Monday, 14 May 2012

Game of Thrones: A Man Without Honour recap/review

The Old Gods and the New recap/review

A lot of truths were (finally) admitted this episode, a lot of confessions made. Some deeds were done that cannot be undone, and some left more than a bitter taste in the mouth.

The Lannisters
It was a quiet week for Tyrion and Cersei, the Lannisters we see the most of, but in the short scenes in which we saw them a lot was revealed.

First, Cersei had a heart to heart with Sansa. Although Sansa is a prisoner in King's Landing, Cersei has always treated her half as a piece of mud on the bottom of her boot, and half as a daughter.


To Cersei, Sansa is everything she was as a young girl - unsure, trapped, naive. So Cersei is determined to bestow upon Sansa the wisdom she has learnt over the years, offering to Sansa some small comfort, although her warnings are all to do with dire things. Cersei warns Sansa that her husband is not the person she will love - that honour will go to her children, no matter how horrible they are.

It's a moving scene from Cersei, as she acknowledges in a roundabout way that Joffrey is not fit to be loved, but that she loves him because she has no choice as his mother. Sansa, however, does have a choice and she can try and love Joffrey if she wants, Cersei says, implying that she won't be able to.

She's more direct in the second scene we see her in, as she talks with Tyrion. It's the first time Cersei says out loud that she and Jaime have a relationship beyond that of brother and sister - at least to someone who hasn't then been killed.

It's also the first time we see Tyrion and Cersei truly connect as siblings, up until now they've always antagonised each other, and pretty much every discussion has ended in a fight or a threat. This week, the pair came to some sort of understanding, with Tyrion trying to help Cersei come to terms with her actions (having realised she knows she is largely responsible for the war about to arrive at their doorstep), and Cersei showing true emotion in front of her brother, as she cried.

While we didn't see much of Cersei and Tyrion, we did see a lot of more of Jaime than we have done in previous weeks (seeing as we haven't seen him at all in previous weeks).

Time hasn't been good to him, he's looking dirty and tired but he's still far from defeated. Jaime is our central man of no honour - he'll do anything to save himself. Unlike Cersei, who does have a conscience even if it is buried, Jaime has no qualms about his actions and no hesitation in betraying family.

He brutally kills his cousin, a cousin who looks up to him, so he can escape (after also killing Lord Karstark's son). Unfortunately for Jaime, he doesn't get very far, and when he is caught again is only saved by Catelyn's intervention.

As a man with no honour though, Jaime isn't one to be thankful, and taunts Catelyn with the thing he knows will hurt her the most - the fact that Ned slept with another woman. He precedes this with the confession that he and Cersei slept together.

The incestuous relationship between Cersei and Jaime has gone from being the worst kept secret in Game of Thrones to something now openly confessed to by both parties, although their confessions are polar opposite - Cersei is ashamed and remorseful, Jaime boastful and proud.

While his children and grandchildren are wreaking havoc, Tywin Lannister is still at Harrenhal, bonding with Arya of all people. An attempt has been made to kill him, and Tywin has ordered that everything be done to find the culprit. Once he's issued his directive he goes back to being kind of Arya - the past few weeks have been full of Tywin disagreeing with one of his men and then turning to Arya for conversation.

Tywin seems to be using Arya as some sort of confidant. However, even though he spends more time than I can believe speaking to a "servant" girl, he's perfectly aware Arya is not who she says she is, picking up that she is higher born than she acts by just a few words in her speech. 

The Starks
Bran and Rickon are on the run with Osha and Hodor. The two children are unable to trust anyone, as doing so will either lead to their capture or to their subjects being killed or tortured.

With Theon Greyjoy close behind them, Bran and Rickon don't manage to run for long. This week's episode dramatically finishes with Theon raising two charred bodies in front of the people of Winterfell. But with the bodies so badly burnt, how do we know they're who Theon implies they are?

Sansa has a bad week, getting her first period - signifying that she can now bear Joffrey children. She attempts to hide it, with the help of Tyrion's girlfriend Shae but the Hound, who previously rescued her, this time fails to help and tells Cersei.

Still concentrating on survival Sansa maintains to Cersei that she loves Joffrey, but she is slowly beginning to realise that Cersei has some valuable lessons to teach about love and adulthood.

Robb is still flirting with Talisa, even though he's engaged to someone else. Their flirting is hilarious, as it seems to mostly take place during discussions about amputation, or during amputations themselves. It seems to turn Robb on in some way, so it'll be interesting to see where this goes!

Catelyn has a tough week, as she first comes to Jaime's rescue, and then looks like she's about to kill him when we last see her. She is a woman with honour, the complete opposite of Jaime. Or is she? Jaime rightly points that she never loved Jon Snow, even though he was just a baby when he came to Winterfell. And when Jaime pushes her, and pushes her, Catelyn's anger builds, until she asks Brienne to hand her sword over. Will Jaime still be alive the next time we see him?

While we're with Brienne, she gets one of the most interesting lines this week: "Who wants to die defending a Lannister?" Who, indeed? 

The Baratheons
No sight of Stannis this week, but his ships are moving ever closer to King's Landing, and they're now just five days away. 

The Targaryens
Danaerys' dragons are still missing, but Jorah Marmont has come running back from finding her a ship to be by her side. He is small comfort, as Dany is becoming more and more unsure about who is on her side, but she still sends him to find out what has happened to the dragons.

Jorah visits the woman who wears a mask over her face, and has a strange exchange with her, where he promises that he will not betray Dany again. Did I miss something? Did he betray Dany? Have we seen the betrayal? In which case I completely missed it. Or is the masked woman talking about something we haven't seen, and somehow Jorah was involved in the case of the missing dragons?

Luckily, by the end of the episode, Dany knows where her dragons are. Unluckily, they're been taken by Xaro Xhoan Daxos and the creepy looking member of the Thirteen who can be in multiple places at once. The two have hatched a plan to take over Qarth, and we see the remaining members of the Thirteen killed before Dany's eyes.

Dany, looking more like a scared little girl than a queen, is challenged by the creepy guy to get her dragons back by entering the House of the Undying.
 

Jon Snow
An exciting week for Jon Snow this week (let's face it, it's been pretty boring up to now), as he spent more time wandering around the snow covered lands beyond the wall with Ygritte, who I adore. She's hilarious and a great counterpoint to his grumpy young man.

Ygritte spends most of the episode teasing Jon about him being a virgin, using some quite crude descriptions at times. She succeeds in making Jon more and more uncomfortable - both because it's not the kind of thing he's used to speaking about and because he clearly wants Ygritte.

Still, he doesn't do anything when given the chance, as he's a man with honour. Also, he doesn't get the chance as Ygritte escapes, and he is then caught by a group of others who have come to her rescue.

I'm intrigued as to how Jon will respond to Mance Ryder's men. Ygritte has challenged his perceptions of them, telling him they are more free than the people on the other side of the wall, that they live their own lives and question the rules imposed on Jon by his people. She also makes him think when she questions why he is fighting them, when he himself has said he is descended from the same people as them. He's beginning to question everything he thinks he knows. 

The Greyjoys
Theon is busy still being the worst lord Winterfell has known, chasing after two young boys with a pack of hounds and a gang of men.

He's determined to catch them and punish them for embarrassing him, and when he finally catches a hint they might be around, he gets this absolutely crazed look in his eyes (props to Alfie Allen on his acting here).

The murderous look doesn't last long, as once Theon wheels out the bodies of Bran and Rickon (or are they Bran and Rickon?) he looks faintly sick, and clearly guilty over what he has done. 

Violence and (gratuitous) nudity count
Plenty of blood and gore this week.

Eleven of the Thirteen have their throats slit while sitting at a council meeting.

Jaime Lannister shows us why he has the reputation of being a killer when he beats to death his cousin and then strangles another man. There's also plenty of bloodlust as the men in Robb's army are all hankering to kill Jaime.

We see one dead guard in Winterfell (killed by Osha) and the charred bodies of two young children.

There's plenty of blood all over Talisa, implying Robb's men have seen battle, and we see some blood in Sansa's nightmare as she imagines being caught and killed, and then see some blood on her bed from her blossoming into womanhood.

Not much nudity this week, there's just one guy we see having a full body tattoo done. There is plenty of talk about sex, as Ygritte teases Jon to the point of exasperation with her crude words and actions. 

When you play the Game of Thrones...
There are heroes and villains in most programmes, books, films and other mediums, but Game of Thrones has always been more about shades of grey.

This week's episode title, A Man Without Honour, refers clearly to Jaime Lannister - a man who is without remorse, without compassion, without humanity.

At first glance it can also apply to Theon, after all, what man with honour would kill a child? And Theon killed two. But the look on Theon's face at the end, as he sees the horrors of what he has done, shows guilt and terror over what he has done.

A man without honour is cold and without emotion, and that's definitely not Theon. In fact, most of his actions up to now have been due to his being too emotional. Theon is a man without sense, he's cruel, he's despicable, but until he loses his sense of humanity, is he a man without honour? His honour, small as it is and even though only he can see it, comes from the fact that he still feels something when he sees those bodies.

It may seem odd to be speaking in favour of Theon, and I'm definitely not excusing his actions one iota, but I think what Game of Thrones does so well is give even the most horrid of characters some redeeming features (apart from Jaime and Joffrey - like father, like son), or arms them with emotions that mean they can't be totally evil or totally good. Theon may currently be as close to black as grey can get, but it's still a shade of grey.

Game of Thrones recap/review masterlist

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