Ladies and Gentlemen, forever remember April 7th, 2013 as the day when we got to witness Game of Thrones episode without bare tits and brothel scenes. That's right. 57 minutes and not one brothel scene. This is mindblowing. It is quite telling how this is more noticeable than the lack of Khaleesi in this episode.
Yes, in episode 2 of season 3 we didn't get to see Daenerys. She is probably hanging out in Astapor, bonding with Barristan with The King of the FriendZone Jorah standing somewhere in the corner. But never fear - Dark Wings, Dark Words was even better than last week's premiere. We got to see some of our favourites and we were introduced to many new and important characters, occasionally posing as someone else.
The first scene was quite sweet as we got to see Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright, who looks as if he aged 5 years since last we saw him) dreaming. He saw the three-eyed crow again and wanted to shoot it. There we got a reminder of the sweet moment from the pilot episode, when Jon, Robb and Ned help Bran shoot the target. A boy appears in the dream telling Bran that the crow is him and then Bran wakes up. All of that leads to the meeting with Jojen and Meera Reed for the first time few scenes later. They know who Bran is and Jojen, played by that cute kid from Love Actually, tells him they were searching for him. I don't find Bran's story to be particularly interesting so let's just leave it at that.
Oh, man, Sam owns the episode again. How I laughed. He basically had a mental breakdown in the middle of the road and started weeping and whining about these two dudes leaving him behind in last season's finale. Seriously, dude, you see White Walkers - you run. The Night's Watch is basically a walking party right now, they are walking and walking with Sam occasionally making an ass of himself. But next episode they will be back at the creeptown with the guy who marries his daughters.
Sam would probably be in better shape if Jon was there for him, but Jon is busy learning about what warging or skinchanging, if you will, is. And it's about damn time. In this scene we see new character - Orell, played by Mackenzie Crook aka the guy who always lost his eye in Pirates of the Caribbean - who is warging (seeing through the eyes and basically inhabiting the body) through birds. He tells everyone he saw dead members of the Watch which gives Jon the opportunity to use his puzzled expression.
Those were so-so moments, fortunately we got some great scenes this week and that happened even though neither of the two fiery ladies was there. But we did get to see Arya this episode. There were many deviations from the book here but they kept the one crucial part - Arya encounters Brotherhood without Banners. You may remember Tywin telling The Mountain to hunt them down last season, but the beginning of Brotherhood is actually rooted in the events of season 1. As I'm sure they will tell you the story next week, I won't bother with it here.
Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie go with them to the inn and then...we get to see our old friend Hound. He recognizes Arya which was a good scene and I can see why they changed it from the book, too bad for me Arya being recognized was one of my favorite scenes in A Storm of Swords. She met one of the men she knew in Winterfell and he knelt before her telling everyone she is Arya Stark of Winterfell. The way they did it in the show lacked proper impact, but obviously it was yet another maneuver to save some time. As they didn't use that time on brothel scenes at least, I cannot complain.
Ah, Jaime and Brienne. Their storyline is my favorite in book 3, hell, in the entire series (well, maybe 2nd favorite after Cersei's prophecy).While there are some major and unforgettable things happening in other plot lines, these two have the most consistently awesome story. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie are not only perfectly cast, they have excellent chemistry together too. I cannot wait for more of their scenes. This week they had the best moments, starting with Jaime telling Brienne that we don't choose who we love, which certainly applies to both of them and not just when it comes to one person.
Meanwhile, in King's Landing, Joffrey was shirtless. Why? I'm asking - why? It was scary. I'm shocked the crown isn't enough to crash him. I'm shocked that when shit hit him in season 2 he didn't break to pieces. Anyways, Joffrey was choosing clothes, since you know, why rule when you suck at it, and Cersei was questioning him about his feelings towards Margaery. He was no more inclined to talk to her than Tyrion or Tywin, who I think is ignoring Cersei.
Two things I need to interject here - first, why is no one slapping Joffrey? Ir's been two weeks people! And second - Lord Renly sure had it rough. He died killed by a shadow and now after he is dead Jaime jokes that it's a shame The Iron Throne wasn't made of cocks because they would never get Renly off it and Cersei along with Joffrey call him a degenerate. Damn.
Margaery was busy at the time as she was meeting with Sansa. It is in this scene where we got to meet sharp-tongued Queen of Thorns. Both her and Margaery are curious about Joffrey but Sansa is horrified, sensing that spies are everywhere. She finally can't take it anymore and she reveals that Joffrey is a monster. I was very impressed with Sophie Turner's acting here - it was one of the highlights of her performance so far.
The most brilliantly written and acted scene of the episode was the moment when Margaery comes over to Joffrey's room. The scene is filled with Joffrey's mood swings and Margaery trying to win his favors, weighting every word she says. There were at least three huge hints to the events we will see in season 3 and 4 and it was genius. What only adds to the brilliance of it is the fact that it's the invention of the writers as the scene wasn't in the books.
Another nice foreshadowing moment was included in Shae/Tyrion scene. If i wasn't for one particular line spoken by Tyrion which is a clever hint to what will happen in episode 8, I'd dismiss the scene as irritating. The actress who plays Shae is fine most of the time but don't ask her to act jealous ever again. It was terrible to watch.
While Sansa seems to be doing better, Robb and Catelyn got awful news this episode. I laugh every time I see Roose Bolton, because he is always bringing terrible news with this "Well, what did you expect to happen, Your Grace?" look on his face. The news from Riverrun are to do with the death of Catelyn's father Hoster Tully - Robb and her are now on the way to the funeral, while Bolton remains in Harrenhal. The news from Winterfell were kinder than in the books - as far as Robb and Cat know in the series Bran and Rickon are missing, in the books they were told they are dead.
Another scene that was added and nowhere to be found in the book was Catelyn's monologue about Jon Snow and how she took care of him when he got sick. She blamed herself as when Ned brought him home she hated the child. But she promised the Gods that if they saved him she will love him. Cat tells Talisa that she believes all the bad things that befallen on her family are because of the fact she didn't keep her promise. Michelle Fairley was superb in that scene and I really enjoyed that addition.
And...Theon. He is currently being tortured and there is a boy there, telling him he will rescue him. Pay attention to the last time we see Theon in this episode - the thing he is attached to - the shape and the imagery, and you will know who is responsible. And as for the boy....Robb Stark was right. Winter is Coming for Theon Greyjoy. Slowly and painfully.
The most badass moment was definitely Brienne and Jaime duel on the bridge. It played out a little bit differently than in the book but it was amazing - the moment when Jaime got a hold of the sword was absolutely chilling. The joy on Jaime's face as he finally held a sword, after all that time in captivity. The poised, fierce look on Brienne's face. Waldau and Christie aren't so much acting as they are becoming their characters and that scene was one of the series' best duel moments.
Though there is a significant change to what happens in the book, I still chose to open with that quote in the beginning. In the books Jaime and Brienne were captured by Brave Companions. We won't see them in the show as they were replaced with Bolton's men. Their leader, Locke (played by awesome Noah Taylor) is the replacement for Vargo Hoat in the books. Why do I still use that quote then? To give you the sense of just how bad the situation is for these two.
Here is the promo for next episode - The Walk of Punishment. We will get to see a lot of great things there, but what EVERYONE will be talking about is that episode's ending. You won't believe what happens.