Obligatory Recap: The storm of Stark swords starts with Needle’s pointy end, Arya escapes the castle, Sansa’s still wearing her Lannister locket, Jon kills a white walker during Weekend at Bernie’s Wall Edition, Robb prepares for war, Tyrion and Bronn are doing their best Crosby and Hope impression and pick up some Stone Crows on the Road to Morocco, Dany takes a stand, sidenote: IS THAT A PILE OF HEADS?!!
Khal Drogo gets a flesh wound, Catelyn is reunited with her eldest son, Lord Barristan does a strip tease and storms off, Sansa writes a check Ned’s head won’t cash
To say there is fallout from Lord Eddard’s arrest would be putting it mildly. Comparatively speaking, less happens in this episode compared to the others. Individual scenes got longer, and two or three were shown in a sequence – the television equivalent of skipping ahead and reading 2-3 Robb chapters at once, ahem. I’m ok with it!
“What do we say to the God of Death?” “Not today” – I love all of Arya’s mantras. Given that she’s about to spend the foreseeable future sans parental guidance, her Water Dancer training is basically her moral fiber from here on out. Also, Arya’s gender-non-conformity saved her life. If she’d been in the solar with Sansa and the surprisingly heroic Septa Mordane, she’d be captured as well. And making everyone miserable. You know, I’d read that book too.
So, Ned’s in prison. When Varys comes to visit he brings wine and some unpleasant truths –
beauty killed the beast Ned’s mercy killed King Robert; This is a theme for this episode (and the series in general, really). When people around you are intent on doing horrible things, giving them mercy just gives them leeway to keep doing said horrible things. Lannisters always pay their debts and they do not pay them with mercy. There is nothing in Syrio’s teachings about mercy, y’all. I loved “When you look at me, do you see a hero?” from Varys – it’s a heads-up to you first-timers (who haven’t read ahead) that not only is Varys not a hero, but you shouldn’t be looking at anyone like they are the solution to your problems. Because they are not. There are no browncoats, no white hats, no deus ex populi.
Turns out the rangers Jon and his posse found were only mostly dead, which was freaky and gross. The showmakers left out Jon’s midnight ride – after he gets the news of Ned’s imprisonment and Robb’s riding south, he takes off on his horse determined to be an Oathbreaker; it was an important development for Jon because instead of just starting for the door, he bolted. He left, they knew he’d leave, but he comes back, partly thanks to his brothers on the wall and partly to his own conscience.
Oh Tyrion and Bronn, whistling down your merry way. “Though I would treasure your friendship, I’m mainly interested in your facility with murder.” Oh you. We meet Tyrion’s misfit army of wildlings. I’m always interested in these people Tyrion is able to win over by promising them wealth and rewards later. It reminds me of the hamburger guy from Popeye, honestly. There can never be enough Dinklage for me. I miss Jaime Lannister too, a little, but mostly I want to watch Tyrion walking around saying stuff to people.
Meanwhile back across the salt sea, Danaerys intervenes in the khalazar’s enslavement and rape of women from the tribe they’ve just destroyed. It’s powerful that Dany has survived sexual abuse, taken ownership of her body and her life, and now takes steps to protect other women in her path. She’s a women’s rights activist! Sort of! They don’t have the concept of rape in the Dothraki so she doesn’t teach them about consent but instead gives a lesson in ownership. I.e. that she owns them. “The dragon feeds on horse and lamb alike.” Keep an eye on that maegi, guys.
Patriarchy sidenote: Drogo can’t imagine that Dany is fierce because she is just that freaking fierce. It is her humanity and compassion for these other women and not the fire from her in-utero son, that leads her to take action. Sorry Khal, it is not about you and your freaking chromosome.
When Osha and Bran were talking by the weirwood (o hai naked Hodor…) I remembered how easy it is to forget that the name of this series is “A Song of Ice And Fire.” Today we heard tales of the ice warriors, the ones who sleep for thousands of years and then wake up to cut a bitch. And soon we’ll meet the ones who fight with fire. Maybe all this storming of swords and clashing of kings will come to nothing and in the 6th book it’ll just be Dany vs. the White Walkers. (Also, googlers who are confused – Osha is the wildling, Theon Greyjoy’s sister is Asha and we haven’t met her yet)
In the final throne room scene there was a lot of book exposition going on – listen for the background storytelling, boys and girls! Janos Slynt, who you’d never know was the head of Joffrey’s guard, was given Harrenhall, which you’d never know was a seriously old and prestigious fortress that comes with a title. He’s been elevated from a commoner’s status to a lord but I don’t think it’s going to take.
I just realized that every time I read “white cloak of the Kingsguard” I thought of white armor like a storm trooper. Thanks HBO, for making the armor armor-colored.
This episode had a lot more leisure to it, more time for little touches like Tyrion’s look of chagrin that he has to fight with his Stone Crows, Petyr Baelish’s slow doubletake when Varys started speaking about Sansa’s innocence, the quiver of Septa Mordane’s chin when she steps forward to meet the castle guards, Cersei’s creepy simper/grimace.
Someone on twitter said this episode had the first boring ending of the series, but how many times did I set down the book thinking “Whew, at last somebody’s finally willing to be reasonable and now everything will be fine,” only to find the next time I picked it up that omg EVERYONE’S DEAD. I think GRRM and HBO were trying to be merciful in giving us a noncliffhanger for once.
But this is the mercy that gets people killed.