May 05 2014

Game of Thrones Review: “First of His Name”

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

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We jumped all over the map this week in Westeros, more so than usual I’d say, in order to catch up with nearly anyone and everyone in and outside the seven kingdoms.

Tommen is now officially king, and as his mother remarks, probably the first one on the throne to actually deserve it in a long, long time. Though like his brother, he’s a bastard of incest, he’s sweet and kind and might actually be a good ruler.

If he’s allowed to rule himself, that is.

Rather, because he’s so young and tender, he’s a prime target for manipulation. While no one could control Joffrey’s madness, Tywin and Cersei will likely heavily influence him for the Lannisters, while Magaery will for the Tyrells. But at present, the Lannisters seem acutely interested in keeping the Tyrells on their side with a double marriage to Tommen and Cersei, while we the audience know the Tyrells actually had Joffrey killed, and are surely scheming to control the kingdom completely.

Tywin brings up the very important point that the Lannisters who “always pay their debts,” are in fact doing the opposite of that now that their gold mines have run dry and they’re going broke. They’re in massive debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, a shadowy organization that even the unshakable Tywin Lannister seems to fear. No sight of them yet, but we know Sherock’s Mark Gatiss will show up at some point this season as a representative of the bank.

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“Why are we wearing clothes? I do not understand this.”

Cersei made the rounds trying to influence the various judges in Tyrion’s trial, in case you didn’t quite grasp why she was being so nice to everyone. She cozied up to Margaery despite how much it clearly annoyed her (and by proxy her father, Mace Tyrell), she chatted up her father, pitching herself as the only Lannister child working for the good of the family, and she even reached out to eternal Lannister enemy, Oberyn, the Prince of Dorne, who miraculously avoided appearing onscreen in a sex scene this week. She played the “heartbroken mother” card to a tee, pining over her faraway daughter, who many viewers may forget was sent to Dorne in season two, betrothed to marry one of the young Martells. Cersei’s end goal? Get Tyrion motherf-ing convicted. For as much screen time as Tyrion always gets, it was almost a miracle we didn’t see anything from him this week. And sadly, no Bronn/Jaime banter either.

We checked in with the show’s two best pairings, Podrick and Brienne, and Arya and The Hound. Podrick proves he sort of sucks at being a squire, adorably failing to ride a horse effectively and thinking he should cook a rabbit with the pelt still attached. He eventually earns a crumb of respect from Brienne where he tells the tale of how he slayed a Kingsguard knight protecting Tyrion at the Blackwater.

Arya goes through her hit list before bed, the best moment of the night being when the Hound hears her cap it off with his name (he did kill her butcher’s boy friend way back in like, episode two of the series, as you may recall). The Hound teaches her that all her fancy footwork can’t save her from solid armor and a big sword, though through their dialogue about Syrio Forell, I think there were some pretty heavy implications he’s still alive (“he should have been able to take on three men drunk if he’s really the best swordsman!”) Meryn Trant was mentioned a lot, so I expect we may see more of him soon, even if he seemed like a throwaway character at the time.

Sansa has been taken to the Vale by Petyr Baelish where she reunites with her aunt and cousin who is mercifully not sucking on his mother’s boob when she arrives (at least not yet). In a show where everyone seems to be getting recast, it was interesting to see both actors return to those roles. Lysa plays the adoring aunt at first, but quickly reveals that she’s insanely jealous of Sansa and Petyr’s attention toward her, much like she was jealous of her mother in the same way. In short, Petyr was always in love with Catelyn, but Lysa was always in love with him. Petyr and Lysa hooked up as he was eternally rejected by Catelyn (even losing a duel with Ned Stark’s brother to try and win her affection) but now all these years later he’s returned to marry Lysa. Can you tell from the look on his face he might have ulterior motives than love?

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He’s just not that into you: Westeros edition.

Perhaps the most important piece of information revealed tonight was the fact that Petyr was the one who actually talked Lysa into poisoning her husband, Robert’s former Hand, Jon Arryn, and then blame it on a sinister Lannister plot. As you remember, that singular event kicked off the entire premise for the series. The theory was always that Arryn was poisoned by the Lannisters for looking into Joffrey’s parentage (which he was doing), but if Petyr was the one behind it all along, that’s kind of a mind-blowing revelation. We know he had a direct hand in poisoning the king, but to be responsible for that other plot too? How long has his master plan been in the works? And what the hell is it?

We conclude the evening with a necessary action scene because we can’t have a Game of Thrones episode without a bit of ultraviolence. The Craster’s Keep retaking subplot was nowhere to be found in the books, nor was Bran’s kidnapping, but I think they invented it just so there could be a bit of conflict in what was otherwise a pretty mundane storyline for both Bran and Jon Snow for that part of the books. It was great to see that scumbag get a sword through the mouth, but it was rather disconcerting to see Jon Snow actually lose a fight. Now it’s back to the wall to fend off the pending Wildling assault, while Bran heads north with a new superpower under his belt, Hodor-control. I was surprised that Locke, Roose Bolton’s mole, was killed so quickly, as I thought there was more treachery in store for him.

What did you think of the episode? No crazy deaths, but there were some serious information bombs dropped.

Book Stuff (Spoilers Ahead!)

- Interesting that Sansa is pretending to be Petyr’s niece instead of his bastard daughter. I’m not quite sure if that changes anything, but I’m not sure why they changed it either. I think they’ve also cut the character of that mountain climbing Vale girl who is heavily implied is yet another one of Robert’s bastards. Too bad, I liked her.

- Petyr is the mastermind of this whole goddamn series. I love, love, love his time at the Vale, and how he seizes power there, though this seems to be moving rather fast given where the books end his story.

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Jon Snow, proving facial scars are so hot right now.

- This Craster’s Keep subplot seemed like filler, though it did spice up Bran’s otherwise horribly boring story. I still believe Coldhands will eventually appear in the show. Some people think he’s been cut, but he seems like far too important of a character to lose completely. If he’s gone, that implies the long-awaited reveal of his identity in the books isn’t going to be all that important after all.

- I thought that Locke would play some part in Jon Snow’s eventual downfall. He’d grow to be a good friend, and then be part of the crew that stabs him in the back. The same goes for the Craster’s mutineers who are now all dead. Other than the acting commander and Slynt (who Snow will evenutally execute), who is left at Castle Black that has any reason to betray him?

- Though we haven’t seen a trace of Syrio Forell in the books, that was some pretty heavy implication that he’ll be showing up again in the future. And I can’t wait for that.

Tag BOOK SPOILERS in the comments please if applicable!





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5 responses so far

  • Alex W

    BOOK SPOILERS

    Jon’s stabbing, I thought was less of a power play and more a duty to the Watch because he was going to lead them from the wall and into war. I also don’t think the series has shown the different commanders from the other two castles manned by the Night’s Watch, so they can always introduce them when they bring them over for the choosing of the Lord Commander.

    END OF SPOILERS

  • AJ

    Er.. Not really sure what happened to my last comment. Some intense screening practices, unreality? Anyway..

    *Book spoilers!*

    I think the strange absence of Coldhands is related to the strange presence of Night’s King. In the books we really don’t know who CH is, just that he’s been dead for a long time, was probably in the night’s watch, and that he doesn’t want to kill Bran.

    What do we know about NK from Old Nan? He was a night’s watch brother a long time ago before fleeing north with his Other-wife and was probably a Stark.

    Of all of the theories on who CH actually is, none make as much sense as being revealed to be some sort of leader of the Others who will eventually oppose Azor Ahai (whoever he turns out to be).

  • Nick Ramsay

    BOOK SPOILERS

    Has anyone heard the Syrio Forel = Jaqen H’ghar rumour? It makes sense the he’s following Arya, keeping tabs on her and guiding her to the Faceless Men.

  • MegaSolipsist

    BOOK SPOILERS MIGHT MAKE AN APPEARANCE
    I am certain that CH and the NK are different people, if that word applies.
    The show is starting to deviate quite considerably form the books, and while some things are smoothed out, I think the unnecessary subplots are irritating, but that might just be because I loved the books.

  • MegaSolipsist

    I also think that Lysa should have revealed that stuff at the end of the season as she was supposed to. I think it would have worked better that way.

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