“I enjoy you...but be careful”
Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 7 recap
Previously, Cersei sent word to Jamie that she loved him, Jon Snow swore to kill Ygritte but couldn't, Bran surrendered Winterfell to stupid Theon, there was a riot and Sansa was almost raped (but I think the hound called her “little bird”?), Arya had Jaqen kill a guy who was going to out her, Hodor and Osha got past Theon's guards...oh, and Daenerys' dragons were kidnapped.
Welcome to Episode 7 or, as I have deemed it, Game Of Thrones as written by Judy Blume.
Lest you think I'm being perforative, rest assured. Nothing could be further from the truth. And I'm not trivializing your favourite show by making the comparison either. Rather, this is what I love about Game Of Thrones. There are epic battles and plots (and schemes) but the motivations for the people on this show are the same as the motivations of everyone through time: Fear, Lust, More Fear, Grudging Respect, Something Akin To Love.
Immediately after the episode ended, Dylan and I were texting (and you know why) but we immediately turned from that to what a great job Theon is doing as an anxiety-ridden loser whose insecurity reeks through my TV screen. Alfie Allen's giving an excellent performance, of course, but every choice Theon makes is out of quivering, trembling insecurity, deep in his gut, that he can't do what he's trying to do, that he'll disappoint his father (though I can't see that taking Winterfell away from a crippled child is going to go on the books as a real coup) is a given; Theon is just trying to mitigate exactly how much. And so he's turning himself into a monster. Unlike previous episodes, nobody (except Luwin) was whispering in his ear, telling him what to do, but that just means he's constructed his own reality wherein the only way to rule is to panic-eyed kill anyone who so much as raises an eyebrow at your methods. Which ...about said methods...
He torched two little boys. In fact, I was surprised they had enough structural integrity to hang. But even though it's brutal, I'm not sure I thought they were Bran and Rickon. Right? Because otherwise, where's Hodor? Hodor! Lainey mentioned that there are too many Starks alive and kicking but this show would never skip an opportunity to show us the brutality of the kill, if it mattered, would they? So who died? Rickon mentioned that there were two little boys at the farm they went to - Bran sent the orphans Jack and Billy there. But let's then have a sad moment for Jack and Billy, because they got burnt. To a crisp. By a man who was largely raised by Ned Stark. Nature's stronger than nurture, I guess.
Re: Nature, the romantic comedy that played out as prisoner and captor in the middle of the North was amusing. As we already knew, Ygritte is compelling to watch and compelled by Jon Snow so even though her schtick was a little bit one-note, I enjoyed watching them. It's hard to say they had chemistry, per se, since Jon let everything she sent his way hit the ground like a medicine ball, but it's interesting that for the second week in a row, people have reminded him that he can't keep all his ideals and all his vows out on the wall. Swearing never to touch a woman may be the one he clings to the most - at least right now - but given that he's going to have to think fast to survive the situation he finds himself in now, I don't know if he'll escape all the way unscathed, and whether he does, as Ygritte points out, regret not, you know, giving her a SnowJob. Sorry.
And of course there were other worries about sex in Westeros - has any girl ever had such a tender talk from her mother in law when she achieved menarche? I mean, I actually can't believe Sansa hasn't yet achieved a roaring case of Stockholm syndrome. She tries, of course she does, when she points out that she loves the king with all her heart, but unfortunately for her, Cersei has chosen this week to be straightforward and point out that yes, Joffrey is a difficult human being and that perhaps some of the rules that apply to usual marriages won't come into effect here. I have to believe that it was her melancholy at missing not just Jamie, but Myrcella, that caused Cersei to reflect on what it means to marry a king you don't love. In that way, she's a more effective “mother” than Catelyn would have been, since I think she, at least, was able to try earnestly to love Ned Stark - whatever his failings, he was basically a good man. Even Cersei's husband, while he wasn't anything resembling the love of her life, wasn't a psychopath. It's not exactly comforting to Sansa (although she now knows there are two more people who understand, if not sympathize, at what she's going through) but at least she's going in with eyes wide open and no platitudes implying Joffrey might someday get better. I especially loved her confession, later, to Tyrion, that she and Jamie had probably created a monster. She can't help but love him anyway, of course, but she blames herself, and it's the most human moment we've seen from her - so much so that Tyrion actually had to comfort her (and was especially hilarious as he debated whether standing close to her was enough offered sympathy).
Mothers love their children, no matter what choices they make, she reminded us, and Catelyn Stark proves it when she tries to fix the mess Robb has made by toddling off with Talisa for “supplies”. It leaves Catelyn to deal with Jamie Lannister alone, and though we haven't seen him in weeks, he proved eminently amusing while stringing along the squire and mocking Brienne as a way of distracting Catelyn. He even sounded reasonable when he reminded us of this week's theme: you can't keep all your vows and survive in the seven kingdoms. Somewhere, there has to be compromise, even if that compromise involves your death or secretly fathering the new Mad King.
It kind of makes you wonder who Tywin Lannister was as a father. He brought up three intelligent children - even his daughter. They're self-serving to a point, but all three can point out the ways in which they thought they were being honourable at points in their journey. He's never lost a war, as he reminds Arya, and obviously has had to make choices in order to get there. Part of his success, I had to assume, is being the opposite of Theon: not immediately reacting to new information, but sitting on it and thinking without feeling like that's weak. You know, like feeding Arya while getting her guard down, to confirm what he already knew - she's nobly born and smart as a whip. Of course, he knew this already, and maybe even has figured out that she's of particular interest to him but he's wise, and he didn't win wars by acting on impulse, and though I would never go so far as to say Arya is not in danger, I suspect she'll learn some things from him. Watching and waiting is an underrated virtue.
Maybe this is what Daenerys needs: a mentor. One who doesn't love her desperately, of course, and wants to be her everything - because Jorah's fallen down on that front, hasn't he, in terms of actually being her protector? Now she can choose Xaro and the creepy, creepy Warlock king (again, how do they cast these people?) or never see her dragons again. In general, this is the part I need to move along the fastest, because as Daenerys points out, nobody knows she's alive, and none of her actions have any effect on the rest of the populace. I need her to get in the game, regardless of which compromises she has to make to get there. And here, again, we have our theme - the truly noble are kind of boring. What makes you interesting are the choices you make to get by along the way, and how you let them shape you (or don't).
Speaking of which - when's the last time Tyrion saw Shay?
Attached - Peter Dinklage’s Rolling Stone cover.