So, here we are, episode three of the sixth season of Game of Thrones and it was another heady mix of manoeuvring, deaths, WTF moments and a clue towards unlocking the complexity of the whole story.
GoT writers have set a bit of a precedent for unpredictability this season: Jon Snow is not dead. Tyrion has developed a good sideline as a dragon whisperer and Bran Stark (complete with functioning legs) is on a mind-bending journey of the past with Three-Eyed Raven (Max Von Sydow). So, in the words of Cole Porter, “Anything Goes!”
What future wonders can we expect? We can but speculate that Joffrey will bring himself back from the grave. Or maybe Stannis Baratheon wasn’t cleaved in two by Brienne of Tarth. But until the next revelations, here’s what happened last night:
That wily old schemer Varys (Conleth Hill) has been busying himself around Meereen finding out who has been saying what to whom (the whom in question being the Sons of Harpy) and has found that Vala, the eunuch-killing prostitute (of season 5) and all-round Harpy fan girl, is the one doing all the talking.
Never one to spurn an opportunity, Varys makes a trade; information regarding the power behind the Sons of Harpy for a bag of silver, her son’s life and exile – which Vala duly accepts and scarpers.
Now that the major players are known, along with their motives for bringing down Meereen and Queen Daenerys, Varys, Grey Worm, Missandei and Tyrion Lannister (the stand-in ruler of the City State) must, for the sake of their own skins as much for the sake of the city, find a way of bargaining with the rulers of Astapor, Volantis and Yunkai.
Any thoughts the exiled and captive Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) had of subjugating the Dothraki with her defiant speech and fancy titles “I am the Breaker of Chains, the Mother of Dragons blahdy, blahdy blah…” fell on the deaf ears of her hosts as she gets locked away in a temple with the widows of other former Khals. Death or isolation are the only options on the table for her at the moment. However, it’s pretty safe to say she won’t be out of the picture for too long; both she and Jon Snow will be around come the end of the series to put a neat little bow on top of all those loose ends that have been driving people nuts for the past six years.
Meanwhile, Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) hasn’t quite got over walking through the streets of King’s Landing caked in excrement, and with customarily guileful intent she sets about the identification and liquidation of all who saw, laughed, hurled abuse or participated in her humiliation. Watch out High Sparrow, your wings are about to be clipped! That gold-plated, man mountain Ser Gregor will no doubt do the honours following his skull crushing exploits of episode two.
I was late to Game of Thrones: don’t ask me why, but I always saw it as a bit of an anorak-wearing, World of Warcraft-type programme. I’ve got over myself since though, and can appreciate its liberal lending of themes from classic literature and our own bloody medieval history. There is everything in here, from the Nordic sagas to the heroes of Homer, from the Ring Cycle to the Wars of the Roses and the Hundred Years War. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable long-form pot-boiler with, of course, plenty of sex, swordplay and blood by the bucket load.
Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) reanimation has left him all melancholy as he wrestles with the wounds of rejection after his pals, including his personal steward and total twerp, Olly, chose to stick their daggers in his chest. Showing that he is not one to hold a grudge, he hangs them all from a scaffold and hands over command of the Night’s Watch and Castle Black to Edd before walking out of the fortress and out into the snow for a future unknown.
Well there you have it, three down seven to go. Oh, and a girl who is no one (Arya Stark) got her eyes back.
Game of Thrones is broadcast on Mondays at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.