King’s Landing’s Night Off
Game Of Thrones Season 3 Episode 9 recap
This is the title that won; I ran several past my husband because he thought my original title seemed callous. I don’t want to be callous. I am writing this moments after the end of the episode and yes, of course I have my heart in my mouth. That was beyond brutal. I had my hand over my mouth without realizing it; I’m sure everyone did.
But at the same time, I can’t say I’m totally surprised. Not because I know the song they began to play, nor because I was spoiled from stories in the books or anything of the kind. It’s just that something had to happen. Things were going too well. Robb Stark was too happy.
This is a problem because he was straightforward. He was forthright. I think we’ve learned by now that these aren’t the type of people who survive. The ones who can be wily – who can lie and get themselves dirty and be generally unsavoury – these are the ones who survive. Case in point - Arya Stark lives yet.
I wasn’t exactly lulled into submission – specifically, it was Walder Frey pointing out that he “can tell what goes on beneath a dress” that tipped me off. I thought he wasn’t just talking about Talisa’s general beauty, but the fact that she was with child. Not for nothing did they stab her brutally several times in the belly, so that Robb could watch both his beloved and their would-be Ned die together. Am I wrong? It seems like the type of cruelty Walder Frey would specialize in. After all, he’s no Craster but he obviously does something to make all his daughters and granddaughters look as miserable as they do. Edmure’s wife – or widow, I have no idea whether Edmure will be allowed to live - is obviously an exception, in addition to being the punchline of a joke, back when we thought we were going to get off easily.
What’s there to say, really? Robb’s soldiers are dead, his goals are for naught. Eddard Stark’s eldest child died doing what he thought was noble, perhaps stupidly thinking that was enough – that honesty could fix his mistakes.
His younger children may fare better.
I’ve tried to stay off Twitter tonight because I don’t need any know-it-alls smirking about anything. But the sheer shock has made me read a quick thing or two – and everyone talks about how terrible it is that Arya was almost there, that she was inches away from them before they were slaughtered. I admit to feeling differently. When The Hound started talking about how she was too scared because she was closer than ever, I thought I saw a touch of recalcitrance on Arya’s face. Like she wasn’t sure what she was about to face was any better than the way she was living. Yes, she’s alone and fending for herself and afraid all the time but on the other hand, she charmed or coerced Jaqen and Tywin and The Hound into liking and protecting her - almost in spite of herself. Arya is a survivor. She has no choice now, of course, but I wonder whether this isn’t kind of a good thing for her. Is that callous? She will be someone other than who she was going to be.
As will the rest of Catelyn’s children. I haven’t been compelled by the band of wanderers this season, but I did like Bran suddenly knowing what he had to do and sending Rickon off with Osha. Jojen and his sister seemed a little like drug pushers, trying to get Bran to mind-control again but I can roll with it, because nothing has happened to these two in a long time. Bran has a confidence we haven’t seen since that very first episode where he climbed the walls, and he’s beginning to feel he’s ready to try something dramatic. Frankly, he’s now the oldest Stark Boy, so he might as well.
Except for Jon Snow, of course, and who thought the bad thing that was going to happen to Ygritte was that she’d get her heart so badly broken? When push came to shove Jon Snow was never going to murder an innocent who just wanted to die with dignity. So has he lost Ygritte? Did he ever love her at all? He was a lot more reticent than she was to pledge undying faithfulness and that they’d be together forever. He didn’t fill her with flights of fancy telling her all the things they’d do when they were finally together and free. So does that mean he was planning it all the time? He ran away from her and, of course, he broke his chastity vow with her. Are those things “bad” enough to keep him out of trouble? From meeting an untimely end, that is? Because I’m sure there is no trouble quite so vicious and terrifying and hard to prepare for as a Ygritte scorned…
For that matter, Daenerys blithely stood by and took down Yunkai on the say-so of Daario. She now controls the city. I now love Greyworm, because his swording-skills make me so happy, and he’s the only one not competing for Daenerys’ approval – he simply knows he has it. It’s nice. And for the first time in three seasons I feel like maybe she has a chance at the throne she’s been leisurely pursuing. Of course, she doesn’t seem morally ambiguous, since she’s not the one doing the killing. I thought it was not nice, exactly, but just, that they let Catelyn follow through with murdering Frey’s wife. This is what this world has done to her. This is where these battles have led her – to becoming a murderer. But isn’t she? Conquering is killing, isn’t it? Is it different if the guards lived under what Dany considers to be dictatorial rules?
So if we believe the pure of heart don’t survive, what on earth are we to learn about Samwell? He and Gilly continue to charm me despite themselves – and I can’t help but think it’s significant that she’s carrying around Craster’s last (and only male?) heir. I’ll find out how wrong I am next week, I’m sure. Everyone is coming closer together.