Author Terry Pratchett has a theory about who is the most dangerous character in a fantasy epic. In a world where insane risks and life-or-or death gambles are relatively routine only those very good at not dying get to be old. Lady Olenna is by far the most dangerous player in the Game of Thrones but tea and lemon cakes just aren't the same as a rousing sword battle on the TV screen.
I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL! - Arlo Guthrie, Alice's Restaurant
Action is back in the Game of Thrones. Big hairy men with swords hack at each other, rape whatever's available, then merrily sing the Bear and the Maiden Fair. I'm a hardened viewer and even I was cringing a couple of times watching this episode. By the time Hold Steady broke out over the credits with their cover version of the Bear and the Maiden Fair I was thinking that not even the most jaded Frat boy could still be saying Season Three was boring
Game of Thrones is being overrun with refugees from Rome. Tobias Menzies, who played Brutus in HBO's Rome, is introduced as Edmure Tully. Tobias made a neat hat trick by appearing as Lieutenant Stepashin the same night on Dr. Who. Edmure, who spends several minutes fumbling with fire arrows trying to ignite his father's funeral barge, may have just lost the war for the North. What's not explained is that by holding the river crossing against orders Edmure allowed Tywin Lannister to escape the trap set for him and turn in time to save King's Landing from the assault by Stannis Baratheon. There inside the city walls our favorite family play musical chairs, put Tryion in charge of the financial mess and dispatch Littlefinger to bring Catelyn's sister Lysa to the side of King Joffrey.
Wait, you ask, isn't Lysa the token crazy bitch with a big hate for Lannisters? (What are you doing paying attention to the plot? Tyrion just hired four hookers to reward Podrick for saving his life at the battle of King's Landing.) In the books Hoster Tully has a Rosebud moment on his deathbed where he says "Tansy" and "The Blood" to Catelyn. It explains why Lysa might be persuaded by Little finger. I'm not sure how the TV show will handle this but without too much of a spoiler let's just say Littlefinger shouldn't get a pet rabbit.
Up North Jon Snow is sent to climb the Wall and ambush Castle Black. Since most of the Night's Watch has been out getting slaughtered and admiring the Other's Damien Hirst style arrangement of horse heads it is possible they can take the stronghold if they can get over the Wall. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the Black Cloaks don't lose their temper's soon. Craster, Gameof Throne's version of a Deliverance hillbilly, has been making fat jokes and tells the celibate brothers that it's godly to marry your daughters and feed your sons to the artistic ice demons. He does have that pig too...
It's not going to be a surprise to anyone but the slavers of Astapor what will to happen when they try to take the biggest meanest dragon away from Mommy. It will serve them right for calling Daenerys a stupid slut in French. Where is Strong Belwas? I keep on getting confused because key characters in the book don't appear to explain what's going on. How many references to Fatal Attraction and Ned Beatty's pig imitations do I have to make before they're open spoilers? Oh that's right I'm not supposed to be paying attention to the plot. Tyrion hired FOUR hookers for Podrick. One of them was a gymnast!
Tyrion to Pod after he returns from the brothel: "Sit down, Podrick. We're going to need details. Copious details."
In a scene lifted straight out of Biloxi Blues the squire Podrick "I told you I could fight" Payne is so amazing that the four prostitutes Tyrion hired won't take his gold. This scene exists to introduce us to the idea that Littlefinger has been recklessly borrowing from loan sharks to keep the Kingdom going. It also brings the nipples per minute, NPM, quota up to HBO standards.
Podrick keeps on popping up and I'm glad he got to have a good time with the girls. He's a shy kid with a stutter who's one of those vulnerable small people of Game of Thrones. One of the things I admire about George R.R. Martin is that he shows that the Game of Thrones affects all levels of society including insignificant people like Podrick Payne. All too often it's easy to forget that your average peasant would be happy to stick a pitchfork in your favorite hero if he rides across crops on that magnificent war horse. Even the grand master of fantasy J.R.R. Tolkein barely covers the scouring of the shire. (Yes folks those nice Hobbitses get stuck into smoke belching Dickensian industrial mills.)
The Inn at the Crossroads is a benchmark for the state of the small people of Westeros. Every time the plot returns to the Old Inn we find the surrounding countryside more devastated. What's a game of musical chairs for Cersei and Tyrion is a far starker reality at the Old Inn. Even though she begged the nobles to take their argument elsewhere the innkeeper Masha Heddle was gibbeted for allowing Tyrion to be arrested there. Roose Bolton then recaptured the crossroads after the loss at the Battle of the Green Fork and although the TV show has not shown it yet the Bolton's have peculiar habits. We'll see it again with Sandor Clegane and in the books it's becomes a brothel and finally an orphanage. If they hadn't been all slaughtered you'd expect the peasants to be wisecracking Monty Python style about who must be the King on the Iron Throne.
He must be a King.
He hasn't got shit all over him. -Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Stannis could be king but his private witch Melisandre implies he needs a bit of viagra. All Ayra got to do this episode was to eat a pastry wolf that Hot Pie made. Maisie Williams is looking less like a boy ruining that particular plot point. She's safe for another two years from the NPM quota so I imagine the costume department is using lots of ace bandages. Theon has a mysterious benefactor which is just totally confusing unless you've read the books and my least favorite character Bran Stark might as well be cut out of both the show and the books. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Jaime Lannister has been handed the ultimate actor's ham sandwich with the behanding and in case you didn't get it that's his sword wielding hand so he's been emasculated as effictively as one of Daenarys' unsullied. It's just too bad the character who mutilated him seems to have been written out.
Here again I feel like the producers should be paying me to explain these plot points. Either that or bring back that guy who appeared to persuade Theon to kill those two farm boys because Reek had been written out. Well the original Reek that is. I'm pretty sure there will be a Reek in the TV version of Game of Thrones but that's for a future episode.
So just call me Dagmar the Ironborn master of exposition. Brienne and Jaime were captured originally by Vargo Hoat the leader of the mercenary band known as the Brave Companions or more commonly the Bloody Mummers because of their outlandish appearance and brutality. Fun guys like; Qyburn the disgraced maester, Septon Utt the child killing priest, Shagwell the psychotic jester and Fat Zollo a Dothraki. (It's Game of Thrones a fat Dothraki is outré) These guys are also known as the Footmen for Vargo's fun habit of cutting off the hands and feet of his prisoners. In ordinary times Jaime would have been immune from chopping but Vargo needs to prevent a cozy alliance between Roose Bolton and Tywin Lannister or he's curried goat. All that turns into a shadowy anonymous sell sword for TV.
"I called for a knight!"
"But you're a bear!"
"A bear! A bear,"
"All black and brown,"
"And covered in hair!"
You need a score card to keep up with the ever growing dramatis personæ. I'll rummage in my battered old paperbacks to keep things straight for you but I'm more interested in the flavors of the characters themselves. Pick a favorite or two out of the pack and follow them closely while the others fade in and out of the plot and attention. Only... Just who is the maiden fair and just who is that bear, a bear all covered in hair