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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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Not much action in this episode, but there is an understated brilliance. As the title, honor, is a big concept in this episode. You have Theon and Cersei questioning their pasts, present and future. But there are also 2 direct contrasts that we are left to ponder. Robb Stark provides for all of his guests. Friend or foe, you'll get shelter, hot supper and medical supplies, despite dwindling stocks. The consummate host, full of honor and integrity. The Qarth guy took Daenarys as his guest and commented that his reputation was at stake and that he needed to help her find her dragons. Well, loe and behold, he was the one to betray her. And in yet another contrast, the Qarth guy took a short cut and managed to make himself the King of Qarth in one big stroke. The ends justify the means. Robb has taken the high road each time, but is nowhere near accomplishing his goal and may even fail in realizing it. There is a reason why we see Jaime again in this episode. He is a direct contrast with Jon Snow. Jaime's honor is being questioned by Lady Stark for not fulfilling his duty as Knight of the Kingsguard. He killed Aerys Targaryan despite his oath to protect the king. Jaime thought Aerys was a tyrant and deserved to be killed. Jaime questioned his duty and ultimately did what he thought was the right thing to do. In contrast, Jon Snow has followed his duty as one of the Crows. But Ygritte asks him what is more honorable. Blindly following a set of rules that may or may not still be relevant or to stop and think about what the right thing to do is, and then doing it. Pretty deep for a 1 hr episode.

Uncle jackass

@vitalaeon, It's HBO, there are no others that would take the series otherwise. A movie would be way too short. 7 episodes in and it's already way too short as well. This is as good as it gets...

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It was good to see the Kingslayer again; haven't seen him in awhile (first episode of the season I believe). Kind of a middle of the road episode as far as plot goes, but they needed to put a few things in place before 200 warships ride up to King's Landing into Blackwater Bay (Giggidy!). I've come to like Lena Headey's Cersei this season than I did last season. In the books, the queen was incredibly blind to Joffrey's behavior, whereas the show at least shows her reacting to him like a rational human being. Can't believe there's only 3 episodes left. (BTW: HBO messed up a bit, the end of the episode said there were only 2 new episodes left, but I confirmed on their schedule, there are 3. Whoops.).

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Only three episodes left?? Didn't the season just start? What the hell