“Walk of Punishment” – Season 3, Episode 3
Abandoning their old fondness for sexpositions, the Game of Thrones writers seem to have taken a new route toward the comic exposition in this episode.
Lord Hoster Tully is given ship burial, but his son, Edmure, after three attempts, is unable to set alight to the boat with the flaming arrows. We repeatedly see them whizzing into the water. The Blackfish harshly takes over and sets the boat ablaze first time, to the relief of all the funeral attendees.
Whether the increase in comedy is related to the directorial debut of series writer David Benioff, or whether the plotline just happened to have opportune moments for it, episode 3 sustained a proud sheen of black humour throughout.
The meeting of the Small Council in King’s Landing certainly earnt itself a position as one of the most expertly choreographed table scenes in cinema. Beginning on floor level, the camera rises up from the ominous image of Tywin Lannister’s heavy black boots and we see his body inch by inch, foreboding and powerful. As we rise from the floor, Tywin’s three advisors shuffle in tentatively through the doorway, stared down by their superior. The three figures take up far less screen space from their position in the background than the much larger foregrounded Tywin, in a very clever deep-focus shot.
The scene continues in complete silence, as Tywin tilts his head to indicate his advisors should be seated. Varys makes the first move but Littlefinger rushes ahead of him in a subtle turn of comedy. Cersei and Tyrion remain by the door, calculating their moves. Once seated, Cersei lifts her chair and walks slowly – in real-time – to sit on the other side of her father. Tyrion then drags the remaining chair, which is bigger than he is, noisily across the floor and heads up the table at the other end. These decisions reveal the varying covert and overt tensions between the Small Council, father-children and brother-sister.
Now sitting miles from the rest of the council, Tyrion, with a horrified stare from Varys, is of course the one to break the silence: “Intimate, lovely table.”
The sequence, as always with scenes involving Tywin and Tyrion, ends with a seething Tyrion. Having been made Master of Coin in Littlefinger’s stead, Tyrion remarks that a lifetime of outrageous wealth has taught him nothing about how to manage money.
The comedy in this Small Council scene is the most implicit of the episode, which is what makes it the cleverest and arguably the most funny. That is not to undermine the exposition, the explicit brothel scene in which Podrick gets his first taste of women, nor the conversation between Daenerys and the crass slaver Kraznys, in which the translator, Missandei, struggle to reword Kraznys’ responses politely.
What episode 3 has proved is that Game of Thrones, though fantastical, historical and dramatic, was ripe for some darkly comic incisions – it seems the writers are upping their game in the genre department this season.