Bathtubs are the New Confessionals
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The halfway mark of Game of Thrones’s third season contains some of the most poignant, difficult material the show has tackled yet. There’s a poignant scene between Shireen and Davos where she is teaching him how to read. It’s a terrible fate for her, shut off from the rest of the world because of the grayscale that she’s been inflicted with (a sort of kiss by fire, if you will). But perhaps it’s marginally better than Selyse encasing her dead fetuses in some sort of gel jars. A touching scene drops down on Daenerys where she finds a leader of the Unsullied named Grey Worm, who keeps that humiliating name because it’s the name he had when he was kissed by fire when Daenerys toasted Astapor. The Hound’s fight with Beric arrives this week and it’s a truly thrilling set piece set to some of the most amazing choreography I’ve seen. The Hound defeats Beric, but that sense of victory lasts only momentarily. Beric comes back to life, a little less solid than his previous form, a courtesy blessed from the Lord of Light. It’s the most powerful display of this religion on the series to date, casting a different shroud on Melisandre entirely.
Jon and Ygritte consummate their relationship in this episode and it means much, much more than just sex, Jon losing his virginity in that literally steamy cave, or even the both of them seeing each other fully for the first time. It’s a final break against one of the most sacred Night’s Watch vows in existence, the vow of chastity. Thematically it’s him shedding the cloak of the Night’s Watch and embracing a woman kissed by fire instead. While I doubt that their story will have a happy ending considering that this is Game of Thrones, there’s something blissful about two people who have found love within each other in this terrible, terrible world.
For Robb, this week was an unverifiable disaster. Slowly Thrones, since the beginning of season 2 arguably, has been portraying that while Robb is a great military strategist, he’s unfortunately little else. He’s not a political strategist, otherwise he would never have committed the blunder of marrying Talisa and even risking pissing off the Freys. And now he doesn’t even have that military backbone to back him up. Lord Karstark, still understandably grieving for his children, has his men grab the two teenage Lannister captives and he butchers them. A heinous crime, but one that unfortunately Robb cannot risk punishing at that time. Talisa and Catelyn both urge him against it, but Robb channels his Ned and beheads Lord Karstark as the rain thunders around them, a bit on the nose metaphor but an effective one, nonetheless. And the Karstarks are gone, abandoning the Stark cause. The price of nobility was paid, but for now at least it was one that was far, far too heavy.
King’s Landing as always is a verifiable web of secrets, spies, and plans. Varys and Olenna have plotted Sansa’s marriage to Loras, which wouldn’t work out well for Sansa but would save her from the Lannisters theoretically and more importantly deliver the North to the Tyrells of Highgarden. Not if Littlefinger has anything to say about it, anyhow. All it takes is one gay prostitute to have sex with Loras and he spills the beans about his marriage that will take place eventually (thank God his sister’s around to save his arse). As quickly as the wind shifs, Littlefinger and Tywin put their own plot in motion. As he notes to a thunderstruck Tyrion and a smug Cersei, Tyrion will marry Sansa, have kids with her, and secure the North for the Lannisters. Cersei’s smugness is wiped off her face when Tywin announces that she will marry Loras and secure the Tyrells’ partnership for them. Somehow I don’t find that those weddings will be considered happy affairs.
The tour de force of the hour is the bathtub scene between Brienne and Jamie that continues the episode’s emphasis on showing a lot of arse (which is totally fine, this is why we watch HBO after all). Brienne, naturally, is a bit uncomfortable with Jamie sharing her bath but he, being Jamie, could care less. Brienne stands up in a show of anger and it’s apparent that despite his trying not to be, he is aroused by naked Brienne. And then Jamie spills why he ultimately became the Kingslayer so famed in Westeros. It turns out that he killed the Mad King for one particular reason that stands quite strongly on its own self. He was threatening to use wildfire on the entire capital of King’s Landing to avoid the capital from spilling out of his hands and into Robert’s. And he nearly did that too, commit mass murder of more than half a million people. But Jamie stabbed him in the back, quite literally, before he could do so. He begins to collapse before Brienne yells “Kingslayer!” “Jamie,” he breathes quietly, “my name is Jamie.”
Title: Kissed by Fire
Written By: Bryan Cogman
Director: Alex Graves
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