The return of Game of Thrones has definitely reminded us how vast the cast is. It’s taken two full hour-long episodes simply to give everyone a couple of scenes and push them gently down their path for the new season.
But with this third episode, everyone is finally in place, they’ve (mostly) met whoever they need to meet and can finally start their journey. Or “Walk of Punishment”, if you prefer, since it’s the title of the episode and most of it isn’t very nice. Spoilers, as ever.
The Greatest Lover In The Seven Kingdoms?
I just said we were through with introductions, but there’s still more new characters, as we return to Catelyn’s homestead and meet the Tully family. Well, two members of it: gruff Tully and silly Tully. This brings the cast to a ludicrous size, but nonetheless, they get a fun introduction scene at Daddy Tully’s funeral.
In other comic relief scenes, Tyrion discovers his squire Pod is the only man in Westeros who can satisfy women without paying them, and there’s some excellent chair shuffling at a council meeting. The subtitle Chinese whispers with Daenerys and the slave traders are still funny as well, and her storyline inches forward another fraction.
Thankfully it’s an interesting fraction – hopefully I won’t have to complain as much as I did during her quite boring Qarth scenes last year. If there’s one storyline which isn’t entirely doing it for me yet, it might be Jon Snow’s wildling safari, which seems a bit meandering, but hopefully it’ll kick off soon when they attack the wall.
No Delicious Pies For Jaime
In a rare example of the cast actually reducing, Hot Pie (aka “Arya’s fat friend”) is written out for now, but Sam’s kinda-love interest Gilly returns to give birth not long after, so it balances out. Hot Pie gets a touching goodbye scene, at least. Poor Theon, meanwhile, is clearly getting toyed with sadistically, but it’s oh so fun to watch.
And, last but not least, Jaime and Brienne are captured by some irritable Northern soldiers who decide that although they have to take him alive, that doesn’t mean they can’t lop off a hand for fun. Fairly typical of this show’s brutal logic that Jaime only gets mutilated after selflessly saving Brienne from a horrible-looking gang rape.
Nasty scenes, but always compelling, and nice to see Nikolaj Coster-Waldau back on screen regularly as Jaime, I missed him last year. In fact, after two good episodes, I’d say this is the first genuinely excellent Game of Thrones of the year so far. Especially if you’re a member of the supporting cast – I’d say Pod and Hot Pie got much better deals than the “main” characters.