This review contains spoilers. 2.7 A Man Without Honor
One of the trends Game of Thrones has developed is the thematic episode. There will be a certain confluence of storylines in which everyone is discussing a similar issue. This week, as you might get by the title of the episode, is honor and its various permutations in Westeros and beyond: honesty, forthright behavior, keeping up oaths, and that sort of thing.
Foremost amongst the many illusionists of the Game of Thrones universe is the warlock Pyat Pree (Ian Hanmore). He’s a master of deception in more ways than one. If you remember, he’s the very disturbing-looking bald fellow who put on a show of tricks for Dany at the marketplace a few episodes back, but now he’s returned, and it appears that he and Xaro Xhoan Daxos have been putting together a nifty little trick of their own behind the backs of the rest of the Thirteen of Qarth and behind the back of the Mother of Dragons. It’s a neat little trick they pulled, summoning the rest of the ruling cabal of Qarth into a meeting concerning Dany’s missing dragons (and pile of dead Dothraki) only to have them removed from power via steel.
For the last few episodes, Dany’s wander through the red wastes and her eye-candy trips to Qarth have been a bit underwhelming. Yes, the city is interesting to look at, and Quaithe (the woman in the metal veil) is intriguing with her magical henna tattoos and awesome metal face wear, but when you compare Dany’s haggling for ships and being flirted with to the War of the Five Kings and Theon Greyjoy’s madcap murder romp through the forests of Winterfell, well… it’s no wonder Dany’s whole plot comes off as oh-so-pretty and pretty vacant at the same time. She got advanced in a hurry this week, with the promise of getting her leather kittens back next week! I was getting lulled to sleep a bit by her and Qarth, but things certainly flared up out beyond the Red Wastes, and I’m feeling as puzzled as Jorah Mormont right now; call me crazy, but killing someone’s friends and stealing their dragons doesn’t seem like the best way to climb up the social ladder.
Theon Greyjoy, he of the desperate struggle to not be a contemptible twit, continues to just be terrible at everything. First of all, Osha, Hodor, and the two little Starklings escape from Winterfell under the cover of night, then they evade capture. Oh, Theon kills a couple of kids and disfigures their bodies as a way to make Winterfell cower at his feet, but it’s pretty obvious to me that those aren’t the Stark kids. Those bodies are burned for a reason; these are those two orphan kids Bran mentions. I know this for sure because, despite the wonderful mournful wail Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) gives at the end of the episode, we’re still dealing with Theon Greyjoy, who has never met a situation he couldn’t mishandle.
Another obvious moment was when Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, was thrown into a shared cell with his distant cousin Alton Lannister (Karl Davies). Did anyone think it would end well for that boy when he started launching into how hanging out with Jaime was the highlight of his life as a young squire? That’s a given on this show: if you get any kind of serious exposition in one long scene, you’ll probably end up dead. While I don’t like when things are telegraphed in such a manner, I did like the execution, and I was surprised to see that Jaime’s escape was a failure. It was worth Alton’s death just to laugh at Jaime, Cate, and Brienne’s palaver in the stockade. Nicolaj Coster-Waldau hasn’t been in this season too much, but his few moments this episode have managed to give us more of a glimpse into the twisted honor that the Kingslayer holds to (and was the second-best bit of exposition on this week’s episode, next to Tywin Lannister and Arya Stark’s mutton dinner).
Game of Thrones is a show that relies heavily on its writing and actors. This week, penned by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, was beautifully sharp on the dialogue front. From Theon Greyjoy dismissing a manhunt as a simple game to Jon Snow and Ygritte’s flirty banter (or Robb Stark’s flirty banter with the foreign Florence Nightingale), Thrones and its creative crew have been working very hard not to make any character one-note. Cersei is a horrible person, but she loves her children. Even Joffrey, though she knows she’s screwed up when it comes to him. Jaime has honor, but so many conflicting oaths that he’s thrown it all away out of love for his sister. Tywin is a brilliant tactician and warrior, a mediocre father, and a loving mentor to Arya, who would like nothing more than to cut his throat in spite of how well he’s taken care of her.
From the early days of season 2’s sexposition to Tywin and Arya’s long discussion at the dinner table, Game of Thrones has really managed to handle exposition sections pretty well. Provided the exposition continues to be given to the viewer by Charles Dance (with Maisie Williams reaction shots) and Peter Dinklage (with the occasional interlude from Bronn or Lena Headey), this will literally not get old. Read our review of last week’s episode, The Old Gods and the New, here.