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‘Game Of Thrones’ Recap: The Time For Talk Is Over

Words aren't protecting anyone anymore.

This is a recap of the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Spoilers!

There was plenty of talking in this episode, as many characters revealed strategic, psychological and, of course, physical vulnerabilities. Words can wound as grievously as the tools we were shown being used in the episode’s cold open. And as we saw in the devastating final scene, words alone can’t protect you from dreadful violence.

Most of the talking this week was negotiation — with little satisfaction. While the wildlings agree to back Jon and Sansa (helped by the concise endorsement of the giant Wun Wun), the rest of the North isn’t as easily won over. A few weeks back I was hoping we’d visit the Mormonts of Bear Island, but Jon and Sansa must now persuade Lady Maege’s ten-year-old daughter, Lyanna Mormont. The delightfully poised She-Cub isn’t taking any shit from her elders.

Ed note: our love for this girl cannot be contained to one post.

She even slut-shames “Lady Sandra”, who grits her teeth: “I did what I had to do to survive, my lady.” The Bear and the Maiden Fair, indeed! In the end it’s Ser Davos who convinces Lyanna to commit her 62 fighting men (who have “the strength of 620 mainlanders”). He appeals to the unexpected political elevation they share… but then Davos has always been good with little girls. Will he be whittling Lyanna a toy bear next?

Over at House Glover, Jon and Sansa have less luck getting glove-slapped by the new lord. (Sansa’s wolf-themed costume design is not working!) Still, Jon’s determined to attack Winterfell while the weather holds — a plan that promises to be about as successful as the time Stannis Baratheon tried it. Sansa, however, knows one more source of fresh, friendly fighters and sends a raven. It’s probably to Littlefinger at the Eyrie, but it could also be to her great-uncle Brynden at Riverrun.

At the beautiful Tully stronghold — I think it’s the first time we’ve seen Riverrun on approach, matte painting-style — there’s a general mood of contempt at the leather-beanied Freys’ incompetent siege. The Blackfish knows full well they won’t kill Lord Edmure (their only bargaining chip). Although that ding-dong is “marked for death” either way. (Poor Edmure, hearing his uncle say “Go on then, cut his throat!”)

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“I liked it better on Outlander.”

“Somebody needs to teach those sad twats how to dig trenches,” observes Bronn, making a welcome, salty return. Remember how, in the depths of his humiliation last week, Jaime raged about fetching Bronn to help him murder the Sparrows? It was a fascinating window into the boyish reliance of both Tyrion and Jaime Lannister on the former sellsword: both brothers have that poignant rich-kid way of trying to buy his friendship.

Now, Jaime shyly confesses he’s been writing some Bronnister fanfic called The Right Hand I Lost. “Because a Lannister always pays– ”

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“Don’t fooking say it.”

Jaime’s gold right hand does come in useful for cold-clocking some incompetent Freys. But the Blackfish shuts down his golden talk as quickly as Bronn. Riverrun is well provisioned to wait out the siege; the Blackfish only agreed to speak with Jaime to meet the legendary Kingslayer. His verdict? “I’m disappointed.”

Disappointment is a mild way of putting Theon Greyjoy’s feelings as his fellow ironborn carouse in a brothel in Volantis — most enthusiastically, his sister Yara. Sick of his PTSD quivering, Yara forces Theon to pound a pint of ale and demands he let go of horror and self-pity. It’s not very helpful, but it’s probably the closest Theon will get to actual therapy. So when Yara asks, “Are you really with me?” he nods wordlessly, and her face brims with relief as she kisses his forehead.

Given Yara’s lust for ladies — quick note: ugh, why did she pronounce it ‘ass’ rather than ‘arse’? — I wonder if she’s going to replicate Euron’s plan to seduce Daenerys? It wouldn’t be Dany’s first same-sex experience.

In Braavos, Arya should be letting Needle do the talking. It just blows my mind that a smart, suspicious fatalist who’s spent two seasons training with the Faceless Men would let down her guard to a random granny — who, of course, is that godsdamned Faceless Girl.

But the Waif is still new to assassination. A neat throat-slit would have been efficient. Instead, overcome by her hatred for Arya, she disobeys Jaqen’s request for a painless kill and administers a frenzied shivving. She then smugly assumes the harbour waters will finish the job. I hope Jaqen punishes her severely for such a piss-poor hit.

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This is what period pain feels like.

Somehow I feel Arya isn’t done for just yet. She may stumble across a Red Priest who could fix her up like her similarly skewered brother Jon? Is there a maester handy? Maybe the acting troupe’s medical expertise extends beyond diagnosing genital warts? Will she still somehow be on that Westerosi ship at dawn?

Back in King’s Landing, Margaery’s got large chunks of scripture down pat, and even looks contrite when the High Sparrow tells her to lie back and think of Westeros: “Congress does not require desire on the woman’s part, only patience.”

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“U wot, m8?”

Why is the High Sparrow’s plan so dependent on the line of succession? Regardless, given his unsubtle threats regarding the Queen of Thorns, it’s up to Margaery to warn her bewildered grandmother, under the scrutiny of the loathsome Septa Unella. (I can’t decide which style-cramping minor character I dislike more: Septa Unella or the Waif.)

Thank god for that crumpled rose picture, which reassures Lady Olenna (and us) that Margaery’s just in deep-cover. The Queen of Thorns had better depart before she becomes The Departed. But not before she unleashes her barbed tongue on the blundering Cersei, who absorbs it all, slack-faced with distress, because she knows Olenna is right.

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“You’ve lost, Cersei. It’s the only joy I can find in all this misery.”

Well, there’s still Cersei’s trial by combat, championed by the Mountain That Reanimates. Which brings me to the exciting return of Gregor Clegane’s little brother Sandor, the ex-Hound. It’s looking more and more as if a longtime fan theory was FUCKING CONFIRMED this week. #GETHYPE

It’s interesting how Septon Ray and the High Sparrow represent polar approaches to the Faith of the Seven. Ray was a loyal soldier who tired of violence and now builds peaceful country septs. He’s humble and surprisingly liberal-minded, never claiming he holds all the answers. By contrast, the Sparrow was once a rich, liberal-minded merchant who now practises ideologically rigid violence.

As Sandor now knows, you’re just as likely to end up dead whichever path you follow. And the savagery with which Ray and his happy villagers were slaughtered should warn us that the Brotherhood (if that’s indeed who those riders were) has taken a meaner turn from the Robin Hood-esque outlaws Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie first met.

Which path is the wounded Hound now on? The axe he snatches can help build sanctuaries or chop firewood for warmth. But it can also remove heads. Is he still motivated by hatred, or by something more righteous? Either way, the time for talk is over.

Game of Thrones is on Showtime at 11am and 7.30pm every Monday.

Mel Campbell is a freelance journalist and cultural critic. She blogs on style, history and culture at Footpath Zeitgeist and tweets at @incrediblemelk. Read more of her Game of Thrones recaps here.