The pieces are moving on the chess board that is Game of Thrones, and it is Tyrion Lannister who is making the most moves. After the slaughter of children that ended last week, Tyrion is further incensed to Make Right in King’s Landing – even if it is his own particular brand of justice. He’s definitely not interested in sharing the fate of the previous two Hands. He’s sorting out who betrayed Ned Stark and Jon Arryn and removing them – first Janos Slynt, commander of the City Watch, sent packing to the Wall faster than he can blink and making room for Bronn to slide neatly into the position. A decision Tyrion seems to regret almost immediately.
However not all goes Tyrion’s way. When he walks in on Varys and Shae, he knows his secret is out. I was expecting more electrifying dialogue. In the book, there is threat and counter-threat but all carefully worded in pleasantries. Here, with Shae out of earshot, Tyrion is quite blunt with the Spider and, in turn, Varys is the same back. While this is serviceable enough, I was hoping for more subtlety.
In a scene sure to please the ‘shipers, Arya reveals herself to last of the King’s bastards Gendry, who is incredulous that he treated this highborn lady as a peasant boy – though not so much that he can’t make fun of her. These two have great chemistry and I look forward to seeing more of them together. Yoren also proves himself a badass as he sees off two goldcloaks, whom Arya believes are after her but they all discover are actually looking for Gendry, though no one knows why.
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany and her khalasar are still stuck in the Red Waste. When one of the bloodriders she sent out last episode returns sans his body, all seems lost and hopeless. This seems more of a “touch base” scene than anything, just a reminder that Dany is still where she is.
Unlike Theon Greyjoy, sent by Robb Stark to the Iron Islands to negotiate with his father to bring the Greyjoy ships into the war. Expecting to be welcomed home as the prodigal son, Theon discovered that no one cares, least of all his father, who is convinced Theon has gone soft from his time on the mainland. Before that, though, we get more demonstration – as if we needed it – of how Theon is a bit of a creep and thinks with the wrong part of his body as he shares a horse with a woman up to Pyke and tries to seduce her. Later he discovers this is actually his sister, Yara (Asha in the books), and Game of Thrones again goes into ewwww territory. Alfie Allen is great as Theon – just when you’re starting to feel sympathy for him, that no one cares he’s come home, he acts a total dick on the horse ride. Then we see the man who feels such a boy in his father’s presence and only wants part of a proper family, start to consider betraying his friend Robb. Allen plays it well, the torture on his face as he has to fight in himself to decide the path he should follow. Blood may be thicker than water, Theon, but in this case both are just as salty.
North of the Wall, the Night’s Watch are still at Craster’s Keep and poor Sam decides to adopt one of Craster’s daughters/wives. Jon is of course the practical one and points out that not only is fraternising forbidden, but they can’t take a pregnant woman with them where they are going. There is a fantastic moment here with Ghost, Jon’s direwolf, who in another brilliant combination of CGI and live footage looks magnificent. See picture above. I want one of my own.
Jon is still concerned about Craster’s sons – what happens to them? The answer comes that night when he spies Craster leaving with a baby and follows. The old wildling leaves the babe for… something to take. Then, in rather hackneyed cliffhanger, Jon is discovered by Craster and laid out.
With another great, fast-moving episode Game of Thrones continues to prove it is the best thing on the tube. Pushing boundaries in TV entertainment – infanticide, incest, sex, blood, Jon’s hairstyle – and telling a fascinating story. Every episode feels like it goes by too fast. These first two episodes have concentrated on people consolidating their positions – Tyrion as Hand, Stannis as rightful King, Joffrey on the throne, Robb trying to enlist the Greyjoys. Eventually all the pieces will be in place, and then the game will truly begin. You win or you die.