Spoilers ahead in case you haven’t seen this episode. And if you’ve read the books and think you know what’s going to happen, think again.
Most of the individual stories are progressing as George R.R. Martin originally intended but there have been a few serious changes for the better. As I said in my last review, the last two books, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, focused on setting up most of the characters in entirely new situations to prepare them for Martin’s endgame. Frustrating was what they were. Though lots happened, it felt like the characters spent their time journeying from place to place without getting anywhere. It works in the books because, well, sometimes that’s just how books work. The writer can sometimes get stuck putting his/her characters in situations just to see how they will react. That kind of stuff is fun but it just doesn’t work for TV very often. Wisely, HBO has moved some characters in different directions.
The biggest changes come from Breinne of Tarth and Jamie Lannister and I couldn’t be happier. I won’t reveal what happened to them in the books but I will tell you that their paths do not cross and that seems to be the case on the show as well. Their travelling companions are new additions to Martin’s original story. Brienne is still traveling with Pod and the pair are perfectly suited for one another. Pod’s loyalty and relative innocence plays well against Brienne’s “go it alone” nature. She is a woman who gives loyalty but isn’t used to being the recipient. Jamie has enlisted Bronn to aid him on a journey south to “rescue” Myrcella from Dorne. I must say it is GREAT that Bronn is back. He’s one of my favorite characters on the show and I’m a big fan of Jerome Flynn. If you haven’t watched Ripper Street then check it out on Netflix. Flynn plays the “bad” cop, naturally. While traveling with Jamie, I wonder who’s ego will win out?
Jon is now Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. You saw that coming, right? It played out a bit differently on the show than in the books but the situation is the same. Like the books, Jon was offered Winterfell if he bent the knee to Stannis. Jon doesn’t appear interested. Sam played a big role in getting Jon elected just as it was in the books. Samwell will blossom this season unless the show strays too far from the source. I was annoyed with him last season and his puppy love for Gilly but his character is more mature now. Harder. It suits him.
Over in Braavos, Arya was put through a “Fight Club” test to get into the House of Black and White. Oh man, I wish it was three months from now so we could talk about her journey. I’ll say again that hers is one of my favorite stories in the series. She has been so many different people already; Arya of House Stark, Arry the boy heading to the Wall, Stannis’s cup bearer and a short stint as the Ghost of Harrenhal. Can’t wait to see who she becomes next.
Cersie is getting the cold shoulder from the small council, especially her uncle, Kevan Lannister. So, in King’s Landing, we have a king who is too young to lead and everyone is tired of the Queen Mother’s crap. The cousin she slept with (to coerce him into killing her husband) is now a monk and her brother, the ONLY person who is willing to give her the time of day, is leaving for Dorne. This is going to be fun!
Speaking of Dorne, I can’t applaud loudly enough for Alexander Sidding as Doran Martell. And that’s just because I loved him in Deep Space 9. Time will tell how he fares as Dorne’s sickly but brilliant ruler. Based on his one scene, I think he’ll make a fantastic addition to the cast.
There was still more back and forth between Vary and Tyrion. Even though I really enjoy both actors and the characters they play, I truly hope they reach their destination in the next episode. Part of what frustrated me about the books was the endless traveling that Tyrion had to endure. If that continues in the series, I may start drinking as heavily as he.
Dragons! After a painful but just decision to execute a former slave, Daenarys receives a visit from Drogon. Just as she’s losing the support of her people, her dragons are becoming more independent. Well, Drogon is anyway, the other two are still locked away. She is their mother and I can tell you, locking your kids in the basement will get Children’s Services on your butt pretty fast.
Overall, this was a decent episode. The main Game of Thrones players are getting in place and the game is afoot. Let’s hope for more dragons.