TV Recap: Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 5

Ben Adams, Peter Fenzel, Shana Mlawski, and Matthew Wrather recap Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 5, “Kissed by Fire.”

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10 Comments on “TV Recap: Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 5”

  1. Tulse #

    To “well, actually” the video description, the title of this episode is “Kissed by Fire”.

     
  2. patience is a virtue #

    Love these reviews – thank you for em. Great weaving between thematic and scene-by-scene analysis packaged in funny.

    Hadn’t considered the fire-water-life-death-blood-semen-preserved fetus theme in this episode. And I enjoyed the moment when you attempted to connect this with the stronger betrayal-oath taking/breaking-trust-commitment-did i say betrayal? theme.

    While I agree that Jamie and Brienne in the tub anchored the episode (exploring the depths of oaths, commitment and trust – and the difficult question of when to break one’s promise – fairly powerfully and bluntly) the final scene took the cake for me.

    Talk about hitting the theme out of the park – Tywin, dripping in (self?-)loathing, recogonizing the Tyrells’ impending betrayal, betrays them first, by betraying all of his children, for the second time. One brutal parent betrays his children (cardinal sin? shame on you too Stanis), thus developing Ned Stark’s betrayal of his wife and daughters, by taking his stupid noble self and the girls to King’s Landing.

    Ummmmm, yes, my question: This episode was so strongly thematically organized it was almost overwhelming. Leaves me wondering how the books are structured. [I am trying my darndest to avoid betraying my own children by getting sucked into reading/addicted to that stack of rat killers, as it would require almost as much mental energy and time as raising my second baby son from birth to a year of age]

    I am assuming the TV writers are reorganizing to highlight themes on an episode-by-episode basis, or do the books present a chronologically thematic structure?

     
    • fenzel #

      You’ve probably heard us mention this before, but the Song of Ice and Fire books (the name of the Game of Thrones book series) are organized by “Point-of-view character.” Each chapter has the name of a major character at the top of its first page, and then the following pages are in the third person, but very much from that character’s perspective, including narration of that character’s thoughts.

      For example, at this point in the story, almost everybody assumes Arya is dead. So, if you’re reading a Sansa chapter, and Sansa thinks about Arya, there won’t be any indication of Hot Pie or Gendry or any of the other things that have happened to her — and she might even mourn her loss.

      This means the parallels in the books are a _little_ more spaced out. The adaptation is faithful, but it’s also selective — the show-runners are constructing episodes that have their own standalone themes — like this episode’s theme of “watching people burn” and last episode’s theme of “the destruction of lives and ways of living.” These themes don’t stand out as clearly in the subsectons of the books as they do in the episodes of the show.

      The other major thing to consider when comparing the books to the show is that the show is changing the pace of the different plotlines to help them line up within episodes. At this point Theon is in like book 4 or 5, Daenerys is about 300 pages ahead of everyone other than theon, Bran Stark’s story is catching up with events and character introductions that happened in Book 2, and everyone else is around the first third of Book 3.

      Certain events in the books are presented in chapters next to each other to draw obvious parallels — but about half the time in the show they are putting scenes next to each other that are not next to each other in the books. And they show us a fair number of scenes in the show that we don’t see directly in the books but are communicated to us through somebody’s recollection (Tywin Lannister probably gets the most additional screen time from this).

      Oh, and also notable — at this point in the books, we never see Robb Stark except through the eyes of his mother. So his sections of the story are extremely different, tonally, thematically, and just in what happens. His relationship with his wife happens entirely “offscreen” in the books as well, and she’s a totally different person.

      The other major differences are character consolidations — where the show has one character do stuff that in the books was done by two or three characters. This draws clearer connections between events that are not as closely in parallel in the books.

      For example, Brynden “Blackfish” Tully is the one who shoots the flaming arrow at Hoster Tully’s funeral when Edmure can’t do it — in the show, he is also the guy who punches Rickard Karstark in the face for talking sass to Robb Stark. So we establish him really clearly as this no-nonsense guy who won’t suffer anybody shirking their duty.

      In the books, this is more of a general characteristic of Robb’s posse — the guy who punches Karstark is Greatjon Umber — the guy from Season 1 who first calls Robb “The King in the North!” He’s not around this season — the actor’s contract wasn’t renewed, either because the show-runners thought they already had enough characters and needed to pare down if they added more (they can always bring him back later, like they did with Barristan Selmy, who skipped season 2) — or because in real life the actor got in a fight at a hotel and got part of his ear bitten off (this, by the way, would be totally in character, so it’s probably not the reason).

       
      • patience is a virtue #

        hey, i appreciate the time taken to reply. sounds like the screen writers are doing good work then – lots of creative adaptation to carve out the episodes, yet fairly true to the story in the long-run.

        looking forward to this week’s video-review :)

         
  3. Grim_ungainly #

    (alright guys, this gets a little spoiler-y. but only a little.)

    So the scene with Daenerys, which was otherwise pretty unremarkable, was notable at least for completely whitewashing all of the ethical problems with the Unsullied. Don’t worry about the fact that the unsullied have likely been abused and brainwashed so much that they couldn’t possibly understand the concept of freedom and free-will, they totally do! But they’ll act as if they don’t and still obey Dany’s every order because they appreciate her SOOOO MUCH!

    I think it’s important to realize that Daenerys needs a perfectly obedient army that will never pillage and rape and do all the other things that armies do. i.e. She needs perfectly obedient slaves. However, having actual slaves would mess with the whole fascist aesthetic, (http://www.overthinkingit.com/2011/06/30/game-of-thrones-fascism) and so they have to make it clear that these Unsullied, who would be super messed up in any reasonable universe, are in fact totally psyched to essentially still be slaves. They’ve got that whole glorious submission thing going on.

     
    • Ben Adams #

      Maybe this is just the imperialist in me coming out, but I’m not ready to condemn Danaerys for what she’s doing with the Unsullied, or be so quick to paint the Unsullied’s situation as being functionally identical to slavery.

      Keep in mind – MOST of the people in the GoT universe are serving in an army (or supporting one) in one form or another. There legal obligation to there King is arguably no less than the Unsullied’s to Dany.

      The only thing the Unsullied have ever known is warfare – no matter what happens, they’re only hope of surviving is by joining SOMEONE’s army. The only PEOPLE they’ve ever known are slavers (that are now all dead) and there fellow Unsullied. – so they might as well stick to their fellows. And who ELSE are they going to follow? Dany is going to treat them better than just about anyone else they’re likely to encounter.

      So yes, the Unsullied are brainwashed, and so it’s possible that they are UNABLE to truly consent to join Dany’s army. But even if they COULD make an informed decision, they’d probably still fight for her. She’s done far more to earn their loyalty than most of the Lords and Kings of Westoros do to earn the loyalty of THEIR bannerman.

       
    • Tulse #

      I don’t see how Dany’s actions are ethically problematic — she has substantially changed the Unsullied’s status, from slave to free. Psychologically, they may not have full freedom to act on that status change, but that is not Dany’s fault. I think they are inarguably better off as free (whatever that may mean to them) members of her army than as slaves who can be killed (or have their nipple cut off) at the whim of their owner. In a sense, while the individual’s themselves may not be able to make free choices, their status as free means that the rest of the world must treat them better, which is surely a good thing for them.

      If there’s an ethical issue here, I think it is Martin’s as the writer, as the issues you raise about the narrative need for a non-rapey army that is completely obedient lie at his feet. Dany is making an ethical choice in a messed-up situation, whereas Martin is the one who created that situation specifically so his character could benefit.

       
      • Grim_ungainly #

        I mostly agree with you, Tulse, that the ethical issues are on GRRM’s part. What seemed remarkable to me, was that the dialogue was so clearly designed to clear up any possible hint of culpability or exploitation on Dany’s part. Generally, Martin tends to emphasize the ethical quagmires that his characters are wading through, and it’s rare that we see all of the possible pitfalls whitewashed before our eyes.

        Ben Adams, I like that you brought up the comparisons between the state of the Unsullied, and that of any banner-man or soldier in Westeros. This is particularly interesting due to the thematic importance of oaths and duty in this episode.