Sorry this is a bit late, I’ve been so busy of late. I guess what I really need is someone to…………..LEND ME A HAND?!
So, season 3 of Game of Thrones is now well and truly underway and after two episodes of scene setting, “Walk of Punishment” saw the show back at it’s swaggering, frenetic, pulsating and distressing best. When the show is in this kind of mood, there is really nothing finer on the googlebox right now.
“Walk of Punishment” was odd in one respect. It shot around Westeros at absolutely lightning speed, yet despite this, it never felt rushed as previous episodes have. In fact, many scenes had a serious sombre tone that build the ominous feeling of dread that spread throughout the episode.
Take for instance the opening sequence. Introducing us to Edmure and Bryden “Blackfish” Tully, Catelyn’s brother and uncle, not a word is spoken. Yet in Edmure’s well intentioned but comically haphazard attempts at grandeur as he attempts to shoot a flaming arrow at his father’s funeral boat followed by the gruff Blackfish, unconventional, not playing by the rules, and a total badass, taking the arrow and nonchalantly nailing the characters are near instantly formed in our minds.
In fact, things don’t really seem to be going Robb’s way at the moment. He’s won every battle and yet the war, with Stannis’ defeat at King’s Landing, and Edmure’s attack on the Mountain bollocksing up Robb’s plan to get guerilla in the Lannister’s back yard, in addition to the constant questioning of the Karstarks following his mother’s amazing decision to release Jaime Lannister, is not going to plan. Still, at least his wife is pretty good at comforting small boys.
Tywin is large and in charge as the Hand, and mirroring the opening with the Tully’s family dynamic, the Lannister’s need for some group therapy also unravels before his without a word. Tywin, commands the attention at the head of the table. Cersei drags her chair to be at the father’s side. Tyrion, not prepared to be one of minions at the side, painfully drags her chair across the floor, placing himself directly opposite his father. How apt.
He’s then made the Master of Coin, replacing Littlefinger as Westeros’ chancellor. Baelish has a reputation of being able to conjur money out of thin air, and there a reason for that. He has been. I recently read in an excellent article in the London Review of Books that the seasons of Westeros are a very obvious metaphor for economics. Long summers of bountiful harvest, followed by dramatic winters of hardship and uncertainty, the length of which is a mystery. None clearer has that been that Tyrion’s realisation that the Crown is millions in debt that it can not pay. Time for some Westorsi austerity.
As a brief aside about Littlefinger this week, his wandering accent went balls out Irish this week. He’s also off to the Eerie to woo Catelyn’s sister. Littlefinger has history with the Tully girls (or Catelyn at least) so this should prove interesting.
The Pod prostitute scenes however were the one downer of the show. While I enjoyed the gag about one of the girls being able to perform the Meereenese Knot (the name George RR Martin has given to a plotting issue in the books that has caused the bloating of the narrative), it felt like there was something missing. Either Pod didn’t sleep with them, Ros approach him about spying or Tyrion paid for them to pretend they loved him so much they refused payment. But none of these things were so much as alluded to and so tonally it didn’t land for me. As funny as it was.
Arya says goodbye to Hot Pie. Alas poor Hot Pie. We barely knew you. Bake on. Jon and the wildlings discover a rather horrfying spiral of dead horses (and stop to make lasagne) before heading off to attack the wall. Meanwhile the Night’s Watch have reached Craster’s Keep, which feels far more creepy and unsettling than before. Sam witnesses Gilly give birth, but her sisters don’t need to say a word for us to know it’s a boy and it’s bad news.
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany’s storyline stepped up a notch this week. I *love* Ser Barristan, and his pledge of allegiance to Dany has created a great dynamic with Ser Jorah who clearly feels he is being cock blocked. But Dany is beyond their bickering; she is growing into a Queen, and it’s quite the contrast to the scared girl sold into marriage in the first season. Seeing the slaves of the walk of punishment of the title, there is clearly a cause stirring in Dany; that she cannot abide slavery. I don’t know what her plan is, but I’m going to wager that hilarious slave owner isn’t going to get the dragon she’s offered him.
The real drive of this episode though is Jaime and Brienne. Their interactions so far on their little jaunt around the countryside have been wonderful, but the thread of doom in this episode is leading to this. Captured by the Boltons there is a change of tone in the relationship; for all his winding up, Jaime does seem to care about Brienne. He warns her that the Bolton men will rape her, and not to struggle but when she asks him what he would do, we already know the answer – “I’d make them kill me”. Jaime is a nihilistic sort who doesn’t really seem to care about anything beyond being really good at sword fighting, which makes what happens next all the more potent. First, he sticks his neck out for Brienne to save her. His reward for that. The Bolton man teaches him a lesson about what happens outside of the realm of where the name of his father can save him, and horrifically lops off his hand, with the horror compounded by the jarring cut to The Hold Steady’s cover of The Bear and The Maiden Fair. It’s an exhilarating and sickening finale up with Ned getting his head lopped off in season 1.
The biggest compliment I can pay this episode? Despite having read the book my heart was pounding as I held my breath, barely able to look as it careened towards its conclusion.