Game of Thrones – Season 2 Episode 7: Recap

A man without honor

Disclaimer: This is a recap of the seventh episode of Game of Thrones Season Two, and contains spoilers about the episode. Read only if you've already seen the episode, or care not about taking the train to spoiler town.

Screen Art
Title Game of Thrones - Season Two, Episode 7
Studio HBO
Director Alik Sakharov
Starring Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Etc.
Genre Fantasy
Rating TV-MA
Release Year 2012

Since this episode is titled after Jaime Lannister, I think it’s only fair to give him his due, especially since his whole characterization, actions and words outline the major theme of this episode. Catelyn Stark describes Jaime as “a man without honor,” which she slings at him in insult. After all, what is a man without his honor? Ned was full of the stuff, and look where it got him – with his head chopped off. Jaime is most known and most reviled for the act of killing the Mad King Aegon during Robert’s rebellion: he was one of the king’s White Cloaks, or personal guard (maybe even Secret Service if that helps you visualize the role). If that’s not bad enough, Jaime stabbed Aegon in the back. He couldn’t even look Aegon in the eye when he killed him, which completely goes against what  Ned had been teaching his children.

But the rub is perfectly outlined in this quote, which is somewhat paraphrased from the books:

So many vows. They make you swear and swear. Obey the king, obey your father, protect the innocent, defend the weak. What if your father despises the king? What if the king massacres the innocent? It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or another.

It’s truly impossible to be able to fulfill everyone’s standards of what makes a “good knight.” I’ll grant you, there’s a difference between “good” and “decent”; many of Jaime’s actions have not been that of a decent man. Shoving a child from a window in order to protect the fact that you’re screwing your sister? The simple fact that you’re screwing your sister? Killing a distant family member in order to (albeit a stupid plan to begin with) attempt escaping the enemy camp you’re being held hostage in? Jaime ends up throwing Catelyn’s insult back in her face, asking her if she ever loved Ned’s bastard. Jaime, after all, has only been with one woman his entire life. So what if it’s his sister? At least he’s never cheated on her. Ned certainly couldn’t say the same. Many, many characters throughout this episode touch on the idea of honor and what it means to them: for some, it is the end all, just like it was for Ned.

But for others, it means little. Ygritte the Wilding, Jon Snow’s prisoner, is absolutely baffled by the fact that men of the Night’s Watch must remain celibate in order to serve out their sentence on the Wall. As though living conditions in the north aren’t bad enough, they can’t even lay with a woman? The red-haired minx does her best to lure Jon away, saying that life as a wilding is entirely free: you can get up when you want, go to sleep when you want, hunt and fish, and even lay with a woman when you feel like it. The wildings simply don’t understand why people south of the wall restrict themselves in the ways they do – and if you look at it from an outsider’s perspective, Westeros is obviously not really doing itself many favors with a restrictive class society where the peasants are continuously crapped on and the nobility are cutting each other’s throats every other day. In a roundabout way, the wildings have far more honor, or rather, honesty, than anyone in Westeros does. Then again, they do still have a bit of manipulation about them, as Ygritte’s stories and sweet promises end up leading Jon into a trap.

Are we there yet?

Many are honor-bound to serve people they love, and people they hate. Sandor Clegane, the Hound, is stuck serving Joffrey who’s bound to be just like Aegon. When Sansa attempts to thank him for his “bravery” in saving her from the rapists in last week’s episode (Sansa’s belief in life being black and white is quickly crumbling, though this doesn’t stop her from trying to believe life is a song), Sandor sneers and claims there was nothing brave about what he did. He remarks that “killing is the sweetest there is,” and when she blanches at the thought, he continues in saying that  she’ll be glad of his blade come the day when he’s the only thing standing between her and Joffrey when she is queen.

The idea of having to bear Joffrey’s violence in the bedroom and the thought of bearing his children becomes much realer when she finds that her menses have started. Cersei states that it is a queen’s highest honor to give a king heirs; Sansa obviously no longer feels this way, but again, she is a Stark and honor-bound to serve the king she “loves with all [her] heart.” Jorah Mormont, on the other hand, serves Dany out of a sense of honor but also out of a sense of love. He searches far and wide for her dragons, even as she continuously rebuffs him. It will be interesting to see when the other shoe drops – Jorah continuously begs Dany to trust him (and as she puts it, only him), but he is hiding the fact that he nearly sold her out to Robert in order to end his banishment from Westeros.

All your secrets are belong to Tywin Lannister

Tywin Lannister, the current head of house Lannister, does not have the scruples that Ned, or his son Robb, holds. When Amory Lorch is killed directly in front of him, Tywin takes it as an assassination attempt on himself and gives the green light for Gregor Clegane to start torturing and killing people to ferret out the information they need in order to locate the assassin. However, he does seem to have enough morals to not out Arya entirely, even, though he’s put the pieces together in order to know that she’s not the peasant she’s pretending to be. I don’t know if it’s been mentioned in the show, but the books clarify that Gregor would have no such scruples about harming a child.

And we end the episode with an especially harsh lesson. In Theon’s continuing endeavor to be accepted by the most cutthroat group of people that Westeros quite possible has to offer, he always seems to find himself with the short end of the stick. When he wakes to find Bran and Rickon gone, along with Hodor and Osha, he mounts a hunt to track down the missing Stark children. Sadly enough for him, the trail goes cold at a farm harboring two Stark orphans, and Theon makes do with what he has in order to make a statement that he should be taken seriously. For someone who was raised in Winterfell, he certainly doesn’t seem to understand that frightening people into listening to you is really not the way to go about things. It’s just amazing to me, as a viewer, that Theon so easily does this 180 in characterization; where before he was a brother in arms to Robb, entirely loyal and utterly accepted by the Starks, only to easily become a turncoat when his father, who abandoned him, spits on the image of what he’s become under the Starks’ treatment.

This is the face of "oh shit what have I done"

The episode finishes with the dark note of Theon proudly showing the two entirely charred remains of children from the farm, playing them off as the corpses of Bran and Rickon. Luwin screams in agony as the boys he’s cared for since birth seem dead, and everyone around him is absolutely amazed at the change in Theon’s nature. After all, they’ve all known him since he was a child! Perhaps the best thing to note is Theon’s expression – he can’t look at the corpses for very long before he forces his eyes to the ground, shocked with his own display of strength. Does this mean he’ll try to go back and mend what he’s broken? It’s much too late for that, considering that he’s just made people think he’s murdered two children, sacked his childhood home and completely reneged on any loyalty he had with Robb. Theon is a perfect example of a man without honor, a man who is scrounging to do what he thinks needs to be done, at least to save his own hide. Jaime is certainly guilty of protecting his own skin, as are many other characters in the show. Can we really find fault with them, considering the odds they’re playing against? In the game of thrones, you win or you die – no one said anything about any rules.

Come next week, we’ll see if Yara shows up with the troops that Theon supposedly sent for; if Sansa is forced to go through with her marriage to Joffrey; if Catelyn lets Jaime go (and if that was his plan all along?!). Also next week, maybe we’ll get to see Arya use her third name with Jaqen H’ghar. Why doesn’t she just name Tywin? That would certainly be a blow to the Lannisters in her brothers favor!

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