Yesterday, I wrote about Catelyn's scenes in the latest episode of Game of Thrones, and why recasting her as the "regretful mother figure" was deeply troubling. And that one change was a shame, because the rest of this episode was fantastic.
As a bit of a Jaime-and-Brienne fangirl, I was pretty excited by their scenes this episode, as well as nervous that the show would mess them up somehow. Luckily, although the show has had a different take on Jaime and Brienne's journey so far, their banter has already set up a key theme for both their stories: choices. Which is the right thing to do? Is it more moral to kill the king you were sworn to protect, or allow him to murder countless others? To kill someone you believe to be a good man, or keep your oath to a once-good woman and save the life of an innocent boy? And, in this episode, is it right to kill an innocent man because you think he might recognize you, or let him go and risk him telling someone what he might know? Although TV!Brienne is harsher and more unflappable than book!Brienne, her refusal to kill the passerby established a kinder sort of moral code than Jaime's, a firm belief in what being a "true knight" should mean, and having that decision lead to their capture was a stroke of plotting genius that sets up her character arc for the next several seasons.
Meanwhile, in King's Landing, the Tyrells are starting to make their mark. Diana Rigg is fantastic as the caustic, opinionated Queen of Thorns, and it's going to be exciting to watch the matriarchal Tyrells make their own bid for the throne. Even more delightfully, we got to see Sansa break her mask of careful dignity more than once this episode. Her joy at being accompanied by Ser Loras was wonderful to watch, as the girl deserves at least a moment of happiness and misplaced romance, and her friendship with Shae continues to be one of the best changes the show has made to the books. Although some people have criticized the adaptation of Shae as turning her into a "whore with a heart of gold" cliche, I think her practicality, her understanding and her determination to help Sansa make her a far more fleshed out character than the girl we see in the books. (How they'll deal with her at the end of Storm of Swords is another matter... but that's a worry for another season!). Since TV can't show us all Sansa's thoughts and motivations, she needed an ally that she could interact with in a genuine way, and Shae, as an emotionally hardened, cynical, fierce and determined maid, is the perfect complement to Sansa's character.
This episode also marked the beginning of the less genuine friendship between Sansa and Margaery. Beyond Shae, Sansa has learned not to trust anybody with her true feelings, but she is also still a compassionate, honest person. She does not want to speak treason, but she also does not want to condemn Margaery Tyrell to the same sort of hell that she's lived through without at least warning her of who Joffrey really is. Her battle with herself, and her emotional outburst, were both difficult and powerful to watch. And Olenna's rather understated reaction should tell her that, for all their kindness to her, she's just become entangled with another group of players for the throne, and that any friendship should be balanced with the kind of shrewdness she's learned from her interactions with the Lannisters. She can learn a lot from the female-led, clever Tyrells... but trusting them too far might be a mistake.
And Margaery continues to be my hero with her clever manipulation of Joffrey.
Of course, the episode wasn't perfect. I've already talked about Catelyn's speech, and I couldn't help rolling my eyes when Talisa, our Badass Love Interest character, declared that she never intended to get married, because that's what Strong Female Characters do before they meet their perfect king. It was unfortunate those things cropped up this week, because overall, it was a powerful, well-written episode, full of great character moments and an awesome cast of ladies.
Is it next Sunday yet?