Every week I think two things just before the new episode of Game of Throne airs - there is no possible way they can top last week and there is no way Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie can possibly deliver even better performances than in the last episode. And every week, I'm wrong.
Kissed by Fire, the episode that marks the half of the third season, is by far the best episode of the show, along with Blackwater. It was as if some of my favorite book moments played out exactly like in my head when I imagined the scenes and more than that - the episode had few very cool additions.
Let's start with the title - Kissed by Fire is an expression the wildings use to describe women with red hair. It means "lucky". Well, it's obviously about Ygritte who has been eyeing everyone favorite virgin, Jon Snow, since last season. This episode we see Jon being questioned by Tormund and Orell about Night's Watch forces. Jon lies, Orell throws him ugly look and Tormund warns him about the consequences of lying to him. Well enough of that, let's move on to the good stuff.
Ygritte grabs Jon's sword (and by that I mean actual weapon) and runs into the cave. He follows her and then Ygritte who apparently figured enough is enough undresses herself. Two things here - I imagine male audience was ecstatic seeing Rose Leslie naked and the second thing - shockingly the expression on Kit Harington's face in that moment was the only part of his acting that made me laugh last episode.
In the books there are two types of sex scenes - those that Martin wrote in disgusting way and those that Martin wrote in hilarious way. That particular scene was the example of the latter in the novel, but I must say thanks to the chemistry between Harington and Leslie the scene was actually quite charming. I liked that shot of Jon embracing naked Ygritte and thanks to Leslie's acting her talking about "that thing Jon did with his mouth" (also known as Lord's Kiss, ladies) and asking for it again played in a cute way. I adore that they kept two of Ygritte's lines here - her signature "You know nothing, Jon Snow" and her telling Jon she wishes they could stay in that cave together.
On to Stannis. Stannis is one of the favorites among book readers. I never understood why. Yes, he is a man with sharp sense of duty, but I never got the appeal. I know book purists have huge issues with how the show is handling Stannis (and apparently the creators don't like the character) but I like that they are, perhaps accidentally, humanizing him. I liked that scene with Melisandre two episodes back and I adored Stannis's scenes here.
It may be also due to the fact he is played by Stephen Dillane who really brings tons of charisma to otherwise bland Stannis. Last night we got to meet his wife, Selyse. You thought Lysa Arryn was batshit? Oh, man. Selyse, described as ugly in the books was actually played by rather attractive actress but the level of crazy stayed the same. Stannis attempts to apologize to her for having sex with Melisandre and Selyse responds that when she heard he did that she "wept with joy". Wait, it gets better. Selyse is praying to The Lord of Light in the dark room (by the way she is the one who brought Melisandre to Stannis) and then we see...baby jars. Yep, baby jars. Selyse kept Stannis's stillborn children in the freaking jars.
But Stannis has one living child - daughter Shireen and we also meet her in the episode. Shireen was not sparred by the Gods, though - she has terrible infliction called greyscale, which makes the skin look like stone. It kills most, but Shireen survived, unfortunately part of her body and face are scarred. I adored the two of her scenes in this episode. First - the girl who plays her is adorable. second - we heard her sing a song (book readers - Patchface's song) which was repeated to great effect in end titles. Third - I loved that look on Stannis face as he walks into Shireen's "room", embraces her and looks greatly concerned as he realizes his daughter is essentially living in a cell.
Another scene with Shireen featured Davos and just like with last week cutting from Jaime/Brienne to close up of Cersei's face, it featured brilliant maneuver that I'd like to think was intentional as well. Shireen and Davos are friends and it is clear they care about each other. Shireen offers to teach Davos to read and she starts talking about Aegon Targaryen. As she talks about one Targaryen, the scene cuts to the last of them. Daenerys.
Khaleesi is heading to yet another slave city - Yunkai, which was added to the main titles. She encourages Unsullied to chose officers among them and she talks to one of them. She asks him his name and he responds it's Grey Worm. Missandei explains that Unsullied were forbidden to get attached to their names so they changed them all the time, and that this one's name signifies that he is nothing but vermin. Khaleesi is appalled and encourages Unsullied to chose new names, ones that will make them proud. Grey Worm responds that he would like to keep his, as it is his lucky name for he had it the day Daenerys Stormborn set him free.
Meanwhile, the world's most overqualified groupies ser Jorah and ser Barristan are bonding. Yes, after two episodes of nothing, Barristan finally has some lines. Ser Jorah tries to find out if Barristan knows he was a spy for Robert Baratheon. Barristan seems like he doesn't know shit so Jorah gets cocky and when Barristan says having exile like Jorah next to her when they reach Westeros will not help Daenerys, Jorah responds he doesn't take orders from him but from the Queen.
Ah, Robb. (fans herself, drinks water and takes deep breath). That was some visual feast right there. I know 3x04 had dragons, but this episode had Robb in the rain and Robb with open shirt. And he had all those badass lines like "This one says he was the watcher. Hang him last so he could watch them die". And then his angry face and clenched fist when he did what he had to. All right, let me crawl out of the pit where I scream about this man's beauty and get to what was actually going on.
I trust you all remember Karstark, the dude who lost his son when Jaime Lannister attempted to escape last season? Karstark has been loose cannon all the time, really. Calling Talisa "foreign bitch" (well, he is not wrong...) and basically disrespecting Robb every step of the way. But this episode he went too far. Few episodes back we heard Robb yelling angrily about a mill. Well, Edmure Tully took the mill and with it - two young Lannister boys hostage. The show made a point of showing that some Lannisters are innocent by having the scene where Talisa talks to them.
Karstark and few of his men slaughter the boys as a payment and vengeance. Robb is horrified. Karstark manages to say his most badass line from the books "King in the North...or shall I call you King who lost the North?". Robb orders Karstark to be thrown into the dungeon. Edmure, who apparently had a moment of lucidity after acting like a dumbass, advices him to keep all of this quiet - Tywin Lannister can't know about the death of his kin or he will strike and Robb can't kill Karstark because he will lose a lot of men. Talisa and Cat chip in and speak in favor of keeping Karstark alive, bur Robb looks at the dead children and he knows he must do one thing.
So in the pouring rain (thank you, HBO), Robb walks out while his lords look on, grabs a sword and sentences Karstark to death. Two things before I melt - first of all the show runners made a puzzling decision of featuring the same music that played when Theon beheaded ser Rodrik. I sincerely hope it was to show how DIFFERENT in every way those situations were. Theon is a gutless weasel who needs to strike three times to kill a man. Ser Rodrik's last words were "you are truly lost now". Robb gives Rickard a clean death and it is after Karstark mentions they are of the same blood and he is cursed now. While Theon looked like a little bitch, Robb looked like an honorable man. To the point of stupidity, yes, but he is a Stark after all.
Second thing - that bloodline comment. See, in Westeros the worst thing one can do is kill your own kin. That's why people were so rallied after last year's scene where Jaime killed his cousin. While this was kinslaying, Karstark's one was pretty farfatched. And while Robb does a lot of stupid things this episode alone (and plenty in general) the decision to kill openly insubordinate, children-killing lord is not one of those.
While in general I despise Talisa, sometimes she is put to good use. One was the sex scene with Richard Madden - HBO you still owe us nudity here. Another came this episode - Talisa actually speaks some sense to Robb and tells him to find a purpose for his army. She tells him she doesn't even know where Winterfell is. He takes her hand and points to the map. Yep, I nearly collapsed there - that scene was so lovely even with Talisa in the frame. And then Robb has an epiphany. Wait...is that the word I'm looking for?
I loved how pretty much everything stopped as Robb looked as if the gigantic light bulb finally lit above his head. Unfortunately, that fucking light bulb was broken. But do not worry everyone! Robb has a plan! He will take....Casterly Rock! Never mind it's the second biggest fortress in Westeros. Never mind, that Robb lost half of his forces a scene ago. He will take it, yes! Because he has yet another plan - to go ask Freys for help. The same Freys who stroke a deal with him - you pass the bridge, if you marry one of the daughters. And Robb shat on that when he banged Talisa. If I was a Frey girl, I'd be seriously pissed off for losing a chance to hit that.
That plan is inspired. That plan is freaking brilliant. Just one question, Robb - do you remember what happened the last time you trusted the member of a creepy family? Because it seems to me you lost Winterfell. But maybe I get this wrong. Maybe Theon and his buddies, obvious fans of Hostel franchise, are just renting it from you.
One more thing - WHERE THE FUCK IS GREY WIND? It has been 5 episodes now. What, did he find some nice female direwolves and he is partying? HBO do you understand what you are doing?!
All right let's move to the most important storyline of the episode. Harrenhal. Jaime and Brienne finally arrived there. Harrenhal is being held by Roose Bolton, Robb Stark's bannerman. Now clearly he is an upgrade from Locke and his raping horde. Roose, while having no nonsense attitude (You've lost the hand) orders Locke to cut off Jaime's gruesome necklace, cut Brienne free and apologizes to her. Then came golden moment where Jaime asks about Blackwater battle and Roose doses suspense beautifully as he tells Jaime his sister...(Jaime looking worried, Brienne shooting him a look, Roose clearly having fun)...is alive and well.
Jaime is being taken to Qyburn. This is that dude Robb and Talisa found among dead bodies in season premiere. And as I type this I realize that Robb can't even rescue the right people. Keep yours eyes on this guy. He mentions something to Jaime that may tell you why. Anyways, he is taking care of Jaime's stump in what has to be the single most disgusting moment of the series. Jaime doesn't want any milk of the poppy so he is in for a lot of pain.
Oh my God, the bath scene. This is one of the absolute best sequences in the book for many reasons. And I have to stop and just write something here - the show makes me cry a lot. Whether because something awful happens (Cat and Robb reacting to Ned's death), something wonderful happens (the tears in Cat's eyes as she sees Robb emerging unharmed and victorious from battle) or something is so goddamn perfect (the ending to Blackwater). But never has this show made me cry because someone delivered such perfect performance. Well, until last night.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has outshone everyone. While I generally consider Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance to be the ones who give the best performances in the series, this season Waldau and Gwendoline Christie are easily my favorites. What happened in that scene - Brienne was taking a bath and Jaime joined her (God bless the fact Waldau no nudity clause doesn't cover the back). They start talking and Jaime tells her he is sick of fighting. And he talks some more.
This is the crucial moment. For the last two and half seasons non book readers kept hearing "Kingslayer!" when Jaime was on screen. The fact he killed the King, he vowed to protect is the reason people say he is the man without honor. And here, for the first time Jaime tells the truth about what happened 17 years back, when his father sacked King's Landing and Robert Baratheon sat on the throne.
He tells Brienne that The Mad King told pyromancers to start producing mass amounts of wildfire. He intended to burn the whole city and everyone in it if he was about to be defeated. When the moment came Jaime decided to took action - he stabbed the King in the back, killed the pyromancers and saved the city. Brienne listens to all of this astonished, with tears in her eyes, realizing that before her is the man who really didn't deserve the reputation he got.
She asks him why he never told anyone, why not tell Ned Stark. But we all know how much Ned despised Jaime. Jaime explains to her that he would never listen and starts growing weary, yelling that the wolf has no right to judge a lion. He falls into her arms and she calls for the help for "Kinglslayer" and he corrects her, yelling that his name is Jaime.
Two things about this scene - I think it worked even better than in the books. There it was told from Jaime's perspective and Martin just couldn't spare us the details of Jaime getting aroused upon seeing Brienne. Here the scene plays out like a lovely bonding moment between them and even though Brienne stands up at one point and Jaime sees her naked, there are no filthy comments involved. Also Jaime yelling about his name leads me to believe that in two weeks time we will get a mirror scene where he screams "Her name is Brienne!". Oh, boy!
Another thing - Brienne is supposed to be ugly, but wow, Gwendoline Christie is really a good looking woman.
Now let's go back to the beginning of the episode which was trial by combat - The Hound vs Beric. It was one of the most spectacular duels in the series and it was handled very well on screen, especially with all those shots of Arya looking on, hoping the Hound will die. He doesn't - he kills Beric and Arya grabs the knife and runs towards him, but Gendry stops her (which I'm sure all Gendry/Arya shippers enjoyed). As Beric hit the ground, Thoros run to him and started praying to The Lord of Light. And then...Beric was alive again.
That's right. Resurrection is possible in the world of Song of Ice and Fire. But what I love is that it comes with a price - you lose something in the process. Beric was brought back six times and now he is a shell. He has a sense of duty but he doesn't remember much of his life, of himself. He can't even remember the face of the woman he loved. The reason Thoros rushed to him is because the longer you wait....the more of the soul is lost...
We got another nice Arya moment - Gendry tells her he is joining the Brotherhood and Arya asks him to stay with her and go see Robb (she is very close, the Brotherhood is almost at Riverrun where Robb is, staring at the maps intensely while all those brilliant ideas come to him). Gendry says that Brotherhood is like family and he never had one. Arya says "I can be your family" but Gendry tells her she wouldn't be. She'd be his lady. That was such a lovely moment and Arya's line was one one of the many romantic things said in this episode.
In King's Landing, The Lannisters, unaware of the horrible (and so realistic) threat that is Robb Stark, Talisa and the scattered army wanting to take their home, attempt to deal with Tyrells. Olenna and Tyrion talk about the cost of the weddings and Olenna reminds Tyrion about all the aid that came to the capital from Highgarden. Gee, million of bushels of wheat and yet Margeary has been wearing one dress all season.
Cersei tells Littlefinger to find out what the Tyrells are plotting, you know since he did so well when she told him to find Arya. Last week we saw Varys's little dance which involved a lot of talking and show and tell with boxed sorcerer. This week we see what
He speaks to Sansa and tells her they can leave soon but Sansa is reluctant since she is so happy about the prospect of marrying Loras, her new BFF's brother. Seriously, the Starks. Robb may be stupid, but goddammit Sansa, you still win. In first season she dresses and pins her hair like Cersei. She gets screwed over by the Lannisters. In this season she tries to look like Margaery. Do you see where all of this is going?
Since Littlefinger wants Sansa to himself, he informs the Lannisters about the plot. Unfortunetly for him, the Tyrells and Sansa herself, Tywin Lannister is smarter than all of them. He should open the school for stubborn kids and he would deal with them in minutes time. Tywin had had it with his ungrateful kids. And he has a plan. Unfortunately for Cersei and Tyrion, unlike Robb's plans, Tywin's plans are easy to put in motion and quite cruel. For all involved.
Tyrion walks in and finds Cersei and Tywin in good mood. Cersei is smiling which can only mean one thing - something awful is about to happen to Tyrion. Tywin won't bed the rose to the direwolf and he wants Sansa - the key to the North - to remain in Lannister's cage. So he wants Tyrion...to marry Sansa. Tyrion is obviously horrified - not only has that girl been abused by almost everyone in his family, she is still a child. I loved that he got so furious. I cannot wait to see more scenes of Tyrion helping Sansa, let's face it he is the only person who has helped her, selflessly, there. Well, there is also the Hound but he is away.
Tyrion is in fact so outraged he doesn't even laugh when Tywin reveals his plans for Cersei. Cersei is told to marry Loras. Her smirk quickly disappears and she yells she will not marry again. Tywin yells at his children for bringing shame on the Lannister name and tells them that discussion is over and they will do as they are told.
Next episode entitled The Climb will feature - more fun torture, Tywin and Olenna scene, Littlefinger and Varys and one of their classic throne room moments, Robb meeting Freys emissaries, wildings climbing the wall and Brienne and Jaime dining with Bolton. That moment when Jaime grabs her hand! PREVIOUS RECAPS: