Game of Thrones Season 3 is here! Need to catch up? Don't miss Regina Thorne's Season 2 refresher or her recap of episode 3.01, episode 3.02, episode 3.03, episode 3.04, episode 3.05, episode 3.06, and episode 3.07.
And now, onto last night's episode 3.08, “Second Sons."
If last week’s episode of Game of Thrones was a meditation on the many facets of love, this week’s “Second Sons” was a cautionary tale about sex and marriage. (Boys of Westeros, if you get a woody, watch out because someone is either going to cut it off or attach a blood-sucking worm to it. It’s enough to make you join the Night’s Watch!)
We open with Arya and Sandor “the Hound” Clegane; the Hound captured Arya after she ran away from the Brotherhood without Banners last episode. Sandor is sleeping, and Arya lifts the biggest rock she can find so she can crush his skull and escape again. Arya, you need to let sleeping dogs lie! Sandor, of course, isn't asleep and he tells Arya that if she kills him, she can go free, but if he survives, he’ll break both of her hands.
Arya drops the rock and Sandor points out that Arya wouldn’t do too well on her own in the hellish world of Westeros; his example is that time he saved Sansa from a gang rape and murder, though Arya doesn’t believe that he helped her sister. She finally starts to trust him a tiny bit when he tells her that he’s taking her to the Twins, to rejoin her mother and brother at her uncle Edmure’s wedding. Things might be looking up for Arya, who looks incredibly tiny seated next to the gigantic Sandor on the back of his horse. Awww!
Alas, Arya’s sister Sansa is singularly lacking in protection since the Hound fled King’s Landing without her. The day of Sansa’s forced wedding to Tyrion has arrived, and though he is a decent man, he is still her captor. Tyrion admits as much, self-deprecatingly acknowledging that he’s hardly the husband of Sansa’s dreams. He tells her that he knows how she feels, and Sansa quite rightly doubts that, because for all that Tyrion is (more or less) being forced into this marriage by his father, he’s still a Lannister who stays in Westeros because he’s bound by his family rather than taking the option to flee offered him by Shae.
At the wedding, a grand affair held in the Sept of Baelor, Margaery Tyrell sidles up to Cersei and mentions that they’ll soon be sisters. Cersei’s response is to tell Margaery the gory story behind the Lannister anthem “The Rains of Castamere” (played as Tywin marched into the Throne Room in last season’s “Blackwater” and as Jaime marched out of Harrenhal with Brienne last week.) Cersei tells Margaery that the Reynes tried to challenge the supremacy of the Lannisters and now the rains weep o’er their empty halls because the family was eradicated. “If you ever call me sister again, I’ll have you strangled in your sleep.”
Joffrey insists on escorting Sansa to the dais where Tyrion waits for her, and then in an extra bit of nastiness, removes the stool that Tyrion needs in order to place the bridal cloak that will officially make Sansa his wife. Poor Tyrion is left pondering whether a high jump and a hook shot will get the cloak onto his tall young bride’s shoulders while some of the onlookers titter at his humiliation. But laugh at one Lannister and you're laughing at them all; Tywin uses his death glare to make the onlookers shut up. Finally, Tyrion begs Sansa to kneel and she complies, completing the ceremony.
At the reception, everyone but Joffrey and Olenna Tyrell is miserable, and everyone but Sansa and Tywin Lannister is getting drunk. Olenna has a great riff on the complicated family tree that’s going to go wild once Loras marries Cersei and Margaery marries Joffrey; Cersei will be Joffrey’s mother (and aunt, let’s not forget) as well as his sister-in-law and any children of hers by Loras will be both Joffrey’s nephews/nieces and half-sisters and half-brothers. As long as Tywin isn’t his own grandpa, I think we’re ok.
Speak of the devil—Tywin comes over to give Tyrion a pep talk about making sure he gets Sansa pregnant with a half-Lannister baby to cement the Lannisters’ claim on the North. His cold pragmatism achieves the opposite of what he intended; his speech gave me erectile dysfunction and I’m a woman!
Meanwhile, Joffrey threatens to come to Tyrion’s rooms to rape Sansa because it doesn’t matter which Lannister fathers the child she needs to bear. As the awesome Happy from Sons of Anarchy once put it, he needs to die, like, a LOT!
After this little salvo, Joffrey calls for the bedding ceremony, which involves the men undressing the bride, the women undressing the groom and then everyone going along with the newlywed, now naked couple to their bedroom. Sansa looks like she’s about to vomit, and Tyrion cements his status as a decent man by insisting there will be no bedding ceremony. Joffrey isn’t about to give up quite so easily, so Tyrion picks up a knife and tells him that if he insists, “you’ll be fucking your own bride with a wooden cock.”
Things are about to get incredibly ugly when Tywin intervenes, telling Joffrey that his uncle is drunk (which is true, though Tyrion is way less drunk than he appears). Tyrion then plays up his drunkenness, cleverly getting Sansa out of the treacherous waters of the reception.
When they reach Tyrion’s chambers, Tyrion tells Sansa that his father has commanded him to consummate the marriage. She begins slowly to undress, but Tyrion tells her that “if my father wants someone to get fucked, I know where he can start.” Tyrion tells Sansa that he won’t sleep with her unless she wants him to, and Sansa asks “what if I never want you to?” Tyrion’s answer is to tell Sansa that “now my Watch begins” meaning he will stay celibate like the Night’s Watch. At least he can still wear hats. A sober and very relieved Sansa gets into bed alone, while a very drunk Tyrion collapses onto a convenient couch.
The next morning a stone-faced Shae comes in to change the sheets, and is temporarily thawed by seeing that Tyrion and Sansa did not have sex with each other. And that’s probably good, considering what the sex scene we saw last night involved.
Melisandre and her prisoner/prey Gendry have arrived back at Dragonstone. Stannis seems jealous that Mel has chosen the young, handsome Gendry to be her new Shadowbaby!Daddy until Mel starts telling him that this is all an illusion for Gendry’s sake, comparing him to a lamb that can’t see the knife before it’s slaughtered, lest fear makes its meat go bad. Stannis asks if Melisandre has slaughtered many lambs, and I would say the answer is “yes!” None of them have ever seen her blade. So when she was talking about how she needed “king’s blood,” that wasn’t metaphorical!
Davos, the one man who opposed Melisandre, is still languishing in his dungeon, although he’s taught himself to read well enough to be enjoying one of Shireen Baratheon’s lovely picture books about the conquest of Westeros by Aegon and his sisters and their dragons.
He's interrupted by a visit from his BFF Stannis. Man, I hate it when people talk to me while I’m trying to read!! On the other hand, Stannis’s attempts to have human interactions are golden. Apparently, he’s feeling a little guilty about the Gendry-lamb-Melisandre-wolf situation, and he's come to set Davos free. He tells Davos about Melisandre and Gendry, and Davos figures out that the timing of his release is because Stannis wants Davos to play the good cop and stop him from doing something awful.
Stannis wants so desperately to believe his cause is just and that he is a righteous man, but in his heart of hearts, he knows that what he’s about to let Melisandre do is deeply wrong. Davos won’t let Stannis off easily, telling him that while Renly had wronged him by claiming the throne, Gendry is an innocent who never did anything to Stannis. “What’s one bastard boy against a kingdom?” Stannis asks Davos. He tells Davos that he saw a “great battle in the snow” in Melisandre’s fires and reminds Davos about watching the shadowbaby come into the world (I’m sure that Davos is still suffering PTSD from that moment!) “How can you deny her god is real?” Stannis asks (I think about the question Jaime Lannister asked Catelyn Stark back in season 1: If the gods are real and if they are just, why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? One answer might be because men value their destinies more than the suffering of innocents.)
Meanwhile, things don’t look so bad for Gendry at first; he’s in a sumptuous room, grander than anything he’s ever seen before. Melisandre plies him with delicious wine and her Manichean worldview about how something is “the real thing, or it’s not.” (Somehow the more people insist that something is real, the less inclined I am to believe them!)
Melisandre tells Gendry about the great battle between life and death upcoming, and invites him to “come fight death with me.” Is that what they’re calling it these days? Gendry, being a horny adolescent, seems pretty much okay with the whole thing, especially once Mel strips off and undoes his trousers. Things take an unexpected turn when Mel hogties him up and pops up three leeches onto his heart, belly and presumably erect penis. Yowch!!! At least she isn’t cutting anything off, but it’s highly likely poor Gendry may take a vow of celibacy after this.
Davos and Stannis burst into the room during the surprise leeching and Mel explains that she refrained from killing Gendry because she knew Davos wouldn’t approve. Instead, she throws the three leeches into the handy fire she’s got going, and Stannis ominously mentions the names of “the usurper Robb Stark, the usurper Balon Greyjoy and the usurper Joffrey Baratheon.” Party in Pyke, everyone! Balon Greyjoy has joined the big leagues!!
The real reason why I think Melisandre is either a total fraud or else unclear on the will of Rh’llor is that she never seems to have gotten a flame-o-gram about Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons. Maybe it’s just me, but if I were going to pick a Chosen One of the Fire God, I would go with the lady who has fire-breathing pets that she woke by putting them into a giant fire that she entered without being burned alive, rather than the dour dragonless middle-aged man with a giant chip on his shoulder and the nutty wife.
Speaking of Daenerys, she now meets the “powerful friends” the Wise Master of Yunkai warned her about in the last episode. They are the captains of a mercenary army called the Second Sons, let by Mero, the Titan’s Bastard, who is lewd and rude (and quite handsome). His other lieutenants are Prendahl and Daario Naharis, who looks like Legolas Greenleaf if Legolas had had an accident with a tanning bed.
The Titan’s Bastard is dismissive and rude about Dany, telling her she’ll be his love-slave once he kills her army. Mero might want to watch that tongue of his, because the last guy who was so rude to Dany ended up as a dragon kabob, extra well-done. For now, she forebears having him roasted, but Jorah looks like he'd like to skewer Mero himself.
In their camp, the Second Sons draw lots on who is to assassinate Dany, and Daario draws the short end of the stick (or in this case, the Braavosi coin.) Later that evening, he creeps through Dany’s camp wearing one of the masks of the Unsullied (which, come to think of it, are a really terrible uniform idea because it makes this sort of assassination attempt super easy.) Dany is having a bath and chatting with Missandei who is a sort of human Babelfish translator. Our fair Khaleesi relaxes and closes her eyes until she hears a little noise, which turns out to be Daario holding his knife at Missandei’s throat.
It’s just his flamboyant way of selling his services to Dany, and to seal the deal, he has brought her the heads of Mero and Prendahl, his former comrades-in-arms. Dany looks intrigued by Daario, and I can only imagine that poor Jorah will take this poorly.
Last but not least, Gilly and Sam are still on the run and still building fires in the middle of nowhere. They come across a deserted hut which has one of the old-god friendly heart trees with red leaves and faces in it, as well as a murder of crows, all cawing their heads off. Sam and Gilly build a fire (or rather, Sam natters uselessly and Gilly builds the fire). Sam and Gilly discuss baby names, although Gilly doesn’t know many boys’ names considering that her father sacrificed all his sons to the White Walkers. Sam tells her a bunch of boys’ names and she seems rather taken with “Randyll,” the name of Sam’s cruel father; he begs her not to pass along that name.
Suddenly the cawing of the crows intensifies. Sam is incredibly brave and steps out into the clearing around the hut; the cawing stops as a White Walker approaches. Gilly realizes that it has come for her as-yet unnamed baby. Sam prepares to defend her, holding out his sword, which the White Walker freezes and shatters before contemptuously batting Sam out of the way. Sam remembers Chekhov’s obsidian dagger, which he found at the Fist of the First Men and showed Gilly last week; he stabs the White Walker with the dagger, and the White Walker combusts into its constituent fragments of ice. Sam and Gilly run like blazes as the credits roll.
Next week there is no Game of Thrones! But the week after, we return to the Starks, Uncle Edmure’s wedding, Arya and the Hound and other hijinks. Let’s hope no one gets an erection in that episode!
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.