Monday, May 20, 2013

Game of Thrones review: Second Sons

Peter Dinklage and Sophie Turner. (Photo by Helen Sloan, HBO)
"Second Sons" opens on Arya's eye, a fitting image for an episode largely playing to the adage that seeing is believing. It's also fitting for an episode that, after weeks of packed-in storylines, set its sights mainly on just three of them.

Dany is parked outside of Yunkai, trying to convince an army of 2,000 sellswords called the Second Sons to join her cause. Its leader, the Titan's Bastard, is a total pig and sees Dany as just another woman to screw -- and screw over, as he hatches a plan to have her killed in the night.

Other arrogant men have underestimated Dany's strength, but the Bastard also underestimated her draw. While he was seeing only her flesh during their first meeting, his lieutenant, Dario, was sizing up all of her -- and apparently liking what he saw. Dario "fights for beauty," and Dany's beauty inside and out meant more to him than money. So instead of killing Dany as ordered, he beheaded his captains and joined her. Time will tell whether he remains on her side.

Stannis at last becomes interesting again, thanks in no small measure to his reunion with Davos. Their partnership has always bordered on friendship -- a relationship Davos apparently continues to honor, despite his imprisonment -- and it was nice to see them awkwardly reconnect. More importantly, as Stannis once again seeks Davos' opinion, he stops being just a mope and a blind follower of Melisandre, and becomes a man conflicted.

Stannis does appear uncomfortable with Melisandre's plans to sacrifice innocent Gendry for his king's blood -- "Is there a difference between 'kill' and 'sacrifice'?" Davos asks -- but he's beholden to what he's seen of her religion (the visions in the flames) and what he perceives to be his destiny. And when Davos tries to say all gods are bedtime-story creations meant to comfort children, Stannis points out that Davos, too, has seen the apparent proof of the Lord of Light's existence (the shadow baby) -- and how can he deny what he's seen with his own eyes?

For further proof, Melisandre does a little demonstration for Davos, drawing out Gendry's blood with leaches and throwing them into the flames. (What they show, we don't yet know.) Her little dance with Gendry reminded me of Theon's last hurrah last week. Like keeping a lamb calm before slaughter, she distracts Gendry with riches and sex before drawing his blood. Who knows what true power king's blood has, and whether it will stop darkness from enveloping the world, and what other disturbing creature Melisandre will give birth to. But from what I can see, she's the thing to fear. (Her lamb metaphor almost feels like a warning to Stannis, as well. He's getting a little too trusting.)

King's Landing
As Sansa was being escorted down the aisle to Tyrion, I couldn't help thinking that they were the only two decent people in the room. Which is what made their wedding so heartbreaking.

Joffrey, the little prick, is intent on embarrassing them and taking what he thinks should be his. Tywin is intent on squashing Tyrion as a bonus to political gain. Cersei is intent on keeping the upper hand over Margaery, who is intent on climbing that final rung of the power ladder.

All the while, Tyrion and Sansa are just two people trying to hold on while their lives are being tossed around by others. Peter Dinklage and Sophie Turner knocked it out of the park on this one, especially in the after-reception bed chamber as the gut punches kept stacking up. How tragic that Sansa, just 14, was prepared to do her duty -- as always -- and consummate the marriage, methodically and almost robotically starting to undress until Tyrion stopped her. And how tragic that Tyrion, despite his decency and tenderness in telling her he wouldn't share her bed until she wanted him to, still feels the sting of rejection when she replies, "What if I never want you to?" Yet, how sweet the look that passes between him and Shae the next morning, when she realizes he didn't touch Sansa.

These are the people who deserve to win.

The bookends
-- Arya opened the episode. All I have to say is, how cute were she and The Hound as they rode toward the Twins?
-- Sam closed the episode, in a sequence that easily rivals "The Birds" in creepiness. I loved that the sound of the crows amassing outside steadily built up as Sam and Gilly were talking about boys' names inside. It was also very cool when the white walker disintegrated after Sam stabbed it with his obsidian blade -- although he fled without it. Dangit Sam!

What did everyone else think?

No comments:

Post a Comment