Game of Thones: “Kissed by Fire” (ep. 3.5) Episode Recap
**full spoilers for Season 3, Episode 5 “Kissed by Fire” below**
For the night is dark and full of terror…
Season 3 of Game of Thrones really seems to be shaping up! Whereas in the previous two seasons, there seemed to be at least one overarching plot line to move everything along, Season 3 is a time when everything seems to be unraveling for just about everyone. Not to mention that there are a ton of butts to be seen on both sides of the gender spectrum.
Jon Snow is back with a bang after a week-long hiatus, and quite literally. After a brief confrontation with the wildling warg – in which Snow reveals his stones with open threats of murder – Mance Rayder reveals that he “likes” Jon but won’t hesitate to slit his throat for being a liar. Fair enough. Snow stands his ground and Ygritte once again vouches for him amidst allegations that she just wants Jon “inside her”. She denies said allegations only to, moments later, snatch Jon’s sword and lure him into a warm cave to have sex with him. Here we get our very first Butt “Kissed by Fire” when Ygritte strips down in front of Jon. Their union hardly comes as a surprise, but what does come as a surprise is Jon’s blatant prowess and Ygritte instantly transforming into a Stage Five Clinger, longing to “never leave this cave” and soak in the bath in love, lust, and languor. Ygritte wonders if all southern lords treat their ladies in this fashion. No cunning linguists in the savage lands beyond the wall apparently. It does make you wonder: who has more skills? Tyrion’s Squire or Ned Stark’s bastard?
In all seriousness, despite the short amount of screentime that Jon Snow got, his story remains one of the most compelling. He thrives in this circumstance where he’s all alone because he’s been alone his entire life, even when he had his half-brothers by his side. Jon’s greatest strength lies in his lack of dependence on anyone else. By taking the next step into his undercover lifestyle and bedding Ygritte, he’s forsaken more vows and turned his back completely on the Night’s Watch while his dire wolf, Ghost, is apparently still loyal. Perhaps the nature of this bonded connection shows us that Snow is, in fact, still loyal and merely playing the part? The Oaths we take and the oaths that we choose to break do tend to show off our true colors. Jon might just be appealing to some higher form of Natural Law in his persistence as a member of the wildling camp.
In fact, laws, oaths, and loyalty played a key role in everything that happened in this episode. While that may seem common and obvious in a show that is quite literally about a number of kings struggling to grasp and maintain their power, it was present everywhere while our preconceptions crumbled. Jorah and Barristan shared a chummy conversation about old war stories and battles forever ago. It was enjoyable to watch them at ease and apparently enjoying themselves for once, but their apparent camaraderie devolved into a pissing contest when “Loyalty” became the conversation topic. What’s interesting here is that when we watch the two of them together on screen, they seem so similar: old knights that have been exiled and are upholding the claim that the rightful heir to the throne has. To support Daenerys’ claim is to have true loyalty, for she is the last Targaryen.
Yet what do we really have when we look at Jorah and Barristan? Two disgraced knights. One for slave trading and the other for what was effectively disloyalty. But still, Barristan says, “A man of honor keeps his vows, even if he’s serving a drunk or a lunatic.” In his case, he’s quite obviously done both. Sure, Joffrey exiled him for selfish reasons that might have seemed unfair, but what does it say about his nobility if he’s served two kings that were once at war with one another? When Barristan showed up, I thought that he had come to see the error of his ways and recognized Dany as the rightful queen, but for him to lecture Jorah this way makes it seem like he’s only there because he has nothing better to do with his time.
As this conversation unfolds alongside Jaime Lannister’s bathtub confession, the show begins to call to question our typical conceptions of loyalty, a question that hearkens back to Jaime’s conversation with Lady Stark in Season 2, Episode 7:
“So many vows…they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or the other.” – Jaime
Game of Thrones at its most poignant, with Jaime Lannister at the upswing of his tragic arc. His character is reminiscent of others like The Comedian (from the graphic novel Watchmen). Not only are the two of them sexual deviants, but they both act according to their own rules in the pursuit of violence, having been so affected by the lawless carnage they’ve experienced that they come to think it’s all a joke, so to speak. Why live by a moral code when the world is apparent lawless and life, meaningless? In “Kissed by Fire”, the dejected Kingslayer shows his softer side (quite literally) by stepping into the tub with Brienne. While their bizarre affection barring on sexual tension is intensified, we get a confession about the Mad King’s insanity that is both horrifying and heartbreaking. In his anguish and depression, Jaime is somehow all the more endearing, particularly when he stubbornly refuses medicine when getting the rotten flesh stripped away from the remainder of his arm.
Cruelty rears it’s ugly head in the form of dissension at the Stark camp. Still bitter about his son’s deaths, Lord Karstark butchers the Lannister boys that were held prisoner as his cheap version of revenge. Robb can either punish him for his treachery and lose his forces, or let it slide and appear weak. Much like his father would do, he sides with justice and beheads Karstark himself despite the advice of his wife and mother. Losing half of his troops, he joyfully hatches a scheme to get Walder Frey on his side for a new attack strategy, which seems like a crappy plan considering he went back on the marriage promise to Frey’s daughter.
Yet again this week, the action over at King’s Landing almost feels like an afterthought, even though quite a bit was still happening. I’ve always found Marjorie to be saccharine and sinister; this episode was no different, with her cranky but deceptively adept grandmother showing off her own manipulations. In her negotiations with Tyrion, even he is surprised and kept on his toes. The Tyrell’s are sneakily trying to usurp the Lannisters as the power family in Westeros. There is something foul afoot with the way Marge is trying to marry off her clearly homosexual brother to Sansa. She pretends like it is for the sake of friendship when in reality, everybody is beginning to realize that Sansa is the key to the North. With Robb losing half his forces and the rest of the Stark children missing and/or presumed dead, whoever controls Sansa controls Winterfell. As much as I don’t like Sansa, I feel bad for her now more than ever that she’s more of a pawn than ever. Thankfully, Little Finger does seem to be genuinely interested in her well-being, even if he does seem interested in her for marriage as a consolation prize for not being able to get Kat. His line, “It doesn’t matter what we want, but once we get it we want someone else” seems a little too poignant even if sort of unrelated.
Thankfully for the Lions, Tywin is hatching his own schemes. We were all horrified to find that Tyrion is to marry Sansa, if only because Shae and Tyrion are possibly the best couple on the show. And Shae is going to Flip. The. Fuck. Out. I would seriously be worried about her stabbing Tyrion. I cringed watching Cersei gloat about the whole thing, and like most of her scenes, I gritted my teeth and wanted somebody to poison her wine immediately. But of course, the karma chameleon gives her a just reward when Tywin reveals his plan to wed her to Loras Tyrell for the explicit purpose of pumping out more heirs, and that, is much worse than Tyrion’s arranged marriage.
All around, this was a great episode that was well-balanced and blended to perfection, giving us one of my favorite scenes to date in Game of Thrones (Jaime’s bathrub confessions) while advancing nearly every story except for Theon, and let’s be real: who gives a frak about Theon Greyjoy? I care more about Sam! And why? Here’s why: