It wasn't really in doubt, but this week's Game of Thrones episode proved conclusively that Tyrion Lannister is the best character ever committed to celluloid. Ever. Full stop. OK, fine, except maybe Xena and James Bond.
But maybe that's just my opinion. Let's see what yours is - after we put the iron in your islands and the baby in your belly, with another Game of Thrones recap!
And now, be warned...MASSIVE SPOILERS
My initial thoughts about this episode was that it focused on gender roles more strongly than perhaps ever before: Catelyn's job as messenger for her son Robb; Renly's new bride taking charge in the bedroom when he is unable to do his kingly duties with her; the warrior Brienne (I'm no lady") wounding Loras' ego even more than his body; Shae as Sansa's new handmaiden; and Theon Greyjoy trying desperately to play catch-up with his sister.
But Tyrion's sublime turkey-shoot set-up of Pycelle, Littefinger and Varys swept all that aside, and it all became about intrigue and political wiles and Peter Dinklage's god-damned brilliantly nuanced performance.
"Well, Bronn, I think that's this year's Emmy sewn up."
However, even that masterfully scripted, perfectly paced set of scenes had a foundation in gender politics - specifically, the tenet of using the girl bride Myrcella to secure strategic support; while actually working to root out untrustworthy colleagues, and dish out a bit of brotherly payback on Cersei.
Poor Cersei. She really is losing it. Varys' profoundly beautiful riddle to Tyrion - "Power resides where men believe it resides" - has specific application for her. She has no real power in King's Landing, despite her boasts to Littlefinger in the first episode. Her own eldest son doesn't even eat dinner with her anymore; all she can do is instruct Sansa to answer Myrcella's questions. And when Pycelle obviously spills the beans about the Martell deal (losing Cersei her chief spy), the family-first politician in her that could see the benefits of an alliance is overruled by the emotion of motherhood, and her own quite tragic experience of a political marriage.
Speaking of which, Renly is now shacked up with Margaery of House Tyrell, sister of his real lover, Loras, the Knight of the Flowers. The reveal that the large, fierce warrior was actually a woman, Brienne of Tarth, was not wholly surprising, but still well done. Surely she'll have to come up against the Hound or the Mountain at some point?
And we've got the Greyjoy subplot moving along, with Theon swearing allegiance again to the Iron Islands' Drowned God. He did have a nice moment exposing the hypocrisy of his Dad, yelling "You gave me away!" after Balon once again sneered at him for becoming weak due to his exposure to wolves. I really want to see Theon return to the Stark fold; but I fear it will be a long time if it ever happens.
Yay! (Best Moments)
You mean, apart from everything Tyrion did this episode?
Catelyn telling Renly that his army won't last, because "they are the knights of summer, and winter is coming". Boo-yah.
I loved Shae's arrival as Sansa's new handmaiden. For a moment, we got to see a bit of the snotty Sansa of old, which was actually charming in its way, now that we know she's not really a bratty teen queen. But then Sansa realised that having a companion may not be a bad thing, and asked her to brush her hair. Remember, in the first episode of Series One, our first real introduction to Sansa was as Catelyn brushed her hair. She's still a teenage girl, and must long for some decent motherly affection. Shae will hopefully become a good ally. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing their relationship develop; and how Tyrion plays into it.
And Sam gets another look-in with his sweet request that one of Captain Incest's daughters keep his mother's thimble for him until he gets back.
Zing (Best Line)
After Lannister thugs shoot Yoren in the chest with a crossbow, the hard man of the Wall declares "I always hated crossbows; take too long to load", before drawing his sword and whooping some major ass. It took half a dozen men to bring him down. Alas, poor Yoren left this world, but what a way to go.
He may be dead, but I still reckon he could take everybody.
I also loved Margeary, King Renly's "officially" virginal bride saying "Do you want my brother to come in and help? Or I could turn around and you could pretend it's him?" Let it never be said the women of Westeros aren't problem solvers.
Ewww, gross (a skin-crawl moment)
Jon Snow's realisation that Mormont knows all about Captain Incest's hobby of dishing up his boy-children as sacrifices, and deals with him anyway. He may be wearing black, but life beyond the wall is certainly grey.
The Lannister thug spearing a young boy's neck with Arya's sword was pretty awful. But it did give Arya a chance to get Gendry off the hook, at least for now.
Boo, sucks (a downside)
Still no Joffrey to boo at. Mind you, there was no Stannis, no Robb, no Jaime, not even any Danerys this episode - that's what you get with a sprawling narrative.
The biggest boo sucks then would have to go to Theon Greyjoy, for burning that letter he wrote to Robb Stark - who he had sworn an oath to! - to warn him of his father's plans to raid the North. As if things weren't already complicated enough.
Sadly, next week's Raven On is going to be late - I'm heading out of town for a few days where access is unlikely. But never fear, it shall return as soon as I do!