Each week, twins Adam and David Shimer analyze the latest episode of Game of Thrones from the perspective of a non-book reader. This week they discuss “The Red Woman,” but first they would like to assign some weekly awards:
Tywin Lannister Memorial Award for Best Political Maneuvering: Ramsay “Roose-ing” the guy who first invented the surprise dagger-to-the-heart maneuver.
Honorable Mention: Tyrion realizing that Dany’s two dragons might be more useful freed than imprisoned.
Eddard Stark Memorial Award for Worst Political Maneuvering: Roose Bolton forgetting that he raised an insane son.
Honorable Mention: Tommen and his whining.
Brandon Stark Award for Most Boring Storyline: Three minutes of Meera being sad.
Honorable Mention: The adventures of blind Arya!
Jaime Lannister’s Right Hand Award for Best Fight Sequence: The valiant Night’s Watch defending 1000 years of tradition and making a heroic last stand against the Wildlings!
Honorable Mention: The Zombie-Mountain AND the Wildling Giant killing people by smashing them against a wall.
DS: I couldn’t watch episode two until this morning, by which time several people had told me I was in for a “finale level” chapter. It is indeed true that much happened in “Home,” but does that make it an all time great? I don’t think so. The theme of home — what that means and whether it exists in Westeros — was compelling. Familiar snakes hiding in plain sight murdered Roose and Balon, and Walda and Bran longed for homes that no longer existed. Cersei and Jaime have resided in King’s Landing for decades, but I don’t think either has ever felt so unsafe — Cersei could not even go to her own daughter’s funeral. Yet I finished the episode regretting that many of its moments, though important, felt lazy. Take Castle Black for example. Of course the wildlings showed up the second before Davos and his compatriots were due to die (just like Brienne arrived to rescue Sansa at just the right moment last week). And at the end of last season, most viewers assumed Melisandre would revive Jon. I had hoped for something more elaborate — a resurrection in a pit of fire, his soul residing in Ghost’s body — but we got exactly what was expected. Yes, I know it is a TV show. But part of what I love about Game of Thrones is that its timing and plot are not conveniently well timed and predictable. That is what makes it feel real.
AS: Nuanced family dynamics are what continue to add a sense of realism to the show. Those dynamics can become dangerous, though, especially when questions of ascendency come into question (as Doran and Trystane learned last episode). While “Home” as an episode title may refer to Bran returning to Winterfell, or Theon leaving for the Iron Islands, it also has an ironic edge when put into the context not only of Ramsay murdering his father, brother and stepmother, but also Balon’s fratricide on what can only be described as a dangerously creaky bridge (Greyjoys do not sow, and they apparently also do not invest in infrastructure). That is how the very homes that Bran and Theon referenced simultaneously became the scenes of dark slayings. These familial deaths demonstrate that homes are not always havens of protection, but rather can be the foundations of anger and jealousy. At Winterfell, I wasn’t surprised that Ramsay killed his father upon hearing that a son had been born to replace him. I was surprised, however, that Roose, a shrewd leader and intelligent manueverer, didn’t see it coming. He had toyed with Ramsay for seasons about being a bastard — so when his first legitimate son was born, was that really the best time to go in for a cozy embrace? Meanwhile, Balon Greyjoy mirrored Roose’s parenting strategy when he threateningly told Yara that he would “make another heir” if she did not obey his commands. Balon’s brag that he was the last surviving member of the “War of the Five Kings” was the definition of a massive jinx — it reminded me of when Daenerys told Barristan to go for a leisurely stroll through the streets of Meereen.
DS: I would call Roose’s death disappointing, not predictable. Ramsay first learned of Walda’s pregnancy months ago, and she would have had more children regardless of the gender of the first. It also would have taken years for that poor baby to mature into a real threat. For those reasons, the timing of Roose’s murder didn’t quite make sense. And it definitely didn’t feel satisfying. This is the guy who stabbed Robb in the heart, and I wanted him to die either in a more painful manner or at the hands of a Stark. Instead, Ramsay added another person to his kill list. The showrunners are positioning Ramsay to be the ultimate villain, and I assume his death will be much more climatic than Roose’s. But I still view Ramsay like I viewed Joffrey — a character who, though despicable, lacks substance. Roose, on the other hand, plotted a coup and stole the North. He was a cold-hearted mastermind, and I wish his death had received the attention it deserved.
AS: While the Bolton and Greyjoy families succumbed to internal betrayals this episode, the Lannisters showed us that they may be the most solidified unit left: Jaime telling his son that “they’re not putting your mother in a cell ever again,” Tommen whispering that he wished he had “pulled down the sept onto the High Sparrow’s head” or Cersei saying she will always be there to protect her son. These were the most sincere and heartfelt moments of the entire episode. The Lannisters seem to hate all of Westeros, but they love each other, and from this moment forward are going to do everything they can to protect their household. There was a certain irony, though, to Tommen reflecting on his inability to protect those he loved next to Myrcella’s dead body, forcing Jaime to say that everyone fails while looking upon his most recent failure. Last episode Cersei seemed resigned to the prophecy that all three of her children would die young, and that continued as she avoided looking at Tommen for half of his visit. It was as if she already viewed him as a ghost. But then Tommen asked for her help, and it became apparent how much he still relies on her. And so despite all the pain and humiliation the Faith Militant has brought upon Cersei, she now has achieved exactly what she originally sought last season — Tommen in need of her attention, and Margaery out of the picture.
AS: Random Thoughts:
-Good thing Jon Snow has such luscious hair. Varys would be in trouble if he ever had to be brought back to life.
-Am I the only one who thought that Roose stabbed Ramsay at first? Then I thought that they stabbed each other at the same time before realizing what actually happened.
-That hobo-priest was so rude to Yara.
-Yara said she lost two brothers during the Greyjoy rebellion, to which Balon said he lost three sons. Theon really did die in Balon’s eyes the day he was shipped off to Winterfell.
-Alliser “The first Night’s Watch Commander to lose Castle Black to the Wildlings in 1000 years” Thorne
-Tyrion just made two very powerful friends.
-The “Previously on Game of Thrones” is so annoying — absolute spoiler central.
-Where is Littlefinger???
-I thought Tyrion was going to peer-pressure Missandei into going to free the dragons herself.
-Ollie continues to be the most annoying character on the show.
-Very refreshing to see Melisandre, previously the most obnoxiously overconfident character, complaining to Davos about how the Lord of Light abandoned her. Poor Melisandre — the woman who burned children alive was lied to by her God!
– “I’ve fought against worst odds,” says the one-handed man who beat one Dornish swordsman out of pure luck last season.
-It was exciting to finally see Lyanna Stark — she had quite the entrance on horseback (it appears she had more Arya in her than Sansa).
M.I.A. this episode: Tyrells, Littlefinger, Bronn, Qyburn, Daenerys, Daario/Jorah, and Osha (last seen wandering away on a dark stormy night with Rickon “the forgotten” Stark)