This week’s episode was titled The Old Gods and the New, and referred perhaps to our characters’ loyalties – there has been much switching of religions this season (Theon from the Starks’ gods to his fathers, Stannis from the old gods to Melisandre’s gods). This week though, loyalties are also being switched between characters, and while none of our characters are gods, some of them certainly seem to hold that kind of sway over their subjects – and some don’t.
Trouble has been brewing for the Lannisters in King’s Landing for a while, and it’s not coming from outside the walls.
Instead, the people under Joffrey’s rule are getting more and more restless – they’re hungry, they’re enslaved, their king is the Meanest Character on Television™, and they’re tired of it. Everything came to a head this episode – after someone threw a cowpat at Joffrey (don’t we wish it was us?), he ordered everyone be killed, like the irrational little twerp that he is.
And it all went wrong, as his soldiers got caught up in a battle with a rabid crowd, who at one point ripped the arm off a priest in Joffrey’s retinue. Not cut it off, they ripped it off.
The Lannisters are defending themselves against Stannis, against Robb and now against their own people. I blame Joffrey.
There wasn’t any room for Tyrion’s scheming this week, as he was too busy trying to control the damage done by Joffrey. Still, he remains everyone’s favourite Lannister because once again he got to slap Joffrey round the face. Keep an eye out for another 10-minutes video of that slap. (If you haven’t seen the first, click here.)
Meanwhile Tywin Lannister is still holed up in Harrenhal considering his next move. He’s discovering Robb is a more difficult foe than he imagined. Or is it just that the men loyal to Lannister are stupider than Tywin imagined? After all, last week he sent home a cousin who didn’t measure up to his standards, this week he’s got someone who almost ruined all their plans through his inability to read. It seems Tywin is stuck where he is for a while, and is putting more faith and trust in his servant – Arya.
He does have Littlefinger on his side (it seems), who visits him to discuss the Tyrells and whether or not they can be persuaded to switch their allegience to the Lannisters. I’m not sure what game Littlefinger is playing, since last week he was firmly on the Tyrells’s side.
As a final point on the Lannisters, it’s worth making a note of Cersei’s threat towards Tyrion before it all went a bit nuts. She hoped he found someone he loved, so that she could destroy that person in revenge for Tyrion sending her daughter away to be married. The Lannisters are determined to make enemies of each other, and since Tyrion is hiding Shae away, it’s likely Cersei’s threat will come true at some point.
Ever more in danger, Bran and Rickon are now at the mercy of Theon Greyjoy, as he takes possession of Winterfell.
It takes Bran some time to understand that Theon has betrayed the family who treated him as one of their own, but others don’t seem to have the same problem. Ser Rodrick quickly believes Theon has turned on the Starks, even going so far as to say: “I should have put a sword in your belly instead of your hand.” He may be old, but Ser Rodrick manages to take down two of Theon’s men off-screen, and humiliates Theon into losing his rag by headbutting him. He dies in a gruesome way, but he dies bravely and with honour.
Osha meanwhile is among the women this week using her feminine wiles to her advantage. She sleeps with Theon, leading us to believe she too has turned her back on the Starks, but it’s all an elaborate ruse, and while Theon is asleep she stages a prison break with Bran, Rickon and Hodor. It’s sad to think they may be safer out in the open than in their own home.
However difficult it is for Bran to believe in Theon’s betrayal, it’s harder for Robb to believe it. He seems truly stunned, but his astonishment quickly turns to anger. Ready to sacrifice all his wins to get Winterfell back, Robb is stopped and told his men will do the dirty work for him. While Robb lets them go, he’s still his father’s son and demands Theon is brought back to him so he can behead him himself.
It’s a moment of darkness for Robb after a day which started out with a bit of flirtation with Lady Talisa. We’ve already seen flirty Robb, but we haven’t seen unsure Robb, which really came out when he tried to ask Talisa to dinner (complimenting a woman on her skill at amputations, you flirt, Robb). Luckily for his bumblings, his mother interrupted him by returning from Renly’s host (and unluckily reminding him that he is betrothed to another: “A debt that must be paid”).
Ah, Catelyn, I think you’ve been waiting a season and a half to say: “I told you so.” And this episode she finally did, to Robb when the news about Theon’s betrayal came through. It’s not an attitude that suits Catelyn well. However brave she is, she can be annoying with her holier-than-thou manner.
Talking of bravery, Arya continues to show how tough she is when Littlefinger visits Tywin. He’s the first person from her past who could identify her, yet she keeps her cool and avoids detection, even if it is close.
Arya takes a bigger risk when she steals a note from Tywin’s table after getting him to open up to her about his father. Caught by one of his men, Arya is forced to stop him by going to Jaqen H’gar and demanding the knight be the second of the men he kill for her.
And to the last Stark, Sansa. Poor, poor Sansa. Caught up in the mob that attacks Joffrey, Sansa is forced to flee when three men start chasing her. Joffrey refuses to send anyone to find her, and she is caught and almost raped before The Hound rescues her (he seems to have a real soft spot for her). Her experience leaves her traumatised, and she confides in Shae that she hates the King. Shae tells her to trust no one, words that Sansa would do well to heed if she wants to stay alive.
With Renly dead, there was no sign of Stannis this week. No doubt he’s plotting something with the dodgy Melisandre.
Danaerys was this week trying to get the Thirteen of Qarth to give her ships to get back to Westeros and claim the Iron Throne, but wasn’t having much luck.
She looked every bit the queen, but her manner seemed to be quite childish, as did the answers to some of the questions the Thirteen ask her. What’s more, Dany seems to continue to resort to threats when she doesn’t get her way, promising her dragons will come after those who do no cooperate.
Someone knows Dany too well, and decides to take her dragons out of the equation, slaughtering her khalesar and stealing the dragons, heading to a distant tower with them at the end of the episode.
An interesting week for Jon Snow, as he marches on towards the wildlings with a few members of the Night’s Watch. They get into a brief battle with a small group of wildlings, and Jon is about to kill the last one when he realises it’s a woman.
Honourable as he is, Jon can’t kill her straight away. When he says he will the Night’s Watch leave him to do the deed, and after some back and forth between Jon and Ygritte (she’s attractive, surprise), he goes in for the kill – only to miss on purpose.
Ygritte’s no fool and she takes her chance and goes on the run, but Jon catches her. It’s a small victory, since his companions in the Night’s Watch are now out of sight, and Jon is left to try and find them with Ygritte tied up and following behind.
As night falls the pair stop to sleep. Ygritte is the second woman this episode to use her feminine wiles to try and get what she wants. Unfortunately for her, Jon has a few more morals than Theon, and while she succeeds in getting Jon to lie down next to her to “share body heat” (is there a bigger cliche?), she gets no success when she wiggles up against him, just an annoyed Jon (a moment of comedy in a serious episode).
So Theon has taken Winterfell, but is still an unsure little boy. He has no clue what to do, and it’s down to one of his crew to tell him that he must kill Ser Rodrick for insulting him, instead of letting him go.
Theon’s insecurities about not being enough of a man come to the fore as Ser Rodrick baits him into wielding a sword himself, and Theon finally loses it and hacks Ser Rodrick’s head off. There’s no control though, it’s the action of a desperate boy, and all those watching know it to be so.
The young Greyjoy continues to show bad judgement when he sleeps with Osha, too intent on getting one over on her to realise she’s playing him.
Violence and (gratuitous) nudity count
After a lack of blood last week, this week’s episode started with a particularly violent and badly carried out beheading, as Theon tried to separate Ser Rodrick’s head from his body. It took him a few tries though, and he was left covered in blood by the end.
Still, it wasn’t the most gruesome bit of violence. That went to the guys who ripped off a priest’s arm during the fight between Joffrey’s men and the folk of King’s Landing. Their pure rage and desperation was shown through that action.
Sansa’s attackers also came to an unfortunate end, with The Hound cutting the stomach of one – letting us see his intestines fall out. The other two didn’t escape, but at least their innards stayed in their bodies.
The Night’s Watch killed a couple of men, but seeing as they were wearing layer upon layer of fur, there was little blood in sight, except that on Quorin Halfhand’s sword.