Review: Game of Thrones 3.02: Dark Wings, Dark Words

[spoilers ahead]
Women and their relationships dominate this episode of Game of Thrones and give us two of the best scenes this time around.

First, there’s the dynamic duo of Jaime and Brienne of Tarth. She’s escorting him back to King’s Landing; he’s snarking all the way. Brienne is all good-natured chivalry and devotion to Renly’s memory. Jaime is a practical asshole who sees the world as it is. Who has the correct POV? Jaime. This is proven in a scene where Jaime suggests that they should murder a seemingly innocent-looking random farmer who spots them walking down the road. Later on, that farmer sells them off to the Boltons. But not before Brienne and Jaime engage in a bit of swordplay.

Incidentally, unlike Jon Snow and his Northern paramour, Brienne and Jaime have the right sort of chemistry in an I-love-to-hate-you sort of way. There’s some irony to this, considering that Brienne is the same height as Jaime and, as several characters point out, rather mannish and ugly compared to the fair women of Westeros. But there you have it – this is one of the few male-female couples that has some heat. And they’re not even a couple. Except in my fanfic dreams.

At any rate, do you know who is not so fond of Renly’s memory and is eager to start some heat of her own with her new groom? Margaery, that’s who. Cersei warns Joffrey about Margaery, pointing out that she dresses like a tart and cares about the poor for one reason and one reason alone: to further her own cause. Joffrey is too stupid and too stubborn to really heed her warning, though in a way it’s understandable. Joffrey is a teenager trying to assert his place in the world. He doesn’t want his mom nagging him. And lo and behold, Margaery understands that. She lets Joffrey feel like he’s in charge, fawns over him and flaunts her very-grown-up ta-tas in those gowns of hers.

Joffrey buys the whole act, hook, line and sinker. This does not bode well for Cersei, who is going to have a hard time competing against Margaery. After all, Margaery combines kittenish sexiness, naughty excitement, and her more important asset: a sharp mind. However, one can imagine that Cersei won’t let herself be supplanted so easily.

Elsewhere in Westeros, Bran and friends meet some new allies in the shape of Meera Reed and her brother Jojen. Meera is the brawn of the equation and Jojen seems to be the…umm…magical seer? Like Bran, Jojen seems to have weird visions of a three-eyed crow. Turns out Bran is a warg, a person who can enter the minds of animals and look into the past or future. Jojen, with his similar skillset, has had a vision of Bran and journeys with his sister to aid his party. Osha now has three teenagers and one giant Hodor to watch over. Yikes.

Other stuff happens, like:

  • Catelyn and her daughter-in-law have a heart-to-heart where Catelyn reveals she once asked the gods to kill Jon Snow when he was a baby. Not exactly Stepmom of the Week material.
  • Arya and friends meet the Brotherhood without Banners, a group of outlaws. All is good until in walks The Hound, who recognizes her as Arya Stark.
  • North of the Wall, we see Jon Snow, who gets to meet a warg. The whole North is feeling lumpier and more peripheral each episode.
  • Shae warns Sansa about men and Littlefinger. Sansa then has lunch with Margaery and her grandmother. Sansa accidentally blurts out the truth about Joffrey. He’s a lunatic. Not that Margaery’s family cares. They’d marry her to Jack the Ripper if it meant a crown on her head.
  • Someone tortures Theon. Two scenes of that and I didn’t give a damn about either one.
  • Surprisingly enough, no one gets naked, although Shae and Tyrion engage in some funny banter.
So, how did this episode do? I guess it’s fair to say that if you don’t enjoy people talking (and the occasional gruesome torture scene) this show is not for you. I do like people talking, so I like the show! But, as in previous seasons, there are some people who do better talking and some stories that just drag. The whole Stark family, for example, barring perhaps Arya.

It’s not that I hate people like Robb or Sansa (Okay, I did in the books, but not on the show), but you often wonder how they can’t get a clue. Take Sansa, a teenager who has to be explicitly told by Shae that an old dog like Littlefinger might be wanting to bump-and-grind with her. Sansa seems to have never even considered the idea that an older man would take a sexual interest in her, despite the fact that people in this universe are married off at the ripe old age of 13. Okay, so Catelyn is no Machiavelli, but did she not have the talk of the birds and the bees with Sansa? And maybe warn her about men who would want to get into her pants and spoil that so-precious virginity these characters are fond of?

Or, you know, there’s Jon Snow, who should evoke a budding leader and instead evokes constant confusion. Robb Stark sports a similar expression.

All of this amounts to one thing: The people of King’s Landing are running with the show. Really. You could cut off the North, have Daenerys as a special guest performance, and leave it to them. I shouldn’t be dreading the scenes outside King’s Landing, but I am. Except for Brienne and Jaime. They could have a buddy-cop spin-off.

You can buy individual episodes of Game of Thrones on Amazon Instant Video after the season ends, or watch it Sunday nights on HBO.

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IFPReview: Game of Thrones 3.02: Dark Wings, Dark Words