Naturally there are going to be some critics out there that watched ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’ that will come off as less impressed than others. In fact, there were some that came out of the woodwork after the first episode, claiming the pacing was off or that nothing truly happened. Well guess what? There are several characters that didn’t get a turn to reintroduce themselves to the adoring public so you can expect a bit more exposition to set the rest of the season up. So while some people will complain to get on with the show (seriously, I’ve already seen some people over my Facebook feed), I think this will pay major dividends later on in the season when it all comes together. I’m glad that every character will get their time to shine while still introducing new characters that will fit into the future as well so I don’t mind the deliberate pace of the show so far this year. Yeah, it might be slow again for the second week in a row but I’ll take a week like this over most of the crap that is shown from the scores of mediocre shows that flood our cable box each evening.
With that, we get to see Bran Stark and he’s been having those dreams again. We get a nice throwback from season one with an almost identically shot scene of Bran working on his bow and arrow skills, which later alludes to what he truly “sees”. He gets a revisit from the three eyed raven and then another boy shows up. It just happens to be Jojen Reed and he’s hijacked the dream. I wonder if he shows up again… Obviously he does and all this will come into play as Jojen Reed shows up in real life to join him, along with his sister/protector Meera. On their getting to know you stroll, Jojen drops the bomb on him that Bran is a Warg, a communicator of animals, just by looking at how his direwolf response to him. Now only that, Bran, like Jojen, happens to be someone he can dream about what is happening elsewhere, present and future, hence the communicating in dreams. I’m sure we’ll see more of this crew later on and whatever shenanigans they might encounter on the way.
We also get a glimpse of a Warg in action when we get a quick visit with Jon Snow, sporting some new gear that doesn’t make him get rocks thrown at his head. Him and Mance Rayder encounter one communicating through birds show that the crows of the Night Watch are all dead as we segue into the remains of the Night’s Watch marching towards the Wall. Sam is still distraught that everyone pretty much gives no crap about him and that he was left for dead. Although in his travel mates defense, if a zombie army was coming your way, I’d run too. Regardless, he is now forbidden to give up and die as perhaps the Night’s Watch will try to regroup and need its weakest link to get stronger before they can defend themselves against all threats. It’s a very quick visit to the North as the rest of the episode concentrates on reintroducing the other characters into the series. I do want to note that despite the desolate side trips into the brutal wasteland of the north, the locations used in this episode were absolutely gorgeous has they relied on very green backgrounds and vegetation. Perhaps a sense of hope and life before the worst is yet to come…
Speaking of Jon Snow getting the shaft, we revisit with Robb Stark, his new wife Jeyne, and his captive mother Catelyn. Catelyn is still unhappy with everything that has happened to her and still responds to Jeyne poorly when we get a confession about her relationship with Jon Snow. We get a brilliant monologue delivered by Michelle Fairley about how she wished death upon the bastard baby and that it almost came to fruition only to realize how much of monster she would be to wish death on an innocent baby.
She would make a promise to love his as a son and make him part of the family and yet, he’s shipped off to the north, away from any sort of family as the House Stark is in shambles. A grieving mother pours her soul out where she just wants to make sure her children are safe and she has no control over that. That could have been my favorite part so far as it’s a pretty emotionally bare moment to open up on and the way the camera lingered on her as she powered through just reminded me why Game of Thrones carries the best cast in all of television.
Arya also gets a reintroduction as well as she runs into some new friends, one who happens to be a pretty good shot with a bow and arrow and another that just might have crossed paths with her in the past and could blow her cover to escape undetected. Sansa also gets another extended performance when she encounters Lady Margaery and Olenna Tyrell, who is an awesomely blunt old matriarch that wants to get down to the bottom of how Joffrey truly is with Sansa. This leads to a great exchange between the three of them as notes are compared and that Olenna will do what is fit for her house and adapt if necessary.
Margaery and Joffrey then have a great encounter where Joffrey questions her loyalty after her “failed marriage” with Renly but she seems to always be a step ahead as he demonstrates his passion of being a douche and reciprocates by stroking his ego and letting him think he truly has all the power in this relationship.
Natalie Dormer has been kicking it into overtime with this role being featured prominently in the first two episodes and she’s doing a fantastic job in doing whatever it takes to be “The Queen”. We also get a visit with Jamie Lannister and Brienne as they become the traveling odd couple of the show and deal with their own internal and external conflicts they run into on the road.
I’d get more into it but, as usual, it’s worth seeing as opposed to having me explain the whole thing. We also get a surprise guest in a former friend of the House Stark that doesn’t factor too much in the books for this storyline but it’s good to see that his pain tolerance is as weak as ever. Oh, and for all our MisFits fans…
Overall, it’s a good but not great episode. Again, that’s not a bad thing at all as the storytelling remains sharp and all characters are getting their due without the series feeling bloated. Everyone is just getting their just due and we’re trying to find out the path everyone is going to follow. It just so happens that in Game of Thrones, there are so many paths to follow, it can take a little bit of time. Seeing the performances though from each person, especially Fairley and Dormer this episode, really solidifies this show as the best in television. The visuals are always great and play into the medieval and fantasy aspect of the show and will still continue to grip its audience. However, the casual audience member might be getting antsy at this point but sit tight folks, it’s only going to get more awesome from this point onward. Patience everyone, patience.