‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3, Episode 8 Review – Philosophical Differences

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Sibel Kekilli and Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones Second Sons Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 8 Review – Philosophical Differences

It seems that week after week, Game of Thrones is judged on two primary criteria: how well the episode managed to draw all the separate storylines together into something resembling a cohesive whole, and whether or not the episode actually progressed the season’s storyline – or if it simply set up some future narrative payoff.

Although ‘Second Sons’ doesn’t offer up a major event or showstopper like Daenerys’ masterful acquisition of the Unsullied, or Jon and Ygritte’s scaling of the icy Wall, it does offer a bit more story by paring down the amount of characters who stop by to make an appearance. This week is mercifully devoid of Theon’s continued torture. But it’s also free of Robb Stark’s attempt to make peace by offering up his uncle to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters and, sadly, the continuing adventures of Westeros’ most exciting companions, Jaime and Brienne.

As the series has demonstrated in the past, the fewer characters that drop by the more character moments the episode happens to have at the ready. The culling down of locations and storylines leaves ‘Second Sons’ with just Daenerys, Melisandre and Stannis, and Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding in King’s Landing to check in on – save for the brief opening sequence which sees Arya and the Hound riding toward her mother and brother, after the young Stark spent the morning pondering whether or not she can cave in a Clegane skull with a rock.

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones Second Sons Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 8 Review – Philosophical Differences

So much of the episode seems to be made up of little victories snatched from what is otherwise a significant defeat. Arya may be in the hands of the Hound, but she’s on her way to meet up with her family. And even though her traveling companion is on Arya’s Big List of People to Kill, his motivations are far more straightforward than the Brotherhood Without Banners. While the light isn’t nearly as bright at the end of their tunnel, Tyrion and Sansa manage to survive the wedding neither of them wants, while seeing Joffrey ever so briefly put in his place.

Considering the pace at which the series sometimes moves, the nuptials of Tyrion and Sansa felt as though they came about rather abruptly, creating the concern they might be treated offhandedly to some extent. But the sharper focus of ‘Second Sons’ winds up managing the affair in an efficient fashion that also offers up a handful of terrific character moments, mostly belonging to one or more of the Lannisters. In fact, the wedding seems to be the Tywin & Joffrey Show, as they are the only ones who could possibly be getting any enjoyment out of the whole thing – as Tywin acquires his key to the North, while Joffrey is afforded a chance to humiliate his uncle.

As with most social events involving large groups of family with varying degrees of affinity for one another, the wedding was chock-full of uncomfortable moments that went far beyond Joffrey’s stealing of Tyrion’s step stool. Cersei made her feelings for the Tyrells known by threatening Margaery after the Queen-to-be used the term “sister” and then by blowing off Loras before he could share a bit of insight handed down from his father. Cersei’s willingness to share her feelings is one of few traits she has in common with her brother, who drunkenly threatens his nephew before wisely slipping into the role of inebriated buffoon, so that he can take Sansa back to the relative safety of their room, sarcastically quote the Night’s Watch and pass out on a chaise lounge, leaving his teenaged wife to sleep alone – much to Shae’s unspoken approval.

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones Second Sons Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 8 Review – Philosophical Differences

Over in Dragonstone, Ser Davos picks up the double-win of semi-literacy and freedom, while calling out Stannis’ apparent uncertainty with Melisandre’s plan. Still, it doesn’t quite stop the Red Woman from leeching some of Gendry’s blood, so that a spell may be put on Stannis’ enemies. At this point, Stannis feels even more at a loss, torn between being the man Ser Davos proudly became loyal to, and his desire to be the true king of Westeros at any cost. Perhaps if Melisandre’s spell works without the need to take Gendry’s life, Stannis will find himself on the path to reclaiming the man he was, while becoming the king he’s always dreamt of being.

The biggest winner of the episode (and season, really) is Dany. After sitting face-to-face with the captains of the Second Sons, and finding them mostly lacking in character and decency, she is joined by their skilled and seemingly decent lieutenant, Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein), after he refused their order to kill the Mother of Dragons by taking the heads of his captains.

Although none of the events felt particularly life-shattering, ‘Second Sons’ manages to be more than an episode simply intent on moving the pieces toward the future. And yet, Samwell’s panicked killing of a White Walker with the weapon from the First Men, clearly points to some dark times ahead.


Game of Thrones will be taking a break for the Memorial Day weekend and will return on Sunday, June 2nd with ‘The Rains of Castamere’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview below:


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  1. I also agree that the big “winner” in this episode is Dany Stormborne.

    Yes. Yes sir.


    • to watch it simple google ACCESSTV THRONES

  2. For some reason I would have thought that with the success of GOT they would have a greater budget to show that they are actually still at war. 1 or 2 more battles would have been awesome. Everyone keeps talking about it but where is it? It would have been great to start the season with a battle between white walkers and crows. What has happened to the crows anyway after Crasters battle? This is where the show disappoints. Characters are gone for to long and instead they give us scenes that do not add to the show.

    Varys and Little Finger are always scheming so where did they go? Little Finger was going to the Eeryie so? They introduced Mance and yet he has only been in 2 episodes for brief scenes. If Rob does not care if Bolton’s bastard got to Theon or what has happened to Theon then why do we care? Why do we care if Osha and the other chick with Bran don’t like each other? Why did Tyrion become a back ground character this season? I know what happens in the future but so far they have used him quite poorly. Just because Arya got away from Robin Hood and his merry men we don’t care about them anymore? Weren’t they going to battle some Lanisters?

    I am sure the next 2 episodes will be epic but so far I would have to say this season has been like a 7/10 when the previous where easily 9s 9.5s…

    • Why don’t you take your directing, screen writers and producers diploma (that you so seem to have) and make a better series? Game of Thrones not GOT!, please stop with those abbreviation!
      Game of Thrones is about what happens behind the scenes of epic battles we all know and see so often on screen. There is so much epic detail and attention in every frame that you seem to have missed, that if you want your battle you can go watch the opening of Sir Ridley Scott’s Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven.


      • I reckon Ygritte dies (Jon’s ex GF) but not from Jon’s own hand and also Jon becomes Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch through Sawmill Tarly’s manipulation. Also due to the next episode being wall-focused we may see Bran meet the three eyed crow (who is actually a bastard born Targaryen – Bloodraven). I may be wrong.

    • I re-read this to make sure I didn’t spoil anything, and I haven’t. No details here.

      Every single question you asked is about the fact that none of those things resolved in the first half of A Storm of Swords.

      Just wait. This season is only half of the book. As far as Rob not caring about Theon or the Winterfell fate, this has already been addressed, they THINK his brothers are dead and the Castle was destroyed. He still has a war to win atm, and he NEEDS the Freys, hence the wedding that is coming.

      As far as why should WE care about Theon now, just wait. In the novel he disappeared completely until book 5, and we are actually seeing what was only told in flashback. It ALL has importance.

      Littlefinger going to take over the vale? THIS has importance too, majorly. Especially about some major plot points from the first season.

      Varys? The last scene in book 5 is absolutely ridiculous, you have no comprehension of how deep his “scheming” really goes. It’s all coming. There is nothing random or threads forgotten.

      Mance Rayder? Oh, he has a HUGE part or more than 1 part to play yet.

      Battles? The proposed ending of season 4 battle will have twice the budget of Blackwater (at least this is what D+D are trying to convince HBO to let them do). If you can only do a few, do BIG ones, not little skirmishes. It makes them more important, which they are in the books anyway. You’ll get some fairly major skirmishing in episode 9 though.

      The first half of A Storm of Swords is setup for the 2nd half, with several major events taking place that redefine characters for the rest of the entire story. You’ve only seen one so far. 2 other huge ones are coming in the last 2 episodes.

      So sit back, enjoy the ride, and stop waiting for the nownownow mentality, because you are watching the wrong series for that type of normal tv instant resolution. These novels are DEEP.


      • Amen.

    • The reason there have been no battles in the show is because there were no battles in this part of the book. The armies didn’t fight at this point in the story, they just kept marching back and forth while Rob lost his forces a little at a time, due to political reasons. The entire 3rd book is about the fact that you can lose a war without losing a battle.

  3. great ep. For me the best part has got to be the ending Sam killing that white walker was just awesome

    • Yes!I also liked it as well but I wonder why he ran away without getting the object he used to kill the white walker. Or maybe I missed that?

      • Yeah he left the obsidian arrowhead on the ground like an idiot.

      • Exactly! Had me screaming at the screen: “Pick up the damn knife, dumbass!”

        • 100% agreed

  4. And the ultimate bonehead of the year “winner” is sadly one of my favorite characters of late – Sammy for not removing and taking with him the dragon blade after obliterating the white walker. I hope he’s got a stash of those puppies.

    I take perverse pleasure in Tyrion’s oft public verbal humiliation of Joffrey the Jackarse. I usually scroll it back and watch the scene a second, sometimes a third time.

  5. The second sons story line was very predictable and very lame. Not typical game of thrones fashion. I thought it was pathetic. Rest of the episode was really good though.

    • Well, just keep in mind this is simply Daario’s intro, which is the least of what part he will play in this story. It was abbreviated from the book, but played kind of similar. Details were condensed as always, since they simply do not have the time to do every single line note for note. Each season would need to be 25 hours long.


      • I figured as much. I haven’t read any of the books. I’m afraid if I do it will ruin the show for me. The books are always better. I just knew as I soon as I saw the way he looked at her what was going to happen. Also when they gave the three coins to the slave girl. I didn’t expect him to kill his superiors though. That caught me off guard. I really thought he would convince them to join him.

        • I will testify as to saying that reading the books didn’t ruin anything for me, in fact I like the show better because of it. I understand so much more about the characters and history, since without the inner narrative, the series hasn’t explained quite a lot yet. Most of the backstory and various things in the novels are explained through the inner narratives of the viewpoint characters.

          Some super book fans get up in arms about every single little deviation, though I am not one of them. In fact, there are several examples of where I actually liked what the series did better on certain scenes. Take Ned and Jamies confrontation in the first book (first season episode 5). It was way better on the show. In the books, they didn’t fight, a HORSE hit the back of Neds leg, crippling him. I think it played way better with the rewrite.

          Unfortunately, after Ned passes out, the next time you see him is in episode 6, where he’s waking up to see King Robert and Cersei. What the show didn’t do, was show the DREAM he had before waking up. It’s one of the most important things in the entire series, and the show hasn’t even hinted about that yet.

          Since certain things have also been downright altered (like Danys whole season 2 story), I have to memorize 2 continuities now, but it’s all good. 😀


        • Reading the books is actually helpful to better understand what is happening on the show. There are so many characters and historical events in this series (screen and written) that familiarity with the backstories helps to keep track of people’s motivations.

  6. Did anyone notice the tree with the face just behind Sam Tarly? it was the white walker , somehow stealthy imposing itself in he tree and waited to come out at the opportune moment. it was real stupid of Sam leaving that obsidian blade behind.

    • re: faces carved in trees
      The white trees with red leaves are named weirwoods, and are sacred sites for followers of the “old faith”. The practice of carving faces originates with the Children of the Forrest, who inhabited Westeros before the arrival of the first men thousands of years ago. You may recall from season 1 (and the opening credits) that there is a weirwood at Winterfell. Further, when Jon Snow took his oath for the Knights Watch, he made his pledge “before the Old Gods” in front of a weirwood.

      The faces are not related to the white walkers.

      • When they first came to the shelter, the face in the tree had both eyes and mouth closed. When Sam comes out of the shelter to discover the reason for all the blackbirds cawing, the tree face mouth is open, almost as if it too was cawing for the white walker. Do the carved faces come alive? (I haven’t read the books…sorry!)

        • I’m going to be careful (and limited) with my response, because while although you don’t mind specific answers, I’m sure there are others who don’t want to accidentally read spoilers. :)

          I think you’re mistaken about the tree. I don’t think the face is shown in the night scene, and the mouth and eyes were definitely open in the daytime shot (re: when they first arrive at the shelter).

          I understand the connection you’ve made to the ravens given what’s been shown so far, but they aren’t specifically cawing for the white walker.

          • Spoilers. Yes. Must be careful. My apologies if I’ve given anything way. It wasn’t intentional.

            Thanks to El Pepe for attempting to set me straight although I’m 99.9% sure about the change in the tree face in the time frame stated.

  7. Loved this episode, Tyrion at the wedding was brilliant

    • Yeah, it’s decent foreshadowing for future seasons. Peter can nail bitter Tyrion as well as he nails wiseass Tyrion. It’s going to be a ride.


  8. <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>….IF YOU CANT HANDLE IT DONT READ THIS POST. Sam is forced to flee, joined only by Gilly and her newborn. They make it as far as a village Sam believes to be Whitetree but are then attacked by wights, including a reanimated Small Paul, who attackes Sam first. Sam fights him off and stabs him with the dragonglass dagger, but it proves ineffective. Desperately, Sam strikes him with a piece of charred wood, which catches him on fire, killing him. They run, but are beset by additional wights, and are saved at the last moment by Coldhands.[8]

    Gilly and Sam are led back to the wall by Coldhands, who has informed them that there will be one in the Nightfort that must be sent to him. Entering the Nightfort through the castle’s Black Gate, Samwell encounters Bran Stark, along with Hodor, and Meera and Jojen Reed, whom he leads back to Coldhands.[9]

    Sam returns to Castle Black following the events of the Battle of Castle Black, with Stannis Baratheon present and urging the swift election of a new Lord Commander and threatening to name one himself if none can achieve the required two-thirds majority. In the voting, Janos Slynt is gaining ground on the leading candidates Cotter Pyke and Denys Mallister. Believing Slynt would be a disastrous Lord Commander, Sam approaches Pyke and Mallister independently, and lies to each regarding Stannis’s intentions to name the other to the office, thus convincing them both to support Jon Snow as a compromise candidate, leading to Jon’s election.

  9. The producers have obviously made major changes in this event, which makes me think that any future episodes may be a wide change from the books.

    • Major changes? In the book Sam kills a white walker with the dragonglass. They’ve just simplified the storyline a bit. The presence of the ravens indicates that the storyline is about to sync back up with the book.

      • Agreed, I don’t see any major changes coming either with this storyline. The only change was the timing of when we find out that the dragon glass can kill whitewalkers. Sam kills a whitewalker at the beginning of book three when the Nights Watch battles the whitewalker (which we didn’t see in the show). Obviously the crows are connected to something that the viewers will find out in the upcoming episodes. Once again, not a major change.

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  11. I just started watching. Never read the books. From what I can tell this should have been called Game of Porn. For goodness sake. I am assuming this isn’t for younger people, but yet there are children on the show. A show that has porn, nudity and language everywhere. Not a fan at all and I’m a grown man. I think it distracts the viewers from what should be a terrific show with terrific acting.