HBO, 13 May 2012
As the war turns against the Lannisters, various participants confront their own motivations…
Some might regard this instalment of Game of Thrones as lacking in action, and it is true that the bulk of the episode is a series of discussions between pairs of (often mismatched) characters. However, each of these conversations (or debates, perhaps) is a mini-drama in itself, addressing some of the larger issues of the series.
For those who want action, there is some at the climax (and particularly gruesome it is, too). While Daenerys’s story diverges further away from that in the source novels, the fate of her dragons and the ruling cabal of 13 in Qarth give this episode the kick it might otherwise lack.
Jon Snow continues to wander seemingly aimlessly north of the wall with Ygritte, his red-headed captive. While she taunts him, he’s incapable of action, whether that might be killing her, letting her go, or getting down in the mud with the woman…
Her taunts get him to consider the real meaning of his oath taken as part of the night watch, and it is the nature of oaths given and broken that drives the character of ‘kingslayer’ Jamie Lannister (who’s been missing for several episodes now). His sacrifice of a kinsman to facilitate a (brief) escape is shocking to Catelyn Stark, but Nikolaj Coster-Waldau makes Jamie such as wise-cracking, downright charming villain (as with Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion: runs in the family), it is hard to hate him even though we should.
Perhaps the best of these conversations was that between Charles Dance’s Tywin and the undercover Arya, whose smarts are showing through and threaten to betray her. What is brilliant about this scene is watching relative newcomer Maisie Williams giving the veteran Dance a run for his money in the acting stakes.
As for that final scene: a bluff, surely? Wasn’t there talk of a pair of orphans being sent to that farm…? Brilliant final look of despair on Theon’s face at the end, though, as if even he couldn’t believe the depths to which he’d sunk…
Verdict: Character over action, but still a great episode.
Episode 7 ‘A Man Without Honor’: 8/10
Brian J. Robb