Monday, May 7, 2012

'Games of Thrones' recap: 'The Old Gods and the New'

Rose Leslie as Ygritte, courtesy HBO
BY LARISSA MRYKALO

Events in Westeros are starting to unravel like a favorite sweater. In an episode where what could go wrong did, we found some powerful people with “pie” on their face, a slow and tortuous beheading and a dragon-less princess.

Dreams do come true ... at least if you’re Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright). Poor, sweet, little Lord Stark was roused from his slumber by ungrateful former Stark ward, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). Theon announced his take-over of Winterfell and coaxed Bran to tell residents that he has yielded to Theon.

Luckily, Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) wrote a quick note about what Theon did and sent it to the Robb Stark (Richard Madden) camp via Raven Express. In a heartbreaking scene where you could almost feel the cold and rain, Bran instructs his subjects to serve Theon. Theon starts barking orders straightaway and tells Maeter Luwin to have his sister send more men.

Osha the wildling (Natalia Tena) then addresses Theon and asks to serve him. She wants her freedom but we find out later that she is pretty cunning in her plan. Remember last week when Bran dreamt that Ser Rodrik Cassel (Ron Donachie) met his demise? Well, he gets captured and starts to reprimand Theon, saying how Ned Stark (Sean Bean) raised him, blah, blah, blah ... and Rodrik eventually spits in Theon’s face. That didn’t go over too well, and in a scene reminiscent, of Ned Stark’s final moments, Theon’s first mate encourages him to make him pay the Iron Price or he will lose the respect of his new subjects. The crowd pleads for Rodrik’s life and he bravely turns to Bran to reassure him that, “I’m off to see your father.” He utters his final words to Theon, “Gods help you Theon Greyjoy, now you are truly lost.” In one of the most cringe-worthy scenes (and there’s a lot of them in this show), Theon uses his sword to incrementally decapitate the loyal servant to the Stark house. He can’t do anything right the first time, can he?

The scenes in the Frost Fangs with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) should come with a complimentary blanket. Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong) is a higher-ranking ranger for the Nightwatch and kind of a know-it-all. He, Jon Snow and three other men are still out looking for the wildlings camp. They eventually come upon a small group and immediately attack them. Snow is faced with a kill and discovers that his victim is a hot red-head with remarkably shiny hair and flawless skin, considering the harsh conditions. Her name is Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and she’s feisty. Jon is left by his men to kill her but he just can’t cut off her pretty little head. She escapes and gives him chase through the snowy hills and valleys and he eventually catches up with her. Ygritte reminds him that it is getting dark and that he is lost and questions that his men will even look for him. In true red-head fashion, she encourages a cuddle session so they could keep warmer. She then gives meaning to the term “Horizontal Mambo” by grinding her hips against his. He makes her stop. Like he could even feel anything through those multiple layers of animal fur. We later discover that wildlings are well-versed at “savage” things so Jon really missed out!

Back in gloomtastic Harrenhal, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) continues to dutifully serve Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), now as his book fetcher. He is pretty pissed off at his illterate cousin for mis-delivering a note about Robb Stark and even says that literate Arya should devise his next battle plan. Arya then experiences an “uh oh” moment when Lord Baelish (Aidan Gillen) enters and we stressfully watch as she tries to dodge his sight. She knows that he has seen her back in King’s Landing. Baelish discusses Renly’s mysterious death with Tywin and how prosperous, yet rebellious, the Tyrell family is and how Renly’s widow Margaery wants to be Queen. But we were more concerned with how he suspiciously looked at Arya, right? In a later, oddly touching, scene, Tywin asks Arya about how she knows how to read and she spins a yarn about her late stonemason father and how “loyalty killed him”. Tywin tells her about his father who nearly destroyed the Lannister house and name. He also tells her how he taught his son Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to read. As he is telling her his story, Arya steals the undelivered note about defeating her brother Robb and leaves.

Unfortunately, she gets caught by Tywin’s illiterate cousin and he discovers the note. She flees and runs to find Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) so she could name this man as her second victim so she is safe from Tywin’s obvious retaliation. The man drops dead as he enters to tell Tywin. Damn that dreamy genie is impressive!

Poor Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) stands on the shore of King’s Landing and watches as her young daughter is rowed away to Dorn at the command of her brother, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). He assures her that it is for her own good and safety but Cersei is not comforted. Compassionate King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) starts busting his little brother for crying over losing his sister. Sansa (Sophie Turner) reminds Joffrey that he has cried before and this puts him in yet another pissy mood. He leaves with his bodyguard (and brother of Harrenhal’s famous torturer, The Mountain), The Hound (Rory McCann). He and the rest of the family make their way through the town. The townsfolk say a couple of nice things about Joffrey but then Tyrion senses that the crowd is getting all worked-up. Joffrey literally gets shit-faced and proclaims "kill them all." This prompts a Walking Dead-like scene that probably had a few viewers checking to see what show they were watching. Tyrion jumps into action to keep his family safe but Joffrey doesn’t seem to care about the whereabouts of his Lady Sansa. In an epic smackdown between Joffrey and Tyrion, Tyrion points out the absurd and reckless stupidity of his "viscious idiot king," slaps his face and demands that they safely find Sansa. Without her, getting Jaime back is a lost cause. (If Dinklage doesn’t win the Emmy again, it’s a shame.) Poor Sansa is about to get gang-raped in another super unnerving scene but the Hound comes to the rescue and disembowels the men in a weirdly calm manner. “Alright Little Bird, you’re alright.” Impressive moves, Hound!

Party on Qarth! Sorry, couldn’t resist. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is impatiently waiting to talk to the fancy-pants Spice Merchant for use of his ships so she could take back her Iron Throne. She says that she’ll pay him back three-fold but he questions that she has no back-up and he can’t make an investment on "wishes and dreams." She brags about how she is special and became the “mother of dragons” and that she is "no ordinary women ... my dreams come true." Sorry Little Princess, you’re not getting your boats from Mr. Spice.

Back at camp Robb Stark, he spots the object of his affection, nurse Talisa (Oona Chaplin) and starts flirting by telling her she’s a lady, accusing her of being a spy ... typical pick-up lines in Westeros. Unfortunately, in walks Lady Cockblocker ... I mean Lady Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), and they get introduced. She then reminds Robb that he is bethrothed to another on a deal she had made. Then, Lord Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) presents them with the ominous news from Winterfell. Robb is furious and wants to get and essentially kill Theon for what he has done. Lord Bolton offers to have his son go because Robb needs to take care of business here and win the war.

Speaking of Theon, we haven’t seen him get any action for a while now, have we? Well thanks to wildling Osha and her willingness to show him her savage ways for her freedom, he gets some. Oh and we get to see some nudity this week. She’s impressively well-groomed for a wildling though, isn’t she? Anyway, in the afterglow, she leaves Theon’s bed, and encounters one of the guards who is keeping watch for Theon. She starts to seduce him and then slits his throat. This allows the Stark brothers to escape. Thanks for taking one for the team Osha!

The final scene starts off calmly enough with Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie) telling rejected and humbled Daenerys about how he came to Qarth broke, and amassed his riches gradually and unhonorably. This conversation gets cut short when Daenerys finds her people slaughtered and, OH NO!, her three baby dragons stolen from their cages! She turns into a frantic momma and screams, “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS!” They are being mysteriously carried off to a high tower by a shrouded person, that’s where.

Where are Daenerys’ dragons being taken? Will the relationship between Jon Snow and the beautifully-named red-head, heat up a little more? Will Tyrion’s hand indeed fall off from slapping King Joffrey? Until next week Thronies...

“A Man Without Honor” airs next Sunday on HBO at 9pm ET/PT.

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