Game of Thrones took a break from incest this week to focus on badassery from the likes of Tyrion, Yoren and Brienne, a new character who's already making waves as Game of Thrones own Starbuck. Brienne was introduced via the Renly story arc, which saw Dylan's favorite closeted beardo running into some awkward situations with his wife and his lover. Back in King's Landing, Tyrion was kicking all kinds of ass while Theon did the opposite and made his best impression of a dying fish. Arya got some great screen time, with a touching conversation with Yoren that climaxed with the arrival of the Lannister guards and Yoren's epic demise. Also, Jon Snow and Bran existed.
Paul Brian McCoy's Brew of Choice for the Evening:
The Brew of Choice for this evening is a classic. Inspired by this week's sexual intrigue, drinking and debauchery, and questionable political influences, we embrace North Coast Brewing Company's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. Weighing in with 9% ABV and a pour so dark you'd think Winter was coming, Old Rasputin is a powerful brew, smelling of roasted malt with hints of citrus and coffee, only made better by the taste of sweet chocolate and bitter hops. In a world where no one can be trusted and friends are few and far between, Old Rasputin can always be counted on to stand up and watch your back. If you're lucky, you may also stumble across this year's Old Rasputin XII – the same brew, aged in Oak whiskey barrels and coming at you with a whopping 11.2% ABV. Keep an eye out for it.
Game of Thrones Episode 2.03- "What is Dead May Never Die"
Dylan Garsee: Although I'd love to talk about sword fights and gay sex, we'll have to save our review of Girls for the next podcast. So I guess episode 2.03 of Game of Thrones will have to do for now.
Nick Hanover: Weirdly, the Renly episode of Game of Thrones featured less gay sex than Girls' pilot episode, depending on how you view things. But since he's your favorite, let's go ahead and talk Renly.
Dylan: I love King Renly of Storm's End, not only for being the only non-irritating 'mo on this show, but for actually being a very interesting character in both the book and the series.
He is now King of Storm's End, wearing the secnd bitchinest crown so far on this show (behind Viserys' crown from the Dothraki).
However, like all characters on this show, most of his life quickly falls to shit after Catelyn arrives to broker a deal with his kingdom and Winterfell. Renly chooses what I can only assume is the baby between Tilda Swinton and Starbuck from from Battlestar Galactica as a member of his knights over his not-so-secret lover Loras.
Dylan: I'm interested to see how that dynamic plays out between Loras, Renly, his wife, and his knight.
Nick: I'm admittedly a little depressed that one of the incest-free houses has now given in to temptation and that omnipresent threat of incest is now looming over Renly's camp. Still, as queasy as that aspect is, I felt that Margaery showed herself to be a shrewd negotiator and power player in this episode, easily indicating that she's a force to be reckoned with, but also practical and without ego.
Dylan: The women characters in GoT always seem to be one step ahead of their male counterparts, and Margaery is no different. However, I can't tell if she's using the fact that she knows that Renly is gay for personal gain or is using it for the advancement of the crown.
Nick: I honestly think that she recognizes that Renly is an immensely popular figure and for that reason, he's perhaps one of the top contenders for the throne, but that popularity could all crash in spectacular fashion if the troops figured out he was gardening the Knight of Flowers.
Dylan: That's gross.
Nick: You're just jealous.
But Loras could be a problem, especially if sibling rivalry and jealousy rears its ugly head; all it takes is him venting to the wrong person, after all, and suddenly Renly has some major concerns.
Dylan: Last season dealt with the clash of cultures, while this season is starting to feel like the clash of siblings.
Nick: And queens. In every possible sense of that word.
Dylan: I find that word offensive.
We live in post-racial america.
Nick: Why you always gotta be such a gay?
Dylan: Don't make me call Al Sharpton.
It's the way Lady Gaga made me.
Nick: Speaking of offensive references to people who are different, in this episode Tyrion really did manage to cast a large shadow for such a small man.
Dylan: I'm afraid of Tyrion's plan for King's Landing; you know he's leaps ahead of everyone in front of him.
But tonight's round of deceit was a masterful showcase of editing.
Nick: I stand by my belief that Varys and Tyrion could well conquer the kingdoms.
Dylan: A eunuch and a little person ruling a Medieval kingdom.. Just like Rockwell painted.
Nick: I've long hated Pycelle, even before he egged on Joffrey and indirectly killed Ned. That guy was trouble and I'm glad Tyrion figured that out so quickly. It's fascinating to watch the way Tyrion's mind works, and the way he doesn't bother to win enemies over but instead finds the best way to silence or otherwise take them out of the picture or, in the case of Varys, manipulate the situation so that his enemies appear to benefit as well.
Dylan: I'm kind of afraid of what goes on in the Black Cell that Pycelle got sent to.
Nah, who cares. Pycelle is a Jim-level dick.
Nick: By keeping both Janos and Pycelle alive, Tyrion also prohibits them from turning into martyrs or otherwise coming back to haunt him. I suspect that he will soon be playing Littlefinger and Varys against each other as well, and no matter how that plays out, Tyrion will be reaping the benefits.
Dylan: I think Littlefinger would be next to fall, because the only person more ahead of everyone else is Varys.
Will there be a battle of the wits between Tyrion and Varys? I'm afraid to find out.
Nick: I honestly believe that Varys considers what he does to be to the benefit of the common people. Like he said last season, he's trying to prohibit all out war and that's always been his concern and I feel that he and Tyrion share motivation there. Tyrion, despite being a Lannister, has a sense of justice and cares about the common people, probably because it's only while amongst them that he ever feels equal, if not entirely respected.
Dylan: Tyrion has been incredibly level headed throughout this entire ordeal, considering 99% of the people in Westeros hate either him or his family. So I'm not sure if he's using his wits for the good of the people or just to restore his name. Knowing his character, I think he has good in his heart. But knowing George R.R. Martin, I can never know, you know?
Nick: I don't think it's just about restoring his name. Tyrion has never fit in with the rest of his family not just because of his stature, but because their refusal to care about him (outside of Jaime, I suppose, which I know is going to be problematic later) or treat him as anything other than an embarrassment has made him look for acceptance elsewhere. He found it on the wall, he found it with the similarly looked down upon tribes of the north, and while he's practical about the way they likely view him, it's clear that he believes that other outsiders deserve representation too.
Dylan: Whatever he does, anything that makes Cersei so mad that she loses her mind is a-okay in my book.
Dylan: Especially when she pushes Tyrion down and he falls in probably the most precious manner one could fall.
Nick: Did you get the sense that Tyrion didn't believe the rumors about Cersei's children before this episode?
Dylan: I felt he had the suspicions, but I think it finally clicked with this episode
Nick: There was something about the look on his face when Pycelle brought it up that made me believe he was now certain it was the truth. I'm not sure what that means going forward, since we already know he doesn't like either Cersei or Joffrey anyway, but I'm hoping it means that he's going to ally with someone other than his family, now that he's sure they're in the wrong.
Dylan: In the book, though, he drops several hints early on that he's aware of the Cersei/Jaime incidents.
I'm just not sure how the show is dealing with Tyrion's knowledge yet.
Nick: Well, we already know they're deviating from the book far more this season. Speaking of which, I know you got pretty angry about the Lannister Guard versus Wall recruits battle specifically because of how it altered events in the book, but I thought it was an expertly crafted scene, particularly since it was shown in parallel to Tyrion's continued efforts to clean up King's Landing and I suspect that he's going to be furious over the incident.
Dylan: It was a fantastic scene, and I liked how they shot everything. Two things made me mad though. 1) In the book, Arya is a total badass during the fight with Needle and defends herself as well has her friends, but what really upset me is 2) they eliminated whole plotlines where Arya (Arry) hangs out with the other kids that are along the ride to the wall. Their scenes together are funny and reveal Arya to be a much stronger character than she's portrayed in the show.
Nick: I suspect that a big part of that is because they need to streamline things to make the season meet its episode requirements. Which is why I've avoided reading the books while the season is going on, I feel like it keeps me from just enjoying the show as a show rather than an adaptation. While I do wish Arya had been able to show off her battle skills, considering the conversation she had just had with Yoren about her trouble dealing with the "demons" that haunt her in her sleep. Arya is clearly troubled by what she's seen and I don't think it would have made much sense to have her go from that to immediately launching herself into battle and actually doing well rather than just breaking down or getting killed.
Dylan: Though I'd like to see the series recreate every scene shot for shot, they're changing character traits subtly, but that subtlety completely changes the character. Arya adapts quickly in the books, yet in the series she still seems confused and lost. Sansa in the books realizes the mess she's in with Joffrey and the rest of the Lannisters, but she's too afraid to try to leave. Yet in the show, she just seems like a bitch.
Nick: I think this approach is more realistic and human, but that could just be me. I'm more drawn to characters arcs that are complicated in their emotions and witnessing Arya
as immediate badass would turn her into a shallower character, in my opinion. I haven't read any of the second book yet, though, so I can only comment on your reaction. But I will say that this was the first time this season that the Arya scenes really blew me away, though a lot of that to do with Yoren, who got perhaps the most epic send-off of a character ever.
Dylan: He had to be killed off, because Arya and Yoren were reaching critical badass.
Nick: The touch at the end, where he's dead but his body still hasn't fallen, was somehow both horrifying and incredibly badass. I'm sad to see him go, but with an exit like that, you know he'll never be forgotten. I am intrigued by the convicts that Arya released as well, and am curious to see what happens with them. I was sure they were going to come to the rescue at the end, but once again, Game of Thrones punished me for thinking I knew what was going to happen next.
Dylan: I don't want to spoil what happens with the convicts; all I'll say is that something happens.
Is that vague enough?
Nick: And then on the opposite end of the badass spectrum, we had Theon.
Is it just me, or does Theon look like he would be a trailer park meth dealer?
Nick: You're on to something there, though I never thought about it that way. Maybe Game of Thrones will have a crossover with Breaking Bad and Walt finds out about a guy moving in on his turf who arrived in town via viking boat.
Dylan: Can TV on the Radio be playing really loudly throughout the episode?
Nick: I hope Theon goes into battle blasting "Satellite."
Dylan: That'll do, pig.
Nick: I know it was supposed to be heartbreaking to watch Theon burn his letter to Robb, but I have to confess that Theon has never been high on my list. I've found him to be a little sleazy since he first appeared and I don't think I'd miss him if he got caught in a fisherman's net. The entire Greyjoy clan seems doomed to early destruction and the best thing I can foresee happening to them would be their evolution into a nomadic pirate clan, because there's no way they pose a serious threat to anyone at this point.
Dylan: I felt the same way when the Targaryens were first introduced. I wasn't sympathetic tho their situation, their incest grossed me out, and I really didn't see a future with their development. Now, Daeny is my favorite character and I was really sad that she wasn't in tonight episode. So hopefully, the Greyjoys can follow that same path of evolution.
Nick: Except the Greyjoys are a bunch of slimy sort-of Vikings with no style, poise or grace.
Dylan: What's worse, accidental fingerbanging on a horse, or knowingly tweaking your sisters nips?
Nick: These are the kind of tough questions we like to ask over here at Comics Bulletin.
Dylan: You won't see AV Club asking these kind of hard-hitting questions.
Nick: And since we can't possibly take this any lower and Jon Snow and Bran's storylines weren't eventful enough to really talk about (Incesty McCreepy is sacrificing babies to monsters! Bran maybe turns into a wolf sometimes!), let's go ahead and rate the episode.
Dylan: I'm not sure what to give this. I liked the episode a whole lot, but there were just some weird deviations from the book that don't make sense, and the lack of both Dany and Robb made me kind of sad. But any episode with a Renly sex scene is instantly the best episode of the series, so I'm going with .
Nick: is my grade as well, but for none of those reasons. It lost points because I don't know that I like the shift away from Daeny towards the Greyjoys, though I trust that the angle change will pay off. But everything else was suitably excellent, particularly Tyrion.
Dylan: Unless Tyrion starts killing whores and giving Daeny purple nurples, I think he'll be the highlight of every episode.
Nick: I think even if he did those things, he would still be the highlight.
Dylan: Even if he starts rotary-dialing Yara on a horse?
Nick: I hope to never see you use a rotary phone after hearing that.
Dylan: I will make it my life goal to make you see me use a rotary phone, only to make you imagine Peter Dinklage doing the same thing to a bargain bin Chloe Sevigny while riding a horse.
Nick: I hope Harmony Korine reads this, because I think you just came up with the idea for his next film.
Nick: Comics Bulletin: Where pop culture writing and horribly creepy references to Harmony Korine collide.
Dylan: Can that be the new banner across the website?
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights at pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek cultu
re. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on twitter @garseed.
When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set and functioning as the Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and has contributed to No Tofu Magazine, Performer Magazine, Port City Lights and various other international publications. By which he means Canadian rags you have no reason to know anything about. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon.