By what right does the wolf judge the lion?
Written by: Bryan Cogman
Directed by: Alex Graves
There are several characters in Game of Thrones who have a special relationship with fire. While it sounds kind of strange to say that fire is a theme in "Kissed By Fire", - normally fire is symbolic of something that's crucial to the narrative - it's appropriate to say so. In fact, fire is illustrative of a variety of meanings in this episode, and that's the big takeaway from what is yet another strong episode in Game of Thrones' third season.
I have a little bit of catching up to do with Arya and her crew; her, Gendry, and Hot Pie earlier came across the Brotherhood without Banners, who have taken Sandor Clegane prisoner. Hot Pie stays behind to work at an inn that the Brotherhood stops at, and Clegane reveals to the Brotherhood that Arya is a Stark. The Brotherhood's leader, Lord Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), accuses Clegane of being a murderer and challenges him to fight in a trial by combat, which is becoming the easiest way to cast judgement in Westeros. The fight between Clegane and Dondarrion kicks off the episode, and watching the wild ferocity of this fight, we would think we are in for another "And Now His Watch Is Ended". Dondarrion uses a flaming sword, and Clegane is immediately at a disadvantage due to his pyrophobia. But Clegane is able to overcome the fire, killing Dondarrion and winning his freedom. There is one tiny surprise here: Dondarrion is resurrected, and claims that The Lord of Light has more for Clegane to do.
Clegane's confrontation with his fear of fire turns out to be the only story line here that has actual fire being put to use. For the rest of the story lines, fire is an intangible representation of the various emotions felt by certain characters, specifically Robb Stark and Jon Snow. On one hand, you have fire represent rage, anger, any other word you can think of that implies someone feeling irate. Robb Stark feels fiery rage when he executes Lord Rickard Karstark, but he finally does the one thing you felt no Stark was capable of doing before: freaking kill someone when they should be killed. Robb has been pissed off once too many times, and although he knows the execution of Karstark will hurt his army and chances of winning the war, you can see the fire in his eyes, showing no remorse for sending one of his best men to his grave. It's the one time so far when a Stark has gone way outside their comfort zone.
So on the other hand, fire represents the red, steamy power of love and sex. Ygritte makes Jon Snow follow her into a cave, where she strips naked and demands for Jon to break his Night's Watch vows and make love to her. Jon is at first all hot and bothered by this demand, but he eventually gives in. Man oh man: the fire is just deadly to the honorable and dutiful way of life that Jon Snow and the rest of the Stark family have tried to live by. It's highly appropriate actually: the Stark family lives in the North where it always seems to be cold and snowy. What destroys the cold and snow? Why, fire and warmth, of course.
However, everything that I've mentioned already fire-wise is small potatoes compared to the confession that Jaime gives while sharing a bath with Brienne. I honestly believe this is the turning point of the series for Jaime as a character, the point where we can no longer view him as the stuck-up, scheming swordsman we all thought he was during seasons one and two. Jaime reveals how he begged the Mad King to surrender when it was obvious that the capital was going to be attacked, but instead of surrendering, the Mad King continued to shout, "Burn them all." Aerys Targaryen was obsessed with wildfire, and even when Jaime stabbed him in the back, he continued to shout, "Burn them all." Jaime disobeyed his King's orders, knowing he would lose his honor and forever be attached to the name, "Kingslayer". The juxtaposition of Jaime's confession is incredible: stripping himself of all honor in order to do perhaps the most honorable thing he could. It's the ultimate example of how we ought to know Jaime as a character with morals and a man who does, deep down, care for honor. Killing the King is the ultimate crime in Westeros, but Jaime did it for a greater purpose: to save his father and the lives of thousands of innocent people.
As for the likes of Cersei, Tyrion, and Daenerys, nothing with them in "Kissed by Fire" directly involves fire, literally or metaphorically, so we'll catch up with all of them later. Game of Thrones had to turn things down a few notches after "And Now His Watch Is Ended", and though "Kissed by Fire" dials back on the surprises and bloodshed, with the exception of a heated fight between Sandor Clegane and Beric Dondarrion, it is all in all a solid episode that is most memorable for Jaime's confession. We've gotten several examples of how much Game of Thrones likes to use fire, and even if we don't see a whole lot of actual fire here, "Kissed by Fire" proves to us that fire is in a lot of places around Westeros, literally and figuratively.
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