Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 3, Episode 3 of HBO's "Game of Thrones," titled "Walk of Punishment."
Actions speak louder than words in this week's episode of "Game of Thrones," which unfurls at a slightly less stately pace than the season's first two installments. Catelyn's brother, Edmure, is proud of his rogue exploits on the battlefield, but his ineptitude is underscored by his inability to hit his father's funeral barge with a flaming arrow. (In fairness, this looks hard.)
And while we may wish Tywin would put his trust in the deceptively brilliant Tyrion, Cersei's positioning of her chair at her father's right hand reflects the true distribution of power in the Small Council. As does Tywin's decision to give Tyrion the apparently insulting job of Master of Coin.
Hot Pie decides to bake his feelings for Arya into a loaf of brown bread shaped like a wolf; Melisandre keeps telling Stannis that he's destined to rule, but her body chemistry ("Your fires burn low, my king") suggests otherwise; Khaleesi promises to give the slave dealer a dragon in exchange for 8,000 eunuch soldiers, but the fire in her eyes tells me this deal may come with an incendiary catch.
The White Walkers don't have to talk at all, when their artful arrangements of chopped-up horse corpses speak so eloquently. Samwell can't speak, either, when he watches his friend at
Casa Incest Craster's Keep give birth to a baby boy doomed to be sacrificed to The Others. Theon Greyjoy's mysterious helper still hasn't uttered his name, but he keeps proving his friendship by saving the sadistic knucklehead's life. Tyrion's squire Podrick is a man of few words, but he's apparently so phenomenal in the bedroom that Littlefinger's girls won't even take his money. (If he ever does provide the "copious details" Tyrion demands, we don't hear them.)
Finally, Jaime Lannister's silver tongue and promises of rich rewards are enough to save Brienne from being raped, but in the end, he pays for them with his right hand. Tough to maintain one's reputation as the best swordsman in the Seven Kingdoms with one hand lying in the dirt.
As my colleague Maureen Ryan has pointed out, "Game of Thrones" is above all a show about underdogs: the giant female knight; the ridiculed and underestimated dwarf; the princess sold to a savage tribe; the bastard son of a warrior decapitated and denounced as a traitor; his overweight buddy; etc., etc.
Keeping that in mind, it might be a good thing that Jaime has lost his hand -- it dims that smarmy, Bush-family-style aura of rich-boy entitlement that has made him so easy to hate. Maybe there's hope for this fellow yet.Random observations:
- "We need our men more than Tywin needs his!" Love this line reading from Richard Madden, who plays Rob Stark. Could it be any more obvious that the dude has a background in Shakespearean theater?
- This creep Craster has some nerve! Not only does he kill all his sons and sleep with all his daughters, but now he's gone and fat-shamed Samwell. I hope something really terrible happens to him, and soon.
- I have no problem with gratuitous nudity, but something about the brothel scenes on this show always takes me out of the story and gets me thinking about how awkward it must have been on set that day. And the contortionist really took that to a new level. Yeesh.
- How timely that Tyrion is suddenly in charge of paying down the national debt. They should have him invent the credit default swap, too.
- Middle school teachers, prepare yourselves for a rash of naughty boys threading to f--k each other into the dirt at recess tomorrow. I hate to say it, but that line is going to be repeated. A lot. At least in the suburbs of New Jersey, where I grew up.
- On a related topic, what's up with the heroic imagery surrounding Theon Greyjoy this episode? First he gets crucified, complete with a stigmata-ish wound to his foot, and now he's riding through a green valley on a white stallion. Is this going to be another Kevin-Youkilis-joining-the-Yankees situation? Am I going to have to learn to like this guy?
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.