Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.03: The Walk of Punishment


Welcome to the great co-blog of Game of Thrones, episode three: “Walk of Punishment.” And no, the title has nothing to do with all of the exam grading I’ve been doing for the last few days.

[crickets]

Well, without further ado, here is my lovely and talented co-blogger Nikki Stafford of the prolific and equally lovely Nik at Nite blog. What did you think of episode three, Nik?

"Don't screw up, don't screw up, don't screw up ..."

Nikki: Daenerys offers to sell a dragon (GAH!), Arya eats bread shaped like a direwolf… or something… Catelyn’s father’s funeral is turned into a laughingstock, Theon gets away (dammit!), Pod proves himself a sex god, Tyrion hilariously drags a chair, Craster continues to be a dick, Talisa scares some Lannister kids, Stannis’s sexual advances are shot down, Jon Snow finds horse parts in a spiral pattern in the snow, the end credits feature the freakin’ Hold Steady (!!!)… and Locke turns Jaime into a leftie while talking about his “fah-thah.”

Folks, it’s the happy fun-time Game of Thrones hour!

I loved this episode. A lot of it felt like it was pushing chess pieces in line for bigger things to come in the next couple of episodes, but it didn’t feel like an exposition episode for me. Tyrion brought the humour, Daenerys the power, and it ended with a massive shocking cliffhanger. So… let’s start with that last bit.

Chris and I both commented on the awesomeness of the Jaime and Brienne comedy hour last week, but this week that comedy turned into something else. While chained to each other on a horse, Brienne expresses her disappointment that the Kingslayer wasn’t the sword baron that she thought he was. He makes excuses — tired, dirty, hungry, has been tied up for the better part of a year, his hands were tied together at the time — but they just come off as pathetic to Brienne. A Kingslayer should be able to overcome any of those things, not be beaten by a woman. It’s interesting that her chiding didn’t actually come off as sarcasm or a victory dance on his face, but genuine disappointment that the man didn’t live up to his legend.

Perhaps Jaime was suitably impressed by Brienne’s show of swordspersonship, or perhaps he just feels like she’s his only ally now, but he’s actually kind of nice to her… in a way. On the horse he tells her that the men will try to rape her, and she needs to let them. She, of course, takes offense, and asks him what he would do. (Reason #814 why I love Brienne; she doesn’t ask what he would do if it happened to his sister or daughter, she asks what he would do, comparing herself to the man and not the woman.) He says if he were a woman he would make them kill him.

And so, when the men inevitably take Brienne once they’re at the encampment with every intention to gang-rape her, you can see her instincts kick in, and she begins fighting tooth and nail. While her scene takes place entirely off camera — we only hear her screams — one can only imagine the fight she’s putting up. She doesn’t want the men to “besmirch” her, as Jaime puts it, and perhaps, she’s trying to get them to kill her, which would be more welcome than whatever else they have in mind. When they bring her back to the camp after Jaime’s discussion with Locke, notice even her armour is still intact; they didn’t get very far with her.

And as for Jaime, he’s always been a very, very clever boy. It’s what makes his character so intriguing. Yes, he has an incestuous relationship with his sister and has often been characterized as a scumbag, but when you take the Lannister stuff out of the equation, he’s a hell of a knight. He’s killed a king; he’s a formidable swordsman; he’s handsome and witty and strong; he’s very intelligent; he plans things through. But he’s not quite as intelligent as Tyrion. He comes up with an obvious plan, one that could easily be seen through by anyone who’s been to the Sapphire Isle and isn’t three years old. We see earlier in the episode that Talisa loves to scare the Lannister boys with tales of Robb eating children during a full moon. Jaime’s tale isn’t much higher on the intelligence scale, especially with a man as well travelled as Locke. Jaime thinks he can cleverly charm his way out of every situation, but the moment Locke unchains him (something he didn’t have to do), offers him partridge, and refers to him in a manner indicating that Locke is his inferior, the audience knows something terrible is afoot. He’s angry that Jaime would try to convince him the Sapphire Isle is actually coated in sapphires (right… and if I want some emeralds I just need to go to Ireland and chip them out of the sidewalks?) and he makes him pay for his insolence by… cutting off his hand. It’s a horrific scene, one that is immediately reminiscent of the end of Empire Strikes Back, right down to Locke talking about Tywin Lannister immediately before doing it. “You’re nothing without your father” has supplanted Darth Vader’s legendary “No, I’m your father” line, and the episode fades to black as Jaime screams in horror and holds up the bloody stump of an arm that’s left. I didn’t see that one coming.

So, Chris, how close was that scene to the book? There’s a moment where Locke is pressing the sword into Jaime’s eye and then he doesn’t go through with it, and for a second I wondered if perhaps, in the book, they actually removed his eyeball, but the writers decided to switch it to a hand to help out the makeup department. Did they make a switch or is this behanding true to the book? 

"Can you see where we're headed?" "All too well."

Christopher: It’s fairly close to the scene in the book, except that Jaime and Brienne are captured here by a different set of people. In the novel, they’re taken by a rather horrifying band of mercenaries called the Bloody Mummers, who had originally worked for Tywin but whose loyalty had been bought by Roose Bolton … so when they capture Jaime and Brienne, they’re technically on the Starks’ side. Obviously the Mummers have been left out of the show for the sake of keeping things simple (or as simple as this sprawling series can be), which is probably a wise decision—but I doubt I’m alone among GRRM fans in lamenting their absence. They are one of Martin’s darker and more horrifying inventions … and that’s a pretty high bar.

Also, in the novel they don’t wait—they cut off Jaime’s hand almost as soon as the capture him, so the protracted verbal fencing between Locke and Jaime is entirely invented. Except, that is, for Jaime’s intervention in Brienne’s imminent rape—that was pretty close to the book.

But in all, the violent amputation of Jaime’s sword hand was very well done, and startling in how quickly it happens. Of course, all those who have read the books knew it was coming; as soon as Locke unchained Jaime, I felt my stomach clench a little. It’s a credit to the show that, even though I knew what was about to happen, it was still a shock to actually watch it. And while Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was pretty awesome all through this episode, he did an especially good job of reacting to his sudden de-handing. A look of shock and bewilderment, followed quickly by a scream of horror and pain as he suddenly realizes what has happened … fade to black!

George R. R. Martin really likes beating up on his characters, doesn’t he? I like to joke with my students that if they ever discover their life is a Shakespearean tragedy and they’re the title character, they’re pretty much fucked. What might be worse? Being a significant character in a GRRM novel.

I’m offering no spoilers whatsoever when I say that Jaime’s mutilation heralds a significant shift in his character and how we perceive him. A Storm of Swords is notable among other reasons for giving him his own POV chapters, and we’re given an insight into his previously inscrutable character that works against everything we’ve thus far assumed. The loss of his sword hand isn’t a literal emasculation, but it’s close—Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, is a man who has been defined by his swordsmanship all his life. I have to imagine that, given the choice between losing his hand or losing his dick, he’d be hard pressed to choose. All of which makes the discussion between him and Brienne about her domination in the bridge fight somewhat more poignant—she questions his “manhood” in what we now see to be an anticipatory way.

Nikki, I think you’re exactly right when you point out Brienne’s response to Jaime’s suggestion, re: her inevitable rape. She identifies Jaime’s myopia, and by extension the broadly male tendency to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of rape and sexual assault. In suggesting she lie back and think of Renly, he betrays his ignorance, seeing the entirely-expected rape as different from consensual sex in degree rather than kind. You’re right in that he would probably make the same recommendation to Cersei; he’d just follow it up with the promise of bloody vengeance on her violators. But Brienne cuts through the bullshit: what would he do? He’d make them kill him. Because when it’s his own body, he can’t pretend it’s anything but abject humiliation and a brutal, violent exercise of power over his person.

When Jaime follows up his response to Brienn’s question with “I’m not [a woman], thank the Gods,” it serves to amplify his ignorance. If he were a woman, he’d make them kill him; but he assumes that because he’s not a woman, he is somehow immune to sexual assault, which again implies that rape is connected to unbridled lust. But as it happens, we do see a man nearly raped—when Theon is overtaken in his flight, his captor snarls “I’m gonna fuck you into the dirt” as he fumbles with his belt and his henchmen start to drag Theon’s pants down. Like Brienne, Theon receives a reprieve, but for a few terrifying moments he experiences the horror that Jaime Lannister imagines is merely hypothetical.

One of the most difficult elements of A Song of Ice and Fire, and something a lot of people complain about, is just how baldly and brutally GRRM depicts these sorts of situations. Fantasy? Yes, the novel is certainly fantasy fiction, but grounded in historical realities. Much fantasy, from the Arthurian legends to Tolkien and beyond, glosses the fact that rapine wasn’t just a matter of soldiers being brutal, but was in fact a weapon of war. To “cry havoc” was the order letting soldiers off the leash, giving them free rein in a sacked city to rape, steal, and kill—usually done in retaliation for a castle or town’s refusal to surrender. In Henry V, Shakespeare puts it quite graphically as the king threatens the besieged town of Harfleur:



    Therefore, you men of Harfleur,
    Take pity of your town and of your people,
    Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command;
    Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
    O'erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
    Of heady murder, spoil and villainy.
    If not, why, in a moment look to see
    The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
    Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
    Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
    And their most reverend heads dash'd to the walls,
    Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
    Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
    Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
    At Herod's bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
    What say you? will you yield, and this avoid,
    Or, guilty in defense, be thus destroy'd? (3.3: 27-43)

 Or check out Kenny B's version:


Sorry for the lengthy quotation, but nowhere else do I know of a more eloquently horrifying vision of soldiers run rampant. Crying havoc was a common enough military practice that the governor or mayor of a town could be prosecuted after the fact for not surrendering and sparing his people such brutality—“guilty in defense” was the actual legal term for such a prosecution.

This feels like an inadequate treatment of this sequence, but if I don’t move on this blog post will go on forever ….

What did you think of our new additions in Riverrun, Nikki? First we have Catelyn’s uncle, Brynden “Blackfish” Tully, and her hapless brother Edmure … played by another Rome alum, Tobias Menzies, who played Brutus.

Edmure screws up.

Nikki: Oh yes, I recognized Brutus and his crooked front teeth right away. If they can get Vorenus and Pullo, my happiness would be complete.

Catelyn’s father is dead, and because of Edmure’s incompetence, what should have been a solemn funeral turns into a farce. Luckily Catelyn’s uncle Brynden pushes Edmure out of the way, checks the wind, and shoots a perfect arrow into the air to set the funeral pyre alight just before it disappears in the distance. (Question: What would they have done if it had gone around the corner?)

I loved the scene of Catelyn and her uncle. Catelyn has made some pretty grave errors and cost people a lot in her mismanagement of things, but in this moment she’s both a grieving daughter and mother, and you can’t help but feel sympathy for her. She just watched her father float away, and now she stares out the window telling her uncle — who never once calls her on the things she’s done wrong — that she’s thinking of how many times Bran and Rickon looked out the window waiting for her to come home, and now they’re gone. Interestingly her uncle says exactly what has happened without knowing it — maybe they’ve escaped and are travelling away right now, just keeping under the radar. I do hope Catelyn sees them once more, or at least finds out that they’re alive and well.

Meanwhile, Robb is pretty pissed that his stupid uncle ruined a battle by going too far and destroying their chances to get a lead in the larger picture. By sacrificing 208 men in an otherwise low-grade fight, he’s hurt their small army enormously. Methinks the battle smarts in the House of Tully seems to have skipped a generation.

But speaking of armies, Daenerys has now gotten herself a hell of a formidable one. In a very long and wonderfully written scene, she marches resolutely along the Walk of Punishment as men hang dying on crucifixes alongside her. When she stops to offer one of them water, he refuses, showing that even in death, his loyalty to his superiors remains. He was told to die, and he will die, dammit. Taking that water would simply prolong the agony.

Daenerys now has two advisors who disagree on what makes up an army. Ser Jorah argues that the Unsullied are the best army because loyalty has been beaten into them. Ser Barristan argues that the best army is one whose loyalty you have earned, not one that you’ve beaten into submission. The best fighters will be the ones with passion and emotion and sincere loyalty for their leader. Daenerys takes both forms of advice and goes to the horrible, filthy Kraznys to tell him she wants every last one of the Unsullied: the 8,000-strong army, plus the ones still in training. I thought about her decision to take the entire army when I was watching this and realized that despite Jorah and Barristan both looking dismayed, she’s actually taking both of their words of advice to heart. Kraznys thinks nothing of killing the Unsullied’s family, cutting off their nipples, and doing god-knows-what-else torture-wise to them. We all know Daenerys wouldn’t do any of those things to the men: perhaps by the very act of buying them, she could earn their loyalty by taking them away from this scumbag? That way, she has the trained loyalty plus earned loyalty all wrapped up in one.

"I can't say I'm impressed with the way they've done this esplanade."

Back to the scene, as Kraznys continues to take potshots at her in another language, he demands to know how in Aerys’s name she plans to pay for such an army. “I have dragons,” she says flatly.

And everyone at home gasps in horror and has the same face as Ser Jorah in that moment.

Give up a dragon?? Isn’t that worth several armies? I don’t care if she still has two. Kraznys realizes the value, says he wants all three, and she’s immovable at one, though she promises the biggest one. And she’ll take his slave girl while she’s at it. I just know Daenerys has something up her, well, okay she doesn’t have sleeves, but up her corset, and I can’t wait to see what it is. Just please, please, please, in the name of GRRM, let her understand everything this cock has been saying to her in every scene.

And if I were a writer, just for the record, here’s how it would play out.

Kraznys’s Diary
That little Targaryen bitch left yesterday, taking all of my soldiers, but I have a bloody dragon! Haha… with this dragon I will rule the kingdoms, and force it to do my will, and
[dragon eats Kraznys, flies back to Daenerys]

Ah. That felt better.

[Reservoir Dogs theme]

Christopher: I’m saying nothing. Suffice it to say that I am practically bouncing in my chair in impatience for episode four.

If they were to get Vorenus and Pullo on this show, I think my head would quite literally explode from the critical mass of fanboyism. It’s not like there’s any lack of characters we haven’t yet met that they would be perfect for. Think they could tempt Kevin McKidd away from Grey’s Anatomy? They don’t even let him use his actual accent on that show. Idiots.

Poor Tobias Menzies—you’d think that after that hapless, luckless version of Brutus they had him playing on Rome, HBO might have given him a more competent character to play. But failing that … well, he’s spot-on as Edmure, even if it’s starting to feel like typecasting. That opening sequence was perfectly done, and totally true to the novel. The Blackfish is an amazing character in the books, but Clive Russell has managed to ratchet up his awesomeness by a factor of awesome (sorry—channeling Barney Stinson there. True story). I especially love the fact that he didn’t bother to wait and see if the fire-arrow would ignite the boat, just turned and contemptuously tossed the bow back to Brutus.

(Also, as an aside to the Television Gods: either Lucius Vorenus or Titus Pullo would make excellent additions to this series, but we’d also like to implore you to consider making the following additions as well: Stringer Bell, Al Swearengen, or Lord John Marbury. Also, he might not be British, but you know Nathan Fillion would pay his own airfare just for a walk-on. Also, see if you can’t work on that Martin Freeman cameo while we’re at it, OK?)

Something I’ve read a number of times in other comments on this episode is a sense of satisfaction that we finally see Robb Stark’s command chops. So far (aside from the battle in which Jaime is captured) we’ve only heard about his talents as a war leader. Here at last is the King in the North. Remember that aside I had last week about gravitas and the depiction thereof? Robb Stark’s got it. The scene in which he dresses Edmure down is right out of the novel.

But to turn to Dany: James Poniewozik has an amazing blog post this week about this episode and the way it deals with the question of money. As already mentioned, GRRM departs from the custom of much fantasy insofar as he is frequently preoccupied with the often unpleasant historical realities of warfare and monarchical power. One of those realities is money and finance. Or, as Poniewozik puts it: “I’ve been re-reading Tolkien with my kids lately, and while there are troves of gold and plunder, there’s not much talk about the economy of the Shire, or how Denethor pays for the defense of Minas Tirith in a declining Gondor.” One of the inconvenient truths (to coin an expression) with which this episode presents us is the cost of doing business in Westeros, something entirely consistent with the novels. Running a kingdom, raising an army—these are extremely expensive ventures. Daenerys wants to invade Westeros—but with what? Ser Jorah’s pragmatism doesn’t sit well with the honourable Barristan Selmy, but he doesn’t have much in the way of rebuttal to Jorah’s arguments (also, it is worth noting that Jorah’s case resonates thematically with the rest of this episode—the Unsullied will not behave as normal soldiers, i.e. they will not rape and despoil. The ethical dimension here gets pretty knotty; Daenerys is reluctant to own a slave army, but expresses equal revulsion, as we saw in season one, by the prospect of rapine).

Though I can only speak for myself on this point, I suspect many readers of the novels will agree that it was a profound moment of shock and dismay when Daenerys essentially turns her dragons—her children, really—into currency.

Back over in King’s Landing, Tyrion has been handed the “honour” of becoming Master of Coin, taking over as Littlefinger prepares to depart and woo crazy Lysa Arryn, she of the creepy breastfeeding. It’s really rather tempting to look at what Tyrion discovers in the royal ledgers—namely, that Littlefinger’s magic with gold simply amounts to borrowing hugely—in light of contemporary concerns over deficits and austerity, but I’d prefer to talk instead about the way Tywin’s bestowing of this office is … well, I want to say it’s a backhanded compliment, but really it’s an out-and-out insult. It’s made explicit in the novels that Tywin Lannister, and all nobles like him, disdain what we’d call “new money,” and disdain the actual task of tallying expenses. Tyrion’s initial reaction is ambivalent. "I'm quite good at spending money," he says, "but a lifetime of outrageous wealth hasn't taught me much about managing it." And everyone who has ever had to deal with entitled rich kids chorused “YES!”

What do you think of Tyrion’s new post, Nikki? And did you laugh as hard as I did when he took forever to drag the chair to the end of the table?

"And that is how we do things downtown."
Nikki: OMG are we doing fantasy casting now?? David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston, please. Actually, Tom Baker would make a formidable ageing king or great-uncle of some sort. But in the non–Time Lord side of things, I second (and third, and fourth) Stringer Bell. I’d also love to see Jared Harris, Anthony Stewart Head, David Morrissey (with both eyes intact), and Eddie Izzard. Seriously, Eddie would be FABULOUS.

But speaking of British wit (from an American, no less), yes, the scene with Tyrion dragging that chair had me in stitches. What a fantastic scene: by simply taking their places at the table, you see the ambitions and cleverness of each one. Baelish — metaphorically speaking — pushes the others into the dirt and leaps over the table to be the first one next to Tywin, looking a little too excitable. Varys bows his head and is content to be second to Baelish. Pycelle, as usual, is just happy to still be sitting at the table, so he takes the third chair. But that’s not good enough for Cersei. She picks up a chair and with dignity and grace, carries it around the table, behind Tywin, to be placed at his right hand, which is symbolic in itself (Baelish is at the unfortunate left).

And Tyrion, the smartest of all of them all (and the most brazen and one who cares least about grace), waits for them to all act like clowns before nonchalantly wandering over, grabbing the chair, slowly and loudly dragging it to the head of the table — the only one with the nerve to make himself an equal of Tywin — and then hops up on the seat, reaching down and pulling it forward with one last little “errr” sound. It was hilarious. Peter Dinklage is just amazing in the scene, not changing his face once, and smugly staring down the table at his nasty father before complimenting him on his choice of table.

In his new job as Master of Coin, Tyrion gets the only title with actual work attached to it, and he’s none too happy (as you said a couple of weeks ago, Chris, Tywin knows that his son is smart, even if he doesn’t have to like him for it). As you rightfully point out, the management of money is a disgusting task that nobles and royalty would rather not think about, but in the modern age (if we think of Game of Thrones as being the modern age… for them, at least), it’s a necessity. Think of the premise of Downton Abbey: during King Henry VIII’s reign he burned all the abbeys, and then bestowed what was left on noble families who built them back up into royal mansions. But by the 20th century, this old money had dwindled, and inflation was forcing these families to pour every cent they had into the upkeep of these mansions, forcing them to look for new ways to make money just to support their houses. So while you tune in to see a family that’s waited on hand and foot, with a bunch of spoiled little daughters who don’t even know how to boil water by the time they’re in their twenties, you quickly realize it’s actually about how the lord of the manor lives every day trying to squeeze one more penny out of the place, wondering how the hell he’s going to pay the bills (while the lady of the manor spends every waking moment actually managing the place). It’s enough to make you think why don’t you just sell the damn place and get a four-bedroom apartment, for goodness’ sake!

So now Tyrion’s been put on this task, and it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any fallout over his discovery of what Lord Baelish has done. But for now, let’s look instead at his gift to Pod, and what happened afterwards. A truly wonderful scene for undercutting the audience’s expectations: we expect the boy to come back, all flushed and now “a man,” but instead he plops the money back onto the desk, shrugs his shoulders and humbly suggests that maybe the girls liked whatever it was he did to them. Tyrion just stops, looks over Bronn, purses his lips and then leaps off the chair, insisting that Pod give them every single detail. Tyrion was definitely at the heart of the funniest moments of this episode.

Not so funny, however, is what was happening in the North with Jon Snow and Sam’s different groups. Just when I thought Craster was the worst rat bastard on the show, he’s even worse.  


Christopher: So we’re clear, the apparently OCD tendency of the White Walkers to strew body parts in symmetrical patterns (which, admittedly, we haven’t seen since the first episode of season one) is an invention of the show—and like most of their inventions, it’s pretty well done. The crane shot of the horses’ heads had me thinking (and I can’t possibly be the only one) “Holy shit—The Godfather on crystal meth.” (And speaking of dream casting—if the TV gods want to include Walter White, that would also be most excellent. The Walter White Walker? C’mon people, the episode writes itself! “Jon Snow! We have to cook!”).

I’m falling ever more deeply in love with Ciarán Hinds as Mance Rayder. In the novel, his directive to Jon Snow to accompany the team heading south of the wall has the same sort of bravado—knowing he can’t totally trust the turncoat, but also recognizing his value, all of which comes together in what is for all intents a purposes a rather daring gesture. It would be safer to keep Jon Snow close, but Mance isn’t a cautious man. We haven’t yet heard his backstory, how he came to desert the Night’s Watch and become the King Beyond the Wall, and I won’t tell that story in case it comes up later in the series … suffice to say that the few moments where Mance gives his orders and makes it plain he doesn’t yet trust Jon? Lovely. His declaration that he’s going to “light the biggest fire the north has ever seen!” was a brilliant flourish.

However nervous Jon Snow is feeling, undercover with the wildlings, he’s in a much better head space than Sam … or the rest of the Night’s Watch survivors, for that matter. They find their doleful way back to Craster’s Keep, and once again we have a rather brutal discussion of utility and value, prompted when one of the black brothers resentfully observes that Craster feeds his pigs better than his guests. To which Craster retorts that his pigs are far more valuable than his guests.

Once again I sigh: poor Sam. He’s already earned the cruel nickname Ser Piggy from some of his “brothers,” and finds himself compared to Craster’s livestock. (I must confess, I laughed at Craster’s suggestion that the brothers carve off bits of Sam to feed themselves as they need it, but only because it reminded me of my father’s oft-told joke about the super-heroic three-legged pig. On being asked why the pig had a peg leg, the farmer matter-of-factly responds, “Hell, a pig that good, you don’t eat him all at once.”)

As Craster torments Sam, they hear the cries of Gilly’s labour. Craster has no patience for her noise (which aligns him with Joffrey’s hatred of the “wailing of women”), but Sam slips away and pokes his head into the birthing hovel. Considering Sam’s previously declared inexperience with all things feminine, one assumes this was rather a shocking experience for him. But of course there is a thematic line here as well: Craster treats his “wives” as he does his livestock, considering them more or less in the same category as his property. That Sam’s view of the birth comes immediately after Craster’s (really rather defensive) declarations that he is a godly man is ominous. Craster’s “gods,” it is made clear, are not quite the same as the “old gods” that northerners worship—and we learned last season what he does with male children. Having read the books, I know the sex of Gilly’s child; but I suspect it doesn’t come as a great galloping shock that he’s a boy … and this prompts Sam to precipitate action.

Any last thoughts, Nikki?

"I love what you've done with this space." "Thanks. It's a bitch getting a good feng shui person in King's Landing."


Nikki: That’s so funny, because in my notes I wrote, “Baby’s clearly a boy,” so in my mind, it had been made clear. You’re right; it’s not hard to guess that’s what it’ll be, because if it had been a girl that would sort of be the end of this plotline. But we all remember Gilly telling Sam how badly she wanted a girl because she couldn’t bear to lose her son. Craster is horrible.

Let’s see, the ones we haven’t yet talked about at any length are Theon, Arya, and Stannis. Arya’s story was just a tidbit this week, as she asked the Hound if he remembered the last time he’d been at this place, and then Hot Pie leaves the trio to stay behind as a cook (it made sense, since the “piggy” jokes will be used on Sam and Hot Pie serves a similar purpose in this grouping). Theon — my least favourite character — is freed by the boy and told to head in a certain direction to meet his sister. But so far, he hasn’t made it to the sister and is instead ambushed by the men who’d imprisoned him, and as you pointed out, Chris, they yank his pants down and threaten to rape him (an interesting bookend to the Brienne scene… notice how one man gets more of Theon’s clothes off in one motion than six men do with Brienne after wrestling with her for a good minute). But the same boy who helped him escape saves his arse (literally!) shoots all of the men with arrows (who the hell IS this guy??) and helps him up. Theon promised the boy that he’d make him a lord of the Iron Islands, and the boy said he’s not from there. I think he needs to make him more than a lord now.

And finally, good ol’ Stannis Baratheon. As Melisandre goes off in a boat to god-knows-where, he makes a pass at her, telling her he wants a son and that he wants her. She looks at him with pity, pretty much pats him on the head, and says, “Your fires run low, my king.” #burn #flaccidjoke #stinsonrocks (That’s me channelling MY inner Barney Stinson. True story.) She promises that he’ll sit on the Iron Throne, but first there may be sacrifices.

So. One’s got a fire goddess. One has three two dragons and 8,000 men who will follow her every whim. One’s got a quickly dwindling army and lost loyalties now that he’s married the wrong woman. And one’s got a really awesome crossbow.

My money’s on Daenerys at this point, even short a dragon. ;)

Thanks for reading everyone, and we’ll see you next week!

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