As the title of the episode suggests, there was a lot of fire this week, and in more ways than one. The actual phrase “kissed by fire” comes from a belief beyond-the-Wall that red-haired people are luckier than most, so my first thought when I heard the name of the fifth episode of Game of Thrones’ third season was that the time had finally come for the North’s most famous bastard to get with a certain wildling girl. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realised what else must be making an appearance in this episode. The overriding theme this week was indeed fire, and Rh’llor; the religion surrounding the Lord of Light. I don’t know how to pronounce it either. Read on for the rest!
1. Sandor Clegane (The Hound) faces the trial he was called to last week. He battles Beric Dondarrion, with a flaming sword, in a fight to the death. Seemingly cutting off Dondarrion’s arm and killing him, Clegane is the victor and walks away a free man, yet Beric is brought back to life by Thoros of Myr and the powers of the Lord of Light.
2. Ygritte and Jon Snow get on the good foot and do the bad thing in a cave somewhere beyond the wall (I told you!), wherein Jon finally breaks his Night’s Watch oath and reveals his true feelings for Ygritte.
3. Jaime Lannister and Brienne arrive at Harrenhall and are handed over to Lord Roose Bolton himself. In more hospitable conditions, Jaime’s arm is seen to, with gratuitous gore abound. Brienne is treated with a bit more respect from their new hosts, and the two share another moment of sentimentality.
4. The North starts to collapse on itself as life-long Stark supporter Lord Rickard Karstark, one of Robb’s most powerful allies, is executed for the murder of Willem Lannister and Tion Frey; two squires in the service of the Lannister army.
5. We see another side to Stannis (well, the same side, but from a different angle) as he visits his wife Selsye and his daughter Shireen. Not a particular skilled father or husband, he doesn’t spend long in their quarters. Shireen visits Davos Seaworth, her friend, in his new digs; the dungeons of Dragonstone. She brings him a book but he reveals he cannot actually read. She offers to teach.
6. Littlefinger continues in his plan to “go to the Vale” and sneak Sansa Stark out of King’s Landing.
7. Tywin Lannister reveals to Tyrion and Cersei his plans to marry them off to Sansa Stark and Loras Tyrell, respectively. Methinks he’s growing rather fond of the idea of seeing the Seven Kingdoms coated in Lannister crimson…
See what I did there?
The scenes between Jaime and Brienne are always well executed, and last week it seemed the Kingslayer was on his last legs. This week, he only deteriorates, but the relationship between Brienne and him is cemented in a drowsy admission of trust and confession. I knew there was a heart in Jaime Lannister somewhere, and while it may have taken two-and-a-half seasons to find it, this week he finally showed us he was as human as the rest of them. Brienne looks at him in permanent shock as he explains to her why he killed the Mad King Aerys all those years ago, and once again I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for the Kingslayer. Yes he may have killed many people unlawfully, and he may have pushed a ten year old boy to his death, and he may have sex with his sister, but he’s got it pretty bad at the moment. There’s actually a bit of closure on the situation with Jaime and Brienne this week, because it’s almost as if he realises that Brienne is the only person he can actually confide in, and is the closest thing to Cersei he’s going to get in a long time. All the past animosity between them is put to bed.
Speaking of Lannisters, it wasn’t only Jaime who provided one of the best scenes this week. The meeting between Tyrion, Cersei and Tywin towards the end of the episode could well be my favourite scene of the episode. Peter Dinklage is superb as Tyrion, as he always is, but it was Cersei’s reaction to the sudden “good news” that caught my eye. We’re so used to seeing Cersei as the Queen Bitch, but present her with the proposal to marry Loras Tyrell and that reputation of her’s soon crumbles. I think it’s a great testament to the character of Tywin Lannister that, even though his daughter is the Queen, Cersei still has to take orders from her father. The fact that Tyrion and her are well into their thirties is completely irrelevant here; they’re like a couple of children in the shadow of the mighty Tywin. Charles Dance radiates authority in his portrayal of the Lannister patriarch, but they’re all stand-out actors here. Lena Headey has adapted to the role of Cersei so well that I was left feeling almost sorry for the character after her hopeless protests to the proposed marriage. What is going this season? We’ve got sympathy for Lannisters!
For all that was good with this week’s episode, there were some disappointing parts to it. I couldn’t help but feel a lot of it was a slightly rushed, not necessarily in production, but in writing. The scene that stood out the most was the little rendezvous between Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington); I’m not one to compare the show to the books (they’re different things entirely), but in the latter there is a lot more build-up to that scene, so much so that you know there’s a romance blossoming between the two of them. When the event came around in the show this week, it all happened far too quickly and far too poorly for my liking. Ygritte steals Jon’s sword, Jon chases her into a cave, and then all of a sudden Ygritte hasn’t got any clothes on. When you think about it as a plot, it doesn’t make much all that much sense…
The same can be said for the situation surrounding Lord Karstark and the murders of Willem Lannister and Tion Frey. As shocking as the whole scene is, Robb seems to resolve it rather quickly. The inner conflict he has about whether or not to spare the lord, who was a strong supporter of Robb’s cause and an important ally, lasts for all of about twenty seconds. The execution wasn’t particularly “exciting” either, not to the extent of the other beheadings we’ve seen as of yet. Not particularly dramatic considering the decision is going to effect the rest of Robb’s war and the North as we know it.
Back to acting, and as much as it regrets me to say, I felt as is Natalie Dormer and Sophie Turner’s acting this week was just a little bit wooden. The two of them are usually top notch in their portrayals of Margaery Tyrell and Sansa Stark, but this week they just didn’t do it for me.
And were the jarred babies in Selyse Baratheon’s room really necessary?