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‘Game of Thrones,’ Season 3: Episode 2 Recap

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Game of Thrones, HBO’s prestige drama set in a medieval world of magic, is metal as hell. It’s full of longhaired guys and has more leather than a Judas Priest concert.

So, to that end, every Monday, Noisecreep brings you Heavy Metal Game of Thrones Recaps. Let all the other sites go on about the exquisite set design. We’re gonna talk about how badass the episode is.

SPOILER POLICY: Once you dive into the world of Game of Thrones – the show or the books – you’re in for some unpredictable, shocking twists. So please don’t ruin them for any new fans or casual readers. If you really need to reference one of the major future developments, please try be as vague as possible, and clearly label them SPOILERS.

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Episode 3.2, “Dark Wings, Dark Words’”

Well, Walking Dead is gone for now, and Spartacus is about to follow. So if you’re thinking of getting hip to this Game of Thrones show everybody’s been talking about, now’s the time to do it. This week, we see some thematic overlap with Walking Dead: Two of the show’s 96 major characters have to ponder whether it’s better to kill a potential threat or let him live, only to risk him bringing doom back on you. If you’ve been watching both shows, I think you have your answer by now.

We’ll get to the metal in a minute, stay with me. Episode 2 plays like Episode 1, Part 2. We’re only just seeing all the better characters for the first time in this second hour of Season 2. It’s more a series of scenes, and less an episode: Precious little ties it together. Nothing of significance is resolved, and the little bit of action we get quickly recoils into a cliffhanger.

Two hours into the season, and we’re just getting started. But that’s Game of Thrones for you: Nothing happens. And then nothing happens. And all that nothing comes to a head in something that you’ll be talking about two years from now. And when something does happen, it will leave you gladly sitting through two more hours of nothing. Such is life in a medieval world with plenty of swords but no cell phones.

The episode opens with a creepy dream and a raven that represents a crippled young lord’s soul. Prying open your third eye is some straight-up Tool shit, and ravens are metal – not to mention the fact that the fleeing young Stark boys are wandering North in a forest that keen-eyed metalheads will recognize from a Satyricon video or six. They eventually meet some mystical allies who will take them on a journey of the body and the mind.

The Starks’ traveling companions: The guy who looks like Andre the giant is Hodor, a powerhouse of a simpleton. The girl who looks like Helena Bonham Carter is Osha, just one of the show’s very metal women. Unlike bottle-blonde Daenerys Targaryen, if you saw her at a show, she’d be wearing a biker jacket that was dirtier than yours.

Elsewhere, little girl Arya Stark proves that a powerful woman will always attract notice, though that’s not always a good thing. The burnt, tall badass who recognizes her is The Hound, a royal bodyguard gone rogue. If this guy were a band, he’d probably be Testament, but we’ll talk about him more once he gets something to do.

Young Ms. Stark’s companions are the royal bastard Gendry and the bumbling peasant Hot Pie, whom the righteous ladies of the GOT podcast Tyrion’s Landing sometimes refer to as “Hot Pie and Hot Guy.” But this episode, all the dudes are on the bench.

Another woman delivered the only real action of the episode. Lady Brienne of Tarth is the giant armored woman with short hair, who has a guy that looks like Denis Leary on a leash. In her own way, she is metal as hell. She’s awesome, and she doesn’t know it, which only makes her more awesome.

The Denis Leary dude is Jaime Lannister, whom we haven’t seen in action for over a year now, so it’s worth reminding you he’s as good a swordsman as anyone else in the kingdom. And Brienne hands his ass to him, as the show suggests that true power lies in self control.

Also worth noting: Brienne and her prisoner are reduced to sneaking through forests and avoiding the road. In this caste society, the only people running free are dreaming.

Other developments (or lack thereof):

Mance Rayder – a former man in black, lord of Cave People and Moon Worshippers and cannibals and giants – tells bastard Jon Snow the power of truth. And we meet our first full-blown warg, a white-eyed adept that can enter the minds of animals. At the risk of ruining it for you, we’ll say there’s more than of them around, and we’ll leave it at that.

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Fire, lies, and missing children. A tortured poseur screams on a crucifix. A bound prisoner insensitively mocks glam dudes and cracks gay jokes, which isn’t right, but if that kind of sentiment was pervasive in the 1980s metal scene, imagine how bad it was in medieval times.

All the week’s thematic action arrives via the ladies. A teen king bristles at his mother’s attempts to control him, but lets a suitor wrap her hands around his crossbow. We meet Lady Olenna, the would-be queen’s grandmother, who seems like she would make a fine queen – and, of course, is not. And a whore teaches redhead Sansa – who shows more backbone than she shows in the books – that men always have one thing on their mind, and seldom more. In this world, men may wield the lion’s share of the power. But women have the power to control them.

Scorecard:

Body count: O

Oversized wolves: 3

Crucifixion on a cool X-style cross: 1

Impaled mounted pig head: 1

Rating: It’s metal like an early Crüe album is metal: All the signs and symbols are there, but it ain’t metal if the tempo stays low and the blood don’t flow. The sets are there; they just need to play some fast shit.

 

D.X. Ferris is the author of 33 1/3: Reign in Blood, the first English-language book about Slayer. He writes the webcomic Suburban Metal Dad and runs Pentagrammarian.com, the world’s only full-contact, metal-oriented grammar & usage website. He has read all five Game of Thrones/A Song of Fire and Ice books. After reading up on the subject, he thinks he knows who Jon Snow’s mother is.

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