Review: GAME OF THRONES S3E08, SECOND SONS (Or, Sam Gets To Be A Hero But Mostly By Accident And Only For A Couple Seconds)
There have been a couple of solid additions, for sure, with Gramma Tyrell being far and away the best of them, but far too many characters are far too often being entirely reactive with nobody really driving the story forward. Nobody has fought anybody in ages and people are spending an awful lot of time moping. Yes, I still love the show, but unlike Seasons One and Two I keep finding myself waiting for Season Three to finally kick into gear and, thus far, it has resolutely resisted the urge to do so. Sigh.
The one character - and really the only character - with any oomph to their story so far has been Danaerys. And while she still remains too distant from Westeros to really inject any tension into the goings on there she is once again the dominant figure this time out. You see, it turns out the city that Danaerys intends to wipe out and de-slave has enlisted the help of a mercenary army known as the Second Sons. Though only two thousand men they're a tough bunch of bastards and two thousand men may not be enough to stop Danaerys and her eight thousand strong army but it's certainly enough to make a dent. So she tries to buy them herself and - after a bit of back and forth, some boorish male behavior and a couple beheadings - she succeeds.
Second Son leader Dario strikes me as an interesting character - he's certainly going to cause some interesting dynamics with Barristan and Jorah as the third member of her growing male harem - but I suppose this story line is where part of my unease comes from this week. Danaerys is far and away the most proactive character in the show this season and even her story this week is an entirely reactive one, where she just sort of falls into a situation and it resolves in her favor. It's entirely passive and in a show based around large scale plotting and political intrigue passive is just sort of blah.
There's a Lannister wedding this week, as Tyrion ties the knot with Sansa. He tries to make the best of it with the help of a great deal of wine while Joffrey remains a predictable shit. Cersei steals this particular plotline this week with her fabulously prickly response to Margaery Tyrell's sisterly advances while Gramma Tyrell's attempt to unravel how everyone will be related to everyone else once the current wave of Lannister weddings is over is pretty damn hilarious.
Arya and the Hound ride off through the hills, with the Hound revealing that he intends to sell her back to her family. Well, thank the gods for that, I've had more than enough of her moping. Get her home already.
And then there's Sam, sweetly stupid Sam, who fails to realize that ravens gathering en mass to croak at him as he and Gilly set up for the night is probably a bad omen and so instead of moving on like a sensible person he instead has a conversation about baby names until a White Walker arrives. Presumably the same White Walker Craster used to sacrifice his male sons to, presumably because he wants to eat aforementioned unnamed baby. Note to Sam: Steel doesn't work very well on White Walkers. Another note to Sam: The obsidian knife you found does. A third note to Sam: There's no reason to run away from a bad guy once you've already killed it. A fourth and final note to Sam: PICK UP THE KNIFE BEFORE RUNNING AWAY, YOU BLOODY IDIOT. So much for being a hero.
The one thoroughly satisfying storyline this week revolves around Stannis, Melisandre, Davos and Gendry. Melisandre has arrived back with Gendry and Stannis - realizing immediately who Gendry must be and that Melisandre, therefore, almost certainly intends to sacrifice him - indulges the teensy bit of conscious he has left and releases Davos from prison so that Davos can 'convince' him not to have his nephew killed. Mission accomplished, Melisandre first extracts a certain other kind of fluid from Gendry before applying leeches to extract blood for a demonstration of exactly what sort of power lies in a king's blood.
There are three leeches worth of blood handed over to Stannis, the three then dropped into a fire as Stannis issues some sort of curse against three enemies: Joffrey Baratheon, Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy. What will these curses accomplish? No idea, though I kind of hope Joffrey got the penis blood. More to the point, why Balon Greyjoy? How exactly is Greyjoy an enemy on a par with Robb and Joffrey? Methinks we've been missing something ...
With two episodes left in the season this curse at least promises a little something to look forward to while the reappearance of a White Walker should also get things rolling again. Is it too much to hope for a little more action and a lot less moping in the final two shows of the season? I hope not ...
[Twitch has been tracking Game Of Thrones from Season One, Episode One from the perspective of someone who has not and will not read the books at all until the series has come to an end so that it can all be experienced for the first time on the big screen. Discussion of the current episode and what has come before is welcome and encouraged but PLEASE avoid spoiling anything that lies ahead in the novels so that those of us who haven't read can experience everything fresh.]