We have hit the mid point of the series. And it was splendid. Fifth episode, titled Kissed by Fire and written by Bryan Cogman, represents what this show can be when it includes almost all of its characters (sorry Bran, Sam, Varys and Theon) in one episode. In the words of Matt Fowler: “The right dialogue and the right care given to emotions can be more effective than fiery hot death from a dragon.”
This episode, like the previous ones, had visited the usual number of locales and characters, yet the scenes flew together with more ease than they usually do, or have done in the past, and each place visited felt more connected to the one we glimpsed before it. Therefore it is safe to say that we are not talking about the random tour of Westeros and Essos anymore. The pieces are slowly getting together. This is also evident in the transitions between scenes that now fell like they have a bit more thought put into them: The Lord of Light cut – from the opening scene to Stannis’s wife Selyse praying to the same God in front of her jarred sons; The Targaryen Conquest cut – from Stannis’s daughter teaching Davos how to read Aegon Targaryen’s name to Daenerys leading her army across the deserts of Essos. Just splendid.
Beniof and Weiss have talked about the structuring a lot and the challenges they are facing with each new episode: what to put in, what to leave out, how to create certain connection whilst staying faithful to the book and so forth. This, at times, includes taking out the scenes from one episode and placing them into another, regardless of whether this actually happened there or not. And with Kissed by Fire they’ve simply nailed it. Even more so because it felt like all of the characters (seemingly disconnected) are in fact dealing with different variations of the same question: What oaths and principles they must be faithful to, or better yet, what plot/situation are they suppose to accept or likewise reject?
THE LORD OF LIGHT IS BRANCHING OUT
In the magnificent opening scene, Beric and the Hound not only have a trial by combat, i.e. duel to the death, but it is also a magical trial by combat completed with the flaming sword which of course upsets our favorite Clegane, the burn victim. The goal of this trial was to see whether the Lord of Light judges Clegane guilty of his crimes, and by winning — and briefly killing Beric (which marks his sixth death total, second by a Clegane) before Thoros asks his god to resurrect his leader — the Hound wins his freedom, to the outrage of Arya. Kill him! Kill Him! Burn in Hell! She screams…as my eyes fill up with tears. Patience little wolf girl and revenge will be yours…in time.
Back at Dragonstone we are introduced to Selyse, Stannis’s wife and another avid Lord of the Light follower. When we see that Selyse keeps fetuses of their sons in jars, and hear her suggest that seeing their daughter would be a terrible distraction, we get a sense of just what kind of personal horrors this man has had to endure, and why he might have been so eager to follow the charismatic redhead and her powerful god. Stannis is a man after all.
JON SNOW KNOWS SOMETHING AFTER ALL
He is no Podrick but given enough time….
THE KING WHO LOST THE NORTH
Young wolf’s luck has run out. Not only was he betrayed by his mother (for letting Jaime Lannister go) and abandoned by Lord Frey (for marrying Jayne Westerling and therefor braking the oath) now even his own men have started committing treason when they – followed by a grieving father in pursuit of revenge – killed two Lannister boys, captured earlier on by Edmure Tully. Despite his small council’s pleas to spare lord Carstark’s life (keeping him hostage), Rob decision was not to let this one come to pass. The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword, Eddard Stark used to say. Being a father’s son this is exactly what Robb did. “Kill me and be cursed, you are no king of mine”, were Carstark’s last words before his head was chopped off.
But where does this execution leave Robb now? Well, regardless of what little options he has left, he did spawn a plan: he will attack and take Castlery Rock, the Lannister’s home. The problem is, in order to do that he needs Walder Frey’s help, and Frey is the man he dishonored by not wedding one of his daughters. And a broken oath is something Westeros is not likely to forget. Speaking of which…..
JAIME. MY NAME IS JAIME.
Jaime Lannister just might be the most honorable man in the entire Westeros. The Bath scene has finally happened. I was terrified at the thought of this scene and all the possible ways of its execution. I feared they would rush through it, leaving the important parts, words or even the entire dialogue out. Luckily they didn’t and Jaime Lannister got the much-deserved chance to tell the truth about what happened on the faithful day when he earned both his nickname and disdain from all the honorable men and women in the Seven Kingdoms. And what an interesting story it was: King Aerys aka the Mad (literally) King ordered Jaime Lannister, a man sworn to protect him, not only to bring him the head of Tywin Lannister, Jaime’s father, but also to stand by his king once he sets the fire to the entire city with wildfire. “Burn them all. Burn them all.” the King kept repeating… What a small sacrifice – of couple of thousand men, women and children – if it meant a rebirth of the dragon. You see, the king meant to burn too, the Targaryen way. So, in order to stop Aerys from killing everybody, Jaime Lannister, The Kingslayer, stabbed him in the back, sealing his own faith in the process, forever. Eddard Stark was just one of the many who made damn sure of it. Ah, the Starks, quick tempers, slow minds. Anyhow, Jaime Lannister proved himself a bigger man than all of them combined together. He accepted the popular opinion, ingratitude and stupidity; he held his head up high embracing the stigma placed upon him. He became the Oathbraker, the Kingslayer, he became the most hated man in all the Seven Kingdoms, an epitome for a dishonorable man in the eyes of those whose lives he had just saved. Ironic, isn’t it. But what is more important, not once did he try to reassure his accusers (who passed their judgment pretty quickly without any knowledge but with full conviction) let alone whine about it, unlike let’s say his brother Tyrion after the events of Blackwater Bay.
That is, until now.
“Jaime. My name is Jaime.” he mumbles right before he passes out into Brienne’s arms, handless, worn out and full naked, only furthering this unlikely, yet extremely beautiful friendship.
ON LOYALTY AND NEW NAMES
Jaime’s confession meets its mirror opposite twice over when we check in with Daenerys and her new army across the Narrow Sea. First, through Barristan Selmy who talked about the absolute loyalty he gave to various awful kings because that is what he swore to do. Second, through Grey Worm, the newly elected leader of the Unsullied, who prefer to keep his slave name, the one he had when Dany freed him, versus the one he had (his original name) when he was taken slave.
Jaime was loyal to the raving lunatic, precisely because he had taken an oath to be so, but even he couldn’t stand by and let the Mad King burn down the city and its people. It was a selfless act, one that left him with a new name he would very much like to leave behind.
… ON ARRANGED MARRIAGES AND UNHAPPY SIBLINGS
Back in Kings Landing things are starting to heat up.
Littlefinger (on Cersei’s request) uses one of his male whores to extract the information from the Knight of Flowers, Loras Tyrell. Tyrells, as we have learned in the previous episode, are planning to wed Sansa to Loras, so they would join Winterfell and Highgarden. Tywin Lannister, not willing to let neither the North nor the Reach slip through his fingers, has to outsmart the Tyrells and he has to do it fast.
A decision has been made: Tyrion will marry Sansa Stark and Cersei will marry Loras Tyrell. Wait, WHAT?! You have to hand it to him. Tywin Lannsiter is THE MASTER of the game. Cruel and crafty, he unmercifully uses both of his children so he would get what HE wants. The North and The Reach are his, but at what price? All I can say is be careful what you wish for….and who are the people you tread upon.
Sansa, on the other hand thinks her luck has changed and how she actually has a choice: marry Knight of Flowers or elope with Littelfinger. Clueless she rejects Littlefinger in the favor of the young knight. However, this choice like all the others before is about to be taken from her. Poor Sansa. She should’ve run away with the Hound when she had a chance. And please don’t take me wrong. Tyrion is a nice man but he is not what Sansa wants, at all. Likewise, she is not what he wants, especially since her handmaiden is his lover. Plus, Sansa is still just a child, who’s been through a lot of pain caused precisely by Tyrion’s family. Oh man, Sansa’s life has just gone from bad to worse and let me tell you, it ain’t over yet.
Favorite quote: “Jaime. My name is Jaime.”
text written by: Monika Ponjavic
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