There's so much exposition, it can't be contained to a single episode. "Dark Wings, Dark Words" continues Game of Thrones's epic Season 3 set-up. Here are the highlights of what you missed.
Best Argument for Recasting: Listen, we love all the little Stark younglings -- yes, even Rickon -- and would hate to see any of them (particularly Maisie Williams) replaced by other performers. But boy, are those kids growing up fast... perhaps too fast for the story's timespan so far. Did you see Isaac Hempstead-Wright's Bran last night? Kid looks like he's grown, like, five inches between seasons. (Good thing he's going to spend most of his time outside of dream states lying down.) Meanwhile, Art Parkinson's Rickon baby fat is almost completely gone and even Arya is starting to look older than her supposed years. Granted, Game of Thrones has always been cagey as to how many days/months/years have actually elapsed over the course of the series, but it does feel like the writers are going to have to build a massive time jump into the narrative at some point or invent some explanation about how kids in Westeros age faster because of... we don't know, dragons or winter or something.
Phrase We're Happiest To Hear Again: "Hodor."
Worst Alarm Clock: Hard to think of a less pleasant way to wake up than being doused with a bucket of water and finding yourself strapped to two planks of wood as some guy prepares to plunge his knife into the meat under your fingernails. Then again, since all this is happening to Theon -- a villain so inept, he can't even betray anyone successfully -- it's hard to argue that he doesn't deserve it.
Best Remake of Midnight Run: We'd happily watch a whole movie of towering Brienne (in the Robert De Niro role) escorting wanted man Jamie Lannister (a handsomer Charles Grodin) across the Westeros landscape back to King's Landing. Bonus points if they randomly cross paths with Dennis Farina and/or Joey Pants.
Most Bates Motel Ready Mother/Son Scene: After rattling off the strategic benefits of his union to Margaery Tyrell, Cersei asks a briefly shirtless Joffrey (there's an image we hope we'll never have to see again) how he feels about his fiancée as a woman. You know, like her lady parts and philanthropic urges and stuff. (But mainly her lady parts.) "This is becoming one of the most boring conversations I've ever had," Joffrey replies, trying to escape this supremely uncomfortable line of maternal inquiry. For a moment, we almost felt sorry for him. But only for a moment and only almost.
Most Familiar New Face: Not content to let Downton Abbey corner the market on crotchety old ladies saying wildly inappropriate things, Game of Thrones welcomes British acting royalty Dame Diana Rigg to the cast as Oleanna Tyrell, grandmother of Margaery. Fondly remembered for her leather catsuit on the '60s Avengers series (not to be confused with Iron Man & Co.) and being the only Bond Girl cool enough to marry 007, Rigg gives Dame Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess a run for her money in the smackdown game from her very first scene. Can't wait for fan-fic writers to get their hands on these two.
Oleanna's Best Smackdown: "Loras is young and very good at knocking men off horses with his stick. That does not make him wise." Over/under on the chances she intended "knocking men off horses with his stick" to be a euphemism for something?
Most Guilt-Ridden Mother: Catelyn Stark has been carrying some heavy shit inside of her for much of the show and seized the opportunity to unload some of it on daughter-in-law Talisa, recounting a story from Jon's childhood about how she initially prayed for the bastard's death, but then stayed up with him all through the night when he came down with a case of the pox, praying for him to live and even going so far as to promise that she'll allow Ned to give him the Stark name. Jon survived, but Catelyn couldn't fulfill her end of the bargain, a failing she now believes lies at the root of her family's recent misfortune. Talisa doesn't quite know how to respond to any of that, but who can blame her? Best thing to do in that situation is smile sympathetically and then back slowly away.
Second Most Familiar New Face: The U.K. Office's resident creep Mackenzie Crook makes his way north of Slough to the frozen tundra beyond the Wall to play wildling warg Orell, who has the power to cast his mind into the body of an animal, specifically an eagle, which can scout out their surroundings from the air. That's a great trick for spotting when ex-boss Ricky Gervais is coming your way pitching another Office reunion and taking the appropriate evasive maneuvers.
Most Appropriate Bit of Second Guessing: Gendry, asking Arya why she didn't tell her indebted assassin Jaqen H'ghar to kill somebody useful -- you know, like Joffrey or Tywin. "You could've ended the war!" he exclaims. Her best defense? "Shut up!" Yeah... not a great counter-argument there, Arya.
Most Obvious Case of SPS (Small Penis Syndrome): Joffrey, fingering his new enormous new crossbow in front of Margaery, before inviting her to take control of it. Somebody is clearly trying to compensate for something.
Wordiest Swordsmith: Jamie Lannister, who might have actually had a shot at taking down Brienne, even with his hands bound, had he stopped talking so damn much. Fighting and talking at the same time is a skill only the Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya can pull off.
Most Memorable Lines:
"My mother always told me you Westerosi were a grim lot." -- Talisa stating the obvious to new hubby, Robb.
"He wasn't fit to rule over anything more important than a 12 course meal." -- Jamie, neatly summarizing the legacy of dearly departed patsy, Renly.
"Give it to Margaery for her wedding gown. Should be more than enough fabric." -- Cersei, taking yet another shot at her daughter-in-law to-be's (lack of) wardrobe.
"Yes, she is. Objectively, very. Her face is quite pleasing to other men and to women, people, in general. But not to me of course." -- Tyrion, trying to dig himself out of the hole he opened up with Shae by describing Sansa as "beautiful."
"One evening, after he'd had far too much wine to drink he suggested something... something that sounded very painful and couldn't possibly result in children." -- Margaery, becoming the latest person to throw poor dead Renly under the bus.
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