A number of notable characters made their first appearance in this episode, and the hour was all the better for it.
First up: Margaery Tyrell. I first fell in love with Natalie Dormer as the duplicitous Anne Boleyn on The Tudors, and she’s just as effective (and manipulative) here. When we first meet her on Thrones, she’s Renly’s naive wife, but soon enough, she flips the tables in the middle of their failed lovemaking session and cunningly reveals that she knows about Renly and her brother Loras. It’s all so wonderfully twisted, and Dormer fits right into the show’s world.
Up next is Brienne of Tarth, the newest addition to Renly’s Kingsguard. Gwendoline Christie is definitely an imposing presence, but she’ also s immediately likeable in the role, particularly since women are treated so horribly in the Thrones setting. Plus the fact that she beats arrogant Loras is the icing on the cake.
Tyrion’s delightful machinations continued this week, with his playing Pycell, Varys AND Littlefinger by telling them about different suitors for Princess Myrcella. His master plan culminates with the reveal that Pycell has always been in the Lannisters’ back-pocket, and thus he has the old fool arrested (right when he’s canoodling with his whore) but not before cutting off his beard. Hilarious stuff, and the comedy works well to contrast the darkness of the rest of the show.
And then there’s Arya’s adventures. Her dynamic with Yoren continues to be grow more compelling by the week, as her watcher worries that he didn’t shield her from witnessing her father’s beheading (not to mention giving the young Stark some sleeping tips). It’s unfortunate that he gets killed off moments later when the Lannister bannermen attack, but Arya still gets to showcase her bravery by freeing Jaqen and the caged inmates, and her cleverness by telling the guards that they murdered Gendry (thanks to the helmet). I can’t stress enough how much Arya’s journey is a standout on Game of Thrones – everything about it has been gripping from the get-go.
Bits & Beheadings
– I love the scenes when Bran assumes the perspective of his direwolf. The cinematography is top-notch.
– So Sam is quite fond of Gilly, as evident by the gift her gives her. Awww.
– Seriously how great is Yara? I absolutely love her. Her dad on the other hand is borderline despicable.
– Immensely awkward dinner scene with Sansa being completely overpowered by the Lannisters and Cersei’s twisted glee.
– Shae being assigned as Sansa’s handmaiden works perfectly with the narrative. Particularly love the little touch with her eating Sansa’s food; it’s practically a sitcom .
– Loved Cersei pushing Tyrion and all her hypocricay with regards to her daughter becoming a hostage when that’s exactly how she’s treating Sansa.
– So amusing: Tyrion paying Pycelle’s whore after arresting him (not one but two coins).
– So ultimately, Greyjoy chooses his family over the Starks. And he gets that weird baptism.
– How badass is Yoren? He withstands arrows and spears before finally dying by a brutal sword to the skull.
– The fact that the guard uses Arya’s Needle to kill the poor boy is so very harsh.
Kings & Quips
Brienne: (to Catelyn) And, if it please you, Brienne’s enough. I’m no lady.
Theon: You give her 30 and I get one?
Yara: The sea bitch. We thought she’d be perfect for you.
Theon: I’m to fight fishermen?
Yara: Be careful of their nets.
Varys: Ooh, “the queen mustn’t know.” I love conversations that begin this way.
Margaery: Do you want my brother to come in and help?
Margaery: He could get you started. I know he wouldn’t mind. Or I can turn over and you can pretend I’m him.
Tyrion: (about Pycelle) I don’t like his beard. (Bronn cuts it off)
Cersei: (to Tyrion) You think the piece of paper father gave you keeps you safe. Ned Stark had a piece of paper, too.
Varys: The small council grows smaller every day.
Yoren: I buried an ax so deep into Willem’s skull, they had to bury him with it.
This episode succeeds in introducing a number of characters while still managing to keep the narrative afloat.