Is there such a thing as going too far on "Game of Thrones"? Just ask the charred toddler hanging on the walls of Winterfell — he'll have an answer, I'm sure.
Season two has already seen no fewer than four of its currently aired seven episodes conclude with the death of a child in increasingly brutal fashion. And "A Man Without Honor" — the 17th hour of the series — was perhaps the cruelest of the bunch, thanks to Theon Greyjoy. Not quite the boy-monster that Joffrey is, Theon is definitely giving him competition for the show's Most Loathsome Villain award. Even though the golden-haired demon child sat out of this week's outing entirely (ironic, given the title of the episode), Joffrey's presence hung heavily through Sansa and Cersei, both of whom are afraid of the boy king, but for very different reasons.
Oh, and did we mention that a certain little kingslayer made his ugly comeback this week? Learn all about that and more in the rest of our "Game of Thrones" recap.
Better to Be Cruel Than Weak
If Theon is truly lost, then he's finding his way back to himself through fire and blood, just like Dany. Unlike Dany, his version of "fire and blood" includes murdering innocent children to further his own agenda. Theon has very clearly lost it at this point. In addition to slaying kids who may or may not be Bran and Rickon (you know the rule of fiction, guys — unless you see a character die, they're never really dead), he's taken to physically harming every single person who opposes him. Poor Ser Rodrik was just the tip of the iceberg.
You Know Nothing, Jon Snow
North of Winterfell and well beyond the Wall, the crow Jon Snow and the wildling girl Ygritte are having themselves a grand old time. Well, not grand, but certainly sexually charged. It's funny to see someone speak in such a way to Jon. He's not the man of the Night's Watch he thinks he is, not in Ygritte's eyes; to her, he's just "a boy who's never been with a girl." She's not wrong, really. But all of that might change now that the roles have reversed and Jon's become Ygritte's captive. Also, fans of the books, were you as psyched as I was to hear Ygritte spit out her most famous line to Jon? We'll be hearing plenty more "you know nothings" as the season progresses, I bet.
The Lion King and the Wolf Girl
If the Emmys had a Best Onscreen Duo award, I'd make a strong case for Charles Dance and Maisie Williams. Their scenes as Tywin and Arya in the ruins of Harrenhal are swiftly becoming the best scenes of the season. Some out-of-context dialogue highlights: "This will be my last war, win or lose." "Do you think I'd be in this position if I'd lost a war?" "Careful now, girl. I enjoy you, but be careful." "You're too smart for your own good. Has anyone told you that?" Dance and Williams just clearly get a kick out of each other, and their chemistry is infectious. Great stuff.
Love Your Children
Down south in King's Landing, there's no sight of Joffrey Baratheon, yet the Lannister-in-stag's-clothing remains a hot topic for his surrounding court. Sansa Stark makes the bloody discovery that she's now able to bear Joff's children, a realization that she unsuccessfully tries to keep from Queen Cersei. Surprisingly, when giving Sansa advice, Cersei doesn't even really recommend that Sansa work towards falling in love with Joffrey some day — "You can try," she says skeptically, but her real advice is to "love no one but your children." She's having trouble listening to her own words, as Joffrey's continued cruelty pushes the Lannister matriarch further and further away from her son.
Uniquely Unfit for Constraint
In further Lannister news, "A Man Without Honor" saw the not-so-triumphant return of Jaime Lannister for the first time since the season premiere. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau stole the show this episode, as he tends to do whenever he's onscreen. But I'm glad it's taken us this long to see him again — absence makes the heart grow fonder, even if a murderous prison escape makes it grow a little firmer in the end. Aside from seeing Jaime again, the Stark Camp story reached some other notable moments that should have fans of the books grinning: the furious introduction of Rickard Karstark, the developing creepiness of Roose Bolton, and the first mention of the MIA Barristan Selmy in what feels like ages. Yeah, remember that guy? Got a funny feeling we'll see that bold warrior again soon. ...
Finishing up all the way in Essos, we return to the plot point that's got my head spinning most: Qarth. So, Xaro Xhoan Daxos is in cahoots with the warlocks of the House of the Undying to kill the rest of the Thirteen and become the king of the greatest city that ever was or will be? And they took Dany's dragons, pretty much just to prove a point? Needless to say, these are more things that never happened in George R.R. Martin's novels. And once again, not sure what to think about all of these alterations, except that I think they're way too melodramatic for melodrama's sake. That said, while I'm not a fan of where the story's gone, there's no denying that Ian Hanmore is thoroughly disturbing as blue-lipped baldy Pyat Pree, and the potential for an incredibly unsettling House of the Undying scene is certainly there.
What did you think of this week's "Game of Thrones" episode? Tell us in the comments section!