Contributor: Gregg Wright
This episode takes a very similar approach to the previous installment, in that it seems relatively low on plot advancements and spends most of its time exploring the situation and the characters. It’s really just another step in the build-up to whatever dramatic confrontations are bound to occur. I found it slightly less interesting than the previous episode. But it still held my interest quite well the whole way through. I’d be hard-pressed to call much of it “filler”, since most of it feels like necessary development. And the ending is certainly a good lead-in to the next episode.
I found myself particularly enjoying Petyr Baelish’s (a.k.a. “Littlefinger”) scenes. I didn’t quite realize, at first, just how much of a Machiavellian superman he is. It also didn’t become apparent, until now, the amount of cloak-and-dagger activities he and others are engaging in at King’s Landing. Ned has stumbled into a veritable hornet’s nest of spying and manipulation, and he’s ill-equipped to navigate this world. This is where Littlefinger comes in. His real motivations are likely selfish, but at least for now, he seems to be the most useful ally Ned Stark could possibly have at this time, especially given his desire to investigate Jon Arryn’s death. Ned’s investigation goes rather well overall, but he seems to have no interest in hiding his activities, leading Cersei to pay him a visit and offer thinly veiled threats. I can see this getting out of hand very quickly.
Events at the Wall weren’t quite as interesting, probably in large part due to Tyrion’s absence. Jon Snow has begun to earn the respect of the other recruits, and seems to be slipping into a leadership role. Snow still feels like one of the slightly weaker characters in the show, but I think he has potential. Ser Alliser Thorne’s intentions are good. He has good reason to believe that the recruits are not up to the dangers ahead of them. And Jon Snow is getting in the way of his efforts to prepare the recruits.
It’s easy to side with Jon in his efforts to protect Samwell Tarly. But Jon needs to be realistic about Samwell’s chances out there in his current state. They are a couple of different directions the writers could go with this story thread. Jon Snow and the other recruits will have to go through the hell of the coming winter before they (whoever survives) are truly Night Watchmen. Or, Jon Snow will unexpectedly rise to the occasion. Those would be my two main predictions anyway.
I really have trouble believing that Tyrion is involved in any of his siblings’ treacherous dealings. Naturally, he had nothing to do with the initial attempted murder of Bran. I don’t think he was involved in the death of Jon Arryn either. As for the attempted assassination of Bran which apparently involved his dagger, I suspect a framing to have occurred. Of course, I’m quite biased in this assessment. Tyrion was completely awesome yet again, offering us some of his best dialog in the show so far.
But in addition to this, the evidence so far (besides the dagger) seems to point to Tyrion having a genuine soft side. When he encounters Bran, his inquiry regarding Bran’s memory of the incident could be interpreted in at least a couple of different ways. Is Tyrion worried about his siblings being found out? Does he have his own suspicions about who tried to kill Bran? Or is he just curious and concerned? Tyrion is such a master of self-control, it’s almost impossible to find any clues in his dialog that might hint at a negative motivation. But I tend to think it’s one of the latter two possibilities, or both.
Our time with the Dothraki is fairly brief, but I enjoyed seeing Daenerys finally stand up to her scumbag of a brother. And the following scene between Dany and Jorah nicely puts things into perspective for both of them. Viserys made a ridiculous error in judgment thinking he could get the Dothraki to help him successfully take back the throne. There’s just no way it’s happening, unless something utterly surprising happens. By the way, those Dragon eggs are supposed to be dead, right?
The major plot advancements can be pretty easily and succinctly summed up. Ned discovers that Jon Arryn had a secret bastard son, and Catelyn accuses Tyrion of conspiring to murder Bran in the middle of a pub and arrests him. Undoubtedly, the latter development greatly overshadows the first. It was a great scene, with Catelyn calling on all of her allies, one at a time, until Tyrion is desperately out-numbered. The situation is made much more engaging thanks to how sympathetic Tyrion has become (for me at least), due to his concern for both Jon Snow and Bran Stark. It does seem a bit premature for Catelyn to make such a bold move, without having more evidence against Tyrion, and it’s likely to have some negative repercussions for both Catelyn and Tyrion.