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Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 7: “A Man Without Honour”

SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY

I’m doing really well with this late blogging thing, aren’t I? Well, here I am again, and I have chocolate and coffee and croissants and I’ve listened to a dupstep remix of the Harry Potter score so I don’t know where we are with this to be honest, not a clue, all I know is whump whump whump SUGAR HIGH which is enough to be getting on with.

No Dragonstone again this week but definite movement where that’s concerned seeing as it’s BUILDING UP TO THE GOOD SHIT YESSSSS PLEASE. Joffrey’s still ruling offscreen, Rickon appears again for more nuts, and MOST AWESOME the prize of Best Scene This Episode goes to the re-introduction of Jaime Lannister. It’s been a long time coming and doesn’t disappoint.

Overall, it’s a functional episode. It has some nice moments but most of it’s about setting up the pieces for the endgame of the series, now looming like a great big loomy thing – Daenerys’ scenes in Qarth had a bit of an adrenaline kick at the end of the last episode but that feels wasted somewhat this week, at least until Xaro and the guy who looks like he’s from the Crystal Maze prove that my fondness for the canny bastards is well placed.

Anyway. This is an episode rich in foreshadowing. It is paving the way for big things to come. It does this without being boring; functional, but spiced with fantastic moments and scenes and characters that really make this series the best thing around now, because it’s a filler episode that excites and delights and saddens and makes you think and usually this sort of episode would be tedious and blah in any other programme. I love Game of Thrones so much, so much. It’s characters sparking off against each other turned into an art form.

Yeah, if you thought I didn’t like it or something.

– Oh good we get to see Theon’s rage response to the loss of the Starks! Alfie Allen’s doing all right in this role, being a prize asshat. “It’s all just a game!” Theon crows as he hunts Bran and Rickon. Well, he’s not exactly wrong.

– WHAT IS IT WITH RICKON AND NUTS

– Jon Snow spends his entire life being uncomfortable around people. It’s exhausting. Why is he anyone’s favourite character? Aside from the lovely Kit Harington I don’t actually see the charm. Yeah, he’s a good boy, but yawn. Ygritte is a nice kick up the arse for his scenes. Gives him something more interesting to angst about.

– BROTHERHOOD WITHOUT BANNERS *PLOT KLAXON*

– The change of actors for Clegane is obvious and unfortunate but it’s good to have someone psychotic and mental back on the show, in Joffrey’s absence I was getting worried about the general sanity here. It was getting too normal. Oh wait he’s not hanging around to do anything violent. He’s just gone off to do it. Okay.

– Tywin doesn’t like mutton. Tywin makes sure his cup-bearer eats. Tywin does nothing without purpose. “My legacy will be determined in the coming months. Do you know what legacy means? It’s what you pass down to your children, and your children’s children. It’s what remains of you when you’re gone.” Arya’s tempted to stab him in the back but can’t because he’s projecting onto her and that would be rude. You can’t disrupt acting as fine as this. It’s just not cricket. Also it doesn’t fit. Arya isn’t that clumsy or obvious.

“Aegon… and his sisters.” GO ARYA GO also check out the best deployment of exposition ever. Well played, script writers.

“You remind me of my daughter,” says Tywin. Everyone sighs because of course she does, it’s spirited ladies from here to Qarth, and Cersei is the only other spirited lady you knew as a child. Oh Tywin. “I enjoy you, but be careful.”

– “IF YOU’RE GOING TO POSE AS A COMMONER YOU SHOULD DO IT PROPERLY” SAYS TYWIN AND GIVES EWA A HEART ATTACK “YOU’RE TOO SMART FOR YOUR OWN GOOD, HAS ANYONE TOLD YOU THAT” “YES” OH GUYS HELP THEY’RE TOO AWESOME how can he not know who she is, the pressure in these scenes is robbing me of oxygen

“Killing’s the sweetest thing there is.” “Why are you always so hateful?” Oh perfect juxtaposition of scenes to illustrate the difference between Arya and Sansa. Arya’s too smart for her own good, and Sansa’s too good for her own good, and that is how they’re going to grow into kickass ladies. Sansa wants people to be better, like stories, so she’ll strive for goodness and the ideal and keeps seeing the potential for it in other people when they can’t see it in themselves. That’s a leader. Contrast her question to the Hound about his hatefulness with Jaime’s conversation with the other Lannister at the end of the episode; seeing the good in others. Arya only sees a path to an end. Now, I love Arya, but she’s not got a character arc, she’s got a plotline. When it comes to characters whole and entire, Sansa’s got so much more to do and achieve, and I really appreciate that.

– And now Dany and Xaro. Nothing really happens except pleading and anger on a staircase. I like Xaro but if he could stop telling us about his background and focus more on his now I’d be more interested. But I like him. There’s something of Littlefinger about him, but with more charm and less disdain. Also I don’t care about the dragons. She’ll get them back. It feels like an excuse to save SFX money.

– Ugh Jon Snow she’s gorgeous what is wrong with you, you utter pillock “YOU KNOW NOTHING, JON SNOW” AND SHE’S RIGHT WE ALL KNOW IT

– LOVE YOU ROBB but let’s be honest this isn’t about anything other than him fancying the pretty medic lady whose name I still don’t know but I know she’s not Jeyne. WOO HOO FIELD TRIP I WONDER WHAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN WHEN THEY’RE ALONE TOGETHER.

– Roose Bolton wandering around being sinister just so we remember he’s there for Season 3. Okay. Okay! *Feeling ill*

– I love the slightly mad camerawork when Theon’s shown as in charge. Works so well. “It’s better to be cruel than weak.” Welllllllll, no.

– Oh THAT’S what’s with Rickon and nuts

– Irri ;_;

“No one can survive in this world without help. No one.” I love Ser Jorah but his relationship with Dany is so suspect. Emilia Clarke needs more to do and Iain Glen rocks, but this feels like we’re going over old ground when the show doesn’t need to.

– Jon Snow gets made fun of by Ygritte and everyone perks up because it’s funny and deserved. “Should have took me when you had the chance,” she says, and everyone laughs.

– Poor Sansa. Awesome Shae. The dangers of sex from Jon Snow’s perspective is something else, but it’s a real danger for Sansa, who is now directly at the most risk of all the Starks (apart from Bran and Rickon, except we know they’re away from Theon now). Stop whining Jon Snow. You’re not at risk of being married to a psychopathic, abusive king and be made to carry his children. Have your damn sex with the pretty willing lady who’d make you interesting. Meanwhile, Sansa’s bedroom is invaded by the Hound, why exactly did that happen?

– “I thought it would be less… less messy.” LIFE, LITTLE BIRD.

“Joffrey’s always been difficult.” WELL. Cersei’s main area of expertise is how to grab power from a husband that she loathed. I’m not sure this pep talk will have the desired effect. And Robert wasn’t half as much of a little shit as Joffrey. “Difficult”. Hahaha. Because obviously Cersei should have some sort of rapport with Sansa here, but Sansa’s protestation that she loves Joffrey is her defence against it. It’s distancing because it’s so patently untrue. She’s defending herself with words while Arya uses death. Best. Siblings. Ever.

“The more people you love, the weaker you are.” You are not Tywin, Cersei, however much you want to be. “Love no one but your children” – arguably Tywin doesn’t even love his children, and Joff is Cersei’s greatest liability while Jaime’s locked up.

– HELLO JAIME “There’s only one fat Lannister. If she was your mother, you’d know it.” oh you’ve been missed, J. Proving himself a good soldier, a good leader, remembering unimportant people. “It was the best day of my life.” I’m having flashbacks to Dr. Watson in Sherlock, missing war. “It’s like stepping into a dream you’ve been dreaming for as long as you can remember, and finding out that the dream is more real than your life.” Lovely. I can’t wait for him to be maimed. “It’s a good thing I am who I am. I’d have been useless at anything else.” That’s Jaime Lannister, right there, whole and entire. Perfect, sad, awesome scene.

“Will you betray her again, Jorah the Andal? Will you betray her again?” “Never.” Subtle world-building is subtle, with the reference to Valyria. Stop being awesome, show runners! I can’t cope with this!

“An upstart and a charlatan. Empires have been built by less. Those on the margins often come to control the centre and those in the centre make room for them, willingly or otherwise.” BEST POWER GRAB EVER LITERALLY CHILLING and I’m not even miserable that we had more magic thrown around because it was done so well and you know what I’m glad they’re giving Dany something to be scared of and Xaro was kind of awesome, let’s watch that again

– House of the Undying is actually a party house where everyone will get drunk and dance. This is not true. But wouldn’t it be nice for Dany to take her people to the beach for a change? All they do is work and stress and die.

– OH OH OH BRIENNE “Keep your hands off me, woman!” “Don’t enter without an invitation, MAN.” GOD I LOVE HER.

– One of the few times Catelyn Stark has actually been one of the most awesome people in the show. WELL PLAYED LADY. “Have you forgotten me, sir? I am the widow of your liege lord Eddard Stark, I am the mother of your king!”

“AND GAG HIM”

– I was wondering what was missing. Tyrion. TYRION. FINALLY.

– Stannis Baratheon’s fleet is moving. I may have rubbed my hands with glee at the prospect of what’s coming.

– That look of sudden, slight shame when Tyrion tells Cersei she’s quoting their father is marvellous. She just wants to be the female version of Tywin, that’s all! Lena Headey is tremendous and I never seem to mention that, but she is, and gets Cersei perfectly. She’s a twisted monster but glorious and wicked and distressing and completely convincing. Contrasting her with Catelyn is so much fun. “Sometimes I wonder… if this is the price for what we’ve done. For our sins.” Hint: YES, IT IS.

– Discussing Joffrey’s utter utter madness in the open like this is sweetly, delightfully painful. Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage being so awesome. Tyrion and Cersei: they may loathe each other but at the end of the day they’re still siblings, they still need each other, and Cersei still needs Tyrion’s support because she wants to be Tywin but the closest she has is her little brother who she detests but but but he’s her brother. I love how problematic their relationship is. They clearly enjoy acting together.

– Just had to pause the show to have a breather because Cat is about to annoy the crap out of me, I can tell. WELL ACTUALLY she didn’t I was wrong, I admit it.

“IS THAT A WOMAN” Brienne’s all “Dude, what”

“Where did you find this beast?” “She is a truer knight than you. Kingslayer.” BEAST >:O

– Ugh I hate it when they cut away during an intense scene because Jaime was being awesome and Cat was being a noble but slightly unhinged mother and Theon’s being a dick and yet I don’t want to look away, it’s like in the books when he changes PoV for each chapter, it’s “UGH NO I WANTED MORE oh no wait I love this one UGH NO IT’S CHANGED AGAI– no hold on I can’t put this down”.

– Well we all saw this coming and I don’t think anyone’s been taken in.

– ENDING MUSIC IS BRILLIANT AND YES THEON YOU ARE A MONSTER DOING MONSTROUS THINGS YOU UTTER SHIT OF A MAN look I’ll feel sorry for him later. He’s pathetic. He’s a pathetic person with power.

Well. I love how much I enjoy being emotionally beaten up by this show. Next week:

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Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 3: “What Is Dead May Never Die”

 Well hells you guys. I don’t think this is spoilery but I do allude to things that happen in the books so if you haven’t read at least as far as A Storm Of Swords I want you to take a good, hard look at yourself and then come back later when you have. Or if you’re not bothered about the books, that’s just peachy.

So basically this extremely strong episode was all the trolls trollin’, the bitches bitchin’ and cock blockin’ on a grand old scale. In other words; power, power, power, who’s got it, who wants it, and who’s just lost it.

The most important scene thematically is one between Varys and Tyrion, and it’s a scene I’ve been hungering for since the trailer; a discussion towards the end of the episode all about power, a riddle posed in the book that says everything about the power struggles in Westeros and the various approaches taken by the players of the game. A rich man, a holy man and a king are in a room with a sellsword, and each bid the sellsword kill the other two. Who does the sellsword obey? Who indeed. There’s no answer to this riddle, which is why Tyrion declares that he’s lost his taste for riddles, but it’s a juicy scene acted with delectable skill by two of my favourites. It’s a response to Tyrion’s trolling of the other whisper-mongers and spies in this episode, but it’s really about everyone in every part of the world of Game of Thrones, from Daenerys across the sea (who is understandably benched this episode, seeing as they’re still wading through a desert over there) to Robb (also benched) to Cersei and everyone, really. There’s no easy answer.

Shall I break this response down? Oh yes I do believe I shall.

“Like it or not, we need men like Craster!” Forced to play nice with a complete asshole of a man because they need his shelter. Mormont’s wrong, they don’t need men like Craster. They need what he can give. Doesn’t feel like Jon Snow really featured in this episode except to round off last week’s cliffhanger. All he had to do was be appalled at an appalling thing. Yawn.

– Now I like Sam, as tedious as his PoVs in the books can sometimes be. Here he’s giving what little comfort is in his power to give, and it’s a thimble. It’s cute. His fantastically happy grin when Gilly takes the thimble is entirely too adorable, it really is.

– Hodor has a connection with Summer, no? It’s almost a greeting when he sees the wolf, as if he knows Bran’s inside him. And check out Maester Luwin’s craving for “hidden powers” as a child – if only he knew Bran’s future! “Maybe magic once was a mighty force in the world, but not any more. The dragons are gone, giants are dead, and the Children of the Forest forgotten.” Dude.

– This whole episode is full of references back to the first episode of this second series, from the bout at Renly’s camp that introduces Brienne to Cersei’s “power is power” confrontation with Littlefinger. Here, in Renly, is a kinder, gentler king than that tremendous little shit Joffrey, as there’s no blood spilled in this match where someone died – and Ser Dontos was nearly killed – at Joffrey’s court. Here we get something closer to the chivalry that Sansa craves. And we also get Margaery, who KICKS ASS. In a non-violent way, obv. I love how into the fighting Margaery is and the gasps as Brienne removes her helm and how dour Cat is at Renly’s host’s frivolities and his sincerity as Renly promises Cat that he’ll avenge Ned’s death.

– Loras’ jealous face. Yeah, boy, you were beaten by a girl. Suck it uuuuppppp.

– Brienne vs Cat: “And you should kneel when you approach the king.” Cat vs Loras: “My son is fighting a war, not playing at one!” Basically, one big Cat fight. Renly: “Our war is just beginning.” Oh, babes, you don’t even know.

– OH BRIENNE. I bow to Gwendoline Christie’s fantastic depiction of one of my favourite characters in fiction. As a 6ft 1 girl the minute Brienne appeared in the series I was enamoured and I can’t wait to see more of her in this role, it was exactly what I wanted. She’s my new hero. A hero playing one of my heroes, I am in such a good fan space now. “And, if it please you, Brienne’s enough. I’m no ‘lady’.”

– Renly’s “praying”. OH, YES?

– Bloody Theon. I even feel sorry for him now, which only happened in the books in A Dance With Dragons. They’re running ahead of themselves but it makes sense on a book scale. Yara’s great but I miss her trolling tendencies; there needs to be more humour in her. That’s more a comment on the writing than the actress. Balon Greyjoy, meanwhile, is far too perfectly cast. I can’t even process it. He’s the Westeros version of Denethor! “You give her thirty and I get one?” “The Sea Bitch. We thought she’d be perfect for you.” It’s curious just how much Balon hates and is frustrated by Theon; he’s a reminder of how he had to bend knee once before. He’s staring his own past failure in the face. “You gave me away, your boy, your last boy!” The Greyjoys are all about pride.

– Shae’s a whiny one this episode. She gets to throw a tantrum! “Every man who’s tasted my cooking has told me what a good whore I am.” She’s a whore, but she’s still got airs as much as any noble born lady. Remember “I am not a kitchen wench!” because this is going to be important for another character coming up right about…

– Oh my poor darling Sansa. You can see her processing her situation, reacting as perfectly as she can. She’s learning from Cersei. Not learning to be Cersei, but learning how to assert herself and how to react to cues and keep as much of herself and her power as possible. Perfect acting. “Is Joffrey going to kill Sansa’s brother?” “He might. Would you like that?” “No. I don’t think so.” “Even if he does, Sansa will do her duty. Won’t you, little dove?” Completely out of her depth, she’s floundering, seeking footing, and almost finding it; she’s got no identity save as a Stark, a daughter of Winterfell, yet she’s far away from anyone and everyone who knows her, and her only power is in her own hands. And Tommen is such a little prince, so soft compared to Joffrey (another one benched, but for very good reason, considering next week’s episode). I love how carefully they’re building up Sansa’s soft, quiet hatred of Cersei. She’s terrified, absolutely beside herself with fear, but that hatred is totally there.

– Sansa staring into her mirror, her face a blur in a reflection of nothing.

– I love this scene with Shae. Shae, as we’ve seen, thinks she’s above everyone else; Sansa knows it, because she’s been brought up to believe it, and so obviously they’re going to clash. It’s marvellous and although it’s a big departure from the book (Lollys is gone) it’s really well thought out. Shae’s so full of attitude for someone supposed to blend in! Sansa’s doing all she can to keep all the power she’s been left with – that over her servants. She’s scrabbling for control over something, someone, and it just so happens that the only person she can assert herself over is Shae, who considers herself better than this situation she’s been put into. Two characters who can’t get themselves out of their current predicaments, and they’re hardly two characters who’d ever get along. Can’t wait for more scenes between them. I loved Sansa here, I bet she’s going to come in for some flack from that distant troglodyte corner of the internet that can’t stand girls being girls. Yes, Sansa’s bitchy, but she’s giving as good as she’s getting, and she’s so close to having a nervous breakdown you can see it in her eyes. “Do you want me to leave?” Sansa may dislike Shae as much as Shae dislikes her, but she’s desperate for company. Just look at those tears in her eyes. JUST LOOK AT THEM.

– If I see even one comment of the “Sansa deserves it” with regard to next episode’s events I am going to get so angry the Hulk will resign from the Avengers and beg them to take me on, I SWEARS.

– Tyrion is so skilled with his epic trolling. I know, I keep saying it, but no other phrase comes close. Brilliantly done.

– Loras and Renly are beeeaaauuutiful together. “You’re jealous!” “Jealous? Of Brienne the Beauty? Don’t make me laugh.” And there goes Loras with his cock blocking, because apparently you aren’t allowed to see men’s dangly bits in Westeros. Oh it’s frustrating. Also I wanted them to be the Rainbow Guard 😦 what happened there, was it too obvious HBO?

– Margaery is wicked, wicked cool, and it’s awesome that they’ve made her a player of the game so early in the series. This is the sort of lady Sansa can learn from. Natalie Dormer is a wonderful bit of casting – this whole series needs to win big time for the casting. “Or I can turn over and you can pretend I’m him?” AWW he’s so embarrassed, I wish he weren’t. “Your enemies aren’t happy about us. They want to tear us apart, and the best way to stop them is to put your baby in my belly.” She’s so into the game she’s not above suggesting a threesome! Totally a force to be reckoned with – she, unlike Cersei, can back up her power with real political acumen, from the look of things so far. It helps having the force of Highgarden behind you.

– Cersei is obsessed with paper. Obsessed. If she’s not ripping it she’s belittling other people for having it to hide behind. She’s so desperate for the upper hand she’s basically just a school bully clutching at every little thing she can hold over someone’s head, which makes her both desperately weak and terribly dangerous; paper is effectively a sign of legality in Westeros and we’ve literally seen her tear through all sorts of writing. Words are wind, is the saying that crops up in later books. In Cersei’s hands, words aren’t even that. “Power is power” indeed. She trusts steel over ink, which is where Tyrion has the edge on her, if only she’d stop fancying herself the femme Tywin and see it. Here, Tyrion’s gone behind her back with regard to marrying Myrcella off, and Cersei is so angry she lashes out at Tyrion because her words fail her. “It’s done, Cers. You can’t stop it.” She has problems both with spoken words and words on paper.

– Speaking of words, Theon burns his words to Robb, warning him of the impending assault on Deepwood Motte, signifying the end of his time as a hostage to the Starks. He burns his connection to the family. It’s so sad. I don’t want to like him because he’s horrible but all he wants is to belong somewhere, but he doesn’t belong anywhere, as he’s going to find out. Poor bb. And what is consumed by fire is signified with water as he’s “drowned” in a baptism to the Drowned God by Aeron Damphair. Oooh clever work there writers. Clever. “What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder, and stronger.” Well, there’s a thought that might give him some comfort in future.

– Hmmm Tyrion. I do wonder if they’re going to make the release of Jaime a Lannister/King’s Landing plot instead of a calculated move by Cat. Interesting, can’t say I’m entirely in favour of it but as ever with this series, it’s not something that can be judged ahead of time.

– Tyrion’s game gives him a victory over hoary old Pycelle. “Cut off his manhood, and feed it to the goats!” “There are no goats, halfman!” “Then make do!” And what a prize he gets, the near-admission that Pycelle stepped aside to let Jon Arryn die. The coins for the prostitute are a nice touch. “For your trouble.”

“Well played, my lord Hand.” I’d like this as a gif already. Scene made entirely of win and stitched through with genius, I mentioned this above, with the riddle. It’s appalling how good it is. Debate away, my friends. “When Ned Stark lost his head, who was truly responsible?” We have a nice array of violent wielders of power in Westeros, as well as the Five Kings, and such a mess of people who adhere to one side or the other. The religious aspect is far quieter than the rest of it until A Feast For Crows, so I’m not surprised that it’s mostly passed over here. But it’s such a nice little discussion. “Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick. A shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow.” One wonders how this would play out when Melisandre and Stannis are taken into account. A shadow on the wall indeed.

“I close my eyes and I see them up there. All of them. Standing there. Joffrey, the queen, and… and my sister.” It eerily echoes Arya’s prayer, which is so beautifully planted by Yoren’s story of revenge. It’s heartbreaking. Maisie is such a sweetheart, her eyes are so expressive. Wonderful scene and so sad. Yoren’s fantastic here. Should have rung alarm bells. How often do you hear something like that from someone who sticks around? Not often.

– Alas, poor Yoren… he kicked ass, at the end. Loved how he died sitting up, and had to be knocked to the ground. Badass of the episode, no doubt. “I’ve always hated crossbows. Take too long TO LOAD!” *YOREN SMASH*

– WHY DIDN’T HOT PIE SHOUT HOT PIE. He yields instead. Okay.

– It’s weird how condensed Arya’s storyline is. They’ve cut out quite a bit, including poor little Weasel, but that’s understandable considering the time and budgetry constraints. MOAR GENDRY PLEASE! Also, hurrah Jaqen! The added grimness of Lommy being killed with Arya’s own Needle is wickedly cruel, I do thoroughly approve of that, and Arya’s quick-thinking when it came to Gendry’s helmet next to Lommy’s corpse. That considering, wary look Gendry shot her when she started speaking was fab.

And next week:

Look! We’re back playing with the kings and queens again!

Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 2: “The Night Lands”

As with last week, here be spoilers, move at your peril. I’ve tried not to be too spoilery looking forward, so, like, yes, okay. If you’ve not read ahead this should be ABSOLUTELY FINE. If you haven’t seen the episode BACK THE HECK UP.

I’ve always been terrible at reviewing television shows and films so, as with last week, here’s some geeky reaction to Game of Thrones that has no logic to it, just RESPONSE. I didn’t mean for this to be a weekly thing but it might as well be because I have FEELINGS and I must THROW MY FEELINGS around like GEEKY CONFETTI of OMG and WHUT. This will totally be the case next week because omfg did you see that teaser for next week? I had FEELINGS from the teaser alone. I’ve added it at the bottom of this post. Dear god I love all this. Never been a better time to be a geek.*

Let’s get this out of the way; welcome to episode 2 (or 12 if you do things properly), which has much less going on than the season opener. It’s solid and totally above-average television in its own right, but in comparison to other episodes, it feels quite slow and weighty, like an over-filled ship limping along and dragging a lot of meaning along without managing the speed it had earlier. It definitely isn’t bad though – it’s one of those episodes so densely packed it’s easy to dismiss as an hour of tv entertainment but once taken apart and examined it proves the skill of the writers, the directors and (obviously) the actors.

So hey, here’s my reactions to each scene, because I’m ill and can’t craft my response into a cohesive whole. (If you want a cohesive whole just imagine me doing a thumbs up while wearing my GoT jumper, that’s pretty much it.)

– Arya peeing. Being a girl. WELCOME BACK ARYA, O ADORABLE ONE.

– JAQEN I love Jaqen. Let him out of that dang cage. So relaxed, so cool, so calm. And then Gendry. GENDRY. ❤ This plays perfectly, the actors are sublime, and I’m completely fine with how it’s been condensed from the book as needed for the sake of simplification. Yoren is kickass, “I could shave a spider’s arse if I wanted to.” Varys has no hair, I wouldn’t worry.

– SPEAKING OF. I love you Tyrion but Varys is sublime. I never pictured him being even slightly as fantastic as this while reading the books the first time round, and this excellent character has become a favourite in my re-read. Also, FISH PIE. Quite possibly the finest exchange of the entire episode. And get a load of the gentle sinister undertones from the eunuch; Varys is king of that. KING. “I am not Ned Stark. I understand the way this game is played.” My favourite scenes are these talky ones where lines are drawn in the sand, not so much about politics, but about their characters. It’s so skillfuly done, and every sentence is about two or three things at once, especially when Varys or Tyrion are in the room. Together they make the best talky scene cocktail and the conversation is so multilayered it would be bewildering with lesser actors or direction. “The big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling.” Yesssss. Long may you swim, Varys.

“You’ve perfected the art of tearing up papers”. No wonder Cersei hates Tyrion so much – no one else other than Jaime makes fun of her. Even her own son, the king, just bypasses her completely and belittles her otherwise. She clearly hates being laughed at. I suppose she also hates that Tyrion doesn’t even want power and yet has been handed it by their father, of all people, and it’s already clear that he’s better with it than she is. There’s a hint of embarrassment around the Council when Cersei asks about Jaime too – brilliantly played.

– Dolorous Edd owns every scene he’s in. OWNS. “We were having a serious discussion.” So glad they kept him in. Definite highlight of the books.

– Cassie from Skins is cast so well here, though she’s not given much to do. I love the echoes of future tensions in the exchange between Sam and Jon. Sam’s marvellous in the show, though I find him quite frustrating to read in the books. As emo as Jon Snow gets I can’t help but fancy Kit Harington because he’s just lovely. Sorry, I have no insights here. Sharpening his sword, indeed.

– I LOVE YOU IAIN GLEN seriously, I had to watch this scene twice the first time because I wasn’t concentrating due to him and his amazingly sexy voice. I have had a lot of sugar today. But ugh the man could just read the phone book out loud and nine months later there’d be babies everywhere, that’s how good his voice is.

– I am so annoyed about Rakharo, so impressed with the Irri actress, and found this scene actually a bit heartbreaking (yes hello welcome to Game of Thrones where people die in every episode and your heart gets broken a bit every time and so each episode can go from “a little heartbreaking” to “quite heartbreaking” to “NOT THE BABY” to “NEDDDDDD!!!!!“). And Emilia Clarke can’t possibly be this awesome all the time. It’s just unfair.

– I feel like I’m the only person who doesn’t mind Ros, she’s a decent enough creation, but it’s incredibly frustrating that they’re clearly going to have her instead of Chataya and Alayaya, the fabulous Summer Islanders. I understand it on the basis of needing to simplify things for screen but they would have been a lovely addition and would have served to flesh out the world a little more (so to speak). And this scene with Littlefinger is a bit useless given that we know he’s a shady type already. TRUST HIM AT YOUR PERIL. Yes, we get it, we got it at the end of the last season, and we got it last week in his Cersei confrontation, so this… doesn’t do very much.

– HELLO PODRICK!

– Might get a t-shirt printed up that just says “TYRION ROCKS”. Suh. Blime. And then there’s Bronn as well. Egads. Another shortcut I’m fine with, giving Bronn a position – I assume Shae’s going to be Sansa’s maid as well, just to further simplify things. It makes sense. “If I told you to murder an infant girl, say, still at her mother’s breast, would you do it without question?” Bronn cheers me up while still being a complete asshole of a sellsword, it’s quite impressive.

“I say we yield!” says Lommy, first thing. OKAY, LOMMY.

– This whole exchange between Arya, Lommy, Hot Pie and Gendry is brilliant, and my favourite of the episode because it’s funny and light and dark as well and OH GENDRY. “You shouldn’t insult people then are bigger than you.” “Then I wouldn’t get to insult anyone!” I’m not too happy about how much this has been condensed down, but it’s something that would have to be judged in the context of the series. It changes Arya’s established relationship with Gendry and happens only when she knows she can trust him – it’s well done here, so well done, but, but. “Well, that was unladylike!” They’re so charming it provides a nice counterpoint to the politicking and grimness elsewhere. Also, Arya/Gendry in ten years, yes yes yes. I ship that so much.

– UGH THEON *spits* Pyke is perfection though. It’s basically Cornwall but savage. Annoyed that they changed Asha to Yara, but okay; more annoyed that they took the knowing humour from her. Instead of taking the piss out of him it looks a bit like she’s just enjoying it, allowing it. I really enjoyed her trolling in the book. Balon is absolutely pitch perfect and yes, I felt a glimmer of sympathy for Theon for being the fish out of water both in the North and the Iron Islands, but good lord that boy is such a tosser. I just spent this scene admiring Balon’s grit and Yara’s smugface.

“What is the world coming to when smugglers must vouch for the honour of kings?” “Sallador Saan is a good name for songs!” I like you, Sallador Saan.

– Pentoshi cheesemongers! Who COULD Davos be referring to? I WONDER.

“Stannis is my king, but he’s only a man.” “Don’t tell him that!”

– Tyrion vs. Cersei, again – only this time she deploys underhand tactics to win the confrontation. The murder of the bastards wrongfoots her and so she retaliates. “I don’t care what you think!” Cersei shouts, when she clearly does. She’s such a horrible person, and I love to hate her, but the person she’s become is weirdly understandable. I feel sympathetic for her even as I loathe her (and Lena Headey is good, so so good, even in a one-to-one with Dinklage she holds her own).

– Wins a prize for the most uncomfortable sex scene (seriously, if you’ve ever stepped on a lego, can you imagine lying on that table?!). Melisandre is kick-ass, and I dislike her and find her mesmerizing at the same time. Stannis is so excellently repressed as well. OH, ACTORS, I LOVE YOU ALL. Even if I imagined Stannis bigger and Mel younger, they’re so perfect I don’t care.

– It feels like they’re ripping through some storylines and moving at a glacial pace (erm, yes) with others. It’s not entirely mysterious as to what’s happening to Craster’s male children, surely? Feels like an abrupt, weird place to end the episode. And oddly out of character for Jon, actually. Did he not listen to Mormont last week? No, clearly he didn’t. Oh wait. “Learn to follow”. Guess he did, then.

Obviously the over-arching themes would be to do with gender and power but that’s ALWAYS there, so I don’t know how these strands are bound together, especially since Sansa and Cat don’t appear – given their positions, they’d fit into that theme perfectly. If it’s about who’s fit to rule, why aren’t Renly, Joffrey and Robb involved? It’s really an installment episode, there to colour things in a bit more, illustrate the characters some more, back up the politics, fractures and factions some. As usual it’s a strong episode with some brilliant lines but it never really manages to escape the pull of its own gravity; on a character-by-character basis it’s great, looks amazing and it satisfies, but as I said above, it doesn’t make for the most amazing entertainment.

I’m dead eager to get to next week because Renly and Loras are making a return and we get more GENDRY ❤ and omfg WHEN IS IT TIME FOR BRIENNE.

* I typed all this wearing my House Stark “Winter Is Coming” hoody. I wore it earlier this week when someone on another tube platform shouted “A LANNISTER ALWAYS PAYS HIS DEBTS” and we shared a thumbs up before a train pulled in and ruined a fine, fine moment of mutual geekery.