Nobody intended it this way, buy Arya’s training with Syrio Forel was essentially her induction into a cult. In reading the books – experiencing all of this information for the first time – it completely escaped my notice that when Arya went to Braavos with nothing but the clothes on her back, she already had tremendous respect for at least one Braavosi. I realized this while watching this episode. This is the first time in the series that “He of Many Faces” is mentioned, although here he is referred to directly as Death.
In other Stark news, Bran and Robb find themselves in a fight. This is the first time we see that there is tension between Robb and Theon – tension that will reveal its true face when Robb is gone – and surprises me by completely lacking any interference from the direwolves, which in any other scene would have ended the fight before Robb and Theon had a chance to intervene. (Notably, this scene also contains the first mention of Mance Rayder’s name, someone we will have cause to know later) Something also becomes apparent in Sansa: she’s been becoming pissier and pissier ever since Lady’s death. Sadly, nothing ever comes of this in the novels, but the show may yet surprise me.
Speaking of Arya and Sansa, there are two things I particularly love between them here: the look on Arya’s face when Sansa proclaims that she wants to have Joffrey’s babies, and the look on Arya’s face when Sansa says that she doesn’t want someone brave and gentle and strong, but Joffrey instead, thereby confirming that she was aware that Joff was none of the three. This is also the scene in which Sansa gives Ned the key to figure out what was so different between Joffrey, Myrcella, Tommen…and the whole of House Baratheon.
We move on to the final Stark, Catelyn. I don’t have a whole lot to say about her, but I love the sets at the Eyrie, especially the sky cells. The sense that Tyrion could fall to his death any minute was just as apparent here as it was in the book, if not more so. Speaking of Tyrion, here he elevates Bron from a nameless background character to Tyrion’s right-hand man, a role that he will hold for some time.
Finally, we move on to what for most of the series will be my favorite plot…although sometimes it tries me. Here, Daenerys is Unburnt for the first time, although I don’t believe she actually is called by this title until her child is born…yes, I’m avoiding a spoiler here, deal with it. I’m not entirely terrible. Viserys shows himself to be scared of Dany and her son, and in the fact that they will have more power than him. Of course, his response is to get drunk and belligerent, and to end up in the moment that we knew was coming several episodes ago, in a death scene that does not spare many of the details (although I’ve seen far more gruesome burnings). I’m starting to think that this show’s reputation for gore and violence comes (like its reputation for sex and nudity) from people who have never seen a proper rated R film before. Sadly, when Viserys threatens to kill young unborn Rhaegar, Dany only has it in her to show one expression, and say it with me now: dull surprise! I would think this was intended to be shock, but like Jon Snow, it is an expression we see all too often on Daenerys’s face. I suppose at this point I’m actively criticizing the actors, and should have the stones to call Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke by name.
Quote of the Day: “Can you think of any reason the Lannisters might possibly have for being angry with your wife?” Although I haven’t really detailed the plot surrounding this quote, if you’ve been watching the show you know how amusing this line is.