Episode 3.05 Writer: Bryan Cogman Director: Alex Graves
THE ONE WHERE The Hound has his trial by combat, Jon breaks his vows, Robb has big decisions to make and Tywin puts his house in order.
VERDICT After last week’s spectacular finale, you might have expected that this episode would be packed with a lot of lengthy conversations and little else. And you’d be sort of right, although opening proceedings with a flame-fuelled duel to the death kicked things off in style. The Hound’s trial by combat was an intense affair, the fire-lit cave making a particularly effective backdrop for the lord of light to cast his judgement. Dondarrion’s resurrection was a fascinating development, further proof that the fire god and his followers have access to phenomenal power, although not enough to bring back poor old Ned, much to Arya’s disappointment.
The shadow of Eddard Stark loomed large this week, in an episode full of ghosts and echoes of the past. Robb’s decision to execute Karstark might have had more in keeping with his mother’s impulsiveness, but his handling of the dirty deed was straight out of the Stark book of beheadings. The implications of his actions were immediately apparent, and the King In The North is in a perilous positions. His master plan doesn’t seem too well thought out either, what with him having run off with Talisa rather than marry Walder Frey’s daughter and all, but we shall soon see whether the Young Wolf’s war is over.
It wasn’t only in Robb’s camp that Ned’s presence could be felt though. Quite aside from Jon throwing honour to the wind and breaking his vows north of the wall (it really didn’t take much persuading once Ygritte was out of all those skins), it was the least-loved Lannister who invoked the name Ned. Jaime’s bath time chat with Brienne included a fantastic monologue from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau that gave us a glimpse into the reign of Mad King, the nature of honour and the birth of Kingslayer’s nickname, and threw his character into a whole new light. Jaime is becoming less loathsome all the time – we might actually end up liking him at this rate. Would Ned have slit the Mad King’s throat? Hard to say, but as Jaime pointed out: “By what right does the wolf judge the lion?”
Elsewhere, we had a number of new characters this week, including Stannis’s clearly loopy wife Selyse, his daughter Shireen (who reminded us that Davos is alive and rotting), and Grey Worm, the newly elected and incredibly fresh-faced leader of Dany’s new army. We couldn’t help but think of Dany as Jaime talked of the Mad King’s desire to burn everyone in light of last week’s dragon frenzy, but her decision to give the slaves names reminded us that she’s much better than her fire-crazed forefathers.
STICKS AND STONES It really shouldn’t have stung as much as it did, but when Lady Olenna called Tyrion a “brow beaten book keeper” you could almost see it land squarely on the littlest Lannister’s pride. No wonder they call her the Queen Of Thorns.
NOVELTY LAMPS OF THE WEEK Selyse Baratheon made a bold claim for the title of maddest woman in Westeros this week with her disconcerting display of backlit dead babies. As far as interior decorating goes, it’s a hell of a statement, and we’re suddenly not so surprised that Stannis has stayed away from her for so long.
THAT’LL STING We had a beheading and a rotting stump, but the prize for the most graphic bit of body mangling this week came early on when the Hound tried – and very nearly succeeded – cutting Beric Dondarrion in half.
EYEFUL OF THE WEEK We were back to the standard levels of Game Of Thrones flesh this week, what with Ygritte doing her best to tempt Jon in her cosy mountain love nest, but there’s no denying that the unexpected eyeful of the week award goes to Ser Loras’s new lover boy. He’s employed by Littlefinger, and he sure wasn’t shy about showing off the tools of his trade.
GOOD GODS While last week we saw that the Seven have all the flash buildings, it would seem that the fire god R’hllor more than makes up for his lack of fancy buildings by being able to bring folks back from the dead, and not just once either.