Game of Thrones S3E4 “And Now His Watch Is Ended”
To this point, season three of Game of Thrones has been build up, to what exactly, we might not know. In “And Now His Watch Is Ended”, a lot of that buildup gets paid off in a large way with some of the more stagnant story lines catching fire. A skillful balance is achieved in “And Now His Watch Is Ended” as the majority of the episode takes place in King’s Landing through dialogue scenes, while the dramatic action filled shocks take place away from the capital, and both are thrilling to watch. “And Now His Watch Is Ended” gives us a big return to politics in King’s Landing, a trial in the Riverlands, a cruel game in the north, a mutiny beyond the wall, and a master stroke by Dany. Let’s take a look.
One positive surprise that we got in this episode was Varys taking a prominent role. We start our adventures with the Master of Whispers when Tyrion stops by his chambers. Varys seems to be occupied with opening a crate but allows Tyrion the time to say whatever it is he wants to say. Tyrion is set on revenge against his sister, knowing in his heart that she sent Ser Mandon to kill him in the Battle of the Blackwater but he needs proof. Varys tells him he has only heard whispers that Cersei commanded the hit but lacks proof himself. He does tell Tyrion that if he’s patient, he will get his revenge as he tells Tyrion of his own revenge story against the man who made him a eunuch. A sorcerer bought a young Varys from the acting troupe he was in so he could perform a magical ritual. In an awful sounding event, the sorcerer drugged Varys to the point where he couldn’t talk or move, but still allowed him to feel pain. The sorcerer then cut off both “pillar and stones” and threw them into a fire. Varys still has nightmares not about the sorcerer or even the pain, but the voice that emerged from the fire. After the ritual, the sorcerer threw Varys on the street, not needing him anymore. From there, Varys resolved to live, to gain power to the point he could extract revenge on the sorcerer. He then opens the crate and we see that inside is the sorcerer, Varys finally able to get revenge after all those years. Varys may seem like a passive guy but here we learn that he is not someone you want to mess with.
Varys goes to visit Ros, who he has made into a spy on Littlefinger. She reveals her thought that Littlefinger is going to take Sansa with him when he leaves, citing two feather beds on his ship inventory. This is a big deal, with Bran, Rickon, and Arya presumed dead, Sansa is the heir to the north so if Littlefinger takes her away, he can hold the north. Varys doesn’t like that idea very much, even saying that Littlefinger would see the country burn if he could be king of the ashes. He pays a visit to the Queen of Thorns to stop this before it gets going. Varys actually meets his match here as Olena basically knows everything he’s going to say before he even says it, including his solution. The solution is revealed later on when Margaery takes a walk with Sansa. Margaery says that once she’s queen, she’ll be able to arrange Sansa to marry her brother Loras. Sounds like a win win. Littlefinger is deprived of a huge chess piece and Sansa gets to leave King’s Landing for Highgarden and marry her crush (Loras being gay is a much smaller problem than the things she’s had to deal with here). The Tyrell push for power grows stronger every episode.
To anyone even remotely paying attention, it’s known that Cersei is adamantly against this Tyrell power grab. She confronts her father about this and to no one’s surprise, Tywin wins the verbal battle. Cersei doesn’t at all like that Margaery can control Joffrey but Tywin sees it as a positive and notes Cersei’s inability to do the same. She subtlety challenges Tywin to try to control Joffrey himself, meaning that it’s not that easy. Tywin calmly but menacingly says “I will”. Tywin’s children are no match for him, it’s no wonder the Lannister name is feared throughout the Seven Kingdoms.
In the Riverlands, Arya and Gendry arrive at the hideout of the Brotherhood without Banners. Not too far behind are Sandor and his prison guards. Beric Dondarrion, the leader of the brotherhood emerges and begins to rattle off crimes committed by Sandor. The problem is, most of the crimes listed were Lannister crimes or ones committed by his brother Gregor. Right when it looks like they might have to let Sandor go for not actually having a legitimate accusation against him, Arya makes her voice heard and brings up his killing of Micah the butcher boy. Sandor admits he killed him but on Prince Joffrey’s orders. This is crime enough for the brotherhood to move forward with and Beric sentences Sandor to a trial by combat in which he will fight Sandor himself. Looking forward to it.
Somewhere else in the Riverlands, we check in with Brienne and Jaime who are still en route to Harrenhal. Jaime has lost all will to live and even tries to commit suicide by battle. Locke doesn’t give in to what Jaime wants and he has to carry on. Brienne tells Jaime that he can’t give up because he got his first dose of reality and that he has to live on to get his revenge. Jaime’s a long way off from being his usual self but Brienne did get him to eat, it’s a start. We also learn that Jaime’s story to save Brienne last episode was in fact a lie, as Brienne says that Tarth is called the sapphire isle due to the color of the water, not for sapphires. She asks Jaime why he lied for her but Jaime doesn’t answer. We probably all know why he did it but I wouldn’t expect him to come out and say it any time soon.
Somewhere in the north, Theon and the boy continue their journey. It was great to watch Theon open up for the first time since his betrayal of the Starks. His arrogant demeanor was to hide up his insecurities about being a ward, he feels tremendously guilty about burning the orphan boys to have them pass as Bran and Rickon, and probably the most revealing confession, he now realizes that Ned Stark was his real father. In a cruel twist, what Theon thinks is the back entrance to Deepwood Motte is actually the same torture chamber he “escaped” from. The boy reveals himself to be head torturer and devised this whole “escape” plan to psychologically mess with Theon. He then blames Theon for the death of the hunters even though he did that himself. We don’t know who this boy is yet but what we do know if that he’s pretty sick. I’d look for things to get a whole lot worse before they get better for Theon.
Now we turn our attention away from the Seven Kingdoms to where the action takes place, beyond the wall going first. Things aren’t going well at Craster’s Keep as Rast and several other brothers of the night’s watch voice their displeasure for Craster. Things heat up in a huge way at dinner that night. Another brother of the watch, Karl Tanner, complains to Craster directly that he’s feeding them saw dust infested bread and that he’s treating his pigs better than he does them. He gets Craster to admit that he has hidden portions of food. Rast calls Craster a bastard and demands that Craster give them some real food. Craster then threatens to cut off the hand of the next person to call him a bastard. As Mormont goes to restrain Rast, Karl speaks up again and escalates the situation a thousandfold, calling Craster a “daughter-fucking wildling bastard”.
Craster doesn’t take that insult lightly and charges at Karl with an ax in hand. Karl catches the ax with one hand and stabs Craster with a dagger through the throat in the other. Mormont is outraged at Karl because hurting your host is forbidden by all laws of gods and men and he thinks they’ll be cursed for this. Mormont unfortunately doesn’t have to worry about that for too long as Rast stabs Mormont in the back and the scene becomes an outright mutiny as it’s revealed a large portion of the night’s watch was in on this. The loyalists do their best to get away and head back to Castle Black while Sam does his own thing. Sam slips out of the battle and looks for Gilly and her son. He finds them and says they have to leave now or they’ll all die. Gilly takes the lead, knowing the woods around the keep very well, and the three take off as Rast yells at Sam, saying he’ll kill Sam soon. It’s been well established at this point that most of the Night’s Watch is made of criminals but even despite that, a full on mutiny was completely unexpected and took me by complete surprise.
In a less surprising but just as brilliantly executed move, Dany reveals that she in fact did have a trick up her sleeve. She brings her biggest dragon, Drogon to Kraznys and Kraznys gives her the whip that controls the Unsullied. Surprising everyone in attendance, she commands the Unsullied in Valyrian (Kraznys’ language that he assumed she didn’t know) to kill all the slave masters in Astapor and to free every slave. When Kraznys tries to convince the Unsullied not to do this, she confirms that the Unsullied were a free transaction by ordering Drogon to unleash his dragon fire on Kraznys, killing him.
After the Unsullied have freed all the slaves and killed all the masters, Dany announces to the Unsullied that they are no longer slaves, but free men. She says that they can stand and fight for her but they can leave if they want and no harm will come with them. The Unsullied proceed to tap their spears to the ground confirming their loyalty to Dany. With eight thousand Unsullied to her name and all three of her dragons, Dany and her ever growing army depart the city.
Bran makes an appearance but it’s nothing too special. It’s a dream again and Jojen tells him to go after the three eyed raven by climbing the tree. At the top, Bran sees him mother and flashes back to when she made him promise to stop climbing. In fear, Bran falls down the tree. Not much there.
Goes to show how much bad blood is between Sandor and Gregor. Right after saying that his brother is unfortunately alive, Sandor spits with authority.
The mutiny is probably going to diminish the already small numbers at Castle Black even further. Jon and the wildling story line took a bye week but an army of 100,000 free folk vs a Night’s Watch in a civil conflict and with shrinking numbers? Not looking too good.
Tywin commented that Cersei really isn’t as smart as she thinks she is. Tywin proved this in less than a minute when she asks him if they’re doing everything they can to find Jaime. Tywin asks her if he started a war for his dwarf son that he hates, what does she think he’s doing to save his golden child and his heir?
I think we all want a verbal battle between Olena and Tywin. Now that would be something to watch.
Beric Dondarrion has taken the Lord of Light religion as his own. As Melisandre has taught us, there’s lots of fire involved with that. What will Sandor do in the trial by combat if Beric uses a fire sword like the one Stannis had in “The North Remembers”?
Quote of the day is really word delivery of the day because Tywin wins it with one word. Cersei tells her father that she can contribute to the Lannister legacy. Tywin then says “Contribute” in a way that only he can. Charles Dance is brilliant in the role of Tywin Lannister.
“And Now His Watch Is Ended” is filled with fantastic twists and fascinating political games that Game of Thrones is known for, and is easily the best episode of the season so far.