Awww..let's pause as I breath a sigh of relief…thank you Game of Thrones….there were so many things that I loved about last night's episode, which was a welcome change from what was becoming a little bit of a lackluster season for me. Up until now, each episode felt so jam packed with plot lines that there was little time to get any character development or allow us to emotionally attach to anything that was happening. But last night, all of that changed and it once again felt like the show that I grew to love in season one. We got several scenes with intimate conversations between many of my favorite characters, and while in many of them not a lot "happened," it gave us many clues as to what we might be in store for. I know this may have been a controversial episode for some (being that we yet again took another step away from the events of the book - which I fear might be upsetting some dedicated book lovers), but I simply loved everything that went on…well…besides the burnt children, that was just messed up.
We started out with Theon Greyjoy who has shockingly and quickly become more despicable than King Joffrey. Between the two, I think I hate Theon even more because I feel like he should know better. Joffrey is a young King that has been given too much power at too young of an age (and probably has rotten insides because he is an incest baby), but Theon has seen and experienced enough to know that what he is doing is just simply awful. And, I think I am just so frakking tired of hearing Theon talk about how he has to prove that he is strong to his men. He is so obsessed with being liked and accepted that he has just become a terrible person, which I know can make people fearful, but I don't think it is truly going to give him any of that respect that he craves so desperately. Also, if he wasn't dumb enough in the first place to let his "man parts" control his life, perhaps Bran and Rickon never would have escaped. It seems to me that he is just making decisions out of fear, and I think we have learned that is no way for a king to rule…or survive. I'm not sure that I can even talk about those crispy little children hanging from the wall, except to say, that better not be Bran and Rickon hanging up there. Being that we conveniently never got to see the plan that Osha hatched for them, I certainly hope Theon just decided to burn some innocent children (not saying that is better, but at least Bran is safe) in order to prove himself and get control over his men.
When looking at the villains on the show, I am sorry Theon and Joffrey, I have found my favorite and he is Tywin Lannister. I couldn't be happier that we once again got to visit him in conversation with his cup-bearer Arya Stark (they are my favorite dynamic duo). I think the most brilliant thing to come out of this pairing is it has made him the best kind of villain - the kind that you love to hate. He is a character that in the same scene can order the death of hundreds of people, but by the end you forget all of that and you just want him to have a nice conversation with Arya. Even as Arya longingly looks at his neck and pondered if she could slit his throat with her knife, I found myself thinking, "don't you dare kill him little one." I didn't want him to die….and I still don't…yet he is an evil evil man. Truth be told, while the murders of Theon and Joffrey have been more graphic and shocking Tywin has probably killed more people than both the other men combined - but I still don't hate him as I do them. I'm not even that worried that Arya keeps making little mistakes and revealing more about her knowledge and upbringing than she should. Of course, he now realizes that she is not the peasant girl that she claimed to be, but he doesn't seem to really care. A few episodes ago he would have issued an order to kill her, but instead he just gives her a stern warning that she better watch what she is saying. The most fascinating moment is going to come when he realizes who she is and has some epic reaction, but I just hope it takes some time because I'm not ready. They could keep their back and forth going for the rest of the season for all I care.
Another interesting aspect of this episode is, just as we spent a lot of time with the Starks last week, we get to spend time this week learning much more about some Lannister characters. Not only do we see Tywin showing some weaknesses, but Cersei full on breaks down and admits she knows her son is kind of awful. The usually strong and powerful Queen actually cries to her brother Tyrion as she admits that she is afraid that the awful actions of Joffrey are punishment for having sex and a child with her twin brother (you think?). In a very sweet and unexpected moment Tyrion assures his sister that her other two children are not "monsters" so she must have done something right. This is one of the first times that we have seen Cersei actually admit that there might be something wrong with Joffrey…and she does it twice. Earlier in the episode in a scene with Sansa she tells her that she understands if Sansa doesn't love Joffrey, because it will probably make her weaker (since he is not going to be very loyal or supportive to her). I hope Sansa takes this advice because now that she is officially able to bear children, I fear it will not be long until we get a pretty awful scene where Joffrey tries to force Sansa to give him a son.
My biggest excitement of all in last nights episode was the return of Jaime Lannister. I love Tyrion, I love Arya, but Jaime Lannister is hands down my favorite character (and actor) on the show. I know that is a strange statement when last nights episodes was named "A Man Without Honor" (which was most likely referring to him), but I can't help but like him. I believe he is such a charismatic actor that every time he is on the screen you just can't take your eyes off of him….even if he is covered with dirt and more disgusting things after being chained to a fence for months. But, it is not just that. It is that somehow even though you know that Jaime has killed several people and perhaps even enjoys it, it is the fact that he is able to actually admit he has flaws and become almost humble about them. In a show that everybody is walking about trying to prove how great and powerful they are, it is refreshing to spend time with a character that has just accepted who he is. We know he killed a King in the past and see him brutally murder two people in this episode, but for some reason I just don't care. I almost even hoped that he actually was able to escape from Robb Stark's camp.
Over in the city of Qarth, we get one of the quickest incidents of mass murder that we have had so far. The weird and scary skeleton man finally admits to Daenerys that he has stolen her dragons and reveals that he is in cahoots with Xaro who helped to steal her dragons so he can become King of the greatest city that ever was and ever will be. I knew that guy wasn't to be trusted. Then the throats of the council of 13 are slit almost simultaneously, and poof…they were gone. Now…we know how Daenerys will get to enter the House of the Undying…which I have yet to decide if I even want to see.
I must also give a nod to the cinematography and effects in this episode, because the landscape that Jon Snow and Ygritte are traveling through is so beautiful and spectacular it is hard to believe that is was a real landscape in Iceland. The scene where we see the full scope of Herron Hall is stunning, shocking and amazing all at the same time. One of my favorite parts of this show is asking myself every week how it is possible that they are able to pull all off this spectacular-ness, because every single week each episode looks like it could be a brilliant movie in its own right.