New Show Recap: Game of Thrones, Episode 3.3, “Walk of Punishment”

[Trigger warning for discussion of scenes of sexual violence.]

Riverrun

At Catelyn’s childhood home, we are introduced to her brother Edmure (not great with a bow and arrow, worse at strategy) and her uncle Blackfish (complete badass with a bow and arrow, patronising as hell). Edmure messed up: he was supposed to draw the Lannister forces under the Mountain west, but he attacked instead, he lost men, and his two Lannister hostages are worth nothing against Sansa (and Arya, they think) in King’s Landing.

The Blackfish eyes Edmure
You totally fucked up that plan we didn’t tell you about

You have to feel a bit sorry for Edmure – about his dad’s funeral too. On the plus side, an angry Robb is a sight to behold. In a good way.

We need our men more than Tywin Lannister needs his.

Talisa is bandaging up said hostages elsewhere and enjoying teasing them – why yes, Robb does turn into a wolf at night (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more madam!), while Cat and her uncle have a heart-to-heart. Cat is grieving and guilty; she believes Bran and Rickon are dead and it’s her fault. The Blackfish counsels her: Robb believes they’re alive, so she must, or pretend to, for him.

North of the Wall

The Wildling army reaches the Fist of the First Men, where the Others have artistically decorated the ground with horses’ heads. All the dead bodies that Orell saw with his eagle are gone; no prizes for guessing what they’ll look like when they show up. It’s like Chekhov’s”¦ Zombie. As disgusted as he is, Mance also sees his advantage: the Night’s Watch’s best fighting men were in that force, and most of them are now dead. It’s time for Tormund to climb the Wall, and Jon’s going with him.

Ygritte looks worried, which is not a good sign.

The remains of the Night’s Watch reach Craster’s Keep – and warmth, food, and safety. They don’t so much ask for hospitality as threaten for it, but Craster is a practical man and he knows when he’s outnumbered. That’s why he gives his sons to the Others, because it’s only those “who are right with the gods – the right gods” that will survive the coming winter. And the Others will get another soon, because Gilly’s newborn baby is a boy, just like she predicted. Ruh-roh.

Sam peers through the door to watch Gilly give birth

The North

With the help of Mysterious Sweeper Boy, Theon escapes. But then it’s daylight; he’s lost, and there’s no sign of Yara or her men anywhere. Soon he’s trying to escape the men pursuing him, and he fails. A ball on a chain to the ribs has got to hurt. Their leader is about to rape him when he’s hit with an arrow or five. It’s that guy again! What is his deal? (Book readers: did you snigger at the clue?)

The Boy reaches for Theon's hand
Hello good citizen, I am the ba- Batman. Yes. Batman.

Dragonstone

Melisandre is leaving the sinking ship of Stannis’ court. His enemies are laughing at him, like Renly did, and he wants them dead, also like Renly. He wants another “son.” But he is not strong enough to make it the way he did before; only his blood could be used instead. Stannis recoils. Somehow I don’t thinks Melisandre means a drop or two from the fingertip.

Astapor

Barristan seems to have been wholeheartedly accepted into Dany’s retinue – by Dany, anyway. Barristan wants her to leave Astapor and hire sellswords elsewhere; Jorah thinks she should buy Unsullied, and knowing her well, he knows just which buttons to press:

There’s a beast in every man, and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand… The Unsullied are not men. They don’t rape.

But Dany’s eventual decision horrifies them both: she’ll take every Unsullied in the city, plus all the boys in training – in exchange for one of her dragons.

Dany and Missandei walk through Astapor
Ladies are like, totally immortal.

She also demands Missandei, the slaver’s translator, as a gift, not only for her usefulness, but because she sees potential in her. When Dany tells her they will be going to war, and perhaps death by injury or starvation, Missandei is composed:

Missandei: Valar morghulis.

Dany: All men must die. But we are not men. 

(Does anyone else think the harpy looks like a Sheela-na-Gig? Just me?)

King’s Landing

Like the scenes in the North, I enjoy the value of a scene which says so much without needing anyone to say a word. At the first new Small Council meeting, Littlefinger, Varys, and Pycelle jockey for chairs close to Tywin. Cersei simply raises an eyebrow and carries her chair to her father’s right-hand side. Tyrion, however, drags his to the other end of the table. He’ll compete in his own way, and he won’t be put aside.

But he’s dismayed to learn that while Littlefinger will be off in the Vale wooing Lysa Arryn, Tyrion will be filling in for him as Master of Coin, and the ledgers are not in good shape:

Bronn: He’s stealing it?

Tyrion: Worse. He’s borrowing it. 

And while Tywin Lannister might be willing to let his loans slide, for the moment – being as the crown and the Lannisters are indistinguishable at this point – the Iron Bank of Braavos will not be so sympathetic. If they don’t get their money, they’ll start funding the rebels.

The Lannisters are adept at spending and lending money; not so much the making and saving of it. Are we all looking forward to seeing Lysa and her lovely son again? And will she be receptive to Littlefinger’s suit? They have a shared childhood, but all her family are on Robb’s side. Will she really side with the crown against them?

Incidentally, what did we all think of Pod’s “reward”? It was a funny scene that I enjoyed while it was happening, not to mention the scene afterwards, when Pod returns Tyrion’s money and Tyrion and Bronn demand “details” in a Sex-And-The-City-esque way.

Tyrion and Bronn gather around Pod
Spill, boy!

But for a scene that just added some humour, it went onnn. What did it really add to the story, apart from the boob count? Plus, the last time Bronn and Tyrion hired sex workers for a teenage boy, that did not go well.

The Riverlands

Arya is feeling increasingly abandoned: even though she’s treated better than the Brotherhood’s other prisoner, the Hound, she’s still a prisoner, but Gendry is helping the Brotherhood with his smithing skills, and Hot Pie has decided to stay at the inn and be a cook. I’ve never really seen the point of Hot Pie in the series, but I have to give him kudos for a direct goodbye:

Don’t get stabbed.

Elsewhere, Jaime and Brienne are also prisoners, and in worse shape than either Arya or the Hound. They bicker over their interrupted fight:

Maybe you were as good as people said… once. 

but they both know that Brienne is facing a brutal night. Jaime advises her not to resist: they’ll kill her if she does, as they have no reason to keep her alive. Brienne is scornful; is that what Jaime would do, if he were a woman? Still, when his prediction starts coming true that night, Jaime does his best, and succeeds in stopping the assault by lying about the wealth of Brienne’s family and the kind of ransom they’ll get if she is “alive and unbesmirched.”

But violent men are violent, and Jaime goes too far with his captors:

You think you’re the smartest man there is… You’re nothing without your daddy.

And then:

Locke cuts off Jaime's hand
Urgh

If you hadn’t read the books, did you see that coming? Jaime Lannister, member of the Kingsguard, famous swordsman, has just lost a hand. I think it’s safe to say he would have preferred to lose the eye.

The connection between sexual violence and power is a recurring theme in the series and it’s strong here: Theon was almost raped by his captors, as a punishment for escaping; Brienne, similarly, was sexually assaulted, and when her captors were thwarted in their rape attempts they maimed Jaime instead, as another, brutal, permanent expression of their power.

 

WARNING: if you want to talk about the books from A Storm of Swords on, please preface your comment with a ***spoiler***. The first two books and first two seasons of the show are not considered spoilers.

Screencaps c/o screencapped.net. All images are the property of HBO.

12 thoughts on “New Show Recap: Game of Thrones, Episode 3.3, “Walk of Punishment””

  1. I heard a theory about the Pod scene somewhere else (Pajiba comments, maybe?) that I really liked: Tyrion DID pay the prostitutes in advance, and staged the return of the money as a confidence booster/extra reward for Pod. I don’t think that scenario is clearly implied in this episode, though maybe it will come out later, but I liked it and I want it to be true (and nothing really contradicts it anyways). It shows that Tyrion’s cleverness extends to doing nice things for people too, but of course for Tyrion even the nicest things he could think of would include prostitutes.

    And briefly on another note, although this episode was incredibly hard for me to watch, I do like that the show is pretty explicit about the fact that rape is about power, not sex (especially in this episode.)

    1. Hmm, interesting. Definitely a stretch from what we saw onscreen, though. The other possibility is that Pod didn’t actually have sex with them and so kept the money (not totally out of the realm of possibility; we know Jon Snow didn’t have sex with Ros when he had the opportunity).

      Yes, I agree!

    2. There was also a theory that Tyrion did it as another way to see how much he could trust Pod. he paid them in advance, they wouldn’t take Pod’s money as ego-boost, and then if he hadn’t given Tyrion the money back, he would have known he couldn’t trust him as much as he thought he could. Since Tyrion is quite the crafty man, this doesn’t seem out of character for him. He is very adept at getting the most possible out of every situation. Not sure how or why it was necessary to the story, at the end of the day, but maybe it will be?

      I agree, too!

      1. Hmm…I like that too. I like it better than a totally random scene, anyhow. And it is VERY in character for Tyrion. And if that is the case (which obviously is only a theory at this point,) I think it’s worth putting in just to show more about Tyrion and Pod, plus as a comedic storyline in a mostly brutal episode. Both, I think, valid reasons to include it as a storyline (much more valid if it combines character development with comedy though, rather than being JUST comic relief.)

  2. ****Sort of spoiler for the books?*** I haven’t read Book 5 yet (where the Theon stuff is coming from, for those who don’t know), and I went WTFBBQohmygod when the leader was about to rape him. So far, the series had only shown sexualized violence and rape against women. Rape suddenly being a threat against a dude – a dude who has threatened rape himself (if not perpetrated) – was very startling to me, because I just wasn’t expecting that side of sexual violence to show here. …And nor was Theon.

    I’ve heard some people criticize the show and the books for sexualizing rape. For some reason, I never got that feeling from it. But I had agreed with the criticism that there is a TON of rape in these books, and it was all directed at women. One example of it being directed against the man is still just a drop in the bucket in comparison, but at least it’s an example bucking that trend.

    Now, the scene with Pod…it’s funny that out of everything sexual they’ve done, this was the first one where I felt like the sex served no purpose at all. Even the infamous sexposition scene with Ros fingerbanging another prostitute while Littlefinger expounds on his relationships, I still pulled some meaning from it, because the fact that Littlefinger was okay with just lounging there talking about shit said something about him. And it says something about his attitude toward these prostitutes. They seem to just be chattel to him, useful only if they make him money and nothing more. And that says something about how he treats PEOPLE in general. Did they have to show it that way? No. But, at least it had that purpose.

    This scene with Pod, though…what purpose did this have at all? And it just went on so very freaking long.

    1. ***ADWD spoiler***

      A lot of what happens to Theon in the books isn’t outright stated, but certainly I got the impression that what happened to him involved sexual violence. He seems to empathise thoroughly with Jeyne Poole, also.

      ***end spoiler***

      There have been threats of sexual violence against men in the series, though. What about the Hound’s threat during the battle last year – “if any man retreats… I’ll rape his fucking corpse” ? ETA: also Varys’ hints about his history suggests sexual violence against him, too.

      Yeah, the more I think about the scene with Pod, I don’t get it. I would have much preferred to spend that time with Mance, Jon, and Ygritte.

      1. ETA: another example would be Tywin forcing Tyrion to rape Tysha (man, that’s a lot of Ty’s).

        ETA to the ETA: this is a book incident – when Tyrion tells this story in Season 1, he omits the part about the gang rape of Tysha. I’m not sure whether the writers have erased this from the series-canon or if it will come up again with Tyrion later.

        1. Yes, that’s true. Also with sexual violence being an expression of power, there would be more use of sexual violence by men against women than other types in this world, because women are very much the lesser gender here.

          1. This is true. I also believe that the criticisms about that I heard were from people who had only read the first couple books (especially people who couldn’t get into the series because there is just SO much rape in it). So, take it as you will. I’ve been thinking about these things as I watch, partly because I adore the series and I love its female characters…so I’m trying to understand why some female fantasy buffs don’t want to read it.

            1. I think it’s fair enough if someone doesn’t want to read about a word where rape features relatively frequently: it’s a difficult topic and god knows there’s far too much of it in the real world (yet somehow I don’t see nearly as much criticism – even compared to its popularity – of a series like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, which also features sexual violence against both male and female characters).

              But I’m going to hand over to Alyssa Rosenberg from ThinkProgress here:

              “A world where women are perfectly safe, perfectly competent, and society is perfectly engineered to produce those conditions strikes me as one where we can’t tell any very interesting stories about women’s struggles and women’s liberation.”

              http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2011/08/29/305723/feminist-media-criticism-george-r-r-martins-a-song-of-ice-and-fire-and-that-sady-doyle-piece/

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