Much like I said last week, things really are kicking off all over the Game of Thrones world again, and this week has been no different. After spending the first two episodes wading through every major character of the show in a type of “where are they now?” feature, the series has finally gotten around to doing what it does best. At the risk of sounding biased to the cause that is Game of Thrones, I reckon this week’s instalment could be the best of the three we’ve been treated to this season. Here’s what I have to say about this week’s jaunt into Westeros, and the bits of Essos we see every once-in-a-while with Dany…
1. The Tullys and attending Starks paid their respects to the late Lord Hoster Tully by way of a traditional but slightly bodged Riverland funeral.
2. Tyrion was appointed the Seven Kingdom’s Master of Coin in Littlefinger’s stead.
3. Hot Pie made a crudely wolf-shaped loaf of bread for Arya as he said his goodbyes to Gendry and her after finding work at the Inn-at-the-Crossroads.
4. Theon nearly got raped in a forest by a load of sexually frustrated Northmen in the wake of his escape from the dungeon he found himself in during last week’s episode.
5. Danaerys goes ahead with her plan to purchase an army of eight-thousand Unsullied in Astapor, but only by way of sacrificing one of her dragons as a bargaining tool.
6. Tyrion’s squire Podrick Payne gains his manhood in Littlefinger’s infamous brothel as a gift from Tyrion for saving his life in the Battle of the Blackwater.
7. And that finely moustached fellow in Roose Bolton’s employ shows Jaime Lannister that his word isn’t as good as Jaime thinks it is by brutally-but-cleanly slicing off his right hand as a message to him and his father, Tywin.
This week’s episode, Walk of Punishment (named for the promenade of crucified offenders in Astapor), was a perfect blend of tongue-in-cheek comedy and no-nonsense drama. There were some brilliantly entertaining scenes amidst the political turmoil in Kings Landing; the Small Council meeting was strangely comical in Tyrion’s deliberately awkward announcement of his presence amidst the other attendees, and the subsequent proceedings in Littlefinger’s office featured some amusing banter between Lord Baelish and the new Master of Coin (“You are richer than me…” – “Good point.”), but it wouldn’t be right or proper of me not to credit the scene between Tyrion, Bronn, and Pod after the latter strolls in Tyrion’s office an hour or so after the scene at Littlefinger’s. The chemistry between the Imp and Ser Bronn, and thus Peter Dinklage and Jerome Flynn, is impeccable, and has been ever since Bronn “honourably” won Tyrion’s freedom at the Eyrie all the way back in season one. The two of them have always been a source of great entertainment for me, so it comes as no surprise that the majority of the humour this week radiated from these two.
All this humour is well and good, but the show wouldn’t be complete without some of the chilling drama it’s famous for, and this week didn’t hold back with it. I don’t know how Nicolaj Coster-Waldau felt about having the better of his character’s two hands sliced off with a carving knife, but watching Jaime Lannister be dismembered by one of Roose Bolton’s goons was one of the very few times I’ve actually winced at something in the show, possibly because were we forced to watch Jaime scream in abject horror as he realises what has just happened to him, and possibly because we were all actually starting to warm to him a little bit.
Stop me if I’m wrong, but I detect a slowly blossoming friendship between Jaime and Brienne, almost as if he’s developing Stockholm syndrome. There was a great moment between the two of them, en route to their captor’s camp, when they reviewed their sword-fighting and Jaime actually warned her of what was to happen to her later that evening. Maybe because he’s been away from his family for so long now he can’t help but try and be affable with people, even those holding him prisoner. It’s this smooth-talking that results in him losing his hand though, as once again he pulls the “my father” card and tries to make the finely-moustached custodian switch sides and take Jaime back to the capital. It did seem a little over the top however, as the whole point of chopping off his hand was meant to teach him that he can’t just mention his father every time he gets in a scrape with someone. They could have just knocked him about a little bit…
All-in-all, this week’s episode did a pretty good job. It ticked all the boxes for me personally, and it’s always nice when they leave it on a particularly violent cliff-hanger. My only gripe was the moment when Arya and Gendry left Hot Pie, as they went on their way with Thoros and the Brotherhood. The moment Arya shouts back to Hot Pie and says his bread is “really good” was by-far the cheesiest moment of the show so far…