Let's all give a hand for Game of Thrones's most excellent third episode, "Walk of Punishment." Here are the highlights from an hour that was anything put punishing.
The Robin Hood Award for Best Archery Related One-Upmanship: An attempt to give Catelyn Stark's dead father, Lord Hoster Tully, the Viking-type send-off he deserves goes hilariously awry when the designated bowman -- Edmure Tully, Cate's brother and Robb's uncle -- repeatedly misses his father's funeral pyre as it drifts further and further out to the open water. Finally, with a grunt of disgust, the bow is seized by Brynden Tully -- brother of the deceased -- who checks the wind, nocks an arrow and lands a direct bulls-eye on his moving target. It's a spanking that's only slightly less humiliating than the dressing down Robb later gives his uncle in private for seizing a worthless mill and losing 208 men in the process.
The Martha Stewart Award for Best Chair Related One-Upmanship: Observing how his sister not-so-subtly moves her chair to sit immediately next to their father and Joffrey's new Hand, Tyrion drags his seat around to the opposite head of the table. Sometimes it's the smallest acts of rebellion that speak the loudest.
Most Unwelcome Promotion: As a "reward" for his efforts in the Battle of Blackwater, Tywin names Tyrion the realm's new "Master of Coin," giving him full oversight over the vaults. It may sound like a plum gig, but thanks to all the war and death raging around Westeros, the financial cupboard is currently bare and it'll be up to Tyron to manufacture wealth out of almost thin air in order to pay for things like Joffrey's sure-to-be expensive wedding. You can tell just how little he wants this job when he sputters, "I'm quite good at spending money, but a lifetime of outrageous wealth hasn't taught me much about managing it." A simple "Thank you" would have sufficed... even if it as a lie.
Least Appropriate Song for a Family Road Trip: To pass the time while escorting Jaime and Brienne back to Robb's camp, the duo's captors, led by man-at-arms Locke (essentially replacing Vargo Hoat from the novels), break out in a rousing rendition of the Top 40 Westeros hit, "The Bear and the Maiden Fair," a little ditty about a hungry-eating bear and the unlucky maiden fair who crosses his path. It may sound innocent enough, but lyrics like the following indicate that the song really shouldn't be sung around children. Or anyone, really: "He lifted her high in the air/He sniffed and roared and smelled her there/She kicked and wailed the maid so fair/But he licked the honey from her hair/From there to here, from here to there/All black and brown and covered with hair/He smelled the girl and the summer air/The bear, the bear and the maiden fair."
Least Sentimental Farewell: Realizing that following Arya around the countryside isn't the life he envisioned for himself, Hot Pie hops off the wagon train to pursue the considerably less risky career as a roadside inn's resident baker. His specialty? Wolf-shaped brown bread, of course. We look forward to his inevitable Cooking Channel series, Hot Time with Hot Pie.
Worst Place to be Born With a Penis: Pity poor wildling lass Gilly and her newborn babe; since the little dude came out into the world sporting a shorty, he's instantly marked for death by his own father (and grandfather), Caster. That is, unless a clearly conflicted Samwell can figure out some way to get him to safety. We love Sam and all, but if the kid's life is really in his hands, Gilly has good reason to worry.
Least Romantic Way to Say "Let's Have a Baby": Desperate to keep his flame-haired with Melisandre from embarking on her unspecified mission, Stannis all but begs her to "Make me another son." Not a flesh-and-blood son, mind you -- one of those shadow assassins that she gave birth to last season. Gazing upon her "Son of Fire" with barely-concealed pity, she tells him "You don't have the strength." Well, no... not after that brutal rejection.
The Watto Award for Sleaziest Salesman: As if he wasn't unpleasant enough during his first appearance in the season premiere, Astaporian Unsullied dealer, Kraznys mo Nakloz, continues to demonstrate what a hateful person he is to do business with, talking trash about Daenerys in his own tongue and proposing to use her Dothraki as pig feed, forcing his translator, Missandei, to invent less insulting terms on the fly. We can only imagine how relieved she must be traded to Daenerys as part of her 1-dragon-for-8,000 Unsullied bargain.
Best Return on Investment: When Pod returns from his Tyrion-funded deflowering still carrying the sack of gold intended for the prostitutes, his employer simply assumes that his squire was too inexperienced to know that he was supposed to, you know, pay them. Turns out they wouldn't accept his cash -- not because they're trying to curry favor with the new Master of Coin, but because the virginal Pod was apparently just that good in the sack. "We're going to need details -- copious details," Tyrion says, pouring the boy a glass of wine. He doesn't speak for us, writers; we're perfectly happy not knowing any of the details.
Worst Prison Break: We admit that it's primarily due to the fact that we hate the guy so much, but our hearts sank when Theon was sprung from his cell and allowed to flee to the safety of his sister Yara. Theon being Theon, though, he was captured practically right away by a squad of ass rape-happy soldiers, but managed to escape from that particular frying pan thanks to the timely intervention of a secret ally. That Theon -- he's the luckiest unlucky sot around.
Most Painful Cut to Black: Not since ol' Ned Stark lost his head at the end of Season 1's penultimate installment has an episode of Game of Thrones ended with such a short, sharp shock as when Jaime's sword hand went bye-bye, separated from his body by Locke's sword. On the plus side, the Kingslayer still has his noggin. But it's tough to uphold your Kingslayer rep when the hand that slayed said king can now be used as a doorstop.
Most Memorable Lines:
"Intimate, lovely table. Better chairs than the old small council chamber. Conveniently close to your own quarters. I like it." -- Tyrion, semi-sarcastically complementing his father on his choice of a new conference room.
"All my life, I've been hearing 'Jamie Lannister, what a brilliant swordsman.' You were slower than I expected. And more predictable." -- Brienne, twisting the metaphorical knife in Jamie's side.
"You want a real challenge? Try whores?" "I've tried quite a few." -- Petyr and Tyrion, putting their discussion about the difficulties of being the Master of Coin in a context they can both understand.
"This is why I don't lend you money." -- Tyrion, after trying to explain the basics of banking to a just-not-getting-it Bronn.
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