As promised, the wicked pace set in the first episode of Game of Thrones‘ second season has calmed a bit, as the time for checking in on everyone in Westeros is done and the time for the build up to the storm of war — which appears to be happening on about 30 fronts — is upon us. It all brings us to perhaps the best episode of the new season yet, “What Is Dead May Never Die,” a chance to see some real political maneuvering on several fronts. But before we get into the nitty gritty details, remember that our weekly Blog of Thrones is not meant to be spoiler free. It’s written by yours truly, a man who has never read George R.R. Martin’s books, so there won’t be spoilers of anything in the future, but I am assuming that you’ve seen everything up to and including this week’s episodes. With that in mind, lets talk about sexual politics…
Whatever It Takes
As we talked about last week, one of the most fascinating things happening in Westeros is the slew of varied sexual political situations that have been and will be used for and against many of these characters. Last week it was about the strength and leadership (be it direct or subversive) of the women of Westeros. In this episode, a few more layers are tossed onto that particular situation, as we’re introduced to a few new characters. We are finally taken back to the kingship of Renly (Gethin Anthony), the other Barathean brother who was introduced briefly in season one, only because the show needed a little man-on-man action to balance out all the traditional whoring. In addition to being physically involved with his top knight Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), he’s also recently married to Loras’ sister, Margaery (the buxom Natalie Dormer), and he needs that union to maintain his kingdom — daddy Tyrell is a powerful guy — and the 100 thousand soldiers he’ll need to face his growing list of enemies. In the episodes most interesting scene (and not because Natalie Dormer is naked throughout the scene, although that doesn’t hurt) we see Margaery seeing right through the shroud of her new husband’s sexuality, quickly moving from loving bride to scheming queen. She doesn’t seem to mind that Renly would rather have her brother. In fact, she’s not opposed to letting her fair-skinned brother into their bedroom. She can’t let their marriage fail. She has to get Renly’s baby in her belly. She’s clearly going to be a character to watch, as she’s another one who is rising above the fray to scheme for ways to maintain power.
Also interesting and fun to watch is Renly’s new king’s guardsman, Lady Brienne. Played by Gwendoline Christie, Brienne is a monstrous woman whose size doesn’t come into focus until we see her next to Lady Stark. Is she 12 feet tall, or is actress Michelle Fairley just really short. Either way, Brienne is the kind of character I’d like to spend more time with. She’s no lady, sure, but she is a badass.
Finally, we have that awkward conversation between Theon Greyjoy and his sister. Oh, how they should have known. In fairness, if there wasn’t at least talk of a little incest in each episode of this show, things wouldn’t feel right. So between the siblings Greyjoy and Margaery and Loras, this week’s quota is met.
The Queen Mustn’t Know
Alliances are being put to the test quite early in this season. One can only hope that this will mean actual bloodshed as the scope of the story widens and it becomes more cinematic. I’d love to actually see a big battle one of these days. It’s likely to happen now, as Theon Greyjoy seems to have forsaken his ties to House Stark and The King of the North in favor of re-pledging his commitment to the Iron Islands. But will his father, who gave him up as a boy, really take him on as an integral part of their plan to overthrow the powers of the North? Will his sister — who seems as hard-headed as dear old daddy — give up her post as the leader of their armada? Not likely.
The most development we saw this week brought us back to the tentpole upon which this entire show seems to be held up, Tyrion Lannister. That famed Peter Dinklage delivery was in rare form as Tyrion made a nice little play to weed out Queen Regent Cersei’s spy. Of course it was the old pervy guy. The eunuch is a backstabber, but he waits to see a clear winner first. And Littlefinger may be sleazy, but we already know that he’s no friend of the Queen. It will also be interesting to see how Tyrion’s strategic positioning of his lady friend works out. How long will it take before Sansa realizes that her new handmaiden may be the best friend she’s going to have in King’s Landing?
The death of Yoren was this season’s first big one, and it was brought with increased sadness as it now puts the fate of Arya Stark in the balance. She’s now a prisoner of Joffrey’s men, which could play out any number of ways.
Speaking of the little rat king. It was interesting to note all of the people who were not seen in this week’s episode. Joffrey was absent, as was Robb Stark. And there was no check in with Daenerys and her dragon babies. Even though a lot happened in episode three, there seems to be a lot of other things happening that we might not be seeing. It will be interesting to see how the pace changes as these worlds begin to collide. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep it all together and understand who is who when the real killing starts.
This Week’s Final Thought: I don’t imagine we’ve seen the coolest things that lurk beyond the wall in the north, but I sure hope it happens soon. Otherwise Jon Snow’s story is going to get boring.
Next Week: We find out exactly what is buried in the “Garden of Bones.”