Episode four and the tension around Westeros is mounting. Actually, it is mounting all over the known world. The Brothers of the Night’s Watch show their true colors, namely former residents of dungeons and jails, and fall on Craster and his settlement like a band of hungry wolves. It is quite hard to feel any sympathy for Craster because he is such a vile character that in many ways, he probably got what he deserved. It is more complicated than that. Breaking the oath of the Night’s Watch is a big deal and it brings in to question what will happen to all of those that took part in the carnage. As we have seen in George RR Martin’s world, those that make mistakes often get punished in very harsh ways. Sam escaped with Gilly to a great amount of uncertainty, but the rest of the brothers, as they ransack Craster’s Keep are in just as much danger of never getting back to the Wall as well. Without discipline and order, it is an open question of how long they can survive in the Wild.
Our trio of prisoners was in for a bit of a tough time this episode too. Not as bad as Craster, but still. Theon thought he was on his way to his sister and safety, only to be the victim of some of the worst (best from a story POV) psychological torture one will ever see. It actually reminded me a lot of the Prisoner and how in various episodes Number 6 was seemingly able to escape the Village only to discover it was all a ploy to make him talk. In this case, it is even worse because there is nothing that Theon has that Bolton needs, he simply likes torturing Theon and my guess anyone else who he can get into his dungeon.
Brienne and Jaime are in the worst road movie ever, at least as far as they are concerned. Jaime is despondent at the loss of his hand, especially after he gets his hands on a sword, but is no match for men that even a day ago would have been easy pickings. He is pretty much a beaten man, but Brienne challenges him, bullies him, and essentially gets through to him, giving him at least a little will to live. We are seeing the relationship between Jaime and Brienne develop at what feels like a faster pace than what we get in the books. I’m not saying it is a budding, non-incestuous romance, but it is also moving beyond a grudging respect.
The events of King’s Landing are always fun to watch and after the Battle of the Blackwater in season two, it is less about fighting and defending the city and back to the political intrigue of the capital that was quite prevalent in season one. There are quite a few threads running in this location, but the most interesting are those where Varys is involved, and he seems to be involved everywhere. He is talking to Tyrion (who is not involved nearly enough thus far) and his dreams of revenge; he is working every angle to figure out Littlefinger’s overall strategy; and he is working on making a match for Sansa Stark with the Tyrells. I hate to say it, but much like the books, Sansa is a boring character. She takes very little action of her own and is constantly used as a pawn. Though she is disillusioned compared to the girl she was when she first arrived in King’s Landing, she is still far too trusting of those around her, especially Littlefinger and the Tyrells.
The big finale to the episode, like the previous episode, was quite the dramatic event. This time we got the big reveal of Dany’s plans to build an army; basically steal one.
It was obvious what was going to happen, no way Khaleesi gives up one of her dragons. I had forgotten from the books that Dany could speak Valaryian, so it was even more satisfying when he was toasted. In quick order she turns the Unsullied on their former masters and declares them free. All things considered it isn’t the most graphic or remarkable fight scene you’ll ever see, but like many other battles and big moments in the show, it is done in such a way that it feels right and stayed under budget. A lot of bigger budget movies and the like could really learn from Game of Thrones in this respect, less can be more. Instead of tons of fighting and special effects, we get one very cool CGI shot of the new Targaryen army marching out of the city, dragons flying overhead. We didn’t need more than that and got the message, Dany is on the move and is force in the world.