*Full spoilers for the episode follow*
With a cast as large as this show has, it is difficult to fit all the crossing stories into one episode. “Kissed by Fire” has done this better than any other so far and was able to also be what is probably the most emotional episode of the series. There were no “oh wow!” moments this week, but what we were given instead was nothing short of spectacular.
The scene with Beric and The Hound in the trial by combat was intimate in its setting, but brutal in its action. We get to see the famed flaming sword, as well as a resurrection. Arya was not much of a fan of letting The Hound go, but rules are rules. Moving North of the Wall we get to hear some intel from Jon Snow about how many men are still in Castle Black. It seems to the viewer, and the wildlings that he may be being disingenuous with his information. Ygritte gets him alone and convinces him to break his vows, and in doing so gets to learn how the lords of the South treat their ladies! If you were Jon Snow right now, would you even want to go back to that dingy castle anymore?
There was a lot of back and forth with the different stories, and as much as it is needed I really wish there was time to devote to a certain stories longer. None more so than Jaime and Brienne. Lord Bolton does not come across as nearly the bad guy that Locke and his crew were, even chastising Locke at one point for his care of the prisoners. The speech that Jaime gives to Brienne about why he killed the Mad King was absolutely brilliant, and probably the best scene of the season thus far. Also refusing milk of the poppy while the former Maester Qyburn cleaning the rot where his hand used to be was a strong moment.
Arya has taken to reciting her nightly prayer again and is feeling alone. Gendry has decided to stick with the Brotherhood so she really has nobody left at this point. Thoros said she would be taken to Riverrun and freed after her brother gave a donation to the cause, but it is pretty obvious that none of them really want to admit she is a hostage. Learning of Beric’s “deaths” was a good scene that had Arya asking Thoros if he could bring back a dead man without a head. Arya’s story is getting better each time we visit them again with this week being no exception.
We do meet Stannis’ wife and daughter this week as well. Our exposure with the Lord of Light so far has only been through the Priests(ess), so getting to see how devout Selyse is to her God was actually kind of jarring. Stannis feels that he sinned with the Red Woman, but not so! Selyse says it’s good that he was given a living son since she gives him nothing (she says this while talking to a bunch of babies in jars, yeesh!) I wonder if she knows the living son was actually an adult sized smoke demon? Shireen on the other hand is just a little girl locked in a tower. She is locked away due to the grayscale on her face, but comes across as just an innocent child who sings to herself. When she was told that Davos was in the dungeons for treason, she makes her way down there to keep him company “because he is her friend”, and begins to teach him to read so he won’t get bored.
There was a good but short scene across the narrow sea with Daenarys, Jorah and Barristan. Dany telling the Unsullied Captain to choose his own name, to have him choose his slave name again was touching, as it played up the significance of her coming to them. Jorah and Barristan obviously don’t trust each other, and it’s interesting to hear them both try to find out what the other knows. The viewer cannot be certain if Barristan knows that Jorah was the spy for King Robert, but Jorah presses for some sign of his knowledge anyway.
There was so much going on in Kings Landing this week! There was a drastic lack of Varys though, probably because there was almost an overabundance of him last week. Seriously, that guy was everywhere! The Tyrell scheme to marry Sansa off to Loras was uncovered when Littlefinger sent in a spy (Loras really liked that Squire). Tywin dropped the bomb when he announced that he would shore up the North by having Tyrion marry Sansa instead, and then did the ol’ rope-a-dope and said he would shore the South by having Cersei marry Loras! This scene was brilliant because even though we did not see Tywin and Cersei discuss the Tyrion plans, you could tell she knew about it and was loving every minute. When Tywin told her about his further plans, you could actually pinpoint the moment her world crushes.
This was a strong episode that continued to set the stage for things to come. It will be interesting to see the outcome of all of these stories in the next coming weeks.