Game of Thrones Season Two, Episode 3 – What Is Dead May Never Die Directed by: Alik Sakharov Written by: Bryan Cogman Starring: Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Emilia Clarke, Liam Cunningham, Charles Dance, Stephen Dillane, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Aidan Gillen, Jack Gleeson, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Conleth Hill, Carice van Houten, Harry Lloyd, Richard Madden, Patrick Malahide, Rory McCann, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams, and Issac Hempstead-Wright
Part of the episodic structure of Game of Thrones, for good or for bad, is that the show is a direct one-to-one adaptation of the book series. Having not read the books, I don’t know how faithful the adaptation is, but George R. R. Martin’s structure doesn’t often lend itself to having individual episode themes; instead, the show looks to playing out the larger themes of the series over the course of the season.
This isn’t a bad way of storytelling, in fact, it’s one that Game of Thrones has very well mastered.
Power and who wields this power has been a topic of much discussion for many of our characters this season and this week’s episode, “What Is Dead May Never Die,” continues this concept, but also plays with the assumption and illusion of who really, truly has power.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) continues to show that his influence as Hand of the King will not be ignored. After playing both Petyr (Aidan Gillen) and Varys (Conleth Hill), Pycelle (Julian Glover) is the one that falls victim to the Imp’s wrath this week. The bearded Maester claims to serve the Lannisters, but knowing the role he’s played in the downfall of other Hands, Tyrion executes a perfect play to expose the fraud for who he is, and removes him, taking further ruthless steps to secure his position. Tyrion isn’t fooling anyone, he means business in King’s Landing and the past episodes have shown that he’ll do what’s needed.
Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony), on the other hand, doesn’t really command the power he believes he does. His queen, Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), knows that his kingly act is but a ruse. She knows the secret behind her king and knowingly asks Renly if she should bring in Loras to get thing going. Margaery is no fool and it serves as a powerful introduction for the character, again showing that the women in Westeros are just as motivated as the men.
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) found himself powerless last week upon his return home and continues to do so for most of this episode. Theon finds himself in a depressing position, not a Stark and not even a Greyjoy, the man must now take matters into his own hands. Casting off his allegiance to Robb Stark, Theon begins to set down a path for his father’s approval, but not before reminding Balon (Patrick Malahide) that he left Theon to the Starks.
Varys talks a lot about power, what it means to have and command it, but as he says, “It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall.” Tyrion has power. Renly Baratheon thinks he has power. Jon Snow and The Night’s Watch are in a wilderness, relatively powerless to make a difference. So is Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and her circumstance. How truly frighting it must be for those without any shred of power, for even if it’s a trick, better a trick than nothing at all.
– I only briefly mentioned Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and the Night’s Watch because their storyline is doing nothing for me right now. I loved the arc Jon Snow had last year, but the plot with soldiers past the Wall seems just as cold and boring as the winterland these men find themselves in. – What an amazing introduction to Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). I hope she’s around for a while, because for her to make her entrance in the manner she does, I’d be disappointed to see her leave so quickly. – Sansa (Sophie Turner) will hopefully find some refuge in Shae (Sibel Kekilli) in the coming weeks, but right now the poor Stark girl really needs someone who is a bit more capable of being a handmaiden than Shae, whose talents have been better served with men. – The end conversation between Yoren (Francis Magee) and Arya was amazing stuff. I don’t want to spoil anymore of that ending sequence, but wow – truly powerful and frightening stuff.
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