Believe it or not, we are halfway through this season of Game of Thrones already. When I sat down to write this review, I realized just how much got done in last night’s “Kissed by Fire.” I think now that we are in the meat of the season, they are a little more comfortable with not trying to squeeze quite so many stories into each episode. So whereas early episodes some characters’ plots felt like they barely got started before having to wait until the following week, recent episodes see storylines having a little more room to maneuver.
To my delight, the episode kicked off right where I wanted it to with the trial by combat. When I think back on A Storm of Swords, three one on one fights come to mind. The first of these was the Jaime-Brienne fight which as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was a little let down by. While this had me lowering my expectations for the remaining bouts of single combat to come, I have to say that this week’s battle between Beric and The Hound totally lived up to the hype. Right from outset with the look on Clegane’s face as Beric lights up his sword to the gruesome finish as the dog cut through Dondarrion’s left shoulder, I was enthralled. Beric’s whirling blade of fire made for quite the spectacle, but it wasn’t just the fight that excited me for this battle, but Beric’s looming resurrection. I’ve always loved the tinges of high fantasy elements that exist in this world and we see one of them manifest itself here. It is soon revealed to Arya and the audience, that it isn’t the first time that Beric has been brought back to life, but the sixth, though he admits it is taking its toll on him. With an action-packed fight, The Hound going free, Gendry admitting he’ll be staying with the Brotherhood, and the reveal about Beric, it was definitely an eventful night for Arya’s storyline.
One of the strongest plotlines this season so far has definitely been Jaime and Brienne’s. What makes it so great is the growth we are seeing from Jaime. The big takeaway this week is Jaime’s story about why he killed King Aerys. For years, we have heard Jaime derided as “The Kingslayer” and an oathbreaker. How could a sworn brother of the Kingsguard kill the man he was sworn to protect? Well Jaime’s tale about the Mad King and what he planned to do certainly puts the killing in a different perspective and continues to show a different side of Jaime than the one portrayed through much of the first two seasons. I also like anytime the show digs into the history of Westeros a bit. The books are constantly going into the characters’ backstories and the times that precede the current storylines and it really helps to build the world and give a better understanding of it, so whenever the show can do this is a plus.
At Riverrun, Rickard Karstark takes revenge for the sons he lost in battle to Jaime Lannister by killing two young Lannister boys that had been captured. He’s been angry with Robb and his mother since she let the Kingslayer go and things come to a head here. Robb is battling between doing what he is supposed to do by putting Lord Karstark to death for treason or letting him live because his men make up a large part of his army and it’d be better for Robb in the war. Despite the pleas from his family to do the opposite, he decides to behead Rickard and lose his forces as a result. Robb has a plan to make up for this that has him taking Casterly Rock, but that also requires the help of the Freys who he spurned when he married Talisa instead of one of Lord Walder’s daughters who he was betrothed to. We’ll have to wait and see how he works this all out.
Over in King’s Landing, characters continue to swarm about Sansa with her being a potential heir to Winterfell and the North. It isn’t long before the Lannisters get wind of the Tyrell’s plot to marry her to Ser Loras, so their (or Tywin’s) big plan is to marry Sansa to Tyrion and Ser Loras to Cersei. Neither of the Lannister children are happy about this, but this just gives us another chance to see Tywin put his kids in place. That’s sort of been his exclusive role this season, but as long as its fun, I think it is fine.
Daenerys and company continue to march towards their next destination. While nothing as explosive as last week’s scene happens here, we do get some insight to her pair of knights through an interesting conversation between Jorah and Ser Barristan. I was also happy to see them introduce Grey Worm. I think his scene with Dany helps indicate the positive effects her freeing the Unsullied will have on them going forward.
More things worth noting:
- Based on the title, I figured there’d be more of Jon in this episode. We do find some of the Wildlings questioning his loyalty which leads to Ygritte getting him to prove said loyalty by breaking his vows and sleeping with her. The conversation that follows is a nice moment between the two in a relationship I’m not sure has gotten as much time as I’d have liked so far this season.
- Stannis’ group gets its biggest section since the premiere with the introduction of his wife, Selyse, who seems a little nutty (surely I wasn’t the only one to find the stillborns in a jar a little creepy) and his daughter, Shireen, who has the Greyscale affliction. Shireen’s scenes with Davos were cute though and those two are probably the best part of the goings on at Dragonstone at the moment.
- Yunkai added to the opening! We don’t actually get there this episode, so it just acts as a tease for now.
- Lady Olenna continues to just crack me up. Her conversation with Tyrion was hilarious.
- The Beric-Hound tilt has to be the best one on one fight in the TV series so far. That third ASOS fight I have alluded to should be even better though.
- I refuse to relegate Dany to the bullets. I just won’t do it.
I don’t think “Kissed by Fire” was as good as last week’s “And Now His Watch Has Ended,” but it continues what has been a great season so far with yet another strong outing. And like the last couple of weeks, this episode feels like it is much more comfortable with moving storylines further along or giving one a bit more focus after the first two episodes struggled a bit trying to introduce all the various characters again and juggling those competing storylines. Based on the source material, the rest of Season 3 should continue to build on this momentum.
What did you think last night’s Game of Thrones episode? How did you react to Beric coming back to life? Did Tywin’s wedding proposals catch you off-guard? What else caught your eye? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!