“Kissed by Fire” has to be the best episode of the season thus far. It offers everything, including some particular moments we’ve been waiting to see a long time. Plus between various big and little plot incidents this has to be the most romantic episode of the season by a considerable margin. Apologies, because this also means that my recap runs a bit long.
Several of the Wildlings question Jon Snow about the resources and numbers of crows at various outposts. Poor Jon snow never can hide how he feels, so his regret to be sharing this highly classified information is pretty apparent. Nonetheless, he does share it and almost immediately after, his connection to the Night’s Watch feels another blow. Ygritte takes their flirtation to the next stage when she steals his very special sword and lures him into a warm cave with hot springs and a waterfall. At this point everyone knows that we’re about to see some good lovin’, and thankfully the show does not let us down. Just before losing her excessive cold weather gear, Ygritte makes the hottest statement of the season, “You swore some vows. I want you to break ’em.” Rawr! Plus they are both so cute and cute together. I cannot possibly do their scene justice. Go watch it.
In a bit of a anti-climax, Lady Olenna finally meets Tyrian. One would hope for the same sort of verbal sparring that she enjoyed with the Spider last week, but instead they simply discuss the royal wedding between Joffrey and Margaery and Olenna gets in one good barb. Now Tyrian is being insulted by his father for being debauched and by Lady Olenna for being a boring bookkeeper. He just cannot win.
We always know who Sansa cares about by how she styles her hair. Now the hair inspiration is Margaery Tyrell when it used to be Queen Cersei. We’re seeing this change in the hair when Sansa has a little talk with Little Finger. She attempts to finesse her change of heart about the plan to sneak off in a boat with him. She thinks she’s being very clever, but instead tips her hand. Sansa shouldn’t try to lie; she’s not very good at it, even when she’s motivated by how much she wants to marry Loras. Moving right along, this knight of the Flowers gets a new boytoy who just happens to be a spy for Petyr Baelish. The blond squire is cute and fun but not to be trusted since he sets big things in motion when he spills the beans about Loras’ planned match with Sansa.
In Westeros, no one can just marry who they want because Loras brings Highgarden to his match and Sansa will very possibly become heiress to Winterfell (and symbolically all of the north). Tywin Lannister realizes this and settles everyone’s future in one tense family meeting. Cersei gets ordered to make a second political marriage on behalf of her family, this time to the much younger Sir Loras Tyrell. It would be a step down for Queen Cersei and not her first time taking one for the Lannister Team, so she quite reasonably objects, “I am Queen Regent, not some brood mare!” But to her father, her value depends significantly on her broodmare abilities. Perhaps even more shocking to those of us who haven’t read the books, Tywin orders Tyrian to marry Sansa. He is horrified, mostly on her behalf, but I think he also knows just how much Shae is going to enjoy this particular development. Sansa and Tyrian are going to have the world’s most awkward wedding.
At Harrenhall, Brienne and Jaime expect more mistreatment. Instead Brienne is untied, and Jaime gets to see a doctor who really wants to help him out with the infected stump, but it isn’t pretty. Not only this, but Lord Bolton treats these weary prisoners to a relatively sophisticated medieval bath. Evidently bath time is honesty time; the Kingslayer finally tells the full story of how he earned his name. It is a long story, but it really redeems Jaime to a significant degree. He chose to kill the Mad King when his alternative was to watch Kings Landing burn to the ground. He would have been considered an immoral betrayer no matter what he did when his family was on one side and duty was on the other. Evidently the power of the story plus a hot bath was too much for the poor lad, and he passes out in Brienne’s capable arms.
The Brotherhood without Banners hosts a duel between the Hound and Beric Dondarrion to determine the Hound’s fate. Great fight. Lots of drama. Also lots of fire, which makes things difficult for our fire-phobic Clegane until he powers his giant sword half-way through poor Beric. That’s it. The Brotherhood won’t kill him now because their fire god has freed him. Not only that Thoros uses his powers from the god to bring Beric back from the dead, evidently for a sixth time. This inspires poor Arya who wants any powers to bring her dad back from the dead, but it won’t work and Beric doesn’t recommend the experience anyhow. Poor, poor Arya.
Speaking of the god of fire, this season finally brings us into contact with Stannis’ wife and daughter which is a sequence now without some creepy moments. Stannis tries to confess to his wife, particularly about the adultery with Melisandre, but she considers it all another way to serve the fire god, evidently like keeping jars of stillborn sons in the bedroom. Then we meet the mysteriously locked-up sweetly-singing Shireen, who evidently loves Davos. We find this out when she temporarily escapes her mini-prison to bring him a book. Too bad he cannot read (a reminder that the Onion Knight has come a long way in his lifetime). Clearly, we’ll be seeing more of her in the future because they make her intriguing and already leave us wanting to know more about her and her myseriously scarred face.
Daenerys gives us the last mini-moment of romance when she meets the new captain of the officers of her new army. This decidedly handsome Unsullied resists her offer of new name because he was freed by her with his old name, Grey Worm. She looks at his handsome face and hears of her greatness at the same time and I fear she might become smitten with a eunuch soldier. Ah well. Jorah Mormont and Barristan Selmy seem to bond over war stories. They really do have much in common, but their fragile pleasantness ends when it comes to their competitiveness for the beloved Khaleesi. They both want to be her most special advisor and have really “good” reasons why the other should not.
The last bit of plot sets up significant plot development for the second half of the season. Lord Karstark who has been grumbling about vengeance for a long while takes four followers and kills the two young Lannister hostages. The scene is so sad because we see the boys peacefully sleeping then roughly awakened and killed. This creates multiple problems for the King of the north. Rob Stark knows this is treason, moreover, he is disgusted by the fact that grown men outnumbered and murdered fourteen-year-old boys who were supposed to be in his care. He chooses to punish all of the offenders with beheading, including Lord Karstark. This goes against the advice of both Talisa and Catelyn who want Rob to consider the number of Carstark men in his army. For a time, things seem depressing and directionless until a loving conversation between Rob and Talisa inspires him with a new strategy, one involving Walder Frey. Frey may or may not be particularly amenable because he was already tapped for one favor; his return was supposed to be a daughter on the queenly throne and he never got that one. I see trouble ahead.
That’s all for this week and more than enough. I’m looking forward to the craziness of the rest of the season already.