Game of Thrones: “What is Dead May Never Die” Review

Game of Thrones: “What is Dead May Never Die” Review

 

“What is Dead May Never Die” opens up with a familiar scene of Jon Snow getting chewed out by veterans of the Night’s Watch, except this time it’s for spying on the old wildling Craster sacrificing babies in the woods.  Snow is told not to interfere with these unsavory rituals, his guardian Mormont tells Snow that the wildlings serve crueler gods than the Starks’.  The following scene cuts to the bed-ridden Bran Stark who sees direwolf visions in his dreams foreshadowing events like his father’s death.  He talks to his caretaker Maester Luwin who reminds the young Stark that magic, giants, dragons, and children of the forest are all but gone.

But what isn’t missing in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros is the bone crushing spectacle of tournament combat.  This time it’s not hosted by Joffrey, instead it’s a challenger to the brat king’s claim to the throne, the charismatic King Renly Baratheon.  The eventual champion combatant turns out to be a woman named Brienne ,who defeats Renly’s secret lover, Ser Loras Tyrell.  She is rewarded her wish of serving as a member of the honorable and elite King’s Guard which only had seven soldiers, much to the dismay of Ser Loras.

Cat Stark watched the combat as a guest, and is there to ask for King Renly’s help against Joffrey.  As if she was paying her fiery red hair justice, the Lady Stark reminds Renly’s forces that her son is actually fighting at war and not “playing” at one.  This does not amuse the warrior woman but Renly keeps his bearing, and shows Lady Stark the war preparations that were being readied off-camera.  The Lady Stark remains unimpressed and tests Renly’s patience once again by saying that his men are “Knights of Summer and Winter is coming”.  Even though Cat has suffered immeasurable hardships, this seems like brash behavior that’s out of character for her, although it’s a quote well worth remembering as another serious warning of the winter catastrophes to come.  The king’s patience finally runs out and he sends the Lady Stark away.

At night, Renly’s scantily-clad Queen Margaery Tyrell and her kingdom-sized cleavage promptly takes off her nightgown and moves in on her king, but Renly becomes flustered and disgusted.  Renly blames it on “wine dick” but Margaery reveals that she knows of her king’s desires when she offers bringing in her brothers “if that would help”.  Renly is in disbelief and tries to deny her accusations.  However Margarery knows the truth and is focused on strategizing that she’s willing to do whatever it took to get a baby in her stomach in order to help her king’s claim to the throne.

Theon, the youngest and last remaining son of the Greyjoy family, is again reminded that he is the runt of the litter as his father Balon gives him command of only one ship to attack lowly fisherman, while his sister Yara commands 30 ships in the main attack.  Not only does Theon feel slighted and express his disappointment, Theon further weakens himself in the eyes of his father by offering the idea of allying with the forces of the North instead of exploiting war now.  Balon tells his son that their family is made of iron and combat, and that Theon’s time with the “wolves” (Starks) had made him weak.  The scene ends with more drama as Theon cries aloud that its Balon’s fault for Theon being the way he is after being out casted.  A later scene returns to Theon who is seen burning a letter to Robb Stark, signaling a change of his attitude and allegiance.  He undergoes his family oath and wears their god’s armor before the upcoming season battle commences.  Theon is being groomed to become a tragic character if his insecurity and unloving familiy serve as any indication.

Remembering the lessons learned from the previous episode, Tyrion tests the web of allegiances and spins his own conspiracy to see where the allegiances really lead.  Tyrion hatches a plan telling Varys, old man Pycelles, and Littlefinger different stories, stressing that that the “Queen mustn’t know” of the information.  Tyrion’s plan pays off as he discovers Pycelle has been betraying the Hands of the King, including Jon Arrya from the first episode.  Pycelle is rudely interrupted enjoying a naked woman’s services, and Tyrion threatens to chop off the old man’s dick.  Tyrion settles on ordering his guard to cut off Pycelle’s beard instead.  The frightened Pycelle reveals he has always worked in the good of the Lannister family.  Tyrion orders the guard to lock Pycelle away, but these actions set up another inevitable clash when his sister finds out she is missing her insider.

One of the most important exchanges of dialogue seen in the series is Varya telling a riddle to Tyrion about how power is only an intangible perception that can be manipulated into reality, which disturbs and opens up the Lannister’s mind. Varya’s riddle was another lesson being taught to the newly appointed Hand of the King, and the Spider is spinning his web just for the rising Tyrion.

The episode ends with the some of the show’s best scenes to date.  Arya’s Night Watch bodyguard Yoren, who relates to Arya’s nightmares about seeing her dad’s beheading by telling her of watching his own brother die and earning vengeance by axing the head of Willam,  challenges Joffrey’s royal guards instead of bending to the boy king’s orders.  Yoren promptly gets shot but he has enough strength to explain that he never liked crossbows because they reloaded too slowly, and he slices his way into the realms of bad ass deaths, joining characters like Arya’s fencing teacher Syrio.  The royal guards capture the survivors including Arya after she rescued prisoners from a fire.

This was an entertaining episode and ranks as the best of the new series so far.  The powerful exchanges of dialogue foreshadowing at the chilling moves to come in the in the Game of Thrones, along with the brutal sacrifices made by the show’s characters, leaves the viewer glued to the screen for next week’s episode.

Arbitrary Review Rating Number: 93%/100