Don’t miss Regina Thorne’s recaps of “The North Remembers,” “The Night Lands,” “What Is Dead May Never Die,” “Garden of Bones,” “The Ghost of Harrenhal,” and last week’s “The Old Gods and the New.” All caught up? Good. Now, on to...
Game of Thrones Season 2, episode 7, “A Man Without Honor”:
Sometimes the titles of Game of Thrones episodes are a bit mystifying in terms of their relevance to the episode but last night’s “A Man Without Honor” could have referred to any one of a number of characters, including Theon Greyjoy, Jaime Lannister, and Xaro Xhoan Daxos. Plus, the ghost of an Man With Honor also haunted over the episode with both Theon and Jaime (as well as Ned’s bastard son Jon) talking about and measuring themselves against Ned. (He’s a head shorter, in case anyone was wondering.)
Man Without Honor #1 Theon wakes up alone in his bed in Winterfell. Osha has, as we saw last week, debunked with extreme prejudice to an Ironborn’s throat and with the Stark children, their direwolves and Hodor. Theon is incensed at his men for letting a “halfwit” and a “cripple” outwit them; the tubby Ironborn with the long resumé of rapine and murder who mocked Theon back in Pyke mentions that if Theon hadn’t been seduced by Osha, none of this would have happened. Theon dislikes the backchatting and administers some Ironclad stomping on Tubby the Reiver.
The Ironborn, nominally led by Theon and the sinister Dagmer, ride out to hunt the Stark children, dragging Maester Luwin along. Maester Luwin tells Theon that Bran and Rickon are worth more alive than dead, and that Robb has surely sent an army to Winterfell. Theon counters that his sister Yara is at Deepwood Motte, much closer than Robb Stark, and that Ned Stark once told him that five hundred men (coincidentally the number of Yara’s men) could hold Winterfell against 10,000 attackers. Apparently Theon was paying attention to something Ned Stark said, although he seems to have missed the lessons on honor and keeping your word.
Poor Maester Luwin looks pained, either by the reference to Ned Stark, his fears for Bran and Rickon, or riding in his skirts. Or all three. Theon promises that he won’t kill Bran and Rickon when he finds them, but Maester Luwin strangely doesn’t seem to find this reassuring.
In the meantime, Osha, Hodor, Bran and Rickon (plus direwolves—and may I just say that those beasts must be pursuing their own agenda because thus far they’ve been rather useless!) are wandering in a misty wood. Rickon says he’s tired of eating walnuts. He points out a nearby farmhouse where Osha suggests that they can beg for food. Bran tells him that Theon will torture and/or kill the farm people if there’s any hint that the Stark boys were there. It’s a good thing Rickon is a human nutcracker.
In the frozen north, Ygritte and Jon have somehow managed to sleep until dawn, despite the cold and the stony ground. Ygritte wakes and teases Jon about drawing a knife on her in the middle of the night. Jon checks and is mortified to find out that he has an erection. Well, Ygritte is gorgeous, and also the first girl Jon’s slept with so it’s not surprising.
Ygritte continues to flirt with and discomfit Jon in the most delightful way. She can’t believe he’s really sworn a vow of perpetual celibacy and asks if the Night’s Watchmen are into each other or maybe farm animals. When Jon indignantly denies these allegations, Ygritte realizes that the Night’s Watch has to play with the hand they’re dealt. Or just their hands. “No wonder you’re all so miserable,” she tells Jon.
In Harrenhal, Tywin is investigating the death of Amory Lorch. Somehow, just by sniffing the dart, he can figure out the rare poison Jaquen used to fulfill Arya’s second death-wish. (Am I alone in wishing for a Game of Thrones spinoff in which Tywin and Arya roam Westeros, solving assassinations committed by Jaquen?)
Tywin is convinced that the death of Lorch was the work of the mysterious Brotherhood Without Banners, a sort of anti-Lannister guerilla force. As a consequence, he has Gregor Clegane hanging potential “infiltrators” in Lannister colors (none of whom, as we know, had anything to do with Lorch’s death) as well as burning the villages and farms of Riverlands peasants because some of them are supporting the Brotherhood.
Having revealed that he’s not the cuddly avuncular mentor to Arya Stark that I have come to know and love, Tywin then tells Arya that he doesn’t like his dinner of mutton stew and that she should eat it herself. Arya’s hesitation makes me fear for a moment that the stew is poisoned.
Tywin soliloquizes as he watches the hanged men in Lannister colors down in the forecourt, telling Arya that no matter what happens, this will be his last war. If Arya’s grip on the handle of that sharp, sharp knife is anything to go by, his war is going to end a lot sooner than he thought.
Just in time, Tywin turns around and Arya replaces the knife on the table while Tywin gives her a history lesson about Harrenhal. (In addition to solving murders, Tywin and Arya can write a guidebook about the Seven Kingdoms.) When Tywin tells Arya about how Aegon the Conqueror and his dragons destroyed Harrenhal, Arya can’t resist showing that she knows her history too: she reminds Tywin that Aegon’s two sisters were instrumental in his victory. Tywin says that most girls would be more interested in romantic stories, but Arya comments that “most girls are idiots.” Tywin tells Arya that she reminds him of his daughter Cersei, giving Arya another reason to kill him.
Tywin is disbelieving that a stonemason taught his daughter all this history and book-learning, and points out that Arya calls him “my lord” when a lowborn girl would say “milord” instead. Arya’s quick on her feet, and says that her mother, who served a noblewoman, taught her to speak properly, but Tywin has her number. Although he doesn’t know she’s Arya Stark (because he thinks Arya is still in Cersei’s custody) he knows something’s not right about Arya’s story, although he has no idea of the personal danger he’s just been in. He tells Arya she’s “too smart” for her own good.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Arya’s sister Sansa is trying to be ladylike and thank the man who saved her from a gang-rape. Unfortunately, the Hound won’t cooperate, saying that he enjoys killing people. Sansa reminds Sandor that her father didn’t like killing, and Sandor tells her that her father was lying. Sansa asks why Sandor is so hateful all the time (I don’t know, Sansa, maybe his horribly scarred face and the way everyone calls him “Hound” and “dog” might be contributing to his misanthropy). He tells her that she’ll be glad he’s so hateful when she’s Queen and he’s her only bulwark against Joffrey. Awww, the Hound’s got it bad! Which is romantic and creepy in equal measure, given the age difference and the “loves to kill” hobby that Sandor brings to the equation.
In Qarth, XXD is trying to convince Dany that he had nothing to do with the theft of her dragons, explaining that he’s lost face thanks to this horrible theft and murder situation occurring to a guest under his roof. Dany doesn’t care about XXD’s face, just about her missing dragons, and imperiously dismisses him.
In the North, Ygritte is sweet-talking Jon some more, telling him about the freedoms of the North, including but not limited to the freedom to get up when they want to and the freedom to have sex if they want to. Apparently Ygritte has also decided she has the freedom not to wear a hood if she wants to. Finally, finally, I get a character in the North who’s sensibly dressed for the weather, and after one night with Jon Snow, she too abandons headgear.
Jon mocks these “freedoms” saying that the Wildlings follow Mance Rayder, another King, but Ygritte tells him that Mance was elected by the his people, which, sight unseen, already makes me like him. (It doesn’t hurt that in my head Mance Rayder is played by James Purefoy.)
Ygritte promises Jon that she’ll show him where he can hunt and fish and have sex with hot redheads if he comes to join the Wildlings. A society in which a ruler is chosen by the consent of the governed and no one has to get up early if they don’t feel like it and Ygritte will have sex with him and Jon Snow isn’t jumping at the opportunity? Ygritte’s right: you know nothing, Jon Snow!
In Robb’s camp, Alton Lannister is delivering Cersei’s refusal of Robb’s terms. Roose Bolton, ever anxious to do some flaying and get rid of useless mouths, reminds Robb that they have too many prisoners to put Alton back in his original cage, so Robb orders that Alton will bunk with the Kingslayer until they can build him a new cage. He orders Lord Karstark’s son Torrhen to guard the prisoners. Robb seems kind of lax about guarding his valuable Lannister hostage, doesn’t he?
After the prisoner discussion, Talisa comes to Robb to ask him to help her get more supplies. She’s apparently been operating and tending the wounded because she’s bloody and kind of dirty, and her hair is popping out of her loose braid. It’s almost as bad as Lori Grimes on The Walking Dead. Someone needs some bobby pins!
Robb tells Talisa that he’s going to the Crag to accept someone’s surrender and invites her along for the road trip. She seems somewhat hesitant to go along with him, either from ulterior motives or because she suspect Robb of ulterior motives. To be honest, I’m still not feeling this romance, unlike that of Jon and Ygritte.
At the farmhouse near Winterfell, Theon has arrived with his hounds and his men and Maester Luwin, who tries yet again to plead with Theon for mercy. Poor Luwin keeps singlehandedly trying to hold back the tide of Theon’s stupidity and venality and desperate quest for Balon Greyjoy’s love and respect with fruitless appeals to the better angels of Theon’s nature. “It’s better to be cruel than weak,” Theon says to Maester Luwin, echoing Machiavelli’s Prince who said it was better to be feared than loved.
Meanwhile, Dagmer proves to be a crack detective, finding some walnut shells that show the Stark boys were at the farmhouse. (Does everyone else in Winterfell besides Rickon have a tree-nut allergy? I don’t see how the shells are proof the Stark boys were there, unless Dagmer also got some fingerprints from them.) Theon sends Luwin back to Winterfell, a sure sign that he’s about to do something awful that he doesn’t want Maester Luwin to see.
In Qarth, Dany gazes wistfully at the cages of her missing dragons, thinking of the Mother’s Day kebabs they might have grilled for her. Jorah returns, shirt unbuttoned and breathing heavily. Strangely, Dany has no reaction to this, but I’m sure that many in the audience do.
Dany recounts her losses: Doreah is missing and Irri is dead. (Also some other people, but I’m not sure Dany knew their names.) “Who are my people?” Dany asks Jorah. The only Targaryen she knew was Viserys; the Dothraki turned on her the minute Khal Drogo was incapacitated; and the Qartheen have stolen her dragons. Apparently the Spice King’s lecture from last week has penetrated Dany’s sense of entitlement.
Jorah tells her she can trust him, and Dany recognizes that Jorah wants to be the only person she trusts. “I don’t need trust any longer,” Dany tells him with a desolate look on her face. Jorah starts to tell her that she’s too young for such hardness and moves to touch her shoulder in comfort, but Dany cuts him off, saying that he’s too familiar with her. Poor Jorah looks heartbroken. “No one can survive in this world without help,” he says and offers her whatever help he can give her. Dany orders him to find her dragons.
Back in the North, Jon and Ygritte are still wandering around in circles. Jon still has no idea where he is, and Ghost is still off doing his own thing. The first thing Jon needs after a warm hat with earflaps is a GPS device.
Ygritte is wearing down Jon’s resistance to her flirtation, and as she reaches up to give him a kiss, she manages to get the rope undone and runs for it. Jon chases after her, sees the trailing rope and thinks that he’s captured her, only to find that she’s turned the tables on him and run to a group of Wildlings. Ooops! Maybe they will adopt him and give him a warm hood to wear.
In King’s Landing, Sansa wakes from a nightmare about her near-rape to the nightmare of her first period. Not only is this generally traumatic, now that she’s “flowered” there’s no barrier to her marriage to Joffrey. Welcome to womanhood, Sansa! If there’s one thing you should know, it’s that your period will always begin on the day you forgot to put a tampon in your bag.
Sansa attacks her mattress with a knife, trying to cut out the bloodstain. Shae enters and tries to help Sansa flip the mattress over, but not before another maid has seen the telltale signs. The other maid takes off to inform Cersei of the latest developments, and Shae chases after her, threatening her with a knife if she says a word to anyone. It’s too late, though, because the Hound has also arrived in Sansa’s room and has noticed the blood.
Poor Sansa! As if having her first period weren’t bad enough, now the whole castle knows and she has to have the birds-and-bees talk with Cersei instead of with her own mother. At least she’s wearing a really pretty dress in this scene though! Cersei cheers Sansa up about the pain of menstruation by talking about the pain of childbirth. She reveals that Jaime was present for the birth of her children and Robert wasn’t. Sansa has no idea what to make of this, but then Cersei actually shows a surprising understanding of Sansa’s situation. She tells Sansa that “you may never love the King, but you will love his children” and that love makes you weak. Also, you shouldn’t get too attached to your husband because you may have to kill him someday.
Speaking of love making you weak (or crazy, or murderous), Jaime is looking much the worse for wear six episodes after the last time we saw him. He and Alton Lannister reminisce about the one time that Alton squired for Jaime at a tournament. (Memo to Alton: The last time Jaime reminisced about warfare with anyone, he put a dagger through the guy’s eye shortly afterwards.)
Jaime tells Alton that he’s not cut out to be a good prisoner (sneering that in this respect he differs from Ned Stark) and that he plans to escape that very night. Jaime’s plan involves beating Alton to death in order to get their guard to come and see what’s going on in the cage. Really, this seems a bit extreme to me! Surely Jaime could have just rattled his chains a bit or had Alton shout or something less permanent in order to lure the Stark’s guard into the cage? Alas, poor Alton (who bore a strong resemblance to Gendry) is murdered by his idol, who then strangles Torrhen Karstark with his chains and escapes.
In Qarth, Jorah goes to see the masked lady from the party at XXD’s house. She’s a henna tattoo artist and cryptic fortune teller, who freaks Jorah out by asking him if he’s going to betray Dany again. Jorah swears that he’ll never betray Dany and Mask tells him that Dany is with the thief now.
Dany is meeting the Council of Thirteen, and my beloved Spice King gets a few final lines, telling Dany that her dragons will bring the world nothing but death and misery. But they’re so cute!! Blue Mouth (whose real name is Pyat Pree) tells Dany that her dragons are at the House of the Undying; the King of Qarth procured them for the warlocks. Everyone is a little bit confused because Qarth has no King (and Qarth needs no King). XXD disagrees, having decided that if he can’t be King in Westeros married to Dany, he’ll be King in Qarth with Dany’s dragons and the warlocks to enforce his rule. Then he carries out a bloody coup with the help of Pyat Pree clones who slit the throats of eleven of the Thirteen. Farewell, Spice King! I will miss your sass!
Jorah arrives in time to kill one of the Pyat Pree clones but the main one still lives, promising Dany that they need her to take care of the dragons while they grow. I think she’s also still meant to be Mrs. XXD (or Queen of Qarth.)
Catelyn Stark is writing something in her tent, while Brienne stands guard. One of Robb’s soldiers comes running into Cat’s tent only to be stopped by Brienne from entering. Heh! I love Brienne. The soldier tells Catelyn that the Kingslayer has been recaptured, and there’s talk of hanging him right away. (He’s also getting a well-deserved pummeling as Catelyn emerges.)
In Robb’s absence, Catelyn has to shout down the Northern lords who want Jaime’s head, particularly Lord Karstark, whose son was killed by Jaime. Catelyn manages to get everyone to calm down and wait for Robb’s return before they do anything to Jaime, which is a relief, because Sansa’s life hinges on Jaime’s.
In King’s Landing, Jaime’s siblings are sharing a moment of bad news. Stannis is en route to King’s Landing with two hundred ships and is expected to arrive within four or five days. Tyrion tells Cersei that Joffrey needs to start acting like a King, because if they can’t control him, then disaster will ensue. Cersei, in the voice of all parents of teenagers, says that Joffrey doesn’t listen to her and obliquely acknowledges that her child is a psycho.
She tells Tyrion that she’d always hoped Joffrey would be like Jaime because he looks like Jaime; Tyrion’s facial expression says otherwise and Cersei hilariously corrects herself. “In a certain light,” she says. Tyrion tells her that Robert had a hand in Joffrey’s upbringing too, to which Cersei replies that Robert was a drunken fool but he didn’t enjoy cruelty. Cersei wonders if Joffrey’s sadism is the price for “what we’ve done. For our sins.” Well, if Tyrion didn’t know that his siblings were a little too close before, he certainly does now. He assures Cersei that Tommen and Myrcella are good and decent children. Cersei is more upset and more vulnerable than we (or Tyrion) have ever seen her, and for a few seconds, Tyrion is actually tempted to comfort his sister.
It seems he’ll soon have even more reasons to comfort Cersei, because in Robb Stark’s camp, men are coming to blow over who will kill the Kingslayer and when. Brienne tells Catelyn that Jaime won’t last the night, because none of Robb’s soldiers will risk his life to defend Jaime from Lord Karstark’s righteous vengeance.
Catelyn and Brienne enter Jaime’s cage. Unlike oblivious Robb from the last episode, Jaime immediately notices and comments on the fact that Brienne is a woman. Catelyn accuses Jaime of breaking every vow he ever took, and Jaime tells her that when all your vows conflict with each other, it’s impossible to avoid breaking vows. It is probably possible to avoid sleeping with your twin sister, defenestrating small children and beating your cousins to death, though.
Jaime is still fascinated by Brienne, asking Catelyn: “Where did you find this beast?” Hey, watch it there, Jaime, that’s my girl Brienne you’re insulting! And Catelyn feels the same way, telling Jaime that Brienne is a truer knight than he will ever be, accusing Jaime of being a man without honor. Just in case he hasn’t angered Catelyn enough, Jaime decides to taunt Catelyn with the fact that he was always faithful to Cersei while her beloved Ned fathered a bastard. Catelyn has had enough and asks Brienne for her sword. It seems Jaime will get his wish for a quick death.
In Winterfell, Maester Luwin is dragged outside to the platform where Theon Greyjoy is standing. I’m convinced that Theon is going to kill Luwin, to the point where I’m actually relieved that no one has cut off Luwin’s head yet. Instead, Luwin sees one of the Ironborn hoisting the burnt bodies of two small children. Oh Theon, what have you done?
Sandor to Sansa: You’ll be glad of the hateful things I do someday when you’re Queen and I’m all that stands between you and your beloved King.
Theon to Maester Luwin: “It’s better to be cruel than weak.”
Cersei to Sansa: “The more people you love, the weaker you are. You’ll do things for them that you know you shouldn’t do, you’ll act the fool to make them happy, to keep them safe. Love no one but your children. On that front a mother has no choice.”
Jaime to Alton: “You knew when you were needed and when to go away. It’s a rare talent.”
Jaime to Alton: “My life has left me uniquely unfit for constraint.”
Spice King to Dany: “Your dragons will be the world nothing but death and misery.”
Cersei to Tyrion: “Sometimes I wonder if this is the price for what we’ve done. For our sins.”
Jaime Lannister to Catelyn Stark: “So many vows, they make you swear and swear. Defend the King, obey the King. Obey your father. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. What if your father despises the King? What if the King massacres the innocent? It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or another.”
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current tv shows, and a hopeless romantic.