Game of Thrones S2E7 “A Man Without Honor”
“A Man Without Honor” may lack the action that ensued in “The Old Gods and the New”, and that’s alright. When action does happen, it has more meaning and impact when we understand the thought process of the characters and the context of the situation. “A Man Without Honor” is certainly an episode that’s more about the journey than the destination, as frankly, the “destinations” are few and far between in this episode. As we prepare for the end of the season, it’s important to expand our knowledge of the characters before they get their big payoffs for the season and that is what “A Man Without Honor is all about”. In the episode, Sansa and Cersei face some uncomfortable truths, Qarth get a little more confusing, Theon reaches the point of no return, and Jaime finally makes his return. And away we go.
I’d like to start with Jaime’s return but before we can get into that, it would be best to set the scene. Alton Lannister, the captured scout that Robb sent to King’s Landing with peace terms has returned and brings Robb the unsurprising bad news that Cersei has refused his terms. Robb wants to return Alton to his prison cell but it turns out that all the prison cells are full. Robb can’t stick around all day until they figure something out as he has to go to The Crag to discuss a surrender with a vassal of the Lannisters. Pressed for time, he orders a new cell to be built and in the meantime, Alton is to share a cell with his distant cousin, Jaime.
There are several two person dialogue scenes in the episode, but the one between Alton and Jaime might be the best one. We quickly see that even though the two are cousins, the distinction between the “true” Lannisters and the secondary ones is huge, as Alton is practically blushing at the notion of talking to his hero, Jaime. He mentions that the best day of his life was the time he got to squire for Jaime at a tournament. While that was Alton’s greatest moment, it took Jaime a while to remember what Alton was talking about so it just shows you the difference in lifestyles that the two have, even though they share the same surname. Jaime does manage to relate to Alton though, admitting that he had the same feelings of awe when he got to squire for the legendary Barristan Selmy. Jaime has been painted in such a negative light the whole series, and I’m not going to say he hasn’t deserved it, but most people still have humanizing qualities and Jaime having a hero in his youth is one of them.
Alas, the decent side of Jaime doesn’t last very long. While the conversation with Alton was genuine, Jaime ends up dehumanizing his cousin to use him as a means to an end. Jaime is able to attract the attention of the guards by smashing Alton’s head in and killing him. Jaime pretends to be asleep and when the guard comes in to check out the scene, Jaime takes him by surprise and strangles him with his chains, killing him. He takes the key from the guard and frees himself, leaving in the night.
Jaime doesn’t make it very far and finds himself captured and back at the Stark camp by daytime. The camp is in a state of chaos as Rickard Karstark, the father of the guard Jaime killed, demands Jaime’s head. Cat tries to defuse the situation to the point that Robb can get back but it doesn’t prove easy. Brienne makes quite the good point. If killing a Lannister is treason (it shouldn’t be to begin with), who would want to fight defending a Lannister? It’s very much a sticky situation and Cat angrily goes over to talk with Jaime herself once things have calmed down a little. Cat calls him a man without honor but Jaime doesn’t seemed bothered by the insult, saying that they make knights take so many vows that at some point, keeping one vow means you’re breaking the other. He then provokes Cat by saying he’s got more honor than Ned did, saying at least he’s only slept with one woman. This brings Cat to the point of asking Brienne for her sword, which she points at Jaime. Our time at the Stark camp ends here though so we’ll have to wait till next time to see what happens next.
Kings Landing provides us a much less violent scene it did last episode, it would be hard not too when you’re competing with a riot. Sansa has a nightmare about the men who attempted to gang rape her and then she wakes up to a real nightmare. Her sheets are bloody, she’s begun menstruating. Now she is able to have Joffrey’s children and the thought terrifies her as she tries to destroy the sheets. Shae hears the commotion, sees what’s going on, and decides to help Sansa. Another handmaiden passes by and sees what’s happening and goes to tell Cersei of the news. Before she can, Shae intercepts her and threatens her not to tell the Queen. The message is received but it proves meaningless as when Shae walks back to Sansa’s room, the Hound is waiting there.
Sansa has a brief moment of relief when the Hound brings her to Cersei instead of Joffrey. In a surprising scene, Cersei actually offers her some honest advice and truths, one of which being that it will be impossible to love Joffrey and that she will not hold that against her. Cersei says that loving her children will make it bearable but also cautions her to not love anyone else, as the more people you love the weaker you are.
Afterward, Cersei invites Tyrion over for dinner in Tyrion’s only scene of the episode. It’s a case of quality over quantity for Tyrion though as this scene offers a rare touching moment between the siblings. Cersei opens up about her relationship with Jaime and wonders if Joffrey’s cruelty is the gods punishment for her incest. Tyrion comforts his sister by saying that Myrcella and Tommen are good children and one bad fruit doesn’t ruin the bunch. It’s an extremely rare honest and supportive exchange between the two and it comes off extremely well.
Now we turn our attention to Tyrion and Cersei’s father, Tywin. Tywin is upset at Amory Lorch’s death as he thinks it was a failed attempt to assassinate him. He voices his concern to Ser Gregor and Gregor thinks that the brotherhood without banners is responsible for the hit. Tywin orders him to go to the nearby villages and to burn them to the ground in an attempt to get more information about the brotherhood. When Gregor leaves, Tywin and Arya share another conversation that proves just as fun to watch as the ones before it. Through her knowledge of history and educated way of speaking, Tywin finally figures out that Arya is a highborn and tells her that she should dumb down her way of speaking if she wants to blend in with the lowborn. He then tells her she’s too smart for her own good not as a threat, but as a compliment. These scenes continue to be a joy to watch.
Beyond the wall, Jon continues his search for his fellow night’s watch men with Ygritte as his prisoner. Ygritte quickly figures out that he’s a virgin and teases him for it, along with many other things such as the stupidity of having a line of succession and taking oaths to not enjoy in the pleasures of life. Jon tries to tell her that they aren’t that different as he has the same ancestors that the wildlings have but that only further proves Ygritte’s point. Why are their lives so different if they have so much in common? The two of them argue about it for a while and come to a muddy area where Ygritte offers to have sex with him, claiming that she’ll tell his fellow night’s watch men that that’s what happened anyway so he may as well do it. Jon holds true to his oath of celibacy but it didn’t really matter either way since Ygritte led Jon right into an ambush. With wildlings surrounding every side of him, the prison guard looks to have become the prisoner.
To end, we’ll focus on the couple story lines that did have some action to them, the first being Qarth. After hearing of the kidnapping of the dragons, Jorah immediately leaves his ship search to return to Dany. She orders him to go look for the dragons and Jorah seeks out the mysterious Quaithe to see if she knows anything. She tells him that she knows of his betrayal of Dany (when he spied on her for Varys in season 1) and that he loves her. That part of the relationship has come across a bit awkward but perhaps it’s for the best given the age gap between the two but I guess we’ll see if that goes anywhere. Lastly, Quaithe reveals that the kidnapper is with Dany right now.
That bit of information from Quaithe begs the question, where is Dany? She’s at a meeting with the thirteen discussing her dragons. The spice king assures her that they don’t have them but even if they did, they wouldn’t return them to her as those dragons will only cause violence and misery to the world when they’re fully grown. It’s a fair point but before it can be discussed, Pyat Pree intervenes, saying he has the dragons and that she can find them in the House of the Undying. Xaro and Pyat then reveal their conspiracy as Pyat multiplies himself ten times over and kills the remaining eleven members of the thirteen and Xaro announces himself King of Qarth. I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t really care about the politics of Qarth as the Qarth characters haven’t really been developed but I guess we’ll just roll with it, at least it gives Dany a reason to go to the House of the Undying. Her dragons await her, but what else does?
Theon awakes from his slumber in Winterfell and berates everyone else for the escape of the Stark boys along with Hodor, Osha, and the direwolves. When one of his men points out that it’s his fault for sleeping with Osha, he brutally beats him in public. Theon, Dagmer, Luwin, and some hounds go hunting for the children, all the while Luwin advises him not to kill them, citing their value as hostages but mostly because he cares about them. When they arrive at a farm and find walnuts that Rickon seems to always be eating, Theon sends Luwin home as it looks like they got their targets and he’s past the point of showing mercy.
Theon returns to Winterfell and displays to all its inhabitants two burnt children children beyond recognition, saying they’re Bran and Rickon. Luwin, along with everyone else cry out in grief. The “beyond recognition” bit is important here though, you think that Theon would want to show without a doubt that he had killed the two boys. It makes one wonder if he actually got Bran and Rickon. Whether he did or he didn’t, this is definitely the point of no return for Theon. He has completed his transformation into a villain. While killing children is absolutely wrong, killing Bran and Rickon was also completely stupid. And if it turns out that those bodies weren’t Bran and Rickon, he killed two innocent children just to make a statement. There’s no angle here that makes Theon look good here. He is truly, a man without honor.
If you’re trying to cover up revealing evidence, you might want to try closing the door next time Shae.
Robb invited Talisa with him to The Crag for the surrender. This romance is going to hit amp up soon.
Sansa did go on and address the kindness Sandor showed her but Sandor meets her with his usual cold and hateful demeanor. Sandor reminds her that she’s going to want him to be that way when he’s the only thing standing between her and the king. Nice bit of foreshadowing as Sansa immediately afterward becomes ready for marriage.
We’ll do words of the day. With wildlings becoming a bigger part of the story, let’s learn a little about the way they speak. They refer to themselves as “free folk” and the night’s watch men as “crows”.
“A Man Without Honor” applies the breaks for a little as we take a look into the characters minds before they race off to their end season destinations.