Game of Thrones – Dark Wings, Dark Words

***WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS OF GAME OF THRONES SEASON 3 EPISODE 2 ‘DARK WINGS DARK WORDS’***

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This wonderful episode served as a reminder of both episode serves two main purposes reintroducing us to some characters and the new characters that will help shape their storylines this season, while adding new layers to the depths of political intrigue.

Bran Stark is moving north while being accompanied by what we are sinisterly informed are ‘black magic’ dreams. Bran’s dreams are often used to introduce episodes, and this one has him attempting to fire arrows at the three-eyed crow while being chided by his brothers. These dream sequences are willfully obscure but we are beginning to get a sense of their true nature. Introduced in the dream is Jojen Reed (played by the kid from Love, Actually) who reappears later with his weapon wielding sister Meera, the first of several female characters who show their aptitude with weapons.

The odd couple of the seven kingdoms, Lady Brienne is leading her captive Jamie across the riverlands engaging in some wonderful banter along the way.  His duel with Brienne also reminded us of something else, his self-destructive fatalism. It is through scenes like this that we are reminded that Jamie is Tyrion’s brother and with observation, intelligence and wit to match. He immediately deduces Brienne’s motivations and takes no time to needle them, particularly Brienne’s relationship with the late Renly,

All he was fit to rule was a twelve course dinner.

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Arya may have escaped the bloodbath that Harrenhall became, but soon enough is scooped up by the Brotherhood Without Banners. Viewers may recall that the torturer’s at Harrnehall were awfully keen to learn about their location and were causing the Lannister forces some concern. After nearly moving on their way past a boisterous Thoros of Myr, a newly captured Sandor Clegane recognizes her.

Meanwhile the threads picked up on last week continue to expand with ominous undertones. Robb Stark is struggling to hold his alliances together. He leave shalf his army with Roose Bolton at Harrnehall to attend his grandfather’s funeral. He hopes that reforming with his uncle, Catelyn’s brother and the new Lord of Riverrun, will leave strengthen his position. Lord Karstark stops talking about his revenge long enough to state his opinion that the war was lost when Robb married Talisa.

Once the cow’s been milked, there’s no squirting the cream back up her udders.

Meanwhile, down in King’s Landing the political machinations are in overdrive. The tug of war between Cersei and Margaery to influence Joffrey is in full swing. Margaery’s grandmother the spiky Lady Olenna aka the Queen of Thornes, played by the wonderful Dianna Rigg, has many questions for Sansa about Joffrey’s true nature.

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It is no coincidence that these revelations we next see Margaery in a deliciously creepy scene, stroking Joffrey’s crossbow and asking if he’d like to see her kill something. I find these moves to influence Joffrey fascinating. We know from his execution of Ned Stark, a moment referred back to by Sansa, that Joffrey is wildly unpredictable, sadistic and is aware of his ultimate power as king.

She married Renly Baratheon because she was told to. That’s what intelligent women do: what they’re told.

This episodes deviations form the source material will no doubt cause some consternation within the ranks of book fans. However, I believe that the fleshing out of certain characters and the streamlining of others make this a much more fascinating spectacle for the screen. Much of the beauty of the novels lies in the individual perspectives and internal voices of the characters. In the omniscient viewpoint of the camera there is not much room for the problems with an unreliable narrator or space to read between the lines.

I enjoyed how the episode title was back to having subtle double meanings, referring (at least) to both Bran’s dreams of the three-eyed crow and Bolton delivering Robb several raven delivered messages.  While overall this was a fantastic episode, some of the scenes felt rather superfluous. However, all the pieces are now back in play and it should be a delight to see the moves they’re about to make.

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