Game of Thrones: 305 “Kissed By Fire” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
Once again, there was a lot going on in Westeros this week, so let’s jump straight in!
After a quick prayer which results in Thoros setting Beric Dondarrion’s sword on fire, thus exposing the Hound to his greatest fear, the trial by combat commences. It’s a pretty engaging opening to the episode, and the fight is choreographed enough to make it exciting but not so much that it feels fake. Unfortunately, the Hound manages to overpower Beric and kill him: while Arya is stopped from killing the Hound by Gendry, however, Thoros resurrects Beric in one of the first explicit displays of magic outside Daenerys’ storyline. They free the Hound and Gendry tells Arya he intends to stay on with the Brotherhood as a smith. Later, as she recites the names of the people she wants dead, Beric and Thoros explain to Arya that this has happened six times in total, and each time Beric loses a part of himself, implied to be his memories. Beric’s resurrection was a genuine surprise, and puts considerable weight behind the ‘Lord of Light’ being a real being and not just a figure of worship. In fact, a lot of this episode seems to involve him, but more on that later.
Elsewhere, Lord Karstark betrays Robb by murdering the Lannister children captive at Riverrun. Robb orders Karstark’s men to be hanged, and Karstark himself to be executed for treason. Even though Talisa, Catelyn and Edmure all plead with Robb to keep Karstark as a hostage in order to keep the Karstark men loyal to him, Robb personally executes Karstark and is promptly abandoned by his men. Robb then decides that his next move is not to move back to the North where his men will get comfortable and never venture South again, but to seize control of the Lannisters’ home, Casterly Rock, for which he will need the help of Lord Walder Frey. However, he was supposed to marry Walder’s daughter in exchange for safe passage, and went back on this oath to marry Talisa instead. I get the feeling that things aren’t going to go especially well for Robb, due to the fact that Walder seemed kind of crotchety last time we encountered him, and he doesn’t seem like the kind of man to take the breaking of an oath lightly.
Meanwhile, Locke and his men finally make it to Harrenhal to deliver Jaime and Brienne to Roose Bolton, who doesn’t seem happy that Locke has mutilated their valuable hostage. He frees Brienne and gets Qyburn, a former maester, to treat what remains of Jaime’s sword-arm; a process which involves cutting away some of the rotting, diseased flesh and burning out the ‘corruption’.
Sometime after this, he and Brienne bathe in the same tub, and Jaime tells her the truth behind Robert’s Rebellion and his act of slaying the King: he claims that Aerys Targaryen planned to burn King’s Landing using hidden stores of wildfire, and that he killed the Mad King in order to save the city and thousands of people. All credit to Jaime, he seems pretty shaken up about the whole thing, to the point that he basically collapses after telling Brienne, and one of the show’s oddest relationships continues to develop in some genuinely interesting ways.
Beyond the Wall
In the Wildling camp, Orell and Tormund pry some information from Jon about the patrols on the Wall: he tells them what seems to be the truth, that there are three castles left occupied on the Wall, with only a thousand men in Castle Black. Tormund threatens to kill Jon is he is lying, and Ygritte lures Jon into a cave where she convinces him to break his vows and have sex with her, but not before telling him once again “You know nothing, Jon Snow”. There’s not a lot else to say about the goings-on beyond the Wall this week, but it seems like Jon might be going native.
There’s a lot of messy personal stuff going on in King’s Landing this week, as Cersei enlists Littlefinger’s help to rid the city of the Tyrells, claiming that they do not hold the Crown’s best interests at heart. Meanwhile, Sansa and Margaery watch Ser Loras practicing his swordplay, with Sansa swooning over the young man. Unfortunately, Loras doesn’t seem overly bothered and has sex with his squire, who then turns out to be a spy for Littlefinger, who discovers the Tyrell’s plan to marry Sansa into their family. Littlefinger then meets Sansa to discuss getting her out of King’s Landing, but she tells him she wants to stay, not least because of her proposed nuptials.
Elsewhere, Lady Olenna meets with Tyrion and agrees to pay for half of the Royal Wedding in typically crotchety manner, and Tyrion reports this back to his father. However, in his typically crotchety manner, Tywin reveals his plan to undermine the Tyrells by marrying Sansa to Tyrion instead of Loras: Tyrion is understandably upset by this, and Cersei is visibly amused by her brother’s discomfort until Tywin informs her that she will marry Loras in Sansa’s place. The siblings share a sulky look of ‘you suck, dad’ and the weirdest family tree in all of fiction continues to spread its twisted branches.
You know earlier I said that Jaime and Brienne had one of the oddest relationships in the show? That’s nothing compared to Stannis and his wife Selyse, who prove to be the most dysfunctional couple in Westeros (and remember, some of the couples in this world are brother and sister) as Stannis visits Selyse in the locked tower he keeps her in with her three stillborn sons in glass tanks adorning the walls. He admits his infidelity with Melisandre, and she actively encourages it as a service to Lord of Light (him again!). Stannis then visits his daughter Shireen, a sweet little girl with an odd facial deformity, and tells her that he has imprisoned Davos for treason: she later sneaks down to the dungeons to visit him and begins teaching him to read with a book on Aegon I’s conquest of Westeros, which I believe is the Westerosian equivalent of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’.
Across the Narrow Sea
Having left Astapor a bit on fire last week, Daenerys continues to march her Unsullied army across the land. Jorah Mormont and Barristan Selmy engage in a light pissing contest as they each attempt to pry into the other’s motives for helping Daenerys, while Daenerys attempts to find a leader for the Unsullied army. The officers show her that they have chosen a man named Grey Worm as their leader, and she tells them they are free to choose their own names: however, Grey Worm informs her that his current name is a good one, as it is the one he had when she freed the slaves. Things seem to be going a bit too well for Daenerys at the moment, and I can’t help but feel that something bad is around the corner.
Everything that happened in this week’s episode felt significant, and even though it is difficult to tell where things are leading with this show (unless you are familiar with the source material), the development always feels positive, and that is why Game of Thrones continues to be one of the best shows on television.