'Game of Thrones' recap: 'Burn it to the ground, and all the dead with it'

Published on Monday, 5 May 2014 20:12 - Written by Derek Kuhn, dkuhn@tylerpaper.com

*CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD*

And so passes John Locke.

I wondered how the Night’s Watch’s assault on Craster’s Keep would play out (especially because it didn’t happen in the books), and I must admit it was logical and revealed aspects about certain characters.

It also performed a nice near-miss convergence of two central storylines. And man, Hodor (or Bran through proxy) isn’t someone you want to mess around with — that dude must work out! All kidding aside, I really liked (to hate) John Locke.

As a character that’s not actually in the books, he never seemed out of place or like a cheap addition. The TV-only character gave Roose Bolton a head henchman who was as ruthless as he, and I am guessing that the loss (or failure) of Locke will have some sort of ramification for Roose down the line.

At the beginning of the episode, Tommen is officially crowned king of the Seven Kingdoms. All the high lords and ladies are there to watch. The nobility seem more than ready for a new king and who can blame them? Joffery was a monster. Tommen seems like a likeable enough young man, and perhaps he’ll be a good king — he can’t be too much worse than his deceased brother — although I suspect he won’t really be in charge. It looks like Cersei and Margaery will be the iron fists behind the velvet glove.

Cersei and Margaery seem to make good with one another, and they speak about arraigning a marriage between Tommen and Joffrey’s widow.

We catch up with Daenerys in Meereen where word of Joffrey’s death has reached the Mother of Dragons. Daenerys has a conundrum now. For the first time, she has the ships, warriors and dragons to perhaps sack King’s Landing, but she lacks a sufficient host to conquer Westeros. Additionally, Yunkai and Astapor have reverted back to their slave-trading ways. Daenerys decides to reliberate Slaver’s Bay — her reasoning is that if she can’t keep those she freed of bonds of slavery, how will anyone in Westeros take her seriously as a queen?

Back in the seven kingdoms, Littlefinger and Sansa arrive at the Vale of Arryn. It’s there the true depth of Lysa’s devotion to her new husband Littlefinger is revealed. Contrary to what many suspected, the Lannisters had nothing to do with the poisoning of Jon Arryn, who was the Hand of the King before Ned Stark. Littlefinger had Lysa, who has had an infatuation with him since childhood, poison her husband, then write to her sister Catelyn Stark that the Lannisters were behind it. This pretty much puts everything that has happened (main plotwise) on Littlefinger. He is truly a master of manipulation.

Sansa experiences sleeping problems, but that’s the least of her problems. Lysa is an extremely jealous woman and questions Littlefinger’s interest in Sansa right away. She accuses Sansa of letting Littlefinger do things to her “young pretty body.” Lysa is crazy, and knowing Littlefinger’s character, I am not expecting her to be around for too much longer. Being unbalanced and having a secret knowledge of Littlefinger seem like a liability. And Littlefinger doesn’t like liabilities.

Kate Dickie does an outstanding job of playing the jealous woman. Lysa forcibly gripping Sansa’s hands as she is making accusations really enhanced the scene’s tension, and those crazy eyes are haunting. I’m not entirely sure it’s just an act.

Back in King’s Landing, Tywin admits to Cersei that the Westerlands haven’t produced any gold (gold in the Westerlands is like oil to Texas) in three years, so their bankroll is drying up. Because of this, they need to the Tyrells more than ever to help them to contend with not only the houses in revolt but the dreaded Iron Bank of Braavos. Earlier this season, Davos Seaworth beseeched (as Stannis Baratheon) the bank for aid. I’m betting the bank will collect on the Lannisters’ debt one way or another.

Cersei eventually pays a visit to Oberyn Martell. Cersei was on her best behavior because she was trying to convince the Red Viper to condemn Tyrion at the trial. However, she also wanted Oberyn to send a message to her daughter Myrcella, who is in Dorne. You know it’s the run-of-the-mill “I love and miss you” message any parent would send to a child that they haven’t seen in a while except there’s a ship as a gift to her as well.

Somewhere in the vast wilderness of the seven kingdoms, we catch up Arya and the Hound. The dynamic duo is still trekking through Westeros. Because she has “needle” back, Arya resumes practicing the techniques she learned from her water dancing master Syrio Forel, who at one point was the First Sword of Braavos. This scene reveals a new dynamic to the Hound. He seems more sarcastic and mocking, but in an almost jovial manner. Jovial is a word that rarely (if ever) describes the Hound. But just when you think the Hound might be moving beyond his rough-and-tumble persona, he backhands Arya — although she did try to run him through with needle (after he goaded her into doing it).

I’m not sure where the show is going with them, but one thing that is for sure, Maisie Williams has an innate charisma. Really I just like watching her interact with other characters whether it’s Ned Stark in Season 1, Tywin Lannister in Season 2 or the Hound in Seasons 3 and 4. I expect to see this young woman do well for herself in Hollywood after “Game of Thrones” runs its course.

We finally catch up with Jon Snow just outside of Craster’s Keep. Jon and his group of volunteer Crows eventually sack the keep (although it really isn’t much of a keep because it’s just a central log house and minor log building around it). Before the attack, the leader of the mutineers Clubfoot Karl and lackeys were going to rape Brandon’s companion Meera Reed. I’m glad the Crows timed their attack just right because one rape scene this season was enough. Toward the end of the assault, Jon is bested in combat by Karl, but is saved by one of Craster’s wives. After taking stock of their dead, Jon offers Craster’s wives sanctuary at Castle Black, but they decline.

This sequence of scenes reveals some key traits that I suspect will play a larger role in the characters going forward. First, Jon treats the wildlings with respect and compassion — this is a rare trait for anyone from south of the Wall. Additionally, this combat foray is Jon’s first. Not only is it successful, but Jon shows good leadership skills.

Right before the conclusion of the episode, Jon is reunited with his dire wolf Ghost. It’s after this reunion, that Jon asks (after refusing to go to Catsle Black) if Craster’s wives will stay at the keep. One replies, “Burn it to the ground, and all the dead with it.”

 

VERDICT

Fantastic episode! Although not heavy on combat, there was more here than in the two previous episodes combined. Also, the revelation that Littlefinger is the one who sowed the initial discord in Westeros was unexpected and intriguing. Where and when will he stop and/or be satisfied? I’m glad the show didn’t merge Jon and Bran’s storylines. This episode seemed to have a looking back before moving forward theme. We saw Arya remember Syrio. Daenerys is headed back to places she had conquered, Jon goes back to Craster’s Keep and Lysa’s revelation. I expect the series to cover some serious ground in the upcoming episodes. This episode offered great perspective on the series to date.

Rating: 8.8/10

 

PLUSES

+ Littlefinger, sower of discord

+ Hodor is a force to be reckoned with

+ John Locke didn’t overstay his welcome

+ Sansa’s Aunt Lysa is crazy