As this season’s “Game of Thrones” heads into its final 2 episodes, tonight’s chapter was well paced with strategic power plays, a wedding, a leeching and a White Walker. There were definite hints of foreshadowing throughout the episode; a great set up for this season’s climatic ending.
We pick up where last week left off, as Arya tries to kill the Hound with a rock while sleeping. Alas, no luck, he knew it was coming and thwarts her off. As they ride, the Hound reminds Arya that the Riverlands is no place for a young girl like her. He also let her know that he defended her sister, Sansa in Kings Landing. Arya’s only reply is to call him a “liar”. As they head towards, the Forks, Arya discovers that the Hound isn’t taking her back to KL but the Twins to be reunited with her family for price. I actually like these two characters, both are headstrong. Perhaps, the Hound isn’t that bad, Arya?
Melisandre returns to Dragonstone with Gendry, her sacrifical lamb. We find Davos in the dungeons learning to read. Stannis visits him in the dungeons where he agrees to free Davos, if he doesn’t raise a hand to priestess. Ser Davos agrees however; he won’t speak against her even when Stannis informs him of Mel’s plans. Seaworth tries to tell his King, that the boys is innocent and no harm to anyone. Stannis informs his Hand that he saw a “great battle in the snow” when he looked into the flames. Clearly, Davos is Stannis’ conscience and moral center of reasoning and truly needs him. It was great dialogue between the two men.
As Mel makes sure Gendry’s accommodations are comfortable, she seduces him with wine, small talk of her God and sex. Gendry finds himself tied up and leeched. Stannis and Davos arrive to find a naked Melisandre finishing her duty. She brings the leeches to Stannis for a sacrifice in the fire where he recites three names: “Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy and Joffrey Baratheon”. All competing kings for Westeros and it’s a hint of the darkness that is to come curtsey of the Red God. Let’s hope Davos saves Gendry from another burning.
Dany’s storyline is beginning to show her strength as a leader. She meets with the Second Sons leaders, Mero aka the Titan’s bastard, Prendahl na Ghezn and Daario Naharis (played by newcomer Ed Skrein). As the Khalessi tries to persuade them to come fight for her; she gives them two days to decide. A very cocky Mero informs her, “their contract is their bond”. As the three men leave her tent, Dany instructs Ser Barristen kill Mero first. He gladly agrees.
Over in the Second Sons camp, the three leaders conspire to kill the “Dragon Witch” during the night by sneaking into her quarters. They draw 3 coins: Meereen, Volantis and Bravos, which will do the deed. Daario draws the Bravossi coin. Later that nite, he sneaks into Dany’s tent dressed as an Unsullied. He grabs Missandei at knife point and tells them both not to scream. Naharis brings Dany a gift, the heads of the other two leaders due to an argument over philosophical differences. Daario pledges his allegiance, his heart and the Second Sons to Dany’s cause. There was amazing chemistry between Dany and Daario, nonetheless, Jorah is going to be a jealous man. The battle at Yunkai will be an exciting finish to this season.
In King’s Landing, Sansa and Tyrion’s wedding day arrives at last. And neither one is joyful about it. Tyrion visits Sansa before the ceremony. Trying to ease her anxiety, he informs his future bride that he will not hurt her. The looks on both of their faces convince us of the awkwardness of this union. One of the more entertaining scenes had Cersei and Margery walking arm and arm to the wedding. The Queen Regent reminds her future daughter in law/sister about the story of Rains of Castemere. She politely tells the future Queen that if she calls her “sister” again, she’ll have her strangled in her sleep. A wonderful family moment for the Tyrells and Lannisters.
As Sansa enters the Sept of Baelor, Joffrey escorts Sansa down the aisle; he is the “father of the realm”, an evil jape for beheading Ned . To top it off, he apprends the stool that Tyrion will use to cloak Sansa away in order to embarrass his uncle. Sansa must bend as he cloaks her. It seems that Joffrey is becoming increasingly crueler by the second.
During the wedding feast, many antics take place for the new bride and groom. We find a drunk Tyrion and a demure Sansa who asks to be excused for a moment. A restraint Tywin reiterates to his son to consummate the marriage and stop drinking. The Queen of Thorns gives her grandchildren a lesson on how Loras will be Joff’s brother in law/step father and he storms off to find a depressed Cersei, who cuts him off with “who cares what your father thinks”. Sansa encounters Joffrey again; he might pay her a visit on her wedding nite. The King proudly announces that the “Bedding Ceremony” will take place which angers Tyrion who refuses and warns him with a knife. Tywin saves the day by intervening between Tyrion and Joff. It was only a joke.
The wedding night is even more uncomfortable for both Tyrion and Sansa. “My Lord” turns into my name is “Tyrion” as they both decide to have a drink. He comments about her long neck and asks her about her age. As she undresses, Tyrion makes an honorable move by telling Sansa that they will not consummate the marriage until she is ready. Or not? And so his watch begins. Shae brings in breakfast to the newlyweds, as she grabs the bedding, she notices there is no stain. For a second, there is a silent exchange/nod between Tyrion and Shae (which can only mean one thing later down the road). This was one of Peter Dinklage’s finest performances this season which made this cold, unemotional wedding perplexing scene to watch.
Lastly, we find Sam and Gilly finding shelter to an unforgiving North. As he tries to make a fire, Sam is a nervous wreck. As they talk about naming her son, Gilly lights a fire to keep them warm. Outside, there are ravens scattered on a weir wood tree screeching loudly. Sam decides to investigate the noise and a white walker appears coming towards him. It shatters Sam’s sword. He summons all his courage and attacks it with the dragonglass knife. The WW melts into ice. Sam the Slayer is born! He and Gilly take off into the night with ravens watching over them. An exciting ending to tonight’s episode.
Once again, the writers delivered a fantastic chapter that not only flowed well but heavily character driven storylines that built upon each other. As well, two shorter segments, Arya’s encounter with the Hound moreover, bringing Sam’s story to the forefront. It left us wanting more however, we’ll have to wait two weeks.
Random thoughts and quotes:
Small spoiler: In the books, the Tyrells weren’t present at Tyrion/Sansa’s wedding. Sansa never knelt for Tyrion for the cloaking however, within the scope of adaptation, it worked well.
There was a definite underlying feel about beliefs, we had the Red God, the Seven and the weirwood tree all in one episode.
Kudos to the writers on getting the leech names right….and Balon Greyjoy was mentioned this season
Tyrion’s lines this whole episode.
“Is there a difference between sacrfice and killing?” Davos to Stannis
“When you see the truth….how can you deny her God is real” Stannis to Davos
” I’m the simpliest man you’ll ever meet” and “I’m Daarios Naavros, I always have a choice” Daario to Dany
“If I live, I’ll break both your hands” the Hound to Arya
“You won’t be a prisoner after today. You’ll be my wife… I suppose that’s a different kind of prison” Tyrion to Sansa
Here is a preview of episode 9: