A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The Night Lands is in reference to the Dothraki term for where people of this world go after they die. For Balon Greyjoy, his two sons are dead and the third is basically dead for him as he is wearing Stark colors, not that it’s fault his fortunes played out as such. Tyrion continues to weave his path through King’s Landing’s treacherous waters. Arya takes a gamble and reveals her true identity to Gendry. North of the Wall, the dark and terrible secrets of Craster’s Keep are revealed, at Jon’s expense. And Stannis loses the honor of his marriage to Selyse by having sex with Melisandre in the hopes of having a son to further his line if he manages to capture the Iron Throne. It’s a slow burner of an episode, but one that sets many things in motion towards inevitable tantalizing payoffs.
Theon, after nine years away, returns to Pyke, which is truly a gorgeous location in a sort of barbaric, harsh sort of way (to echo Tyrion’s comments about the Wall). His welcome is, perhaps unsurprisingly, less warm than expected. The Iron Islands have moved on from Theon, not caring at any point about their wayward prince. It certainly doesn’t help that Theon gropes a woman who turns out to be his sister Yara. Balon, his father, is a nasty and frankly stupid piece of work. He treats Theon despicably, as if it was his fault that his father started a stupid war and lost two of his three sons to the Night Lands and his third to the Starks. And now he plans on winning back his crown by force, which in all honesty looks about as likely as Joffrey yielding the North to Robb voluntarily.
Cersei, whom Tyrion notes has perfected the art of ripping up papers, refuses Robb Stark’s terms for peace. Concerned with his sister’s desire for continued warfare, Tyrion nevertheless continues his peering off any high-ranking officials he feels are too loyal to Cersei. He begins with Ser Janos Slynt, head of the Gold Cloaks who had betrayed Ned Stark in Season 1. “Are you questioning my honor?” Slynt thunders. “I’m not questioning your honor, I’m denying its existence,” Tyrion responds coolly, with the added reasoning that since he had betrayed Ned, Tyrion doesn’t trust him. He instead promotes Bronn to commander of the City Watch. It’s an absolute treat to see Tyrion so thoroughly chewing up King’s Landing in his political ascent and Dinklage sells the hell out of every scene.
As the prisoners galavant their way towards the Wall, Arya reveals her true identity to Gendry, trusting him enough to keep her identity secret. A traveling Ser Davos tries to recruit a pirate named Salladhor Saan and his numerous ships for Stannis’s cause, promising a healthy return on his investment with a victory. Saan doesn’t buy any of the proclamations from Matthos about the Lord of Light being the “One true God,” noting how everyone believes that their God is the one true one. Nevertheless, he agrees to help. In other travelers’ news, Daenerys receives some disturbing news of her own. One of the horses she had sent out last week comes back, with a cloth bag that contain’s Rakharo’s head. Irri is distraught, she was supposed to marry him in the future. “They didn’t burn him!” she cries at the top of her voice. “Now he will never be able to join his ancestors in the Night Lands!” Daenerys attempts to soothe her, Irri’s screams and cries echoing throughout the barren landscape of the Red Waste.
At Craster’s Keep, one of Craster’s daughter-wives named Gilly comes to Sam, afraid of what would happen to her child if it turns out to be a boy. Jon, despite all of his feelings, is reluctant to disobey direct orders. In the dead of night, Jon is suddenly awaken by a noise. He follows the cries of a child into the forest, unaware of what awaited him. To his absolute horror, he finds that the male children of Craster are given as tribute to the White Walkers, who presumably eat them. Jon is about to go forward when suddenly something hits him in the head and he falls unconscious in one of the tensest cliffhangers the show has ever done. What really happens to the children? It seems a bit odd that they would just eat them, but what other options are there? And why do they specifically take the male children?
Title: The Night Lands
Written By: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
Director: Alan Taylor
Image Courtesy: Think Hero