Game of Thrones: 303 “Walk Of Punishment” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
Much like last week, this felt like a particularly busy episode of Game of Thrones. A lot was going on around the world, including a visit to Daenerys across the Narrow Sea after her absence last week. There were also a surprising amount of lighter moments scattered through the violence which made it feel slightly more balanced than last week’s instalment. So what happened in Westeros this week?
One of the aforementioned lighter moments comes in the opening minutes of the episode, as Robb and Catelyn attend Hoster Tully’s funeral at Riverrun. Catelyn’s brother Edmure proves his incompetence as he is unable to set the funeral pyre alight with an arrow, forcing his uncle Brynden ‘The Blackfish’ to take the task away from him. Robb then shames Edmure for disobeying orders and allowing Gregor Clegane to escape from battle: Richard Madden was incredibly engaging in this scene, his single-minded anger against Tywin Lannister’s forces coming across loud and clear as he chastises Edmure, and showing a considerable amount of growth in his character since the beginning of the show.
Elsewhere, Catelyn has a heartfelt discussion with Brynden and Talisa slightly scares a pair of captured Lannister children in the dungeons of Riverrun, joking that Robb is a werewolf. I wasn’t sure of the significance of this scene other than showing Talisa’s compassion, but if there’s more to it than that I’m sure it will become clear.
Another light moment comes in King’s Landing, as Tywin calls a meeting of the small council and we learn that seating arrangements can be incredibly important in these situations. Tywin announces his plans to marry Littlefinger to Lysa Arryn to remove more of Robb’s allies, and informs Tyrion that he is being made Master of Coin, even though he tells his father that he is more used to spending money than managing it. While picking up the ledgers, Littlefinger advises Tyrion on his new appointment and Tyrion rewards Podrick with the company of three of Littlefinger’s finest prostitutes.
While reading through the ledgers, Tyrion discovers that Littlefinger has been borrowing extensively from both Tywin and the Iron Bank of Braavos, and if they don’t pay the money back in time, which they won’t be able to, Braavos will turn and fund their enemies instead. Podrick then returns and informs Tyrion and Bronn that the prostitutes enjoyed his company so much they refused payment, and Tyrion requests ‘copious details’ of the encounter. It was nice to have some more fun moments, as it is during these that Peter Dinklage’s mischievous charm is in full effect, and they balanced out the more brutal elements of the episode.
Speaking of which, Jaime informs Brienne that Locke and his men will rape her when they set up camp, and that she shouldn’t resist otherwise they will kill her. As they set up camp, Locke decides to do exactly that, but while his men are taking Brienne away Jaime informs him that Brienne’s father, Lord of the Sapphire Islands, will pay her weight in gemstones as a reward for her safe return. This was an interesting moment, as it suggests that Jaime is developing a form of grudging respect for Brienne, possibly due to her besting him in last week’s swordfight. However, he is likely to be distracted from this, as after pretending to release Jaime in exchange for gold and titles awarded by Tywin, Locke takes Jaime to a stump and brutally hacks his sword hand off.
Elsewhere, Arya and Gendry are being protected by the Brotherhood Without Banners, and the Hound is being held prisoner. As they are about to leave, Hot Pie informs Arya that he is staying at the inn to work in the kitchens, and they say goodbye. It was refreshing to have a character bow out of the show in such a gentle manner, rather than being killed or maimed, but at the same time Hot Pie was a little bit useless and it streamlines Arya’s story somewhat to have dropped some dead weight.
Beyond the Wall
Mance Rayder’s wildling army arrives at the Fist of the First Men, only to find a field of decapitated horses arranged in a spiral by the White Walkers. Mance then orders Tormund Giantsbane to take 20 men, including Jon and Orell, and climb the Wall and watch out for Mance’s signal, the ‘biggest fire the North has ever seen’, and that if Jon doesn’t prove useful to throw him off the Wall. It will be interesting to see how Jon acts, as this mission involves him attacking Castle Black and killing members of the Night’s Watch in their sleep.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the Night’s Watch return to Craster’s Keep where Sam witnesses Craster’s daughter Gilly giving birth to a boy: knowing that in Craster’s world that means the baby will be left as a sacrifice to the White Walkers, I can’t imagine Sam will leave Gilly and her child to this fate.
Theon is released from his cell by the cleaning boy and told to ride east to his sister. He does so, but is hunted by a group of heavily armed men who knock him off his horse and threaten to rape him. However, he is saved once again by the cleaning boy, who kills all the soldiers: while I’m glad to see Theon escape, I have an ominous feeling that this situation isn’t exactly what it appears to be…
As Melisandre is leaving, Stannis asks her to give him another ‘son’ like the one who killed Renly, but she tells him that he is too weak. However, she also informs Stannis that the King’s blood required for Melisandre’s magic can be obtained from others who share Stannis’ blood.
In Slaver’s Bay, Daenerys faces opposition from all sides as she attempts to purchase her Unsullied army: Barristan Selmy believes that she should make an army out of free, loyal men rather than slaves, while Kraznys tells her she can barely afford 120 Unsullied as she asks for 8000. She makes a bold move and offers one of her dragons in exchange for all 8000 soldiers, to which Kraznys agrees. Daenerys leaves with her army and Kraznys’ translator slave Missandei thrown in, and proves herself to be the most outwardly fair and compassionate of the contenders for the Iron Throne.
All in all, “Walk of Punishment” was a much more balanced episode than the previous two, which felt wide-reaching but not overly cluttered, with some interesting developments and some lighter moments in amongst the sinister machinations and brutal violence.