The Bloody Version of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
What price are we willing to pay for the potential of greatness? Nothing? Everything? Something? The Lannisters apparently have paid in the millions and millions to keep the appearance of their wealth alive, even though they are now in complete debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, an institution that is not afraid to fund the enemies of the Lannisters to guarantee that they get their money bank. Melisandre is willing to sacrifice actual human beings with royal blood for the sake of what, we’re not entirely sure (I have a hard time buying that putting Stannis on the throne is all she wants). Daenerys has the opportunity to purchase an army of slaves at the cost of her morality and Drogon. Gilly gives birth to a boy and is she willing to pay a price to keep him from the hands of the White Walkers? Edmure attacked a mill to prove he’s worth something, and that cost him the chance to defeat Ser Gregor Clegane and thousands of men. And Jamie. A man who was willing to pay any price because his family could seemingly afford it lost the thing that got him his own greatness – his right sword hand.
Tyrion’s tenure as Master of Coin isn’t working out nearly as well he had hoped, and considering that he hadn’t held such hope to begin with, it’s certainly not saying much. It turns out that Littlefinger wasn’t an arithmetic genius or even really figuring out budgetary maneuverings. When he told Ned Stark in Season 1 that he found the money from somewhere or another to finance whatever King Robert wanted, he was quite serious. It turns out that he had been borrowing money from the Iron Bank the entire time, leaving the Lannister crown millions in debt and susceptible to the Iron Bank’s whims. And the bank from Braavos will not hesitate to destroy the Lannisters if it guarantees its money back by doing so.
Daenerys faces a few predicaments of morality in Astapor. As she’s strolling along the Walk of Punishment, so named for the scores of slaves crucified along the boardwalk, she stops to offer one of them some water. He shrugs off weakly, noting how her kindness with water isn’t likely to help him anyhow at that point, since he’s basically dead. Daenerys as the other two weeks worries about the morality of slave soldiers, but Ser Jorah makes a convincing point. Daenerys isn’t helping the Unsullied by not purchasing them, as terrible as that sounds. There’s no guarantee their next buyer is going to be kinder than Daenerys. By most accounts, they’ll be worse. Ser Berristan warns they won’t necessarily be loyal to her, but she doesn’t exactly have the luxury of finding a loyal army across Essos for that moment. And then Daenerys calls for Master Kraznys, reading to make a deal. She would offer him her largest dragon in exchange for Missandei and every single one of the Unsullied soldiers, numbering over eight thousands. He accepts greedily, the very idea of owning a dragon too good for him to offer up. And as far as he’s concerned, he can always make more Unsullied, more dragons would never arrive. Sers Berristan and Jorah openly question Dany, which she refuses to allow. She’s the Queen, damn it. “All men must die,” Missandei muses after Daenerys warns of the danger she faces. “Yes, but we are not men,” she replies sharply, her eyes ablaze.
The Tully funeral gives us the first real glimpse of Riverrun in the show and I really do appreciate how much like a tradition castle it looks like. Within one sequence of Catelyn’s father’s funeral, the show establishes the entire dynamic of the Tully family. Edmure is an idiot, taking three shots of a flaming arrow but failing to light Lord Huster Tully’s funeral boat on fire, as is customary Tully tradition. He also manages to squander Robb’s forces on a mill instead of moving to take Ser Gregor Clegane’s forces, who were lying vulnerable. Blackfish is a badass, taking one long shot to light his brother’s funeral boat and lighting it on fire, impressive considering how far it had gone by that point. Catelyn gets her sad monologue as she looks out at the river, reminiscing about how her father had always promised to come back from battles and she had left her children below.
The shocker of the episode comes from Jamie, who attempts for once to do something kind and actually help save Brienne from rape. He mentions how wealthy Brienne’s father is and the vast ransom he would so easily pay for her without batting an eyelash and the ransom would be paid in sapphires, to boot. The sapphires are enticing but then Jamie oversteps it by overselling how much power and wealth his father wields. Locke seemingly buys into it in an unsettling moment before knife falls with a sudden, vindictive fury. Jamie’s screams ring throughout the air as the blade cuts the flesh, blood, and bone of his right hand. Cue one of the best cuts to black yet, a boisterous rendition of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” by The Hold Steady trying to drown out the screams of a man who just about lost everything.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Theon’s escape and his near rape was an immaculate sequence that for one of the few times the show portrays the risks of sexual danger to men (which obviously occur at much lower rates than to women, but it’s nice it acknowledged as reality).
+Melisandre’s departure shows how much power she holds over Stannis and how dangerous that route truly is.
+The whirl horse design of the butchered animals at the hands of the White Walkers is a terrifying image.
+Gilly gives birth to a baby boy. That isn’t going to end well, is it?
+Arya’s goodbye to Hot Pie and his dire wolf bread was quite sweet
+Her discovery by the Hound is going to be decidedly less so
Title: Walk of Punishment
Written By: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
Director: David Benioff
Image Courtesy: My Entertainment World @ CA