A healthy dose of Girl Power transforms what could have been a lackluster episode (No gratuitous nudity! No crazy battles!) into a night full of machinations, sword fights, and palace intrigue. Caution: Some spoilers ahead.
Viewers clamoring last week for an update on Arya Stark got their wish tonight as we find her continuing the journey to find her family. Gendry and Hot Pie are angry with her for “wasting” two of the lives Jaqen promised to kill for her in order to facilitate their escape. She becomes incredibly offended that they would question her logic but she is interrupted by a scouting party from the Brotherhood Without Banners, making their first real appearance in the series.
Their leader, Thoros, is friendly on the surface, but underneath he means business and he won’t be argued with. He brings Arya and the boys to an inn where he feeds them and questions her. At first it seems they are buying the fake identity she comes up with but another group shows up with a key prisoner who recognizes her as she’s trying to slink away, leaving us wondering if she can talk her way out of this or be taken hostage.
It’s up to Samwell and Mormont and the rest of the Guardians of the Wall to let the Seven Kingdoms know the White Walkers have breached the Wall and are gearing up for battle. They hold out hope they will see Jon Snow again, but he’s been taken by the Wildlings and has pledged fealty to their king, Mance Rayder.
The character of Sam continues to split us. The man/boy has a heart of gold, but he is still completely useless when it really matters. He can barely stand while he tries to keep up with the others and goes so far as to collapse in the snow, giving up. For some reason Mormont has a soft spot for him now and insists the others help him. We get that he is supposed to be the lovable good-guy with a heart of gold, but we are a little tired of him still not being able to stand up for himself and basically being a huge quitter at life. Grow a pair already, Samwell!
Maybe Sam could take some pointers from Margaery, who sends Loras for Sansa and invites her to lunch with her grandmother so they can the dirt on Joffrey. Sansa cautiously accepts, as she has just had a conversation with Shae about Littlefinger’s intentions. She continues to remain incredibly naïve and far too trusting given the experiences she has had at court. Shae might be the only person genuinely looking out for her, but there is very little Shae can do to protect her. She appeals to Tyrion for help, but he is far too worried about his father’s threats to have her killed if he discovers she has followed him to King’s Landing.
Instead of Sansa learning to keep her opinions to herself and play the game, together Margaery and her grandmother, Olenna Tyrell (played by the original Emma Peel, Diana Rigg) get it out of her that Joffrey can be a brutal and petty tyrant. It is unclear yet whether or not Sansa can actually trust them, but instead of the news making Margaery second-guess her decision to accept Joffrey’s proposal, it causes her to rethink her strategy to win him over. She momentarily puts aside her new role as a benevolent woman of the people and allows Joffrey to see her as a cunning, potentially vicious ally.
But is this really the smart decision for Margaery to make? We like her character quite a bit and think she could become a formidable queen but she may be getting way over her head with this spiteful, nasty little boy. What’s going to happen to her when she finds out for herself how brutal Joffrey can be in the bedroom? And what will Joffrey do if he finds out her brother Loras is gay, given that he told her tonight he is considering making homosexuality a capital crime?
Robb and Catelyn still hold out hope they’ll be reunited with the rest of their family. They have no idea where Theon has disappeared to or whether or not Bran and Rickon are his hostages. They are completely unaware that the boys are on the run and that Theon has himself been taken captive by a man willing to torture him to get answers.
Bran continues to grow as a character, coming into his own and getting a better idea of his spiritual powers. Tonight marks the first appearance of Jojen Reed and his sister Meera. Jojen, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster (a familiar face to Love Actually fans), begins to help Bran realize that his dreams are a gift and vows to do everything he can to protect him out of respect for their fathers being friends.
The episode closes with a fun sword fight between Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. As they were travelling through the woods they came upon a man who pretended not to know them. Brienne regrets ignoring Jaime’s advice to follow him and kill him when their fight is interrupted by riders from House Bolton who take them prisoner.
Even though Jaime was hampered by hunger, exhaustion, and his hands in chains, it was fun to watch Brienne best him in a fight. If he were at his full strength that may not have happened, but the fight serves as a larger metaphor for the entire episode: the women of Season 3 are no longer content to sit back and let their husbands or brothers run around unchecked.
This was evident in every female character, from the youngest to the oldest. When the Brotherhood takes Arya and the boys captive they are the ones who cower and hide while she bravely stands up to challenge them. And Lady Olenna is a fun and sassy addition to the show, barking orders to servants and shrugging off propriety when it doesn’t suit her purpose.
The work that the women are putting into their own destinies is a fun departure from previous seasons. And as the male characters become singularly focused on their respective goals, the women of GoT are rising up and out-manipulating them. These ladies are becoming very, very good at the Game.
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