Game of Thrones S3E2 “Dark Wings, Dark Words”
Coming off of the season three premier episode “Valar Dohaeris” which got us acclimated to everyone’s situation again, “Dark Wings, Dark Words” was free to advance some plot lines onward. Along with this, we got the few big characters who sat last week out back into the swing of things so we’re all set to get things started this season. Aside from one action set piece, “Dark Wings, Dark Words” isn’t filled with action. The episode uses dialogue to move along and it’s needed because we get a whole lot of character introductions here. In “Dark Wings, Dark Words” Bran gets some new group members, Arya runs into a group of unfamiliar people and one familiar person, the adventures of Jaime and Brienne take a step in the wrong direction, and Robb gets a fair bit of bad news. Let’s dig in.
“Dark wings, dark words” is a saying in Westeros deriving from the fact that urgent news is sent via ravens which as you know have dark wings. Urgent news is often bad news, hence the saying. In the episode, the bearer of bad news is Roose Bolton, bringing the bad news to Robb. Firstly, on their way out, we learn that the Ironborn put Winterfell to the torch before surrendering the castle and there is no sign of Bran or Rickon anywhere. Secondly, Robb’s grandfather and Cat’s father, Hoster Tully has passed away. Robb heads over to his mother to tell him of both news and he convinces Cat that there is hope that Bran and Rickon are alive. We know they’re alive but from Cat’s vantage point, it’s just blind hope to think so but that’s all she has so she’s going to stick with it.
Robb leaves Roose Bolton in charge of Harrenhal for the time being and leaves with his best group of men and his mother to Rivverun for his grandfather’s funeral. Along the way, Rickard Karstark speaks his mind and speaks some ugly truths. He tells Robb that many in the army are losing motivation to fight and faith in Robb. He goes as far as to say that he thinks Robb lost the war the day he married Talisa. Is it a stretch? Maybe, but he does have a point. Robb agreed to marry into House Frey for strategic purposes so if you’re going to break your word, it should be to form an even stronger strategic alliance. Marrying Talisa is the exact opposite of that, being a foreigner and a political nobody. Family comes first, so they have to go to the funeral, but Robb is going to need to do something to keep men motivated and believing in the cause because he’s losing both of those by the day.
Speaking of Talisa, her relationship with her mother in law hasn’t started so swimmingly so she goes over to Cat to see if she can be of any help. Cat gets a great bit here in a monologue where she owns up to her faults and blames them for her family’s misfortunes. She recalls praying to the gods to kill Jon Snow when Ned brought him home as a baby. One day when he was a child, it looked like Cat may get her wish as he came down with a bad case of the pox. Maester Luwin said if Jon made it through the night, he would be alright, but it would be a very long night. When push came to shove that night, Cat couldn’t believe she wished death upon an innocent child all because of Jon’s mother who he didn’t even know himself. She then prayed to the gods to let him live, and in return, she would love Jon and ask Ned to ask King Robert to legitimize Jon and make him Jon Stark. When Jon got better, Cat couldn’t keep her word and she blames herself for all this misery that has come to her family. We’ve never seen this level of openness from Cat about her hatred of Jon or the misfortune her family has endured and her reasoning of the latter being punishment for the former is great to watch and may be the best scene in the episode.
Making that whole monologue especially sad is the fact Cat’s daughter Arya is also in the Riverlands, walking with Gendry and Hot Pie in seemingly a directionless fashion. She suggests they head towards Riverrun which would be a nice reunion but before they can go any further, they are spotted by Thoros of Myr and the Brotherhood without Banners, a rebel group fighting for the small folk. Thoros is curious to hear how they escaped Harrenhal and offers them dinner and the chance to go on their way afterward. Thoros stays true to his word, letting them leave but before that can happen, a group of Brotherhood soldiers comes in with a surprise prisoner. They take the bag off his face and the prisoner is revealed to be Sandor Clegane. Sandor immediately recognizes Arya and asks Thoros what he’s doing with her. Arya had made no mention of who she was to Thoros for her protection but now that the cat’s out of the bag, I doubt Thoros will be letting Arya and friends just go along their way. A Stark girl could draw quite the ransom.
Also in some part of the Riverlands, we continue the meandering adventures of Jaime and Brienne. Jaime continues to prod information out of Brienne to entertain himself. Today he finds out that Brienne served for Renly and judging from her reaction when Jaime suggests it, she was probably in love with Renly. Alas, Jaime says that Renly’s sexual preferences were “the worst kept secret in court”. He even says he doesn’t blame her, because you can’t chose who you love. Jaime knows that better than anyone and this was probably the first instance of Jaime not trying to be mean to Brienne. A little time afterward, they run into a farmer who casually asks why they’re cutting through the country to get where they’re going. To Brienne, he seems innocent enough but Jaime insists they should kill him on the chance he recognized him and tells someone. Brienne is in charge though so the final decision is to let him go.
Brienne is later presented with a choice. They reach a stretch of river with a fast current. Do you take your chances swimming across it or do you take the public and hard to miss bridge to cross it? As Jaime puts it, Brienne is a “gambler at heart” and she decides on the bridge. While faking needing a rest on the bridge, Jaime uses the opportunity to take Brienne’s spare sword and cuts off his foot shackles. Jaime starts a fight with Brienne, hoping the fact that Brienne won’t kill him will allow him to win, despite still having wrist shackles on and being malnourished for the past year. Brienne proves to be more than Jaime in his current condition can handle though. Before the fight can come to any real conclusion, Locke, a bannerman of Roose Bolton come by the bridge with a group of his men and the farmer, who ratted on Jaime and Brienne much like Jaime feared. Jaime tries to buy his way out of the situation but since Locke is a northerner, it doesn’t work since Robb would just kill him if he ever found out that he let Jaime Lannister go. Money can’t get Jaime out of this one.
We turn our attention northward to Bran. He’s having one of those three eyed raven dreams again, but this time a boy comes into the dream and tells him Bran can’t kill the raven because he himself is the raven. A little later on, the boy from the dream comes by their camp and after a tense standoff between the boy, Bran’s direwolf, Osha, and the boy’s sister, the situation cools off. The boy introduces himself as Jojen Reed and his sister as Meera Reed. House Reed is a bannerman of House Stark and the two siblings have been looking for Bran for a while now, thinking that he will be very important in the future. We finally get some light on these dreams of Bran as Jojen reveals that Bran is a warg, someone who can enter and control animals, like Bran in his direwolf dreams. With practice, Jojen says Bran will be able to control Summer when he’s awake as well. Bran then asks about the raven dream and Jojen says that’s different. Jojen is what is called a “seer”, someone who can see events from the past, future, or present events from other places. Turns out that Bran is also a seer and his dream of his father dying wasn’t a dream, it was a sight vision. Bran’s story line is finally getting interesting and I’m going to agree with the Reed’s here, Bran seems like he’s going to have an important part to play in the future now.
Beyond the wall, Jon, Mance, Tormund, Ygritte, and the rest of the free folk continue their trek southward. Jon meets their warg, Orell, who can control an eagle. He flies to the Fist of the First Men and when he comes back, he warns of seeing lots of dead crows. Must be sad news for Jon who’s still a crow at heart. Can’t blame Mance for not being completely sold on Jon being a free folk now can we?
The rest of the Night’s Watch is making their way home. Rast berates Sam for running away instead of fighting in the battle. Shortly thereafter, Sam collapses from exhaustion, ready to let the cold freeze him to death. Grenn and Edd come to his aid and when Sam gets upset that they left him alone back in “Valar Morghulis”, they defend their actions but still want to help Sam now. Mormont comes over to see what the fuss is about and orders Sam not to die. He also orders Rast to not let Sam die, or he will kill him as soon as Sam does die. And onward they march.
After seasons one and two were dominated by King’s Landing plot lines, they kind of took a back seat here. Shae sneaks into Tyrion’s new chambers and asks a favor of him. Shae asks him to keep an eye on Sansa but Tyrion reveals the reality of the situation, without the security blanket of becoming queen someday, she is going to have a lot of suitors and inevitably draw some creeps, like Littlefinger. He also warns her for like the hundredth time that they have to be careful and she can’t be seen with him but that’s not exactly new information. Tyrion’s bit here kind of felt put in just to have a fan favorite in as close to every episode as possible. Hopefully Tyrion gets a job or something because his downtime antics aren’t all that fun.
It seems I was right about Cersei not liking Margaery as she tries to plant some bad seeds in Joffrey’s mind about her during a conversation with Joffrey. I would say mission success here as Joffrey calls Margaery on pretext of checking in on her but it quickly turns into an investigation of her marriage with Renly. Margaery shows off her political intelligence here, absolving herself of any blame from Renly’s “perversions”. She then turns the attention to Joffrey’s crossbow when it becomes apparent that he’s kind of turned on by violence. Margaery seems to know how to play the game as she’s already looking for an “in” that will allow her to somewhat control Joffrey once she is his queen. You’re going to have to do better than that Cersei, Margaery is just getting started.
Sansa had a meeting with Margaery’s grandmother, Olena Tyrell, the queen of thorns. She’s got some sass to her and it’s fantastic to watch her keep it real attitude. She asks Sansa to tell the truth about Joffrey after hearing some nasty rumors and Sansa confirms them and says he’s a monster. Olena seems disappointed but promises that she won’t tell anyone what Sansa said. I’ve got no problem believing Olena and I hope we see more of her.
Dany sat this one out and it should be no surprise given how they set up the episode. Almost every time someone’s name was the last word of a scene, the next scene was of that person. Dany being so far away, isn’t on the mind of anyone in Westeros. Very clever technique to tie the scenes together though.
Theon makes his not so triumphant return, being tortured in an undisclosed location. A boy says he was sent by Yara and will return at night to help Theon escape from there and go back to the Iron Islands. How do we feel about that? Theon deserves punishment for betraying the Starks, most likely death, but that torture was tough to watch.
Given that Joffrey is contemplating death penalty for homosexuality, it was very good work on Margaery’s part to make no mention of her brother’s relationship with Renly.
Nice to hear Ned’s voice again in Bran’s dream. We still miss ya Ned.
I made mention that a lot of the stories right now are taking place in the same state, the Riverlands. I wish the show did a little bit of a better job communicating the geography because it’s honestly tragic how close some of these separate story lines are to each other.
That thing the archer from the brotherhood did to Hot Pie was pretty cool, not going to lie.
Can’t really do quote of the day because I loved everything Olena Tyrell said equally. Seriously, just go back and watch her part.
New faces and bad news dominate “Dark Wings, Dark Words” as season three is now hitting the ground running.