Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 6: A Golden Crown

I will begin by again linking to HBO’s most excellent guide to the 10,000 characters on this show, to help people keep up with who is who.

After being stabbed in the leg in the last episode, Ned slowly wakes up to find King Robert looming over his sick bed.  And instantly we have Cersei and Ned squabbling. Cersei furious because Catelyn The Spunky decided to seize Tyrion and Ned furious because Jaime killed his men. Cersei makes the rather ridiculous claim that Ned was leaving a brothel drunk and Ned wants to take a squad of men and hunt down Jaime Lannister. Cersei taunts Robert – and Robert hits her. Robert has forever reduced himself with that going from unpleasant to downright unacceptable – and it shows how weak he is and what bullying displays of power he resorts to

She leaves and Robert tries to blame it on her but he admits that he shouldn’t have – more down to Ned’s silent disapproval than any real remorse. Robert just wants the whole conflict to go away. He can’t rule with the Lannisters and the Starks at each other’s throat so he just wants Catelyn the Spunky to let Tyrion go and then drop everything. Ned is, obviously, not pleased with this solution and wants penalties for Jaime – but Robert points out the kingdom is massively in debt to the Lannisters.

And Robert wants Ned to stay, tells him to put back on the badge of the Hand of the King (or he’ll pin it on Jaime Lannister) and rule while he goes off hunting (we do have a touching scene confirming the bond between these 2 – Ned is the brother Robert chose and means more to him than his actual brothers). Robert still wants Daenerys dead, however.

Robert is hunting boar out in the woods, drinking heavily and mocking his brother Renly who he has dragged along for the fun. Robert is reminiscing of past times (involving lots and talking of sex of course) though Renly slaps down the nostalgia as the nonsense it is, pointing out that these “wonderful times” were times when people were dying in droves, riven by wars and tortured by malicious kings. I do love nostalgia being shot down – it’s too often the case that people reminisce about past times and often miss just how hard those times were for the most vulnerable people in society.

Back in Kings Landing, peasants from the Riverlands are petitioning Ned for help against an army that is brutalising the lands. The description sounds like Ser Gregor Clegane, sworn to House Lannister and a brutal warrior. Petyr Baelish keeps up a constant whispered needling of Ned – it seems Ser Gregor has been unleashed in response to Catelyn the Spunky’s arrest of Tyrion. Ned has an army sent out after Ser Gregor, stripping of his ranks and titles and ordering him hunted down and executed. The Grand Maester protests but Ned refuses – and demands the Maester summon Tywin Lannister to Kings Landing or be cast out as a traitor.

Switching to Daenerys playing with her dragon eggs and putting them in the fire – it takes extremely hot fire to hatch a dragon egg. And we finally have confirmation of what has been hinted at since the beginning – Daenerys cannot be burned and is impervious to heat. Holding the hot egg burns her servant, but doesn’t burn her.

Daenerys also eats the raw heart of a horse which is less than pleasant but is part of the ritual to make her baby strong. Viserys is his usual unpleasant self and says he wouldn’t consider the child a true Targaryen (the Targaryen’s generally married their siblings in the books). Daenerys struggles, but manages to keep the heart down and not bring it up again and they declare that her child will be a supreme ruler of the Dorthraki – and Daenerys says he’ll be called Rhaego (after her elder, now dead, brother) and she says this in Dorthraki – unlike Viserys she has become one of the Dorthraki and she is loved by them as one of them.

Viserys, of course, doesn’t see the import of this and decides to go steal Daenerys’s Dragon Eggs (and while wearing a sword in Vaes Dorthrakk, against Dorthraki law which he is, of course, contemptuous of). He’s angry because he is the oh-so-special heir of the Targaryen line and no-one has given him the respect and adulation that Daenerys has. Ser Jorah stops him leaving with the eggs – and he makes it clear, though Viserys doesn’t see it – that loyalty means a lot to Ser Jorah, but it’s not Viserys he is loyal to. Coward that he is, Viserys drops the eggs and leaves

Later, the Dorthraki are celebrating (with obligatory bare breasted women dancers) when Viserys staggers in drunk calling for his sister. This does not end well, especially when Viserys draws his sword (very forbidden, naughty naughty) it’s forbidden to shed blood in the sacred city. Viserys demands the crown he was promised, and he intends to get it by holding Daenerys at sword point. He gets it – a golden crown that men will tremble to behold – which involves molten gold being poured over his head. Daenerys refuses to look away and refuses to help him. He was no dragon, fire cannot kill the dragon (remembering that Daenerys does not burn…)

In Winterfell Bran has another dream about a 3 eyed raven flying into the catacombs of Winterfell and wakes to the saddle Tyrion designed for him – which allows him to ride. While he rides, Robb and Theon discuss the attack against Ned and the death of his men – Theon is pushing Robb to raise the bannermen and march to war against the Lannisters. Robb is reluctant and finally tells Theon it’s basically not his business since it’s not his house. Something that clearly offends Theon, since he’s been brought up with them since he was 8.

While they were talking bran wandered off and has been ambushed by Wildlings from north of the wall looking to steal his horse and jewellery  - they’ve come south to flee from the White Walkers north of the wall. Robb shows up, kills 2 wildlings and captures another and Theon shoots the last while he holds a knife to Bran’s throat – something eh thinks makes him a hero but Robb is furious over since if he could have missed. Theon argues back that if he hadn’t Bran and Robb would be dead now – we’re seeing the two personalities crash and both taken too far to extremes. Theon is too reckless and rash, but Robb too cautious and careful. The woman wildling is spared to be a captive of Winterfell

At the Eyrie, Tyrion Lannister is still captive in the sky cells. He tries to bribe the prison guard but the man lack the intelligence to understand bribery. However he manages to have a message passed to Lady Aryn (Catelyn the Spunky’s sister). And he confesses to many many sins – gambling, prostitution (we needed to mention prostitutes at least once per episode) and many childish pranks as well – making a mockery of the Aryn court. But he denies the crimes they accuse him of – and then scorns them for denying him any kind of trial. They grant him a trial – but to be tried by Lord Robin – the disturbed child of Lady Aryn. Tyrion isn’t so foolish – he demands a trial by combat, and picks one of the mercenaries that Catelyn the Spunky brought with her to the Vale, confident he has been convinced to work for Tyrion.

The mercenary Bronn wins by forcing the heavily armoured knight to chase him. he keeps dodging away in his lighter armour, tiring the weighed down knight (the fencing skills of Westeros seem to be based primarily on hacking wildly with as much strength as possible). Tyrion is released from custody having won the trial and Catelyn has started a war for no gain

And at Kings Landing Arya Stark doesn’t want to practice the sword because Jory, one of Ned Stark’s men, was killed by Jaime Lannister. But Syrio, wisely, points out that when a fight happens it doesn’t go away because you’re troubled. I do like Syrio and you can see Arya has got better with that sword.

Sansa is pouting with Septa Mordane until Joffrey comes and makes nice with her, gives her a present and all is forgiven. Which is unfortunate because Ned wants to send both Arya and Sansa back to Winterfell. But something Sansa says penetrates – Joffrey is nothing like his father and any children she has by him would be blond. Ned returns to the dull book Ser Aryn was reading and discovers generations of Baratheon children – all with black hair except for Joffrey (and Joffrey’s 2 siblings)

And Ross (necessary appearance by a prostitute, this episode has lacked the usual compliment of sex workers) is going to kings Landing, with Ned stabbed in the street everyone is going to be marching to war and business will be much harder (ahem) in the north.

With the prison warden of the Eyrie we have another depiction of someone with likely developmental difficulties which is far from flattering. However, it has to be said that he’s probably the only person we’ve ever met who can’t be manipulated by Tyrion – but “too stupid to be manipulated” isn’t ideal.

I’ve mentioned the problem with the Dorthraki’s portrayal before and it really is more of the same really.

With every passing episode Catelyn’s ridiculous decision to seize Tyrion seems more and more ludicrous – she has made no more decisions but that one reckless act on her part sparked a war. Thankfully to counter this we do have the amazing strength and development that is Daenerys. Can she be queen now?