Monday, April 25, 2011

game of thrones recap: 1.02 "the kingsroad"

Cersei Lannister doesn't visit a child's sickroom without looking fabulous

Wow. Last night’s episode was possibly even better than the first? Not that I don’t have my quibbles, but even though I’ve read the books, I’m still totally hooked. I think they did a pretty good job of fitting as much as they did into one episode – I haven’t read the books in a while but the events in this episode were easily a couple hundred pages in the book. And the actors’ are doing a marvellous job of capturing their relationships with the other characters with a single scene, line, even a look. It’s amazing. There better be some Emmy nominations! Also I am still completely in love with the opening title sequence (the theme song is just so perfect, and every time I hear it I get excited), but it got EVEN COOLER when instead of showing us the little toy Pentos, we got a little toy Vaes Dothrak, since that’s where the plot in the east was taking place. Anyway, I think the most effective way to write this recap is to focus on each of the four places it takes place this week: Winterfell, The Dothraki Grasslands, the Kingsroad, and the Wall (well, the journey north to the Wall anyway).


Most of the action still took place at Winterfell this week, where Catelyn Stark is currently mad with grief over the fall of her 10 year old son Bran. She doesn’t look like she’s slept or eaten since his fall, and is completely consumed with weaving some sort of weird basket thing for him. Meanwhile, we see just how much of a little shit Joffrey Baratheon is, when he tells his Uncle Tyrion that he has no intention of offering his condolences to the Stark family, saying “I hate the sound of weeping women.” Tyrion, in all his awesomeness, slaps those words right out of his head, while his scarred bodyguard, The Hound (or Sandor Clegane) watches on. Joffrey of course, cries and threatens to tell his mother. All this nephew slapping simply makes Tyrion hungry however, and he joins his siblings (and Cersei and Robert’s other two children, Myrcella and Tommen) for breakfast. It is here that Tyrion reveals his intent to go north with Jon Snow to see the Wall, and that Bran may not be as dead as Cersei might want. Cersei immediately heads to the boy’s room to check on his condition, revealing her own motherly sorrow over losing her first child. I loved this scene because Lena Headey played it so well, I have no idea if she was being truthful or simply manipulative, or even a bit of both. Catelyn though, seems to take this as sincerity, and thinks nothing of it.

Meanwhile Jon Snow is preparing for his own leave-taking, for he has made the decision to join the Night’s Watch. He has several wonderful scenes of saying goodbye to his siblings (Arya’s is particularly great), and he gives his littlest sister a parting gift of a girl-sized sword, which she calls Needle. Catelyn’s dislike of her husband’s bastard is solidified when she coldly tells him to get out as he is attempting to say goodbye to Bran, and Jon leaves Winterfell mostly bitter and angry. His father still doesn’t tell him anything about his own mother as they part ways outside of the castle, promising instead to tell him when he gets back from the south.

With the lord of the house and his daughters now gone for King’s Landing, the duties of running the castle are left to Lady Stark, but she is too consumed in her grief for Bran to have any interest in taking them up. Her oldest son Robb is left to pick up the pieces, but not before a fire breaks out in another part of the keep. With the household too involved in putting it out, an assassin suddenly appears in Bran’s room, telling Lady Stark “You’re not supposed to be here.” She tries to fight him off, and largely fails, until Bran’s direwolf busts into the room and puts an end to that assassin right away. This second attempt on her son’s life arouses her motherly suspicions though, and she returns to the scene of the crime, where she finds a single blonde hair. This coupled with her sister’s letter of warning solidifies her suspicions against the Lannisters, and she brings together the more important menfolk at the keep to tell them what she thinks happened. Apparently the assassin’s knife was much too nice as well, so they automatically believe her. Rather than send a raven though, Lady Stark decides to ride south herself to warn her husband, leaving Bran in the hands of the gods.

The Dothraki Grasslands

Daenarys Targaryen’s marriage still continues to be a trial, and the girl wallows in despair, in pain from all the riding and refusing to eat or drink. Ser Jorah Mormont, the banished knight from the Seven Kingdoms (we learn Ned Stark banished him for selling some poachers to slavers, a total Ned Stark move), tries to tell her that things will get better, but it doesn’t look like Daenaerys believes him. Her husband continues to plow her like a mare every night, and Daenarys continues to be upset about it, but she looks upon her dragon’s eggs and suddenly everything is alright. This scene was kind of problematic for one main reason – it has not been established to new viewers the Targaryen family history. Readers of the series know that the Targaryens were once masters of dragons, and that they took over the Seven Kingdoms by swooping in on dragons and devastating all the pitiful knights in their path and unifying the Seven Kingdoms with their dragony might. But dragons have been extinct for a long time, so that made it quite a lot easier for Robert Baratheon to depose them. But they haven’t talked about this at all on the show, so I can understand if a lot of new viewers were like “Uh….so why is she into it all of a sudden?” This could have been easily remedied by mentioning this history when Dany asks her handmaidens about dragons, or even when Illyrio gave her the gift to begin with.

But anyways, Daenarys finally decides to learn how to please her husband rather than cry about it, and asks one of her handmaidens, once a skilled courtesan, to teach her the ways of love. That was a pretty good scene – it was sexy but not gratuitous, and “You’re not a slave, so don’t make love like one” was pretty good advice for any young girl married off to a warlord. She may start in the bedroom, but Dany is trying to take ownership over his situation in pretty much the only way women are allowed to in such a society.

The Wall

The journey to the wall is pretty short, just a couple of scenes, but next week we’re going to get a much greater look at it, since next week’s episode is entitled “Lord Snow”. Basically Jon slowly starts to realize that maybe the Night’s Watch isn’t such an illustrious order as he imagined (after all, it’s mostly made up of criminals), and Tyrion helps him to see that. We also learn that of course, Tyrion is the smart one in his family, since his body doesn’t allow him to be much of a warrior, and that brains can be just as powerful as a sword.

The Kingsroad

Ned Stark and his two daughters, Sansa and Arya (with their direwolves) all head south with the King’s retinue to take their place in the Tower of the Hand at King’s Landing. But the journey does take a month, so of course some things take place on the road. Robert again expresses his dissatisfaction at being king, and expresses a desire to take out the Targaryen siblings across the Narrow Sea. His spies tell him about Daenarys' marriage and their alliance with the Dothraki, and Robert wants to take them out once and for all, mainly out of vengeance for Ned’s sister (Their older brother Rhaegar is the one who killed her, quite brutally). Ned however, is too honourable a man to sanction the death of children, and advises against it. After all, the Dothraki have no ships, and no way to cross the sea. Unless they do, they are really not a threat, and Ned doesn’t think they ever will, not being a sea faring people.

Sansa feels a little out of place with the sophisticate ladies of the court, but luckily her gallant future husband decides to take her out for a walk, where he plys her with wine and calls her gross things like “sweetling.” Sansa being Sansa completely eats this up. Arya however, is off sword fighting with the butcher’s boy, and Sansa and Joffrey find them. Joffrey immediately becomes incensed at the thought of a butcher’s boy playing at being a knight, and cuts him with his sword. Arya doesn’t like having her friends threatened though, and she smacks him in the spine with her “sword”. Joffrey though, still has a real sword and his about to hurt Arya when her direwolf Nymeria rushes to her defense, and bites the young prince’s hand. Sansa is mortified, and Arya is terrified, and grabs Joffrey’s sword and throws it in the river, then runs away with her wolf. Joffrey again cries like a little girl and then snaps at Sansa when she tries to comfort him.

Arya and Nymeria hide in the woods from her father and the king’s guardsmen, and she knows what will happen to her wolf when they find them. So she throws rocks to get Nymeria to run away, which the wolf reluctantly does, but Arya herself is found by the queen’s men and is dragged before the king before her own father can find her. Joffrey of course lied and said that Arya and Mycah (the butcher’s boy) beat him with sticks and set the wolf upon him, of course neglecting to mention that he’s the one who started it, and pulled his own real sword on them first. Arya accuses him of lying, but Sansa refuses to back up her sister’s story. Robert is not pleased that his son was disarmed by a little girl, and so says he’ll discipline his son as long as Ned disciplines his own children as well. But Cersei is out for blood, and while Nymeria is gone, she wants a direwolf dead, and doesn’t really care which one it is. Robert allows it rather than fight with his wife, and the episode ends with Ned ending Sansa’s wolf’s life (don’t worry though; the actual dog got taken home by the girl who plays Sansa!). But back in Winterfell, as this is happening, Bran finally opens his eyes…

  • Outfit of the week: Again goes to Cersei, for her elaborate silk wrap and gown that she wears in Bran’s room.
  • I love how Khal Drogo immediately loses his pants in his wife’s tent. Also OMG THERE IS ANOTHER SEXUAL POSITION IN WESTEROS. ALERT THE TOWN CRIERS.
  • The Hound is not very scary though.
  • Robert’s tankard when he and Ned are stopping for lunch is AWESOME.
  • Since the critics are making such a big deal of all the boobs and blood in this show, let’s do an actual count shall we? Scenes with boobs: 1. Scenes with gore: 2. Is this more than any other HBO show? I’m pretty sure not (and trust me, I watch A LOT of HBO). So why have so many critics fixated on this?

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