"Another king? How many is that now, five?" In an episode chock-full of great dialogue, mostly uttered by Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who's looking to overthrow Mad Men's Roger Sterling as King of the Sunday Evening One-Liner, the aforementioned "another king" line, spoken by ice queen regent Cersei (Lena Headey), resonated with us the most.
The sad part is, five is undershooting it. She doesn't even know about Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) or Desert Dany (Emilia Clarke) yet. It's a testament to the skill of Game Of Thrones series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, both of whom also co-wrote last night's episode, "The Night Lands," that even with all of the HBO show's ever-multiplying cast of characters and quintuple-crosses, we remain engaged and never confused.
Meet The New Boss
Last week we saw Stannis (Stephen Dillane) take preemptive measures so as not to end up as Ned Stark (you know, beheaded and such), and last night Tyrion did the same. Whereas Ned tried to play things straight in a sea full of unscrupulous bastards, the crafty imp knows better. He doesn't waste a second treating Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), or removing the untrustworthy Head Guard Janos and replacing him with his right-hand man Bronn (Jerome Flynn). But will it make any difference? Tyrion is used to winning his many verbal standoffs, but note that Varys more than holds his own, and while Bronn may be loyal to him, he is still a mercenary after all and his moral code is not much better than Janos'. King's Landing, much like HBO's fictionalized Baltimore on The Wire, is beginning to seem like a flawed institution incapable of change.
The episode's most potent scene was the venomous closer between siblings Tyrion and Cersei. With the revelation that Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) ordered the mass Baratheon Bastard Annihilation (so brutal that it's got Littlefinger's whores too shook to conduct business), Cersei realizes Joffrey is officially out of her control. If this episode was built on exploring alliances, mostly male-female, then Cersei and Tyrion's is on the shakiest ground of all. Ty calls out brother and sister's extra-familial relations, only for Cersei to fire back with a reminder that his birth caused their mother's death. Is it safe to say the Lannisters are the most fucked-up family on television right now?
There's Trouble On King's Road
Speaking of Joffrey's Baratheon Bastard Hunt, his thirst for total annihilation has royal guards out on King's Road searching for Gendry (Joe Dempsie), which indirectly puts young Arya (Maisie Williams) in the line of fire as well. As she and Gendry grow closer, she reveals herself (as a Stark female), while slowly piecing together what Joffrey would want with him. Either way, Yoren can only hold off the guards but for so long, and when they realize two of the King's public enemies are traveling with him for the Wall, chaos is sure to ensue.
Meanwhile, beyond said Wall, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) continues investigating what the vile, wilding lord Craster is up to. You'll remember that he marries all of his daughters, but just what does he do to his sons that has one of his wives shook enough to consider running away with the Night Watch? As Jon observes in the epsiode's cliffhanger, it has something to do with those damn White Walkers. Looks like the daughters are getting off easy.
The Greyjoys Throw Their Hat In The Ring
Every week this poor sap Theon (Alfie Allen) is telling a different chick how important he is/will be, and it usually ends with him getting embarrassed and emasculated. It was pretty much a given that his father Balon would be decidedly against allying with the same family that defeated him nine years ago, but now he's making his own bid for the throne? Just what are we supposed to take from his suggestive, "Who said anything about the Lannisters"?
Even worse is that Balon is unimpressed with the man Theon has become under the Stark's stewardship. Whatever his plans are, he doesn't trust his estranged son's loyalty enough to include him. That honor goes to Yara, i.e. a girl. Major slight #1: She's not just any girl either, she's Theon's (less effeminately bejeweled) sister. Major slight #2: Oh, and he didn't recognize her on the way up to the castle and tried to hit on her, Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) style. Losses all around for the homie this week.
Melisandre Continues To Enchant
On a series full of characters with roughly 19 different agendas a piece, Stannis' priestess, Melisandre (Carice van Houten), is the biggest cipher of them all. Not that we're complaining. This week her seduction of Stannis continues after she promises him a son, something that his sickly wife cannot deliver. Apparently her body is the temple that brings one closer to the one true Lord of Lightas well. Sign us up.
While Stannis gets freaky in the war room, his right-hand Davos (Liam Cunningham) is busy solidifying the allegiances necessary if they want to actually pull this coup off. That includes horny pirate Salladhor, whose main condition is that he gets to bang Cersei after they take the capitol. He's confident that his mad seduction skills will belay any need for force, but seeing as how he's not a blond-haired family member, we're inclined to disagree.
- Daenerys continues to labor in the desert heat of the Red Waste, and the only movement made from her search party involves Rakharo returning without the rest of his body below the neck. The good news: That means there's something out there at least. The bad news: That something may be other khal's who are not down with the pro-feminist movement.
- Renly Baratheon and his reported 100,000 men remain off-screen, for now.