Game of Thrones: 302 “Dark Words, Dark Wings” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
There was a lot going on in this week’s Game of Thrones, so let’s get on with it!
The episode begins in Bran’s subconscious as he has another dream involving the three-eyed crow: in this one, he attempts to kill it with an arrow before being approached by a mysterious young man and told that he can’t kill the crow because Bran himself is the crow. Sometime later, while Rickon and Hodor are away from the camp, Osha suspects that someone is following them, and as she goes off to investigate, the young man from Bran’s dream approaches, shows some level of control over Bran’s direwolf, then introduces himself as Jojen Reed, travelling with his sister Meera, who manages to subdue Osha.
Jojen explains to Bran that both of them are ‘wargs’, people capable of seeing through the eyes of animals, and that he had the same dream as Bran. He claims that he has been searching for Bran for a long time, and believes he will play a critical role in the future. It was satisfying to start getting some hints about the things that have been happening to Bran since season one, and it looks as though they will only continue to get clearer as he travels with Jojen.
Robb Stark is given two letters, one informing him of the death of his grandfather, Hoster Tully, and the other informing him of the razing of Winterfell by the Iron Islanders, and the fact that Bran and Rickon were not found in the ruins. Robb’s army travels to the Riverlands for Hoster’s funeral, and along the way Catelyn talks with Talisa, telling her that she believes she is personally responsible for what has happened to her children because of her inability to love Jon Snow as one of her own children. It was a quiet, contemplative moment in the episode, and a nice insight into Catelyn and her own motivations beyond simply ‘doing things for her children’.
Since his capture at the end of last season, Theon Greyjoy hasn’t been doing too well: he is imprisoned by an as-yet anonymous group of soldiers and is being tortured seemingly for the sake of being tortured, as every response he gives to his interrogation results in more physical pain. However, as the men torturing him leave, a young man informs him that he has been sent by Yara Greyjoy to rescue Theon, and he will return under cover of darkness. It’s a nasty glimpse into the results of Theon’s somewhat ill-considered actions last season, and I feel as though it’s only going to get nastier from here.
Jaime Lannister proves himself to be the most obnoxious of travelling companions as Brienne of Tarth continues to escort him to King’s Landing: he consistently insults Brienne and, more to her annoyance, the ‘rumours’ surrounding the private life of Renly Baratheon, and given the slightest opportunity he attempts to escape. Brienne and Jaime have a brief swordfight in which the former proves herself to be more than a match for the Kingslayer, before they are interrupted by one of Roose Bolton’s bannermen, who captures. The dialogue between Brienne and Jaime, as one-sided as it may be, is well-written and actually rather funny in places, but the fight between them suggests that a year in captivity has softened the Kingslayer somewhat.
Cersei seems to be losing control of Joffrey somewhat this season: in a brief discussion between the two, he seems to be gaining more dominance in the relationship as they talk about Margaery Tyrell. Speaking of whom, Joffrey later invites her to his chamber to discuss her needs while he is away hunting. He gently interrogates her about Renly, and she ultimately implies that Renly was indeed a homosexual, which Joffrey states he is considering making punishable by death. Margaery manages to sidestep any further questions by complimenting Joffrey on his new toy, in this case a custom-built crossbow. The most interesting thing that came out of this sequence was that Joffrey managed to have some interaction with a human being who wasn’t a member of his family without it ending in someone being horribly physically assaulted. Are we beginning to see some growth in the young king?
Elsewhere, Sansa meets with Margaery and her grandmother, the wonderfully irascible Lady Olenna Tyrell, to discuss Joffrey. After some mild questioning, Sansa eventually admits that Joffrey is a ‘monster’, telling them of his decision to have her father executed in front of her, and making her look at his head on a pike afterwards. The Tyrells simply state that this is a ‘pity’, but they still have every intention of marrying Margaery off to Joffrey. This was a wonderful sequence which showed some real growth in Sansa’s character, but it was made even better by Dame Diana Rigg’s portrayal of the grouchy matriarch of the Tyrell family, and I hope to see more of her in the future.
Meanwhile, Shae endangers herself by visiting Tyrion and telling him of her worries about Sansa’s meeting with Littlefinger, to which he responds by telling her that now Sansa is no longer betrothed to Joffrey, many men will be taking an interest in her.
Beyond the Wall
A quick visit north of the Wall this week, as Jon Snow is also introduced to the concept of wargs, meeting Orell Skinchanger, who states that he saw ‘dead crows’ at the Fist of the First Men.
Meanwhile, Sam nearly gives up, but is given a swift kick up the backside by the Lord Commander who forbids him to die, and orders Rast, a member of the Watch who is none too keen on Sam, to make sure he makes it to the Wall alive.
Elsewhere, Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry continue their journey towards the North when they are discovered by a group of men led by Thoros of Myr, who wants to know the story of how they escaped Harrenhal. He tells them that he and his men fight for the Brotherhood Without Banners, and buys them dinner: however, their meal is interrupted when other members of the Brotherhood arrive with a prisoner in tow. A prisoner who is subsequently revealed to be none other than Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane, who recognises Arya and reveals her identity to Thoros and his men.
Following on from last week’s episode in which there wasn’t a great deal of forward plot movement, at times this week’s episode felt like it had too much, and the story was jumping from place to place too quickly. However, the plot advancement was exciting and intriguing, and there were some really interesting new characters introduced, Olenna Tyrell and Thoros of Myr being particular favourites.