Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Game Of Thrones (newbies): “Second Sons” (for newbies)

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

This Game Of Thrones post is written from the point of view of someone who has not read the books the series is based on. As such, spoilers are strictly forbidden. Any spoilers in comments will be deleted on sight. If you see spoilers, please mark them as best you can and email toddvdw at gmail dot com or contact Todd on Twitter at tvoti, and hell take care of them as soon as possible. Remember: Discussions of things that were different in the books or confirmations of things that won’t happen count as spoilers, too. Have you read the books and want to discuss whats coming? Thats what our experts reviews are for.


Alright, dudes. It’s time to get things moving. I know I’m going to write this slightly frustrated, toe-tapping review this week and then next week something insane will happen—Tywin will turn into a dragon and eat Joffrey, and Jon Snow will fight a thousand zombies on a mountaintop, and Arya and the Hound will get an awesome spinoff that’s just a remake of Simon & Simon. And it’s not like this episode was lacking in holy-shit moments. That closing scene, with Sam confronting the White Walker successfully this time, was astounding.

But still, this episode left me a little frustrated. I know that what we’re seeing is the first half of the third book, and I’m more and more afraid that there isn’t going to be quite as devastating a closing punch as there was in the last two seasons, because we’re going to be closing on the middle of a book. Ugh, I can feel myself eating my words as I type this, so I’m just going to stop, because David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (and George R.R. Martin) know what the fuck they’re doing, and they haven’t let me down yet.


Plus, hell, this episode had a lot of Stannis in it, and if you want to make David Sims happy, write an episode where Stannis doesn’t just brood and look out onto the sea. Sure, he’s always going to do a bit of that, but his reunion with Davos was played very nicely and gave us another glimpse into what’s going on behind that sour visage.

Melisandre has procured Gendry (who, by the way, she found and spirited back very easily—further testament to her powers, or lazy storytelling?) and wants to use his blood for her dark rituals, saying it has power because Robert Baratheon is his father. Since Stannis’ machinations are against the other false kings, there’s a weird sense to her magic as ever, but Davos immediately guesses that Stannis is uncomfortable with the arrangement and wants his counselor to provide some contrary advice.

So Davos is out of jail, thankfully, and has even learned to read a little bit during his downtime. He’s immediately back to hating on Melisandre and telling Stannis not to kill his own kin (offing Renly was okay because he had betrayed him, apparently). So we get a long, somewhat dull but nonetheless tense scene where Melisandre undresses and seduces Gendry, ties him to the bed, and leeches his blood, some sort of compromise aimed to bring down Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy (whom we haven’t heard much of in quite a while), and Joffrey.

Who knows whether it’ll work, but as Stannis points out, she did give birth to a shadow assassin before Davos’ eyes, and she has shown him crazy visions in the flames. It’s tough for him not to believe, even though to our contemporary eyes he’s a stereotypical fanatic, shaping facts to fit his desired truth and ignoring anything that contradicts it. I think I’ve said this before, but I get it—especially with the new revelation this year that the Lord of Light can bring people back from the dead, well, heck, I’m a believer.


We finally got a wedding this week, the first of many that have been planned all season, and, well, it’s a bit of a bummer from start to finish. Sansa remains terrified of Tyrion, but he’s 10 times more terrified of her, refusing to bed her and getting so heroically drunk that he openly threatens to castrate the king in what is probably Tyrion’s finest moment of this whole season. He’s been a depressing character after running the show last year, and he’s still a bummer to watch, but “you’ll be fucking your bride with a wooden cock”? I stood and I applauded.

Do I buy Tyrion not doing his husband’s duty with Sansa? Of course I do, even though this is a world where grown men are married to 14-year-olds without much objection. I don’t think he’s just being soft-pedaled because the viewing audience would be horrified at such a turn of events. Tyrion’s been there for all of Sansa’s mental torture and anguish at the hands of Joffrey; he knows the last thing he wants is to add to that.


Joffrey keeps giving us new reasons to despise him, as if we needed more, and his behavior at the wedding with Tyrion and Sansa is a masterclass in utter villainy by Jack Gleeson, whom I don’t give enough credit for just nailing that sniveling, preening fucker. He’s so good it’s scary, and I’m sure he’ll suffer the consequences for the rest of his acting career. I was less taken with Cersei’s interaction with Margery, though. She seemed to be tipping her hand a bit too much—if the story of the Lannisters wiping out a rival family wasn’t enough, she said she’d have her killed for calling her sister. Maybe we’re supposed to think that Cersei doesn’t know what she’s doing? Because that felt like an incredibly stupid move from a court intrigue angle.

Daenerys’ story took a turn that probably had to happen but will likely slow things down even further—she got a love interest, someone her own age whom she isn’t being sold to as part of a military alliance, and someone who I’m sure will cause trouble in the weeks ahead. His name is Daario and he’s played by Ed Skrein, and he’s very handsome and has the “I take what I want” attitude that Daenerys finds so alluring.


On the one hand, that’s fine. Daenerys’ storyline had become very one-note: She goes to a city, she gets notes of caution from her advisers, she is a badass with dragons. A new character will help complicate things in a different way. On the other hand, it’s going to be tough to watch Daenerys entangled in such an… ordinary mess. If such a mess is on the horizon! Their scene together with the bathtub just suggested sparks flying to me.

The most crucial, fascinating, electric moment of the night came from Sam and Gilly’s final scene, something I hardly expected to be typing, but there you go. I didn’t really expect that to be the end of Sam’s story, chased down by a White Walker, but I still love that he got his hero moment after failing in the season opener. Plus, now we have a new weapon against those undead fuckers. We’ve long known about burning them, but the ancient weapon Sam uncovered turns them into ice and SHATTERS them. If anything bodes well for next week (two weeks actually, because of Memorial Day), it’s that.


Stray observations:

  • Arya and the Hound bodes very well for buddy comedy.
  • Daenerys’ translator telling her that she doesn’t speak Dothraki as well as she thinks she does was a nice little wink at how much Drogo was obsessed with her in season one.
  • As a kid who grew up in Britain, I can’t believe it took me this long to figure out that the guy playing Bronn was in Robson & Jerome. My mind is forever blown by that.