‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Episode 8 Review: “Second Sons”

Rating: 8/10

Spoiler-free summary: Season 3 picks up the pace with only two episodes left. Arya passes the Red Fork river, Yunkai prepares to defend itself, Gendry arrives at Dragonstone, Stannis releases his prisoner, Kings landing hosts a major wedding, Cersei threatens the Tyrell’s, Daenerys gains new allies and Sam encounters a being in the snow.

*Episode spoilers from here on*

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No Jon, no Robb, no Jaime? No skin-flaying or castration?

Second Sons flourished through exclusions, good and bad. Instead of countless parallel storylines, it focused mainly on Gendry’s arrival at Dragonstone, Dany’s negotiation with the Second Sons, and  Tyrion and Sansa’s marriage in Kings Landing. The episode was also bookended by brief scenes featuring Arya and the Hound, and Sam and Gilly.

It was a week of unlikely pairs; Tyrions awkward marriage to Sansa was trumped only by Melissandre’s leeching of poor Gendry. We also briefly visited Arya, a reluctant companion of the Hound, who plans on ransoming her at the Twins. There was something very gratifying about Arya FINALLY being caught up on things. As she sees it, her brother and mother are north, the Hound still works for Joffrey and her sister is betrothed to the King. Arya is that friend who only watched Season 1 and swore off the series when Ned Stark was beheaded. Ignorance aside, a rare smile means that for the time being the Hound is off her hitlist. (But seriously, is there a tally for the amount of times she’s heard the words, ‘i’m taking you back to your family?’)

In the East, Daenerys met with the captains of the Second Sons, a group of sellswords hired by Yunkai to defend them. Inexplicably without her dragons (one does not simply have an infinite CGI budget) she met the vulgar Mero “The Titans Bastard”, some other dude, and the dreamy Daario Naharis. While the trio initially planned to reject Daenerys offer, infiltrate her camp and kill her, Daario decides he’d rather not. “I said, I am Daario Naharis. I always have a choice.” He kills the two captains and pledges the second sons to Daenerys.

(This guy is all hair, swag and cheekbones – Captain Jack Sparrow meets Orlando Bloom meets Jaqen H’ghar. I kinda want his babies.)

Meanwhile on Dragonstone,  Davos was released by Stannis after an admirable attempt to read the histories of Aegon the Conqueror  Visenya? Vhagar? Couldn’t Shirreen have given him a book about sheep?  Stannis missed his BFF, and hoped Davos would have a word with his GF about gutting his nephew (as his Wife stared at jars of dead babies. #complicatedhomelife). Melissandre’s alternative to sacrificing Gendry was seducing him, tying him to a bed, and letting a leech suck the blood from his manhood. So nice. I feel like Theon and Gendry could form a club. She then performed a ritual in which usurpers ‘Robb Stark’, ‘Balon Greyjoy’, and ‘Joffrey Baratheon’ were condemned. By now, we know that the Lord of Light can make bad things happen. He can have Balon and Joffrey for all anyone cares, but Robb?!

As a distraction from that thought, let’s talk about what everyone wants to talk about. Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding.
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It was full of awkwardness, tension and in many cases, hilarity. Married literally steps from where her father was beheaded, to the dwarf uncle of a boy-king who has made her life hell, Sansa was curiously resigned. And the sadistic cherry on top of it all was Joffrey giving her away. I know everyone loves to hate Sansa, but you have to feel sorry for her sometimes. Fantastically written and beautifully shot, the wedding scenes were a goldmine for amazing dialogue.

Olena Tyrell was great as she explained to Loras just how screwed up his family life will be when he marries Cersei. Hilarious. “And you will be the Kings stepfather and brother in-law.” And I know Cersei is a huge bitch, but man, is she good at it. From “if you ever call me sister again i’ll have you strangled in your sleep” to “nobody cares what your father once said” she gracefully performed a verbal smackdown on both Tyrell’s. To be honest, I was getting a bit sick of Margaery’s ‘let’s be sister’s’ routine anyway.

Back to the awkward union. Tyrion began gently, attempting to convince his bride that he understood how she felt and that he would always be kind to her. But he clearly lost his cool (probably around the same time Joffrey removed his stool) and opted for plan B, the one with lots of drinking. “I am the god of tits and wine” is definitely my favourite Tyrion line this season. Or is it? Threatening to geld the King in front of a room full of nobility might actually take the cake.

“Then you’ll be fucking your own bride with a wooden cock.”

DAMN. I liked how Tywin lazily swept in to save his son from being instantly executed, and how Tyrion casually turned the threat in to a drunken blunder. “I vomited on a girl once, in the middle of the act. Not proud of it.” Peter Dinklage’s line-delivery and mannerisms are Emmy-worthy. Equally brilliant was the scene Tyrion and Sansa shared as man and wife: “Astoundingly long…” “What?” “…neck. You have one.”

I could just write out quotes and nothing would be better. It really was great.

Sam the Slayer! In the north, our favourite screw-up showed some serious character development this week, summoning the courage to protect Gilly and her baby by shoving a dragon glass dagger in to a White Walkers’ back. (But not quite enough development to PICK UP THE WEAPON THAT JUST KILLED A MYTHICAL ICE DEMON CREATURE. Oh Sam. Baby steps.) The White Walkers have returned and look as amazing as ever, though the same cannot be said for some crummy CGI sword-shattering. Hmm. As a whole though, I enjoyed the action and plot development the final scene provided, and the wonderfully awkward interactions between Gilly and Sam.

‘Second Sons’ carries a lot of weight in its name, as what I think is this seasons best title yet. It refers most blatantly to the group of sellswords hired by Yunkai. However both Stannis and Tyrion are second sons, overlooked by their fathers and less loved by their peers than their older siblings, yet inevitably bound to ‘do their duty’. The Hound, too, is a second son, forever in the shadow of his older and crueller brother, Gregor Clegane. If we really want to stretch, Joffrey is a second son, and Sam Tarly is shunned by his father in favor of his younger brother. So many second sons!

We have to wait two weeks for the next episode, ‘The Rains of Castamere’, rumored to focus on Robb’s storyline as he reaches the Twins. We can always count on GoT to deliver in its final episodes. I’m certain the wait will be worth it.

Peachy x

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