This review may contain spoilers.
With all the bad luck that seems to follow characters in “Game of Thrones,” at least Daenerys Targaryen appears immune for the time being.
Camped outside the slave city of Yunkai, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) wants to free the city’s slaves and purge its government. She arranges a meeting with the city’s mercenary army known as the Second Sons, who join her to discuss switching sides. But the negotiation quickly stalls.
Although the dragons were not present in this scene, the mercenaries actually have the stones to reject her offer as their leader fires off more insults than the now extra-crispy slave master from Astapor. If it wasn’t for the presence of their lieutenant, Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein), the Second Sons would hardly be worth the effort, especially with such boneheaded leadership.
Daario sees the truth and beauty of Daenerys, however, and he assumes command of the Second Sons after killing his commanders in a gesture of good faith. Now she has an additional 2,000 troops to add to her current army of 8,000 Unsullied and three dragons. Look out Westeros!
Meanwhile, back in Westeros, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) reluctantly marries Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). But conflict surrounds the event as Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) openly expresses her disdain for House Tyrell and Tyrion lashes out at the cruel antics of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson).
Across the bay at Dragonstone, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) returns with Gendry Waters (Joe Dempsie). She reveals the power inherent in Gendry’s blood –- he has the blood of a king -- to Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and a recently pardoned Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham). In the fire of her magic, they undoubtedly find hard truths.
And finally, north of The Wall, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray) are attacked by a White Walker –- and Sam kills it! Weapons like Sam’s Dragonglass dagger are soon going to be in high demand in the Night's Watch.
POINTS OF INTEREST
1. After being part of Arya Stark’s (Maisie Williams) nightly “death prayer” for so long, Sandor "The Hound" Clegane (Rory McCann) offers up another surprise with his intention of taking her back to Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) and Robb (Richard Madden), who are now at The Twins for Edmure Tully’s (Tobias Menzies) wedding. Could Arya actually forgive Sandor for his killing of her friend in Season 1? It seems unlikely, but The Hound is hard not to like. Not to mention he makes a great bodyguard.
2. Cersei has finally had her fill of the Tyrells. Her threat to Margaery (Natalie Dormer) seems to be another misstep, however. The Tyrells have their cards in order and are proving to be impressively adept at intrigue. But Cersei’s antagonistic words come at a time when King’s Landing needs stability, not another clash between houses.
After being repeatedly insulted by the Second Sons’ commander, Daenerys deserves applause for maintaining her composure. She continues to prove herself as the strongest candidate for the Iron Throne, regardless of her Targaryen heritage.
Tyrion's drunken outburst at Joffrey was a moment to relish. Dinklage is fantastic throughout the wedding reception scene, and he delivers some golden laughs, especially when confronted by his disapproving father. It's moments like this that the series can't be beat.
And it’s always good to see Joffrey get a verbal smack down; although, Tyrion was unfortunately forced to back down to keep his head and maintain Joffrey’s competence in the eyes of the guests looking on. Gleeson continues to excel with his performance as the bratty king, and he makes you believe in the wildly erratic nature of his character.
The next morning following the reception, Shae’s (Sibel Kekilli) inspection of Sansa’s room -- an awkward moment for Tyrion to be sure -- was a great cap to a horrible situation as she realizes he chose not to sleep with his new young wife. Tyrion’s expression was priceless here.
Sam kills a White Walker! What could be better?
WHAT DIDN'T WORK
It’s a minor quibble, but the passage of time related to travel is hard to grasp. Seeing Gendry brought before Stannis so fast after being in the Riverlands must have involved magic! Or, at least, a very fast boat.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
"Game of Thrones" stars Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Kit Harington, Harry Lloyd. "Second Sons" was written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and it was directed by Michelle MacLaren.
Season 3 is based on the first half of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novel "A Storm of Swords."
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.
See our Season 2 episode reviews of "The North Remembers," "The Night Lands," "What Is Dead May Never Die," "Garden of Bones," "The Ghost Of Harrenhal," "The Old Gods and the New," "Blackwater" and "Valar Morghulis."
See our Season 1 episode reviews of "Winter is Coming," "The Kingsroad," "Lord Snow," "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things," "The Wolf and the Lion," "A Golden Crown," "You Win or You Die," "The Pointy End," "Baelor" and "Fire and Blood."
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