Game of Thrones left me in total amazement after last week’s episode “And Now His Watch Has Ended” turned up a return to form with all the action, tension and intrigue that drew me to Game of Thrones so intensely in the first place. The title for this Sunday’s episode “Kissed by Fire” brought about two assumptions in my mind; one assumption was that Melisandre’s intentions would be a key unveiling, and the other was that Ygritte and Jon may end up sharing a pretty unexpected moment of passion that endeared so many who have read A Storm of Swords. Were these assumptions correct? Did the exhilarating action continue? How much fire would we see? Find out below!
Warning: Spoilers Throughout!
The thirst for fire was quenched straight out of the gates. It is safe to say that the Beric vs Sandor duel didn’t disappoint a single soul; from the blood fire sword prop, to Beric’s hasty resurrection, everything in this scene was simply a flawless fan service. The pacing was handled perfectly by the editing team. The action was never too fast which averted any potential confusion on who was dominating the fight at any given moment. The shot framing was also masterful on occasion, the shot from behind Beric as he knelt with Sandor’s sword buried in his shoulder stood out as a superb example of the cinematographers profound talents. This fight scene, and the discussion between Arya and Beric that followed later further cemented my belief in Richard Dormer being the perfect casting choice for Beric, as he once more demonstrated a decent depth of understanding the character’s niches.
Proceeding that little stint, we were taken beyond The Wall where Ygritte and Jon’s story strolled back onto our screens. Jon still finds himself an untrustworthy ‘companion’ amongst the Wildlings – despite Tormund beginning to take a liking to him- which is particularly causing tensions to rise between him and the skinchanger Orell. Admits their argument the subject of Orell’s control of his eagle beyond the dead was mentioned, you can’t help but ask yourself, why?
Putting violent tension aside, the sexual tension between Ygritte and Jon collapsed as they finally consummated their relationship. Kit Harrington marvelously portrayed Jon’s sudden, new found affections for Ygritte which may have a later impact on his loyalties as a man of The Night’s Watch, whose vow of celibacy he forsook so contently. Rose Leslie carried out her part in the scene with total finesse, delivering a very endearing couple of lines about never wanting to leave the cave with Jon, keeping these lines from the books was a brilliant choice. The weight of those words could be felt ten fold in weeks to come.
Jamie and Brienne found their road trip had come to an end as they were finally forked over to Roose Bolton at Harrenhall. Jamie, his stump now a weight of rot, was taken to the ‘maester’ Qyburn’s (Anton Lesser) quarters where-in we were tossed a bone of intrigue, as we came about the knowledge of Qyburn’s likely rather twisted experiments that forced the citadel to confiscate his maester’s chain and remove him from their order. It is almost definitely too early to call it straight out, but I’m seeing the potential in Lesser’s performance, which came with an essential air of chilling mystery.
Subsequent to his excruciating treatment at the hands of Qyburn, Jamie dropped by the great baths to freshen up and have quite the exchange with Brienne. Jamie’s character defining monologue concerning his slaughtering of the Mad King- that although appeared treasonous on the surface, was undoubtedly an act of heroism if ever there was one – was impeccably delivered by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. If he isn’t showered with awards for that monologue I will consider it a crime, film makers please take note of this man’s talents! The mise-en-scene during this sequence was of a sublime quality; the gradually nearing proximity between Jamie and Brienne was a great way of showing progression in their relationship, and the set, although not extravagant, was an almost an exact translation of how I imagined the room when reading the scene in A Storm of Swords.
In spite of this I feel that the emphasis on why Jamie ultimately collapsed in pain wasn’t there, a fault which I think lies at the feet of either the editing team or the cinematographers. In A Storm of Swords, if I remember correctly, Jamie ends up fainting when he knocks his injured stump on the side of the pool, no cut to a close up of this happening was included despite Nikolaj seemingly acting it out, which unfortunately took away the effect of, and reason behind him fainting.
In the capital, Tyrion manage to ween Olenna round to accepting to pay up for the Tyrell half of the royal wedding, despite her successful efforts to outwit the imp, who had a pretty rough time of things in this installment. Tywin unveiled to our favourite dwarf that he was to have Sansa’s hand in marriage (surprisingly to his annoyance) in the vain attempt of stopping the Tyrell plot to have her marry Loras (who will now be preoccupied with Cersei), giving their family the key to The North – of course that is if you believe in the notion of Robb’s coming demise. Littlefinger’s retrieval of this invaluable information through his network of informants suitably portrayed the sheer danger he presents to the stability of Westeros, if he stands to gain any more power and position.
Regardless of the interesting plot and character developments I was thrown off by the very sudden, almost rushed, pacing of the shots that made the supposedly climactic unveiling of the coming marriage’s a little underwhelming. Had a few of these scenes been strewn about in earlier parts of the episode, the build up of tension and the unfolding of the machination would have served a far greater dramatic purpose.
Meanwhile in Riverrun, Robb found himself very preoccupied with throwing his war efforts to the dogs. His follies, including his fatal lack of patience with the belligerent Lord Karstark, have left him with just half the force he once possessed. Robb’s ambition clearly didn’t let those dreadful facts deter him from his goal, as he revealed a new plan to seize the under-defended Lannister seat of Casterly Rock, provided of course he can acquire the necessary troops from Lord Walder Frey, the man whose marriage pact he chose ever so stupidly to ignore. Fat chance of him garnering those troops, hey?
“Kissed by Fire” granted Stannis long awaited quality time with the fans, thankfully upholding his character’s image as a strict, honorable and stubborn individual this time around. Stannis the Mannis briefly dropped in on his bat shit crazy wife, Selyse Baratheon (Sarah Mackeever). Selyse really needs to work on her rooms Feng Shui; keeping your stillborn children in great jars of green liquid wont warrant any guests coming to visit, and evidently it doesn’t do much for your mental well being either. I’m not sure if whether me questioning the likelihood of people being able to preserve bodies like that is a bit redundant considering the whole dragon thing, but it was definitely something that bothered me nevertheless.
Stannis’s daughter Shireen was a polar opposite to her mother, ignoring the rather creepy song she was singing before Stannis entered her chamber, she was actually very sweet; the greyscale that mutated her face was pieced together perfectly by the make-up department, who I honestly though might fuck it up. It may be helpful to note for those of you who haven’t read the books, greyscale is an infectious skin disease that people obviously prefer to avoid – explaining why Shireen’s quarters were so isolated. The friendship between her and Davos was an unexpected deviation, but like many deviations made this season it was a wholly worthwhile one, their heart felt exchange that highlighted Davos’s illiteracy ended with great sound bridging of dialogue concerning Aegon the Conqueror into Daenerys brief scene.
Daenerys travels through Essos continued, unfortunately nothing particularly astounding happened aside from a bit of subtle probing between Barristan and Jorah, and the showcasing of the Unsullied’s first freely elected leader Grey Worm, who supplied his own little monologue that sadly didn’t really have shit on Jamie’s earlier ravings.
Final Rating: B+