Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 3: What Is Dead May Never Die
The third episode of the season begins with a scene north of the Wall. Craster has just returned Jon Snow to his cabin after knocking him out at the end of the last episode, and tells Mormont that the Watch is no longer welcome at his cabin. Jon acts incredulous about how the Watch could have ever allied itself with Craster in the first place, and he tells Mormont that he saw Crater sacrifice his own child to the White Walkers (or, for those who read the books, the Others). Without hesitating for a moment, Mormont replies that the Watch has much greater battles to fight and must look past the unsavory traits of some to ensure victory for the greater good. Craster is a monster, but there are worse monsters out there, and the Watch will never beat them without Craster’s help.
Others in Westeros could stand to learn this lesson. There is so much in-fighting among people supposedly on the same sides of the impending civil war that it’s a wonder there aren’t more factions vying for ultimate power. Theon vies for his father’s love and trust as Yara undermines him at every turn, while the power struggle between Tyrion and Cersei defines their relationship. However, the conflicts among the sides leads to different results. Theon is forced to compromise his beliefs in order to acquire the power he so desires, while Tyrion and Cersei must continue to one-up each other through deception and games. When Theon is challenged on his loyalty to the Greyjoy family, he puts aside his protests that his father’s plans will fail. Theon clearly is unsettled by the plan to take the North, and he desperately tries to propose a plan that would involve allying with the North and end up with dominion over The Westerlands. But he wants power so bad that he is willing to ignore the few intelligent impulses he has, hoping that he can prove that he is worthy of power… and his father’s love and respect. Tyrion knows that no one will give him power, he must assert it for himself. And unlike Theon, “loyalty” isn’t based on who your family is. When Grand Maester Pycelle pleads for mercy from Tyrion, he says that his reason for allowing Jon Arryn to die was to protect House Lannister. Tyrion is not impressed.
Another interesting angle to the in-fighting is the fact that much of it is related to siblings. Theon and Yara try to undermine each other; Cersei and Tyrion don’t trust each other at all and compete for the power to rule Westeros; Renly is defying his brother by declaring himself king, and has single-handedly created an actual war (had Renly gone to The Reach and raised the Tyrell banners for Stannis, Joffrey wouldn’t have a chance in the war). Even Arya, who hasn’t seen Sansa since Ned’s death, has unresolved issues with her. She blames Sansa in part for Ned’s death, and her scenes clearly set up the fact that she will one day seek revenge for all the trauma in her life. Pretty much the only siblings we see in this episode that aren’t competing are the ones that have one of the biggest reasons to compete: Margaery and Loras Tyrell. Before the season began, fans of the books wondered how the show would depict Renly’s marriage to Margaery, as we knew that Margaery’s role would be expanded from her role in the book. Most expected the fact that Renly was married to the sister of the man he loved would cause some tension. Instead, both Loras and Margaery are well aware of how political the marriage is and how important it is for Renly’s claim. And they both want him as king, so they go along with it.
Then again, considering the kind of people that the Lannisters send to capture Gendry, not to mention the fact that they are the liege lord family of Gregor Clegane, maybe vetting underlings’ morals is more important that Lord Commander Mormont thinks.
· Maester Luwin explains to the audience the purpose of maesters’ chains, then reminds us that, while magic may once have been a great force, it is all but gone now. Or so he thinks.
· Would any other of the kings vying for power even consider putting a woman in their Kingsguard? Just another reason that underestimating women is the downfall of most of the power elite of Westeros: if Brienne lived somewhere else, her alliterative nickname would be “Brienne the Badass.” (Also, treatment of women goes toward why the Martells are my favorite non-Stark great house of Westeros.) But will Renly’s progressive attitude and political savvy be enough to save him from the fact that he is by no means a warrior (something Catelyn Stark points out to deaf ears)?
· Another siblings note: Tommen proves how much like Joffrey he isn’t, by saying that he wouldn’t like it if Joffrey were to behead Robb Stark.
· Lots of foreshadowing in this episode, from Littlefinger being tasked to deal with Lysa Arryn to Yoren telling Arya about his “prayer.”