The episode “A Man without Honor” is definitely a bridge episode, lots of exposition and explanations leading us up to the spectacle of “Blackwater” and the end of the season. Dany doesn’t have her dragons and she is pouty about it. OK enough of that. Next up on the “meh” meter, Jon Snow and Ygritte. They have a cuddle, Jon blushes and is flustered and because he is an inexperienced boy (in more ways than one, amirite!!) he gets captured by the wildings which presents us with perhaps the greatest costume of the series thus far, Rattleshirt, the Lord of Bones. I can’t really say much else about him because basically all he says is, “Crow!” and other derisive comments about the Night’s Watch but his costume is right out of Clive Barker’s toolbox. My mind’s eye from reading and the television series really meshed on this one which is always good.
We do get a couple of screw-ups in this episode as well. In the previous episode Osha seduced Theon and made off with the Stark boys and Hodor. Seduced is probably a bit too strong of word because Theon is such a horndog. I mean he got on a horse with his sister and was going down her pants. Yes, he didn’t know at the time she was his sister, but still the guy has a problem keeping it in his pants. After he wakes up and realizes he’s been played Theon is off on the hunt for Bran and Rickon. Osha, Hodor and the boys make good time but when Theon comes upon a farm that they had visited it becomes clear that they are in very real danger. At the end of the episode Theon presents the charred bodies of two boys as proof that he is in charge and will not tolerate resistance to his rule.
The other screw-up we get involves Jaime Lannister, Catlyn Stark and Brienne. After the Lannister envoy returns to Robb with the reply from King’s Landing, he is placed in the same holding cell as the Kingslayer. Tough luck kid. As part of Jaime’s plan to escape he needed a dead body, his cousin unfortunately provides the body. After Jaime kills him and the Karstark guarding them, he makes his escape. He doesn’t get far and is dragged back to the Stark camp and the Karstarks want his head. Cat Stark holds them off because she fears what will happen to her daughters if Jaime is dead. As the night wears on, it is apparent that the mob of north men is fast becoming the lynch mob of north men and Cat goes to Jaime. We get a bit of interplay between the two, leaving us with a cliffhanger as Cat holds a sword on the bound Jaime. All things considered, these scenes between Jaime and Cat are a bit predictable. He taunts her; she gets upset, but is held back by her daughters and her honor. So if you haven’t read the books there might be some mystery as to what happens with the sword in her hands, but I bet you can figure it out.
Well acted scenes that have not disappointed this season get some more play this week as well. As I’ve mentioned I particularly like the scenes with Arya and Tywin. This time he invites her to eat his dinner and discuss his legacy. Tywin makes it clear that he knows she is not some commoner, but he respects her enough to allow her to keep her secret. Arya on the other hand is conflicted. It is apparent that she likes Lord Tywin, but she also knows that if she kills him she would be helping her brother a great deal. Not only that, she is still a young girl and attempting to kill a grown man is a taking on a bit too much, even for a girl with as much moxie as Arya. Maisie Williams does a great job of portraying this emotional conflict and she has been quite a strong presence throughout. In the end she can’t go through with it and leaves his chamber, being congratulated for her cleverness, but also realizing that Tywin is pretty clever himself.
The other scenes that are great to watch both involve Cersei with Tryion and Sansa respectively. Like the Arya/Tywin scenes I’ve mentioned before how strong I think performances between Cersei and Tyrion have been and this episode sheds even more light on their relationship and on Cersei. She feels guilty about Joffrey and how he has turned out, basically a murderous, spoiled, bully and that she is being punished by the gods for her relationship with her brother. As she weeps, Tyrion approaches her, but can’t bring himself to comfort her. There is just too much history, too much hate to cross that divide. The ineptness or realization that he is incapable of compassion toward his sister is beautifully portrayed by Dinklage. In a series defined by its violence it is quite something to see failure on such an emotional level. For an actor to make that realization of a shortcoming believable is quite a performance.
The scenes between Cersei and Sansa are a bit repetitive, but I still like them. They make Cersei a little more human and sympathetic even though she usually is pointing out how naïve and ignorant Sansa is. Sansa isn’t as blind as she once was as we see her terror in response to getting her first menstrual cycle. She isn’t freaked out by the change in her body, but the fact that she is now able to bear children for Joffrey is truly horrifying. Sansa is unable to cover it up and she gets something resembling compassion from Cersei. It is apparent that the queen isn’t going to release Sansa and she fully intends to have her marry her son, but Cersei offers real world advice as to how to deal with an awful, loveless marriage. It also gives us more insight into what Cersei’s life has been like. I don’t know think she will ever be considered warm and fuzzy, but like Catlyn Stark we do get the primary motivation of Cersei, her children. As this story unfolds, both in the books and on TV, the theme of the impact of one generation upon the next becomes more apparent.