TV Review: GAME OF THRONES S2E3: WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE (aka My Crown Is Horny And So Am I)

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
[Twitch is reviewing Game Of Thrones on an episode by episode basis throughout the current season. Please note that these are being written from someone who has very deliberately NOT read the books so as to come to the story fresh and will not be reading the books until after the series concludes. Should you wish to compare and contrast the books to the show please be courteous to those who have not read them yet by limiting discussions to the timeline currently played out on screen as well.]

After last week's Alan Taylor directed episode struggled a bit to maintain pace and energy while getting multiple plot threads rolling this week frequent series DP Alik Sakharov got a chance to direct his first episode and turned in a winner.

Four plot lines dominate the week and all of them are strong.

In King's Landing Tyrion Lannister continues to solidify his own position, ridding his sister of allies to do so for the second week running. Last week the Captain of the Guard found himself exiled to Castle Black for his part in bringing down Eddard Stark and this time out Maester Pycelle is exposed as one of Cersei's spies and tossed in the dungeon. Cersei? While she maintains a smooth exterior in front of outsiders with her power eroding she is reduced to an outright tantrum in front of her brother, who simply smirks his way through it. The question now is whether this represents the start of Cersei's decline or if this is the prelude to a counterstrike. After all, I can't imagine she's going to go quietly.

Meanwhile, on the King's Road the Guards return in greater force to try and capture Gendry. Things do not go well, to put it mildly, and while Gendry's identity remains hidden it costs Arya her only true ally and protector and the entire convoy is taken captive. They're only hope now lies with the vicious criminals Arya freed from their cage in the midst of the fight.

In the Iron Islands, Theon Greyjoy has daddy issues. Rather than joining the Stark cause, Theon's father Balon intends to attack the northlands while Robb Stark leads the war to the south and take the north for himself. Theon must choose between his friendship with Robb and loyalty to his own blood and blood wins out in the end. Given that the title of the episode is a direct reference to this particular turning moment, expect this to have major ramifications down the line as Robb will most likely be forced to fight on two fronts.

And in the final major plotline Catelyn Stark arrives in the Stormlands to attempt to strike an alliance with Renly Baratheon. And while Renly's friendly enough ... well, his attention is largely elsewhere. We arrive in the Stormlands just on time to watch Renly's gay lover Loras Tyrell beaten down in a public duel with a fearsome - and female - warrior who promptly requests - and is granted - a place in Renly's private guard, promptly causing friction in the bedroom. And, speaking of the bedroom, there's the slight matter of Renly having failed to consummate his marriage with Loras' sister in large part because he simply can't get it up for a woman. Her solution? "Flip me over and pretend I'm him." That was a surprise, yes.

Promising side plots involve Tyrion's secret consort Shae - it just seems rude to call her a whore at this point - being installed as Sansa's new handmaid. Sansa, for her part, is still an irritating and self absorbed teen but less so as the realities of her situation continue to set in. Is it too much to hope that she'll just shank Joffrey one of these days? Our one trip to Winterfell introduces the possibility that Bran's nighttime dreams may well be more than that and that Bran may be possessed of some sort of magical powers. If nothing else it gave Maester Luwin some screen time, which is always a good thing as he is one of the most engaging of the host of support players. North of the Wall we get only an ominous warning that the local gods are darker and harder than those to the south and that we can expect to see more of them. Which seems quite likely as Jon Snow et al have just been booting from their shelter and forced to move on.

The absentee list this week is a long one. For the second week running there is no Robb Stark or Jaime Lannister, surprising given that the pair of them are at the core of the one war that is actually up and running at this point. No Joffrey. No Stannis Baratheon. No moping about in the desert with Daenerys.

I find the best episodes of Game Of Thrones are the ones that manage to balance the personal moments with the larger intrigue - which this episode very much does - while also dipping into a larger them. And in this episode that theme is very much coping with fatherhood in various guises. In the cases of Theon and Tyrion that element is very obvious with both reacting to their fathers' lifelong disapproval in various ways while Gendry and Arya are forced to a life on the run because of their respective parentage, despite Gendry still being ignorant of his own, and Renly must become a father whether he wants to or not if he is to cement his own position. Episode Three hits the balance best of any episode so far this season to stand as far and away the best of the lot thus far with promises of lots more good things to come.
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