Theon is angry that the Ironborn let Bran and Rickon escape and searches out to look for them. Ygritte asks Jon some hard questions about the Night’s Watch’s purpose. Tywin suspects the Brotherhood without Banners of the assassination attempt and sends Gregor Clegane out to raze the villages. Tywin and Arya have another conversation and Tywin reveals that he knows Arya is not low-born. Robb allows Talisa to ride with him to the Crag after hearing that Cersei has rejected his terms.
Theon’s search in the meanwhile is far from successful. The loss of her dragons has made Dany suspicious and she uses Jorah to find them for her while rejecting Xaro’s offer of help. Ygritte is able to escape from Jon and into an ambush. Sansa has nightmares of the riot and when she wakes up she has had her first period and she panics when a maid sees the blood on the sheets. Shae is able to silence the maid but not before the Hound sees the blood as well. Cersei has a talk with Sansa about her potential marriage to Joffrey. Jaime and his cousin Alton have a talk about their respective time as squires. Jaime uses the conversation to kill Alton in order to escape from his captivity. In Qarth, Dany appeals to the Thirteen for her dragons but Xaro and Pyat Pree organize a coup, killing the majority of the Thirteen and declaring themselves rulers of the city. Pyat Pree reveals that he has the dragons.
Jaime’s escape is short lived – when he is returned to the Stark camp, Karstark demands his head and a tense standoff ensues, deflated only when both sides agree to wait for Robb’s return from the Crag. Catelyn confronts Jaime before the mob can eventually kill him while he continues needling her with insults to Ned. Theon presents the corpses of Bran and Rickon to Winterfell to gain their obedience.
This TV adaption is beginning to run into some of the issues that they should have seen coming from a mile away. The problem here is simple – as the story advances, different plotlines advance at different rates and so what is presented as a pressing problem in one episode may not necessarily be addressed directly in the next episode and when it is finally addressed, it won’t be as urgent any longer. To be sure, this is not a major problem so far in the series but it is something to take note of as we approached the end of the season. All these various storylines have to reach their conclusion sooner rather than later – Theon’s coup of Winterfell needs resolution in the next three episodes, the King’s Landing invasion needs to be addressed, Jaime’s fate needs to be decided and Dany’s whole dragon fiasco needs to be retconned out of existence.
As you can guess, I am not a fan of how that particular scene was executed. There was so much wrong with it – and I’m not even talking about how the whole ‘King of Qarth’ thing came out of nowhere. Pyat Pree’s ‘magic’ is extremely overdone and him killing the whole council at once just looked corny. I’m not sure at this point if the visuals failed worse than the story did but combine that with Clarke’s overacting, overly dramatic Dany and sudden the whole thing becomes a cringe fest. In fact, that entire storyline, including Quaithe being a tattoo artist was just so incredible cheesy that it didn’t feel like an adaption of ASOIAF but rather just some generic fantasy where a knight must go rescue his princess, who also happens to be a royal bitch for no good reason.
I also have some major reservations about what’s going on with Jaime’s character. So far, it’s all been fairly standard fare – the reader does not really begin sympathizing with Jaime until much later after all, but his cold-blooded murder of his family, not to mention someone he personally knew and someone who admired him to the point of it being a little awkward struck me as the wrong note for the character. Despite Jaime nonchalantly drop kicking Bran out of a window, it still feels wrong that Jaime would so ruthlessly murder someone just to escape. I just hope that the show doesn’t decide that Jaime is irredeemably a villain due to the way his character started out – his redemption arc was one of my favourites in the books and I hope it doesn’t get butchered.
Thankfully, the episode was saved by some great additions which go to show that there are in fact competent writers at HBO working on this show. The Tywin and Arya scenes continue to impress and there is a genuine tension in them each week as Tywin circles around Arya’s identity but believably skirts around the issue. I will miss those scenes once both character’s time in Harrenhal comes to an end. Similarly, Cersei’s ‘womanly advice’ scene with Sansa was great to watch because while Lena Headey continues to be a great Cersei, Sophie Turner was really able to capture Sansa’s helplessness and fear. The scenes from the far North left me a little confused though; while it was undoubtedly hilarious watching Ygritte run verbal circles around Jon, I find there is a bit of a mood whiplash when she suddenly has him surrounded.
Last but not least, the scenes in Winterfell continue to be heavy on the feels – Alfie Allen has really killed it this season and the continuing conflict between who he is and who he wants to be is really excellently captured in his arc these last couple of episodes. The resolution to his story is something that I can’t wait to see even though I do technically know how it ends.