When the writers stay close to the books, great things happen. New episode, Second Sons, was definitely a step up from last week's disappointing episode. We got fewer storylines here, but each of them had a nice pay-off, a lot of great acting and yes, even shy glimpses of hope. I saw a lot of people complain about the lack of great scenes with Peter Dinklage this season. Well, I guess they are all happy now.
The centerpiece of the episode was Tyrion's wedding to Sansa. I was disappointed with the lack of scene where Tyrion tells Sansa they are going to be married - instead the scene abruptly cut off when we saw it few episodes back. But we got a nice scene here instead - right before the wedding Tyrion talks to Sansa alone and swears never to hurt her.
Then we get to see Great Sept again as the wedding guests start to arrive. And here came the highlight of the episode for me. Margaery took Cersei's arm and told her soon they will be sisters. Cersei is obviously appalled but doesn't show it yet. And here we finally get to understand the meaning of the song Rains of Castamere, from which the next episode takes title from.
Cersei tells Margaery the story. Once upon a time there was House Reyne. They were the second most powerful family, right after Lannisters, much as Tyrells are now. Cersei says how tempting it must be to be on the second place and know that you need to take one more step to have the power. So Lord Reyne rebelled against Tywin's father. And young Tywin led the Lannister army and crushed the rebellion.
But he didn't stop there. Every man, woman and child in Reyne family was executed. Every single one. Their rotting corpses were hanged outside Casterly Rock all summer to remind the people of the power and the crushing revenge the Lannisters are capable of. More precisely - Tywin Lannister. Whenever the song is heard it reminds the people to be afraid of him. He is capable of exterminating the entire house, annihilating entire families.
It was a great place to explain the meaning of the song, considering that everyone's favorite Tyrion is forced to do something this episode - marry Sansa - because his father wants it to happen. He cannot defy him. Because he is afraid of Tywin and for good reason too. It's a bit of a shame the song itself wasn't played here - it was featured numerous times during the show but as important as non-book readers knowledge of the song's story is, they should also be very familiar with its melody and lyrics.
Soon Sansa appears on the stairs and stands there, confused as to what to do next. Joffrey walks to her explaining to her that since her father is dead, Joffrey is the one who is giving her away as "the father of the realm". Someone punch him. Please.
Sansa walks slowly, passing Bronn who gives her a nod, Margaery who offers encouraging smile and Tywin and Cersei in all their smugness and glory. I was very glad the cloak scene was kept. It's a lovely ritual where the father takes bride's cloak with the color of her house off her shoulders and then groom clothes her in the cloak with the color of his house.
In the book the situation played a bit differently. Here Joffrey, spitefully, took the stool from Tyrion so he would be so much smaller than Sansa. Tyrion doesn't know how to clothe Sansa, since he can't reach, so he asks her to kneel and he is finally able to put the cloak on her. In the books Tyrion tugs at her dress and Sansa stubbornly refuses to kneel, forcing Tyrion to stand on the back of the fool to finally finish the ritual. After she tuns around and sees how embarrassed he is she feels terrible.
The relationship between Sansa and Tyrion is a bit more amicable in the TV series. Sansa even smiles at him before the ceremony. Some things stay the same and the most important one too - the fact that Tyrion gets absolutely fucking smashed during the party afterwards.
Peter Dinklage was absolutely brilliant in this episode. I'm not sure if he wasn't a bit drunk - to recreate the mumbling and the stumbling this accuretely, it was very realistic. Drunk Tyrion was absolutely hilarious - I burst out laughing when he spilled wine on himself and started to wipe his face with table cloth, next to mortified Sansa.
As Tyrion grows increasingly more drunk, Olenna tries to figure out the family ties between Lannisters and Tyrells, since very soon Loras is marrying Cersei and Margaery is marrying precious Joffrey. Loras, bored and angry, gets up and attempts to form some sort of bond with his future wife. Cersei quickly shoots him down, not interested in him, or any bonds with Tyrells. I was quite shocked Loras was still there. If I were him I'd run as far as I could.
Meanwhile, Sansa leaves Tyrion to dance with the guests and she is approached by Joffrey who threatens to rape her after his uncle passes out. At the same time Tywin reminds Tyrion how important it is for him to have a child with Sansa and Tyrion is becoming more and more angry.
Finally he has enough and as Joffrey is calling for them to begin the bedding ritual, Tyrion says there will be no bedding. Joffrey says he commands it and then Tyrion takes out his knife, stabs the table with it and yells to Joffrey that if he insists "he will be fucking his own bride with the wooden cock". The entire room falls silent as Joffrey becomes enraged. Tywin intervenes remarking that Tyrion is drunk and he clearly didn't mean to threaten the king.
Sansa and Tyrion leave to consummate their marriage. In the books the whole scene was much more uncomfortable as Sansa actually undressed, as did Tyrion and we got pretty detailed description of his manhood. It actually happens a lot in the books, leading most to joke that they would be able to draw Tyrion's dick from memory. Anyways, only after all of that Tyrion tells Sansa that he won't force her to anything and the two just go to sleep.
Here as Tyrion witnesses Sansa dutifully disrobe he tells her that his father can't force him to do this. He also tells her that he won't share her bed until she asks him to. When Sansa asks what if she never wants that, Tyrion makes a joke saying that now his watch has started, referring to the celibacy of the men who guard the wall.
Meanwhile, in Daenerys's storyline we meet Second Sons - mercenary company, the said "powerful friends" of Yunkai. Daenerys tells the three captains of the 2,000 army that she would like them to fight for her, which will be highly profitable for them if they agree. Their leader, Mero, is particularly gross and he keeps making crude comments about Dany. Jorah is seething and when Mero leaves, Dany tells Barristan that comes the battle, Mero should be the first one to be killed.
Then we see a scene with the three of them plotting to kill Daenerys. It is Daario who is supposed to do the deed. As Dany bathes with the help of Missandai - which is only the second most tantalizing thing about the scene as Emilia Clarke is naked for the first time since season 1 - Daario sneaks in. He has a bag with him and he reveals to Daenerys that he killed the two other captains and the bag contains their severed heads.
He tells her that he wants to fight for her, because of her beauty. I shit you not, that is actually what he says. He is actually improvement over the book Daario, as there he was ridiculously flamboyant and had a blue beard. Plus in Dany's POV chapters we had to endure her fantasizing about him. This is why Dany is now becoming one of the dumbest characters in the series. She has Jorah in the form of Iain Glenn there and she wants to bang this dude? Targaryens always danced close to the madness.
In Dragonstone, Melisandre arrives with Gendry. Stannis meets them and Gendry is sent to his chamber after Melisandre tells the servants to find him clothes and give him food. Stannis asks why is she being kind to Gendry if she means to sacrifice him and Melisandre tells him that it is better if the lamb doesn't see the blade.
Stannis goes to the dungeons to talk to Davos. Davos is there, learning to read after receiving encouragement from Shireen few episodes back. The fact he knows how to read now will be very important soon, I imagine in the finale. Stannis tells Davos that he will free him if he promises never to attempt to kill Melisandre again. Davos agrees.
They talk a little more and Davos tells him that he knows why Stannis is freeing him. He wants Davos to convince him that sacrificing the boy is the wrong thing to do. Stannis seems very puzzled and conflicted about the whole thing but he tells Davos there is no denying that Melisandre's god is real after the miracles she performed in his name. And the Lord of Light demands the sacrifice.
Melisandre is seducing Gendry, who is very intoxicated by the wine, comfort and her beauty. As they have sex Melisandre ties him to the bed and attaches three leeches to his body. One was attached to his penis and I have to say that it was....dick move on Melisandre's part. I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself. Davos and Stannis walk in, see Melisandre do all of that funky shit, all naked. The look on Stannis's face was priceless. As the leeches take blood Melisandre takes them off Gendry and hands over the bowl to Stannis.
Stannis throws them in the fire, one by one, saying the words - "The usurper, Robb Stark. The usurper, Balon Greyjoy. The usurper, Joffrey Baratheon"...
We got to see a little bit of Arya this episode. She is holding a gigantic rock over The Hound's head. He tells her he will give her one chance to kill him, but if she fails - he will cut off both of her hands. Arya decides not to try. Then we see them on the horse and Arya is convinced The Hound is taking her back to King's Landing.
He tells her that she couldn't be more wrong - they are heading to The Twins, for Arya's uncle wedding. Robb and Catelyn will be there and The Hound is hoping they will pay him when he delivers their beloved Arya back to them. Arya smiles, thinking about how close she is to her mother and brother.
The climax of the episode was the much anticipated Sam the Slayer scene. I was convinced we will see a certain wight here, but I was wrong, they are either saving that for the finale or season 4. What we did get here was the actual White Walker (long time, no see) he was heading for Gilly's child. The whole scene was very suspenseful as Gilly and Sam were alone in the cabin and they heard hundreds of ravens outside. When Sam emerged from the cabin the ravens fell silent as White Walker appeared in the woods.
While I maintain the whole make up of White Walkers is really not scary, what is freaky about them is their slow, decisive movement. Nothing can hurt them, so this particular Walker just approaches Sam slowly, grabs his sword and it shatters. And when I say nothing can hurt them...well, that's not true. Sam stabs the Walker with dragonglass dagger he found during the battle, in his last attempt to save Gilly and her child and the Walker shatters into pieces.
Sam takes Gilly's hand and they run, as the ravens fly next to them. Now in the book the dragonglass dagger either shattered or was too cold (don't remember, don't care) to pick up - that is why Sam just left it there.
Thanks to American Memorial Day weekend HBO is inflicting a new and exciting form of torture. ON THE ENTIRE WORLD. 2-week long hiatus for all of us. BEFORE THE MOST IMPORTANT EPISODE OF THE ENTIRE SERIES. Can I induce coma on myself somehow? So I wake up in 14 days? Because if I imagine that one particular event, the event that led the creators to want to adapt the series on screen in the first place, one more time I'll go insane. I can't keep doing that to myself.
The next episode is entitled The Rains of Castamere. I have to congratulate HBO at the way they made that promo so completely misleading and underwhelming. This may be the most genius thing they did all season. Apart from showing Richard Madden's ass. Obviously.