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‘Game of Thrones’ 3.04 Recap: “You Hold the Whip”

Well hot damn! For three seasons now, Daenerys Targaryen has felt very remote and disconnected from everything else going on in ‘Game of Thrones’. We’ve known for quite some time that she’ll be an important player in the story at some point, but that point has always felt very far away. This week, her storyline finally kicked into high gear and allowed us to see, for perhaps the first time, just what a threat she truly is.

It seems that I was spot-on in my predictions last week about Daenerys’ next move. As she had bartered with Kraznys, the rude and arrogant slave dealer, Dany trades one of her dragons for his entire army of 8,000 “Unsullied” soldiers. Immediately upon completion of the deal, Daenerys reveals that she is perfectly fluent in his language (in fact, it’s her mother tongue) and has fully understood every insult he’s lobbed at her. As her first command to her new army, she orders the Unsullied to slaughter all of the slave masters (who have no one left to protect them) and set every slave in the city free. As for Kraznys, he gets his just desserts when the dragon he holds by its leash crispy-fries him with a blast of fire breath. Dany’s two advisors, Selmy and Jorah, look on in amazement at the cunning plan she has enacted without needing their help. Daenerys has truly come into her own as a leader and as a warrior, and proves herself a major Badass with a capital “B.”

Their first battle won, Dany also announces to the Unsullied that she is setting them all free. They may leave without harm if they wish, or may stay and fight with her as free men. Naturally, the entire army chooses to remain with Daenerys. Together, they march out of the city in a fearsome formation, en route to do some major damage in the Westeros kingdoms.

The climax of the episode is exciting and rousing, but also (I’m sure intentionally) a little unnerving in its use of imagery straight out of ‘Triumph of the Will’.

Other important events in episode ‘And Now His Watch Is Ended’ include:

  • The now one-handed Jaime Lannister has been reduced to a pathetic wretch, forced to carry his own dismembered hand on a strap around his neck. He attempts to steal a sword and fight off his captors with his remaining hand, but is quickly humiliated. At his lowest point, Brienne feels so bad for him that she gives him a pep talk to bolster his spirits.
  • An angry Tyrion seeks Varys’ help in proving the identities of the parties who attempted to kill him, so that he may exact his revenge. As a lesson in the virtues of delayed gratification, Varys tells him the story of how he was castrated, and reveals that, all these many years later, he has captured the man responsible for his mutilation, who he now keeps bound and locked in a box in the dungeon. Tyrion is impressed.
  • Margaery Tyrell plays the lovestruck beau to Joffrey, pretending to delight in his tales of the deaths and murders of old kings. She tells him that the people of the kingdom love him for leading the defense of King’s Landing (a lie that should be obvious to anyone with more wits than Joffrey), and invites him to join her outside to address the milling crowds, who clearly adore her and rejoice at her appearance. Yet she convinces Joffrey that the people are cheering for the both of them. Margaery is clearly a master manipulator, of both Joffrey and the public.
  • Cersei sees through Margaery’s scheming, and attempts to inform her father of how the girl is manipulating Joffrey. Tywin Lannister is already well aware of this, and frankly thinks it a good thing that someone can control the idiot king. He berates Cersei for being an incompetent mother and not nearly as smart as she thinks she is.
  • Varys has a very interesting chat with Margaery’s grandmother, Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg), who instantly cuts through his prevarications to speak her mind and have an honest discussion about the fate of Sansa Stark. Varys likes the old woman. He believes that Baelish plans to woo and marry Sansa to consolidate his power.
  • Meanwhile, Margaery has her own plans for Sansa. She befriends the dull-witted girl and suggests that it would be truly wonderful if Sansa were to marry Margaery’s brother Loras, so that they could become sisters and have such fun at each others’ sides. The fact that Loras is gay doesn’t seem to be much of an impediment to this plan.
  • The Brotherhood without Banners drag the Hound to their secret cave hideout to be judged by their leader, the one-eyed Beric Dondarrion. The Hound denies the charges of murder against him. Without any physical evidence to tie to him, Beric announces that the Hound’s fate will be determined in trial by combat.
  • Starving and demoralized by their treatment from the wretched Craster, the men of the Night’s Watch mutiny and kill both Craster and their own Lord Commander, Jeor Mormont. This does not seem like a good idea. In the ensuing chaos, Samwell flees with the girl Gilly and her new baby.
  • Having rescued Theon Greyjoy from his imprisonment and torture, the mysterious stranger leads him to a promised reunion with his sister. However, once at their destination, he reveals that he has merely led him full circle back to his torture chamber, where Theon is once again taken captive. The whole thing was a ruse, but to what end?

As little interest as I have in Theon Greyjoy or his storyline, I really feel that this needs to be explained quickly in the next episode. Why would the stranger break Theon out of prison and kill several of his captors, only to bring him back? This storyline makes no sense at all right now.

Otherwise, however, this is a truly gripping episode with a terrific payoff to the Daenerys storyline. ‘Game of Thrones’ is charging ahead with full steam now.

12 comments

  1. That final scene with Daenerys was truly epic in scope. I’ve read the first four books so I knew it was coming, but I have to tip my hat to the actors and entire production crew for bringing it to life and cementing it in my head.

  2. Barsoom Bob

    The stranger blames the deaths of the guards on Theon, thus insuring that his punishments are only going to get worse. There is probably someone behind this, probably his sister, weeding out any competition in the family, but that is just my guess.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      His punishment was already pretty bad, and was probably going to result in him getting killed anyway. I just don’t see the point of this ruse. Hopefully it will be explained better in the next episodes.

      • It will be interesting to see how the writers handle Theon the rest of the season. There really isn’t a whole lot on him in the third and fourth books. From what I understand a lot of what’s happening to him is coming from the fifth book, which I haven’t read yet.

        They have deviated quite a bit from his story now, but then again they have deviated more on several story arcs the further they get in the show.

        • Barsoom Bob

          I read an interview with the shows creators and they are no longer trying to tie the seasons directly to the books, like they did for the first two. They are going to progress the story timeline as they see fit from the material in the remaining books.

    • Mario Menchaca

      The stranger manages to get some vital information from Theon… The fake murdering of Bran and his brother in Winterfell. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that wasn’t cleared before, at least not to Robb’s men, so… Maybe the whole ruse was too big just for that, but maybe they were looking to gain Theon’s trust to be able to extract that information.

  3. Charles

    Perhaps the guy just wanted to see what kind of person Theon really is? A guy would say just about anything when getting tortured so how to know truth from lies? There’s a good chance that Theon’s repentance actually got him back where he was.

  4. John

    ‘Meanwhile, Margaery has her own plans for Sansa. She befriends the dull-witted girl in order to convince her to stay in King’s Landing. Margaery suggests that it would be truly wonderful if Sansa were to marry Margaery’s brother Loras, so that they could become sisters and have such fun at each others’ sides. The fact that Loras is gay doesn’t seem to be much of an impediment to this plan. ‘

    Actually this I believe is part of the scene before where the Queen of Thorns and Varys hatch a plan to get Sansa not to stay in Kings Landing but to go to Highgarden. Small difference but the Tyrells while not ‘good’ are trying to get Sansa out of Kings Landing as well.

  5. John

    One thing I think that needs to be addressed for viewers that have not read the books. The entire underlying themes of the books is the ‘game of thrones’. Some players are playing a very very long game. And the story arcs may seem confusing for a lot longer than might be TV friendly. Just my two cents.

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