Ah, my friends. If you, like me, know your TV rating codes and were unnaturally aroused by the appearance of the following letter combinations on your screen at 9pm Eastern last night:
…then you, like me, were unnaturally excited about the return of the naughty, nasty, dirty-haired square dance that is Game of Thrones. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
The episode kicks off with unholy shrieks. So, basically, this could be any of the Real Housewives shows.
Spamwise Tarley (John Bradley) is running for his life through the snow – wait, are we literally picking up exactly where we left off last season? He comes across a seated figure in a cloak – he calls it “brother”, but then realizes that his brother has no head. Well, he has a head, but he’s holding it in his lap, technically. A White Walker with an axe comes at him, but suddenly a giant white wolf pulls it off of him. Yikes – when did the dog get that big? And when did the dog learn to use a lighter? Because somebody just set the zombie on fire, see.
Turns out it’s one of the Night’s Watch guys, and he’s crushed to learn that Samwise didn’t send the raven text that they apparently sent him to send. Apparently, because Spamwise didn’t get the word out, “Everyone you know will be dead.” Way to lay on the guilt trip, man!
OPENING TITLES – Dragonstone sounds familiar but is that new? And wait – what’s the Gulf of Grief? Is that where Charlie Brown retired to after the Little Red-Headed Girl left him for her personal trainer and Sally OD’d? There’s a place beyond the Gulf called Astapor or something, and they have a sphynx. So they’ve got that going for them.
Up North, Sh*tty Skeletor and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Ygritte (Rose Leslie) – aka Snowy Egret – enter what looks to be the largest, peltiest hobo camp north of Poughkeepsie. But they do have a giant. So they’ve got that going for them. Egret advises Jon not to stare, noting, “I’ve seen them pound a man straight into the ground!” You and me both, sister. Wait – we’re not talking about Johnny Giant starring John Holmes? Never mind.
Egret defends Jon from some kids who throw rocks at him and call him “crow” (although he does bear a striking resemblance to The Crow in the hair department) and brings him in to meet a ginger beardy fellow who kind of looks like Matthew McCaunaghey being face-raped by a red panda.
Jon bows to the guy, thinking he’s “the king beyond the wall,” but apparently he’s just the amuse bouche to the real entree, Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds), who looks like Bryan Ferry after a week without VO-5. Seriously, what’s with that aggressive butt-cut? And why does he have the name of a seventies porn star and/or weatherman?
Jon tells him that he wants to be free, but ButtCut isn’t buying it. Jon then tells him the story of Craster serving up his own child to the White Walkers and says he wants to be on the right side of the fight, and ButtCut tells his men to find Jon a suitable outfit for the dance.
We then join Bronn and his alarmingly dirty feet as he prepares to eat the squirrel cover off of his whore du jour. Thankfully, he is interrupted by Tyrion’s amazing-yet-still-nameless new squire (the one who saved his ass in battle, remember).
Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), meanwhile, is admiring himself in a dirty mirror. Cersei (Lena Headey) visits and Tyrion reluctantly lets her in so that she can insult his new freshman dorm and they can commiserate about their shared daddy issues. Bronn comes by just as she’s leaving, narrowly avoiding a scuffle with her guard. It’s… not that exciting.
Meanwhile, Ser Davos Seaworth (which turned out to be the MOST INAPPROPRIATE NAME EVER, btw) has lost his fingers but still has his life after having been blown off his ship – and he’s very excited at the sight of a boat passing by. He’s marooned on an island and takes off his shirt to try to get someone’s attention – heyyyy, isn’t this the plot of Arrow?
A handsome fisherman lets him on board and takes him to his black pirate friend, who poo-poos the fact that Stannis is hanging out in Dragonfell with Toriamosandre and making s’mores with the remaining men from his army at her behest. Davos wants to cut her heart out, and his pirate friend seems okay with that, which might explain why he has been married four times.
Up at Haarenhall, Robb (Richard Madden) wants a fight but doesn’t expect that he’ll find one – and when they enter the city to find that everyone has been slaughtered, his expectations are met. There are bodies EVERYWHERE – their carnage decorator is clearly of the school of “more is more.” He quickly puts his mom in pokey (she did let Jamie go, remember) and then Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) finds some dude named Sir Jeremy among the corpses. As they stall, a dead guy coughs – not so dead after all! His name might be Tiban, but we’ll have to wait at least another episode to know for sure.
Tyrion sits impatiently as his dad, Tywin (Charles Dance), tweets about the latest haps at the mall right across the table from him – I know, right? SO RUDE. Tywin asks Tyrion what he wants. Tyrion says he just wants thanks for saving the planet, and Tywin says he’s not getting it from him. Tyrion changes tacts and says he is kinda sorta the rightful heir to Castilly Rock, and Tywin says that there’s no way in Haarenhall he’s getting Castilly Rock, but maybe he’ll find him a suite at the Chateau Marmont or something and get him out of that dorm, k?
Also, Tywin makes a very unpleasant comment about being “cursed to watch you waddle about” to his own son. It’s not pretty. Oh – he also threatens to hang Tyrion’s girlfriend. Add that to the “not pretty” column, I guess.
Elsewhere in the KL, Sansa (Sophie Turner) is trying to play a game with Shae (Sibel Kekilli) but Shea isn’t really the gaming type. Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) comes by to chat with Sansa and Ros (Esme Bianco) – the ginger whore who took a beating and a half for Shae, remember – warns Shae to watch out for Sansa around her squirrelly little snit of a boss. Interesting – out of the Joffrey pan, into the Petyr?
DRAGONS! Yes, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is letting her babies fish (and roast the fish) on her boat while her Dothraki pals puke all over the poop deck from seasickness. She says she wants an army, but right now I’m distracted by the bizarro horns she has strung around her neck.
Ser Davos would like a private audience with Stannis (Stephen Dillane), but Toriamosandre (Carice van Houten) of course hovers like the ghost of Hamlet’s father. She says it’s all Davos’ fault that the battle was lost because he told Stannis to leave her behind – she could have saved the thousands of men who got burned alive in sterno! Or something! She says that, like she told his son, “Death by fire is the purest death.” Wait – she burned his son alive? He apparently thinks so, because he tries to stab her and her guards drag him off to the Interior Illusions Lounge to cool off.
Speaking of bitch, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is in his coach (which is being carried by a bunch of guys) and holding the largest handkerchief I’ve ever seen to his pristine, lady-alien face as they navigate the poo-stank streets of his own effing city. Waah-waah, Joffrey. I’d call you a waahmbulance, but they haven’t been invented yet. They stop because Marge Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) has swung by and that’s apparently more important than the king? Okay, whatever.
Margjaerey (seriously, it’s gonna take me a few weeks to remember how to spell all these damned names) trots over a pond of human waste to get into an orphanage so that she can hand out action figures to orphans whose fathers were killed in the battle. Ohhhhhhh, okay. I’ve seen this kind before. This has “PR Rebranding Effort” – a.k.a., “Pulling an Angelina” – written all over it in raven crap.
Later, at dinner, Cersei backhandedly calls Marjgeaeraey’s outfit slutty and asks what the hell was up with the whole orphan opera this afternoon. Lorax – her gay brother, let’s not forget – mentions that she was alllll about feeding poor kids back in whereverthehelltheycamefrom. Cersei is buying the whole “charitable work” angle about as much as I am.
Meanwhile, Dany visits a used army dealership to test-drive a certified pre-owned Nissan Slave Horde. This place is kind of awesome, actually: the snarky owner and his translator woman – who clearly is smarter than he is, as she can speak multiple languages – have a cute thing going on where he says really inappropriate things and she has to figure out how to convey them appropriately to Dany while also feeding her boss things she’s picking up about their new client.
He keeps referring to Dany as “the western whore,” which is probably how the folks at my local deli refer to me, to be perfectly honest. I WEAR IT WITH PRIDE. Turns out the soldiers that Dany wants to buy have been relieved of their genitals – and one is relived of a pesky nipple, thanks to his owner. He tells Dany that these men were vetted for quality by being forced to murder a newborn in front of their mother. Oh – and the have a pristine Carfax. S’all good!
While mulling over the idea of purchasing 8,000 gently-used, nutless slaves who murder babies, Dany is distracted by a little girl with a wooden ball – so distracted, in fact, that she doesn’t notice that she is being trailed by someone in a black cloak. When she catches the child’s ball, it turns out to have a poisonous scorpion in it – but the dude in the Hogwarts getup – former Baratheon’s guard leader Barrinson Celery, or some crap – spears the scorp and she is saved. He tells her that he wants to join The Queen’s Guard.
Don’t we all, sister!
Notably Absent: Arya, Jaqen, Gendry, Bran, Ricken, Theon, Yara, Brienne of Tarth, Jaime, pretty much everyone else I actually care about
Notably Dead: Everyone at Haarenhall (officially the worst. dorm. ever.), some Nights Watch dudes
Quote of the Week: Gotta give it to Ygritte for “I’ve seen them pound a man straight into the ground.” No reason.
Overall I’m happy to be back in the company of these whores, eunuchs, double-crossers and sociopaths, but otherwise the episode didn’t really hit the mark for me. I’m counting on the hope that things will build a bit, and everyone keeps telling me that there’s LOTS coming (just not winter – not yet!), so I will be patient. In the meantime, I will give the episode seven out of ten Prell bottles – all of which should be put to immediate use by Mance Rayder.
SO! What’d you guys think? What storylines are you looking most forward to? Anyone want to start a dead pool for the first major character?