Last Sunday I watched one of the best episodes Game of Thrones has to offer. Yes, I know there was a lot of criticism coming from the fans that have read the books but I am just not one of them. The criticism is directed mainly to the opening in the Mole’s Town, abrupt Sansa development, Greyworm/Missandei love story, Tyrion’s epic speech centered around the lack of morons in Westeros history books and the shortage of few lines in Red Viper vs the Mountain fight. While I do agree with the poor quality of the unnecessary opening in the Mole’s town (mainly because – what a hell is Gilly doing there?! Was she displaced so Sam would look bad or was it so we would grow to love Ygritte some more? I don’t know but the truth is Gilly never left Sam’s side, her and her baby were in this moment safe at the Castle Black, thanks to Sam, who fought for her place there, which was more or less a precedent since no woman is allowed amongst the brothers) and while I do have no interest in Greyworm/Missandei love story the rest was just beautiful and more importantly it was beautifully executed. However, in this review I will only speak about Sansa and the fight, two milestones of Game of Thrones that will, unbeknownst to you, set the show sail a different course.
COME TO THE DARK SIDE SANSA WE HAVE LEMON CAKES
As the reader of the book, the moment that took place at the Vale between Sansa, Petyr Baelsih and the Lords of the Vale is the moment I have been waiting to see for few years now. In the books we are left with the worst possible cliffhanger: We didn’t know what happens after Baelish pushes Lysa through the Moon Door, since this is how the Storm of Swords ends (minus the epilogue that deals with something else completely). And we never hear from Sansa again. What last night’s episode did was just a confirmation of what I have been thinking all along – watch out for the new player has finally joined the game and her name is Sansa Stark, the eldest daughter of Lord Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and the Warden of the North. Some people found this change, while not surprising, certainly abrupt and I must say that a character development that lasted for almost 4 years is rather opposite of the abrupt. Sure, they skipped a lot of her life as Alayne Stone, the bastard daughter of Lord Baelish living in the Vale, but this is a different medium and having Sansa talk to herself alone at night in the room for couple of episodes would feel kind of silly, wouldn’t you agree? Without any intention of sounding harsh I think the time has finally come for book readers to either let go and accept that we are dealing with two different mediums and that oftentimes the books cant be translated on screen word by word and that come next season we, the book readers, will probably enter the unknown field of the saga we have never seen before, mainly due to GRRM’s not so swift pace of writing. So, treat them as distant cousins or just give up on one. If you don’t want to be spoiled now is the time to stop watching the show, more than ever especially since the evidence is written all over The Oathkeeper and The Viper and the Mountain. Back to Sansa.
Sansa was always an idealist. A lady brought up in Winterfell, the biggest castle in the North, to her Lord father Eddard and Lady mother Catelyn, who believed in fairytales, happy endings, valiant knights and handsome princes she would one day marry. Considering she is a Stark in GRRM’s story this had disaster written all over it. Her first medicine was Joffrey, the boy-king monster, who tormented her at every corner, who killed her father and made her watch, who promised to bring her brother’s head on a platter as a wedding gift, who killed her mother, who beat her and humiliated her. In a situation like this Sansa had two options: 1. break and 2. find the inner strength, and survive. Luckily, Sansa did the latter. Fans often compare two sisters giving Arya all their love because she is cool, brave, and fierce. But Arya was also lucky when Sansa was not. Arya managed to escape the King’s Landing on time with the help of few good men that kept on helping to this very day. Syrio Forel. Joren. Gendry. Jaqen, the Faceless Assasin. Brotherhood without Banners. Beric Dondarrion. Thoros of Myr. The Hound. No wonder she survived. Give her two hours at the court and you would see her head on a spike above the city walls. Sansa was smarter than that. She had her wits and Littlefinger. Does she trust him? Probably not. Is she using him, the same way he is using her? Most likely. When Sansa emerges towards the end of the episode, walking down the stairs with the wicked smile on her face, her red hair dyed black, we know. We know this Sansa did not dye her hair to conceal her identity (reason why she did it in the books) but to mark the shift in her identity, to emphasize a form of rebirth. Lady dressed in black. Regal and dangerous. Resembling Catelyn Stark. How will Baelish handle this new person is yet to be seen but for this moment it was good to be a Stark.
SAY HIS NAME!
Back in King’s Landing The Red Viper is having a drink. “Getting drunk will kill you,” says worried Tyrion, whose life is hanging by a thread and depends solely on this fight. “Today is not the day I die.” overly confident Viper responds. One thing HBO has done flawlessly this season was establishing this new character, a fan favorite for 14 years now. He appears on about 100 pages of the entire saga and only 8 episodes of the entire series yet he is a fan favorite. He is fierce, eloquent, renowned lover, but above all he does not flitch in the face of his enemies, he is blunt and honest. We admire him. We respect him. We want him to have his revenge and win. We root for him.
And then he dies.
When all seems won, the Mountain rises. If only he wasn’t standing that close. If only he had struck him twice. If only he used the more efficient poison, the quicker to act. If only he was not as cocky and smug. If only….. But he was. We loved him for it and we lost him for it. He couldn’t have his justice same way Ned Stark couldn’t arrest Cersei and Joffrey when he had a chance regardless of how bad we all wanted it. Or how bad we wonted The King in the North to bring Lannister to justice. We didn’t want to hear yet another version of Rains of Castamere, not in this episode, not again…but we did. It was hovering above our heads as a bad omen ever since the opening scene. We should’ve known better. And even for someone who knew another death is coming, it was painful to watch. It was painful for two reasons. First, a part of me wanted him to live. Following so many changes this season I secretly wished they would change this and let him live. How naive of me, especially considering the stakes and the fact a Lannister princess is in the possession of Martell family in the Dorne, ready to be wed to Oberyn’s nephew Trystane Martell. And did you know, Dorne is the only Kingdom that welcomes women to the Throne, which means, if something by any chance happens to Tommen, Myracella can claim the crown through her marriage to Trystane making a Martell the next King. Unbowed. Unbroken. Unbent. The second reason – how good was Pedro Pascal in this role? He was a star. And just like I had hard time parting with Jack Gleeson, for his impeccable portrayal of Joffrey I will have an equally hard time (if not worse) for parting with Pedro Pascal. Why all good actors must die?! And what a gruesome death that was. It looked even worse than the Red Wedding, if that is even possible, or the way I imagined it while I was first reading about it in ASOS. And while I am still not fan of the new Mountain, who looks like a cuddly bear half the age his younger brother Sandor, the proportion of two men and the fight itself was fantastic. Bravo HBO! Bravo! You left my heart shattered (not really) but bravo!
ALWAYS MAKE THE AUDIENCE SUFFER AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
So, how do we react to yet another tragedy? Do we laugh like Arya Stark, when she learns that her Aunt has died? Her laugh, one of the highlights of the episode and the way Joker is made, is great because it is a reminder that there’s a point where you just can’t take it any more, a point when you stop to look around and wonder if this isn’t all just some cruel joke. For Arya, Lysa’s death is so poorly timed and that right there is the funniest thing imaginable, perfectly mirroring the audience, who have had it enough. First comes Ned Stark, then the Red Wedding and now Oberyn dies and threatens to take Tyrion with him. It’s the same as the case of the discourse around the books—with numerous jokes about Martin’s willingness to slaughter all of your favorite characters. Arya’s reaction is a manifestation of how some readers, myself included, may have reacted when they first read of Oberyn’s tragic demise, or when they read another death, which is already upon us, probably in the finale of this year’s season. Or another one. Or another one. Or that one, which happens towards the end of A Dance with Dragons, leaving us, to this date, in the biggest and longest cliffhanger known to a Game of Thrones/ASOIAF fan, which was also the biggest shock we simply had to overcome, hoping that the character we knew and loved might still be alive.
After Red Viper’s death my brother (who only watches the show) told me: “As long as these 4 characters live, I am good.” I didn’t have a heart to tell him only one of them is still alive. Therefore, the moral of the story – do not get attached to a character in Game of Thrones. Why? Because when GRRM said: “Valar Morghulis” (All men must die) he meant it.
What I liked about the episode:
–Daenerys Targaryen’s true colors are starting to show. Not only was this the major event (praise the Lord because her story was, as predicted, dragging) but it also showed the true nature of the beloved Dany. We have known for some time that Jorah was a spy for King Robert, sending news through Varys. In the books he was unmasked by Barristan Selmy, who was the member of Robert’s Small Council before Joffrey kicked him out and who witnessed the existence of the letters. In the show, things happened a bit differently and a bit later than they originally took place, which gave more time to establish Jorah’s devotion to his khaleesi. And it hurt. I, for one, sympathized with him. I never questioned his devotion or his sincerity. He was and is the most faithful and loyal servant to Daenerys Targaryen. He stood by her when she had nothing. He protected her. He killed for her. He followed her. To the edge of the world and back. He advised her (even though she hardly ever listened). He rescued her. He loved her. And he would, if the opportunity arises, die for her. But she cast him out nonetheless. Why? Because he wrote few letters on her whereabouts to King Robert from the time he had hardly even knew her, which begs the following question – why punish Jorah but not Selmy, who did much worse – turned his cloak for the same King Robert and against Targaryens, who served him and was willing to serve him until death if he had not been cruelly and degradingly released from the service? There are far, far worse liars and traitors in Westeros than Jorah ever was or will ever be. And I hope Daenerys will come to realize what a terrible mistake she has made and how badly she wronged Jorah. This event might mean her storyline is wrapped for the season but the imp in me hopes for yet another sack of bones before this story reaches this year’s end. How will she get away with it this time around? How much is the human life worth?
– Ramsey Snow becoming Ramsey Bolton. Not because he ceased to exist as a bastard but because it means we are moving into to Winterfell once again and believe me when I tell you, these chapters are some of the most thrilling chapters of the entire saga. Excitement is the understatement.
What I didn’t like:
-For the love of God, never call the penis a pillar and stones. Never!
You know why I came to this shit pile of city? For you ……
You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children! Say it! You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children! Say it! Say her name! You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children! Say it! Elia Martell! Say it! You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children! Say her name!
Text written by: Monika Ponjavic