Sexposition. It's the word famously coined by blogger Myles McNutt to describe any scene of gratuitous nudity used in Game of Thrones to distract the viewer whilst important information is fed to them. Whilst no doubt the show still suffers from too many scenes au naturel, the writers have found better ways of placing them into the plot. In Second Sons, a quiet episode full of intimate discussions, sex and nudity were used in fascinating ways to comment on each character's perception of love and duty, as well as themselves.
The crux of the episode centred on the uncomfortable wedding of Tyrion and Sansa, which for some reason has taken priority over that of Joffrey and Margaery. We are often astounded by the breathtaking scenery of Croatia and Iceland used in the show, so it's only right to comment on how fantastic the Great Sept of Baelor looked, filmed with hundreds of extras at The Paint Hall studios in Belfast. The stained glass windows cast an artificial light into the dank and desolate chamber lined with Lannister and Tyrells as Tyrion is humiliatingly forced to ask his new wife Sansa to kneel so that he can cloak her with the Lannister colours.
Seeking wine as an outlet from the forced marriage, Tywin wastes no time in making sure that Tyrion does his duty, commanding that he make Sansa conceive a child. If not then the malicious Joffrey might get there first, threatening her with rape at the feast. The moment Tyrion threatens to castrate the boy king is wonderfully tense as you're left with no idea how the scene will pan out.
After his brave acts at the Blackwater, Tyrion now plays the quiet hero in King's Landing. Standing up to Joffrey at the wedding, his finest hour comes in the bedchamber with Sansa, going against his father's orders and telling her not to disrobe. Referencing his watch starting, he may not have done his duty but he does have honour.
One man dishonoured is Davos Seaworth. The illiterate seaman tried to kill Melisdandre and has been confined to the dungeon. But Stannis returns to the Onion Knight knowing that he is the only one who will stay true to his conscious and speak the truth. Horrified by the Red Woman's plans to sacrifice Gendry, he tells him, "You're not a man who slaughters innocents for gain or glory".
Melisandre here uses her nakedness as a trap to lure Gendry. Seduced by her, he is horrified when she turns their moment of passion into a means of extracting his kingly blood through leeches.
Davos might have saved Gendry's life, but we still do not know Melisandre's true plans. She says to Gendry, "The God is real, or he's not. You only need eyes to see". We've seen her power before, but will we see it again?
The final body on display is that of Daenerys, though here her nakedness is a symbol of both strength and sexual tension. The Second Sons dismiss the Targaryen with their leader Mero offensively making vulgar remarks about Daenerys and the women around her.
But Daario doesn't see her as just another girl to take, but a beautiful woman he chooses to serve. Daenerys, initially isolated and helpless in the bath as Daario storms in, climbs out of the tub and uses her nakedness not only as a means of showing off her beauty but also to reveal she is not afraid.
Playing the Game
We were introduced to mercenary group the Second Sons, though out of the three leaders only Daario is the only one going to become a series regular. Played by rapper Ed Skrein, he brings an alien attraction to the role of a man who fights for beauty rather than gold. But after seeing him dispatch his former comrades and bring their heads to the Khaleesi, is he someone Daenerys should trust?
It would have to be poor Gendry who was played this week. After discovering he is in fact the bastard of Robert Baratheon, he now finds himself used as a tool by Stannis and Melisandre. First seduced, then leeched by the Red Woman, he is at least spared his life by the words of Davos.
Another intimate scene comes between Sam and Gilly as they discuss names for the boy baby she cares for. They're soon interrupted by the presence of a White Walker. Evoking The Birds, the Weirwood tree goes from having a couple to a whole murder of crows squawking from its branches.
It's an electric moment, seeing the wraith slowly materialise from the woods, though the dramatic climax is quickly solved as Sam's dragonglass blade serves predictably as Chekhov's gun. In what was an episode filled with the quiet heroism of Tyrion and Davos, perhaps seeing Sam the fat coward save Gilly and her baby boy was the bravest act of them all.