It is hard to believe that we are already through half of the season. Episode five did have a bit of a turning point kind of feel to it. There wasn’t a great deal of action, per se, but a great deal of revelation and events that if you’ve been paying attention, then you know it is going to be important.
Of course when I say little action I wasn’t referring to Jon Snow and Ygritte (ba bump bump.) Yes the one relationship that had even the slightest bit of sexual tension was resolved in all of its fan boy glory. The young woman comes on strong to the young warrior, who though he has never been with a woman, is able to please her and make her want to stay in their “love cave” forever; so much for fantasy realism.
The most important events of the episode occur in the two major houses, Stark and Lannister. As we’ve seen all season, things are falling apart for Robb Stark. This time, one of his most important banner men, Lord Karstark openly defies Robb’s orders and takes his personal revenge on the Lannisters by murdering two young Lannister prisoners as vengeance for the loss of his sons. Robb is painted into an unenviable position; provide mercy to Lord Karstark and retain his troops or mete out justice as he sees fit, namely execution. Robb chooses the latter and as predicted, half of his forces leave. As he ponders, well broods, over his next move, Robb realizes that his best course of action is to go back to Lord Frey in hopes that his abandonment of his promise to marry a Frey daughter will be overlooked. How has such mistakes worked out in the past?
The Lannisters, on the other hand, are sitting quite pretty. They are firmly in control of the crown know that they are in control of the war and only have a few loose ends to tie up to settle the entire matter. The person at the center of all things related to the Iron Throne is the patriarch of the family, Tywin Lannister. Ever since his appointment as Hand of the King, he has rode roughshod over the small council, especially his children, Cersei and Tyrion. Perhaps the best scene of the season thus far occurred when Tywin notifies Tyrion that he will be wedding Sansa Stark as opposed to a Tyrell. Tyrion’s reaction is to be expected, namely refusal, but watching Cersei is what makes it great. She was already in on that bit of news and loves watching her younger brother twist in the wind. She loses her smugness however, when she is informed that she will be marrying Loras Tyrell to consolidated Lannister power throughout the Seven Kingdoms, save Dorne. Even so watching Tywin just slap his kids down for the good of the family is almost like watching something from the Godfather. There is no doubt who is in charge.
Speaking of the Lannister children, Jaime is still not having a very good time. He is finally brought to Harrenhal (at least that is where I think the setting is) and he is treated by the resident maester for his injured arm. More important is the bath scene with him and Brienne. We get the backstory to how he became the Kingslayer. It wasn’t just a move to help his father take King’s Landing during the rebellion, but was actually an act of mercy, at least for the residents of the city. If there is a key moment for this episode this was it. The great devil that was Jaime Lannister is revealed to be a much more scrupulous man than we thought.
We also get to see a great fight between Sandor Clegane and Ser Beric. It is a trial by combat for the Hound’s various crimes, most notably being accused by Arya of killing the stable boy way back in season one. It is a pretty tight battle, but Clegane comes out on top. However, we see the great power of the Lord of Light as Thoras resurrects Beric immediately after he is slain. When we return back to the Brotherhood later in the episode we find out that being raised from the dead is a bit of a habit with Beric. Even so the Hound is set loose and free to go about doing whatever it was he was doing after he deserted the battle of the Blackwater. Arya, unfortunately, is left feeling hopeless once again as revenge is denied her regarding Clegane. Adding salt to that wound is the fact that her best friend and companion since King’s Landing, Gendry, decides to stay with the Brotherhood Without Banners, choosing to be their smith. Arya had hoped that he would come with her as she goes to Riverrun, but that isn’t to be.
Things are also starting to stir with Stannis once again. His wife is well off the deep end and has great faith in the Lord of Light and his prophet, Melisandre. She even informs that she is aware that Stannis has had sex with Melisandre. She doesn’t care, she only wants Stannis to be happy and king. We also get to see Stanis’s daughter who is afflicted by a skin disease. We find out she is fond of Davos, who despite her father’s wishes, visits him in the dungeon and of all things, teaches Davos to read. I can’t remember from the books, quite honestly, why his learning to read becomes important, but I just remember that it will be significant J