Game Of Thrones hasn’t put many steps wrong over its nearly-two seasons now, but the ending of this episode, A Man Without Honor, felt a little bit too much. Not that the horror of seeing two charred child-corpses hanging from ropes was too much for a show that has never yet flinched from showing such awful sights, but the placing of it at the end of the episode, with the implication that this was what was left of Bran and Rickon Stark.
It seems so obvious that the bodies aren’t them that it comes across as a little insulting to the audience to throw it in as a ‘shock plot twist‘ to end what was otherwise another classy and effective episode that wasn’t without genuine shocks and twists. And, of course, it’s not like Theon Greyjoy’s actions weren’t reprehensible enough, even assuming that the Stark boys have escaped his clutches for now, because those charred corpses were two small children that he had killed and burned anyway. “It’s better to be cruel than weak,” he said earlier on, not realising that that’s the same thing. The look on his face at the end showed that he maybe worked it out, too late.
He’s certainly a Man Without Honor at the moment, but the title of the episode referred to Jaime Lannister, who has been conspicuous by his absence for much of this season, largely because he’s spent the entirety of it tied to a post in Robb Stark’s camp. This week he finally got someone to talk to, in the form of a distant relative who once squired for him and idolises the ground he walks on. We briefly got to see a more human side to The Kingslayer, but he soon redeemed himself by smashing his friend’s face in in a bid for freedom. It worked though, and he was free! For about two minutes, then he was back to being insulted/insulting in an exchange with Cat Stark, who may yet give him the death he seems to crave.
His sister Cersei was also disarmingly human in this episode, sharing a brief but telling scene with Tyrion where they discussed the impending arrival of Stannis Baratheon’s much larger army at King’s Landing and the dilemma of having violent idiot Joffrey on the Iron Throne. There was nothing explicit in what they were talking about, but what they weren’t saying could prove to be huge. Cersei also had time to dispense advise to poor Sensa, whose first period has heralded the time when she has to stomach having sex with Joffrey. Truly a fate worse than death.
Speaking of sex, there hasn’t been too much of it in these last few episodes, not for lack of trying by Ygritte, who spends most of it trying to get Jon Snow to lay her down in the, erm, snow, and ends it very much on top, by leading him into a wildling trap. Also finding herself in an uncomfortable situation is Daenerys, who not only lost her dragons and her people, but is at the heart of a plot by Xaro to rule Qarth as a King (not another one!) with the help of creepy Pree, and murders the rest of the Thirteen. She should probably have agreed to marry him a couple of episodes ago…
Some of the best scenes in this season have been between Maisie Williams and Charles Dance as Arya and Tywin, with a nice bond growing between the two mortal enemies and well played by actors at the opposite ends of the experience scale. Whether Arya will get her vengence remains to be seen, but you sense Tywin probably wouldn’t be too miffed to be killed by this clever little girl who he seems to respect so much. Three episodes left and the stakes are getting higher in this Game, for all concerned. If the ending to this episode was just a trick on the audience, let’s hope it’s the last.
On a lesser TV show than Mad Men, when the central character gets told to listen to Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles to get his head in tune with what's going on in the world, his head would start to bop, his foot would tap and he'd 'get it', then the credits would roll. On Mad Men, Don Draper tried to absorb it for a while, then got up, turned it off and walked away, before the credits rolled and the music resumed without him