Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 8 recap

(Lainey: I’ve not watched this episode and won’t be able to until I get home next week.  But I read Duana’s pieces before they post. Just wanted to let you know that Game Of Thrones pain is stronger than Cannes pleasure.)

Obviously, Game of Thrones is fascinated by parentage, by bloodlines and family.  Like us, they consider the lines of loyalty and of similarity.   Like us, the writers are sick of Daenerys calling the dragons her “children”.   I don't know whether the idea of heredity and traits that you get from your parents were in common parlance in Westeros - seems a bit touchy-feely to talk about the ways you might be just like your brother or your father, and we haven't heard it in that particular parlance yet on the show.

But they want us to think about it, and to know.  How else do you explain Arya? The girl is barely in double-digits age-wise, has unflinchingly ordered the murders of two men, and knew enough to manipulate Jaqen to get what she wanted.  You saw him quake for real - he thought she might make him go through with it.  She may not have honour, at least in his mind (although she took care to bring her friends with her) but then, why should she?    

What did honour get her father?

I wouldn't have thought much of it, being that Arya is a survivor and has been for the entire season, but we found out early that Catelyn may not be as boring as we thought she was. She didn't merely let Jaime Lannister escape (Lainey: WHAT? F-ck me she is useless. PLEASE KILL HER), she sent him off with Brienne, who remains firmly in her lady's service and thoroughly irritated.  For Catelyn to send Jaime off, earning the distrust of Robb's army and the wrath of her own son, well, either she's naive enough to think her children will be spared, despite having been born of a convicted traitor - or she has another plan in mind.  Anyone taking bets? Especially since the actual (apparent) fate of her three youngest children is more horrible than she could possibly conceive of right now, was this the move of a desperate mother, or a more calculated risk?

It's not a question I'd put to Robb Stark, of course.  Not just because he couldn't possibly see a shade of grey where a betrayal of his troops is concerned (and he's mostly right) but because again, for the umpteenth week in a row, he was spellbound by Talisa's spellbinding-ness.   Maybe it's because I'm being forced to agree, via long monologues on almost-drowned brothers, that she's a wonderful person; possibly it's because Robb never actually laid eyes on the daughter he was promised to so we don't actually know what he's missing or escaping, but I find these two snoozy at best and a little insufferable at worst, especially since they love to forget at will, for hours at a time, that there's a war to be fought and that Robb's younger siblings hang in the balance, although I did sort of enjoy, in a cranky way, how long it took them to unlace and peel off their clothing.  These are the perils of living when your leather clothes are sealed with leather laces.  But in a dry episode, the nude kissing did very little to arouse or excite.

Whereas Jon Snow and Ygritte - all they have to do is look at each other, swathed in miles and miles of clothing, and things ignite.  I grew a little frustrated with Snow this week too - I miss the hothead of a few weeks ago who at least mouthed off or pouted enough to get himself in trouble - but given that he's going to remain alive (unless he screws it up) and that he and Ygritte are now even, but by the look on her face, by no means done, I'm intrigued.

This is where the question of how you're brought up comes again, right? Nature vs. Nurture?   Jon Snow and Theon Greyjoy were both in but not quite of Winterfell.  They had Ned Stark as an example when growing up- remember, the “best man [Robb] ever knew” - and one is quaking at the idea that he might have endangered his colleagues (but not Samwell!  He's happily discovering Dragon Glass when he should be digging latrines!), while the other is busily burning every bridge he might have built over the years he lived there.  It makes you wonder, no?

You didn't think I was going to let that horrible “hang in the balance” pun go, did you?  The burning of the boys' bodies was, of course, a horrible miscalculation on Theon's part.  Rather than be terrified, the people of Winterfell just seem resentful and kind of grumpy.  They know already what he's just finding out - once you kill the Starks, how much is there in Winterfell to really be proud of claiming?  Yara barely bothered to look at the place before gently (for her) telling Theon he wasn't long for this world and ought to come home and die with a little dignity. (I really like this actress, by the way, and think she's making Yara more interesting than the script might imply.)  The fact that she says it's a certainty, rather than a possibility, means she has ten times the tactical mind he ever did.   She knows he can't possibly come back from this level of betrayal of the land he knew for years, and can tell without even slowing her horse that nobody there respects him at all.   There is a little suspension of disbelief that Osha crept around so visibly, and that the four were able to make it back into hiding without anyone seeing them, but this show is so quick I'm sure they'll show us how we're going to pay for believing she could get in sight unseen.

Then again, the evolving smarts of the characters on this show aren't always super-simple.   I was a little disappointed, for example, that Cersei's promise to torture Tyrion's whore and her (correct) perception that Tyrion was trying to get Joffrey killed was so marred by her having the wrong girl.   I know we know Roz who was brought in, and that she's been having a miserable few weeks, but it seemed to me to give Tyrion too much of a leg up.  His lady was spared, if only for a little while, but at least he has a head start to take care of her.  I wish it had been a closer call.  Then again, listening to him tell her how much he cares about her, maybe Cersei was right. Tyrion would be a much stronger figure if he didn't care about anyone, but he can't help thinking with his not-so-tiny worm - or his heart, whichever you prefer.  Either way, he knows Cersei has the power to hurt him.  All the more interesting that he spent so much time with Varys, then, no?

One final question.  Generally speaking, a scene in a television show exists to show us character, move the plot forward, or both.  As such, my favourite scene this week was Brienne and Jaime trying to go out in the canoe.  It wasn't what you'd expect - he's in much better spirits than you'd think, and obviously has inherited both his brother's and sister's quick tongue.  (Tywin is well-spoken, but not clever in speech, as his children are - is this a leftover vestige of the mother we never knew?) Is Jaime just a gallows-humour kind of guy who has to amuse himself?  Is he formulating a plan that involves upsetting Brienne as she swears she can't be flapped by him?  Is this the start of an epic buddy comedy?  This wasn't my favourite episode of the show and as far as our main characters go, they mostly marched in place, swearing up and down that the battle - and Stannis Baratheon - were coming any day.   But in the face of an episode that's not that exciting, it is far more of a breath of fresh air to find out who Jaime is under pressure than to see Daenerys and Jorah making eyes at each other, uselessly, endlessly.  Again.