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Game of Thrones episode 3 thoughts: Diplomacy with swords and birds

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This article assumes the reader has seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

I can’t be the only person who thinks that Arya is going through a fantasy version of the training sequences from the original Karate Kid, right? You sweep enough floors, you learn how to kill people? The show’s best character is still stuck in the show’s slowest-moving plot.

But let’s move on, right past one of the most awkward post-coital scenes ever. Tommen deals with sex the way any teenager in his situation would; he does it poorly and then asks for more. Poor Margaery.

cersei 2

All that being said, there’s an interesting scene between Jon Snow and Stannis that shows just how good both men are at being leaders, even if they take different approaches.

When Stannis loses his temper for a moment when Jon asks how long they’ll be staying, Jon keeps his ground, explains the very reasonable position he’s being put in, and Stannis takes a beat to understand the situation, speak informally to Jon, and reassures him that they’re leaving soon. They don't bullshit each other, nor do they find much to argue about even when they disagree. It's a refreshing change of pace in a show with so many verbal barbs.

Still, Stannis gives Jon a bit of advice. "Have you considered sending Alliser Thorn elsewhere? Give him command of Eastwich by the sea," he suggests.

What about keeping your enemies close, Jon wonders? "Whoever said that didn’t have many enemies," Stannis replies. It's a sensible answer.

Jon ignores the advice, and names Thorne first ranger, before giving Janos Slynt an even worse assignment. Slynt doesn’t just refuse the command, he does so in the most public and demeaning way possible. The reaction is a swift and clean execution.

If we had any doubts of Jon’s ability to rule, and rule effectively, they’re laid to waste here. He shows that he’s fair to those who have opposed them in the past and even offers them honor. Those who stand against his command? They die. They get some last words, sure, but they lose their head. By Jon’s own hand. And it happens immediately.

Think of the people Snow has, or hasn't, killed in season 5 so far. Where others stumble in this area, he has a much firmer hand. It pays off.

While Ramsay’s attempts to maintain order by flaying and displaying corpses is certainly effective in the short term, Snow’s use of violence and force likely did more to earn the men’s trust and respect than anything else. He doesn’t shrink from the decision, although he does take a minute to finish his drink, and he delivers the killing blow with one sure stroke.

Stannis was of course watching, and of course approves. They’re now learning from each other.

This and that

  • Poor Tommen, it was over pretty fast, huh?
  • I get that Maergary is having fun putting Cersei in her place, but I can’t help but think this is going to backfire. There’s asserting your new authority, and then there’s rubbing someone’s face in it.
  • It was also amusing to watch Cersei try to plant the "Margaery is actually dumb" seed in Tommen’s head.
  • Sansa gets to pretend to not hate the Boltons, and Ramsay does a passable job of pretending to be a human being and not a monster. Good job to both of them.
  • Everyone’s trying to get a Stark back into Winterfell, even if they don't seem that enthusiastic at the idea
  • Needle is now Chekhov’s gun, right?
  • Cersei is always looking for power, and if she can’t have it through her son, maybe she can get it through the High Sparrow. This new friendship isn't likely to end well.
  • Tyrion is getting what he wants, but not quite in the way he expected it. Also, that scene with the sex worker was probably the most heartbreaking thing this show has ever done in a brothel, and this show spends a lot of time in brothels.