‘Game of Thrones,’ Season 3: Episode 4 Recap
Game of Thrones, HBO's prestige drama set in a medieval world of magic, is metal as hell. It has more longhairs in leather than the Waken and Roadburn festivals combined.
So, to that end, every Monday, Noisecreep brings you Heavy Metal Game of Thrones Recaps. Let all the other sites go on about the scripts' sublime humor. Here, we talk about how badass the episode is.
SPOILER POLICY: First off, don't read this post unless you've already seen this week's episode and the once preceding it. Second, 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.
Episode 3.4, "And Now His Watch Is Ended."
And Now His Watch Is Ended. And now shit is on. This rapid-shuffle episode bounced all over the place. The action wasn't unified, but action there was, bringing us the season's biggest body count to date, by far. Things are on the move in Westeros.
In some ways, we can read this pivotal episode as an illustration of leadership styles. A real leader needs to know how to motivate those who might be led. And each potential follower has his own needs, some lofty, some base. This week, we see why people do what they will. And it usually ain't pretty.
In the woods:
The Kingslayer - totally metal nickname - Jaime Lannister still has his right hand, though it's no longer attached. And while he is muddy, defeated, and dismembered, he is not yet subdued. Which leads to one of the evening's important lessons.
At King's Landing:
At the royal capitol, dark whispers in the hazy sunlight reveal an origin most macabre. And while the Imp longs for revenge, we are reacquainted with Lord Varys, the bald master of spies, nicknamed The Spider - a handle that is totally metal. Varys, he tells us, once heard a voice in the flames, and a lifetime later, he's still scared and angry.
Speaking of which, Varys has just had a big box of revenge delivered, in the form of a wizard with his mouth sewn shut. This hated magician once failed to finish the eunuch when he had the opportunity. But the bald man learned: If you one can escape with merely his life, in time, all else may be his too. And as we watch the Spider crawl through webs across the royal city, we see that the most dangerous men are not always the ones who can kick your ass.
Elsewhere in the castle, a cheery boy king shows his lady the sights, and she whispers sweet words and evaporating reassurances. Unnerved, his mother - the former queen or queen regent - confronts her father, the true power behind the throne, and laments a woman's lot in this world most unfair. And while she has good points, her father has better ones.
These scenes might not seem metal, but having a mutilated wizard in a crate is pure metal.
Beyond the wall:
In the great white North, it's a night most black. What will spur the most fearsome fighters to action? Fear and hunger. With food in short supply, the Night's Watch's esprit de corps is flagging, and things go from bad to worst in the flash of a blade.
The black guard, you need to remember, is largely staffed by thieves, rapists and murders who went North to escape their fate. Starved and horny, they can smell food and estrogen. They go over the edge, but most of them weren't far from it to begin with. Hell breaks loose. And tubby Sam, faced with a needy babe and its mother, takes his first steps to become a real man. Melees, massacre, bloodlust? Check. Molten metal.
In the more Northern woods:
Escaped and rescued, Ironborn Theon realizes the magnitude of his bad choices, all too late. He also realizes something seems amiss - and it is. His savior reveals himself as his captor, and demonstrates that in these tumultuous times, deception is a most reliable currency. Power, betrayal, subterfuge, murder - this scene may be slow and confusing, but make no mistake: It's pretty metal.
Back in the other woods:
Arya, her royal bastard pal, and the captive Hound find themselves a long way from home, in a bandit cave, surrounded by rogues and deserters long ago set in motion by men now dead. In this kingdom of the disenfranchised and reborn, the ruling one-eyed man is Beric Dondarrion, a fighter of renown who may be unkillable. Keep an eye on him, as well. He serves a new god, and he serves justice, but to do so, he'll have to face the Hound, a fighter of some renown himself. In this rough world, a trial by combat is about the best deal you'll get. Any scene with the Hound is metal.
Across the sea:
In Slaver's Bay, ambitious would-be queen Daenerys Targaryen greets a massive army, prepared to pay a larger price. And when it looks like she has done the unthinkable and surrendered her greatest asset, a black dragon takes wing, fire rains, and the small woman proves herself a warrior as a silent, dark army voices its approval.
Her warriors fight for revenge, and they will fight for freedom, and fight they will. As the episode closes, dragons fly, an army of thousands marches, and a new imperial theme plays on the soundtrack. No guitars are in earshot, but the massacre of liberation is a scene most metal.
(This closing music is way better than last week's indie rock, right? Hipsters out of Westeros!)
Dismembered limb worn around a neck: 1
Body count: Around 8 onscreen, a good ten in the background or thereabouts, and at least a couple hundred offscreen.
Fiery death: 1 (onscreen)
Mouth sewn shut: 1
Singing longswords: Like 20. Steel was flying left and right, yo!
Rating: Metal and getting more metal.
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. He finished this review and watched the History Channel's Vikings, which is also totally metal.