GAME OF THRONES 2.6: “The Old Gods and the New”

Submitted for your disapproval: a study in craven cowardice and cringeworthy pettiness, courtesy of Theon Greyjoy and King Joffrey Lannister, the Vicious Idiot. Not that Jon Snow was above thinking with the wrong head when it came time to execute a Wilding captive, but at least he was erring on the side of sparing a life.

Things got off to a laughable start this week, with Theon (Alfie Allen) bursting into Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) room to declare that he had captured Winterfell — repeating it over and over, and mentioning how he brought men and siege engines and everything. And, since there were no soldiers present, Theon had little trouble rounding up the assorted women, children and old men in the castle. Young Bran deftly skewered Theon when he asked about the years Theon was raised alongside the Stark boys, “Did you hate us the whole time?”

Things turned pathetic when Theon was bullied by his lieutenant into executing Ser Rodrick (Ron Donachie) — but he lacked the strength and swordsmanship to chop off the old man’s head with a single clean blow, instead hacking four times into the man’s neck before kicking the head off its traumatized  shoulders.

Bullied by his father, his sister and then a captain of his soldiers, could Theon be anymore sad? As it turned out, yes. He allowed himself to be distracted by bedding the plotting Wilding Osha (Natalia Tena), who organized the escape of Bran, his little brother Rickon, Hodor and herself, along with two giant direwolves. That’s right, a crippled child escaped Theon’s clutches. (For the record, I’m not sure what purpose having sex with Theon played in Osha’s Big Escape Plan, but maybe she just wanted to break off a piece in case the actual escape went pear-shaped.)

At Tywin’s (Charles Dance) base in Harrenhal, Arya (Maisie Williams) continued to eavesdrop on Lannister strategy meetings, but carelessly revealed to Tywin that she can read. Then Lord Baelish (Aidan Gillen) arrived, forcing Arya to scramble to avoid his eyeline while keeping his cup full of wine. Later, Arya stole a Lannister military dispatch, but was caught by Amory Lorch. She slipped away and had Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) to kill Lorch before he could rat her out.

North of the Wall, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) stumbled upon a camp of Wildlings, and while the rest of the savages were killed, Jon captured one — a female called Ygritte (Rose Leslie). But he hesitated in executing her, allowing her to escape and drawing him a long way from his comrades. Episode’s end saw Jon spooning a wiggling Ygritte as they attempted to survive the night without a fire.

In King’s Landing, a mob got unruly after being baited by Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), forcing the king, Cersei (Lena Heady), Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) to flee for their lives. In the confusion, Sansa was separated and carried off by a group of depraved men who were about to gang-rape her, but the Hound (Rory McCann) showed up and rescued her just in time.

In Qarth, Daenerys  (Emilia Clarke) endured the insults of the Spice King (Nicolas Blane) when she asked for ships to help her retake the Iron Throne. Humiliated, she and Xaro Xhoan Daxos  (Nonso Anozie) returned to his palace to find his household and her servants slaughtered and her baby dragons missing! (They were at that moment being carried off by a mysterious robed figure.)

This episode was a chance for children to lead the way — and not just Joffrey and Bran, who wield actual power. Bran wanted to defy Theon, but recognized that the safety of the defenseless denizens of Winterfell was more important than standing up to his traitorous former “brother.”

Arya showed how clever she can be, but continued to be a poor liar. I mean, seriously, did she really not know that most stonemasons cannot read? I would expect the Stark children to be a little more in touch with the common people. Sansa was shocked that someone she’d never met could hate her, which implied that she has had contact with the common folk around Winterfell. And it is maddening to watch Arya waste her three “wishes” by having Jaqen kill meaningless people. If she didn’t want Tywin to learn her true identity, the best choice would have been to have Jaqen kill the Lannister patriarch, not an illiterate soldier. C’mon, Arya, the three names you should have spouted immediately were: Tywin, Cersei and Joffrey. (Kingslayer Jamie is already neutralized.)

As for Joffrey, well… There. Are. No. Words. His knee-jerk reaction to being dissed by the mob was awe-inspiring in its idiocy. As a guard dragged him to safety from the mob, Joffrey was screaming for everyone to be executed! Even a jerk like him should have been able to understand how outnumbered they were! His stubborn refusal to order Sansa rescued so she could be traded for his father uncle was bad enough, but did he really think his betrothed would only be killed? The mind boggles. He isn’t just cold-hearted; he has no heart at all!

Of course, Joffrey’s horribleness set up the best scene of the week: Tyrion slapping him across the face! And Tyrion also delivered the quote of the week: “We’ve had vicious kings and we’ve had idiot kings. But I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot king.”

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Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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