“Kissed by Fire” Round-Up: Oaths, Obligations and a Trial by Combat


By Katie M. Lucas


"Valar dohaeris," the Valyrian expression, translates to "all men must serve." It’s this sense of duty that looms over “Kissed by Fire,” with kings and commoners alike examining their obligations.

First, there are those who betrayed their oaths. Weary of his "Kingslayer" nickname, Jaime Lannister reveals the whole story to Brienne. In an interview with HBO.com, Executive Story Editor and episode writer Bryan Cogman explains the significance of Jaime’s confession: It’s “the first time he's told ANYONE what really happened during the sack of King's Landing—that includes Tyrion and Cersei.” Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne, shares how Jaime’s revelation resonates with her character in HBO GO’s Interactive Features. Now that Brienne sees the honor in Jaime, she considers them “kindred spirits.”

King in the North Robb Stark has found a confidante in Talisa but their union meant breaking a promise the Starks made to Walder Frey. Executive Producer David Benioff calls Robb’s marriage his biggest strategic mistake in this week’s Inside the Episode. The King in the Narrow Sea fares no better; Stannis Baratheon’s broken marriage vows only resulted in guilt.

In Tywin Lannister's opinion, family and strategy are entwined. Case in point, he uses Tyrion and Cersei as pawns to secure the Lannisters’ hold on the Iron Throne. James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly points out, “as much of an emotionally abusive father Tywin Lannister is, if he ran a corporation, who wouldn't want to invest?”

For the Brotherhood Without Banners, questions of duty and morality are decided by the Lord of Light -- including the Hound’s fate. For a behind-the-scenes look at his fiery trial by combat, check out the video below, which was featured in HBO GO’s Interactive Features:

Arya’s reactions to the trial struck a chord with viewers. Her scenes where the “most powerful of all,” according to Rolling Stone’s Sean T. Collins. “Every line seemed like a cruise missile aimed at your heart.” That includes Arya’s discussion with Beric Dondarrion. Time’s James Poniewozik sums it up: “Who would have thought that ‘Could you bring back a man without a head?’ could be such a touching line?”

"Valar dohaeris" is traditionally the reply to "Valar morghulis," which means “all men must die,” but as Lord Beric’s scars prove, things are seldom so black and white in 'Game of Thrones.' Who did you find most and least honorable in this episode? Share your thoughts below.