Game of Thrones: 'A Man Without Honor' recap and review
Normally when Game of Thrones slows down and does an episode that’s just a bunch of scenes where two people talk with each other, I get frustrated, because I know how much ground the show needs to cover plotwise, and it feels like they are treading water. Although this week’s episode, ‘A Man Without Honor,’ was most certainly of the talky, two-people-having-a-chat variety, all of the scenes were so good and revealed so much about the characters in them that I never found myself bored or feeling like the episode needed to move faster.
Let’s start, as I’m so very fond of doing, North of the Wall. We spent a lot of time up here in this episode, all of it with Jon and his new lady-friend Ygritte. Once Ygritte found out that Jon was a virgin, she spent the rest of the episode cajoling, taunting, and yes, flirting. These scenes were pretty much across-the-board good, which was a pleasant surprise after last week’s awkward meet-cute. Jon and his fiery-haired friend (who I have a big ol’ crush on now, by the way) bounced back and forth between pleasant banter and heated arguing, and it all flowed very nicely. Jon even almost let himself get talked into losing his virginity in the dirt and snow before eventually getting captured by wildlings.
It’s very nice to see the playful-but-charged chemistry between these two, although it seems to me as though they’re shuffling things around a bit from the way they are in the book. I only bring this up because Jon getting captured was a total surprise for me, and I hope that they use this development to further instigate a weirdo relationship between Jon and Ygritte. I’m also curious as to when Qhorin Halfhand is gonna pop back up, because when he does, there will no doubt be an awesome fight. And we all know how much I love those.
Also, I could watch Jon Snow get embarrassed by boner jokes all day long — hilarious.
Next we shall visit King’s Landing, where quite a lot of the episode took place. We only got one Tyrion scene, which as you have probably guessed, makes me sad, but it was a great one. Defying the tradition of previous scenes between Tyrion and his sister, this one didn’t consist of pithy one-liners, but rather an actual heartfelt conversation between the siblings about how boy-King Joffrey is a lost cause. I’m normally weary of scenes that try to soften Cersei, but both of her scenes tonight were great, with some really wonderful acting by Lena Headey. The bit at the end of the scene with Tyrion where he approaches her, presumably to comfort her, and she just gives him a look of sheer disgust, was absolutely brilliant.
The other big Cersei scene in this episode was between her and Sansa, who she decides to give some counsel after finding out that the young queen-to-be has had her first period. “Love no one but your children,” Cersei says, providing a great deal of insight into her past actions in the process. Poor Sansa. That girl is surrounded by crazies — like the Hound, who she has a particularly scary run-in with early in the episode. She attempts to thank him for stopping her from being raped during the riots in last week’s episode, but he responds with sneering cruelty. However, after she goes, he gives her a longing gaze that does nothing towards dispelling the theory that he’s madly in love with her.
I liked this scene, partially because it finally gave the Hound something to do, but I liked the following scene where Sansa and Shae struggled to hide Sansa’s bloody sheets even more. It was nice to see Shae go to such lengths (holding a knife to another handmaiden’s throat) to protect Sansa, but it was all in vain, as the Hound found the sheets immediately afterward. I actually thought that the idea that the Hound would tell Cersei about Sansa seemed a little unbelievable to me, but I guess it just further serves to show how complicated he is.
That brings us to my favorite chunk of the episode: the long, excellent scene between Tywin and Arya. He knows that she’s of noble birth, but she’s just as quick in coming up with a valid explanation. Watching the two of them sit at that table like equals was a thrill, and it’s always great to see Tywin approach the edge of warmth, only to snap back into his cold, impersonal demeanor when she crosses an invisible line. I didn’t love the bit where Arya contemplated stabbing him, especially considering that she still has a name left with Jaqen, if she wants him dead so much, but the rest of the scene was positively brilliant. Except for that guy that they cast as the Mountain this season. He’s just okay.
The other thing I liked about that scene is how it squeezed in a ton of exposition about the world in a way that didn’t seem forced, which is something that has been a problem in the past. So that was nice.
On to Jaime, who finally appeared this week for the first time since the season premier. I am a huge fan of this actor’s performance, so it was a real pleasure to see Jaime find his way back into the action. The long scene between him and his cousin in the prison cell was certainly one of the best in the episode, starting uneasy, then finding its way to heartwarming, then veering abruptly left into murder. It wasn’t an easy scene to pull off, but both actors nailed it, and I was totally enthralled the whole time. I had grown to like Jaime’s cousin in just that short time, and it was really devastating to see him go like that, just so Jaime could attempt a doomed escape.
He gets recaptured, but returns only to face the wrath of Arnolf Karstark, the father of one of the men he killed during his escape. Rebellion begins to brew in the camp over the right to murder the Kingslayer, until Cat has no choice but bring Brienne to Jaime’s cell, draw a sword, and... what? We won’t know for sure until next episode, but I have some theories, which I’ll discuss more in the Reader’s Corner.
The other bit at Robb’s camp was a quick scene where he and Talisa decide to go on a little trip together (Robb to accept a surrender, and Talisa to pick up medical supplies), only for Talisa to get an eyeballing from Roose, one of Robb’s creepy-ass bannermen. It was a nice little moment, subtly setting up the surely unpleasant things to come.
The only other big Westerosi storyline of the episode was Theon’s hunt for Bran, Hodor, Osha, and Rickon. It was still a blast seeing Theon spiral out of control, bounding between cruelty and incompetence. He’s basically taking orders from his first mate, and he’s far too quick to lose his temper. When he beats up the farmer for saying that he doesn’t know where Bran is, it’s easy to see that this man has no business being in a position of power.
The quick scene with Bran, Osha, and company on the run was a lot of fun, but I’m a big fan of any time that Hodor says ‘Hodor,’ so that may have something to do with it. The episode ended with Theon returning to Winterfell with the badly-burnt bodies of two young boys, which sent Maester Luwin into fits of despair, while Theon looked simultaneously smug and concerned. It was an unsettling moment that I’m not going to say a ton about, for fear of spoiling things.
The only thing I haven’t really touched on is Dany’s storyline off in Quarth, which was like, fine. I’m not exactly sure where they’re going with this whole coup that Xaro and the magician are pulling, but seeing the magician use his creepy-ass magic to murder the council was really neat and unsettling, and I like that something new is happening with Xaro’s character. When Dany goes into the house of the Undying — presumably next week — I have no doubt that it will help bring this storyline to a satisfying conclusion.
So there you have it! Not an eventful episode, but certainly one of the more entertaining of the season, just by virtue of drawing honest scenes between fascinating characters. While I’m certainly looking forward to the epic battles to come this season, it was nice to slow down for a bit and watch these people just talk to each other.
- Roose eyeballing Talisa (Jeyne) was hilarious, because I know exactly how badly that whole thing is going to end. Poor, poor Robb.
- Do you think they are truncating some of Jaime’s story here, and are just going to have Cat cut off his hand? That was my first assumption, but I think it’s more likely that she is going to cut him free and send him on his journey with Brienne.
- We got our first ‘You know nothing, Jon Snow.’ The first of many, I’m assuming. I know that a lot of people get annoyed by Ygritte’s constant spouting of this catchphrase, but here I thought it played really nicely.
I liked that in both Tyrion’s scene and Jaime’s we got little reminders of how close the two of them are. It’s easy to forget because they don’t spend much time onscreen together, but it’s important to both of their arcs.