Game of Thrones: "The Old Gods and the New"

Joffrey's not happy to hear he has a challenger for the title of Biggest Prick in Westeros.
Joffrey's not happy to hear he has a challenger for the title of Biggest Prick in Westeros.

Does the theme music to GoT bum anyone else out like it does me? Jesus, talk about doom-filled, with those minor-key violins and the sorrowful build at the end. I wonder if any character will make it past the next few weeks.

Just kidding. HBO announced a third season a short while ago, so you know a few people will still have their heads come 2013. Sadly, Ser Rodrik Cassel won't be one of them. We've reached the halfway point of this season and the pace is only going to pick up from here, as we deal with Theon's seizure of Winterfell, the impending battle between Joffrey's and Stannis's armies, Danaerys's escalating conflict with the Thirteen of Qarth, and the coming clash between the men of the Night's Watch and the wildlings massed north of the Wall.

Everyone's just so anxious, and there was no Ros this week to ease our tensions.

Well, that didn't take long. Theon's (really Dagmer's) feint to seize Torrhen's Square and divert Winterfell's forces paid off as the Iron Islanders come over the wall (the "sea" of Bran's dream, in case you weren't paying attention) and take the Stark holdfast. Bran yields to Theon ("Did you hate us the whole time?"), because what else can he do?

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And I'm sorry, are the Iron Islanders wearing camouflage, or is that just salt stains? I'm having bad '80s movie flashbacks.

The people of Winterfell are less than pleased, but Theon has Maester Luwin send ravens to Pyke and Deepwood Motte to inform daddy and sis of his conquest. One who desires favor is Osha (Natalia Tena), but Theon is busy with Rodrik (Ron Donachie), who pays the iron price for defying him. Funny how Ned Stark could take a head off with one stroke, but Theon takes half a dozen. Wait, that's not funny. It's a sad commentary on Theon's unfitness to lead.

Beyond the Wall, Jon and Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong) discuss their philosophical differences in giving their lives for those south of the Wall. Their squad surprises a wildling outpost, and Jon makes the acquaintance of one Ygritte (Rose Leslie). I like how the showrunners try to make it a question of whether he's going to let her live. Jon balks at taking her head, but still has to chase her down to capture her. And from the looks of things, she's going to be a handful. In more ways than one.

My affection for Arya is hardly a secret, but I'm really enjoying the back-and-forth between her and Lord Tywin (Charles Dance), who seems to be developing an almost fatherly affection for this cupbearer. She's surprised, however, by the appearance of Lord "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen), they discuss Renly's death and the resulting...crisitunity, and Baelish presents both an opportunity regarding Margaery Tyrell as well as Catelyn's proposal to swap Sansa and Arya for Jaime. Did Baelish realize Arya's true identity? It seems likely.

Theon sank my battleship...
Theon sank my battleship...

Back at King's Landing, Myrcella is sent off to Dorne, and Cersei is not in a forgiving mood. The Lannisters have bigger problems, however. Their return to the Red Keep is peppered with pleas for food and cries of "bastard!" Before long, the crowd riots. Joffrey's Kingsguard and the Hound (Rory McCann) manage to get most everyone back to the Red Keep. Sansa (Sophie Turner) has a worse time of it, barely escaping gang rape before the Hound returns to save her (complete with a particularly nasty disemboweling) Shae (Sibel Kekilli) ministers to Sansa, and now appears to be her confidante. How things change.

In Qarth, Dany wants the 13 to give her ships. The Spice King (Nicholas Blane) balks. There's a great deal of back-and-forth culminating in "I'm no ordinary woman." He's still unconvinced. And worse than not getting any ships, Dany returns to find her household guard murdered and her dragons missing. From the looks of things, the warlocks are making their move. And where the hell is/was Jorah?

After Arya and Tywin's nice discussion about Jaime's apparent dyslexia and Tywin's dad (during which she steals a message with the apparent intention of sending it to Robb), she's intercepted by Amory Lorch (Fintan McKeown), previously humiliated by Tywin for his inability to read. He takes the message and goes to inform Tywin, forcing Arya to find Jaqen and use the second of her third owed names. It's actually kind of a funny scene, if you think murder for hire is funny. And really, who doesn't?

Catelyn returns to Robb's camp and meets Talisa from Volantis (Oona Chaplin), and like most disapproving mothers, reminds Robb he's promised to another. To Robb's credit, he doesn't seem to be put off by his mom's new giant blond bodyguard. This Harlequin Romance moment is interrupted by Roose Bolton's (Michael McElhatton) arrival to inform them about the fall of Winterfell. Distraught, Robb gives Bolton leave to send his bastard son from the Dreadfort to lift the siege.

Finally, Osha (Natalia Tena) exploits Theon's well-known weakness for naked women and beds him -- much to the delight of everyone who's been wanting to see Tonks naked -- afterwards spiriting Bran and Rickon (and Hodor, and Summer, and Shaggydog) away from the castle.

Notable by Their Absence This Week: Stannis, Davos, Melisandre, Balon Greyjoy, Yara Greyjoy.

Next week: Theon's looking for the Stark boys, and Dany wants her dragons back.

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