Tuesday, April 16, 2013

F**k Yeah Game of Thrones Recaps! Episode Three: Walk of Punishment!

Holy crap, Game of Thrones! Swinging wildly between humour and sheer unadulterated horror, Episode Three, Walk of Punishment, seemed determined to both delight and disturb. And it’s not just the slaves of Astapor that will be grotesquely punished before the credits roll...

If you want the uneducated opinion of a white-knuckled, squeamish layman who hasn’t yet read the books, then I will recap the crap out of all this buttock-clenching blood-and-boobs madness... after the jump!

The grand cycle of tragedy and comedy kicks off at Riverrun, former home of the traitorous Ned-wife Catelyn Stark. As the corpse of her father takes a Viking-style float up the river, her shiftless brother, Edmure, fails his Avengers audition by repeatedly missing the boat with a slew of fiery arrows. Luckily beardy badass Uncle Blackfish steps in and shows him how its done, barbecuing the corpse to everyone's satisfaction. Where’s Bronn when you need him? When it comes to fire-arrows, that guy's a pro!

Later, Catelyn starts getting all teary again as she remembers the past, and pragmatist Uncle Blackfish doesn’t remember much at all, including his own name. Seriously, this guy has forgotten so much stuff that I’m amazed he’s wearing pants. Meanwhile, bland wanna-be King Robb Stark chews out career screw-up, Edmure, for kickstarting some-battle-or-other and ruining all of Robb's totally strategic war plans. Give the guy a break, Robb! Everyone was so sick of waiting for you to actually DO something in this show that they decided to do it for you! In the cells below, wife Talisa dutifully tries to make Robb sound more interesting, painting him as a cannibal werewolf.

Our pal, Theon "Super Chav" Grejoy gets cut free from his crucifixion cross thanks to his plucky dungeon janitor friend, who was allegedly sent by his sister. Theon shows off some sweet moves on a white stallion as he escapes into the woods, but this draws the attention of his pursuers who knock him to the ground and decide they want to risk it all and rape him. 

Now, this triggers one of the main themes of the ensuing episode, which is not just man’s inhumanity to man (and woman), but the way in which these horrific situations can give us a sympathy for a villain. There’s no doubt that Theon’s been a monstrous dispshit, even murdering and burning kids last season, but I still had no desire to see him tortured, humiliated and defiled. Game of Thrones is such an uncomfortable watch because at this point everybody’s about as bad as each other. Who do you even barrack for anymore when just about every character takes a perverse satisfaction in inflicting pain and misery on their fellow human beings? I often wonder why nearly everyone in Westeros is so irredeemably awful, but then a casual glance at our real world headlines shows that here, in the present, things are pretty much the same. Depressing. Luckily for Theon, however, his janitor friend is not just handy with a broom, but also a bow and arrow. He turns the would-be rapist into a pincushion and Theon’s perpetually exposed posterior is saved.

Let’s switch to cheerier things. Lil’ androgynous Arya Stark is still hanging with the Brotherhood Without Banners. Gendry shows off his sweet smithy skills and the bound Hound is loaded into a prison cart, but not before they comically cause him to knock his head on the door frame like a stormtrooper. As you might imagine, spirits are high. But wait - what’s this? Tubby dynamo Hot Pie is not continuing the journey with them? Turns out that he baked some wicked bread in the inn and now they want to keep him on as an employee! He’ll be a doughy little bakery boy while the others head off for more misery! I felt sincerely pleased for Hot Pie as this may be the only happy ending in the entire series. Usually when one of these characters gets a job in a bakery they are rapidly raped and skinned by a gingerbread man. But not our friend Hot Pie who will live out his days in bready bliss! He makes Arya a parting gift of some weird wolf-shaped bread. Oh that’s just great. Now everyone on the Internet will be making wolf-bread.

Umm.... (Notice I have no desire to tell these events in their actual order). (Just like the producers of this show!) Daenerys! She’s still wandering around the slave city, Astapor, pondering whether or not she really wants an army of slaves. She see some bloodied, chained-up prisoners awaiting death in the hot sun (on the Walk of Punishment) and offers one a drink, but he’s all like, “Naw, bro. Girl germs.” Brave Knight Ser Jorah and Old Man Barristan are playing devil and... well... devil, on her shoulders, saying “Buy the neutered slaves!”, “No don’t buy the slaves, use an army of impassioned, inhumane, rapey men!” Eventually Daenerys is like, “Ok, I’ll just buy the slaves, but I want all 8,000 of them”. Has she seen the size of her boat? Problem is she’s low on cash so she surprises everyone by offering the biggest of her three dragons as a trade. Everyone is shocked except for the Game of Thrones financial team who are positively thrilled that there’s one less expensive CGI dragon to animate.

I feel like a jaunt... BEYOND THE WALL. That bastard Jon Snow is still chilling (LOL) with grizzlepuss Mance Rayder when they encounter a whole ton of severed horse heads arranged in a pattern. Jon looks freaked out but, if they’d used their initiative, this could have been the start of an awesome life-size chess set. Recognising that the Watch has been massacred by the White Walkers, Mance lays down a plan to go cause shit at The Wall.

Meanwhile Commander Mormont and Sam and Co. return to Craster’s Keep. Remember Craster from last season? He was the fat, old, creepy bugger who was banging his daughters and sacrificing the male babies to the Walkers. After yet another ironic scene where a fat guy calls Sam fat, Sam follows the cries of one of Craster’s many daughters, Gilly, (who you may recall that Sam had a bit of a crush on). Turns out that Gilly is giving birth and to her horror it’s... a babby boy! Uh oh! I hope Sam can smuggle the babby out in his cheeks. Like a nut in a chipmunk.

Speaking of wee babbies, out on the shores of Dragonstone the stoic Stannis begs mystic gingernut Melisandre to pop out another Shadow Man Baby but she warns it would drain him of too much energy and maybe even kill him. Barely tolerating him at this point, she still promises him the coveted Iron Throne but seems more interested in securing some new Baratheon blood. How about that bastard Gendry?

Now to King’s Landing and the Lannister siblings - ice queen Cersei and demon monkey Tyrion - try to out power each other by moving around the furniture at Daddy Tywin’s council meeting. Blah blah blah politics until they talk about Little Finger heading off to woo Lysa Arryn (Catelyn’s sister? The weird woman who lives in the sky place and breastfeeds her fifteen-year-old son), thereby leaving tiny Tyrion to take over as the Master of Coin. Charged with the kingdom’s finances, Tyrion holes up in Little Finger’s brothel to check over the books, only to discover that they all owe millions and can’t pay it back. This means that the Iron Bank will probably track them down and punch in their balls.

Suddenly, the producers realise that there was no nudity last episode and that our collective attention span is waning. So Tyrion quickly devises a plan to reward his squire, Podrick, with an impromptu prostitute four-way in exchange for saving his life last season. The nudity balance is quickly restored with two full frontal females and a contortionist who almost ends up wearing herself as a hat. We later discover that Podrick was so pimp that the night-ladies refused to take the money, leaving a flummoxed Tyrion and Bronn begging silent achiever Podrick for tips.

And finally, let’s CUT to giant lady-knight Brienne and the evil Jaime Lannister who are tied up and being led back to camp by the weaselly Locke (Noah Taylor) and his Bolton Blokes. Jaime forewarns Brienne that the men will rape her when they arrive and suggests that she gives them what they want to protect herself. Of course Brienne whole-heartedly rejects this idea but when she puts up a fight back at camp things quickly grow grim and incredibly difficult to watch. She's one of the few good and noble people in the show and I would hate for something horrific to happen to her. But surprise, surprise it's actually Jaime that saves her honour by doing some cunning quick talking with Locke. He points out that Brienne's father has a shit ton of sapphires and would pay handsomely for her safe return. Brienne is saved and returned to her tree and Jaime is feeling pretty chuffed with himself. This is the nicest thing we've seen him do in the last couple of years.

But Jaime seems to have pushed his luck. After trying to sweet talk some better sleeping arrangements, Locke invites him to dine with them, only to have his men push him savagely down on the table where Locke begins to threaten Jaime's eye with a ridiculously large knife. Firmly insisting that Jaime's family can no longer save him here, Locke delivers an incredibly effective reminder by suddenly, brutally, and graphically severing Jaime's sword hand. Understandably Jaime is all WTF!!? You might even say he's STUMPED.

And that's the end! Jaime has ironically become one of those "crippled, broken things" that he rallied against all the way back in Season One. After crippling Brann he has finally gotten his comeuppance but - just like with Theon - I took zero pleasure in it. This was such a disturbing sequence (props to Noah Taylor who gave a truly frightening performance) and I felt Jaime's pain. This whole episode left me shell-shocked.

Thanks Game of Thrones! I really gotta HAND it to you. HURRRRR.

1 comment:

  1. In a bid to never spoil you from the books I will only comment on one thing. Thank you for bringing to my attention that yes, they HAVE made Robb into a completely ineffective character who basically does nothing. I thought maybe it was just me thinking that. I thought that because he was so great in the book and I loved him so much maybe he just wasn't measuring up... but no, they just really have taken away all his punch. Sigh. This episode was fantastic aside from that. I especially loved Dany telling Missande that they are not men. Oh the JOY.