Game of Thrones Revisited: 3.08 Second Sons
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Game of Thrones, the critically acclaimed TV series by David Benioff and DB Weiss and developed from the best-selling series of novels by George RR Martin, has become a cultural icon. The tentpole of HBO's programming with a stellar cast and mix of medieval-style political drama and war with a healthy dash of fantasy, Game of Thrones has enthralled audiences worldwide. And in 2019, the show will come to a dramatic end in its final run of feature length episodes. In the lead up to season eight, I explore every episode leading up to the final battle for Westeros and the rest of the world. We continues next with Second Sons, featuring the world's saddest wedding, bloody prophecies and new allegiances...
Warning: There may be spoilers for seasons one to seven...
The eighth episode of season three is split between three storylines; the very sad marriage of Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark, Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre's attempts to use black magic to gain the upper hand against the other rival kings and Daenerys Stormborn's negotiation with the titular Second Sons to grow her army in her conquest of Slaver's Bay.
Events at King's Landing really make for a sorrowful affair. Tyrion is far removed from the triumphant Hand of the King we saw in season two; his wedding to Sansa is a mockery as the guests snigger when he requests his bride kneel to allow him to bestow the ritual cloak on her shoulders. His attempts to offer Sansa comfort before their wedding is soon undone, as he drinks himself into a drunken stupor at the celebration, if celebration really is the right word for the awkward, morose affair.
Sansa is the real victim here; Joffrey continues to hold his leash over her as he walks her down the aisle in place of the father he murdered and then leers over her at the celebration, suggesting he will visit her on wedding night and impregnate her with a son himself. At least Tyrion sees reason, refusing to do his duty on their wedding night and sleep alone (he certainly sees her as the girl she is rather than the trophy she is to the rest of the Lannister family).
The wedding also has some other awkward moments and grim foreshadowing for darker events to come. Cersei is quick to cut Margaery down when she attempts to bond as sisters but her talk of the 'Rains of Castermere' chillingly set up the next episode. And Loras' attempts to make small talk with his future bride Cersei is even more painful to watch then his previous meeting with betrothed Sansa a few episodes back.
Talking of foreshadowing, there is plenty to be had at the Dragonstone as Melisandre brings Robert's Bastard Gendry back to Stannis. There is a clever double bluff in the suggestion she will kill him to use his King's blood; instead a naked seduction is enough to get the blood pumping and drain his blood with leaches. Her spell will turn the tide of the War of the Five Kings; her proclamation of the deaths of Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon and Balon Greyjoy will all come true, some sooner than others. It was also nice to see Davos freed from imprisonment as Stannis showed just a glimpse of humility in acknowledging the death of Davos's son. His dream of a battle in the snow was another nice bit of foreshadowing for the battle at the Wall at the end of season four.
This episode saw the debut of Daario Naharis (played in season three by Ed Skrein before he was recast for later seasons). The scene where Daenerys holds court with the captains of the Second Sons showed a confident but very different Targaryen to the one that demanded entrance to Qarth and access to ships last season. The arrogance has been replaced with wisdom and strength and there was fire in her as she spoke with the odious Mero, deflected his sexual demands and demanded his allegiance. Daario bringing her the heads of his commanders at the episode's end started what will become a very different but mature relationship between them during her time in Slaver's Bay.
Second Sons also developed the weird bond between Arya and the Hound as he rebuked her attempts to kill him and then offered to take her to mother...for a price. And the climax also returned to Gilly and Sam's story. It suffers with some of the same issues many character beats have in Game of Thrones - feeling tacked on to the episode - but it was a dramatic finale none the less. Sam killing the white walker with dragon glass offered the first real sense of hope in the coming war against the dead and will surely be a pivotal part of the show's final season.