Game Of Thrones recap – 2×03: ‘What Is Dead May Never Die’

Courtesy of HBO

I can say without a doubt that Game Of Thrones is my most difficult show to recap. Probably because it feels like there is so much going on and there are so many characters that it’s a struggle to do more than simply reiterate what happens in each episode. So let’s give this third episode, ‘What Is Dead May Never Die’ the good ole’ fashioned try since it handily broke the action down to a few key places.

Let’s bitch it out!

Alright, first off, can I just pause for a quick girly-voice shriek? Everyone welcome Natalie Dormer to show! I remember being ecstatic when I heard last year that Dormer was cast as Margaery Tyrell, the wife of King wannabe Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony). Dormer was absolutely my favourite actor on The Tudors (as Anne Boleyn), so I was beyond excited to see what she would bring to Game Of Thrones. And in her debut, she definitely does not disappoint.

Thankfully the show did her – and us – a favour by focusing on a few key storylines this week instead of trying to explore all of them at once. Unfortunately that does mean that several key characters sit on the sidelines this week, so no Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), Robb (Richard Madden) or Stannis (Stephen Dillane). Judging from the way Game Of Thrones has divided its time we will also spend some time in King’s Landing with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and likely the world beyond the Wall with Jon (Kit Harington). The other locations we visit will depend on who’s on the move and what the most pressing stories are.

So where are we tonight? Renly and Margaery are set up in a non-specific location, just chillaxing and watching a tourney. So what if there’s a war raging and people are starving in the streets of King’s Landing, right? Enter Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), who you’ll remember was sent to track Renly down back in the first episode of the season. Unfortunately Renly doesn’t take kindly to Catelyn’s suggestion that he’s only playing at war, especially when she suggests that Robb is actually fighting one. Renly has never been a fighter (clearly he’s a lover since every time we see him he’s putting the moves on Finn Jones’ Knight of Flowers). In a way Renly is similar to Tyrion: he’s more of a shrewd player in this game of thrones. And now it appears that he’s found a wise match in his choice of wife. After a failed sexytime with Loras, Renly tries to man up and do his wife (two weeks after their wedding! Scandalous!). I loved the pre-emptive impotence excuse (too much wine: riiiight). He needn’t have bothered, though; Margaery is clearly up to speed on Renly’s relationship with her brother. I loved her casual aside about bringing her brother into the bedroom so long as it ends with her pregnant. If everything in their marriage is this honest, these two kids may just make it after all!

The other principal location we visit is King’s Landing as Tyrion continues to purge the small council of individuals who are overly loyal to his sweet sister, Cersei (Lena Headley). By far the most entertaining scene of the evening is his test of Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover), Varys (Conleth Hill) and Baelish (Aidan Gillen) to see which of them will tattle his marriage plans for niece, Princess Myrcella (Aimee Richardson). Only the Maester is foolish enough, so it’s off to a black cell with him! Ah well…he’s a dirty old man, anyways, right? Please he clearly knew about Cersei and Jamie’s affectionate sibling relationship, and no one is benefiting from those rumours, so perhaps its best if he take a time out until things calm down.

Strangely enough, Varys doesn’t seem particularly upset with Tyrion’s ruse, but Baelish clearly thought Tyrion was serious. Perhaps it was the offer of Harrenhal in exchange for facilitating the marriage union between Myrcella and Lysa Arryn’s son? Alas, poor Baelish is nothing if not an insecure social climber, so the chance to jump to a position as one of the top Lords in Westeros is an easy sell. To allay Baelish’s rage, Tyrion instead invites him to track down Catelyn instead. That should prove interesting…and it will get rid of another temperamental personality in King’s Landing.

I will say, however, that I don’t like the closeness between Tyrion and Varys. The Spider should not be trusted. His riddle about the sellsword and who determines who has power can be read as support for Tyrion, but it also suggests how easily power can be lost. I worry for Tyrion as he maneuvers around King’s Landing – the fate of the two former Hands keeps coming up and things didn’t end well for either Jon Arryn or Ned Stark.

Courtesy of HBO

Other Observations:

  • Shae (Sibel Kekelli) gets the best line of the night. After Tyrion tries to secure her a position in the kitchen as a scullion, she protests, saying: “Every man who has tasted my cooking has told me what a good whore I am’. Zing! Instead he assigns her to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) as a handmaid. This week Turner turns in another great [understated] performance. When Shae clearly has no idea what her responsibilities are, Sansa reverts back to Queen Bee bitch status and lists them before breaking down in exasperation. I liked this scene for a few reasons: a) this is an unexpected combination of characters I didn’t really think would meet b) it’s a reminder that Sansa, at heart, remains a spoiled brat – she’s just now stuck in a terrible situation and c) Sansa’s efforts to maintain her composure in front of the Lannisters (including cruel Cersei at dinner) is clearly taking an emotional toll (obvs, right? How could it not?).
  • The other new character we’re introduced to in the Renly sequence is fan favourite Brienne of Tarth. She’s also sarcastically referred to as the “beauty” for her statuesque height and mannish proportions. It’s interesting to see actress Gwendoline Christie looking so unattractive considering how pretty she can be when she’s not sporting a bowl cut. After my semi-rant about sexposition and the portrayal of women in last week’s recap, Brienne is a breath of fresh air: she has no interest in being called a lady and wishes only to die on the battlefield as a member of Renly’s kingsguard.
  • The Pyke scenes are interesting because we’re getting to know Theon (Alfie Allen) better. Aside from that, though, this week feels like a retread of last week. Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) reiterates his desire to take power by force, while Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) sneers at her brother. We do learn something of the Greyjoy plan, though: they will take over the North while Robb is fighting the Lannisters down South.
  • Last week’s faux-cliffhanger – when Jon is knocked out after following Craster (Robert Pugh) into the woods – is resolved immediately (what is this, The Killing?). Craster gives the Nightswatch the boot, which angers Lord Commander Mormont (James Cosmo). Obviously Mormont knew that Craster kills his sons. Jon is still learning that there’s a lot more grey than black or white involved in being a leader. Sam (John Bradley), meanwhile, remains oblivious to how much trouble he’s causing. He gives Gilly (Hannah Murray) a thimble-keepsake as a keepsake that he’ll return to pick up when the Nightswatch returns.
  • At Winterfell Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) dreams of being his wolf. Interesting concept, boring actor. Next!
  • Finally we end with Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) – still posing as a boy named Arry. The scene starts off with a great conversation when she asks Yoren (Francis McGee) about living with the ghosts of what you’ve seen. She’s referring to her father’s execution, so he one ups her with the story of praying for vengeance against his brother’s killer (this is what got him sent to the Wall). It’s a nice moment, and clearly marks Yoren for death. Perhaps he should have worn a red shirt instead of a black one?  A few minutes later the knights he challenged last week return. In a gruesome – and cheap – shot they circle and stab him with lances and swords, then collect the survivors. When the knights ask for Gendry (Joe Dempsie), Arya, indicates that poor mutilated & killed Lommy Greenhands (Eros Vlahos) was Gendry, thereby saving the real boy as they’re all carted off to Harrenhal.

And that’s our third episode. Which storyline did you enjoy most? Did you miss Dany, Robb or Stannis? Was the sexposition (with Margery Tyrell) more appropriate this week? What do you think of our ever-expanding roster of characters? Sound off below! And remember: We’re in a no spoiler zone. If it hasn’t happened on the show, then don’t talk about it!

Game Of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

4 thoughts on “Game Of Thrones recap – 2×03: ‘What Is Dead May Never Die’

  1. I was reminded at the beginning of this season (not on the show) that Varys sent the dragon eggs to Dany. He is still loyal to the old, exiled dynasty. I haven’t read all the books so I’m not sure how that plays out.

    And I think Baelish was more upset than Varys because he was going to be sent on a mission AND receive payment. He was promised haunted Harrenhall (where Arya is being dragged to!!) for performing this mariage negociation with Lyssa Arryn, and become the most powerful lord of the land… I’d be pissed off too if I was promised that simply as a ruse.

    I should have written down my random funny comment because it is not coming to mind…

  2. Well, this episode was a good 8.5 out of 10 episode. There was a lot of storytelling and some introductions of new characters so it wasn’t superb but it was super good.

    First of all I don’t agree with you when you say:
    “At Winterfell Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) dreams of being his wolf. Interesting concept, boring actor. Next!”
    Isaac Hempstead-Wright is really good for his age… He’s just a kid trying to deal with his destiny of being away from his family and being paraplegic. So I see him kind lost in these dreams of him like wishing them to be his priming for hope.

    Sophie Turner was a Wow! actress last ep. Wow really.
    Theon’s scene of his baptism was really good. Perfect shot!

    And Lommy’s kill was a bit shocking and the final action scenes were really great too.
    Overall… I can’t wait for more.

    • I guess for me it’s that we a) don’t spend enough time with him and b) his story moves significantly slower than the others. As a result, whenever we travel back to Winterfell, it feels like its at the expense of the other (more vibrant) characters. Now that the Greyjoys are interested in moving on Winterfell, though, this could become very interesting in the near future.

      • Yeah… I understand your point of view. But I guess we need to be patients with his story. Afterall most of his time is spent on his bed (or on someone’s back)