‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3, Episode 5 Review – Broken Vows

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Richard Madden in Game of Thrones Kissed by Fire Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 5 Review – Broken Vows

As often as not, characters in Game of Thrones find themselves in situations they’d really rather not be in – or otherwise wouldn’t be if not for some pledge of loyalty that, if broken, would besmirch his or her name. It’s pretty clear that oaths of the most solemn kind are spoken fairly frequently in Westeros, and breaking them can either bring a person to their ruin, or give them the name by which they are made famous.

But an oath of loyalty is only good as long as it remains a reflection of the person who swore it. If anything (or simply by sheer count of how often the word “oath” was spoken), ‘Kissed By Fire’ is a solid examination of oaths and vows of loyalty of various kinds. Perhaps it’s because of this connection by a common theme that the episode actually flowed with a consistent level of energy, instead of hitting various highs and lows, depending on which character is being presented onscreen at the moment.

Strangely enough, one of the biggest characters to get some serious mention this episode is one that most people don’t readily acknowledge as even existing: Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), leader of the Brotherhood.

While it’s sometimes hard to fathom that so many characters would swear oaths to men unworthy of such loyalty, the scene in which Beric is resurrected through Thoros’ request to the Lord of Light certainly goes a long way in explaining why so many have suddenly sworn themselves to the fiery god. It’s one thing for Melisandre to skulk away and birth an assassin made of smoke, but it’s something else entirely for a guy nearly cleaved in half to suddenly be up and about and in something of a forgiving mood.

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones Kissed by Fire Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 5 Review – Broken Vows

Early on in season 2, it seemed like Melisandre was simply a madwoman with whom Stannis had the misfortune of falling in with, but as we return to Dragonstone (for the first time in what seems like ages), it appears as though the Lord of Light’s message has found its way to Stannis’ wife. Whatever that message may represent to others, Stannis’ wife is convinced it means her husband’s affair with the red woman was not just tolerable, but practically sanctioned by a deity.

Essentially, it all comes down to perception and reputation. And since Westeros appears to be a few years out of having tabloid newspapers, radio broadcasts, or even television, the only way for most to make it in the world (as a human or a god) is to make a name for themselves that carries some serious weight – one that either instills respect in others, like the venerable Ned Stark, or makes them tremble in their boots, as someone like the Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane might.

Reputation certainly played a part in Jaime Lannister rising to prominence, and it undoubtedly had a huge influence over his current predicament. Jaime’s moniker of ‘Kingslayer’ carried with it a certain practical edge, but as he tells Brienne, everyone believed his decision to kill Aerys was born of a realization that the tide was turning against the King. But in his confession, Jaime reveals himself to be a man who could not sit by while the Mad King burned his citizens alive and his city to the ground – which is something not even Barristan Selmy found himself capable of.

It’s also why, even though he knew it would cost him half his army, Robb felt he had no choice but to execute Rickard Karstark (John Stahl) and adhere to the same values as his father. It may be a blow he’ll never overcome, but, then again, should he outlast or even win this war, no one will question the resolve of the King of the North. Still, if Robb’s able to undo the damage caused by his marriage to Talisa with Walder Frey, then losing the Karstarks may not be as harmful to him as they’d hoped.

In the frozen northlands, Jon Snow is handed perhaps the most complicated challenge of oath and loyalty (and also the most fun). Ygritte seeks to… er, “test” the would-be turncoat crow in a most unique way: forcing him to make love to her, which goes against his sworn oath as a celibate man of the Night’s Watch. Is Jon’s surrender to the red-haired temptress (“kissed by fire,” as she describes it) a betrayal of oath, an adherence to it (doing whatever it takes to stay undercover) – or perhaps loyalty to his own heart? Time will tell – provided the two lovers ever emerge from that cave.

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones Kissed by Fire Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 5 Review – Broken Vows

Meanwhile, over in King’s Landing, Tyrion used to be known for his wit and endless scheming, but now, as Lady Olenna would say, he’s a “browbeaten bookkeeper” – which is no kind of reputation to have when your last name is Lannister. But that was a task handed down to Tyrion by his father, and with Tywin ostensibly at the helm of King’s Landing and his children’s lives, there’s little anyone can do but fall in line. Even when that means that the “still fertile” Cersei must marry Loras, while Tyrion finds himself suddenly betrothed to Sansa Stark.

Sudden revelations and solid character moments like these helped to ensure the momentum of last week’s brilliant episode didn’t go up in flames like an Astaporian slave merchant. More importantly, ‘Kissed By Fire’ offers an excellent example of how sharp the writing of Game of Thrones can be when it establishes a compelling connection to otherwise disconnected characters.


Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘The Climb’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview below:

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  1. I was quite pleased when the Hound was victorious, only to be like WTF shortly after.

    Whole lotta Brie in this episode… sheesh. Reminds me when I tried splicing gorilla genes with some of our Cobra volunteers. I should have factored in that those genes were female. *ahem*

  2. I loved the episode and I agreed it flowed quite nicely. The common themes of oaths and loyalty and moral code are a mainstay in Game of Thrones but glad to see it really analyzed well in a compelling way.

    This is one reason why I liked Jaime as a character. Sure he did questionable things but there was always more to him. The reputation as the Kingslayer truly caused self-conflict which confused him of who he was. Thereafter he almost let loose his conscious and moral guidelines because no matter what his reputation has tainted his self-worth. Only now as he loses the only aspect of him that he wholly recognized as himself truly- him being a fighter, a good swordsman- does Jaime feel empty and lost. Death is really no importance to him but he is slowly rebuilding his own self-image as he is now forced to delve deep within himself to replace what he thinks he has lost only to find that his fighting hand was only an extension, not an absolute, of what he is. The evolution of his character to face the ghost inside himself is exciting and rewarding (for now).

    Tryion’s fall is also an intriguing one. Him being replaced, so to speak, by Lady Oleena as the shrewdest and sharp tongued individual forces us the audience and Tryion himself to reevaluate his own niche in King’s Landing. At the end of Season 2 Tyrion made a choice to stay in King’s Landing and he listed his mind and talents as his defenses but now with those attributes unable to be utilized in a manner that will benefit his position, Tryion feels weak and lost. especially given the rising influence of Tywin Lannister.

    Arya Stark and Robb Stark are trying so hard to emulate their father or remember him. Their stories are great to watch as the audience can still feel the grand importance of Ned Stark- an aspect which I figured as one of the most important factors that helped Season 1 be successful. Jon Snow choosing a difficult choice but ultimately swayed by perhaps his own code and want is interesting and reflective of Robb and Arya past choices.

    Daenarys is rising in the East, and hopefully the writers of the show realized that some of the weakest elements of the books (note I have not read them but only vaguely aware of some events) is the slow advancement of her plot so to speak. So far her story has a lot of weight and advancement unlike some parts of season 2.

    Great episode. May be tied to the best episode so far with last week’s episode.

    • I always found Jamie to be the most relatable character in the show. The incest is clearly wrong but at the same time that is the only woman he has ever been with. I love how he sees through the facade of oaths and allegiances as just a way to do evil things with out respondibility. Jamie is a wicked character that is a the same time one of the most honorable in a Westeros since of justice because there really is no justice.

  3. Great episode. While The previous had a great revelation with Denarys(sp), I think this is most emmotional episode yet. Jaime’s revalation was almost a tear bringer. And i loved how he wanted to feel the pain of losing his hand.

    Highlight. Tywin putting Tyrion and unsuspecting Cersei in their place. lol. Love it!

    • Agreed, loved this episode

  4. Jorah and Barristan talking abouth oath is also a highlight of the episode.

  5. I suspect that after these last couple episodes, the ratings will be higher than ever. This was as good as the last one, which was amazing. They have the problem of trying to have so many disparate segments/locations, and try to link them, but they have succeeded at solving that problem lately with a force that breaks new ground for the scale of TV, even though it is somewhat scaled down from the books.
    As bad as things get for the Hound, or for Jaime, we didn’t see Theon this episode, and things get way worse for him. Then again, I think he is morally worse than either Jaime or the Hound. These guys, other than Theon, are maybe antiheroes and not villains.