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Game of Thrones Review: What is Honor?

by at . Comments

It's hard to put a leash on a dog, once you've put a crown on his head.

"A Man Without Honor" forces many Game of Thrones characters to consider their actions, along with the type of person they either think they are - or the type of person they want to be.

We have Cersei finally crumbling, completing her journey from evil ice queen to sympathetic sibling. Or at least something resembling that, considering all she's done, all the sins for which she's now paying.

Daenerys in Qarth

Last season, it would have been impossible to imagine her counseling Sansa as she does here, to think of her actually warning the poor royal-to-be against loving Joffrey, as opposed to threatening that she must. But we've witnessed it building all season long, Cersei actually realizing just what she created. And it led to a terrific scene between brother and sister, where Tyrion couldn't bring himself to actually hug or comfort his relative, but, hey, he couldn't bring himself to mock her, either.

That's a big step.

We have Jon Snow, who last Game of Thrones review I referred to as boring, and who Ygritte echoed this week by calling "dull," but who also summed up what I meant in far a more precise description: the guy has been blindly following some code, never stopping to realize why he's pledging an oath or what he's actually fighting against.

Are there dangers beyond the Wall? It sure seems that way. But is every Wildling an enemy? Of course not.

You want to be a man with honor, Jon Snow. Stop and think about your actions. One needn't go to such extremes (no sex; heck, no smiles) in order to serve one's kingdom or protect one's people. Granted, Jon Snow couldn't bring himself to kill Ygritte, so he's perhaps started to question the code of the Night's Watch already.

But let's hope it's not too late for the man who has been following what he's believed to be a clear path for so long, and who may now be realizing that he needs to at least open his eyes (but not Ygritte's legs... one step at a time.) to other possibilities.

We have Theon, who wants to be a tough guy. He wants to please his father, to be a stone cold killer, to behead his enemies with a single, thoughtless chop. And he's taking every step possible to be just that person - but the expression on his face that closed this episode made it clear that Theon has no clue who he actually is, and he's hating the person he's become.

It's extremely safe to assume those charred bodies were the orphans at the farm and not Bran and Rickon, but that doesn't exactly make Theon's actions forgivable. This is someone who traded in his honor a long time ago, and there's no way he can get it back now.

We have Dany, whose entire journey has been of someone trying to be a leader. But she questioned this week just what she led her (mostly murdered) people into. What the heck is going on in Quath?

We found out soon enough, of course, learning that Xaro has been teaming with the magical disappearing dude to essentially hold Dany and her dragons prisoner, using them for their coup against The Greatest City That Ever Was. Was this Xaro's plan all along? Or would things have gone a lot smoother, would Dany's guards still be alive, if she had simply agreed to marry him?

The only person who actually knows who he is on Game of Thrones is Jaime Lannister. He's a killer and he knows it. He embraces it.

It's a good thing I am who I am. I'd have been useless at anything else, he tells his relative, the former squire who acts once more like a squire in this case, just a squire against his will. His distant cousin fulfills the role Jaime legitimately believes he was meant to fulfill, getting out of the way just when his Lord needed him to.

And Jaime later incurs Catelyn's wrath, but, really is he wrong? Ned Stark cheated on his wife. Ned Stark left his kids without a father because he simply had to be an honest Hand of the King, revealing to Cersei last season what he knew about Joffrey's bloodline. Was that honorable or stupid? Or irresponsible? Like his bastard son, did Ned really think out of actions? Or blindly follow a moral compass without thinking where it might lead?

Overall, there was little real plot this week, outside of Dany's troubles in Qarth. We focused a great deal on characters talking to other characters - Jon Snow and Ygritte; Sansa and Cersei; Jaime and Catelyn; Arya and Tywin - and trying to figure out just who they actually are and just what they should actually do. What their legacy will be, Tywin might say.

Only three episodes remain this season, and the walls don't feel like they're closing in on King's Landing as they maybe should be. We only had a brief scene with Robb, and nothing with Joffrey or Stannis.

I'm hoping we return to the actual battle next Sunday. There's a game afoot and the main players going after the throne haven't been heard from in awhile.

* Carissa Pavlica has posed her Novel Approach to Game of Thrones. Read it now for a veteran's take on the latest episode.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (122 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Am i the only person who wants this show to get banned? i mean wtf is going on in the world? having such a show to raise more morals to decline; and it would've been a good one without the sex scenes. if i want to watch sex i'd go somewhere else, not watch it on tv. it also spoils the position of women and enhances some social deviations. the story is great, honestly, but they must make it human-mind-improving, other than supporting the actions that slow us down from being different from animals.

Fifty

Loved the character of Jaime Lannister this episode o.O Shocked!!! well I know he is a douche but damn that acting and the wit of the character was the highlight for me in this episode.
Hopefully Robb will march his army soon to get rid off Joeffry. Had enough of waiting around his campsite for this season.
Finally, Jon Snow story became interesting as I hoped. Now we'll see a good story emerging from our bastard Stark.

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Jaime, the man without honor - not as smart as his father, not as wit-gifted as his brother, he became a warrior but learned that sometimes a strike with the sword does not solve problems, instead creates new ones. Entrapped in oaths and actions he surrendered and embraced what he has become. He seems to be one of the few that is at least a little bit happy with his status.

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I really liked this episode. It's all about 'do we really know, who we are - and how did we become what we are - and are we happy with it?' Theon wanted to be honorable - and to be loved. Given away as a hostage he grew up half Greyjoy concerning blood, half Stark concerning the code of honor. It turned out that blood seems to be thicker than honor. But he is not happy with it. Tywin became the strong & principled leader cause his father was 'weak' (in his eyes) - but to his grief his children do not follow the same path. Cersei (the rebuffed Queen of her hero Robert, who overthrew a mad king) in the end realizes that the consequences of her looking-for-love mating with Jaime produced another 'Mad King' ... Jaime, the man without honor - not as smart as his father, not as wit-gifted as his brother, he became a warrior but learned that sometimes a strike with the sword does not solve problems, instead creates new ones. Entrapped in oaths and actions he surrendered and embraced what he has become. He seems to be one of the few that is at least a little bit happy with his status.

Geelightning

I really hate Theon! He's acting like he's also a son of a brother-sister affair, acting all-crazy like Joffrey. I think I'm starting to hate him more than I hate Joffrey. I don't like Ygritte, too! Only 3 episodes remain and then we have to wait for yet another year? This sucks!

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Wow. The end of this episode really had me going. I mean, GoT doesn't pull many punches, and it's not beyond this story to actually do something in such a fashion. Only the execution of the scene (i.e. that they did not explicitly confirm / show to us viewers what happened between the last scene and that reveal) was the only indication that Theon was a bald face liar (not shocking in the least at this point). But damn did it worry the crap out of me that they really went there. After what happened to Ned, can you really blame me? xD It's too bad. I used to like Theon up until the last episode. Now I just downright loathe the motherfrakker. And I know you guys who have already read the books must be having a different experience. I know if I was watching an adaptation of a book I loved and it was becoming errant to the book I would be very upset too. So I sympathize. But as someone who has only seen the show, it's been remarkable so far. Scratch that. It's been ***king SWEET!

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I agreed with many posters that got is confusing and lacks direction till a friend said he wont pass judgement till end of season 2. True. We will have to see if the puzzle comes together in episode 10. The show is still better than anything on tv. As for too much talk this episode, if all people want is bloody fights watch the brainless torture porn of spartacas. I will take the bittersweet sad conversation between arya and tywin to any gladiator duel. Tywin an old man who failed his kids feals he is given a second chance and arya finds a surragate father figure. The show is also not as grey as people think. Robb, jon, dany, and brann even tyrion are good people. While jamie, little finger and cersi are bad with shades of grey. Joffrey & theon are scum. Still considering how horrid sex is in this show I think the knightswatch are wise to ban it.

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Whoa, it seems to be impossible for some people to see the series as a product on it's own right and compare it to the book's plotting at every turn. I have not read the books yet, and part of me happy that I can see this bright eyed. The season is building a momentum towards Stannis invasion of King's Landing as we see the characters deal with the world changed by their actions. The themes are there and everyone is playing their part in the game of thrones; we know that everything is going towards this climax of bloodshed, and everything in between speaks of the inevitability of the upcoming chaos. I don't know how it goes in the books, but the pacing in here is amazing, it's building up magnificently towards a boiling point and its thrilling. And the interactions between characters, the talks between the kings and the peasants alike all over the world, this underlying unifying theme of power and what it takes to amass it and how much you are willing to risk, its grandiose and common at the same time. From the machinations of the throne, to the talks between Arya and Tywin, to the coup in Quarth and how Daenerys finally comes to see what it takes to hold the power. I mean, this is powerful television, a strong narrative with a common theme running across characters we have learned to care and or hate. This season has so much more weight in that concern than season one where it was all about the setting of the board, and at the end I can only be glad that seemingly not reading the books lets one enjoy this so much more as you don't have that point of reference that might be too different from what you are being presented. In other words, this season as been fucking amazing.

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This season has been pretty shoddy. As other people have commented a whole lot of nothing has gone on. Stannis has had maybe 4 or 5 scenes all season, and he has been hyped as the main antagonist to the Lannisters. His on-screen time is only going to get worse. They have really diverted from the book, which I don't mind too much but they haven't done anything to merit the diversion. Cersei has zero redeeming qualities and this supposed softer side of her is not who Cersei is. What they are possibly doing with Jon is complete crap, he was raised by the Starks, men of honor, and he would never doubt the vows he has made or risk his honor. Busting up the next book over seasons 3 and 4 could redeem the show in my mind but idk.

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Sorry, but this entire season has been disastrous. From bad casting (Stannis and the Red Woman) to stilted, self conscious writing. This season is so far off the rails and SO far from the book that it's impossible to imagine the possibility of redemption. Endless scenes of talk talk talk which never happen in the book. What is this nonsense in Qarth? You can't call this Game of Thrones anymore. Adaptation is always necessary when you have 10 hours to make a novel. Last season those adaptations made it better for that sort of limitation. This season the writers are acting as if they have no limitations. Seven hours in and we are about as far as we should be on the THIRD episode.