Obligatory recap: Tywin gives Jaime a pep talk, Ned confronts Cersei, Littlefinger conducts porn lessons, Greyjoy taunts Osha the wildling who taunts him right back, Benjen’s horse returns to the Wall, Robert takes a gory hit, Dany and Drogo braid eachother’s hair, Jorah has to make a choice, Jon gets his dorm assignment and takes his vows, Renly makes his case, Ned signs his own death warrant, Drogo has himself a Braveheart moment, and people picked to live in King’s Landing stop being polite and start getting real.
Our show opens with a Lannister literally butchering a stag. Graphic, visceral (…), super gross, and chilling. Three minutes in and we’ve learned that Tywin Lannister is not afraid to get his hands dirty, he knows how to gut and skin his prey, and we know this without even listening to the “A Lion does X” banter between him and his taller son.
We also had the first soft-corey erotic scene that is totally, utterly stupid when Littlefinger gave our friend, the red-headed whore, sex directions while pouring his soul out. GRRM told the story of Littlefinger and Catelyn a few times, from Catelyn’s perspective, Ned’s, and Littlefinger’s. None of those times happened while two prostitutes were doinking eachother and moaning to wake the dead. Stupid, unneccessary, added nothing to the scene except I guess to distract the fans who already knew the story and didn’t need to listen to Petyr Baelish’s tale of woe. I mean WOOHOO BOOBS AMIRITE?! Sigh.
Back at Winterfell, we get more Greyjoy backstory! I love that lil Theon doesn’t impress anyone, ever. Osha gets to build the foreshadowing about the White Walkers above the Wall (in case you forgot the chilling opening scenes), and the Maester treats her like a person, which is always nice.
And of course, there’s Robert’s ill-fated boar hunt. Quick aside – props to whoever was responsible for Ned’s scripty handwriting; very pretty. The ill-fate of the will that Robert dictates to Ned could be a primer for Why Legal Documents Need Witnesses, Oy.
I have hearts in my eyes for the Drogo-Dany scene with the hair braiding. Now that Viserys is deadsies, Dany is taking up her own cause, speaking her new language, visually and literally enacting the Behind a Great Man Is a Great Woman cliche. It was cool to see one of Varys little birds in action, and in case you weren’t sure where Jorah’s allegiance truly lay…now we know. I also liked that we got to see a little Stormbornyness from her when confronted with the world’s least effective poisoner.
Also in case you’ve missed it… Jon’s stern-faced commander on the Wall, The Old Bear, is Lord Commander Mormont, father of Dany’s now-officially-loyal guard, Ser Jorah. Ned exiled Jorah back in the day for selling off poachers to support his then-wife’s extravagant tastes. As always, consult the awesomest (and spoiler free if you’ve never read ahead) infographic ever when you’re confused.
In the books, Jon has a more active role in getting Sam assigned to the Stewards and his assignment to the Stewards in turn is more of a slap in the face. Jon was all set to redeem his bastard basebornness by becoming a Ranger like his uncle, so he is Most Seriously Displeased. I love the lessons that Jon has to learn…that once you’ve set out to do a thing, you stick with it even when it doesn’t meet your expectations. Honor is as honor does.
Very proud to see Renly assert his right to be king, and his correct observation that nobody cared about the line of succession when they were usurping the Mad King. “Do good soldiers make good kings?” – If Shakespeare taught us anything, that’s often the opposite of true.
Ah, the vows of the Night’s Watch, and the super creepy crying-blood heart tree.
. . .I am the sword in the darkness
I am the watcher on the Wall
(I am the fire that burns against the cold,
the light that brings the dawn,
the horn that wakes the sleepers,)
I am the shield that guards the Realm of Men. . .
Exit, pursued by Wights.
After Dany’s brush with death, Drogo gets all fierce and avengey, which was awesome until he got to the “I will rape their women” line. Because rape culture is real and rape in wartime is an epidemic, we see it all around us and I hate seeing it in my escapist entertainment. So there.
Cersei was looking a little Queen Amidala-like for my taste in the throne room scene. For those of you wandering “When do we get to the actual throne gaming”…. now it’s finally launched beyond the realm of the scheming and troop-amassing level. Cersei plays her card – putting Joff on the throne (I hope he gets dragon tetanus), Ned plays his – Robert’s will, Cersei tears his up and raises him a Hound and Barristan Selmy. Ned calls on his guards, who he thought he safely purchased from Littlefinger…and we all learn that it’s just not possible to purchase anything from Littlefinger because honor is the one thing you can’t buy.
No Sansa and Arya this week! This all happens relatively quickly in the books – and it’s the first eruption of violence that really taught me Nothing Is Safe in GRRM’s World. People come and go so fatally here – Martin’s not afraid to shake up his world, kill people off, introduce new people all in the space of a page or two – so fasten your seatbelts, folks.