Beyond the continuation of the festival of walk-and-talk that is customary this early in a season of Game of Thrones, season three episode two, entitled ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words,’ also brings with it several less-than-idle threats. In fact, thanks to some extended time spent with members of the Stark clan, it gets well into the territory of being ominous. Those Starks, they are a bunch of dire wolves. Get it… dire? Anyway, it is with these most ominous moments that we begin our descent into this week’s Blog of Thrones.
The Ominous Moments
This week’s theme, above all, is brought about in a series of small but important moments, each of which makes a different threat of future violence. In last week’s premiere, the show checked in on the most exciting storylines — Dany Targaryen’s dragons, Peter Dinklage’s wit and the march of the wildlings. This week, we get back to some of the currently less interesting existences of Westeros. The minutia of Catelyn Stark’s imprisonment at the hands of her son. The game-spitting of Margaery Tyrell in her quest to control the boy King Joffrey. The long walks of the Stark kids, Bran and Arya. But each of these check-ins comes with a big promise said in little ways. Catelyn believes that everything bad that’s happening to her family has to do with her story about Jon Snow. Bran meets another weird kid, Jojen Reed (played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster), who tells him that he can see things and those things tell him that Bran is important, despite having to be Hodor’d around. And Arya hooks up with this mysterious brotherhood. Then escapes. Almost. Okay, so she’s caught in a tough spot again, that rambunctious little sport. Not to mention the fact that Joffrey would love to see Lady Margaery kill something. In that moment, I’m sure those two are made for each other. They are a modern day psychiatrist’s dream.
Also in the category of foreboding is the introduction of yet another great fantasy element, Wargs. This is something that has been hinted at with Bran Stark’s dreams — the ones where he goes into the mind of his dire wolf, not the ones where he walks around and hears the voice of Ned Stark — but it’s never been properly explored until now, contrary to the way its presented in the books. But as we saw with giants last week, the show’s writers have been great at giving each fantasy element of George Martin’s Wet-and-Wild Westeros its own time to breath. Season one: dragons. Season two: white walkers. Season three: all kinds of other crazy. We get more talk in this episode about how Bran Stark is a special boy, then we see the wildling warg Orell go white-eyed as he scouts and talks of dead crows. He’s creepy, but I like him.
Poor Theon Greyjoy
That’s really all there is to say about what we find when we’re re-acquainted with Lord Theon of the Iron Islands. He’s in a bad way and it only seems as if it’s going to get worse. Lets not pretend that he didn’t earn it last season.
A Running Guide to the New Characters
‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’ isn’t just about existing characters spelling out all the horrors that are to come. It’s also about bringing new faces into several storylines. It’s worth noting again the patience of the show’s producers in this season three opening. Season two’s early rush was problematic because it gave us far too much to deal with in far too little a time-span. This year, two episodes seems just right. We’re comfortable with the old, now onto the new:
- Jojen and Meera Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Ellie Kendrick) – The new traveling companions of Bran and Rickon Stark. He sees things, she holds the weapons. Of all the new faces, these are the easiest to understand. Also, Bran Stark is special, blah blah blah.
- Lady Olena (Diana Rigg) – In one seemingly minor scene in which Sansa Stark is prodded to tell others what the rest of us know to be true (i.e. Joffrey is a monster), we get to meet the Queen of Thorns. She’s Margaery’s firecracker of a grandmother, and the presence of Diana Rigg makes her formidable. It’s great to see that it’s not just Lannisters who are playing games in King’s Landing.
- Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) – Thoros and his Brotherhood without Banners, at the very least, seem like a bit of fun. They don’t like The Hound. We don’t like The Hound. So we’ve got that going for us. Right, everyone? We don’t like The Hound?
- Locke (Noah Taylor) – In the episode’s final scene things get interesting between Jaime Lannister and Brienne (another storyline absent from episode one). A fun little swordfight on the bridge reveals two things: (a) Brienne is one hell of a fighter and (b) she’s not good at minding her surroundings. So we get to meet Locke, a new character to the show based on a much better, but somewhat problematic character from the book. He seems to have a certain disdain for Jaime Lannister, which is all well and good.
- Lord Roose Bolton – Until there comes a time when Roose Bolton actually does something beyond hang around in the background of everything that happens, I’m counting him as a new character. Sure, Michael McElhatton’s been lurking since season two, and his “Flayed Man” banners are all over the first two episodes of season three, but we just don’t yet know how important he’s going to be. And you can’t keep a Roose Bolton down, especially not with a name like that.
An Open Closing
With episode two’s decidedly short list of talking points, despite plenty of talking, now feels like a great moment to stop and marvel at the wonderful Game of Thrones opening credits. As we’ve seen in the past two seasons, the opening sequence has been changed and modified just-so as new areas of Westeros are opened up to the audience. This includes more time with the rising castles of Dragonstone and Harrenhal. This season, the beautiful little touches of a smoldering Winterfell and a highly detailed Astapor (Nipple City) are among the additions. The works of The Rock Paper Scissors Group, led by the appropriately named Angus Wall, is what built these fine opening credits. It’s all detailed in this great Forbes article, How the Innovative Game of Thrones Opening Credits Were Built. “This is really an organic, evolving, ever-changing thing,” Wall explains. “Which is one of the things that makes it really quite unique.”
It’s really quite more than unique. It’s a work of art from a man who has served as David Fincher’s editor since Panic Room, earning Oscar noms for The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Let his Westeros-mapping art take you away as we look forward to next week’s Blog of Thrones and march onward with our discussion of Game of Thrones season three in the comments below.