The second season of “Game of Thrones” marched on in episode two, an installment that featured another hopeful king making a bid for the iron throne and, happily, no baby murders.
Oh, wait ... not so fast.
Aside from unleashing more terrible things upon infants, this week’s “Thrones” also revealed how women with varying levels of power maintained their pseudo-leadership positions. Tactics included sticks and sex.
The episode opened with Arya Stark, who was posing as a boy to run off with the night’s watch and make it back to Winterfell safely.
“The boy has more courage than sense,” a prisoner remarked after Arya hit a mean dude with a stick after he demanded beer. (He in turn threatened to violate her with said stick. Clearly, he was in a cage for a reason.)
Gendry — who has big problems of his own because of the whole illegitimate-son-of-a-king thing — seems to have taken a shine to Arya. He knows she’s a lady, but he learned this week that she’s a capital “L” Lady, which is why he very sweetly apologized for urinating in front of her. There’s a very nice brother-sister dynamic building between these two, one in which Arya can be tough but with the knowledge that she has some protection.
Atop the “Game of Thrones” powerful women spectrum was Melisandre, shiller of the Lord of Light Plan to Becoming King (buy it now for $19.99) and a woman who used the power of sex — or more aptly, the promise of a son — to convince Stannis Baratheon to do the deed and cheat on his ailing wife.
As the pirate remarked to Davos’s son, “The one true god is in between a woman’s legs.”
Beside her on the power scale was new character Yara Greyjoy, sister of Theon. Man, it was hard not to feel bad for Theon as his father belittled him to a degree I did not know was possible. It’s not like Theon’s totally likable, what with him telling the poor girl he slept with on the ship to smile with her mouth closed. Oh, and telling his sister that he was going to sleep with her and then placing his hand in her pants before realizing who she was. Of course, Yara had the last laugh.
It seemed Theon’s plans to rule over Lord Greyjoy’s army had been thwarted by Yara, who is a proven leader, according to their father. “You’re the one in skirts,” Yara told her horribly emasculated brother. So on she will go to lead the fight against not the Lannisters, but the Starks.
We also saw what it was like to be a woman with no power, as was the case with one of Lord “Littlefinger” Baelish’s prostitutes. After she cried while performing a service on a rich client because, you know, her co-worker’s baby was murdered in front of her, Littlefinger gently threatened her to make her stop.
“I hate bad investments,” Littlefinger explained, which promptly put an end to the woman’s crying. Let’s hope a revenge plot is in the future.
Meanwhile, Cersei was caught somewhere in the middle. Yes, she has power as Queen Regent, but she’s slowly losing her grip. Her son King Joffrey — a.k.a. world’s most terrible human — threatened to kill her last week, and she’s unable to put him on time-out at this point.
After Tyrion showed his disgust over Joffrey’s decision to have Robert’s illegitimate children murdered, he told his sister that the peasants she’s shown so much distaste for will have a rallying cry when they revolt: “The queen slaughters babies.”
This set off an already unraveling Cersei: “This is what ruling is: lying on a bed of weeds, ripping them out by the root one by one before they strangle you.” Cersei also noted to her formerly slacker brother, “It’s all fallen on me.” You almost feel bad for her — until you remember that she’s awful.
— Man, it has been a tough season for babies. After Jon Snow so ominously wondered what happened to Craster’s sons, we found out that it’s nothing pretty. What did that horrifying shadow creature do with the baby boy? And please say Jon’s head is going to be all right!
— More Daenerys please! I mean, can we get please get Khalessi out of the desert?
Best quotes of this episode:
— Sam (a.k.a. the fat dude from the night’s watch) to Jon, on the matter of “stealing” one of Caster’s daughters: “I can’t steal her. She’s a person, not a goat.”
— Littlefinger to one of his sex workers: “Sometimes those with the most power have the least grace.”
— Tyrion to Cersei: “I hadn’t realized keeping the peace depended on killing babies.”