POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT (if you never go on the Internet slash talk to Game of Thrones fans!): Thanks to some interesting developments in last night’s episode, I WILL be discussing, at some length, the prevailing theory about Jon Snow’s mother, also known as R+L=J. This spoils NOTHING that has happened in the books beyond the show, and is covered extensively in the novels in like, the beginning of Book 1, so if you’re not familiar, this seems like as good a time as any to start learning. If you want to remain willfully ignorant, bye Felicia!
This episode of Game of Thrones brought with it some nice developments and a few new characters, presumably to replace the ones we’re steadily losing – truly sorry to see you go, Barristan Selmy and/or Grey Worm! Even with all that, we’re still gaining a good sense of momentum – with Sansa girding her loins for revenge, Tyrion making good headway towards a new queen, and Ellaria rallying her and Oberyn’s fighting daughters, we really have a lot to look forward to this season. (Not to mention the Bronn + Jamie Fun Time Show, which I would happily watch a full hour of, every week.) So let’s get to it!
Pluses, or, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT
KEVIN JON SNOW
-Let’s TALK about that whole thing, shall we? The episode even opened with a Ned flashback in the “previously on,” and if I’m remembering correctly it was one concerning Jon’s parentage, but please correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway. The R+L=J theory is actually incredibly complicated and takes its basis mostly from Ned’s POV chapters in book 1/the histories involving Rhaegar Targaryen and Robert’s Rebellion that all happened before the books started, but boiled down to its essence, it is this: Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark were actually lovers, and when Ned found her in a pool of her own blood after defeating Rhaegar and made her a promise, it was to protect her son, Jon Snow, half-Targaryen and actual rightful heir to the Iron Throne. (There’s a lot of stuff where Ned makes it reaaaally obvious in the books by internally whining about the “secret he’s kept for 16 years” and calling Jon “his blood” instead of his son – if you want to go really deep, there’s a very helpful Youtube video that spells everything out). Martin has never denied this theory, and actually noted that some eagle-eyed fans had figured out a key element in the books. It’s basically confirmed, and last night’s episode only furthered that, so let’s give some points away like candy for it! Plus 1,000 points for Stannis noting, correctly, that Ned Stark wasn’t into tavern wenches; plus 2,000 points for Littlefinger’s story about the Harrenhal tournament (and plus an additional 500 points for the heavy-handedness of that going down RIGHT in front of Lyanna’s tomb statue), which made it clear that Rhaegar was carrying a rock hard torch for her (if you know what I mean); and plus 3,000 points for Melisandre clearly having a type – king’s bastards. Oh, and let’s not forget Barristan’s song to Dany about how sweet Rhaegar was… dude did not sound like a violent rapist to me. The plot thickens!
-Also re: Melisandre – either she had a legit vision of Ygritte and Jon, or it’s just apparent to everyone, simply from looking at him, that Jon Snow knows fucking NOTHING. Plus 1,500 points.
-Stannis is a predictably bad hugger. Plus 500 points. That being said, his speech to Shireen would have been sweeter if he took it past like, 10% emotionally.
-Through Cersei’s sons, we have seen both halves of Justin Bieber – Joffrey, the drag-racing, monkey-abandoning weirdo who punches elves in Ibiza, and Tommen, the little round-faced munchkin who recorded “Baby” and used to be friends with Usher. Plus 1,000 points for cultural relevancy.
-Also, god bless Tommen, that sweet little hamster. Between “aren’t you and Mother getting along?” and “won’t you come back later?” (both said to Margaery), he provided a decent amount of comic relief in this episode. Plus 500 points for that, and plus 1,000 points for already being smarter than his brother when faced with opposition. Joffrey would have mowed right through the Sparrows and ended up with a fifth land-war.
–Plus one million points for Bronn, forever. He still fucking rocks. Also, plus 2,000 points for his and Jaime’s fight scene, especially the part where the gold hand came in… well… handy!
–No points just yet for Ellaria’s daughters, though. I know we’re immediately supposed to love them and root for them on their path to righteousness, but right now they’re all very scowly and stylish (those curve-toed SHOES on Whale Rider!) and good at throwing spears and I’m just not excited yet. It’s not these actress’ fault that they don’t have the immediate animal magnetism of Pedro Pascal, who made Oberyn as fun as fucking possible, but like, do something. Right now you’re just standing in a desert playing Spear-a-Mole. (Worth noting: the shot of Ellaria riding across the beach in that black hood was drop dead gorgeous.)
–Plus 800 points for Jonathan Pryce, who is playing the High Sparrow in SUCH a devious and fascinating way in this episode. On the surface, he’s just this gentle, shoeless hippie who doesn’t even like the taste of wine, but now that we’ve seen how ruthless he really is, I’m admittedly looking forward to seeing how this pans out.
-I’m not happy about losing one great character and potentially two of Daenery’s council (we’ll get to that), but the scene was beautifully shot and the fight choreography on this show continues to be outstanding, so plus 400 points for that – and plus 600 points for giving Barristan Selmy a truly lovely sendoff.
–Plus 500 points for Tyrion playing his little Nancy Drew game with Jorah and figuring out every last thing about him in a matter of minutes, up to and including his pants size, probably.
Minuses, or, Everybody’s Got Their Move
-I do not and cannot hate Stannis as much as I hate his boring, whiny wife, who is so boring and whiny that I’ve purposefully forgotten her name and will refuse to ever learn it again, so I’ll just be calling her SBW from now on – obviously, Stannis’ Boring Wife. Christ. Go AWAY. You’re a terrible mom and your husband has a girlfriend who can shoot smoke monsters out of her bajingo like some women do with ping-pong balls in Tijuana. No one needs you. Minus 3,000 points.
-Melisandre’s go-to sex move is just “untie robe,” and she is ALWAYS commando under there! (Bitch, aren’t you COLD?!?) Minus 600 points, because as usual, it’s cooler when Margaery does it.
–Minus 500 points for Friendzone Jorah, who is so cranky that he won’t even attempt an alliance with Tyrion, whose sister is actively lobbying to put his head on a pike. I mean, I guess I kind of get it, but I will always subtract points for Friendzone Jorah, who would be interesting if he wasn’t such a wet fucking blanket.
-I know, I KNOW – the death of Barristan and potential death of Grey Worm are great book deviations in that they’re going to move the plot along and give Dany a real war to wage again, but I’m still SAD about it. Barristan was such a great character with such an insane history (that Vulture has helpfully detailed), and even though he took out approximately 100 people on his way down, I was sad and mopey to see him go. Also, Grey Worm still has a chance to do that “wake up and cough blood to show I’m still alive” thing that people in movies and TV always do (thank you to my co-watcher Mary for that prediction), so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him. No points, but another one bites the dust – that makes 2 out of the 4 “still alive in the books” characters dying this season.
Yeah, well, this episode was pretty good, and honestly, the trailer for next week looked baller as shit – dragons flying around again!!!!! – so I think we have more to look forward to this season. After the fifth episode, I’ll be writing a piece about adaptation struggles and successes, so look for that next week. Until then, I’ll be plotting my revenge against someone, since that seems to be the stylish thing to do these days. Back next Monday!