This week’s episode of “Game of Thrones,” “Second Sons,” introduces a new character and contains some excellent acting by Peter Dinklage. It’s about average for the season.
The episode begins with the Hound (Rory McCann) taking Arya (Maisie Williams) to The Twins, where he plans to ransom her to her family. How does he know that’s where they’ll be? she asks. (not a quote) He tells her about Edmure Tully’s upcoming wedding, but that’s the last of any Stark storyline in the episode.
Well, there’s Sansa, but we’ll get to her in time. She’s no longer a Stark.
Across the Narrow Sea, a band of mercenaries called the Second Sons arrives at Yunkai, hired by the city to defend it against Danerys’ 10,000 soldiers. Dany (Emilia Clarke) meets with the captains and tries to convince them to abandon their contract and join with her, but all she succeeds in doing is repelling the advances of the vulgar captain Mero (Mark Killeen) and winning the eye of lieutenant Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein).
In following scenes, Daario and Mero’s characters are built and fleshed out. It’s obvious the audience is supposed to like Daario, who is sent to assassinate Dany. He said he fights for beauty, not money, so it’s no surprise when he turns and pledges himself to her. The real surprise was that he killed Mero and the other Second Sons captain, catapulting himself to command of the Second Sons. The introduction of this character seems a bit rushed, like they’re trying to get it out of the way before a plot event that requires the Second Sons to be under Dany’s control.
Melisandre (Carice van Houten) brings Gendry (Joe Dempsie) to Dragonstone and Stannis (Stephen Dillane). Stannis is uneasy at the prospect of her using Gendry’s blood, so he frees the imprisoned Davos after seeking Davos’ council. Davos (Liam Cunningham) knows that Stannis thinks killing the innocent Gendry is wrong, but Stannis is caught up in Melisandre’s prophecies, and says he has no choice. The bedroom scene with Melisandre and Gendry is suitably creepy, once she ties him to the bed and puts three leeches on him. Stannis arrives and throws the leeches into the fire, naming each one for his rivals: Joffrey Lannister, Robb Stark, and Balon Greyjoy. In spite of his revulsion at her religion’s rituals, Stannis still believes in Melisandre’s god.
Theon doesn’t make an appearance in this episode, I’m sorry to say. Instead, the dose of torture comes from Joffrey and Sansa’s interactions during her wedding to Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and at the afterparty, where Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) tells Sansa (Sophie Turner) that he plans on raping her in the night, after Tyrion has performed the ceremonial first-night bedding. Shortly afterwards, Joffrey proclaims to the partygoers that it is now time for the bedding. A drunk and ill-humored Tyrion proclaims that there will be no bedding ceremony. Joffrey commands it as king. Tyrion threatens to cut Joffrey’s genitals off, and follows it with some profanity.
Great acting by Peter Dinklage in this scene.
Joffrey gets mad, Tywin (Charles Dance) says it was just a drunken joke. Tyrion quickly agrees and takes Sansa back to their bedroom, where he tells Sansa that he will not share her bed until she wants him to, and collapses on a couch.
The next morning, Sansa’s handmaiden and Tyrion’s lover Shae (Sibel Kekilli) arrives to change the sheets. She’s initially cold to Tyrion, but warms when she sees that the wedding bed was not consummated. That relationship, at least, is becoming functional again.
The episode closes with Sam (John Bradley-West), Gilly (Hannah Murray), and her unnamed baby. They stop for the night in an abandoned hut under a red-leaf, white-bark weirwood tree. The face carved in the tree appears to be screaming, and its branches are filling with crows. Sam and Gilly make small talk as the crows accumulate, but stop when the crows’ screaming is suddenly silenced. Sam grabs his sword and rushes outside, where a White Walker emerges from the trees. Gilly says it came for her baby. Sam attacks it, only to have his sword shattered in its icy grip. Sam stabs it with a dragon-glass (obsidian) dagger, which not only kills it, but shatters it into icy chunks.
While the Sam-in-the-North storyline is interesting, and has some importance to the plot in the later books, it’s not particularly interesting. The political intrigues and infighting among the Lannisters is much more fun to watch, if only for the dialogue, and I wish the show would spend more time in the South.
Three weddings remain, and what looks like the siege of Yunkai. Cersei and Loras Tyrell’s wedding should be just as terrible as Tyrion’s to Sansa. Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding will probably be beautiful but only occupy a few scenes, and if the treatment of Robb’s storyline has been any indication, Edmure Tully’s wedding to the Frey girl will barely be shown. Perhaps they’ll roll it all into one episode.
Rating: B for rushed introductions, brilliant dialogue.