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Episode 7 - A Man Without Honour

17 May 2012

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Ygritte continues to tease Jon until the Wildlings find them. Theon chases after Bran and Rickon but can’t find them so he turns to torture. Alton Lannister returns from King’s Landing and delivers Cersei’s message to Robb. He is locked in with Jamie who kills him and escapes. Jamie is caught though and Catelyn considers taking his life after several of her men state their desire to do so. Tywin sees through Arya’s act but can’t find the man who tried to kill him. Sansa has her period and Cersei gives her some advice about being a mother. Xaro and the Warlock enact a coup and kill the other members of the thirteen after admitting that they had taken the dragons.

The Good: Several parts of this episode felt rich and powerful. We are getting longer scenes and the dialogue seems to have kicked up a gear.

The Jon-Ygritte scenes were particularly strong. She played the part of temptress and agitator with earthy skill and was given the verbal weapons to disarm him. She zeroed in on the restrictive nature of the life of a man of the Night’s Watch neatly. The sexual side was used for some choice lines (“Do you have sheep at the wall?”) but her arguments went deeper than that. She was able to make him question his own people’s behaviour, the nature of his freedom and his calling. I enjoyed the historical perspective and loved the philosophical question of who is freer the “barbarian” or the “civilised” man. Ygritte almost took on the role of the devil tempting Jesus Jon into giving up on chastity for more earthly pleasures. It was about as entertaining and interesting dialogue could get considering it was all a distraction until other Wildlings could track them down.

That leaves Jon in the dangerous situation currently occupied by Jamie Lannister. We know Jamie is a charismatic s.o.b but he really took it to another level here. He was so charming and beguiling as he reminisced with his cousin about their previous meeting. The long discussion they had over how wonderful life at the joust could be was beautifully constructed. In contrast to the earlier parts of the season this was a lingering and potentially irrelevant chat. Again I thought it was terrific because it felt like these characters really existed and lived in this world. It became apparent that Jamie was sucking him in soon before he caved his head in. Each of the three eldest Lannister’s got scenes like this. Where we can see their positive side but aren’t allowed to forget how utterly ruthless they can be.

Jamie’s subsequent scene with Catelyn gave him yet more good dialogue to play with. We already heard how he and Cersei justified their love. Now we see how Jamie has been able to ignore the vows which men like Ned and Jon find so hard to give up on. And his arguments aren’t too bad considering what we know of the two previous Kings and Tywin. The desire of the Stark troops to hack him to pieces made sense too after this protracted incarceration.

The Tywin-Arya relationship remains very entertaining to watch. Her thoughts of killing him coupled with his growing suspicion about who she really is create a strong dynamic. The fact that he misses his children and sees her as something of a surrogate is a lovely touch and may be enough to save her life. I guffawed when she cheekily asked him “Have you met many stone masons my Lord?” As with many stories in Game of Thrones the subtext of what war does to people who would otherwise get on fine is never too far away. But with Tywin’s talk of his legacy and men being slaughtered outside because of what Arya did it’s clear that peace is a long way off.

Cersei has always seemed well characterised to me (her hateful words to Tyrion aside). So I wasn’t surprised to see her be honest and almost kind to Sansa about what motherhood would be like. I was more surprised to see her drop the whole facade and admit to Tyrion how much she misses Jamie and wishes Joffrey had turned out differently. It was more strong stuff though as Stannis’ fleet approach and the siblings turn to one another for survival.

Theon’s descent into brutality was the logical outcome of his seizure of Winterfell. I like that Dagmer grins as Theon beats down his insubordinate subordinate. Clearly this is the way Iron Islanders lead. As we didn’t see the two orphan boys who Theon burnt to death the impact of that action was slightly diluted. But Theon’s facial expressions in response were pretty good.

Daenerys is now in a far worse position than I ever imagined for her. “Who are my people?” she asks and it’s a good question. They are nearly all dead now from what I can see and clearly she can’t trust Xaro and his Warlock friend now.

The Bad: I wouldn’t say the developments in Qarth were bad but...

The Unknown: they were far less well developed than the rest of the episode. We don’t know enough about Qarth society to understand the significance of this coup. Do each of the thirteen have armed men who will now rise up in a bloody civil war? Did Xaro kill his own guard and the Dothraki just to become King of Qarth? Did he think Daenerys would ever be able to live with that? The nature of the Warlock’s powers aren’t clear yet either. Indeed how does the woman in the mask know so much about Ser Jorah?

We need a lot more answers before any of that can have emotional resonance.

Why did Jamie provoke Catelyn with his talk of Jon? It seemed like a foolish thing to do considering she is the only thing between him and an angry mob. I can’t believe she is going to kill him and if she is about to do something grim then that’s one uncomfortable cliff-hanger.

I was intrigued by the Hound’s refusal to take Sansa’s gratitude in good humour. Instead he makes it clear that he enjoys killing and then stands by as her maturity is revealed to the Queen. I’ll be interested to see if his character gets fleshed out further.

Best Moment: Ygritte’s dirty talking seduction tactics were so good that Jon almost laughed. You thought for a second that he might give in but he stayed true to his vow. It didn’t matter though as she got away and soon he was surrounded.

Conclusion: The Westeros-based parts of this were tremendous. During those scenes Game of Thrones felt as good as anything else on TV. The longer scenes and deeper characterisation were an absolute pleasure to sit through.

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Comments

  • Hey Matt, thanks for getting in touch. I'm really sorry about that. I hoped from my comments that I was clear that I wasn't spoiling anything. I was just saying that I didn't believe for one second that what I saw was real. I realise now that Roberto confirmed that with his comments as he has read the books. That was not meant to happen.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 17/05/2012 11:45pm (7 years ago)

  • First, I'm a huge fan of this podcast, as well as your Walking Dead podcast. Keep up the great work...

    That said, I can't believe the MAJOR spoiler you guys revealed in the "Man Without Honor" podcast. I won't repeat it here, for the sake of others, but you guys revealed something huge about the storyline that was clearly not evident at the conclusion of the episode. I'd read many reviews and recaps of the episode, and while some speculated about possibilities, you guys out-and-out spoiled a major plot point...

    Bad form by you and Roberto... but hopefully you guys can steer clear of that in the future.

    Viewer score: 82 / 100

    Posted by Matt P, 17/05/2012 7:25pm (7 years ago)

  • I think I could watch Arya and Tywin talk about the history of Westeros for an hour straight. What an odd pairing, and what amazing chemistry that they have together. I think HBO's done a really good job at adding in little historic bits during scenes that weren't in the books. The history of Aerys Targaryen was a perfect reminder of what kind of power Dany lost when her dragons were taken, and they can do when full grown. Her dragons are essentially the only 3 nuclear bombs in the world of Ice and Fire, and it was great to be reminded of just how important and impactful they can be.

    Viewer score: 85 / 100

    Posted by Aaron, 16/05/2012 2:01am (7 years ago)

  • Thanks Mark, I was searching around for the name and foolishly copied it off Alan Sepinwall's review.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 15/05/2012 11:57am (7 years ago)

  • Finch = Dagmer Cleftjaw
    I can't help thinking "Finchy!" whenever I see him on screen.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Mark B, 15/05/2012 2:35am (7 years ago)

  • Hi Robin,
    The quality of the conversations were fantastic as you noted. Hardly any throw away scenes.
    Great episode, secret agent Arya won the game of thrones for me this week.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Kayode from Baltimore, 15/05/2012 1:59am (7 years ago)

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