What is Dead May Never Die – Season 2, Episode Three
Game of Thrones’ second season continues to build. The more that I watch it (and entertain the heretical notion that the HBO series is more fun than the novels) the more apparent it becomes that GoT is really a political opera more than it is a fantasy series. Oh sure, it has all the trappings of traditional fantasy – the swords, the strange names, murky, make-believe, ancient history – but it is in actuality an alternate-world War of the Roses with the complexity cranked to eleven.
Tyrion Lannister naturally gets the best parts. He craftily tells three different men, the brothel owner Littlefinger, the eunuch Varys, and Maester P:ycelle, that he plans to wed Cersei’s daughter Myrcella to three different aristocrats, telling each that Cersei must not know. When Cersei angrily confronts Tyrion afterwards, he realizes that the leak is Maester Pycelle, who claims to be an informant for the Lannisters, which of course seems plausible.
Brienne of Tarth at last makes her appearance. She defeats Ser Loras in tournament combat and is made a member of King Renly Baratheon’s Kingsguard. Brienne is one of the most engaging of all of the characters of Martin’s otherwise unappealing cast. She is tall, gawky, and unlovely, but she is true, honorable, and utterly loyal to her hero, Renly. She is one of the few characters that displays real loyalty to anyone. In some sense she is, in her almost complete outsiderness, a stand-in for us, the readers, in her struggle to comprehend and fit into the hostile world around her.
Brienne also seems to one of the few who might measure up in the difficult times ahead. Catelyn Stark arrives in Renly’s domain, but warns that his men are “knights of summer and winter is coming.” For many in Westeros, the War of the Five Kings is still a sport. It will not be for long.
Theon Greyjoy is still being disrespected by his Ironborn father, Balon, who maliciously plans to give just one raiding ship to Theon while his sister Asha is to receive thirty. Theon wisely points out that the could get more from an alliance with Robb Stark, the King of the North, instead of raiding his lands. The Ironborn seem unconvincing to me. They are meant to be Norman/Vikings, living on the edge of Westeros and not fully integrated into their culture. However, their insistence, as exemplified by Balon, in taking things by force, the “iron price,” while interesting from a sociological standpoint, does not hold up when compared to real history. The Vikings took what they could get and never insisted on doing things the hard way.