Welcome back to Game Of Thrones, where life is not just a game that people play on your behalf, but also a buyer’s market. This week: everyone is buying and selling sex.
Let’s bitch it out…There’s a recurring theme on this show about the cost of life. Dany (Emilia Clarke) is just getting into the army business, but she’s continually preoccupied by the lives of the slaves within nearby cities. Her new charity case is Yunkai, whose emissary tries to buy her off with cases of gold and ships. All she has to do is bugger off and leave them alone. But the Mother of Dragons has values and principles (it’s probably why she’ll never rule the Iron Throne – she’s not ready to get her hands dirty enough to battle the likes of Charles Dance’s Tywin Lannister). And so she sends the emissary back with a gift: his life – at least until she unleashes those impressive looking dragons again.
It’s interesting that Dany is one of the few individuals who is not into the skin trade this week. She began her journey as a literal good: she was sold by her brother to Khal Drogo, and while that was a happy (albeit brief) union, she was property nonetheless. In many ways she and Shae (Sibel Kekilli) share this history. The only difference is that Shae is still living it: she may be posing as a handmaid to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and she and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) may love each other, but she’s not wrong when she reminds him that if he ever tires of her, she’ll have nothing. That’s simply the harsh reality of life in Westeros, and especially King’s Landing, for a prostitute (Aww…I just thought of Ros again)
The fate of the bastard son of the former king is less certain. Melisandre (Carice van Houten) takes Gendry (Joe Dempsie) on a lovely boat ride around the capital to let him in on the secret of his lineage, but her purpose is no less nefarious. This isn’t a scenic ferryboat ride (despite the colourful trappings remaining from the battle of Blackwater). She’s in this for the king’s blood, and Gendry doesn’t yet realize how valuable his body is to the Lord of Light. It may not be explicitly sexual, but there’s no denying it’s commodification nonetheless.
The single scene with Theon (Alfie Allen) is more about sadism, but to be honest, I just can’t bring myself to care about his torture any longer. Call the pretty naked dry-humping sexploitation, call the castration exploitation, just don’t call me entertained. At this point I just want to hit the fast-forward button whenever Theon appears on screen.
In his place I’ll gladly take Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Ygritte (Rose Leslie), whose relationship continues to grow in leaps and bounds. The flirtatious kidding has progressed into full-on bonding after their climb up the Wall week. Unfortunately this doesn’t stop everyone from contributing their two cents about the relationship: Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) continues to offer sex-tips for novices and Orell’s (Mackenzie Crook) proposes that Ygritte dump the pretty boy before she finds out “what he is” (Hmmm). Still, Jon and Ygritte’s greatest enemy isn’t sex or compatibility; it’s that in his heart Jon is certain that they’re doomed to die – or rather she is. It’s clear that while they may be each other’s, their core values still differ.
Contrast this with Robb’s (Richard Madden) marriage – and impending fatherhood – with new bride Talisa (Oona Chaplin). These two may be sympatico in the sack and in their vision of the future, but there’s a clear underlying threat in the way that Robb can’t focus on his battleplan instead of his wife’s naked body. Factor in disapproving mom Catelyn’s (Michelle Fairley) ominous warnings about making Walder Frey wait and all things associated with Robb feel dangerous. He may have sold his uncle into an arranged marriage, but he has yet to pay for absolving his own to pursue this booty-popping nurse. Danger Robb Stark, Danger!
- Ygritte’s view of the splendor of windmills and their height is great. Love Leslie’s ability to convey the wildling’s child-like innocence and wounded pride
- Very brief Arya (Maisie Williams) scene, but I’m intrigued about her capture by the Hound (Rory McCann). Those Brotherhood guys are up to no good, so it’s better she get away from them now. Can she bring the good out of him the way she did with Tywin last season?
- While it’s clear that Sansa or Tyrion don’t consider each other their ideal match, their mutual preoccupations with hanky-panky suggest they may be more suitable than they think. Also, how hilarious is Natalie Dormer’s delivery when she laughingly reassures Sansa that her mother taught her about sex?
- Not nearly as hilarious as Tywin putting wimpy King Joffrey (Jackie Gleeson) in his place. Once again staging is all-important as Tywin starts off complacent and patient, but when he refuses to take shit from his grandson, he climbs the steps to the Iron Throne and towers over the cowed boy. Love it!
- Finally, Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – like the true, valiant prince that he is – goes back to rescue Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) when he realizes that it’s his lie about her father’s wealth that’s doomed her. Bonus points for a truly harrowing bear attack, though points off for not throwing that one jacksnap into the ring after they escape. I totally wanted him to pay!
- Tyrion (discussing Sansa): “She’s a child…A tall child”
- Tywin (when Joff insists that he’s received no counseling about dragons): “You are being counseled at this very moment.”
- Shae (when Tyrion reassures her that she’ll be involved in his life): “While I empty your chamber pot and lick your c*ck when you’re bored?”
What did you think of Game Of Thrones creator George RR Martin’s episode? Did you find the balance as successful as previous weeks? Do you care about Theon at all? Did you dig all of the sex and commodification talk? And who is in the most danger right now? Sound off below
Reminder: We have a no spoilers policy, so please don’t mention anything from the books or things you’ve read online. Stick to the TV show please!
Game Of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO