But once the cow's been milked, there's no squirting the cream back up her udder
Written by: Vanessa Taylor
Directed by: Daniel Minahan
Season three has just started, but after only two episodes, Game of Thrones has created a gigantic pile of characters and stories that need to get sorted out. It's times like these that you almost wish for Game of Thrones to send several of the characters to the slaughterhouse, because then that will save you the trouble of having to try and remember several new names. For at least the first 15-20 minutes of "Dark Wings, Dark Words", director Daniel Minahan has a bit of a hard time trying to organize everything. By the end though, he's got a better handle on everything and starts to have some of the most pivotal sequences of the season come into focus, making a somewhat sluggish 57 minutes feel worth it when all is said and done.
Three new faces come into the fray, and one of them immediately proves to be pure gold: Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), the sassy grandmother of Margaery Tyrell. Olenna's a hoot; during a lunch with Margaery and Sansa, she wastes no time in showing us that she is never afraid to speak her mind, deriding Renly for believing himself to be a king, and smack-talking Loras Tyrell as well. I will have plenty of other opportunities to talk about what an awesome character she is, so let's pause the discussion on her for now. Also during this lunch, Sansa reveals how she truly feels about Joffrey: she believes him to be a monster, and fears he will be cruel to Margaery should she marry him. We ought to be thankful for the Tyrells nudging Sansa into telling them her true feelings; I think it sets the record straight for how Sansa has been acting ever since her father was killed. She has to act loving towards Joffrey while in his family's presence, but deep down, she despises him and wants to see him dead. There's no reason it should have taken this long to make that abundantly clear. I swear, we've been strung along as if Sansa's secretly playing a game.
The two other new faces are the siblings Jojen (Thomas Brodie Sangster) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick), who come across Bran and his crew as they travel North. Jojen reveals some crucial information to Bran: he is a warg, which is a person capable of seeing through the eyes of other animals. Jojen also reveals that he and his sister have been looking for Bran, believing that he will play a crucial role in the future. I think that's the kind of impression that Game of Thrones is giving us about Bran: although he is the most isolated from the major events currently going on in Westeros, the recurring dreams of a three-eyed raven and now this information from Jojen Reed are indications that Bran is on his way towards something huge, and something that may be essential to how the the rest of Game of Thrones plays out.
If you're at all confused about how a warg works, we get an example of one beyond the Wall, as one of the wildlings named Orell (Mackenzie Crook), looks through the eyes of some birds to locate the Fist of The First Men and see the results of the battle that took place there. Jon Snow is in good company.
Speaking of Jon Snow, we get a sorrowful monologue from Catelyn Stark, as she explains to Talisa that she blames herself for all of the terrible things that has happened to her family. When Ned came home with the baby Jon Snow, she prayed to the gods for Jon to die, and when Jon became deathly ill, she then prayed for him to make a full recovery, promising to love Jon and be a mother to him. We only saw Jon and Catelyn together for very brief moments during season one, but it was obvious that Catelyn had some kind of beef with Jon. While we're here, can we give some love to Michelle Fairley, who is not only one of the best at delivering monologues in the series, but also one of the best performers period of anyone in the show? I don't believe I've gone out of my way to give her the praise she deserves. There is a such a lovable, motherly look to her and such a warm, motherly tone in her voice, that it's almost unfair how perfect of a fit she is to play Catelyn Stark. Fairley sounds so natural telling the story of Jon Snow, that it's easily the best "talking" moment of season three thus far.
Talking, though, is not what "Dark Wings, Dark Words" ends on, as Jaime Lannister, while crossing a bridge with Brienne, is able to snatch one of her swords and engage in a fight with her. But just as Brienne begins to gain the upper hand, the fight is broken up by an incoming parade of Bolton men, who take Jaime and Brienne captive. You just knew that Jaime was going to try something sneaky, but once again, Brienne proves to be a fighter that can put even the best of men to shame. Had the fight continued, Brienne mostly certainly would have won.
So while especially slow in the beginning, and kind of slow overall, "Dark Wings, Dark Words" starts to rev up season three, putting its most important story lines into motion while doing everything it can to seamlessly bring in a new flock of characters, all of whom arrive to add even more wrinkles to an already complex and involving narrative. At first, it looked like this might end up being the worst episode of the season, but by the end credits, Daniel Minahan assures we're in good hands.
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