Last night’s “Walk of Punishment” continues to build on the storylines introduced in Game of Thrones’ first two outings this season. With the characters spread out so much, it continues to plod along at a measured pace. But some great character moments, a good dose of humor, and a shocking moment to leave you hanging until next week made for another strong episode.
And I guess I will start with the storyline that crazy cilffhanger takes place in. Jaime and Brienne’s plot picks up shortly after last week’s sword fight with the two strapped together on a horse. They’ve been taken by some Bolton men (note the flayed man banners) and are jawing at each other a bit about the fight they had. Jaime making excuses, Brienne questioning his skills. It’s a good bit of fun before some darker moments to come from this storyline. After they have made camp, some men come to take Brienne off to rape her, but Jaime jumps in and convinces them it would be better if they ransomed her. It is nice to see Jaime use his wit for some good here. He continues to use this wit of his to try and get himself into a better situation too. And just as it seems it is working on his captors, the tables are turned and in comes the knife and takes Jaime’s hand off. It was such a shocking moment in the book and hopefully some of you who just watch the show will chime in with your reactions in the comments (looking around the web at reactions has been fun). And it’s something to watch going forward too because Jaime’s sword hand is his livelihood. He lives to fight and watching him deal with this will be fascinating. I must also say that seeing them take Brienne off to rape her made me way more uncomfortable than the book’s take on the scene. Even though I knew Jaime would talk them out of it, the sight of them physically taking her away got to me a bit. Both parts of that final scene were well-done though.
Much to my delight, Daenerys makes another appearance this week. It was short, but anytime she is on my TV screen is good. She speaks with the slaver again, this time saying she wants all the Unsullied and he once again bashes her to his translater saying she simply could not afford that many. It is then that Dany offers up one of her dragons in exchange. Hard to make much of a response to this at the moment because it represents like a half a chapter in the book, but I will say when I read this part in it made my stomach a little queasy. I love Dany and I love her dragons, so the idea of her parting with one does not sit well with me. Also worth noting is she asks for Missandei, the slaver’s translater, to come with her as part of the deal.
The goings on in King’s Landing this week mostly involve Tyrion and add a nice dash of humor to the episode. It starts with a scene involving the small council where Tyrion’s chair dragging got a good laugh out of me. It is revealed that Littlefinger will be heading to the Vale to woo Lysa Arryn which leaves the position of Master of Coin open and apparently Tyrion will fill it. This leads to him finding out how badly in debt the capitol is. There’s also a bit of fun to be had with his squire Pod. To pay him back for saving his life, Tyrion has purchased the boy a few whores. The reveal scene for this reward was a bit much. The real laughs come when he returns after a good time, but with the gold the Imp payed for them. This causes Tyrion and Bronn to sit Pod down to learn his secrets in the bedroom. Tyrion segments were a big step up from last week’s largely forgettable scene and added a good amount of levity to the episode.
Beyond the Wall, we get some key scenes from both the wildlings and the Black Brothers. Jon, Mance and his wildling army have arrived at The Fist of the First Men. They have found the bloodshed left behind from the battle between the Night’s Watch and the Others, but no human bodies indicates they have risen again as Wights. It is here that Mance makes the decision to send Tormund Giantsbane (the red-bearded guy for those who are still trying to keep track of new characters’ names) and a small group to climb the Wall. Meanwhile, the Night’s Watch has arrived at Craster’s Keep where Craster is as cranky as ever. Coincidentally, Gilly who Sam seemed a bit sweet on during their first passthrough the area is giving birth. Unfortunately it’s a boy though and if you recall from Season 2 that means Craster will be giving it up for sacrifice to the Others. While some forward progress is made in both of these storylines, it still feels like we are setting the pieces into place for some of the bigger moments to come.
Elsewhere, Robb and Catelyn have gone up to Riverrun for Hoster Tully’s funeral. I really appreciated the opening scene ripped straight from the book. Cat’s brother Edmure is struggling to hit Hoster’s funeral pyre as it floats downriver, when Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully (pictured below) comes in and takes care of business. It acts as a good introduction to both characters. The Blackfish is a strong, take no crap kind of guy and it will be fun to see him more in future episodes. Meanwhile Edmure’s issues in the opening are just the start of his trouble that day as Robb is soon berating him for screwing up his plans by attacking The Mountain that Rides when Robb was trying to draw him West where they could surround him and take him out once and for all. It’s been a tough day for Edmure, but it is always good to see Robb being assertive as the King in the North.
Theon continues to be the one storyline that I’m in the dark on, but where last week I found myself asking why I even had see to see Theon again, this week I came away much more sold on the idea. The man who offered to help Theon escape last week delivers on that promise in this episode, but it isn’t long before Theon’s captors have caught him again. It is here where things take an interesting turn as his newfound friend takes out those surrounding Theon with some perfectly aimed arrows. I suspect I know who this mystery character is, but we will have to wait and see. Those badass archery skills have for now earned this storyline its spot in the show and I loved the wide angle of him shooting the last guy in the head with an arrow.
More things worth noting:
- It’s a shame Arya is down here in the bullet because while she only had one scene, it was one of my favorites this episode. She had a really sweet goodbye with Hotpie as he decided to stay at the inn they had stopped by with the Brotherhood. His wolf bread and both Arya and Gendry’s reaction to it (and its tail) were fantastic.
- Stannis and Melisandre also make an appearance to let us know that you can’t just keep making crazy shadow babies and other sacrifices will have to be made for Stannis to win the crown. There is some stuff to glean from this, but it was definitely one of the weaker scenes this week.
- Riverrun added to the intro! I get way too excited about seeing new structures being built up in the intro.
- Fans seem split on whether having “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” kicking in after the ending was great or terrible. I personally liked it, but maybe I’d feel differently if I didn’t know the hand part was coming. The in-episode singing of the song showed me that despite reading the song in the book so many times, I never knew it’s intended rhythm.
- MIA this week: Bran and the gang, Joffrey (Hooray!?), Sansa and Margaery. As much as I’ve liked Margaery this season, none of these characters felt like they needed to be in it this week and everyone simply can’t be in it every week… just not enough room.
- So the female cast in this show is like… really good-looking. Dany is my definitely favorite, followed by Ygritte maybe? I don’t know, but they keep adding new attractive ladies to the bunch like Missandei in Dany’s storyline this season.
I imagine every week from here on out will have a moment I have been waiting to see from the books. Last week’s was the sword fight and this week’s was the ending with Jaime which I think was definitely the standout scene from this episode. But there was a lot of great stuff surrounding that and it made for another very entertaining episode. A quick look at the synopsis for next week’s indicates it will be the best episode yet this season (and seems to include at least three big moments I have been looking forward to from the book), so I am already dying to see the next installment.
What did you think of last night’s episode of Game of Thrones? What was your reaction to the ending? Do any non-book readers have some theories for where these storylines go next? Will you be baking some wolf-shaped bread this week? Let me know in the comments. As always, thanks for reading!