Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Game of Thrones "Second Sons"

Non Spoiler Review:
As Tyrion and Sansa's nuptials become one of more memorable weddings in King's Landing, Cersei has a heart to heart with Margaery and Joffrey finds an opportunity to humiliate the couple. In Dragonstone, Melisandre returns with Gendry to demonstrate the power of his royal blood. Arya learns news of her family from the Hound, and Daenerys faces off against the Second Sons, the powerful allies of the Yunkai.

As the season builds to a climax, we see the first of a few weddings on the calendar, and Tyrion and Sansa's was a mix of humor and unsettling moments. The momentum continues to build for something significant to happen within the Lannister family, but there were additional ominous signs that the Starks, and even the Greyjoys will feel the touch of the lord of light's wrath.

Second Sons was an enjoyable episode, more talky than action-oriented. This late in the season I'm excited to see what happens with Arya and Clegane, as well as a new character thrown into Daenery's orbit.

Spoilers Now!
Arya awakens in the woods and grabs a rock that she holds over the Hound's head. He's awake, and tells her he'll give her one try. If he lives he'll break both her hands. He dares her to hit him but she doesn't. Back on the trail she remains silent as he goes on to explain she's lucky she's not alone out in the wilderness. Despite her claims he's a monster, he assures her his brother is far worse than him. And he saved her sister from similar men. He suggests she ask Sansa if she ever sees her again, given he saved her from being raped. Arya thinks he's taking her to King's Landing, but he informs her he no longer serves the king. He's taking her to the Twins to reunite with her mother and brother (who will pay a ransom for her). Her uncle is there to marry one of the Frey girls.

Daenerys, Jorah and Selmy watch mercenaries arrive in Yunkai—the formidable Second Sons, led by a man called the Titan's Bastard—two thousand men that Selmy warns will pose a threat. Daenerys suggests they speak with the Titan's Bastard about fighting on the right side.

The captains of the Second Sons arrive in her camp—the Titan's Bastard, Mero, Prendahl na Ghezn, and Daario Naharis. Mero immediately insults her and Missandei, raising Jorah's ire, but Daenerys is unfazed by his crudeness. She suggests his two thousand men can't defeat their eight thousand, so they could fight for her instead. Their contract is their bond, he explains, and if they break it no one will hire them again. Daenerys points out they won't need another contract. She gives them two days to decide. After they leave, Daenerys informs Jorah she wants the Bastard killed first should they engage them in battle.

Melisandre and Gendry disembark at Dragonstone where she brings him to meet his uncle Stannis. Gendry is escorted away to be cleaned up while Stannis asks what she means to do with him. He already knows, she says. When he asks why she would see him pampered given her dark plans, she replies that if the lamb sees the knife, it panics.

Davos continues his reading lessons, and is visited by Stannis who explains Melisandre has returned with Robert's bastard. Davos realizes she will sacrifice him given he has Stannis' blood in his veins. So did Renly, Stannis counters. And he must triumph, or the night that never ends will devour everyone. They all must do their duty. He reveals he came to free Davos if he swears never to raise his hand against the priestess. Davos swears as much, but not that he might never speak against her. Davos points out that Stannis knew he would counsel restraint and that's why he told him about Gendry. Stannis explains he saw a vision in the flames—a great battle in the snow. And Davos saw what Melisandre gave birth to. He can't deny her god is the real one. 

The Second Sons debate Daenerys' offer. Daario is reluctant to dismiss Daenerys, claiming he fights for beauty. They realize they can't beat the Unsullied on the battlefield, but they just need to deal with her and kill her in her sleep. The three of them draw coins to decide who will do the deed and Daario wins.

Tyrion greets Sansa in preparation for their wedding. Shae remains silent and he asks for a moment alone. He confesses he never asked for the marriage. And Sansa doesn't need to speak to him as a prisoner anymore as he knows how she feels. And he promises he will never hurt her. They walk out to the sept of Baelor.

Margaery muses that she and Cersei they will be sisters soon. Cersei replies by bringing up a familiar song called The Rains of Castamere, regarding the late House Reyne that was the second wealthiest family in Westeros. Margaery is familiar with it, and as Cersei points out, the Tyrells are very similar to the Reynes. Lord Reyne's ambition was well known and he built a grand castle larger than any at Casterly Rock. He rebelled against Tywin and House Reyne was slaughtered. A family similar to the Tyrells in their ambition. If she ever calls her sister again, she warns Margaery she'll be strangled in her sleep.

Joffrey stands with Sansa as she enters the sept, revealing it's his duty to give her away to her husband. As a slight, Joffrey removes the stool set out for Tywin, and as he has to lay the cloak on Sansa he can't reach her shoulders, prompting some laughs in the crowd. Sansa kneels for it. 

Melisandre rejoins Gendry in his quarters and gives him wine. He's still nervous as to her intentions. The lord of light willed that he be here right now, she explains. Death is coming for everyone and they can stop it. She proceeds to seduce him and when she has him in bed she binds his wrists and ankles, then drops leeches on his chest. Despite his screams, she tells him there is power in his blood and he has so much. 

Stannis and Davos walk in. She explains Davos wanted a demonstration. As Gendry begs, Melisandre finally removes the leeches, taking them to Stannis who drops each in the fire as he names the usurpers he wants dead—Balon Greyjoy, Robb Stark and Joffrey Baratheon.

Tyrion gets very drunk at the wedding feast. Olenna muses on the complicated relationships her grandchildren will have with the Lannisters once Loras marries Cersei and Margaery weds Joffrey. Loras gets up and leaves. Meanwhile, Tywin is disgusted with Tyrion's behaviour. Sansa excuses herself, as does Cersei. Shae stares at Tyrion through the crowd as Tywin goes over to his son and points out he's rather drunk, reminding him Sansa needs a Lannister child as soon as possible. Tyrion tells his father he has nothing to worry about, and Tywin has stated on many occasions his son's whoring is infamous. Tyrion spies Loras watching from above, and raises his glass to him. Loras wanders over to Cersei, who is staring out over the bay. She has no patience for him either and walks off when he tries to talk to her.

The only one who seems to be enjoying himself is Joffrey, who finds Sansa and congratulates her, telling her she will soon have a Lannister baby as she always wanted. He suggests he will pay her a visit after Tyrion passes out and perhaps even have Loras hold her down. Leaving Sansa horrified, Joffrey announces to the guests it's time for the bedding ceremony, and wants everyone to gather to carry the couple to their chambers. Tyrion declares there will be no bedding ceremony and when Joffrey ignores him he slams his knife in the table, announcing he will be fucking his own bride with a wooden cock if he continues. As the crowd is silenced, Joffrey is enraged and Tywin intervenes, assuring him his son did not mean to threaten the king. Tyrion laughs and admits to being quite drunk. He stumbles to Sansa and escorts her out. 

In their chambers they share an awkward exchange. Tywin has commanded he consummate the marriage, so Sansa has a glass of wine and undresses. When Sansa reminds him she's fourteen, Tyrion tells her to stop. He won't share her bed, not until she wants him to. And if she never wants him to? Then now his watch has begun, he muses, and passes out.

As Daenerys bathes in her tent, she chats with Missandei. The former slave can speak 19 languages, among them Dothraki. She notes Daenerys speaks Dothraki reasonably well, despite what Drogo may have told her. Daario abruptly appears, garbed in Unsullied armor, and puts a knife to Missandei's throat, warning her not to scream. He removes his helmet.

Daenerys demands he let her go, so he does so and she then asks why he hasn't killed her. He doesn't want to, he says simply and offers her a bag containing the heads of his two former captains. He explains they had a difference of opinions over her beauty. Daenerys asks why she should trust him. They ordered him to murder her, but he always has a choice, so they drew their swords and he drew his. She rises and steps out of the tub. Missandei wraps her in her robe as she asks if he will fight for her. Daario swears the Second Sons are hers, as is his life and heart. 

Shae arrives in the morning to find Sansa in bed and Tyrion asleep in the chair. She finds no sign that they consummated their marriage as she pulls back the bedsheets, and shares a look of satisfaction with a hungover Tyrion.

North of the Wall, Sam and Gilly find a cabin that appears empty. As they prepare for the night, Sam thinks the baby should have a name. She doesn't know many boy's names. She asks if his father was cruel like hers. A different manner of cruel, he answers. The ravens make a commotion outside so Sam goes out to investigate. The godswood tree is full of ravens, but they are abruptly silenced as Sam spies a white walker approach. Sam warns him away but it grabs his sword and shatters it, then throws him back, coming for the baby in Gilly's arms. Sams draw the only weapon he has left—the obsidian blade—and stabs it in the back. The walker screams and explodes in a pile of ice. Sam and Gilly flee as the flock of ravens take to the air.

The Verdict:
Second Sons delivers a suitably awkward wedding for Tyrion and Sansa, and it was enjoyable from start to finish. It was interesting that among all the terrible moments we get the added information that Sansa is 14. That may have been stated in seasons past, but it provided an added shudder when considering the horrible things Tywin is enforcing on his children.

Cersei has lost any patience in maintaining a facade with the Tyrells, and it seems more likely she may move to kill her father on her own accord.

It looks like Edmure's wedding could be next if Robb is already at the Twins. Will we finally see Arya reunited with her mother and brother after two years? Surely it must be on the agenda, as I doubt there would be such momentum towards this only to have them miss one another. Though I have the suspicion she and the Hound will be on the road together for awhile yet.

Sam and Gilly's scene was a charming bit of character interaction, but it served primarily to show us what we've all been suspecting—the obsidian can kill the white walkers. It's looking like all the northern plotlines—Sam, Jon and Bran—will converge on Castle Black.

Poor Gendry's predicament shows that women don't just have it bad in Westeros, but anyone lowborn. Will Gendry be kept alive to supply her with blood to fuel her spells? Stannis has a good point that Davos can't remain on the fence about his religion given he saw what Melisandre birthed. How quickly will this curse on the three houses reveal itself? Considering we've seen numerous examples of the one true god's power, there's definite trouble ahead for all three families (hopefully Joffrey is the first on the receiving end of it).

Daenerys' encounter with the Second Sons has added more forces to her arsenal. Daario does seem like a convenient character to insert into the storyline at this point, plus being probably the handsomest man in Essos. While it looks like Missandei and Daenerys will grow closer (their scene about her rough Dothraki was pretty funny), there's plenty of testosterone to deal with among Jorah, Selmy and Daario. That brings up another point. Will Daenerys wed again? Given her claim to the throne, politically it would be wise to join with another house to secure her power. But would she consider having another child that would not be of royal blood? I'm getting way ahead of myself by presuming Daario would be anything but a quick diversion on the path to Westeros, whether he even makes it that far, but it's something to consider if she would take another husband now that she has the choice.

The violent story of The Rains of Castamere is a particularly ominous one given that's the title of the next episode. The song has also figured prominently this season, too. Coupled with it being the penultimate chapter (in which bad things invariably happen), one or more major houses could be facing serious threat. 

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