Game of Thrones Review: “The Old Gods and the New”

Damn you Game of Thrones! Why must you be the best show on television yet have the shortest seasons of anything out there? Ten episodes. What are we British? Bah.

In any case, we’ll just have to enjoy them while they last, and now we’re officially over halfway done with the season after last night’s bloodbath.

Last night may have been the best episode from an action perspective yet, and opened up strong with Theon (not Ian) Greyjoy’s awkward “storming” of Winterfell. I like Game of Thrones because they can take what initially appears to be a background character and fully flesh him out with his own plotline that makes him as important to the story as any king or warlord.


I’ve always thought Theon’s betrayal has been a bit out of nowhere. I never really saw any past indications that he was particularly unhappy, and he was practically worshipping Rob Stark when he left him. Why a reunion with his hateful family inspired him to turn traitor, I do not know, but now there’s no going back after sacking Winterfell and murdering Ser Rodrick.

Osha the wildling appeared to turn as well to ensure she survived Theon’s new rule, but as it turns out, it was just a ruse to get the Stark children safely out of Winterfell. And as an added bonus, we got to see what is perhaps the most severe creepy-face-to-hot-body ratio on TV. Googling her made me just now realize that the actress, Natalia Tena was Tonks in Harry Potter and the punk girl in About a Boy, and currently looks like this when she’s not all wildling-ed out.

The other hullabaloo of action this week was the people’s revolt against the tyrannical reign of King Tinyface. After the mob almost tore them apart, Tyrion had one of the best lines of then night when he lamented the misfortune of having a “vicious idiot” as a king. I was desperately afraid we were about to see the first Game of Thrones gang rape (what, if FX can do it, HBO can too I imagine), but thankfully The Mountain The Hound was there to save Sansa from that horrible fate. I think his allegiance to Joffrey is beginning to wane. Side note: What happened to the old head of the King’s Guard? You know, that old guy who was cast out near the end of last season? I thought he’d be returning in some form or another, but not so. At least not yet.

Where are you?

I was not a huge fan of Jon Snow’s adventures in the North Pole, which ended up having him spooning with a wilding that he was supposed to execute. I get that he’s a “good guy” and all, but it seems just a touch stereotypical for him to be unable to kill a woman. Not once, but twice mind you. The same goes for the fact that the rest of the Night’s Watch troupe would just wander off instead of waiting the four seconds it should have taken him to cut her head off. Her writhing around on the ground with him was a bit funny, but a bit out of place, and I’m wondering how this all ends for him now that he’s separated from the group. And if he does find them and has her in tow, then what?

Do you think that Littlefinger recognized Arya and just isn’t saying anything? He likes having power, and with secrets usually come power, so I think he might be keeping the information under his hat for a later date. Arya and Tywin both seem to be becoming quite fond of each other, in a thankfully non-creepy way. Her secret was almost given away but her assassin genie saved her from exposure. One more to go! Will it by Tywin, or does she like him too much now?

The episode ended with Daeneyrs losing her precious dragons to what I can only imagine is the Mages Guild (or whatever they’re called) in Qarth. I can understand the appeal, but what exactly are they going to do with three stolen baby dragons? Dissect them for potion ingredients? Harvest their bones and scale for armor, Skyrim style? Whatever the case, Daeneyrs needs to get her shit together, as she’s been kind of crapped all over for the past two seasons straight now.

You may have to suck it up and marry the fat guy at this point.

All in all, one of the better episodes of the season in my estimation. Next week, I think Shae might finally die as Cersei pretty much spelled that out to Tyrion at the docks. And will Rob Stark betray his oath to marry some ugly girl so he can fool around with the medic? Tune in next time to find out! (But the answer is yes).

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  1. You’re right, Theon did not really show any signs of turning traitor. However, Theon is really a bit of an immature character. He is easily influenced and lived an easy life as a ward of the Starks.

    When he sees his Father on Pyke he is desperate to impress him, and be his Father’s most important child, as opposed to Yara, emasculating him somewhat.

    Yet, even when his Father gives him a task it is to simply raid some fishing villages with 1 ship, compared to the 30 given to Yara to take Deepwood Motte. So when the idea of taking Winterfell arises, he’s simply doing it to impress his Father, who quite clearly sees his son as a bit of a disgrace (through no fault of his own). It was originally due to Balon’s rebellion that Theon became a ward of the Starks, as mentioned in the show.

    Theon isn’t really a bad person, just misguided. He doesn’t really want to kill Rodrik Cassel, but sees it as a chance to impress his men and show the people of Winterfell that he must be feared and respected.

    I do feel sorry for him, one of the most tragic characters in the show.

  2. Thats the Hound, not the Mountain. Mountain is his Brother who was recast this season. Great review, excited for what you think of the rest of the season

  3. I love reading your view points from a non-reader. Just a little correction, it was ‘The Hound’ not the ‘The Mountain’ that saved Sansa. Also, ‘all good things to those that wait’ for the return of Barristan the Bold.

  4. Sorry dude, second mistake in a row, yesterday´s hero was the Hound, the Mountain is the other guy who cut his horse head just for losing against the gay guy

  5. @Mark: the former head of the Kingsguard was Barristan the Bold. he took off on his own after being dismissed, and no one knows where he is at this point.

    the former head of the Goldcloaks (the City Watch) was Ser Janos Slynt. he was sent off to the wall by Tyrion since he didn’t trust the man who betrayed the last Hand of the King.

  6. Theon hasn’t had an original thought or idea. Every decision that he has made has been made by someone smarter or harder than he is.

  7. No mention of Joffrey getting slapped again? That’s some of the most satisfying things that happens in Game of Thrones.

    Jon’s Dire Wolf – Snow, I believe – seemed to be on to something out there. Maybe not.

    Exit question: How does a “Wildling” girl have such wonderful teeth?

  8. Paul, I can’t believe you just now realized that was Tonks! Granted, she’s not rocking purple hair. Lupin wouldn’t approve of her behavior.

    What happened to the guy at the beginning who sent the letter from winterfell? I’m blanking on his name. He didn’t escape with bran and rickon, did he? I like him. And who does Robb have to marry? Have we met her yet?

    And Jamie has been pretty MIA this season. I totally forgot about him until they mentioned him multiple times this episode. I got a little teary when Rodrik told Bran he was going to see his father.

  9. This was really my favourite episode yet, as soon as it started I was on the edge, except during Daenarys scenes because i just find her to be utterly boring, Jon Snow too, i dread when i am done reading a good Tyrion/Arya/Davos chapter an then bam a Daenarys or Jon chapter comes next.
    Anyway, as I saw Maester Luwin I knew Theon was at Winterfell already and the scenes were brilliant, Bran just sitting in his bed calm man that was cool, he is doing great even though I still miss that we wont be getting the Reeds, I was anticipating to see Jojen and Meera on the screen since the begining, I just wanted to hear them say the oath to Bran.
    I was on the edge with the Littlefinger scene, I wonder how they are gonna exploit this, if they dont make Littlefinger actually recognize Arya it kinda defeats the purpuse of being Littlefinger the one who saw her, possibly the most adept player in the game of thrones alongside Varys, you just know he knew who she was or at least got suspicious enough, they have to use that.
    Lastly, i am not a big fan of the whole Tywin and Arya bits, it just seems out of character, Tywin is meant to be this utterly emotionless calculating bastard and it seems like Dance is playing him to geniunely like Arya which I think Tywin will never do, he doesnt care about anything except his plans, he wouldnt talk about his father to a cup girl, he would act like littlefinger acted before he noticed Arya, like she wasnt even there, and Tywin is the proudest most cold hearted dude in Westeros, Tywin if anything would become highly suspicious of Arya being so smart and dilligent.
    This is also another beef, but smaller, I have with Roose Bolton, he is almost human, the idea of Roose I have is a emotionless asshole. Even before all shit happened you could feel disdain coming from Roose against Rob, here is like he is a surrogate of Blackfish.

  10. *Jon’s direwolf is named Ghost

    *The dude who sends the letter from Winterfell at the beginning of the episode is Maester Luwin and he did not escape with Bran and Rickon

    *Robb is promised to marry a Frey after the war is over as payment for crossing the Twins in season 1

  11. @ Laura
    I think Robb was given to marry in a trade back in season 1 when Catelyn was securing a bridge from a creepy old guy…according to wiki he agreed to allow Robb’s army to cross the bridge if he marries one of his daughters (I think the issue of that is that his children are all creepy and ugly due to inbreding or something, I can’t recall)

  12. I hope nothing happens to Ghost
    I hope nothing happens to those baby Dragons (a smart person would kill them right away so there’s no threat, yes?)
    I’m starting to dislike Theon almost as much as I hate Joffrey….I enjoyed Joff getting poop thrown at him and I wasn’t surprised he did nothing to help Sansa.
    Can I get help on something? (I don’t wanna wikipedia it incase of spoilers) but where was Yara sent? She’s got all those ships and men…

  13. *Yara (Asha in the books) was sent to take Deepwood Motte, a coastal keep sworn to Robb Stark located northwest of Winterfell

  14. @ Laura

    Robb is promised to wed a daughter of Walder Frey, the older guy from season 1 whose castle was built including a bridge. He is allowed to pick whichever daughter he prefers.

    The older man from the beginning is Maester Luwin. He was not with the group at the end. Honestly, I’m slightly in the dark about how everything will play out since this season has been slightly less faithful to the book. So he ultimately may or may not be with the group in the end, I’m not really sure.

    As for Jaime, he’s locked in a cage. There’s not really much to show.

  15. a quick sugestion to Game of Thrones producers…

    if you ever decide again to have a turd be thrown at Joffrey from an unseen character, or for that matter anything that hits Joffrey from someone off camera……PLEASE!! either auction it (for the $$) or hold a contest for fans to do it..

    you’d be a nerd legend!…the person responsible for hitting Joffrey with a ball of shit…that’s a title I’d like to have..

  16. Theon is not known to be a very good decision maker, guided by his lack of self-esteem, daddy issues and his sheer lack of good memory (leading to him accidentally copping a feel and finger banging his own sister). His leadership skills seem even worse now. This poor guy is getting manipulated by everybody. All he wanted was for his crazy dad to give him a compliment for once in his life.

  17. Littlefinger did indeed notice and recognize Arya. It’s just that he couldn’t believe his luck and (Since everyone in the seven kingdoms would be looking for her) that she’d be right under Tywin’s nose.

    The question now becomes who does Arya choose for victim #3?

    I’m coming to like the Hound much like Tyrion last season. It’s obvious he’s smitten with Sansa. Did anyone else see the disgust in his face when Joffrey ordered him around?

    We have a pool in which we’ve placed $5, and drawn names of who are the candidates to kill Joffrey. I have Tyrion, but IMO I think the Hound is about to go all “Kingslayer” on the cunt soon.

  18. I love these reviews. I’ve read the first 4 books and all I have to say about your questions and guesses is, “I know something you don’t know.”
    However, if the show continues to stray away from its source material the way it has been, I’m going to end up guessing as much as you are, Paul.

  19. Good episode/review but I’m not really digging how they have reduced the whole Winterfell storyline… sucks that there’ll be no Jojen Reed, Meera Reed or the Bastard of Bolton (Two are good guys and one is a bad guy.. Can you guess which one?). All together I think I like how Bran and Rickons story plays out better in the book… Otherwise I’m still really liking it, especially both Tyrion/Cersei and Aryas storylines6… And Jaqen H’ghar is just awesome…

  20. I’m really hoping they don’t mess up the Jon Snow storyline too much, as it’s already deviating drastically with this episode. Understandably, his plot arc was average compared to the other things going on in Westeros, but only up till the end of book 2, ie supposedly this season. By the end of book 3, it’s just about as riveting as the others, and one of my favorites too.

  21. What will they do with the dragons now they have them?

    They will take what is theirs, with fire and blood.

    For those saying there’s no Ramsay Bolton… Lord Roose Bolton mentions specifically to Robb that he will send word to his bastard son at the Dreadfort, who can put together a force to retake Winterfell. Which means Ramsay IS a character we will see. The question is will he appear before the end of this season.

  22. I’m not loving the gentle Tywin, as was pointed out, Tywin is a very cold, emotionless man. He’s capable of anything to acomplish his plans, and would be highly suspicious of Arya being so smart. I guess all of this is “artistic” or “dramatic” license from the series. It’s not totally dislikable, but for those of us who have read the books, it’s a bit awkward sometimes.

    Besides, all of this reinforces my opinion that GoT TV series is a great complement to reading the books.

  23. I’m reading part 2 of book 3, and Dany’s dragons were never stolen??

    This last episode, while awesome, was sooo different from the books! AT first I thought, ‘thats okay; its the series, they’ll make it work”

    but now it feels like their not even being true to the characters anymore. Makes me sad, but am i still gonna watch? hell yeah!

  24. The kid playing Bran is really nailing it this season. I’m finding his scenes more and more compelling.

    And I think half of Theon’s drive is to do something (anything) to avenge the gross humiliation he suffered during his return to Pyke. He’s getting frantic because everyone from his “home” sees him as a weak, pansy loser.

    I’m still not entirely sure that Tywin DOESN’T know, or at least suspect something about Arya. Remember, he’s been asking HER about her past too – where she’s from, how she learned to read, etc. It’s mighty suspicious for a literate Northern girl of her age to be caught posing as a boy in a party that’s escaped from King’s Landing about the time that Arya went missing. Even if Tywin isn’t aware that one of the Stark girls is missing (which he probably IS well aware of), he clearly knows something’s amiss, enough to make him suspicious. I think he’s playing her until the time is right, holding his cards tight to his chest. His kindness is part of the con. Much like Littlefinger.

    As for the dragons – I’m pretty sure they won’t forget who their mother is.

  25. Theon is easy to understand, not condone, once you get the idea that once he gets to Pyke he sees that his birthright is, if not in complete loss in favour of Asha/Yara(ugh), in trouble so he gets thi idea of claiming a very easy target and gain favour of is father. Afterall he has either to follow Robb and be his brother at arms an fight a battle which may not be winnable and lose his status as heir (or possible heir) or be the heir to the Iron Island and therefore a great lord. What he expects to win is understandable if you are an ambitious person, his means to his ends are the flawed ones because Theon is terribly misguided and stupid, he fails to see the issues his actions devolve into.
    I think that if Theon was a competent player he would do exactly as he was told by Balon, and slowly earn his favour, while learning how the game is played in Pyke, which is different because these people seem to thing with their blood nor their brain, i dont know if thats better or worse, but its playable.
    Someone like Tyrion or Littlefinger would have befriended Asha, maybe even serve under her, and then see how it plays and decide if its best to eliminate her or other choice.
    Theon is reckless, arrogant to a fault, and incredibly short sighted.
    Once Reek shows up you can see how dumb Theon really is.

  26. @Levi
    Well you see, Osha couldn’t kill Theon, mostly because the whole Osha seducing Theon thing didn’t happen in the books. And Theon continues to be a fairly important character in the next few books. So killing him would have REALLY screwed up the rest of the plot line, even more so than the rest of the episode already did. 🙂

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