For this week, I promised myself I wouldn’t go long-winded with theories or ruminations on gratuitous misogyny, and this episode made it easy for me to follow through on that promise. Ironically, the theme of this week’s Game of Thrones was the inability of several characters to keep their word, especially when they feel forced to serve multiple masters.
There was also a new dick joke, a fart joke and barf gags!
Jon Snow is a Dick At the Wall
Episode two ended (perhaps to no one’s great surprise) with Jon Snow‘s resurrection. He’s feeling cold up there, naked on the slab, but I think we can all agree (even with the perforations), he’s looking pretty hot. At least with the juvenile humor we get some eye candy.
And as he makes his miraculous second coming among the Wildling allies (who have already put his assassins away), good old Tormund remarks that, though the others may think he’s a god for having risen from the dead, he knows better because he saw Jon’s pecker, and apparently gods don’t get shrinkage. *Sad Trombone* (You really couldn’t help yourself, could you, writers?)
Dick jokes aside, I have to say that Jon Snow kind of comes across as…well…a dick. Don’t get me wrong; I’d be quite vindictive, too, if my sworn allies had gone full Caesar on me. But he himself has a moment with Davos where he understands that he kind of did put them in the position where they were choosing between the purpose of the Night’s Watch as they understood it and what he saw it needing to become again. The Watch was originally there to fight the Long Night, but that purpose was lost in time, and it had for centuries been fighting off Wildlings instead. Jon directly violated that creed, and even though it’s clear that Alliser Thorne was a treacherous bastard who had it out for Jon from the start, he was at least consistent.
In this light, if Jon is rewriting all the rules and can admit to his own culpability, one questions if he was in the right to execute his would-be assassins. Granted, no one in Westeros is good at turning the other cheek; the whole mess is largely rooted in tribalism and vengeance more than diplomacy, let alone ethical behavior. And granted, it would probably be bad strategy to leave traitors alive. But when he makes their execution his final act as lord commander, and then bolts immediately afterwards, he really just seems to be settling scores. For all the faults of the traitors (even Thorne), they were nothing if not loyal to The Watch. The old vision of it… but loyal nonetheless. If Jon was already planning to declare that his Watch Has Ended (and technically he’s right about that), then he could have left the fate of the others to the ones he was leaving in charge.
In short: Bad form, Snow. Bad form.
But like Melisandre, I remain convinced that he is Azor Ahai reborn (or at least the champion of the the Lord of Light for this age), and while that remains to be seen, I think we are soon to have confirmation about his truly royal lineage via Bran Stark.
Bran Gets Teen Angst in the Past
Bran is slowly getting glimpses of his family’s past… a little too slow, for his liking, and frankly for mine, too. The Three-Eyed Raven is stopping him from spending too much time in his visions, lest he lose himself… and then saying that before Bran leaves he must learn “everything…” and then being glib about things that could be divulged without much fuss. It’s overwrought, and a bit contradictory, but instead of pointing that out calmly, Bran gets all “Yer not my real dad” angsty. As a viewer, it comes off as dull and lazy writing, as if the producers are desperate to maintain some suspense when (as I have stated before) the plot is now moving with a sense of inevitability that makes it hard to actually build suspense at all.
We get a good fight scene out of the flashback, at least, even though we stop short of seeing into the Tower of Joy where Leanna Stark was held. Maybe next week we’ll learn how she actually died (and Jon Snow’s actual origin story), but for now… drink up.
Rickon Stark has an Unwelcome Homecoming
The show is not devoid of suspense, however. The fact that Osha and Rickon Stark are now in Ramsay Bolton‘s clutches does unnerve me. Rickon has never been a compelling character; it’s actually Osha that I worry about.
But there is one possibility that could be delightful: After all his sadistic abuses against women, it would be poetic justice if Osha ended up being the one to take Ramsay apart. It seems unlikely, and will, admittedly, feel contrived if it happens, but Game of Thrones is allllll about poetic justice when characters make their grand exit. The list of examples is long, but here are a few: Lysa Tully chucked out the Moon Door; Tywin Lannister killed on the… uh… “throne” by his own son; even minor characters like Xaro Xhoan Daxos (who got locked up to starve in his own empty vaults, the symbol of all his lies and promises). More immediately, there is Ramsay’s dad, Roose Bolton, traitor to the Starks, who was betrayed by the bastard he elevated because he bothered to produce another heir… by the wife he got as part of the Stark betrayal.
It won’t erase all the misogyny we see throughout the show if Ramsay gets taken out by a Strong Female Character like Osha, but it would give a tidy end to his arc. The writers know that audiences are drained by senseless slaughter. These poetic deaths give a sense of order and justice to it all, even if it does begin to look contrived when evaluated objectively.
Because Vaes Dothrak, Meereen and King’s Landing are a Drag
How sad is it that even Olenna Tyrell couldn’t even make the scenes in King’s Landing entertaining? Instead of wit, we get a dull bit with Maester Pycelle farting at the sight of Ser Strong walking in right as he was talking about having the big guy destroyed. *Sad Trombone*
And in Meereen? Varys plays interrogator and it’s hammy; Tyrion tries to make conversation and its awkward. Next.
Daenerys learns she may be in deeper doodoo than she thought, because she deviated from tradition and didn’t go straight to the Khaleesi Retirement Home in Vaes Dothrak… but we know damn well she has two guys coming for her and one of them (the one with something to prove and a deadly infection) is going to sacrifice himself to get her out of there. Next.
In spreading itself so thin to cover all of the various plot points, this season has been quite lackluster as it moves from one bit to the next. There’s less gamesmanship, intrigue and wit, and it’s sorely needed when we know where things are heading and we’re trying to enjoy the journey.
At least things got a little interesting in Braavos…
RIP Arya Stark
Happy birthday to a girl with no name. After getting whacked around brutally for an uncertain amount of time, the Assassin Formerly Known as Arya is given the final test of faith to determine if she has become No One, a true initiate of the Faceless Men. She is asked to drink the fatal waters of the House of Black & White, and lo… she regains her sight.
The masks used by the Faceless Men, when used without permission, were as good as poison. The water of the well, when drunk by someone who has not committed to being No One, is also poison. I’m pretty sure the show won’t spend much time explaining all the ins and outs of this system and how it relates to the larger cosmology (and the many-faced god), but I do hope that in the end, it doesn’t feel totally arbitrary. I can deal with the dramaturgical constraints of writing for TV to a point (such as Bran’s protracted dealings in the tree, and all the contrived deaths, and the pacing determined by episode length and season), but if this storyline serves as a random sidequest so Arya can level-up before rejoining the main story without a more substantial link, I’m gonna be pissed.
Unless we get more Jon Snow eye candy. Then all will be forgiven.
What say you? Am I being to hard on him for hanging the traitors? Am I being too hard on the writers? Are we all looking forward to Osha carving a few non-essential parts out of Ramsay? Did anyone miss the fact that I didn’t talk at all about Sam and Gilly’s boring, vomitous interlude? (I’ll bet you didn’t.)
But do tell.