Game of Thrones S2E3 “What Is Dead May Never Die”
In one of the most intriguing scenes of “What Is Dead May Never Die”, Varys poses a riddle to Tyrion. A sellsword is brought before a king, a priest, and a rich man. Each man wants the sellsword to kill the other two, who lives and who dies? Tyrion says it depends on the sellsword, as the sword gives him the power of life and death. But if the sellsword has all the power, why isn’t he king? Varys has wisely pointed out that power is an illusion, residing only where people think it resides. In “What Is Dead May Never Die”, much of the characters find themselves vying for whatever power they can acquire for themselves as Cat tests her luck at forming an alliance, Tyrion continues to play the game of politics to his benefit, and Theon finally makes a choice between adopted family and real family. All this and much more to get into so let’s get to it.
“The Night Lands” ended with Jon showing off his lack of stealth and getting hit in the head by Craster who found Jon following him into the woods. Craster returns back to his keep, dragging Jon with him and kicks out the Night’s Watch, being sure to put all of the blame on Jon. Before they leave, Mormont pulls Jon aside and the two have a conversation about the circumstances of their eviction. Before long, Jon tries to defend his actions and the lack of surprise on Mormont’s face makes Jon realize that Mormont has known all along about Craster’s inhumane actions. Mormont owns up to this but tells Jon that beyond the wall is a cruel place and while he does not condone what Craster does to his daughters or sons, he has no choice but to tolerate it as Craster is a rare source of information and shelter beyond the wall. Jon reveals that he saw something (a white walker but he just doesn’t know it yet) and Mormont tells him that he’s likely to see it again. Next time we check in on these two and the rest of the Night’s Watch, they’ll be going further north so I’m inclined to believe Mormont here.
After a bye week, Cat finally arrives at the war camp of King Renly Baratheon and is surprised to see that Renly seems to be in no rush to battle, in fact, he is hosting a tournament. Ser Loras Tyrell (Renly’s lover and gifted swordsman) loses in quite the upset. The winner is revealed to actually be a woman, and a huge one at that. She is Brienne of Tarth and for her tournament victory, she asks Renly for a place in his Kingsguard which Renly grants her. After the festivities are over, Cat is brought forth to meet with Renly and after the required pleasantries are exchanged, Cat speaks of her desire to form an alliance and also points out that Renly may need to start taking this more seriously. Renly is not in the mood to discuss formal terms of brokering an alliance so he asks Brienne to escort Cat to her tent and Renly departs to his own tent.
Back at his tent, Renly tries to seduce Loras but Loras has other things in mind. Renly is married to Margaery, Loras’ sister and Loras reminds Renly that his father Mace, did not agree to give Renly his bannermen and wealth (he has a plethora of both) for nothing. He is expecting a grandson that will be king. Loras brings in his sister so Renly can get to work on that. Margaery is rather open about her husband’s homosexuality and says making an heir is the most important thing and they can go about doing that any way he wants, even suggesting that she bring her brother in to get Renly started. Nothing comes of it that night and Margaery suggests they try again some other time.
Now on to what might be my favorite location of the episode, Pyke. Theon is invited to sit on his father’s war council and it is confirmed that Balon means to attack the northern holds. Yara, who is in great standing with her father who considers her his true heir, is given thirty ships and will be attacking Deepwood Motte, a strong hold in the North. Theon on the other hand, is being given one ship and is ordered to raid fishing villages on the stony shore. Theon pleads with his father that allying themselves with the Starks is a much better option than attacking them and Balon again insists that the Greyjoy way is to take things themselves. Balon leaves and Yara tells her brother to quickly make up his mind about whose side he’s on, as the Greyjoy invasion of the north will be happening with or without him.
Theon struggles with making his decision and for a second it looks like he’s going to stay loyal to his sworn brother Robb Stark, writing a letter to him warning of his father’s incoming invasion. Theon ultimately decides to choose his real family over his adopted one, burning the warning letter and being baptized in the name of the Drowned God (the god worshiped on the Iron Islands). Both of these scenes are excellently well shot and they further prove the point that this is a very critical point in Theon’s life. Theon swore himself to Robb’s service but has now picked his biological family over the Starks. Theon’s a turncoat now, for better or worse we’ll just have to wait and see.
Turning our attention to Kings Landing, Tyrion continues his quest to play the political game better than everyone else. The main objective today, find out who on the small council cannot be trusted. Tyrion decides to test the loyalties of Pycelle, Varys, and Littlefinger. Tyrion reveals his intent to use Cersei’s daughter, Princess Myrcella to broker a marriage alliance and asks the three of them to not tell the queen. Tyrion tells Pycelle he plans to marry her to Trystane Martell of Dorne, he tells Varys he will marry her to Theon Greyjoy, and he tells Littlefinger he will marry her to Robin Arryn. Cersei angrily confronts Tyrion about sending Myrcella to Dorne, confirming that Pycelle serves as a spy for Cersei and Tyrion goes over to Pycelle to confront him. Tyrion reveals his ploy, telling him everyone got a different marriage so Pycelle is the only one who could have snitched. Tyrion tells Bronn to cut off that wonderful beard Pycelle has and then has Pycelle thrown in the dungeons. I daresay this plan is the smartest thing Tyrion has done so far.
There is one hitch in the plan however. Varys applauds Tyrion for the plan but Littlefinger is less appreciative and doesn’t care for being played. Tyrion keeps Littlefinger happy by offering him a proposition. He allows Littlefinger to go meet with Cat at Renly’s camp. Tyrion knows that Littlefinger is still in love with her and Tyrion also knows that Cat may just be willing to give up Jaime for the right price. Littlefinger agrees to the deal and that leaves everyone happy.
While the political game is going quite well for Tyrion, home life is proving more difficult. Shae voices her frustration at being stuck in Tyrion’s room all day and all night and isn’t too happy that the best Tyrion could come up with to curb her boredom is to have her work in the kitchens. Tyrion gets into contact with Varys and asks him if there’s anything he can do to get Shae something to do. Of course, Varys does have something for her to do, Shae gets to be Sansa’s handmaiden.
Before we talk about Shae’s new job, I’d like to talk about Sansa for a bit. In the episode, Sansa takes part in the most awkward dinner ever with Cersei and her children as Myrcella asks if Joffrey is going to kill Sansa’s brother. Sansa says everything that Cersei wants to hear and she’s playing the role of political prisoner quite well to her credit. So when she gets back to her room, it’s only natural she blows off some steam at her new handmaiden Shae. Hopefully Sansa can make friends with Shae because she’s living quite the stressful life, even having just one friend could make things better.
Our last scene of the night is an extended one with Arya. The rest of the group has gone to sleep but Arya finds herself struggling to fall asleep. She asks Yoren how he can possibly fall asleep at night with all the bad things he’s seen and he tells a great story about how his brother was killed by a man named Willem. Every night he says Willem’s name before going to sleep, almost like a prayer, promising he would kill Willem if he ever came back around town. One day he did and Yoren drove an ax right into his face. Yoren fled to the wall to avoid being punished for it and he’s been with the Night’s Watch ever since. It was heartbreaking to hear that in his desire for revenge, Yoren couldn’t even remember what his brother looks like anymore.
Whether that would help Arya fall asleep, we’ll never know as the Lannister guards are back in full force. Yoren wakes everyone up and specifically tells Arya and Gendry that if anything goes wrong, they should run north. Ser Amory Lorch gives Yoren one chance to hand over Gendry peacefully and Yoren refuses. Before Yoren can even draw his blade though, he’s shot with a crossbow. Yoren goes out like a champion though, he complains about how long crossbows take to load and then proceeds to kill some guards before he’s dealt a fatal blow himself. You’ll be missed Yoren.
Seeing that their leader has been killed, the rest of the recruits get ready to fight. Most of them are killed. Gendry and Hot Pie are forced to yield while Arya is forced to do the same, not before a man by the name of Polliver takes Needle from her. Lommy took an arrow to the knee in the fight and asks to be carried. Polliver offers to do so but it’s a trap as Lommy’s neck is pulled right into a waiting Needle. With everyone rounded up, Ser Amory Lorch asks for Gendry, threatening that he’ll start taking eyeballs if no one hands him in. Poor Lommy had Gendry’s helmet so Arya resourcefully says that they already killed Gendry, pointing at Lommy. The helmet was the only thing the guards had to go off of so that’s good enough for them. Arya, Gendry, Hot Pie, and the rest of the survivors are off to Harrenhall.
With Balon officially going for a crown, we’re up to five kings. Joffrey, Robb, Stannis, Renly, and Balon. You just know we won’t have five for long.
Anyone else figure after that great speech from Yoren that he would quickly thereafter bite the dust? He had some awesome last moments though.
Arya freed Jaqen and the other two guys from their cage during the fight. If they’re alive, they’ll be heading to Harrenhall thanks to the kindness of Arya.
Before leaving Craster’s Keep, Sam gave Gilly a thimble that his mother gave to him, promising he’ll come back. With how upset Craster is, I’m not sure Sam or anyone else from the Night’s Watch will be able to come back.
Theon’s one ship is called the “Sea Bitch”. He’s got a long way to go to earn respect around here.
Back at Winterfell, Bran tells Maester Luwin of his dreams. Luwin comments that he has a chain for learning of the higher powers (magic and things pertaining to it) and believes that magic is gone from the world. Bran seems to have piqued his interests though.
Dany and friends sit this episode out as the slowest plot line of the season doesn’t even move an inch today.
Good continuity shown with Pycelle actually putting up quite the fight while being detained, a call back to his surprising strength as shown in “Fire and Blood”.
Quote of the Day is a dialogue between Tyrion and Timett, deciding what to do to Pycelle. Tyrion:”Cut off his manhood and feed it to the goats.” Timett “There are no goats, halfman!” Tyrion “Well, make do!” It’s nice to see Tyrion get to threaten someone with that after the Hill Tribers threatened him with that all the way to Tywin’s camp in season one.
Power is on the minds of many in “What Is Dead May Never Die” as Theon makes a fateful choice, Tyrion continues to play the game wisely, and Arya has an unwanted change of plans.