It’s back. Like a well-fitting glove it was an instant comfort. Well, as comfortable as possible in a show that can rip hope for your favourite characters and stoies right out of your chest and dangle it in front of you with glee. It’s sadomasochistically great having it back. No matter how bad my Monday is, it’s never going to be as bad as a Monday in Westeros, and is going to give me something to look forward to.
In this episode, opening after the major events at the close of the last season, the show had a real sense of the world, or at least the individual worlds of the character groups, being impacted by the previous stories, as though pieces were being quickly moved and re-positioned after major moves on a chess board–as the very title would imply. The taking of the Eyrie, the battle at the wall and the death of Tywin, and the players all looking for opportunities or for the shadows of danger. Cersei was served well with the flashback to the prophecy of the doom of her children and her rise and fall–all seemingly on course, it’s no wonder she and Jaime are wondering at where Tywin’s death will leave them…
With Lancel back in court–after I’ve completely forgotten who he was (and didn’t appreciate how hot he was…)–I can’t help think his conversion to being a religious ‘sparrow’ is pious dressing of a new threat for Cersei with his hinting at her having more of a part in Baratheon’s death than either I knew or can recall. Marjery is also clearly on the scheme. Will she be the woman for Cersei to worry about? Or will it ever be because Daenerys has managed to actually get an army and a fleet to force herself back onto the throne? I wouldn’t be surprised if Marjery falls foul of a Cersei reasserting her defences.
For me, the biggest revelation was Varis. Has he shown his hand? It actually seems a noble and selfless cause. He’s been a tricky character to watch, delightfully cunning, sometimes an ally, other times a cold observer, and always giving off the sense that he is turning wheels within wheels in some unknowable plan. This episode dared me to trust him more than I’m willing to in his support of Tyrion. Has Varis given up his place in King’s Landing by disapearing at the same time as Tyrion’s escape? Is Tyrion being lined up as an ally or an offering? Tyrion and Daenerys would be an interesting, if wholly unlikely, alliance.
Which brings me to Daenerys. I’ve been rooting for her since season one, and loved every bit of strength and support she’s gained through her experiences. Yet, her want to return to Westeros to reclaim ‘her’ throne sits a little uncomfortably with me. Is that really her goal? Or that of her dead family and ended line? Should she be above and beyond this considering the injustices she has found and is determined to challenge in the lands she has freed and taken. This epsiode has caused me to worry that her prototype empire and her ideals are going to come undone before she can even set foot in Westeros and attempt a powerplay there.
It’s her disconnection to the dragons that’s unsettling me the most though. They were her strength, her power. Will she ‘just’ be a woman with a paid army in the eyes of her followers without them? Oh, and how does a show make dragons sympathetic–even though I know they are going to be uncontrollable teeth and flames from the sky I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them and how Daenerys has seemingly lost her connection to them, or abused their trust. With one of them loose I also thinking back to the man in the cave that Bran encountered at the end of season 4 and predicted that Bran will ‘fly’–will he have control of a dragon?
As for Jon Snow… Well, he’s still balancing between two worlds, seemingly trying to find his place, although he is already trapped by the black. I wonder how he would even cope with being away from the wall and in Westeros and the power struggles proper. He very much seems like a man of the North. He’s always been one to follow his own thoughts and sense of justice, but in this episode, defying the will of Stannis in saving Mance undue suffering in his death, has he pushed it too far? Or will he have earned the would-be king’s respect? I’m doubtful that Melisandre will take robbing the fire of a soul too well. Is Jon going to take Mance’s place for the Wildlings? I think he could become a leader of the black and the Wildlings.
This was a faultless watch and I loved every minute of it. It’s a class act that stands out above everything else I watch. Can’t wait for Mondays. Which I never say.
What did you think? No spoilers please!