Obligatory recap – Bran is still unconscious from his fall, Jon and Tyrion are riding north to the Wall, King Robert and Ned are riding south towards King’s Landing (along with Sansa, Arya, the Lannisters and of course The Hound); Catelyn gets some help from an assassin-eating direwolf and does some sleuthing. Danaerys finally takes control of her sexual agency, Joff is a little shit and Arya finally gets a needle she can wield.
Some moments I really loved in this ep – Tyrion teasing Tommen and Myrcella at breakfast, after slapping Joffrey around, and Arya’s farewell to Jon, panning up the wolf pelts and past the real wolf curled up by Bran’s side – and others I found less compelling.
The added scene between Catelyn Stark at Bran’s bedside and Cersei, a whipped up concoction of mother-bonding, felt…weird. It needed a reaction shot of Cersei walking away and wiping off fake tears, something to remind us of what we love-to-hate about the Lannisters. They are steel and whipcord – they are not wrapped-in-a-shawl vulnerable.
An imperfect example of problematic misogynistic language pops up when Ned and King Robert are talking of Dany and her marriage. “Soon enough that child will spread her legs and start breeding,” Robert says, fearing that this Targaryen heir will soon have children who will grow-up to defeat him.
The line might seem fairly innocuous to most of youse – more like character development for King Robert than an anti-woman red flag. And sure, now that he’s expressed this thought this way, we know with a little more certainty that Robert is uncouth, unchivalrous, vulgar. But he’d just finished talking about the *ahem* endowments of an old mistress of his, so we knew that already. His gaucheness is a foil for Ned’s restrained closed-mouthedness about Jon Snow’s mother.
“Spread her legs and start breeding” is such a graphic, insulting, dehumanizing way to phrase it. “Soon enough that child could be the mother of dragons,” would be too poetic for Robert. “Soon enough that child will give birth to dangerous offspring” would be just as illustrative without the animal imagery and implied slut-shaming.
A minute later when King Robert talks about Viserys he says “If the Targaryan boy crosses with a Dothraki horde at his back, the scum will join him,” and Ned replies “If he does, we’ll throw him back into the sea.”
Notice how they’re not dehumanizing their rival, or planning to combat his insurgence with degrading or sexual violence? Funny how men are men, and women are animals….especially when men are doing all the warmongering.
Yadda yadda yadda, double standard, Tyrion can joke about the brothels that’d go bankrupt if he went celibate, while a married royal scion is fodder for animal comparisons….Oh, and a prince of the realm calls a girl about to kick his ass at sword fighting “the c word.” I’m so glad that along with the printing press, social equality has made such progress!
If I, a feminist, were writing this book, I would be more interested in finding creative ways to illustrate that some women are strong and some men are vile than in trotting out the same sexist tropes that frat boys and fashion magazines still use today. Just sayin’.