Game of Thrones: 308 “Second Sons” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
We’re rapidly approaching the end of this year’s journey through Game of Thrones, and things are developing in some interesting ways. So without further ado…
After being captured by the Hound last week, Arya is understandably nervous about her situation: however, it soon transpires that the Hound is simply intending to sell Arya back to Catelyn and Robb at the Twins. This is about the most positive thing that’s happened to Arya in a long time, but I can’t help feeling it’s all going to go wrong eventually: after all, she’s a Stark, and nothing seems to go right for those guys.
Across the Narrow Sea
On the flipside of the Stark family, Daenerys seems to be going from strength to strength this season. Following the destruction of Astapor and the liberation of the Unsullied army, she now seems to be well on her way to taking control of Yunkai as well. This week she meets with the leaders of the Second Sons, a mercenary army in the employ of the city of Yunkai. These mercenaries turn out, like most of the men in Game of Thrones, to be horrible misogynists, talking about the myriad unsavoury acts they would like to perform on Daenerys given half a chance.
Later, the three leaders of the Second Sons discuss their plans to assassinate Daenerys under cover of darkness, and a handsome young buck named Daario Naharis accepts the task of killing her. He sneaks into her camp and presents her with an offering: as it turns out, young men in Essos aren’t really into the ‘flowers and chocolates’ thing, and instead he dumps the grisly decapitated heads of his fellow leaders on the ground. He pledges the support of the Second Sons to her, and Daenerys gets closer to becoming the majority stakeholder of the entire continent.
There are some creepy goings-on in Dragonstone this week: Melisandre introduces Gendry to Stannis, who recognises him as one of Robert’s bastard sons. After discussing all the horrible things they’re going to do to poor old Gendry, Stannis visits Davos in his cell to discuss the sacrifice. Davos tells him that the only reason he is there is to be talked out of it, but Stannis remains unconvinced. He releases Davos on the promise that he doesn’t try to kill Melisandre: Davos agrees, but doesn’t promise not to speak out against her when he believes she is wrong.
Later, Melisandre visits Gendry and tricks him into sex, during which she ties him up and puts leeches on him (including one on his…’gentleman’s area’, proving beyond all doubt that Melisandre is just a straight-up weirdo) to remove some of his blood and prove the power of the ‘King’s blood’. Stannis takes the leeches and burns them, speaking the names of the usurpers to the throne he believe is his: namely Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy and Joffrey Baratheon. Presumably this is a curse of some kind, and judging by the likely existence of the ‘Lord of Light’, which has been largely proven over the past few episodes, things may not be looking too good for the three usurpers in the near future.
The big city is where most of the action took place this week, as the nuptials of Tyrion and Sansa approach rapidly. However, before the big event there’s plenty of time for a whole bunch of awkward conversations!
Firstly, Tyrion attempts to reassure Sansa that he will be a good husband and a good man to her, even though she doesn’t seem to agree. Secondly, Margaery attempts to bond with her future sister-in-law Cersei, only to be told a chilling allegorical tale about House Reyne of Castamere, who attempted to rebel against the Lannisters and ended up being completely destroyed by Tywin. Not only is this a nasty story about the kind of things Tywin is capable of, it’s a stark warning to Margaery about what will happen if House Tyrell gets above their station.
Later on, the wedding continues with only a few hitches caused mostly by Joffrey being, in the best possible phrasing, a complete dick. It is at the wedding feast that things get really awkward, however: Tyrion gets very drunk, Tywin talks babies, Olenna Tyrell talks complicated Lannister family trees and Joffrey gets really damn creepy with Sansa, and Peter Dinklage gets one of his best lines of the season (which is too rude and too full of graphic and painful-sounding imagery to repeat here) before being ordered to consummate the marriage. However, he chooses not to, and tells Sansa that he will not share her bed until she wants him to, and if she never wants him to then ‘his watch begins’. Thus, Tyrion proves himself the best and most honourable man in all of King’s Landing, and Dinklage cements his place as a fan favourite in the show.
Beyond the Wall
Finally, Sam and Gilly find an abandoned hut to spend the night in, and discuss names for Gilly’s baby. Shortly after, however, they get swarmed by a murder of crows acting as a herald of sorts for a White Walker, supposedly after Gilly’s baby. Sam attempts to kill the Walker with his sword, but it is shattered almost immediately, and he has to resort to stabbing the Walker with the obsidian knife he found at the Fist of the First Men: as it turns out, Sam inadvertently discovered the weakness of the White Walkers, killing it and fleeing, leaving the obsidian knife behind.
This episode felt a little unbalanced, with a heavy focus on the goings-on in King’s Landing to the detriment of several other important storylines. However, the action across the Narrow Sea and the developments at Dragonstone were engaging and showed some real developments in the plot. Judging by the trend set by the past two seasons, the next episode looks to be something explosive, and I for one can’t wait.