Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 8 review: Tyrion and Sansa wed

Posted on 23 May 2013
By Debs Marsden
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Daenerys Targaryean (Emilia Clarke) learns something of the task ahead this week, when spying on the Yunkai guns for hire (The Second Sons).

When she meets with them directly, she is charming in the face of their cocksure arrogance and filthy language, maintaining a softly amused smile throughout; truly a woman in complete control of her surroundings.

One of the Second Sons, Mero, known as Titan’s Bastard, is so thoroughly objectionable, you would merrily skip out of a lift a floor early just to avoid him.

It is a marvelous performance by Mark Killeen, inspiring disgust in even the least shockable. Even the Khaleesi breaks from her reverie when they leave, to implore “Sir Barriston, if it comes to battle? Kill that one first.”

Liam Cunningham hands in another fine performance as Ser Davos Seaworth. The sight of the traitor in a cell trying to educate himself is a touching one, the following conversation more so. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) may yet rediscover why he favoured this man’s honourable counsel for so long.

Wedding bells chime loudly with a discordant edge in the capital. The costumes on the show are always fabulously well chosen, so to see a wedding scene, with decadent finery on display, is a wonderful spectacle.

However, it is the taut dialogue which really makes the wedding scenes thrilling. We see Margeary Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) speak veiled posturing threats while linked arm in arm. Cersei tells a charming illustrative tale of the Lannisters ruthlessness, then gives one ultimate threat, not ghosted in civility.

Much to Sansa’s chagrin, we find it is Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) who will give her away at the alter, a final twisted insult on a grim day. Gleeson is fantastic as the maniacal boy king, playing him with palpable menace and a gleeful sadism.

In a typically cruel move, Joffrey removes the steps placed on the alter for Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) to be on equal footing with Sansa (Sophie Turner). When Tyrion cannot reach to cloak his bride, the congregation is left chuckling.

The humiliation is total, and though no words leave his lips, it is clear this doesn’t meet with Tywen’s approval; this single look of absolute disdain for his grandson’s misdeed is where Charles Dance comes alive. His nuanced acting grounds the role in realism; he is a cold and hard man, making what he believes are necessary decisions, as opposed to the pantomime villain he could so easily have been.

The most agreeable of the Second Sons, Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein), a man cursed with the unfortunate habit of referring to himself in the third person, draws the shortest of straws. When he gains entry to Daenerys’ private sanctuary, he brings not the gift of brutal death, but an altogether new proposition.

Emilia Clarke owns this scene. Anyone who can maintain a calm bargaining position with their nipples merely half-covered by water is not to be trifled with. By the fulfilment, there is no room for any doubt as to the Mother of Dragons’ power and grace under fire.

At court, Sansa discovers that the only silver lining she was left clinging to has been ripped asunder: Joffrey’s claws are still sunk just as deeply in her. When he dares to intimate this, The Imp responds with a threat of his own, in a masterful performance by Dinklage.

The exchange is brilliant to behold; the screen positively jumping with electricity. As much about the looks the three actors give one another, as the words they speak, the room is alive; it crackles and ferments. The power of all the Lannister men ebbs and bobs over each other in a complicated dance. When the music finally stops, Sansa’s honour, if not dignity, remain intact.

After an episode largely filled with such pomp and circumstance, the final scene is jarring. It brings an unwelcome surprise, one which carries a much greater weight when dropped in unexpectedly with such a dramatic change in tone.

Plotting is artful within the scene; starting with mundane chatter between Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray), then spinning fully on its’ head into one of real jeopardy, a change in status quo, and a stark reminder of the threat which looms still; large and unspoken, the stuff of sweat-drenched nightmares.

A threat which will soon make the machinations of kings struggling over kingdoms, seem little more crucial than boys playing at marbles.