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SPOILER WARNING! It’s best not to read this review unless you have already seen Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 5
While not indulging us with nearly as much action as last week, Kissed by Fire certainly isn’t pulling the punches. In one of the most emotionally affecting episodes of GOT to date, director Alex Graves and writer Bryan Cogman manage to successfully slow the pace right back down while also touching base with nearly all of our scattered characters, and keeping everything in balance while they’re about it.
The Brotherhood without Banners are up to some right shady (and fiery) business. Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) brings a flaming sword to the Hound’s (Rory McCann) trial by combat, and for a while it looks as though the Hound’s number is up – until he gifts Beric a hefty slice through the shoulder, killing him instantly. Unfortunately for the Hound, the Brotherhood are well versed in the magic of their fire god R’hllor, and Beric is brought back to life through the power of prayer. Apparently, Beric has now been resurrected a total of six times. It looks like we may have misjudged this mysterious R’hllor – he seems to be a god who really puts his eternal life where his mouth is.
Having proved his righteousness by ‘killing’ Beric, the Hound is allowed to live. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood are planning to ransom Arya (Maisie Williams) back to the Starks. This is relatively good news for her, but it does mean she’ll be parted from Gendry (Joe Dempsie), who has elected to stay on as armourer to the Brotherhood – cue emotionally charged scene in which they admit they sort of have a crush on each other (aw).
In other news, we finally get to meet Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald), the wife of Stannis, and his disfigured daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram). It turns out that Selyse gives even Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie) a run for her money in the weirdo stakes; she’s utterly obsessed with the fire god, and keeps her three stillborn sons in none-too-clean glass jars. Shireen on the other hand is a sweet little thing, and good mates with Davos (Liam Cunningham), who is, you guessed it, still locked in a cell.
About a year’s worth of sexual tension between Jon (Kit Harington) and Ygritte (Rose Leslie) is finally resolved when they decide to get it on. You’d think that taking your clothes off wouldn’t be the best idea north of the Wall, but luckily a nearby hot spring takes care of that issue. Jon’s segment of this episode seems to symbolise the breaking of his last few vows to the Night’s Watch; before sneaking off to the onsen with Ygritte he is grilled for info about his brothers in black, giving away which of the 19 castles on the wall are manned (only three of them, apparently).
However, it’s pretty obvious he’s lying through his teeth when he claims that Castle Black is manned by a force of a thousand, so it seems he hasn’t abandoned all his loyalties just yet – even though it might be wise, considering that the ice zombies are probably chowing down on most of his old buddies while he’s enjoying the delights of a naked sauna. Speaking of nakedness (of which there is quite a bit in this episode) has anyone else noticed that most of the heavy full frontal work from the main characters is being done by the women? And almost none by the men? Just sayin’.
Jon and Ygritte aren’t the only ones taking a communal dip. Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) are delivered to Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), who immediately starts treating them with a modicum of respect. Jaime gets his rotting wrist looked at, and then he and Brienne are allowed to wash off what looks like about six months of grime.
While in the bath, Coster-Waldau treats us to what may be one of the most skilful and emotionally intense monologues of the entire series to date; Jaime once more recounts his slaying of the Mad King, but this time he includes the part about being ordered to burn King’s Landing and everyone living there with Wildfire. Given a choice between that and betraying his liege lord, Jaime chose to betray – and was forevermore branded the Kingslayer. His heartbreaking utterance of ‘My name is Jaime’ is enough to knock Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) off the top of almost everyone’s ‘My Favourite Lannisters’ list.
Tyrion himself is in a real pickle. First he finds himself on the receiving end of Lady Olenna’s brilliant rhetoric (Diana Rigg – always a delight), then he finds out that his father Tywin (Charles Dance) is planning to marry him to none other than Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). This is in effort to get her away from the Tyrells, and from Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen). Cersei (Lena Headey) sits by smugly, but soon discovers that her own neck will also be going into the marriage noose – she’ll be paired with Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones). Needless to say, she is about as pleased with her arrangement as Tyrion is with his – was there ever a father more hated by his children than Tywin Lannister? Marriage is a political tool in Westeros – perhaps the most effective and dangerous political tool of all, as Robb (Richard Madden) may discover to his cost.
Surprise surprise, things still aren’t going at all well for Robb. He’s been twiddling his thumbs at Riverrun for a couple of episodes now, but this week things take a turn for the even worse. Lord Karstark (John Stahl), desperate for revenge following the death of his sons, takes it upon himself to murder the two teenage Lannister hostages. Having been dragged out of bed to deal with the betrayal (FYI, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) looks 100% more attractive with her hair down), Robb is advised to let Karstark live; otherwise, all Karstark’s men will almost certainly decamp to friendlier climes.
Unfortunately, Robb comes over all Ned ‘I’m so honourable it hurts’ Stark, and chops Karstark’s head off. If Robb is going to succeed with his new plan of conquering Casterly Rock, seat of the Lannisters, he’s going to need more men – and the only person in Westeros with enough men to give him just so happens to be Walder Frey (David Bradley), the man whose daughter Robb was meant to be marrying. Woops…
Although a few simmering storylines were brought to semi-boil in this week’s episode, we’re left with more nail-bitingly maddening questions than answers. Who is going to end up marrying Sansa? Will Arya finally make it back to her family? Will Walder Frey help Robb or not? And, most importantly of all, who do we next want to see get a verbal dressing down from Lady Olenna? Our favourite is Tywin Lannister…
Best Kill: Beric Dondarrion – yeah, he’s not actually dead, but that just makes it even better…
Best Scene: Jaime takes the honour once again, with his emotional bathtub speech