Game of Thones: “And Now His Watch is Ended” (ep. 3.4) Episode Recap
**full spoilers for Season 3, Episode 4 “And Now His Watch is Ended” below**
One of the really infuriating / intriguing things that’s always been present in the Game of Thrones story is that our expectations are always being utterly and completely violated, often in the most perverse ways. When Ned lost his head, we lost who might have been the only clearly noble and admirable character in all of Westeros. His absence marks the point where s*&t got real, so to speak. And the deeper we get into season 3, the more and more we see things turned upside down. The most hated characters are starting to reveal their weaknesses and/or self-worth, and the previously likeables are showing their harshness. Maybe Ned was the only person who didn’t really have a dark side? Whatever the case, it makes for an emotionally traumatizing experience!
This aspect of Game of Thrones was made clear when Jaime lost his hand at the end of the last episode. Why did it break my heart? He’s the Kingslayer after all, isn’t he? He crippled Bran and has been frakking his sister for decades, not to mention he Brutused and Cassiused the Mad King. Why should we care if bad things happen to HIM, of all people? Maybe it’s that after being a prisoner for so long and being shoved halfway across Westeros by Brienne, he risked his neck so that she might remain…ahem…”unbesmirched.” Maybe he’s not a total asshat after all? During this episode, it was refreshing to see Brienne acknowledge what he did, even going so far as to berate him into survival. The crude reminder of his privileged upbringing also shed light on the fact that the average citizen of Westeros has to deal with that kind of loss on a daily basis. Not everyone is a Lannister.
Equally as refreshing to hear and see was Theon the asshat confess his remorse on his boomerang journey back to his crooked crucifix. It’s hard to not feel sorry for him considering what he had to go through his whole life. He’s always compared himself to Robb, and let’s be real: There is no comparison. His escape last week was interesting, but to have him come right back to where he started seems a bit pointless. I don’t know where his story is going, but if he was freed for one episode just so he can vocalize his remorse to a stranger and acknowledge that Ned was his “real father” then it seems a bit masturbatory. What’s the point? Where’s it going? Who is this archer manchild that helped him only to belt out a sinister cackle when he brought him right back where they started? It also seemed odd to me that we saw Theon hopping over walls deftly and bearing his soul to a total stranger despite the hole and broken ligaments in his foot. Unless he’s Wolverine or something, he ought to be limping at least a bit.
Meanwhile, at King’s landing, Tyrion is given perhaps the least amount of screen time possible. Leaving Tyrion out of this episode as much as possible seemed like a great way to show the more humane side to his siblings (while their father seems as surly as ever in his treatment of Cersei). Cersei is genuinely threatened by the power that Margaery is taking with Joffrey, and her fear makes her seem human for once! Whereas Cersei would shower the people with disdain and constantly play the “woe is me” card, Margaery at the very least pretends to be a queen that loves her people yet still plays murderous in the bedchamber.
You can tell in this episode how enamored Joffrey really is beginning to get with her as he shows her around the tombs of past kings, delighting in their pained deaths. Yet there is good ole Marge to tone him down, giving him little nudges in the right direction. And you know what, she’s doing the impossible and slowly making him into a better king! But let’s not forget that watching her kill things is still a turn on for him (WTF?), and with her subtle manipulations she is settling in to be one of the more sinister characters. She’s more dangerous than Joffrey will ever be.
North of the wall, s*&t is getting real. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that most of the Night’s Watch is comprised of rapists, cutthroats, and thieves, but that brand of evil reared it’s ugly head when a few random Crows staged a bit of a rebellion at Craster’s crib. The Commander has had to make some tough decisions, but generally speaking has always been a stand-up guy. It was satisfying to see Craster get his just deserve but a shame that Mormont had to go down with him. With the utter chaos that ensued, Sam was able to sneak away with Gilly and her son-brother, which is a much better fate than getting sacrificed to Ice Zombies, but it’s terrifying to imagine what might happen to the three of them in the next episode.
Dany’s storyline provided some really great thrills this episode, with some particularly sweet dragon action. While Jorah and Barriston were largely silent and useless beside an army that’s swelling faster than the Khaleesi’s pride, Dany hatched her scheme that “freed” thousands of slaves, double-crossed Kraznys on a fairly straightforward business transaction, and earned her an army that’s “free” just because she threw her golden stick on the ground. Seeing Dany act a bit more cutthroat from her high moral ground is a bit unsettling for me. She began as a helpless, innocent girl and really came into her own as Khaleesi, and by now she just does whatever she wants with a holier-than-thou assertion of moral superiority. Yes, her reneging on the business transaction involved the emancipation of slaves, but that still makes her untrustworthy. Maybe that’s what it takes to be a queen? But what would happen if Jorah or Barriston came in between her and the throne in any way? She would Dracarys! anybody and everybody just to get what she wants. As a Targaryen, she’s entitled to whatever she wants, right? It gets me wondering: would she really be a queen that is feared, respected, and loved – like Jorah once said – or will she just always be the tyrant that she is right now?
Like I said, the “nice” characters that once were admired – like Dany and Marge – are suddenly allowing their darker sides to emerge while characters we typically hate – namely Jaime, Cersei, and Theon – are becoming more vulnerable and equally as human. This is easily one of my favorite aspects to the show and I’m hoping that they run with it for future episodes!
PS. Where the f*&k is John Snow??