3.03- "Walk of Punishment"
Nick Hanover: Well, Dylan, you've been warning me that this was going to be a crazy season, and it looks like "Walk of Punishment" not only lives up to its name, but also marks the point where we start descending into full-on chaos. But things started out relatively peacefully this week with some humor at a viking-style funeral.
Dylan Garsee: Not only was the opening some much needed comedic relief for a show that we have criticized in the past for being too stuck up its own nose, but the whole episode was filled with great, light moments.
The funeral, strangely enough, was the most alive scene so far in the season. It managed to remind the audience that Catelyn and Robb still love each other with subtle awkward glances, tell the audience that Edmure kind of sucks and introduce Blackfish as the Badass Tully that he is.
Game of Thrones doesn't get celebrated enough for its fantastic use of subtext. For such a grand show, for it to still have small moments work so well is a testament to how truly special Game of Thrones is.
Nick: It was a nicely visual way of detailing the hierarchy in Riverrun, as Edmure was instantly shown to be worthless but eager to prove himself, while both Robb and the Blackfish indicate their exasperation efficiently. Robb's doubters continue to grow, but I was impressed with the way he dealt with Edmure here, and with the way the show used that as a tool for revealing how the war is going for Robb and company. We also got some nice Catelyn time, in a more revealing and worthwhile manner than the previous attempts to make us sympathize with her.
I know you like Catelyn more than I do, but this episode made me enjoy her on-screen time for once when usually she just irritates me.
Dylan: I like "book Catelyn" more than I like "show Catelyn," especially since the show is treating her like Riverrun's Andie MacDowell, softly waxing poetic about how sad and powerless she is, all while curled up against a grand window. While superbly acted, as usual, I'm getting a smidge tired of 'woe-is-me' Catelyn in the same way people were getting tired of Daeny last season.
Nick: The Jon Snow plot, however, once again felt mostly unnecessary. We all knew Mance Rayder was heading for the wall eventually, so this week's Snow storyline came across as a waste of our time, especially given how the episode ended.
Dylan: And honestly, that Jon Snow scene with the dead horses, while visually striking, could have been in last week's episode, considering he had two second checkup then too.
Nick: It's weird that the show is capable of being so expedient with certain characters– like Theon and Bran– while characters like Sam and Jon are present every single week for no discernible reason.
Sam's plotline was especially annoying this week, as we got the return of his pregnant lady friend, and we all know exactly how that will turn out. Those scenes are certainly creepy, but I just don't see their importance, other than to drive home the fact that the world is grey and life sucks everywhere but it especially sucks beyond the wall.
Dylan: It did serve one purpose though: reminding me that Craster has a hilariously tiny face.
Dylan: The only thing that keeps me from fast-forwarding through the Samwell scenes is the fantastic man candy that is Mark Stanely, who plays Grenn, one of the members of the Night's Watch.
I mean damn.
Nick: I can't even tell the Night's Watch apart most of the time, honestly, but I know how you like your snuggies and other gigantic outerwear, raven cloaks included.
Dylan: HE'S THE ONE THAT LOOKS LIKE THE BASSIST FOR AGAINST ME GOD YOU'RE SO STUPID.
Nick: Speaking of eye candy, though, this also marked the episode where HBO reminded Game of Thrones it has a nudity quota to meet each season. We spent quite a bit of time in Littlefinger's bordello, and there was a hilarious scene with Pod that seemed unimportant, but the more I think about it and read other people's views on it, the more I wonder if there's a hint or two in the scene.
My first interpretation was that it was just some more levity before shit got truly real, because it was Pod, and everything he does is kind of hilarious, but more so when Tyrion is pulling an Almost Famous by bribing a group of women to deflower him.
Dylan: The only hint there is that Pod is awesome and totally underused by the show.
Nick: You have foresight that I don't have, but there were some interesting theories about it. One is that it was Tyrion getting karmic payback for the similar situation Jaime and Tywin involved him in. By ensuring that Pod didn't get such brutal treatment, Tyrion was also rewarded, especially since before that scene we witnessed him striking back at his sister and father with the best use of a chair drag in history.
Dylan: I know that chair dragging scene is getting a lot of love on the internet (and at our watch party), but my favorite scene in the whole episode was Tyrion introducing Pod to the "Price is Right"-esque brothel. It was as close as breaking the 4th wall as this show will ever get.
Nick: Another theory is that Littlef
inger used Pod and had his ladies pry information out of him, either knowingly or unknowingly. Littlefinger is a duplicitous little shit so I don't think it's too much of a stretch to believe he was behind Pod getting a free ride and used it to his advantage, or will in the future.
I think you should stop listening to the Westeros equivalent of Alex Jones.
I mean, Pod and Littlefinger are actually a part of the Illuminati.
Nick: Game of Thrones has made me believe everyone is spying on everyone all the time.
Dylan: You're right, but not with Pod.
Nick: Speaking of spying, Varrys is back! Although he got so little screentime this episode, I don't know why they rolled him out. He was there for the latest Tywin/Tyrion showdown, more or less as window dressing and to remind us he was still alive, but I imagine that Tyrion's new role as master of coin will necessitate a renewal of their cautious partnership.
Dylan: I'm happy we got to see 3/4 of the Lannister crew finally in one room, even though Cersei's role in the council is to just look as bitchy as possible.
Which I'm 100% okay with.
Nick: I hope next week's storyline with them involves Tyrion cutting off her boy toy allowance.
And restricting Joffrey's wardrobe to the point where he can only wear floral prints.
Dylan: I want to see him cut her Franzia budget.
Nick: I think we just created a mash-up of Game of Thrones and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Dylan: The Kardashians have much, MUCH more money than the Lannisters, though.
I think we created a parallel Real Housewives of Orange County, with all of these budget concerns.
Also, please kill me for correcting you with that knowledge.
Nick: The things I have picked up on reality tv just from being around you frankly kind of terrify me.
But more seriously, do you think Tywin gave Tyrion this position in order to placate him? Or is it further punishment?
Dylan: It's definitely punishment, especially considering their meeting in the first episode.
Nick: But there's a lot of potential for Tyrion to really wrangle control from his family through finances, particularly since none of the Lannisters seems to pay much attention to funds.
Dylan: They've always had so much power, and it's quickly falling out of grasp.
Nick: Meanwhile, Daeny is gaining more and more power, even though this episode revealed that she was sacrificing a different kind of power to do so. I knew that she was going to have to sacrifice something great in order to get the Unsullied soldiers, but I figured it would be something she acquired from the warlocks. Instead, she's now trading one of her dragons– the biggest one, in fact– for all of the Unsullied, trained or otherwise, as well as that translator with the gift of gab.
Dylan: The fact that Daeny can shut down two powerful men in one sentence is the perfect reminder of how badass she truly is.
Nick: Daeny is slowly but surely gaining terrifying confidence, and I just hope that she can remain basically good. Her interactions with the crucified slaves still indicate how naive she can be, but for the most part she's coming into her own surprisingly quickly but given how out of the loop she is as far as Westeros goes, and the bizarre remarks Melisandre made about where she was going, I'm worried that she might get sucked into the darker elements of the Seven Kingdoms. Luckily she does have two– possibly three now– extremely smart aides and I'm enjoying the way she's juggling the advice they're giving her while also reminding them who's in charge.
Dylan: SHE ONLY GETS COOLER, BELIEVE ME.
Nick: I'm sure she does. The biggest surprise this week– for people who haven't watched Misfits yet, at least– may have been Theon's plotline, which had him on the run and nearly led to him being brutally raped in the woods, before the timely intervention of…someone.
Dylan: By Oliver Queen, in a bizarre cross network promotion for Arrow.
Nick: As we were watching this, I immediately blurted out "OH SHIT SIMON IS ROOSE BOLTON'S BASTARD ISN'T HE?!" which only made sense to you and one other person in the room. But given that Iwan Rheon is playing this still unnamed character and it doesn't seem likely he'd be given a random bit part, I'm pretty certain that's who we're watching. Like the Freeds, I was wondering why he didn't appear last season given how often he pops up in the second book, but I'm excited that he's making an appearance now, and if that is who he is, Theon has no idea what he's in for.
Dylan: He's real name is Iwan? Okay, I hate him now.
Nick: HE'S WELSH.
Dylan: IT DOESN'T MATTER. MY NAME IS WELSH AND IT'S NOT STUPID LIKE HIS.
Nick: Whatever, watch Misfits, you'll change your mind.
Dylan: No thank you, I don't like Glen Danzig.
Nick: I want your skull.
Anyway, if I'm right about medieval Simon's actual identity, then it make
s the scene that followed even more perfect, since it featured some of Roose Bolton's bannermen being absolute shits. Things were bad enough when Jaime and Brienne continued their transformation into the Milo and Otis of Game of Thrones, albeit with way more rape talk. But then we got a superbly directed and staged scene featuring Jaime's continued humanization, as he talked the men out of raping Brienne and seemed to have talked his way out of his bonds…until they went all Evil Dead on him.
Dylan: I was shocked they ended the episode so violently, and I knew it was coming!
Nick: It was like a gigantic fuck you to all of us for complaining about how slow the season had been up to that point.
Dylan: They were making kind of obvious though, by how weirdly highlighted his right and was in the shackles. Go back and watch the episode; Jaime has a strangely bright right hand.
Nick: He had a fucking knife in his eye, how many of us would have thought to look at his hand??
Dylan: NOT DURING THAT SCENE YA GOOFBALL!
When he was trying to talk his way out of everything, like two minute earlier.
Nick: I honestly wasn't paying attention to anything other than Jaime getting told off for "father" this and "father" that. The Lannister motto might as well be "When my father hears about this…" or "My father is very important and he is possibly also my uncle."
As much as I hate Bolton's men, I did appreciate that monologue quite a bit.
Dylan: That makes sense, considering you have less autism than me.
Nick: I rolled a 2, you rolled a 12.
Dylan: LOL U SO NERDY.
Nick: I'm so nerdy I had to look online to verify I understood D&D rolling terms.
It's interesting that both of the roaming parties this week are in questionable situations. Jaime and Brienne had it the worst, but Arya and Gendry lost Hot Pie to the seductive ways of brown bread decorating and they're now on their own with the Occupy Westeros crew, who have the Hound in questionably lackluster security.
Dylan: I miss Hot Pie already. He's my favorite fat person on the show. Yes, over Varys.
Nick: Varys isn't fat, he just has folds for hiding weapons in.
Dylan: And silk kimonos
Nick: Hot Pie is way better than Sam, who we are stuck with forever.
I'm guessing that the Hound is going to break out and kill a lot of people, then wind up settling for Arya as a sort of replacement for Sansa. Gendry will be there to make him new horse cutting knives.
Dylan: Sam is punishment for downloading the episodes illegally, which we don't do. We swear, HBO!
Nick: We are the only people under the age of 50 who aren't, at this point.
I like the idea of Sam as a watermark.
Dylan: That's the only reason he needs to exist.
Nick: So, what are we giving this episode, then?
Dylan: 4.5, the first truly great episode of this season. Finally, something happened, and it was totally worth the wait.
Nick: I'm in between a 4 and a 4.5, because it still doesn't meet the highs we've seen from this show, but it is a standout by quite a wide margin this season. So I guess I'll round up and say 4.5 as well.
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 culture. 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.
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he's the last of the secret agents and he's your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Comics Bulletin, where he reigns as the co-managing editor, or at Panel Panopticon, which he started as a joke and now takes semi-seriously. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd rants about his potentially psychopathic roommate on twitter @Nick_Hanover and explore the world of his musical alter ego at Fitness and Pontypool.