|By Kevin Cafferty|
Game of Thrones has done a lot of great two-character scenes over the course of its run, but I now feel that was all warm-up to this week’s epic verbal showdown between Tywin Lannister and Olenna Tyrell.
Charles Dance and Diana Rigg act the hell out of this scene, and the verbal jabs – about aging, about Loras, about Cersei and Jaime’s relationship, etc. – are outstanding, capped off by Olenna’s fantastic, “It’s rare when a man lives up to his reputation.”
Step aside, Jaime and Brienne – I have a new favorite couple on this show.
Roose is going to free Jaime (in an attempt to curry favor with Tywin Lannister) but punish Brienne for treason (in an attempt to curry favor with Robb Stark.) Lord Bolton’s playing a lot of angles here, and I hope it blows up in his face in spectacular fashion before the season is done.
Sam and Gilly (not seen last week) have a nice scene in the woods, where Sam can’t build a fire and shows off his fancy dagger (which must be important, otherwise why bring it up again?) and sings a song to Gilly’s baby. I loved how the camera pulled back into the forest as Sam was singing, reminding us that the ice zombies are still out there and that Sam and Gilly, though they’ve fled the Night’s Watch mutiny back at Craster’s, are anything but safe.
Also not safe: climbing an 800 foot wall of ice!
Yet Jon Snow, Ygritte, and their wildling chums do this very thing in one of the most thrilling action sequences the show has ever done. The effects never look particularly cheesy on Game of Thrones, but the Wall climb this week was particularly impressive and well-directed, and the chemistry between Jon and Ygritte has gotten better as the season’s progressed. Ygritte’s declaration that she knows that Jon is a double agent was something I hadn’t seen coming. I’m rooting for these two crazy kids.
I understand what the show is trying to do with the Theon torture scenes (create sympathy for a character who had lost all audience sympathy last season by, you know, murdering two innocent kids) but they’re really, really unfun and difficult to watch. It’s one thing to have Jaime get his hand cut off and smash cut to a rollicking Hold Steady song, it’s another thing to see Theon’s finger get flayed off as he begs his captor to just cut it off.
There’s a reason I’ve avoided all those Saw and Hostel movies, and I’m hoping the Theon sequences take a new turn soon.
In fact, some of the more painful revelations and sequences took place off-camera – Tyrion informing Sansa (and Shae) of their impending nuptials and the fate of poor Ros the prostitute, killed by Joffrey’s crossbow and by Peter Baelish’s machinations. We only see the aftermath of both these scenes, with Sansa crying as Baelish’s ship departs and Ros’s lifeless body suspended from Joffrey’s bed and these revelations were all the more powerful because of it.
Yet both these scenes (and Jon and Ygritte’s kiss at the top of the Wall) are narrated by Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, giving his “Chaos is a ladder” speech, which I really didn’t like. Aiden Gillen is usually so great as Littlefinger, but he got a little too flourish with the speech, and it felt like the writers had put on extra-strength Fists of Ham when writing it. It was very off, tonally, and ruined an otherwise spectacular episode for me. I hope this is just a small blip, the writers put their Fists of Ham back in its drawer, and next week is free of any such nonsense.
- Next week’s episode is scripted by George R.R. Martin, who wrote the book series that the show is based on.
- Robb Stark makes peace with the Freys by agreeing to have his uncle Edmure marry one of the Frey daughters.
- I’m not sure what Melisandre wants with Gendry (who, lest we forget, is one of Robert Baratheon’s bastard children and, therefore, has the blood of a King), but it can’t be good. This is a woman who poops out evil shadow assassins. Her brief scene with Arya was suitably creepy and her conversation with Beric and Thoros helped explain all this “Lord of Light” business.
- Absent this week: Both my homegirls! No Margaery and no Daenerys! In addition to losing the on-the-nose speeches by Littlefinger, bring these two back!