(Note: to help clear up the discussion thread congestion, we’re publishing two Game of Thrones recaps this season, one for book readers and one for non-book readers. Doing it this way means you don’t have to begin every conversation with “SPOILER,” and it’ll help those who haven’t read A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows in their quest to not learn that Tyrion and Bronn steal one of Dany’s dragons and fly off into the sunset forever. Oops. Anyway, please check the headline for which post to click.)
“The Red Wedding” episode happened so long ago that it’s easy to forget that in Westeros-time, it’s only been a matter of days, maybe weeks since Walder Frey painted his floor red with royal blood. The Lannisters, or at least Joffrey, are still basking in their glory, while the remaining Starks are emotionally wounded (Sansa), and nearly mortally, too (Arya). In King’s Landing, the war is ostensibly over, except for the mini-battles being fought between the Lannisters, and now it’s time for everyone to figure out what to do next: some are trying to move on without a part of themselves (Jaime), while others throw themselves into planning the wedding event of the century (the Tyrells). Meanwhile, a new character seeking revenge on Tywin is introduced, while Daenerys marches ever forward with her dragons and army.
“Two Swords” is an incredibly busy episode — the only main characters we don’t see are Stannis, Melisandre, and Davos, and Theon and Bran & Co., but that’s fine — but it never feels overstuffed. It’s remarkably confident (particularly the small touches, like The Hound triumphantly eating his chicken), spending just the right amount of time checking in on everyone, from Jon Snow in the North to Oberyn Martell, who nearly went down south on a male prostitute. Anticipation hangs in the air like the Sword of Damocles; even so-called “happy” occasions, like the Royal Wedding, are fraught with danger that you hope never arrives but also want to see immediately. Game of Thrones plays both angles superbly: it gives you what you want in the short-term, like DRAGONS and BOOBIES, while keeping you guessing about the long-.
-It’s exactly 19 minutes before we see a scene that doesn’t involve a Lannister. They’re now the leads in the show the way the Starks, especially Ned, used to be.
-I miss Jaime’s hair.
-Michiel Huisman as rugged Daario Naharis > Ed Skrein as pretty boy Daario Naharis.
-Sophie Turner has come into her own as an actress. In season one, there’s no way she would have been able to convincingly go from sad to scared to pleasantly surprised like she did in this episode.
-Jon Snow looked so much happier in Castle Black’s drab surroundings than he ever did in the vast snowy expanse that is Beyond the Wall, which is to say, he looked miserable.
-If I was Styr, I’d have kidnapped Hannibal. He could’ve help prepare the arm.
-Now you see it…
-…now you don’t. The Queen of Thorns is really good at magic.
-Arya should have peed on Polliver after killing him. Only seems fair.
Anyway, every episode, I’ll choose a new theme to run with, and considering “Two Swords” was the first MASSIVE HBO event since the True Detective finale, I only have one option: #TrueDetectiveSeason2.
#5. Margaery and the Queen of Thorns
#4. Jaime and Brienne of Tarth
#3. Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand
#2. Tyrion and Bronn (with third-wheel Pod)
#1. Arya and the Hound
And one I don’t want to see:
It would just be Grey Worm and Daario Naharis holding swords for 10 episodes.