Contributor: Gregg Wright
Overall, this was yet another thoroughly enjoyable episode. It’s hard to say, but this might even be the best episode yet. Of course, I had to then go bumbling around on the web and run right into an extremely major character spoiler, which will no doubt color my enjoyment of future episodes. But that doesn’t change the fact that this episode contained some of the most entertaining scenes of the show so far, and some good plot advancement to boot.
Tyrion’s trial was quite easily my favorite portion of the episode. I would have mentioned Chunk’s confession from “The Goonies”, but others have already beat me to it. Regardless, it was absolutely hilarious seeing Tyrion first dealing with Mord, and then using his wit and charm to turn the trial in his favor. I loved seeing Bronn step up as Tyrion’s champion, which (now that I know that he’s a “sellsword”) I’ll claim to have seen coming. That was a very, very smart move on Bronn’s part. I could see Bronn becoming a very rich man as a result of this. I liked the contrast between the honorable and the honor-less in this epsiode. I can definitely admire the honorable Eddard Stark, but I also can’t help but admire a character like Bronn, who’s smart enough to know that fighting honorably just gets you killed.
I’m not surprised at all that Viserys finally bit the dust, but I am surprised that he lasted as long as he did. He’s been pushing his luck with the Dothraki for quite a while now. And finally their patience with him has run out. His death is still quite a shocking moment, given the gruesome nature of it. Even Daenerys has had it with him, and is no longer interested in protecting him. Viserys has continued to make one incredibly stupid decision after another. It verges on being unbelievable, but there’s enough explanation there to help us understand why Viserys is the way he is.
As despicable as the character was, I found it hard not to feel just a tiny bit of sympathy for him in the end. I wouldn’t wish that death on my worst enemy. The manner of his death is important, though, as it helped reinforce this reveal that not only is Viserys not the true “Dragon” (Dany is), but that a true Dragon cannot be harmed by heat. I don’t know what makes someone a true Dragon, but Dany was definitely more worthy of the honor. I wondered why they were keeping Viserys around for so long, but I see now that it was important to nail home just how wrong and deluded he was about his self-worth.
I’d say that this episode’s coverage of Dany and the Dothraki was probably my favorite so far. Dany’s rise to power may have been a bit rushed, but it felt rather victorious to see her really winning over the love the Dothraki people. There’s also the always interesting involvement of Jorah Mormont. Viserys accuses him of having eyes for his sister. I never thought of this possibility before, especially since Jorah is such a subdued, respectful individual. He’s definitely made it clear that he’s loyal to Dany. But I can’t decide yet if it’s more than that.
What I wonder now is just how Dany is going to factor into future events, now that Viserys is gone. Her son can’t really become a threat to the throne for a long time still, though I suppose a jump in time could occur between season 1 and 2. If Dany or her son were killed, though, I could easily see how this might cause the Dothraki to attempt an invasion of Westeros. That would be especially ironic, considering Robert’s desire to have Dany killed in order to prevent a war.
There’s just so much to talk about in this episode. There’s another brief training scene with Arya and Syrio, which is as good as such a short scene can be. Sansa continues to be as unlikable as possible. Joffrey, following through on his mother’s orders, apologizes to Sansa and charms the hell out of her. I’ll express the same sentiment I’ve been reading elsewhere: they can have each other for all I care. We’re also given a good, reasonably long scene in which Bran, while out testing out his brand new saddle, gets accosted by some Wildlings who are unusually far south (escaping from the Whitewalkers). Thankfully, Robb Stark and Theon Grejoy show up just in time to slaughter time before they can harm Bran. Robb and Theon have had fairly minimal coverage in the show so far, so I was glad to see something a bit more significant than usual. Speaking of Wildlings, how did they get past the Wall? Or is that not how it works?
Those Starks sure seem to be an impulsive bunch. Ned Stark’s actions while on the throne, though pure in intent, are sure to have some major consequences. The Mountain seems to be out pillaging and raping on behalf of House Lannister, apparently in response to the arrest of Tyrion. As I’ve said before, it’s really unfortunate that all this violence is occurring over the wrongful accusation of Tyrion. He’s a great fellow, from everything I’ve seen. At the very least, he has no real interest in violence, and would rather solve his problems in more beguiling ways. But the question is, will he turn against his own house when push comes to shove?
A low-key, but important reveal was that the Baratheon heirs have always had black hair. It’s clear that I don’t know enough about how genetics work, but Ned apparently does. And this serves as pretty compelling evidence that Robert’s heirs are not his actual children. Now Jon Arryn’s interest in seeking out all the Baratheon bastards makes much more sense. He was just looking for further proof that Robert’s children will always have black hair. Jon Arryn was killed because he was getting to close to discovering the affair between Jaime and Cersei. I can’t yet determine if Robert is involved, or if it’s solely the Lannisters who are responsible for Jon’s death.
Fans of the books seem to be fairly pleased with the series so far, from what I’ve read. But one of the few complaints I’ve read is that the Dire Wolves have been so underutilized. Apparently, they were a little more heavily involved in the books. The Dire Wolf scenes so far have been cool enough, so I’d be glad to see more of them. It’s been suggested that the attack on Brann would have been the perfect point to include one or more of them. We’ve already seen Bran’s Dire Wolf spectacularly protecting him once this season, so I can see why doing exactly the same thing again could feel superfluous. But some fans seem to strongly feel that they are important to the identity of the Stark children, and need to be more prominent. Perhaps it’s a budget issue?
I have found very little to complain about in either this episode or the five that preceded it. Before the show began, I didn’t know quite what to expect. It had become fairly clear that “Game of Thrones” was to be more of a dark character drama highlighting the politics of a medieval kingdom, rather than simply an adult version of “Lord of the Rings”. I could see the latter concept being immediately appealing to me, but I wasn’t sure how I would react if the show resembled the former description. For something like that to work it would require some unusually high-quality writing and acting, and my confidence in HBO to consistently deliver this was not as strong as it used to be. Thankfully, “Game of Thrones” really is exceptionally well-written and well-acted, making for a fascinating, character-driven political drama that just happens to be set in a medieval fantasy world. Still, I would really love to see those Whitewalkers again before the season ends, and maybe a Dragon or two in later seasons.