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Game of Thrones

HBO

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Episode 3 - Walk of Punishment

17 April 2013

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Jaime and Brienne are taken prisoner by Lord Bolton's men. Jaime persuades them not to rape Brienne but suffers for his kindness. Baelish is set to wed Lady Aryn of the Vale and Tyrion is appointed Master of Coin in his place. He rewards Podrick for his loyal service. Melissandre sets out to perform sacrifices and assures Stannis she will return. Arya and Gendry head off with the Brothers but Hot Pie stays behind. Robb bemoans his strategic position while at Riverrun and Catelyn laments her lost sons. Dany offers a dragon in exchange for all of the Unsullied. Jon Snow is ordered to attack the wall while the Nights Watch return to Craster's place and Sam sees Gilly give birth to a son.

The Good: While I didn't have much of an emotional reaction to the loss of Jaime's hand it was a much needed moment. A show can only threaten rape (not just of Brienne or Theon but of anyone on the losing side of a war) so many times before something of consequence needs to happen. I'm glad it wasn't rape but losing your hand is its own horror. Jaime will never wield a sword again (at least in the same way) and with the loss of his great skill he will be a changed man. It's hard to feel sorry for him but there's definite tragic irony in what happened. If he had kept his mouth shut and let Brienne suffer he would have been fine. But by speaking up on her behalf he angered Locke and his arrogance cost him. The greater irony of course is that Jaime shoved Bran out of a window because he knew the importance of keeping his love a secret. He would doubtless have laughed at the imprisoned Ned's naivety and yet his own desire for mercy and kindness has led him to somewhat similar suffering.

I liked Robb's angry tirade at Edmure which gave us a strong sense of how the war has now shifted in the favour of the Lannisters. The scenes with Catelyn's misery and Talisa's kindness were fine too.

The Bad: Nothing as such. But I've mentioned before the odd tone to Game of Thrones. When Hot Pie bakes some bread or Tyrion moves his chair around the show feels almost network drama friendly. It turns to quite the opposite of that when rape and crucifixion and decapitated horses are involved. Then you have Tyrion's gift to Pod which felt about as explicit as anything the show's done so far. It's not easy to capture all the moods of a medieval world in one show, I'm sure. But most TV shows will maintain one tone for much of their existence and only reach for the horror when they need it. Sometimes it can be tough to mentally absorb the sheer brutality of war within the same episode as light comedy and sparkling dialogue.

The Unknown: I enjoyed the rest of the episode. I really did but I place it all in The Unknown because I don't feel I can call any of it just good until I know more. There was a sense of consequence to the other stories but they were far less clear than someone's hand being lopped off.

Tyrion's appointment as Master of Coin was the culmination of a very funny scene (as the Small Council rearranges its chairs) and it was good to hear about the Royal debts to Braavos and the Lannisters. But I was confused by Pod's return with cash in hand. The comic overtone that the whores had done it for free is surely not the answer. Surely there were Baelish's girls and so the natural assumption would be that he had laid them on as a gift for Tyrion, right? No one voiced that though. Nor have we really explored why Pod is so loyal. Or who Baelish is leaving in charge while he's away. In fact the idea of Baelish marrying Lady Aryn is a mystery that needs more than Varys' raised eyebrows to address. Obviously we know she is not the most stable person (106) and unlikely to get on with Baelish but there's also the question of Catelyn. I mean if Baelish still hopes to be with her someday this won't help him. Or will it? Is this his plan to take Sansa north with him? Could Baelish really betray the Lannisters for love? It doesn't sound right.

Similarly Dany's offer of a dragon in exchange for the Unsullied was definitely an impactful moment. However it prompted a lot of questions. For a start will the dragon remain loyal to its mother, making this a trick on her part? Will the Unsullied come with a fleet to help transport them? I liked hearing Ser Jorah's moral argument for how the Unsullied would make a better army than any other but it all felt very rushed. Dany's questions to her new slave girl didn't reveal much and made me slightly question the actress playing Missandei who seemed more blank than subservient.

A third story that felt rushed and full of questions was Mance Rayder's decision to storm the Wall. He gave the order for twenty men to scale it as if they'd only just come up with it which didn't feel like a grand strategy. It also doesn't feel like long enough for us to have got a sense of what Jon's thinking. I think we needed a lot more explanation of the logistics of moving thousands of Wildlings south and how they would avoid running into the Walkers who are clearly ahead of them. The pattern of dead horses seems to confirm the impression in the pilot that "corpse art" is intentional.

At least Theon's story was deliberately mysterious. His torture was so inconclusive that I expected his pursuit to be part of some elaborate test. Instead it would seem at least part of it was sincere as his torturers were all killed including a moment which recalled Sean Bean's death in Lord of the Rings.

I had no problem with Sam returning to Craster's camp to be faced with the obvious dilemma of Gilly giving birth to a boy. But it was pretty awkward to have Sam just stick his head into the birthing tent for a good minute.

Best Moment: The Jaime story was very strong and made for a far better closing moment than we usually get. In a way I hope the story about Brienne's father is a lie as it would confirm that Jaime really went out of his way for her.

Conclusion: I'm a little disappointed that so many stories seemed to lack the kind of obvious explanations or questions that would have illuminated them. I have no fear that answers are coming but once more it makes you wonder if the producers ought to consider focussing on one character's story at a time.

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  • I hope that, looking back at some of the mysteries that were unexplained you can understand why you were kept in the dark. The show just shows you, it does not tell you what is happening and so to someone who hs not read the books that might be frustrating but it's rather like a big clockwork where every little piece is significant to make it work. Having seen the end of season 4 I hope you can now appreciate why Littlefinger is so relaxed about the prospect of marrying Lysa.

    Dany giving up Drogon wuld also explain why Drogon is, shall we say'difficult' in season 4: because he has no idea why he's chained up and being handed ver to a stranger...do dragons hold grudges? I'm sure they remember bad treatment.

    The fact that Theon's captor pretends to be an Ironborn but tells him that they're 'not in the Iron Islands' and yet tells him to ride East and by the end gives Theon the Stark House words of all things when he sves him should have alaremed people to the idea that this was a very inconsistent story on his part. But of course the season could not have revealed who he was without casting suspicion on other characters before a certain event took place in season 3.

    Posted by Great Eagle, 29/03/2015 9:40am (3 years ago)

  • They were giving away starz in our neighborhood this week so I caught the finale of Sparticus. I wish they had cast Glaber instead of Brutus as Edmure so he would at least get a little comeuppance this week. As previously mentioned the song at the end was absurdly jarring, but not in a good way. Whoever made that call should lose an ear-burned man style. This episode made me feel a little like I was scouring the cliff notes of Macbeth as I readied for an exam I hadn’t done the reading for. If MR’s decision to storm the wall was condensed for time it makes you wonder why we wasted all those scenes with Egrit on a leash last season. Similarly the “ghost story” scene with Rob’s wife and Pod’s deflowering chew up valuable screen time better used in storytelling. Your analysis of the funeral pyre was spot on. Maybe use a flaming spear ten feet from the shore if you feel you really need the added drama. Walking Dead could learn a lesson or two from watching the Brianne assault scenes as none of the Governor’s efforts approaches this fear and discomfort level. Clearly the show needs more giants.

    Viewer score: 72 / 100

    Posted by dbates, 17/04/2013 10:08pm (5 years ago)

  • I still haven't decided whether I like this episode more or less than last week's.

    The Good: Arya's goodbye to Hot Pie. The actor who plays Blackfish seems a good fit, though he's more mean to Edmure than in the books for reasons only the show runners know. Jaime getting his hand chopped off, but it was ruined when the credits played, which I will explain in the Bad section.

    The Bad: The Pod and whores scene. I'm not a prude, but this scene seems more like HBO nudging the audience and saying "You don't see things like this in network TV!" than anything of substance. I expect scenes like this in Spartacus (sorry, fans of that show). I suppose it's an attempt to be funny that Pod is some sex god. Though I find the whores turning down money was hard to believe.

    The biggest bad for me was that punk rock music playing right after Jaime getting his hand chopped off. It turned a serious scene into a comedy. Now the song itself wasn't bad, it's a punk rock version of the Bear and the Maiden Fair, book readers would know about that. But just seems wrong to play it after what happened. Some of non-book readers I know mentioned it something that True Blood would do.

    On to the Unknowns that you listed, Robin. Baelish is quite a cocky person and it's known that Catelyn is more attractive of the two sisters, so I didn't find it out of character for him to try something like this.

    I didn't get the feeling that Mance Rayder just came up with it, I mean after all, if the Wildlings were ever to march south they have to scale over The Wall.

    I didn't feel it was awkward about the Sam scene, seeing as his thoughts were all about Gilly before his White Walkers encounter and plus there was a talk about him last season that he can deliver her baby. Lastly, with all the men hate him (or in case of his friends, pity him), he probably wants to get away from all of them and be with the women. Maybe a bit too close than expected. LOL.

    Viewer score: 64 / 100

    Posted by Dave, 16/04/2013 3:19am (5 years ago)

  • Good: I would be perfectly happy to see the rest of this season play out as these first few episodes have. No scene really stood out in particular, but this isn't to say they were bad... just very consistently good.

    In fact, there isn't anything I would call bad, or even unknown. What I experienced while watching this latest episode was simply an easy-going road of pure enjoyment. For my part, I quite like the bouncing around from one plot-line to the other. The change of scenery is refreshing... this show is just so damned beautiful.

    Although I do wonder what a super-cut of each character's plot would look like. Essentially, with each episode we seem to get one or two scenes. So, if taken all together, would we get something like a full episode for each character?

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Matt Uebel, 16/04/2013 12:28am (5 years ago)

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