Power resides where men believe it resides
Written by: Bryan Cogman
Directed by: Alik Sakharov
At times, it is hard to do a thorough review of a Game of Thrones episode; we can't get stunning revelations nor chaotic action every time. Obviously, if you want the payoff of a major character death or other significant event to be worthwhile, you have to build up to it. Right now, in these relatively early stages of season two, the kings are still plotting their movements and devising strategies for how to win the war, and though this war between kings is the main story arc of season two, we shouldn't forget about the likes of Jon Snow, Arya Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen, because they all still have very important roles to play. I'll also throw out there that, in the grand scheme of things, this war between the kings is almost complete and utter BS. But there I go again with jumping the gun; let's just deal with what's right in front of us for now and deal with future seasons when we get there.
"What is Dead May Never Die" is a saying used by the people of the Iron Islands, people who worship the deity known as the Drowned God. In this episode, however, its meaning extends a bit beyond the Drowned God, as it also accurately describes what happens to Theon and his relationship with his own flesh and blood. After some indecisiveness, Theon chooses to side with his father, undergoing a ritual baptism to prove his loyalty. For Theon, his family has been "dead" to him for the majority of his life, as he lived his days serving under House Stark. But with this newfound loyalty to his father, Theon assures that he does not want to abandon his actual family, or in other words, never let it die. Had Theon not chosen to side with his father, it is hard to imagine any scenario where his father would welcome him back again. This "rebirth" of Theon, if you want to call it that, is easily his most important moment of the series thus far, not only marking a dramatic turning point for his character, but giving us another fine example of how Game of Thrones loves to mix themes of betrayal with that of family and loyalty.
So it looks like the North is going to have a war on its hands very soon, and as for the war between the many kings, we finally get introduced to the one side we have not seen yet: King Renly Baratheon. Renly has recently married Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), and watches as Margaery's brother (and Renly's secret lover) Loras Tyrell face off against the steely female warrior, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). Brienne wins the fight and earns a spot in Renly's Kingsguard. Arriving on the scene is Catelyn Stark, in hopes of forming an alliance with Renly and his 100,000 men. This looks like an open-and-shut case for Catelyn and Renly: the two have no quarrel with one another, and there doesn't appear to be any sort of traitor or spy hiding in the background. Ah, but never forget: this is Game of Thrones, and we can have no nice things. Loras demands for Renly to consummate his marriage with Margaery, but unfortunately, Renly can't. Surprisingly, Margaery is completely aware of Renly's relationship with her brother, yet she insists that they keep trying to consummate their marriage anyway. Margaery's a keeper, I tell you. If I'm Renly, I must think I'm the luckiest guy in Westeros.
Tyrion, on the other hand, is quite far from being the luckiest guy in Westeros, but in "What is Dead May Never Die", he looks like the smartest guy in Westeros. Suspecting that Cersei has someone spying on him, Tyrion pulls off a successful canary trap, having three separate conversations with Grand Maester Pycelle, Lord Varys, and Petyr Baelish. Tyrion has largely the same discussion with all three, except in each discussion, he changes the details of how he will marry off Cersei's daughter Myrcella. Pycelle is exposed as the spy, and Tyrion has him thrown into a dungeon. Man, he's been in King's Landing for three episodes, and Tyrion has already battered the Small Council into a tiny pile of crumbs. How long can he keep up this winning streak?
Let's not get our hopes up though. Game of Thrones will find a way to crush hopes and dreams if we ever consider having them at all. Theon's new loyalty, the actions of Tyrion, and further developments in the war of the kings generate even more suspense, while the episode as a whole offers up a full spectrum of emotions that range from a sense of relief all the way to pure dejection. Almost everyone is poking the bear, and we better be ready when that bear gets fed up with getting poked. He's going to strike back, and when he does, it's going to get bloody, and it will hurt. A lot.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: