The Ninjabot

Game of Thrones: “Second Sons” Review

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 9:46 am by Jeff Mueller


Tonight’s episode thankfully avoids the pitfalls of the last few episodes, tightening up the storytelling and letting us spend more than 5 minutes with each character. The main focuses of this episode being the the wedding of Tyrion Lannister to Sansa Stark in King’s Landing, Gendry’s perilous visit to Dragonstone, and Daenerys’ continued preparations for the siege of Yunkai.  Of course, we don’t leave all the other characters completely by the wayside, as we got two short but pivotal scenes book-ending the proceedings. We begin with Arya Stark still a captive of Gregor Clegane, the Hound, and we find out that he is taking her to the Twins to ransom her off to Robb Stark and we end with Samwell Tarley and Gilly still trying to survive in the frozen wastelands north of the wall, which I will get to later!

While I know everyone has the characters they dislike; our Editor-in-Chief would be happy if Brann never graced the screen again, our Executive Editor was rooting for the bear to eat Brienne last week, etc… For me, I have mostly been very cold to the whole Stannis-Melisandre storyline. While I understand the overall importance to the plot, the scenes involving them often leave me feeling very much as I imagine Dragonstone must be – cold and grey. This week opened them up a little I think, adding more layers to their characters and making me feel as though they are actually human. While I am not going to say I would rather see Davos and Stannis debate the philosophical difference between a sacrifice and a murder over Tyrion and Bronn debating anything, I will say that I wouldn’t mind getting a little more of these characters now. I liked that we began to see some subtle doubt creep across the usually resolute Stannis’ face as he freed Davos from his cell. You can tell that below the justifications and rationalizations he knows that sacrificing Gendry is wrong, and more importantly that the only person that would tell him truthfully was the Onion Knight. Whether or not Davos will be able to affect enough change in Stannis though, and counteract Melisandre’s hold on him, remains to be seen; because let’s be honest… she has turned full on scary crazy.

I have no idea how poor Gendry, described by the Red Priestess as “a lamb being led to the slaughter“, is going to make it out of this mess alive; and on top of that I don’t see how Davos does either. I know he promised to never raise his hand against Melisandre again in exchange for his freedom but you know full well he is going to keep speaking out against her. Between her mercilessly messing with Gendry’s head (for a minute I thought she was going to try and whip up another smoke-demon-baby-thingie with him) and the fact she obviously hates Davos I forsee bad things as I think her hold on Stannis is too strong and that ultimately if she wants to burn someone alive he will let it happen. Let’s hope I am wrong for Gendry’s sake!

This doesn’t seem very religious” – Gendry

The bulk of the episode was devoted to moving the political landmine field that is King’s Landing forward. Luckily having an event such as a wedding allows for multiple characters to interact with each all without having to do scene and locale cuts; something that is a rarity just based on how spread out the characters always seem to be. We got to witness Cersei’s bitterness over her seemingly inevitable future tied to the Tyrell’s reach new dizzying heights, see Joffrey continue to be the world’s largest douchebag, be reminded of why Tyrion is so ridiculously awesome and get to watch Sansa catch a break for the first time in what seems like an eternity.

Game of Thrones - Second Sons

So how does this giant ball of matrimonial dysfunction play out? Awesomely, that’s how! The whole ordeal can really be summed up by the the amusing conversation Lady Olenna has with Margaery and Ser Loras trying to map out the tangled web of who will be whose uncle/cousin.father/sister. It whole situation is obviously as ludicrous as the proceedings themselves. Poor Sansa still can’t escape Joffrey, who continues to delight in her torment; walks her down the aisle in place of her father threatening her with a wedding night raping and a child! Even Tyrion, who Joffrey usually seems slightly afraid of, can’t escape his vindictiveness. Joffrey’s removal of Tyrion’s step-stool before he was able to adorn Sansa with the ceremonial wedding cloak was a subtle, yet vicious slap to the Imp’s face. Can you honestly blame Tyrion for his threatening the King with castration later that night during the wedding feast? I mean seriously, how far is Joffrey going to push the envelope?

I will say this; if I was going to try and find things to criticize about this show is that there is a definite lack of depth to some of the characters, and that is always glaringly obvious in the episodes that are Tyrion focused. It is so clear how difficult it is for Tyrion to balance wanting to spare Sansa any more suffering with the duties he knows he is bound to carry out. There is a sincerity to him, a warmth, that is absent from so many of the other characters. Who else has ever been able to get Sansa to let a smile break through the misery, if even only for a minute? Not to mention the nobility that he shows when through his drunken haze he tells her to stop disrobing, as he will never share her bed unless she wishes it.

If you ever call me sister again I will have you strangled in your sleep.” – Cersei

While Daenerys’ plot to conquer Yunkai is moving along slowly, it was nice to see her continue to grow as a leader and a negotiator. She didn’t threaten anyone with her dragons this week, so that’s a step in the right direction! We were introduced to the titular Second Sons, a highly regarded mercenary army, numbering two thousand troops, in the employ of the slave master of Yunkai. She tries to bribe them into switching sides, but the mercenaries seem to take umbrage at the affront to their honor and decline, but not before making repeated lewd suggestions which seemed to anger Ser Jorah more than the Queen of Dragons. In what was kind of an obvious play by the three mercenary leaders, they essentially draw straws to see which one of them will steal into her camp and murder her to avert having to fight the army of Unsullied on the field of battle. Which one of the three? Not the one with the scarred face… not the grizzled, older one… nope! The one who looks like an Abercrombie & Fitch model of course! In a slight twist, that further cements Daenerys’ power, it seems that this mercenary, Daario, was so blinded by her beauty that he killed his comrades and is pledging control of the Second Sons to the Queen of Dragons. A little ham-fisted but I am kind of intrigued as to how Ser Jorah is going to handle having this young buck around?

A fortnight ago I had no army, a year ago I had no dragons…” – Daenerys

Finally, let’s talk about Sam for a moment. Not about the fact that he is so dense that he blew a shot at snuggling up to Gilly to stay warm, but rather about how awesome it was that he finally seems to be shedding his self appointed mantle of being a coward. I don’t know about you, but if a murder of crows lands on the God Tree right outside my busted old shelter I am not going to so quickly step outside to see what’s up. That was genuinely creepy as hell! I really hope at some point they explain the whole White Walkers wanting these male children thing, because it honestly makes no sense to me still, but I will let it go because we got to see Sam actually kill one in a bold and spectacular fashion. Evidently those obsidian looking daggers and whatnot he found buried in the snow are worth something… I guess we will see if this revelation changes  anything in grand scheme of things in the episodes to come!

My Score: A-

So let us know what you thought! Have we had enough of naked women torturing restrained male characters? Will someone please tell me if I am supposed to hate the Hound (because I am torn)? Can Davos actually learn to read that fast? When is Arya finally going to get medieval on someone’s ass? Get to commenting below!

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Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 8 “Second Sons” aired May 19, 2013 on HBO.

Please Note – Due the nature of this TV show being quite far behind the books in terms of plot, we want to remind everyone that there is a zero tolerance policy regarding spoilers in the comments. Keep discussions relevant to the show only!

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