“Practice Safe Sex, with Leeches”- Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 8 Review- ‘Second Sons’
This review is conducted by someone who hasn’t read the books, so keep your spoilers in your trunk like Varys’ magic friend.
The tower is about to fall. Like so many recreational Jenga games in dens across the world, hours and hours of buildup are finally about to culminate in something cool, most likely cooler than a bunch of stacked wooden blocks collapsing on a table. We’ve been treading water for weeks now and it’s about time we drowned. Or, you know, get rescued or something.
Tonight we managed to introduce even more characters and have a slightly better indication of where we’re going in the final two episodes of the season. I get that we’re going to end the season with what is literally the middle of a book, but cool staff happens in the middle of books sometimes. Sometimes… Hopefully? Please?
As usual, we’ll take this review character by character and at the end I’ll crown tonight’s winner…
Bran’d Tonight: Bran, this category’s namesake; Jon Snow (which I couldn’t care less about); Jamie and Brienne (whose banter was sorely missed); Robb Stark (who I could really go either way about at this point); Theon Greyjoy, who at this point I suspect to be a very complicated Christ metaphor; Brothers without Manners… Dammit…
Arya and the Hound, Clearly Explaining What They Are Doing, Thank God
Thank you, the Hound. Thank you for very clearly and plainly explaining what it is you are doing. I talked about this a bit last week, but this show gets incredibly confusing when we don’t have George R. R. Martin’s third person narration telling us what is going on. There are just certainly logic gaps this show jumps over like a medieval Evel Knieval, most noticeably explaining to us what in the hell everyone is doing. That’s probably my main problem with the Jon Snow storyline, that I literally have no idea where it is they’re talking to or why exactly it is that they’re climbing that damn wall.
But, yeah, he’s taking the Hobbit to Isengard and that’s at least going to be interesting, and a reunion that will produce from me no less than three tears.
That was a good one scene, you two.
Tarly, Reminding Us What is Really Important Here
While everyone else is faffing about talking about marriage and incest, the show has been using Tarly to remind us that there is a massive army of ice creatures planning on storming the realm. They’re using what could have easily been the show’s most gimmicky and reachy character and are cleverly making him interesting by frequently putting him face-to-face with scary icemen.
His scene tonight was very well-executed, at least at the end. The tone of my personal notes from the beginning of the sequence differs greatly from my tone at the end, apathy switching quickly to rampant interest. I don’t care much for his romance, mostly because I care nothing for his ladyfriend and only marginally for Tarly. Don’t get me wrong. Both are playing their characters very well, but neither one of them has ever had much to do, especially the one that hasn’t been around since Season 1. Also, Tarly deserves better than this incredibly unpleasant lady. I’m not his biggest supporter, but he deserves a nicer lady.
But, well done with the stabbing tonight, son. Although, you probably should have used that fire. Eh, you know, hindsight twenty/twenty. Sometimes your nerves just take over. I can’t accurately say that I know what I’d do in his shoes. That is a situation unlike any my privileged white self has ever been in.
Danaerys, The Apparently Irresistible
Every man that Danny comes across almost immediately hits on her (and, admittedly, it would be hard not to), and it is almost always a 100% terrible idea to do so. Not once has telling Danny how jaw-droppingly foxy she is ever worked out for the suitor. Khal Drago got the best stick in the bindle and he’s dead now. The moment the Second Sons showed up, the first thought in my head was “Danny better not fondle any of these guys.”
And, dammit, we now have more characters to keep track of and it is becoming ridiculous. I am a huge fan of this show, but I very openly acknowledge its flaws and its principle flaw is that there are too many goram people. Danny’s got another in her entourage now, but he’s probably going to sit back there with Jorah and really not do anything. Of the men on this show, this new fella probably has the best chance of a romantic subplot with Danaerys since Jorah has been almost entirely written out of that… Poor, poor Jorah. My money would be on Grey Worm if he hadn’t been deprived of that ever happening by virtue of having a scary man remove his testicles.
That being said, I think this all resolved too quickly. This season has just been a series of occasions where Danny gathers more team members and after the time where she killed a bunch of dudes with dragons and eunuchs to get more people, kind of just having one of them turn over the army without a fight seems incredibly anti-climactic.
And of course he has to be handsome and I truly hope we don’t have to deal with a romance here. That just sounds terrible. Danaerys works much better as a twisted version of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, the powerful woman who stands alone except with her dragons and a few thousand some-odd soldiers.
Melisandre, Sorceress and Bringer of Really Awkward Erections
After being Bran’d for many, many weeks, it’s nice to see Stannis back on the scene, especially when he brings Davos along for the ride. And it’s really great to see him back and doing more than staring out over oceans and brooding.
It’s interesting that after he placed Davos down in the dungeon, he still wen to him with his plan. The way I read the scene, and the only way that I could read the scene, is that Stannis was still looking for Davos to give him advice, weighing in the events of the day with his trusted confidant. No matter how far he goes through Melisandre’s looking glass, his bond with Davos will remain strong, and will ultimately be what saves him from the beautiful, manipulative sorceress he so frequently creates smoke babies with.
At first, I was worried they were going to eat Gendry, then scared they were going to sacrifice him, then oddly relieved when they placed a leech on his penis. This was truly an emotional rollercoaster and can only be properly put into perspective by phrasing it in the form of one sentence.
As always, Carice Van Houten really owned this role and inspired strange stirrings in me that maybe Wicca isn’t so bad after all. Stirrings that were immediately dismissed when the leeches came out.
Also, didn’t Stannis forget Danaerys when he was tossing leeches onto the grill? I mean, if you’re going to go through this whole ritual, you might as well cover all of your bases. Unless he doesn’t really know about Danaerys, which opens up a whole number of questions about communication in this most-likely pre-Internet society that I simply don’t feel like delving into at this time.
We have a wedding to discuss!
TONIGHT’S WINNER: The Wedding of the Century
This is easily the third-most I’ve ever been invested in a wedding, behind Marshall and Lily’s wedding on How I Met Your Mother and one real wedding.
The event was painful to watch in the best possible way tonight. I really, really wanted someone to burst in and stop the proceedings in a cool way, as television characters are wont to do. I wanted to see Ben from The Graduate pounding on the glass or have Shrek ride in on a dragon or equivalent.
Moving that stool is somehow the most dickish thing Joffrey has ever done. I understand that he has done far worse things, including a certain beheading and the deaths of numerous whores, but somehow this just feels worse.
Tyrion reacted as we all would tonight. His family has actively tried to have him killed, and embarrassed him totally during the marriage they forced him to have. And since he is the only character besides Arya that is universally beloved, I feel we’re going to see him get his sweet revenge, hopefully with Varys and Baelish in tow.
The poor dwarf finds himself in an awful position, with Tywin’s seething old man hatred blowing in his face, and one very logical reaction to this is to drink. And his scene with Sansa is heartbreaking. For a character I didn’t much care about before this wedding plot, seeing Sansa almost forced to do her wifely duties twisted my heart into a terrible position.
I want to see Sansa happy! I want Tyrion to be with Shae! Right now I have neither of those things and it’s terrible! And really great television.
As an addendum here, this show could use a lot more death in it. Not that I don’t love 90% of these characters, but this is a show very much afraid to kill off the important people. We’ve had some notable deaths of minor characters, but nothing serious since the show’s two main characters died within one episode of each other two seasons ago.
If I were to crown only one winner tonight, it would be Cersei. Her exchange with Margaery was great, and further evidence that she is absolutely crazy and such an interesting person to watch. I never would have guessed back when I saw 300 that Lena Hedley could be such a great actress, but she is really bringing it in this part, and her continual lack of Emmy nominations is devastating.
Tonight’s single best moment was, without question, Cersei flat-out shutting down Loras before he can start his monologue. That monologue denial was absolutely fantastic and unexpected and I laughed out loud, which is not something I expected to do in an episode that includes this many kinky leeches.
So we’ve left that Podrick sex thing behind now, right?
Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of movies and TV and current writer of Varys/Baelish slashfiction. Subscribe above or check back weekly for coverage of Game of Thrones, movies, and the best of TV, a weekly Mexican Standoff, and our Good Stuff.
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