First, an apology. I missed last week’s recap. I’m sorry. I don’t really have an excuse. I’m tempted to say that I was overly endowed with work, or at a yoga retreat, but one of the big reasons I became a writer was so that I could make my own schedule. So anyone who knows me wouldn’t believe it. Also, I’m pretty fat.
So, like no one in Game of Thrones ever would, please let bygones be bygones and let’s move on with the recap. Speaking of which, as far as I can tell, this recap business is a phenomenon that takes place entirely online. Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and Bullett aren’t giving away valuable in-book space to recaps. So why aren’t they called “e-caps”? Just wondering.
This week, discord was everywhere. We begin in Riverrun, where Catelyn Stark and Rob have traveled, with a decent swath of his army, to “bury” her father. Except they don’t really bury him. They send him out on a pyre-boat which an archer lights from the shore by firing an arrow. The archer is a young lord, Edmure Tully of Riverrun, who keeps missing. Eventually, Catelyn’s uncle grabs the bow, hits the mark, and makes a really big deal out of it. Age and experience trump youth. Are you listening Robb Stark? Are you listening King Joffrey? Metaphor!
Inside Lord Tully’s castle, the young lord—Brutus from Rome—is berated by Robb for chasing The Mountain—older brother to The Hound and Tywin Lannister’s night—away from where Robb could defeat them. Meta-discord: there’s some discord between Game of Thrones and Rome—the period drama which gave GoT the actors who play Edmure Tully and Mance Rayder. James Purefoy, who played Marc Anthony” on Rome told Empire Magazine that he wouldn’t do Game of Thrones even if they asked him because GoT stole their show.
It turns out Catelyn’s uncle hadn’t spoken to her father for years before he died. Family discord! She tells him of all the days she spent looking out her castle window, waiting for his return from war. Abandoned children—of all castes—are part of what gives GoT its fierce themes of independence and ambition. From Tyrion to John Snowe to Arya, young people, having to fight for themselves, being abandoned of some sort of parentage and having to make their own way, is what makes us believe in these characters: the discord in their hearts.
Speaking of Arya, she’s been identified to The Brotherhood Without Banners—a gang of freedom fighting environmentalists who spend a lot of time in the woods—as a Stark by The Hound, who they’ve also managed to capture. Arya’s traveling trio is broken up when Hot Pie, her fat friend, decides to stay behind and become a baker’s apprentice. Sad.
Way North of these woods, Mance Rayder et al come upon a decorative display of death featuring hundreds of decapitated horses, in a spiral. “Always the artists” moans Mance. Their riders, 300 crows, are whites now. Mance orders a contingent to take Castle Black, including John Snow, who he threatens to kill. Again.
As we saw him last week, Theon Greyjoy is trussed up, Jesus-style, and is being tortured by unknown assailants. He’s freed by a page, who claims he was sent by Theon’s sister. As he’s chased by his captors, I kept asking myself, why do we still like Theon? He did so many bad, bad things: betrayal, infanticide, sister-fingering. Yet we still hope he gets away—which he does, after almost being buggered, or as they say in Westeros “I’m going to fuck you into the dirt”—when the page puts arrows through his captors.
Daenerys is still in Astapor, where we find her pitying a punished slave, strung up on a crucifix. When she tries to feed him water, he refuses. Her advisors, Jorah and Sir Selby, are split on what to do about the slave army. On one hand, slaves will never be as loyal as an army fighting for a cause, as Selby was when he fought alongside her brother against Robert Baratheon. On the other hand, he lost that war. Daenerys has made up her mind; she doesn’t just want some of the slave army; she wants all of it. The slaver laughs at her, offering her 20 men and calling her a “slut” and “beggar queen,” but through his translator, who is crafty and still mad sassy. He stops laughing when she offers him a dragon. Now Denaerys has an army. And the translator, who she takes in the deal. Her advisors speak against she quickly and thoroughly puts them in their place.
We also learn the meaning of “valar morghulis” the phrase the Faceless Man taught to Arya when he left her at the end of Season 2. It’s High Valyrian for “All men must die.” Awesome.
Back in more central Westeros, Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth continue to do their Hepburn-and-Tracy schtick, though with less movement than usual, because they’re tied together on the back of a horse, having been captured by one of Robb Stark’s bannermen. Jamie warns Brienne that she will be raped once they make camp—and warns her not to resist. She, of course, does, but to no avail. In a humanizing moment, Jamie tells Robb’s bannerman of Brienne’s father’s wealth, saving her. But not himself.
We end the episode with perhaps the truest form of discord, if not the most direct.
The bannerman seems to accept Jamie’s offer of a bribe. He unchains the kingslayer, and offers him food, and drink. But it’s a cruel ruse. The bannerman ends up taking a piece of Jamie, who, if he ever becomes Hand of the king, will do so in name only.
Jamie Lannister, whose separation of Bran from his legs started this entire racket, has gone from a symbol of disharmony, to a physical example, and manifestation, of it. From metaphor to embodiment, in one swipe of the sword.