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.