Westeros is where ideals go to die. Sticking to them has been shown to never be the right thing, if you enjoy your head. Ned stuck to his guns, trying to obey the letter of the law, and lost his head for it. Now his son, Robb has taken the head of Lord Karstark, putting himself closer to losing his own head like his father.
Robb’s segments this season have been interesting but a little soulless. In season 2 he was on top of the world. Now he is losing the war and half of his bannermen. Both of which seemed to have happened in the time it takes to swing the sword. Which leaves me wondering “Where did it all go downhill?” Yes, spiritually you could point to him marrying Talisa and breaking his word with House Frey. But where did it go wrong physically? What was the battle that made it all go south? It was all going so well in season 2.
Robb wonders how he is supposed to fight for “justice” if he does not show the same kind of justice to his own men. Ideals like “justice” and morality are a complicated thing in politics. He needs the Karstarks men, and they will leave if their Lord loses his head. He could've held Karstark prisoner and kept the men but that wouldn’t have been “justice” for the murdered Lannister children. So he takes Lord Karstarks head. Honor intact. It just cost him half of his army.
The problem for all their titles, houses, and oaths of fealty the people of the Seven Kingdoms are no more loyal to their Kings then a mercenary is to a man not paying him. There is no great rallying cry like Robert’s for King Robb. His men came to him out of tradition. But now their minds are on other logical and equally important things like their family and lands as winter approaches.
The followers of R’hllor and their Red Priests don’t seem to have this problem. Though Thrones has shown two different ways of the Priests maintain control. Thoros of Myr, by all rights is the power behind the Brotherhood Without Banners. Having converted all members to R’hllor he has united them in stronger bonds than Robb Stark and his old ways ever could. Thoros also being able to resurrect their leader, Beric Dondarrion, on a moments notice in front of his people doesn't hurt either. Melisandre has also converted all of Stannis’ men to the Red Faith more importantly she has converted that entire branch of the Baratheon family tree. Stannis’ wife exhibits cult like devotion as she dissuades her husband of any sin or dishonor he has brought her. Much to Stannis’ pain, he seems to be a step away from becoming the Arthur Dimmesdale of Westeros.
Despite being in the clutches of Lord Bolton at Harrenhall things actually are looking up for Jammie and Brienne. Roose Bolton is acting too nice to them infact. There is hospitality amongst nobility and then there is letting your prisoners be treated extremely well. For a man so hated as Jaime Lannister a bath and proper medical treatment (albeit from a ex-Maesters who was kicked out for being too experimentive) is a lot of kindness. What if House Bolton sacked Winterfell and is secretly looking to work with the Lannisters for their own fortunes? That seems like something George R.R. Martin would do.
Niceties asid, it’s a good thing he has been so hospitable to the couple. Or else we wouldn’t get 1.) Jamie and BRienne naked in a tub together or 2.) Nikolas Coster-Waldur going on an epic monologue. Jamie was already interesting in that Comedia sens, laughing at the inherent contradictions found in “honor” according to Westerosi principles. With his little speech about the sacking of Kings Landing at the end of Robert's Rebellion he has gone to another level. Now we understand why he laughs at other peoples “honor”. Me neighbor constantly braggs about how Jamie is the most honorable man in the series. Killing the Mad King and his Pyromancer to save the lives of thousands of men, women, and children (on both sides of the conflict) would definitely make him that. But nobody knows about his righteousness. Thankfully the scene didn’t feature a Snape like flashback that retconned audiences entire view of a character.
All of Robert's Rebellion seems to so steeped in hazy lore that it would be really nice if the show managed to do some kind of prequel miniseries about it all. Maybe something to do while they wait for Martin to finish writing the darn thing.
The first half of “Kissed by Fire” composed of many short check ins. Game of Thrones actively makes me feel like things are running long, but with all this jumping from place to place things very fast, too fast. Fast like it was contractually obligated that actor X show up in an episode instead of something from a purely narrative point. These scenes didn’t feel unnecessary like Daenerys in season 2 they just didn’t amount to much in the episode.
One of these little checkins involved Jon Snow breaking his vows and rolling with Ygritte. It is never good to break your word but if a tree falls in a forest and the Nights Watch have imploded dose it really matter? Still Jon actually seems happy so that means he must die pretty soon. Ever the optimist this show makes me.
This show could have been very soapy. That 90’s reimagine opening sequence works a little too well. Still when the show goes in that soapy melodramatic direction it sells the moment and doesn't devolve into All My Children camp. Tywin is none to happy that the Tyrells are trying to wed Sansa to Ser Loras and secure their position in the North. This can only happen after Joffery and MArgery wed so Tywin can still “kill this plot in it’s crib.” By wedding Sansa to Tyrion, who will have none of it. He doesn't want to be made Warden of the North or any of the new found power that would come with it. He just thinks it would be a cruel thing to do to the child. But since when has feelings ever been a thing to stop action in this show? “You will wed her, bed her and put a child in her.” so orders Lord Daddy. Cerci’s face has a look of glee as her impish brother is once again humiliated by their father. That look turns upside down once Tywin orders Cerci to marry Ser Loras adding that she needs to breed more children. putting an end to those “disgusting rumors” and securing their position in the West. “My children. You’ve disgraced the Lannister name for far too long,” with that Tywin drops the metaphorical mic and walks off to do Hand of the King shit. The camera pulls out and stays on a rod iron Lannister Lion as Tyrion and Cerci just stare at each other dumbfounded. Tywin Lannister has ideals and he will enforce them and gives no fucks about it.
The Bits At The End
This week Bronn sings “Unchained Melody”
My Dad went on a half cocked conspiracy about how Ser Berrister Selmy isn’t really who he says he is. My father has always been the type to read more into innocuous moments and forgetting the forest for the trees. I’m sure Ser Barrister's actions this week will do nothing but fuel his thoughts.
How’d you know I liked dudes wonders Ser Loras. Because Littlefinger knows EVERYTHING