So. Game of Thrones 3×05: ‘Kissed by Fire’

So. Game of Thrones 3×05: ‘Kissed by Fire’

There’s something we need to bring up; during the opening credits, why do we still pause on Winterfell, even though it’s burned and nothing has happened there since the very end of last season? Yes, we need to give some hint as to where Bran, Rickon and the gang roughly are, but they aren’t even in this episode! You know what is in this episode? Dragonstone! And yet I note that Dragonstone fails to show up during the aforementioned opening credits.

Although Yunkai does, so there you go.

We open with yet another something I’ve been waiting for, a long time now – Beric Donarrion’s duel with Sandor Clegane. And oh, they had the flaming sword! They had Sandor’s terrified reaction! They had Dondarrion wielding it like a boss! This scene must have taken so long to shoot, and have been such a fire hazard. Plus Dondarrion’s actor is essentially fighting with one eye covered, that must have been unnerving.  Although, once again, they’re using their swords with only one hand. I’d thought that Sandor’s sword was a two handed weapon, but maybe I’m just underestimating his strength. This whole fight scene was just so intense, and the finishing move so brutal!

Maisie Williams just nailed it when she was screaming at him, but I was a tad disappointed by Dondarrion’s revival. I wanted more gasping and a ‘come back to life’ scream. Cliche, I know, but I’m a sucker for that particular cliche.

Meanwhile, where the Wildlings are (I would be proud of that gag, except it’s probably been made a million times already by now) Jon has to answer questions about the Wall. I know we’re not supposed to like Orell, but one, he has a valid point about not trusting Jon, two, he’s played by Mackenzie Crook. I cannot dislike Mackenzie Crook! Ygritte sticks up for Jon, meaning he gets in a huff, until Ygritte also very reasonably points out that if it hadn’t be for her, he’d have been dead quite a few times by now. Then she proceeds to nick his sword and oh, this is the beginning of the infamous cave scene, isn’t it?

Yep, it is. This was actually a very good scene, even if the female participant still got naked well before the male one. A great portrayal of Jon’s release. Although, much as with Podrick’s little session with the whores back in episode three (which I have yet to recap, I hang my head in shame) I find it highly suspicious that a virgin like Jon automatically knows how to please a woman’s who’s as experienced as Ygritte – in more ways than one – when this is the first time he’s even done it, let alone learned how to do it properly. (We can blame that on Martin this time, not the show.) Still, the bit where he gives her his ‘Lord’s Kiss’ was hilarious, as it was in the book. Shooting this bit must have been a hoot.

And…was that a smile? Holy shit, it was!!! Jon Snow has smiled, people, the end is definitely nigh.

The Brotherhood lets Sandor go, without his gold. He is annoyed. Arya is not happy. This can only end well.

Locke finally gets Jaime and Brienne to Harrenhal. And, oh my, two miracles in one episode, Lord Bolton actually appears on his own! (You know what I mean.) He is not amused by the hand-choppage. What he is amused by is making Jaime think Cersei is dead for a moment or two. Charming man. Brienne, don’t be hostile at the Bolton. I know you have every right to be, but this is a guy who likes to flay people. He has it on his banner. Just keep calm and carry on.

Hell-o again, Qyburn! We have missed you. You seem to have settled in nicely, and feel safe in announcing you got kicked out of the maester’s school because you lack ethics. To the man you’re about to treat, no less. Jaime refuses pain relief because he’s afraid Qyburn will take the whole arm off, so he stays awake and screams. Oh, does he scream. Good image of his head being thrown back and such. I do also like Qyburn’s expression while snipping away at the rotted flesh, ‘Well, this is far more interesting that whatever else I had planned for today.’ 

Littlefinger is back in King’s Landing, checking his cuffs and such, when he’s waylaid by Cersei and is told to find out what those wascally Tyrells are up to. I see they’re cutting out some middlemen.

Olenna Tyrell is, once again, snarky as all get out. Diana Rigg is having an absolute blast with this role and I will love her forever for it. Tyrion wants the Tyrells to pay for some of the exorbitant royal wedding that’s coming. Olenna refuses wine, sends for figs, shows Tyrion just how savvy she is when it comes to what her family’s provided for the crown, eats, concedes, shoots one last piece of snark and leaves. Learn from the master Tyrion, I know you are already something of a master but learn from her!!!

Arya learns that Gendry plans to stay with the Brotherhood without Banners. Arya is not pleased, but Gendry makes a very good case when he points out that here, at least, he’s a free man and serving of his own free will in this new family. Although you can clearly see the hurt in both of them when Arya claims that she can be his family, and he points out that no, she can’t, she never can be: “You’d be my lady.” Ack, I hurt.

Still, this might not be a great idea in the long run, especially if those conflations of storylines come to pass…

Oh dear, here come the Karstarks to kill the little Lannister hostages. Robb is furious, Karstark is unrepentant and gets punched in the face by Blackfish, Robb is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position and decides, despite the council of his wife, mother and uncle, to execute Karstark. Robb still annoys me, even now, but I do feel sorry for him at this point. If he’d let Karstark live, he’d have a reputation as a king who let his bannermen kill innocent prisoners without consequence  Now he’s killed him, there go the Karstark forces. At least it was relatively clean.

I do appreciate that Edmure, Catelyn and Talisa were shown to have at least some sense. Particularly Edmure; he’s not going to have a fun time this season, so at least he’s shown to have something useful to contribute, even if he’s ignored.

Arya is once again saying her prayer. Rather shorter than before; what happened to Cersei and Joffrey? I do wish Dondarrion was more ‘zombie-ish’  but he’s acted so well I can’t really complain, although he and Thoros are rather casual about the whole affair. Dondarrion actually shows off the scars! Arya asks if Thoros could bring back a man without a head, ie daddy Stark, but is gently shot down. Anyway, even if Thoros could bring back someone in that state, they’d have to find Ned’s bones. (Where are they by this point, anyway? I think Catelyn left them in Renly’s camp when she and Brienne legged it.)  Dondarrion says he wouldn’t wish his life upon him, and Arya says at least he’s alive.

You know, I really would have done this last bit differently; Dondarrion should have said something like ‘I wouldn’t wish this on him,’ gesturing to himself, Arya says at least he’s alive, and he replies, ‘Alive? (Pause.) This is not life.’ But that probably wouldn’t be what the episode was going for, which Arya longing for family rather than being shown there are worse things than death.

Stannis finally has a scene with his wife. About time; we’re four and a half episodes into this season and this is the first time we see Selyse…and I have to say, it’s a good introduction. At first. We see that she’s a fervent convert to the new religion – I like the position of her hands; rather than put together as if the most common position for prayer, it’s like she warming them over the fire…or perhaps warding something off? – and she’s just so glad to see her husband! And so understanding, even when he’s confessing to having betrayed her with Melisandre, because he is doing God’s work! Yep, nothing wrong here! This is a fascinating character study.

But then, as we move across the room, we get into the really weird territory. I am highly curious about what was going through the minds of whoever decided on the layout for this scene, whether it was in the script or added by the arts team later or whatever, because their thought processes seem to have gone thus:

‘We need to show that Selyse is crazy, because her obsession with her new religion isn’t enough. I know, let’s have her keep her miscarried children in jars in her room; that should be pretty obvious that she has more than a few screws loose!’

Seriously. What the hell. What the actual hell.

Why would she keep the babies preserved in jars? Wouldn’t she want them honorably buried so their spirits can find rest, or whatever the funeral rites decreed by the Seven are? Back when she still worshiped the Seven, of course. This just makes her look like a mad scientist; it’s the sort of thing I’d expect to find in Qyburn’s room, not Selyse’s. This scene would have been much more effective if she was praying in whatever passed for Dragonstone’s crypts, or possibly if she was having her children unearthed so she could bury them R’hllor style by burning what’s left of them, or something.

But no, she’s chatting to her husband in a room full of jars that are, in turn, full of their miscarried children.

Good grief.

Then it turns out that Stannis wants to see his daughter, but for some reason feels he has to ask Selyse’s permission. Ah, Stannis? You are Selyse’s lord and husband, you know. It’s not something I approve of, but I do acknowledge that, in this world, you have all the power in this relationship and Selyse can tell you to do precisely shit. You can see Shireen if you want; you don’t have to ask your wife first.

Which is precisely what Selyse says anyway.

Stannis accordingly goes to Shireen’s room, where she is presently colouring things and singing a lovely little song. And she runs to hug him! I am jumping on the Shireen bandwagon with no regrets; she is adorable, adorable, adorable. And she loves Davos, even though Selyse doesn’t. That could get awkward fast. (That could also be read into, if you think about it.) Stannis has to tell Shireen Davos is a traitor. She is not happy, and is adorable.

BATH SCENE BETWEEN JAIME AND BRIENNE, WHERE HE TELLS ALL ABOUT KILLING AERYS AND THE WILD FYRE PLOT AND THEY BOTH BARE ALL!!! At least from the back. Yet another scene I have been waiting for, and it was done perfectly. I must also praise the decision to have Jaime go completely bug-eyed when Brienne gives him the full frontal, since they couldn’t very well show him getting an erection under water. Yet another scene that must have been fun to shoot this episode. “Jaime…my name is Jaime…” Brilliant.

Shireen sneaks down to visit Davos, and is adorable.  She doesn’t care that Davos is a traitor, and is adorable. She brings him a book to read, and is adorable. She learns Davos cannot read, and is adorable. She declares she will teach Davos to read, and is so adorable. This is one change the show made that I am fully a fan of.

A short scene with Daenerys on the other side of the sea, in which Joran and Barristan Selmy distrust each other, Dany learns more about her slaves, encourages them to take new names and we meet Grey Worm, who will keep his name because it is a lucky one; he had it when Dany freed him. I’m uncertain if we really needed this scene, at least in this episode; it’s times like these when I think the people who make this show are thinking ‘Ha! How’s that for subtitles, Lord of the Rings? And more recently, Hobbit?’

Robb is angsty about his prospects, now that the Karstarks have said ‘So long and thanks for all the fish’. Stop flirting with your wife while planning battle strategies, Robb, this is not the time! Then he has a brainwave; he will take Casterly Rock! With help from Old Walder Frey! Whose daughter he jilted to marry a field nurse! I love that he feels the need to remind Talisa about this, although it’s probably for our sake, in case we’d somehow forgotten. In short, he’ll go to the good old Freys, who haven’t been mentioned up until now in the season!

Oh, next episode is going to be fun.

Sansa and Margaery are having a great time watching the knights fight. This is all so pleasant and nice, so we know it isn’t going to last long.  Loras is being served wine by some attractive youths, one of whom helps with his armor  Smash cut to them snogging in bed and Loras telling tales. Naturally his new boy toy is reporting to Littlefinger; is anyone surprised at this point?  Littlefinger learns that the Tyrells are stepping in on his woman. (Don’t look at me like that; you know that’s what he’s thinking.)

He not quite confronts Sansa about it – Sansa, I notice, is now doing her hair like Margaery. Littlefinger notices as well. He says he’ll be leaving the city soon, but Sansa begs off. Look at her, lying to Littlefinger’s face like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, flattering him, saying she doesn’t want him to be in danger and words to the effect of ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ I’m so proud of her. I think even Littlefinger’s proud of her. He kisses her hand with a definite air of ‘well played’.

Of course, that not going to stop him from going straight to Tywin. Tywin is not happy at this treachery. Tyrion walks in to a meeting with a not-happy Tywin and a smug Cersei and he knows something is up. Tywin is not going to let the Tyrells snap up Sansa, so guess who’s getting married to her instead?

Cue a particularly wonderful silent ‘oh crap’ and double take from Tyrion, before he starts protesting. Poor chap. I do miss the bit where Tywin – shock! horror! – actually acknowledges that that way Tyrion has turned out is just a tad his fault, for not treating him more like an adult, but perhaps it will turn up later. Cersei of course finds this all highly amusing, but her amusement goes out the window when she learns who daddy has lined up for her to marry – Loras, who is apparently now the only heir of Highgarden. Cersei is not happy. Tywin does not care. Tywin, in fact, actually gets more angry than we’ve ever seen him, shouts and storms out. Tyrion is not happy, and Cersei is desperately raising one eyebrow, as if that’s going to help.

So: What did I think of ‘Kissed by Fire’

All in all, despite the small bits I felt could have been done better, and that ‘Really, no, I’m honest, what the utter hell‘ section with Selyse, this was a really good episode. What it did right, it did really right; what it could have done better only leads to small nitpicks and not massive rants. Plus, again, I really do like Sansa’s development this time, and how the show doesn’t make her shoot herself in the foot again when trying to get away from the Lannisters.

And, once again, the bath scene. Perfection.

Next time on Game of Thrones 3×06: The Climb:

Jon and the Wildlings are going to climb the Wall! Robb is negotiating with the Freys, and it doesn’t look like it’s going too well! Jaime and Brienne are having lunch with Bolton and Brienne is in the pink dress, repeat, she is in the pink dress!!! She grabs a knife and Jaime puts his hand on hers to stop her! Ramsay Snow is torturing Theon again, wonderful. (Note the lack of exclamation mark.) More climbing the Wall!  Theon being tortured. Jojen having a fit! Ramsay saying sorry, for some reason!  Dondarrion without an eye patch! Littlefinger and Varys having a stare-off! Arya with a bow! ‘There’s someone out there!’ She shoots, I think she scores!

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