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Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 7. A Man Without Honor

 

Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin. The content of Season 2 in this television adaptation by HBO is drawn from A Clash of Kings. As before, the production is helmed by David Benioff and D B Weis. Here is the link to my retrospective overview of Game of Thrones Season 1. This is a spoiler-rich discussion of what happens in each episode, so do not read this if you want to watch without prior knowledge.

With only nuts to keep them going, Hodor (Kristian Nairn) carries Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) with Osha (Natalia Tena) and Rickon (Art Parkinson) in support

 

As is appropriate given the episode’s title, A Man Without Honor, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) is frustrated and angry when he discovers Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) has disappeared, but manages to say encouraging things to Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) about what a good-behaved little boy he’d been when he was a hostage. His conclusion as he leads the pack of hounds to track down the runaways, “Don’t look so grim, Maester, it’s all just a game.” The idea that it’s better to be seen as cruel rather than appear weak neatly sums up this unpleasant little man. Meanwhile, with Osha (Natalia Tena) leading the way, Hodor (Kristian Nairn) carries Bran further away with Rickon (Art Parkinson) in tow. But they know they can’t outrun the hounds forever. Waking after a night without passionate sex, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) finds himself the butt of sexual jokes from Ygritte (Rose Leslie). Do you have sheep at the Wall? No! No wonder you’re all so miserable! It’s a laugh a minute, but the vow of celibacy defines Jon as a man of honour and forms the basis of his emerging reputation. The sparky argument with Ygritte does pose an interesting question. If people have been living on both sides of the Wall for generations, why are they fighting each other? She tries to seduce him into abandoning his oath and joining Mance Rayder. When that fails, she runs off and leads Jon into a trap where he’s captured. At least he’s saved the embarrassment of having to pretend he’s in control.

Arya (Maisie Williams) offers Tywin (Charles Dance) a little more conversation

 

Back at Harrenhal, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) thinks he was the intended victim of the murder at his door yet, in his new role of surrogate Daddy to Arya (Maisie Williams), he still has time to chat with her and feed her mutton. He tells her how Herrenhal fell to the dragons, but she fills in all the gaps in his version of the history. He concludes she’s only pretending to be low born and that she’s too clever for her own good. At least he’s not completely stupid. Alton Lannister (Karl Davies) returns to Robb Stark (Richard Madden) with the rejection of the peace terms by Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and, as a reward for having the honour to keep his oath to return, he’s placed in the same lock-up as Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Happy as two peas in a pod, the prisoners remember the fun times they had when young and then Jaime explains his plan to escape. Meanwhile Robb Stark has taken Talisa Maegyr (Oona Chaplin) off to the Crag to top up her supply of medical supplies. Naturally, to preserve his reputation for nobility and honour in battle, he wants her to be able to treat the wounded of both sides. This leaves Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) to defend the recaptured Jaime until Robb returns.

Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in a spot of bother

 

Having held back time for months, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) bleeds and thereby announces she’s physically able to bear children and so available to marry Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Overcome with joy at this prospect, she runs to Cersei who offers womanly wisdom. Essentially this comes down to loving her children and trying to avoid being killed by everyone else. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) has news that a fleet representing Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) is about four days away and twice the size of their navy. He and Cersei lack confidence in the planning of the defence. Caught in a moment of truthfulness, Cersei admits to the incest and opines that Joffrey is her punishment. Off in distant Qarth, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) trusts Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) to find the stolen dragons. He gets the information from Quaithe (Laura Pradelska), but arrives too late to stop the coup organised by Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie) and made possible by Pyat Pree (Ian Hanmore). It seems the warlock has the dragons.

Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie) and Pyat Pree (Ian Hanmore) seize power

 

It’s fascinating that a contemporary fantasy series should feature two such awful people. This is not to say any of them are very nice. Indeed, by and large, they are a murderous bunch except for Tywin Lannister who’s increasingly demonstrating a cuddly side. But several of them have qualities we can respect if not actually like. This leaves us with Joffrey as a sadistic boy with megalomania coming on fast. Theon, however, must win a prize because his cruel streak comes from his cowardice. He’s genuinely despicable — his deception over the burning of the boys is gratuitously callous to protect his reputation but without any sense of what that does for his chances of survival in one piece. The women come out of this well. Ygritte is having fun at Jon’s expense, and the tag team of Catelyn and Brienne is shaping up well. Unfortunately, the pace of events north of the Wall is appropriately glacial, King’s Landing is in a holding pattern until Stannis arrives, and Winterfell is under the control of a boy who grew up into A Man Without Honor. Events in Qarth are happening, but I can’t say any of this is terribly exciting.

 

Thematically, the episode seems to be about the different ways in which people can enhance or lose their reputations. When she no longer controls the dragons, Daenerys discovers she has nothing (except the undeclared love of Ser Jorah Mormont). This continues her underwhelming contribution to the excitement level in this series. Xaro Xhoan Daxos has an impeccable reputation for having climbed to the top of the commercial heap from nothing, while the Spice King (Nicholas Blane) proves a disposable asset when he’s on the wrong side. Theon doesn’t realise that being seen as cruel is usually taken as a sign of weakness by others. Jaime no longer cares what others think of him, hence his successful plan to escape, while Cersei is finally prepared to admit Joffrey is a monster. In all this, the most interesting man is Jaime. It’s not that he’s without honour. It’s just that his code is not the same as everyone else’s. All in all, A Man Without Honor offers a lot of violence to compensate for the lack of sex. HBO must have some element to maintain its reputation for being edgy even though the pace of progress is slowing down quite dramatically.

 

For reviews of Season 2, see:
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 1. The North Remembers
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 2. The Night Lands
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 3. What Is Dead May Never Die
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 4. Garden of Bones
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 5. The Ghost of Harrenhal
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 6. The Old Gods and the New
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 8. The Prince of Winterfell
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 9. Blackwater
Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 10. Valar Morghulis
Game of Thrones: Season 2 — the HBO series considered

 

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