Game of Thrones Season 3 continues its slow ramp up with Season 3, Episode 2: "Dark Wings, Dark Words." This episode compliments the premiere nicely, checking in on the characters we missed last week — Hi Arya! Hey Bran! Missed you, Jaime and Brienne! Oh, Theon ... — while slowly pushing the plot in King's Landing forward.
Once again, it's not the most action-packed episode of television ever created, but snappy dialogue and the joy of seeing favorite faces keeps us entertained the whole way through.
The Woods in the North: Dream On
We open on someone running through the woods. Is it Arya? Jaime? No, Bran! Hey, wait a second, that's not right …
Yep, this is another freaky dream from still-crippled Bran — black magic, according to Osha, who prefers to sharpen her spear and ignore everything Bran tries to tell her, because that's smart — full of three-eyed ravens, waving trees, memories of family, and that kid from Love Actually all grown up.
And hey, it turns out the kid isn't just a fantasy friend Bran made up in a fit of depressed loneliness. As Bran, Osha, Hodor, and Rickon continue their seemingly endless journey towards the Wall, they run into the flesh-and-blood version of the boy, along with his curly-haired, knife wielding sister.
While their entrance includes theatrical threats and impressive feats of direwolf taming, these two aren't enemies. They're Jojen and Meera Reed, the children of Howland Reed, an old friend of Ned's. The Reed kids plan to accompany our intrepid heroes north, and since it turns out Jojen knows all about magic, this seems like a good idea. (Unless they turn out to have a hidden agenda like everyone else on this show.)
Whatever the Reeds' reason for heading north, at least now Bran has someone other than Osha to talk to about his dreams. And unlike Osha, Jojen gets it — he has the "sight" himself (which is apparently how he found Bran), and he explains that said sight is how Bran knew Ned died before he actually heard the news. He also notes that Bran is a warg — a person with the ability to project himself into animals. The kid needs a teacher, and even though Jojen's a child too, he's better than nothing.
Harrenhal and the Road to Riverrun: Dark Words, Indeed
Robb seems to have picked up his half-brother's penitent for brooding.We open on him staring into a fire, full of deep, disturbed thoughts. Even his wife's light banter about how smelly and gross Westerosi are doesn't seem to cheer him up. Also not a mood booster? Roose Bolton interrupting the newlywed's makeout sesh with bad news from Riverrun and Winterfell.
The show doesn't do a particularly good job explaining what's on those little scraps of paper, so let's go over it. The word from Winterfell is an update: According to Roose's bastard, when he got to Winterfell the Ironborn had already massacred everyone, torched the castle, and bolted. Oh, and no one has any idea where Bran and Rickon are, because “headed to the Wall with some mysterious forest friends” isn't a particularly likely answer. In Riverrun, Cat's dad has died, which means she's upset, and now Robb has to waste time going to the funeral, leaving Roose Bolton to hold down fort in Harrenhal.
As the King of the North marches his men off to Riverrun, he gets a grumpy tongue-lashing from Lord Karstark, who warns him that victory is slipping through his fingers, if it's even achievable at all: “I think you lost this war the day you married [Talisa].”
Speaking of Talisa, Rob's wife awkwardly tries to bond with Cat, who shares a story about how Jon got sick as a child and she promised the gods she'd love him if they would let him live. Only after he survived she failed and was a total biotch to him forever. Now she blames the war on herself? We guess? Seems logical.
A Dungeon, Somewhere: Why, God, Why?
And now, the part any book-reader without an iron stomach has been dreading: Theon's torture. You could argue that he dug his own grave by betraying the Starks in a harebrained scheme that wasn't worth one drop of the blood he spilled, but that doesn't change the fact that we, the viewers, didn't do anything to deserve having to watch this brutal torture scene. But on the upside, nice acting by Alfie Allen. We really believe his vomit-inducing cries of pain.
However, there's hope for Theon and our eyes: An unnamed man who claims to be sent by Yara promises to come save Theon that night. Will it work? Tune in next week!
King's Landing: Let's Just Hand the Iron Throne to the Tyrells and Call it a Day
In King's Landing, Cersei continues to wage her losing battle against Margaery Tyrell, who is the best. When Cersei tries to hint to her odious, flower-hating son that she's not a fan of his fiancée, he considers it “one of the most boring conversations [he's] ever had.” This scene is by far the most we've ever liked Joffrey.
Shae, meanwhile, tries to warn Sansa that Littlefinger is kind of a total creep, as anyone without the last name Stark can see. Sansa, being Sansa, seems far more interested in flirting with Loras Tyrell than worrying about whether or not she can trust the man who's supposed to rescue her. Oh, honey. She reminds Loras of the rose he gave her during the tournament way back in Season 1. He awkwardly pretends he didn't just do that because she was sitting two seats in front of his boyfriend. Match made in heaven, these two.
Loras isn't the only Tyrell suddenly interested in Sansa: She also has a meet and greet with Margaery and Lady Olenna, Margaery's grandmother/the greatest person in the universe. Think Downton Abbey's Dowager Countess plus 100 badass points. Lady Olenna snarks and snips and somehow manages to pry the truth about Joffrey's awfulness from the usually tight-lipped Sansa. But what will the determined Tyrell women do with this information?
Try to seduce Joffrey with sadism, apparently! Margaery goes to her fiancé, basically flat out admits that Renly was gay — including hinting that he tried to have buttsex with her because man, this girl knows how to spin a tale — and then pretends to be really into Joffrey's crossbow, if you know what we mean. (And, uh, actually we do mean his literal crossbow.)
Finally, back to Shae, who's taken Sansa's safety to heart. She goes to Tyrion with her worries, though she manages to get hilariously and nonsensically jealous when he refers to Sansa as a “great beauty.” Sorry Shae, but he has a point. A lot of people are going to want to bang marry the pretty Stark girl.
Beyond the Wall: Couldn't These Two Random Scenes Have Been Included Last Week?
Good news: Mance Rayder has taken a liking to Jon. Bad news: He'll still kill him without a second thought if he finds out Jon's playing him. Better keep up the lying, Snow. Also of note: Ragetti Orell is a warg — like Bran. He reports “dead crows,” AKA Night's Watchmen, at the Fist of the First Men. Jon nervously pretends like it ain't no thang.
Elsewhere in the north, the Night's Watch continues their miserable trek back to the Wall. Sam has made himself an enemy, who Mormont appoints his guardian after Sam almost gives up. Yeah, sounds like a fantastic plan.
On the Road: The Three Stooges Make Friends
More people walking through woods! We open with Gendry grilling Arya on why she wasted her three free murders on people who aren't Tywin and Joffrey. We like Gendry, he's smart. But what Arya lacks in tactical murdering choices, she makes up for in bravery, as she proves when she, Gendry and Hot Pie are found by the Brotherhood Without Banners (who, you may recall, were a real thorn in Tywin's side last season).
Here's the rundown. These guys are a motley pack of warriors whose goal is to protect the countryside from the soldiers trying to ravage it. They seem like they might be essentially decent, despite their deep curiosity about the trio.
Arya's luck doesn't last, because, duh, what show do you think you're watching? After forcibly feeding the trio and amusing themselves with Arya's sword-wielding skills, the Brotherhood is about to let our heroes go on their aimless way when a party comes back with an important prisoner: The Hound. Despite her best effort to hide by turning around, he catches sight of Arya and immediately identifies her. What's the likelihood the Brotherhood will let her walk away now that they know who she is?
And Yet More Roads: The Odd Couple Encounters Trouble
Jaime and Brienne! Brienne and Jaime! What do we say other than “perfect”? These two make a comedic duo to rival Tyrion and Bronn; between Jaime's ceaseless banter and Brienne's stone faced not giving of a single fuck, we'd honestly be happy just watching these two walk all the way to King's Landing without incident. Have them pop up for an amusing minute or two every episode for the next three seasons. That'll work.
Of course, it's not to be. After Jaime ferrets out Brienne's not-so-secret crush on Renly — "You weren't [his] type, I'm afraid" — they're spotted by a passerby. Jaime thinks they should kill the unlucky traveler because he might have recognized the notorious Kingslayer, Brienne insists on doing the honorable thing: not killing random people just for saying hello. We wonder who's right? Spoiler alert: It's not the person who picked honor.
The duo's next obstacle comes in the form of a bridge, which leaves them exposed. Jaime, being Jaime, pretends to collapse in the middle of said bridge, then grabs one of Brienne swords and makes a fight of it. Those Lannisters. You just can't trust them.
They break into a pretty excellent sword fight where they both prove their worth: Brienne holds her own against the Kingslayer, while Jaime, looking like Jedi in his ragged robes, does pretty well for a manacled man who’s been in prison for however long. Not that their sword fighting skills helps either of them in the end. They're caught by some of Roose Bolton's men, thanks to that guy they let walk away. See Brienne? Doing the right thing never pays off in Westeros.
- Forgot to note this last time, but how cool is it that the little Winterfell in the opening credits is now smoking? Details, man. It's all in the details.
- Lady Olenna, on Renly: "Gallant, yes, and charming, and very clean. He knew how to dress and smile and somehow this gave him the notion he was fit to be king." Woman calls 'em like she sees 'em.
- We enjoy Jaime's surprise that Brienne was sworn to Renly, who he thinks wasn't fit to rule over anything other than a "12 course meal." Whatever else he thinks of his captor, he apparently thought she had better sense than backing the most useless candidate for the throne.
- Brienne (on not killing the passerby): “He's an innocent man.” Jaime: “More innocent than Lady Stark's daughters?” Us: Given how many people Arya has had killed … probably.
- “It's a shame the throne isn't made out of cocks, they'd have never got him off it.” Jaime appears to share Tyrion's wit, but not his understanding of the word "subtlety."
- We see Cersei is serious about incorporating armor into her everyday fashion. Okay then. That's not crazy paranoid at all.
- Tyrion line of the week: “Is there an idiot in any village who trusts Littlefinger?” (Yes. His name was Ned Stark.)
What did you think of this episode? Let us know in the comments.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.