GAME OF THRONES: 3.03 “Walk of Punishment”
“Walk of Punishment” had a lot going on. Not only do we meet a few new characters at a new location, but this episode had more action than the previous two, plus a few potential (though thankfully not carried out) rapes, perhaps thrown in to remind us how brutal this violent world can be.
With Robb’s army encamped at Riverrun for his grandfather’s funeral, we get to see the castle that Cat grew up in, and we meet her well-meaning but somewhat oafish brother, Edmure, and her hard yet quietly compassionate uncle Brynden, also known as the Blackfish. In Riverrun, they cast the bodies of their dead warriors out into the river on a boat, then shoot a flaming arrow into the craft to create a floating funeral pyre. Unfortunately, Edmure tries three times to light his father’s boat, but misses with each arrow. It’s an almost humorous introduction to a new character that quickly turns tragic; it shows that Edmure, while he may be well meaning, is a bit of a failure, a judgment that’s only reinforced in the next scene when Robb chews him out for attacking the Mountain’s small army and forcing the them out of the nearby area, rather than leading the group into an ambush that Robb had set in the hopes of finally killing the giant knight. With some of northern lords questioning his leadership, and his impetuous uncle spoiling his strategic plans, the war is not going well for the Starks. It has the potential to turn worse, as we learn later in the episode that the Lannisters are trying marry Littlefinger to Lysa Tully in an attempt to draw her forces onto their side of the war.
Speaking of the Lannisters, the scene in the small council room was incredibly entertaining. Littlefinger and Varys enter, see Tywin seated at the head of the table, with five chairs lined up along the one side of the table to Tywin’s left. They quickly jockey for position in the closest chair to Tywin; Cersei, in an obvious power move, moves her chair over to the opposite side, immediately to her father’s right. Tyrion quietly absorbs this scene before slowly dragging the last chair to the opposite head of the table, as far away from Tywin as possible. I laughed out loud, even though no words were spoken. Anyway, since Littlefinger’s about to leave for the east to woo Lysa, Tyrion is appointed as the kingdom’s treasurer (or did they call him lord of coin?) and charged with the continued funding of the war. To his horror, he learns that the crown is deeply in debt, not only to his own family, but to the Iron Bank of Braavos, an organization that he says will be happy to fund the Lannisters’ enemies if they don’t pay up. While, in the strategic sense, it seems like the Lannisters may have the upper hand in the war, their foreign debts suggest that perhaps they’re standing on shifting sands as well.
My favorite plot of the night revolved around the captured Jaime and Brienne. We see Jaime again sympathizing with her, and warning her that their captors will likely try to rape her when they stop for the night. Don’t fight them, he suggests, or they’ll kill you. Brienne snaps back at him, asking him what he’d do if he were a woman. Jaime says he’d let them kill him, before thanking the gods that he’s a man. Jaime’s prediction proves true; when the group stops for the night, their captors drag Brienne off into the dark to have their way with her. In a true display of nobility, Jaime manages to convince the leader that Brienne is worth more unspoiled, and she’s brought back into the camp unharmed. The success convinces Jaime that he’s much smarter than his captors, and he tries to weasel his way out of his chains. Unfortunately, the man in charge senses the condescension in Jaime’s voice, and teaches him a lesson in privilege and power by chopping his sword hand clean off. It’s a sudden, shocking turn, and in light of his previously noble action, really makes you feel for a character that you’ve long despised. Jaime’s always defined himself by his fighting ability; now that he’s lost his sword hand, he’ll have to find something else to define him. I’m looking forward to watch that unfold.