Yep, in a season that's focussed a lot on strong women defying their gender roles, Selyse is not a particularly likeable character. She's, well, she's bat-shit crazy. I'll leave it up to you to decide who's worse, her of Lysa Arryn but stillborn boys kept in jars takes the cake for me. And the inclusion of Edric was a nice Easter Egg for readers (look that up at the end of the season, it's not really a spoilerish issue but will shape some of the immediate story). While Selyse is terrifying, Shireen is... also a little bit terrifying. Only because of the way she sings ominous and possibly prophetic songs not the greyscale that covers half of her face. Greyscale is an often fatal disease found in the Game of Thrones universe and many believe it leaves the survivors forever marked in more ways than their appearance. Besides the singing, she's actually rather cute, especially the way she interacts with Davos, or as she lovingly calls him, the Onion Knight. Stannis takes a blunt approach to parenting which probably explains why she likes Davos so much. He's the best dude in Westeros.
"You're not Lord Commander here. You're just another exile. And I take my orders from the Queen."
Too bad he follows that 'King.' Davos would be much better off serving someone as noble as he is, someone like, say, Daenerys? Shireen was kind enough to bring him a book about Aegon the (Targaryen) Conqueror which not only allowed her to offer her services as a reading teacher but also provide a neat segue to the Khalessi's storyline happening across the Shivering Sea between the recently destroyed Astapor and Yunkai (the newest addition to the title sequence). We don't see much of the Queen this week, just a brief scene where she's standing with the lieutenants of the Unsullied and is introduced to their elected leader named Grey Worm. His story was quite touching and it was a great way to meet his character. As for the old dudes, Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan seem thick as thieves at first, bonding over war stories, broken vows and their shared admiration for Daenerys' style. Soon enough though, the two are butting heads as the latter starts to share his thoughts on how she should handle her return to Westeros, namely surrounding herself with respectable figures and not slave traders. Or, you know, traitors, but Jorah was able to sniff out that his past betrayal of his Khalessi is still his secret. For now. Selmy may not be the Lord Commander anymore but he could probably still chop Mormont to bits so maybe Jorah should be a little more careful with his words?
"By what right does the wolf judge the lion!? By what right?"
Jaime, however, was able to choose his words perfectly when sitting in the giant bathtub with Brienne and the sequence should be enough to earn Nikolaj Coster-Waldau all the Emmys. I'm a sucker for Jaime's storyline anyway but the monologue was absolutely amazing. Impeccably written and delivered, it's one of those moments that completely redefines not only everything you think you know about a character but everything you think you know about the world. Ned Stark doesn't seem so valiant anymore does he? His stubborn sense of morality and the sanctity of these oaths seems a little rigid in the face of Jamie's story, doesn't it? What would you do in that position? Not only ordered to kill his own father (kinslaying is like, barely one step better than kingslayer) but also aware that all of King's Landing was going to be torched. Nothing is simple. It was almost a big moment for their relationship, him cutting back on the banter and admitting that he already trusts her, he only wishes the same in return. We also got another taste of how cold Lord Bolton is, dangling the information about Cersei's well being after the Battle of the Blackwater in his face for a while before reassuring him she was safe. He does treat them very well after that though...
"Sansa is the key to the North?"
The other Lannisters are still up to their usual scheming in the capital, starting with Cersei visiting Littlefinger for help with her Tyrell suspicions. He agrees to look into the situation before setting sail for the Vale and, as usual, his tactics are quite effective. While Littlefinger's spies track down a tasty bit of information, Tyrion is trying his best to fill the former's shoes as Master of Coin and that means meeting with Olenna about the extravagant costs of the royal wedding. Even Tyrion's sharp wits and tongue are no match for the Queen of Thorns but she seems to like him just the same and agrees to share some of the cost with the crown. Too bad her nephew doesn't have her smarts and is only good at sticking things with his pole... is that what she said last week? Either way, the plot to wed him to Sansa aka 'the key to the North' is leaked and it has Cersei grinning like a pig in shit. She does like to be right, almost as much as she likes sticking it to her brothers. Well, getting stuck by one, sticking it to the other. Sorry. She relishes every second of Twyin dropping the news to Tyrion, who again proves he's a much more noble lion than the other two by trying to save Sansa from being a pawn. Again. But Father won't have it and Cersei's finds out that she's soon to have a new fiancé as well. And there goes the grin.
”Kill me and be cursed. You are no king of mine.”
While Tywin is busy playing matchmaker and simply waiting out the war (with some success), the Karstarks decide to take revenge out on the Lannsiters by killing the two young boys that Edmure captured during his ill-conceived battle. How brave of you, Lord Karstark. That’s Theon Greyjoy level of despicable and Robb won’t stand for it. I wonder if he was thinking about his brothers when telling the guilty to look at the boys’ corpses? Against the advice of, well, everyone but the Blackfish (whose only there to be a badass and have Robb’s back), the King In The North decides to quiet the traitor’s tongue for good by removing it and the rest of his head from his body. One swift cut and Robb loses a lot of his men. Good thing that Lady Talisa needs a geography lesson because looking at the large map gives her husband an idea. He’s gong to hit the lions where it hurts, the den. The only thing standing between him and Casterly Rock is Walder Frey. Ugh. That slimy, disgusting old bastard is sure to be surly after Robb broke his promise and married another woman. We’ll see if the Young Wolf can convince the Lord of the Twins to join his campaign. Doesn’t seem likely unless they can buy the old bastard off with something. Or someone.
Game of Thrones Season 3 returns next Sunday with Episode 6, "The Climb," at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. The series stars Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
?"...the shadow's come to stay."?