Friday, May 9, 2014

RECAP: Game of Thrones 4x05 - Everywhere in the World...

You know, when I first decided to start writing recaps, I figured it would be a fun and easy way to get more content out there, to follow my favorite shows, and to pump out a few extra articles a week. But I forgot one very important thing: I'm terrible at not making things more complicated than they already are.

That's not related to anything, that's just me bitching about how I'm way too overambitious about how long it really takes to write a recap.

We're finally caught up on Game of Thrones now, and I want to take this moment to thank you all for bearing with me through this week of vehemently screaming about the rape scenes on this show. I'm still pissed off about that, of course, but I would like to think it's been somewhat tempered by time, and the hope that this next episode won't be freaking full of yet more rape. One can dream.

The episode begins with Tommen's coronation. I have to say that I think he'll be a good king for however long he's allowed to rule (not long, obviously), by simple virtue of the fact that he is genuinely trying to be a good king. And because he didn't much want the throne in the first place. Cute kid.

His relationship with Margaery lingers in the "probably fine but a little weird" category, as he constantly looks to her for approval throughout the ceremony. Cersei isn't exactly thrilled about this, but I'm more okay with it. I mean, who would you rather have running the king: Margaery or Cersei? The two of them have a quiet conversation about kings and Joffrey. Cersei knew there was something wrong with Joffrey, but she loved him anyway.

She is, however, willing to humble herself enough to ask Margaery if she still wants to be Queen. Cersei might be a bit cold and calculating, but she does understand ruling, and she knows that she needs Margaery. A mother is not enough.

Of course, these two can never get along for very long, so the conversation ends in deep calculated awkwardness, but still. Progress. I like it when the disenfranchised wives of Westeros scheme to rule the land.

Across the sea, Daenerys is just learning of Joffrey's death. She's also learning that her army, without her command, has taken control of Meereen's navy. There are a lot of ships, but not enough to carry her whole army. Not enough to carry all the men she would need to take Westeros. And there's other news. Junkai has rebelled, with the masters fighting back and regaining control of the city now that the Unsullied have left. They've re-enslaved those who stayed behind, and they desperately want revenge on her. In Astapor, the council she installed to rule has been overthrown by a "Cleon the Butcher". Dany is upset about this.

Jorah thinks she should sail off and leave her troubles here behind. Conquer Westeros and leave Slaver's Bay. But Daenerys knows something very wise: she cannot claim to be a good ruler until she has control of what she's already conquered. She's good at leading an army. But now she has to learn how to rule. Damn I love her.

Petyr and Sansa approach the Eyrie. I wonder if he's bothered to mention how incredibly crazy her aunt is. They have to walk through a dangerous gate that controls entrance to the Eyrie. But when he reaches it and announces their names, Petyr calls Sansa his niece, Alayne. What's up with that?

At the Eyrie itself, Lysa hasn't changed - still super weird and creepy. Her son seems to like Petyr, though, which is...good? I'm not sure who would be more damaging for a young child, Lysa or Petyr. Lysa does know who Sansa is, but they're lying about her real identity so that none of her men will turn tail and inform the Lannisters of her presence. Lysa seems a little better than last time, and Robyn is still just as blunt as before. Also Lysa is really into Petyr, but he's putting off the ceremony. Oh this won't be good.

Oh. Holy. Crap. Petyr and Lysa have been in this together since the beginning. She's the one who poisoned Jon Arryn, at Petyr's behest. Then she faked the letter to Catelyn, the one that started the whole war. 

Well that was a turn of events I did not anticipate. Anyway, they have the wedding ceremony, and then Sansa has to lie awake listening to them having sex. Poor Sansa.

Cersei and Tywin meet and discuss the future slate of weddings. Margaery will wed Tommen in two weeks, then Cersei will marry Loras, much to both of their misery. But Tywin has more important matters to talk about: their family is broke. The crown is broke. They owe the Iron Bank of Braavos a huge amount of money. That's why they have to keep the Tyrells close. They are the only ones with money.

Also, Tywin is going to be weirdly fair about Tyrion's trial. Cersei's building a case, but Tywin won't tell her what's up. She still gets in one last jab, though. Tyrion lit the family's future on fire. So obviously he deserves to burn.

Lying awake at night, Arya lists off an interminable series of names - all the people she's going to kill someday. The Hound thinks it's funny, but you can tell that Arya's meaningful psychpathy is becoming endearing to him, which is nice, I guess. And then she says his name. She's going to kill him someday.

Back at the Eyrie, Sansa and Lysa bond over memories of Catelyn. How she used to have a sweet tooth, before she took on more of Ned Stark's attributes. Also Lysa is still super creepy. And Petyr. He brought the lemons back up from King's Landing for Sansa. Which doesn't make Lysa very happy - because it means that Petyr might love Sansa more than he loves her. She thinks Sansa let Petyr have sex with her. Ah, this is more the Lysa I remember.

Eventually, Sansa manages to convince Lysa that she's still a virgin. So Lysa turns right around and points out that this means she can marry Robyn and become Lady of the Vale. Poor Sansa.

Okay, the one bright spot here is the continuing adventures of Knight Brienne and Squire Podrick. They don't really get along. Also Pod can't ride a horse and Brienne doesn't like him. But he won't leave even when she releases him from service. He hasn't told he that he has to stick with her, or he'll probably die. 

Arya practices her "dancing" out by a waterfall, and the Hound is both impressed and a little condescending. It's such light swordwork, after all. But then he makes the mistake of insulting her swordsmaster, Syrio. She's a little defensive. He has a point, though. She's great at technical forms, but she's going to need more than that to kill half of Westeros.

Cersei, continuing her diplomacy and attempts to make sure Tyrion dies, goes to see Oberyn Martell. They talk about being parents, and the fate of Cersei's daughter, Myrcella, who has been sent to Dorne to be married. She gives Oberyn a gift to give to her daughter. But she also says something else, when Oberyn mentions that they don't hurt little girls in Dorne, that "Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls."

I mean, that could be the thesis of the whole freaking show, right?

Brienne is horrified to find that Pod can't cook. Or make a fire. Or skin a rabbit. And he's kind of completely useless out in the wild. Fortunately, this seems to endear him to her a little bit. Because Brienne has always been a sucker for protecting people. Pod reveals that he killed a man at the Blackwater. A Kingsguard who was going to kill Tyrion. And right there, Brienne is hooked. Because Pod is loyal as hell. And she likes that.

Just skippy. We're back at Crastor's with the mutineers and deserters of the Night's Watch, as the real Night's Watch has caught up and is planning their attack. There's another scene of brutality against a woman used for set dressing, just in case you're still keeping track at home. And then we see that Bran, Jojen, and Meera are still tied up. Jojen is sick, but he doesn't care. Bran is all that matters. He has to make it to...wherever he's going. And then Jojen catches fire. What?

Liam gives his report on the Keep, and Jon plans to attack at sundown. In the meantime, Karl drags Meera up and chains her up for nefarious purposes. I think we all know where this is going and I hate it so much. Jojen volunteers to help Karl using his Sight if they let Meera go. Karl doesn't bite, and instead Jojen tells him the truth. Karl is going to die.

Then the Night Watch attacks, right on schedule. Liam finds Bran and Meera and Jojen and Hodor, but he's definitely not the nice guy he claimed to be. He recognizes them, and decides to kidnap them himself. He takes Bran, but Bran uses his Warg powers to inhabit Hodor and attack Liam. He kills him.

Bran can see Jon, but Jon can't hear him over the sounds of the battle. And if he lets Jon see him, Jon will want to take him back to Castle Black. So instead they free Summer and run.

Karl Tanner and Jon Snow have an epic battle of sorts in Crastor's house. Jon's losing when one of Crastor's wives comes up and stabs him from behind. This gives Jon the time he needs to run Karl through. Yay, Karl is dead and one of the wives fought back. In no way does this justify the rape last episode, however.

The men of the Night's Watch have finished sacking Crastor's and they found ten of the mutineers. They're missing one, Rast, who ran off into the woods, and then got eaten by Ghost. Good for Ghost. Then Jon and Ghost get to have their touching reunion. He does still have to do something about Crastor's wives - he offers to take them back to Castle Black, but they are weirdly not up for that idea. They'll find their own way.

And Crastor's Keep is burned to the ground.

So. Thoughts.

This episode was lighter on the rape than the previous two, which was good, but not entirely without it, which is terrible. I mean, seriously, is it really too much to ask that we go one whole episode without seeing or hearing about a rape or having one implied? Ugh.

For all that this was a bit of a dull episode, more with the filler and shoeleather parts of the plot that just had to be shown so we know what's up, but less with the actual cool bits, there was some stuff I liked. I liked seeing Cersei and Margaery making nice, as they are the two most powerful women in the country. They could do pretty cool stuff if they stopped sniping for a minute. And I enjoyed Daenerys' choice not to attack just yet, but to focus on being a ruler rather than just a conqueror. It's a fair point, and a skill she does need to learn.

The flipside, however, is that this episode really did illustrate the thesis of this show, "Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls." It was shown in the horrifying scene where Lysa accuses Sansa of sleeping with Petyr (or more accurately, accuses her of being raped by Petyr as if that were Sansa's fault), and also in the Cersei's fear over Myrcella's fate. It was seen at Crastor's Keep and with the implied reference to Gilly, who now sleeps in a brothel because it's "safer". 

It's especially seen with those characters who seem to feel that they must eschew femininity in order to be safe, like Arya and Brienne. Arya takes the suggestion that she wear a dress as a high insult. Being a girl means being weak, and being hurt. And Brienne is so insistent on her ability to fend for herself that she fails to see how much Pod actually needs her. 

It might be true that everywhere in the world they hurt little girls. In fact, I think it probably is true. But that doesn't make it okay. Saying this as the central point of the show actually does more damage than good, because it normalizes it. It makes it harder to fight back against it. It makes it okay.

Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls. So what's one more?

The one note of true optimism I had in the episode was the ultimate fate of Crastor's wives. Beaten and raped by Crastor then the mutineers, they choose not to go back to Castle Black, but to take their chances in the wild. It's not a particularly smart choice, true, but I liked it because it was theirs and it made a lot of sense. At least here the female characters were being given some say in their own fates, even if they had to take it themselves.

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