by Tracy Ladd:
Game of Thrones: “Kissed by Fire”
Original Air Date (HBO): Sunday April 28, 2013
Season 3 Episode 5
Kissed by fire is a terms used to describe those who sport red hair. In this latest episode, it not only serves as the title, or an alternate term for gingers. There’s more to being “kissed by fire” than that,just ask Sandor Clegane. This season, which we are already half way through, has been a slow burn, but that doesn’t mean it’s been boring. Last week I posted the recap immediately following the episode and I don’t think my love for the episode, or the season as a whole came across too well. Not to make the same mistake, let me state plainly that I loved this episode. So so so much. It’s the little nuances that make it so great and that’s a tribute to the acting. This episode was chock full of those little nuances and it all starts with being kissed by fire.
Trial by fire
The night is dark and full of terrors indeed. Tensions in the cave are running high where the Hound’s fate will be decided by a duel against Dondarrion. As they prepare, Thoros whispers a prayer to the Lord of Light, and Dondarrion, who has been touched by the God, sets his sword aflame using his own blood. Not really a cool thing to do considering the only thing that the Hound fears is fire. In one of the best sword fights I’ve seen on this show, the Hound prevails and wins the duel, and along with it, his freedom. There’s more to Thoros than meets the eye. Something Arya finds out when after whispering a prayer over his leader’s body, Thoros is able to bring Dondarrion back from the dead.
Despairing over the Hound’s freedom, Ayra gets another bit of bad news when Gendry tells her that he plans to stay on as the Brotherhood’s smith. She’s completely torn up about his decision to leave her and tells him that she can be his family but he replies honestly by saying “you’d be my lady.” I’m really sad about Gendry’s decision, but I understand his reasons. He’s the bastard of the former king and has done nothing but serve and suffer. Even though he clearly would love to stay with Arya, the time has come for him to move on. With the Brotherhood he’s got a chance to be a part of something, even though Arya doesn’t quite understand it.
Later that evening, Arya sits by the fire and recites her death prayer while Thoros listens. He tells her that in the morning, they’ll head to Riverrun, and hand her over to Robb in exchange for gold. Dondarrion sits with them where he and Thoros tell Arya the stories of how many times Thoros has brought him back from the dead. It’s a lot to take in for the young Stark girl and she doesn’t really fancy any of it.
In the North
Jon gets grilled by Orell and Tormund about the forces guarding the Wall. He ends up revealing more information than what he probably would have liked, but knowing his life depends on it, not to mention Halfhand’s dying command, he didn’t have much of a choice. Ygritte still defends him, telling the other men that Jon Snow is no crow. Such faith she has in him that she finally reveals herself to him. In the physical sense that is. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next right? Friskiness ensues and Jon finds himself embedded even deeper into his current situation. The question is will Jon be able to keep his mission and his feelings separate and what will happen when he has to make a choice? These are not people you really want to cross and Jon’s chances of surviving are slim if he’s discovered.
Every scene with Jamie and Brienne is a treasure, but their part this week goes beyond what great television is about. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau deserves every award for his work in this episode. After being delivered to Lord Bolton, and having the fate of King’s Landing and his sister dangled in front of his face, Jamie is visibly relieved to learn both are still alive and well. More suffering comes however when he sees the ex-Maester and has to get his stump worked on. Lord Bolton may be harsh for making Jamie suffer for a spell, but he’s a gracious host and offers his two guests every courtesy. One of these is a bath, which both are in dire need of.
While Brienne tries to scrub the skin off her body, Jamie enters the bathing chambers and shares her tub with her. Even though there are others. In a startling display of trust, Jamie opens up about how he came to be knows as “the kingslayer”. This one monologue, delivered perfectly, makes Brienne, and the viewer, rethink everything she thinks she knows about him. Now knowing that Jamie faced an impossible choice, the view on Ned Stark’s morality is questioned as well. Ned never gave Jamie the chance to explain that either he killed the king, or would be forced to kill his father and watch thousands of innocents in King’s Landing die at the hands of the king’s wildfire. How is that even a choice? Brienne listens, stunned into silence, especially when he tells her that he does indeed trust her, and that he only asks the same in return.
This was such a startling scene and one of the best of the season, if not the series. Monologues are a tricky business and a lot of times the emotion that needs to come through is lacking. Off the top of my head there are but few that can pull me in like this one did. The only other monologue that had the same effect on me that I can think of was the one Lee Adama gave while on the stand at Baltar’s trial in Battlestar Galactica.
Stannis actually goes to see his wife Selsey and confess how he had an affair with Melisandre, but she already knows. She apparently has had a bit too much of Melisandre’s Kool-Aid and is all about the Lord of Light and is a little freaky if you ask me. She’s got her dead babies in jars for crying out loud. Bat. Shit. Crazy. Stannis seems to be looking for forgiveness, but she tells him it isn’t needed. He also decides that now’s a good time to go see his daughter Shireen, who’s up in her tower
cell room singing to herself, having a grand old-time. Shireen is cute and sweet even if she is rather peculiar and if afflicted by the Grayscale that covers half of her face. She’s excited to see him and asks about the Onion Knight, but Stannis has to tell her that Davos is a traitor and is hanging out down in the dungeon. This news makes her sad because he was her friend. She’s not sad for long however, because she makes her way down to the dungeons to see him. He tries to send her away, but she doesn’t listen and instead, tries to teach him how to read.
There is always a reason for the introduction to new characters and I have a feeling that Shireen will play a bigger part in things to come. I could be way off base, but her little haunting song, along with the fact that same song is what played over the closing credits, has to mean something.
In the East
After the awesome spectacle that Daenerys put on last week, I feel a bit let down this week. Traveling the space between Astapor and Yunkai, we don’t actually get too much Daenerys time. What we do see of her, she meets with the newly appointed leader, voted by the Officers, of the Unsullied army. Once again she tells them all that they are free men and asks the leader his name. Grey Worm, he says. Appalled that the slaves are given names of vermin, she tells them to take back their given names and to throw away their slave names. Grey Worm tells her that he considers it a lucky name, because that was his name when she freed him.
Meanwhile, Jorah and Ser Barristan ride side by side sharing stories of war and the like. What was a pleasant camaraderie soon turns into a pissing match when Selmy gives his thoughts on how Dany should proceed upon her return to Westeros. Telling Jorah that he thinks Dany should surround herself with respectable advisors and not slave traders probably wasn’t a great idea. Especially considering that in the beginning Jorah has alternative motives in joining her cause. Jorah’s secret is still just that thankfully, and he tells Selmy that he’s not the Lord Commander anymore, and that he was calling Dany Kahleesi long before Selmy left the King’s Guard.
Robb’s pissed at Lord Karstark because he murdered the two young Lannister boys that his Uncle captured in last week’s episode. Karstark sees it as justice for the death of his own sons but Robb disagrees and sentences him death. Following in his father’s footsteps, Robb does the deed himself and beheads Lord Karstark in one swing of the sword. Karstark losing his head also means Robb losing about half of his army. However, while talking to Talisa, Robb has an epiphany and tells her that he needs to call on the one man who has the men he needs. Walder Frey…..whose daughter Robb was supposed to marry.
Losing half his army is bad news for Robb. Calling on Frey probably isn’t the best idea either since Robb broke his vow and married Talisa. Actions have consequences, which is exactly what Karstark found out. It pained Robb to do it, but he couldn’t just let the man go. He’s already taken a beating for not punishing his mother more severely when she let Jamie go. It wouldn’t do for the King of the North to let something like the blatant murder of two young boys go unpunished.
King’s Landing is bustling with scheming, snooping and planning and even though Littlefinger is leaving, he’s got his mitts in everything. First off Tyrion is just trying to get a handle on his new duties as Master of Coin and is rather worried that the costly royal wedding is going to break the bank even more than what it already is. In an entertaining scene between Tryion and Olenna, he expresses his concern about the cost. The woman does not suffer any bullshit and calls him on the carpet more than once. In the end however, she agrees to pay for half, and abruptly leaves, but Tyrion can utter another word. I don’t think Tyrion is used to someone who isn’t his family being so direct and callous.
Meanwhile, Cersei tries to get ahead of the Margaery’s plan, and asks Littlefinger to look into things and report back. As if he doesn’t have enough to do what with planning to leave for the Vale and all. Littlefinger being who he is however, has one of his spies look into it and finds that there’s talk of a marriage between Loras and Sansa. He reports this information back to Cersei, then seeks out Sansa to ask her if she still wants to leave with him. However, Sansa being the romantic she is still wants her happy ending and thinks she’s going to get it with a marriage to Loras, tells Littlefinger that she doesn’t want to put him in any danger and suggests that she not leave the capital just yet. Everyone wants a piece of Sansa because she is after all the key to the North. Littlefinger isn’t offering her safe passage just to be nice. He’s got designs on her in his own twisted way.
As if Tyrion didn’t have enough to deal with, he arrives at a meeting with his father, only to see Cersei there as well, wearing a shit eating grin. Tywin gets right down to business and he and Cersei tell Tyrion about the plans for Sansa and Loras to be married. Tyrion doesn’t see the problem, but Tywin informs him of the ramification of uniting the Tyrell’s with a Stark and what that would mean. Cersei looks like the cat who ate the canary when Tyrion realizes that his father is suggesting….no, demanding that HE be wed to Sansa. He may be a Lannister, but he is quite noble and tries to convince his father not to use Sansa as a piece on the Lannister chess board again, but Tywin is firm in his decision, much to Cersei’s delight. However, that delight is short-lived when Tywin informs her that it’s time she be remarried, and she will marry Loras Tyrell.
Oh that ending scene was a delightful morsel to behold. I do love it when Cersei gets a dose of the shit she hands out to everyone else. However, bummer for Tyrion. Although I think that Sansa is safer with him, than she is with anyone else. Although I still think she’s completely stupid for not leaving with the Hound when he wanted to take her with him.
Like I mentioned above, it’s the little things that made this such an incredible episode. Things like Cersei’s little grin at Tyrion’s expense, the expression in Jamie’s eyes when he tells Brienne his story, the look of loss on Arya’s face when Gendry tells her that he’s not going with her. All of those things together make an incredible episode. I can’t believe we’re at the halfway point already and I don’t want this season to end, but I’m very excited to see what happens next week in the episode titled “The Climb”.
DarkMedia contributor Tracy Ladd has been writing about film since her days on the her high school newspaper. Even though she took a decade or two off to explore other things, she’s back to doing what she loves. She also bakes, can knit a pretty nifty scarf and makes lightsaber sounds with her knitting needles. Or chopsticks. Especially with the lightsaber chopsticks.