TV Review: Game of Thrones 2.3, 'What is Dead May Never Die'

First off, we catch up with the conclusion to last week’s cliffhanger...

rating: 5

(WARNING: Significant spoilers follow) So the last couple episodes have felt like more time was spent reminding us what old characters are like, showing us new ones and not really moving the stories collectively forward. That changed this week. Yes, we get two new characters (Brienne! BRIENNE! YAY!), but we also get plenty of story. First off, we catch up with the conclusion to last week€™s cliffhanger, which was€not much, really. Craster (Robert Pugh) got cheesed at everyone and kicked them out of his Austrian-basement style love-fest, and we learned that the Night Watch commander knew all along what Craster was up to. I€™m still unclear why anyone tolerates the man and doesn€™t just kill him off. I€™ve read the books, and I know there€™s an explanation, but I don€™t recall what it is, and it€™s not made that clear in the show. Aside from that brief diversion up to the North, we also follow Theon (Alfie Allen) as he adjusts to life back in Pyke. He€™s got some serious daddy issues, but that€™s ok, because his father seems to have some serious son issues. I really liked it when Theon called out his father for sending him off to live with the Starks. It€™s quite clear that at least part of Balon Greyjoy€™s (Patrick Malahide) desire for conquest is to make up for the fact that he essentially lost all his sons to them, and not just the ones that died. We also got to catch up to Renly (Gethin Anthony), and see what he€™s been up to, which appears to be€not much. He€™s basically off hanging out with House Tyrell and planning to marry Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), a pragmatic young thing, who is--you€™ll laugh at this--the sister of Renly€™s boy-toy, Ser Loras (Finn Jones, looking adorable as ever). The scene where she makes it clear that she€™s willing to do just about anything to get pregnant by Renly, up to and including a threesome with him and her brother, was something that no doubt had slash fiction writers all over the world eagerly booting up their word processing programs. But that set of scenes is also notable for a few other things that I liked. First off, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) showed up and mocked Renly for basically just hanging out doing nothing while Robb Stark was off campaigning. The scenes also introduced us to fan-favorite Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), and you better believe I€™m pleased to see her. She was one of my favorite characters in the books, and Christie seems to embody her just about perfectly. Also of note were some events in King€™s Landing where Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) sets a trap to find out who€™s been leaking information to the Queen (Lena Headey), and then manages to find an excellent job for Shae (Sibel Kikilli) as handmaiden to poor Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). That€™s something she seems much better suited to than Tyrion's original plan to put Shae in the kitchens. Her comment about her cooking skills was one for the ages, and I really loved the way that Cersei, when she couldn€™t fight back against Tyrion with words, resorted to shoving him. We also briefly checked in with Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) up at Winterfell, where we found him talking with the family€™s Maester (Donald Sumpter). It was an interesting little conversation and did a good job of setting up Luwin as a potential father figure for Bran. Then we got the real payoff for this week, as well as an early check-out for one of the characters. In the book, Lommy Greenhands (Eros Vlahos), doomed though he was, at least had something of a longer lifespan. Not so much in the TV show, though his death (he was alive until he took an arrow to the knee), was handled amazingly well. I was, overall, pleased as punch with this episode! The storylines were all engaging and it was very nice to see things moving forward. I loved that they played up Theon€™s conflicting emotions, showing him drafting a warning letter to Robb, and then burning it before hitting the beach. The various €œlittle€ discussions were lovely, too, like the one between Bran and Maester Luwin, and Ary and Yoren. It€™s little things like that the make the series more than just blood and guts. I also really like that the series as a whole is exploring Renly€™s sexuality a bit more. That was something that was only hinted at in the books, and I€™m glad to see it taking the forefront here. If nothing else, it€™s interesting to see a practical exploration of what happens when you have a governing system predicated on producing heirs and a king who has no interest in women. I did miss Daenerys, now missing for basically two whole episodes, and I was a little vexed that we didn€™t catch up with Davos, Stannis and Melisandre. But otherwise I have no real complaints. This episode was basically everything I ask for from the show, and hopefully next week€™s will be, too. Previously; TV Review: Game of Thrones 2.2, €˜The Night Lands€™TV Review: Game of Thrones 2.1 €“ €˜The North Remembers€™Game of Thrones Season 2 PreviewGame of Thrones Interview: David Benioff and Dan Weiss (Writers/Executive Producers)Game of Thrones Interview: Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)Game of Thrones Interview: Kit Harington (Jon Snow)Game of Thrones Interview: Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy)Game of Thrones Interview: Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark)Game of Thrones Interview: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)
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Chris Swanson is a freelance writer and blogger based in Phoenix, Arizona, where winter happens to other people. His blog is at wilybadger.wordpress.com