Last night’s Game of Thrones episode “And Now His Watch Has Ended” spent much of its time early on with the kind of compelling dialogue, sly scheming and character building moments that often fill up the hour we spend in Westeros and its neighboring lands each week. And for the first thirty plus minutes it’s a very strong episode. But it is the last fifteen or so minutes that send this episode into true classic territory with exciting moments, reveals and action featuring a couple of my favorite moments from A Storm of Swords.
I’ll once again be starting by talking about the end of the episode. This week’s Daenerys scene is probably my favorite part in the books I’ve read so far. I’ve been waiting for this moment to come and I couldn’t be happier with how it came across on screen. They totally nailed this scene. Dany is ready to make her trade: one of her dragons for an army of Unsullied. After handing over her dragon and getting control of the army, she begins giving some simple orders to see her power and when the slaver starts complaining that the dragon won’t listen to him, she responds in Valyrian that a dragon is not slave. It is revealed here that she speaks the language that the slaver has been badmouthing her in for the past few episodes and then the madness ensues. She tells her newly acquired slave army to kill their slave-drivers and then simply says “Dracarys” and her dragon roasts the slaver and some other guards in the area. When all is said and done, she tells the slaves that they are free, but asks if they will fight for her as freed men to which they agree in their own way. Then Dany, Jorah, Ser Barristan, Missandei, an army of 8,000 Unsullied, and her three dragons all march out of the city to some stirring music. Like I mentioned in my previous review, the idea of her giving away one of her dragons made me a little sick when she first mentioned it in the book. They are like her children. I figured she wouldn’t actually give one up, but I was not sure what her plan was. It ended up being cooler than I could have possibly imagined. Given Dany’s history and her opinions on slavery, her struggles with the idea of taking on a slave army made a lot of sense and this felt like the perfect ending to this plot. The TV scenes were beautifully shot and presented and I loved just seeing all the characters react to Dany’s actions. From Jorah to the slaver, the looks on their faces during this sequence were priceless. This scene was really Game of Thrones at its absolute best.
Other stuff happened too of course. Another thing I’ve been looking forward to is the introduction of Beric Dondarrion the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners. Viewers paying close attention will recall Ned sending Beric out to kill Gregor Clegane, The Hound’s brother, back in the first season. You might also remember The Tickler torturing people and asking them about Beric and his Brotherhood in season 2. Despite Ned and Robert having died, Beric and his group of Outlaws are still fighting, but for the smallfolk, some of which make up his band of outlaws. Beric is much worse for wear since we saw him leave the throne room in Season 1. He looks aged (admittedly he has a new actor) and in bad shape complete with an eye patch. Having captured The Hound, he is prepared to take him to task for his various crimes. He denies involvement with some stuff when Arya steps in and says how he killed Mycah. It is here that Beric says The Hound will have to be judged for this crime in a trial by combat against him. It is also revealed that Beric now believes in The Lord of Light, the same god that Stannis’ red woman Melisandre worships. This was a great introduction to one of the more interesting (sort of) new characters to appear this season and with the trial looming, it is hard to not be excited for where this storyline goes next.
This installment’s more exciting moments aren’t limited to these two storylines though, they stretch up beyond the wall to the Night’s Watch as well. With the Black Brothers getting hungry and Craster continuing to be a total ass, tensions are running high and it isn’t long before one of the men decides to kill Craster. I can’t really blame them. Unfortunately when he tries to put a stop to the madness, Lord Commander Mormont is also slain. With everything going to hell (or seven hells perhaps?), Sam decides to take Gilly and her newborn baby boy and get the heck out of there. I will definitely miss the Lord Commander, but this would seem to put Sam out on his own without his brothers to fall back on which will be an interesting development.
Back in King’s Landing things aren’t quite as crazy. The biggest development here is a growing struggle for Sansa Stark. An extra featherbed on his boat heading to the Eyrie indicates to Ros and Varys that maybe LittleFinger intends to steal Sansa away from here. Varys has other ideas though and after some plotting with Lady Olenna and some help from Margaery, it seems they want to set up Sansa with Ser Loras which of course is a-okay with the Stark girl. The Tyrell women continue to be delightfully deceitful and manipulative in both this plot as well as Margaery’s interactions with Joffrey where she plays to his sadistic side a bit and gets him to play to his people while she continues to drive a wedge between him and Cersei. Cersei’s appeals to her father about how dangerous Margaery is becoming fall largely on deaf ears and Charles Dance gets another opportunity to rip apart one of his children as the ruthless Tywin Lannister which is always a joy to witness. The happenings in the capital may not be as exciting as the other parts I focused on this week, but they help round out an amazing episode of Game of Thrones and keep some of those storylines churning along nicely.
Some more things of note:
- Jaime is dealing with life after losing his sword hand and a confrontation with some of his captors gives him a glimpse of just how rough things might be as he clumsily tries to fight them off with his left hand. I’m glad they included the rather grim idea of hanging his hand around his neck.
- It seems Theon’s savior was not a savior at all. He leads him back to where he was imprisoned and lays his own killings at Theon’s feet. This story seems to be catching me off guard quite a bit. I liked Theon admitting his mistakes and that Ned was more his real father. A nice moment for a guy I am generally not a fan of.
- Every week seems to have a scene I feel would be better left for an episode when they have more to do with the character. This week’s was Bran’s. He had a dream about a three-eyed raven and falling. Go figure. It was nice to see him climbing again I guess.
- Varys is getting some revenge on the Sorcerer that made him a eunuch. If you weren’t sure before, Varys is not to be trifled with.
- Lady Olenna mocking the rose sigil was pretty hilarious. She’s a riot and her casting was excellent.
- I don’t think we’ve ever gotten that good a look at Baeler’s Sept before right? It was beautiful.
- This season needs more Jon. Hopefully that is rectified soon.
- Seriously that Dany scene was the best. THE BEST. I watched it three times in a row.
I’d put “And Now My Watch Has Ended” right up there with the best episodes of the series. Maybe I am caught up in the moment. Maybe I am being a little swayed by my love of Dany’s final sequence, but this was an excellent episode before that even occurred. It felt like a great mix of everything that makes Game of Thrones great. Beautiful visuals and excellent acting. Big exciting action sequences and quieter scenes that both involve our characters scheming and jockeying for position in the “game of thrones” that these Kings, Queens, Princes and Lords play. It all made for one hell of an episode.
What did you think of last night’s episode of Game of Thrones? Was that how you expected Daenerys’ exchange to go? What did you think of Beric’s introduction? What else caught your eye this episode? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!