Watching this season of Game of Thrones is a rather unique situation for me. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t watch trailers for new seasons or even the previews for the next episode. I like to go into watching an episode as blindly as possible. But having read the book this is based on, I know a lot of what is coming. It is not something I regret at all because the book is truly excellent, but I think it may have me wanting certain events to happen sooner because I’m dying to see them in the visual media. Throw in the fact that I watched Seasons 1 and 2 after they aired and this is the first time, TV show or book, that I couldn’t just keep going when I wanted to. The week between episodes feels like forever! The good thing is even if I’m dying to see certain things happen, just sitting down for an hour to soak in the sights and sounds of this world I love so much is always fun. So even though the second episode of this season, “Dark Wings, Dark Words,” is still setting the table for the season to come including introducing a number of storylines and characters for the first time this year, I still enjoyed it a lot. Enough rambling from me though, onto the episode.
Let’s start with Arya. After being MIA in week one, we get a decent dose of her here. Her, Gendry and Hotpie are making their way through the woods after escaping from Harrenhal last season when they run into the Brotherhood without Banners, a group of outlaws who take her along with them for a bit before deciding to let them go. Unfortunately just as Arya and the boys are headed off, in comes the Brotherhood’s new prisoner, The Hound, who gives away Arya’s identity. Here is a girl that just can’t quite catch a break. Once she seems to get free and a chance to head back and find her family, she is back in a sticky situation once again. This storyline is a lot of fun so far though. I particularly liked the bit with the archer zooming an arrow past Arya’s head as she tried to spy on the group from behind a stone wall and him messing with Hotpie. Arya’s storyline includes a personal favorite character of mine who should be appearing soon in the show, so I’m excited to see this one continue ASAP.
Arya isn’t the only character making their first appearance of the season this episode. Her brothers Bran and Rickon are up North headed towards the Wall, along with Osha and Hodor after escaping the burning of Winterfell. Bran is having dreams about three-eyed ravens again as well as a boy and before long this boy finds Bran in reality. Jojen Reed who also has dreams filled with premonitions has been searching out Bran. With him comes his sister Meera and these two tag along with the group as they journey North, which gives Jojen a chance to talk with Bran about their similar abilities and what they mean. It’s fun seeing the Reeds show up finally, they were around quite a bit earlier in the books, and I think they did a good job with the casting of these two characters. And it goes without saying that Hodor makes any episode better.
We also check in with Brienne who is bringing Jaime Lannister back to King’s Landing hoping to exchange him for one or both of Catelyn’s daughters. If there is one character that absolutely grew on me over the course of this series thus far, it is Jaime Lannister. He is still a rather despicable guy and it is hard to forget him pushing Bran out a window or some of his other terrible deeds, but he has transformed from being the kind of guy that just disgusted me into the kind of villain I love to see on my TV screen. His sarcastic demeanor really shines when put next to the stoic and honorable Brienne. I particularly liked his lines about Renly. Seeing him wriggle free of capture was fantastic too.The sword fight was one of three one on one fights from A Storm of Swords I was dying to see. It didn’t quite live up to the one in my imagination, but it was still a good bit of fun (the other two should be better and I have high expectations for those… don’t let me down Game of Thrones!). Some folks have stumbled across Brienne and Jaime during their fight, so we’ll have to wait and see what comes of that next week (or maybe the week after given how this show rolls).
One thing I was not prepared for was the return of Theon. Of all the chapter types in the books I have read so far (each is based on a character), Theon’s are my least favorite and his storyline in Season 2 is one of my least favorite arcs on the TV show. Due to the books, I was not expecting his storyline to continue in a big way, so I’m not sure how to feel about him popping up here with some dedicated scenes, but I will have to see where they go with this. That is one interesting thing I like about the show, they tend to focus on characters that the books have in the background due to the various perspectives the book focuses on (I feel Robb for instance gets a bit more time in the show). What is going on with Theon? Well he is getting tortured after being dragged off from Winterfell last year. And one of the people there was apparently sent by his sister to help free him. Again, I’ll just have to see where they take this storyline next, but in a show bursting with great storylines and often not enough time to tell them all, I’m not sure I was chomping at the bit for more Theon.
The rest of the episode found us checking in with characters that had also appeared last week. I think the most interesting of these scenes was probably the ones involving the Tyrells. Sansa gets the pleasure of meeting new character Lady Olenna, Margaery’s grandmother. She is quite funny in her brief appearance here where she grills Sansa about what kind of guy Joffrey truly is, even managing to crack Sansa’s typical “I have traitor’s blood, Joffrey’s the best” outward attitude to admit however briefly that he is in fact the worst and a total monster. Watching Margaery operate is also entertaining as she is so quietly manipulative as evidenced in her handling of the scene with Joffrey and the crossbow. These ladies seem like a tricky bunch.
We also got a bit more of Robb and Catelyn. Cat’s gotten bad news about her father and her sons (though we know the latter is not true) all the while she is still a prisoner of sorts of Robb’s due to letting The Kingslayer free. Cat is just another character that can’t seem to catch a break just like her daughter. They are now heading up to Riverrun in wake of her father’s death.
More stuff worth noting:
- Jon and Sam get relegated to a bullet point because this blog is super long already! Beyond the Wall, Sam is still being a bit of a wus and Jon learns about Wargs which ties neatly into Bran and Jojen’s conversation.
- Tyrion also relegated to the bullets. He’s sarcastic and funny, but not much all happens with him. Shae is a little bothered by him saying Sansa is a looker. No scenes of the caliber of that Tyrion/Tywin one from last week, that is for sure.
- Missing in action this week: Dany (NO!!!) and Stannis/Davos. The latter seems like one that doesn’t need checking in with much. Dany is one I can’t get enough of, but her missing an episode here and there isn’t exactly new for the series. I don’t have to like it though!
- No dragons or giants this week, but those direwolves still look awesome.
- Still working out the review process here, but decided to lightly sprinkle book comparisons into the main body of the review, but still shying away from any big spoilers. Still working out the kinks, but think this went slightly better.
With so many storylines to juggle, “Dark Wings, Dark Words” is still setting up for the season to come, but there was still a lot to glean from this episode. We are seeing the beginnings of important characters from past seasons’ storylines that will play a big part in this season while also getting introduced to some cool new characters for the very first time in the series. I’d say I preferred the season premiere a slight bit over this one (though both were very good), but I expect things to really kick into gear next week.
What were your thoughts on this week’s episode of Game of Thrones? Which storyline and characters caught your eye this week? Let me know in the comments below as I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!