The theme running throughout all of Westeros this week….trust no one.
This week we were watching lessons in loyalty, betrayal, and what will soon be the consequences of all. It is, of course, one of the most prevalent themes running throughout the entire series, but last night gave us kind of a political status update and a check-in as to where several characters stand and some clues as to where things are going in the future.
First up, Tyrion Lannister. We have seen glimpses of it, but last nights episode was one of the first times we have seen him operate with true political prowess. In season one, we were always trying to figure out if he really was just a whore-loving imp that couldn't live up to his father's high expectations or if his intelligence was truly under-estimated because of his physical stature. This season, I think we are seeing that that latter is the truth, and in trying to fight for love and approval he has become the Lannister with some of the most scheming political knowledge. He successfully weeds out Ceresei's rat by playing a game of words with three members of the inner counsel by feeding them all different information. Not only does this serve to allow him to find and punish Pycelle (and essentially shut down much of the power that Cersei has had by getting insider information), but he also played Petry Baelish in a way that lets him know, "you don't want to fuck with me" and that the wise choice would be to stay loyal. He then sends Petyr to negotiate with Catelyn Stark. I'm not sure how that is going to turn out in seeing how Petyr has operated in the past - could Tyrion be learning some lessons in loyalty himself in the future?
And then we get to visit with Renly Baratheon and I was surprised at how, without seeing his character for a few episodes, he truly has become a King in his own right. He now commands his own army, and has enough power to gain the support of over 100,000 people. Then we see him with his new wife, who seems to be doing some political scheming of her own. She lets Renly know that she knows his "secret" and about his affair with her brother. While she vows to keep quiet (for now), I couldn't help but suspect that her pleading to him to "put a child in her" wasn't a subtle way of telling him to do this for her, or she will reveal what he doesn't want anyone else to know – giving her more power than anyone else in his clan at the moment.
And then there is the lesson in betrayal Robb Stark is about to learn by Theon Greyjoy. Sad. Theon – the Starks former ward – was recently sent by Robb to broker a deal with his father, Balon Greyjoy, and ask for the use of his ships to help Robb in his attack of the Lannister's territory. However, Balon informs Theon that he has different plans and lets him know that not only will they not be joining the alliance, they will themselves be attempting to take the kingdom of the North and the Stark's territory for their own. And just when we think that Theon is going to warn Robb Stark of his father's plans, he burns his letter to him and we realize he just got played. His father sneakily gets in to his head and convinces him to betray the only true family he ever had, just because he thinks he should stay loyal to his blood. So, Robb doesn't know it yet, but he is about to get a big surprise in 30 ships sailing to over-take his power and the loss of the support of Theon Greyjoy in his fight, all so Theon can now command "the sea bitch." I think the biggest lesson here, is that no matter what happens in Westeros, there truly is no loyalty... because daddy issues always win.
With the theme of power overall, we only got glimpses in to some of the creepier, supernatural elements that seemed to be making more of an appearance this season. Bran wakes up and tries to convince his master that the dreams he has been having in the body of a Direwolf are real. He claims that they are "different", and I am starting to believe he is right. I like these mystical aspects sprinkled in the show, and I really hope this is true. Speaking of fantasy, there was a complete lack of Daenerys Targaryen last night and her dragons. And, although it looks like from the previews she is around next week, I was mildly sad when a friend of mine told me there is a severe lack of her character in the storylines of the books right now and it won't be a while until we really see her story emerge? I was a bit disheartened to hear that. But then again, it also means that there is so so much good stuff yet to come, I think it will be worth the wait.