As a King’s Landing wedding is planned, various characters vie for position at court and on the battlefield…
This episode kicks Game of Thrones’ third season into a higher gear following three instalments that have at times felt focused on set-up and moving pieces across a giant Westeros-shaped chess board in preparation for some serious developments: finally the game board seems largely set.
First, a word about the Night’s Watch: what a useless bunch of *****. Across the two series so far they’ve done little of use, having gone north last season to see was going on, they’ve now retreated in a ramshackle fashion with their tails between their legs. No wonder there’s a mutiny (seemingly led by Owen from Torchwood), not only against the odious Craster (who’s been impregnating his daughters and dropping off any male children to the White Walkers/Others), but also against their own commander (goodbye James Cosmo!). Frankly, they had it coming.
Everyone seems to have been out for some form of revenge in this instalment, from Varys with his sorcerer in a box, to Tyrion against his sister for trying to kill him, and the rag-tag Night’s Watch turning on Craster. Still waiting for their turn are poor, one-handed Jaime and Brienne (the world’s worst bodyguard), who will presumably get the, um, upper-hand on the Boltons at some point. Who knows what’s going on with Theon Greyjoy, who seems to be subject to the complicated psychological tortures of Simon from Misfits (‘Save me, Barry!’).
Stealing the acting honours once again is Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna, sneaky and hilarious by turns in her conversations with Cersei and Varys. Her granddaughter Margaery has figured out how to push youthful King Joffrey’s buttons… but what is she really after? It’s a skill that seems to run in the family, as Olenna seems to be manipulating Cersei, just somewhat more subtly.
Finally, there’s the final few minutes of the episode, providing another brilliant conclusion (if not as completely unexpected as last week’s). As her plan unfolds, it rapidly becomes clear that handing Daenerys Targaryen an 8000-strong army might not be a wise move, as is underestimating her language skills. Another useful lesson: don’t expect to be handed a dragon and not have it go off in your face. As Daenerys frees her army and so wins their loyalty, the scene is set for an almight ruck…. She’s gonna need a bigger boat, though…
Verdict: As usual, a few too many narrative threads, but a lot of significant developments make this a cracker of an episode.
Episode 4 ‘Now His Watch Has Ended’: 9/10
Brian J. Robb