Review: Game of Thrones 3.08: Second Sons

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This time in King’s Landing, it’s the wackiest, most uncomfortable wedding for Tyrion and Sansa. Everyone is miserable and Cersei’s claws come out as she warns Margaery that if she ever calls her “sister” again, she will be hanged. Joffrey threatens to rape Sansa. Loras figures out pretty quickly that Cersei is determined to make their marriage a bitter and hateful union. Margaery looks miserable. Tyrion drinks away his sorrows and threatens to castrate Joffrey. Oh, these wacky rich people!

Tyrion and Sansa seem a lot more civil, and are more likable, all through their wedding and wedding night. In the books, Tyrion comes off as a perfect case of “nice guy” syndrome. The type of guy who expects Sansa to happily spread her legs for him simply because he’s been decent to her. He’s tied to the idea that women should reward niceness with sex, and is quite bitter when Sansa seems cool and aloof. Not TV show Tyrion, who manages to express a range of emotions, even genuine kindness. And when Shae is angrily serving the new couple breakfast and she discovers the marriage was not consummated, the look between the couple is one of genuine sweetness. Which is scary because, like Queen said, there’s no place for love here.

However, across the Narrow Sea, Dany and friends didn’t get that memo as she meets a handsome mercenary named ‘Daario’ and her eyes seem to follow him with keen interest. Daario and two other mercenaries have been hired to kill Dany. But things change when Daario develops a liking for Dany and kills the other two men, offering Dany his sword, his men and himself. I know someone who’s going to object to that and his name is ‘Jorah.’

We also (yay) finally get a scene of Dany talking a bit more with her translator (and no torture porn with Theon, for once). It’s good to see the women talking and great to see that Dany doesn’t know it all, as the translator gently corrects her pronunciation of a word. Danny might be getting a bit too full of herself, believing her own PR, and it’s neat to see there might be someone there to ground her.

Other side plots include Melisandre’s breasts, as she seduces Gendry for the purpose of getting a few leeches on him and casting a spell that will destroy the three kings standing in Stannis’ way. There’s also Sam and Gilly up north. They talk about naming the baby and encounter a zombie, with Sam randomly discovering that one of the obsidian daggers he found in the snow is lethal to these creatures.

Okay, so the two center pieces this time around are Dany dealing with mercenaries and Tyrion’s wedding. In King’s Landing, we get to see how people cope with unpleasant circumstances. Some, like Sansa, Margaery and Loras, attempt to put up a brave facade. Others, like Cersei and Tyrion, react in more visceral ways. Cersei by lashing out at her future husband and Tyrion by getting drunk and making a mockery of his wedding. Cersei claws people and Tyrion mocks himself.

Daenerys is another character who, like Sansa or Margaery, deals with conflict by appearing to remain calm and collected. The key difference is that Dany has learned how to play this game a bit better. Recall that Dany was also part of an arranged marriage, did not like her husband much in the beginning (He was, after all, a brutal rapist), but learned to speak his language and wield power. Sansa cannot see the end game Margaery mentioned. She might, if she joined forces with Tyrion, come out a winner in the end. It’s pretty clear she won’t.

However, she’s not the only one with a blind spot for strategy. Cersei is also incapable of seeing the benefits of her new husband. Granted, she is wary of losing her position of power, but what she cannot understand is that she has already lost it. Joffrey is gone. At this point, Loras, gay as he may be, might have made for an indifferent-yet-kind husband who would have likely turned a blind eye to her lovers in exchange for the same. It is, as usual, a pretty shitty deal for women in Westeros, though some women like Dany and Margaery show that women can be powerful pieces on this board game. In fact, they seem a lot stronger as contenders for the throne than Stannis, who seems to depend almost entirely on another woman, Melisandre. And then there’s Sam, who does save the day, but it’s accidentally and he previously fails to light a fire, a task that must be performed by Gilly.

Men, like Joffrey and others, like to think they’re awesome and women are their inferiors, but we’ve got a translator speaking 19 languages and a teenager toppling cities. I’m thinking it won’t be a king who will win Westeros, in the end.

You can buy individual episodes of previous seasons of Game of Thrones on Amazon Instant Video, or watch the current season on Sunday nights on HBO.

About Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia lives in beautiful, rainy British Columbia with her family and two cats. She writes fantasy, magic realism and science fiction. You can read her stories in Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, The Book of Cthulhu, Evolve 2 and Tesseracts 13. She is the co-editor of Candle in the Attic Window, Future Lovecraft and Historical Lovecraft.

Silvia Moreno-GarciaReview: Game of Thrones 3.08: Second Sons