Review: GAME OF THRONES S3E03, WALK OF PUNISHMENT (Or, Tyrion Gets A New Chair And A New Job)

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
Don't let the glitzy title fool you, this week's Game Of Thrones is a rather sedate affair by the show's standards, revolving as it does around a bit of character upkeep and doing a bit of plot-point bookkeeping. That said, 'sedate' by Thrones standards includes a dismemberment and an attempted anal rape, thereby demonstrating to all who may doubt the infinite flexibility of language and meaning.

So, we're checking some plot development boxes are we? What all happens?

Tyrion reappears at the Small Council, for one, where Cersei drags a chair around the table to cozy up to daddy and remind everyone of her (rapidly waning) power. Did I detect a smirk or two out there? I believe I did, yes. The sequence is more important for other reasons, though, as Tywin sends Lord Baelish off to marry Catelyn's crazy sister and puts Tyrion in charge of the kingdom's finances in Baelish's stead. It's a job Tyrion doesn't want, frankly, and there's definitely a lot of smirking going on when he lands it as nobody else wants it either but, you know, Wesley Snipes and Al Capone could tell you a thing or two about powerful people and finances. And, sure enough, by end of episode Tyrion has found something in the books that could prove either disastrous or totally awesome, depending on which side of this conflict you stand.

But bookkeeping's boring, yes? So let's move on.

The Starks? Oh, shit ... they're at a funeral and those aren't a whole lot better than bookkeeping. Catelyn's father - the Lord of Riverrun is dead - and she's sad. Oh, so sad. And also, it must be said, increasingly useless in this entire narrative now that her entire existence has been reduced to the grieving wife / mother / daughter. Seriously, it's a miracle anyone related to her is still alive.

Robb glowers a bit and talks about strategy but doesn't actually do anything while his wife is down in the dungeon scaring Lannister children.

Arya? She says goodbye to her tubby friend who gets left behind to bake bread. That should be sad but, hell, we've hardly spent any time with him and he's not so much of an actor and not even remotely a useful character, so, so long tubby! I would apologize for the fat references if not for the fact that his weight is his sole defining characteristic as written.

The bastard Jon Snow? He gets a rather big job - to lead Tormund Giantsbane into the Night's Watch stronghold and help take it over - and goes off to do it with minimal fuss and bother. Also: Lots of horses cut to bits.

Even one of the really big plot points - Danaerys finally buying her slave army - is a remarkably muted affair, the one shocking bit being how easily she trades away a dragon to get them. Maybe she's hoping it'll eat Asshole Slaver Dan and then just come and rejoin her after. And I'm actually not joking there, I kinda think that's what's gonna happen because Dan (not his actual name, I know, save the comments ...) looks kind of tasty and I just cannot believe that she'll part with a dragon so easily. Also she buys her slave army out of moral considerations which demonstrates that politics are weird.

Theon rides and runs and is nearly sodomized and then he gets away. He still doesn't know where he is. Hey, Theon! After you're done pulling your pants up, maybe ask the guy that killed your would-be rapists just who exactly was torturing you, why they were doing it, and where you are! Maybe? You're not curious? Even a little?

Also Stannis can't get laid and Sam watches a baby get born which will soon be killed because of its penis. So they all still exist, thanks.

But fear not! It's not all efficient relaying of plot points here! Nope! There are two very definite - and very different - flashes of color.

First, Tyrion's squire Podrick kind of wins the episode. As a thank you for saving his life, Tyrion buys him a trio of whores. Thanks Podrick, get laid, please try not to get a disease, and be sure to be back for supper. And back for supper he is, toting the bag of cash meant to pay his ladies of questionable virtue but great bendiness. It's not that they didn't earn the money. It's that they wouldn't accept it. Because Podrick is apparently a very, very fast learner and Tyrion is strangely compelled to learn what must be done for a whore to refuse payment for doing what whores do.

And then there's brother Jamie. Ambidextrous much? You see, Jamie really doesn't have a sense of when to stop talking and while his quick tongue does manage to save Brienne from being raped - really a rather gallant thing for him to do on behalf of his former captor - well, he kind of overdoes it a bit. And it costs him. Lesson learned: Don't try to talk your way around Noah Taylor. He's Australian. They don't take kindly to that.

With a couple of exceptions this one feels largely like a placeholder episode, one tasked with ticking a whole bunch of boxes as efficiently as possible so that the story can continue in earnest in future episodes. That it does that while also being pretty entertaining despite being so slight is now small feat. But I'm hoping for something more substantial next week.

[Twitch has been tracking Game Of Thrones from Season One, Episode One from the perspective of someone who has not and will not read the books at all until the series has come to an end so that it can all be experienced for the first time on the big screen. Discussion of the current episode and what has come before is welcome and encouraged but PLEASE avoid spoiling anything that lies ahead in the novels so that those of us who haven't read can experience everything fresh.]
Around the Internet:
  • Blackbone

    Uh oh.. they are starting to change things from the book pretty frequently..

  • harumph

    This episode was pretty faithful to the corresponding section of the book, save for the addition of a few minor bits, like the goofiness with Pod at the brothel. And at this point in the novel, the reader has no idea what's going on with Theon yet, so the timeline is shuffled a bit.

    But I think I had the same reaction as Todd. In both the book and this episode, this section feels like a bit of a chore. I completely agree that Catelyn has become a pretty useless character as far as the story goes. I mean, we all have our favorite storylines, but hers is objectively the least interesting at this point.

    I'd have to say the highlight of this episode though was the fight on the bridge between Brienne and Jamie. Some good ol' swashbuckling woke me up.

  • But the fight was last week! This week they're already captured and being taken away for raping!

  • harumph

    Oh wow, they're already blurring together for me. OK yeah, it was a really dull episode.

  • Simon Dark

    Noah Taylor showed in Red, White and Blue that his not the one u want to mess with :p

  • Yeah, he's awesome in that.

  • Nonny

    Theon's torturers were Bolton men. You could see the flayed man on their armor. They are bannermen for the Starks.

  • Yeah, I got that. Theon, however, is still completely clueless, which is kind of bizarre.

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