Thursday, March 29, 2012

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 8: The Pointy End

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.

In Kings Landing, after his arrest last episode, men loyal to Ned Stark the Ridiculously Noble are being slaughtered by the Queen’s men. Sansa  hides in her room and Arya is practicing with Syrio. Knights try to take Arya but run afoul of Syrio – and even with a wooden stick he can hold them off long enough for Arya to escape, though it costs him his life. It’s a shame, I liked him and his fighting style was so perfectly choreographed.

Arya runs, grabs Needle, her sword and kills one of the castle boys who tries to stop her. Ned, meanwhile, is in the dungeons and Varys arrives to inform Ned of the news – that Arya has escaped and that Sansa is still betrothed to Joffrey. Varys is wonderfully clear when he says he would stand still and do nothing again – he’s unarmed, unarmoured and surrounded by Lannisters. He’s not a food – and speaking of fools, he cannot understand why Stark was fool enough to tell Cersei he knew about Joffrey’s parentage.  Yes, ned may hve actually surpassed his wife there. Speaking of, Ned thinks that Catelyn the Spunky holding Tyrion would save Ned’s life – but alas it’s both the wrong brother (Cersei doesn’t care for Tyrion) and Tyrion has, of course, escaped from Catelyn. Interestingly, Varys declares he serves the realm – because someone must. Which is a wonderful comment – Ned serves his honour, the Lannister serve their name and Robert just indulged himself. Was there anyone but Varys serving the realm?

Sansa is instantly pulled into the Queen’s council where the Queen pretends to be sympathetic and her council, including Grand Maester Pycelle, suggest she is a traitor as well. And Petyr Baelish suggests she gives her a chance to prove her loyalty – and Cersei wants her to write to her mother and Catelyn the Spunky and urge them to be loyal to Joffrey. They suggest Ned’s life depends on her obedience and the obedience of her brother. She pleads for Ned’s life – but will only be granted mercy if Ned confesses.

King Joffrey (well Cersei speaking through Joffrey) begins rewarding people who were loyal to him, giving out titles and lands but he also sacks Ser Bariston Selmy, leader of the Kingsguard and highly respect and honoured – they replace him with Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer.

In Winterfell, Robb receives news with predictable unhappiness. He will go to Kings Landing – but not alone he summons the banners as well. The army of the North – much to Theon and even Maester Luwin’s approval. With the help of his Dire Wolf ripping off a man’s fingers (which is considered a great joke by everyone, including the man in question) Robb solidifies his leadership over the houses and they march south.

Bran prays at the godswood for everyone to be safe and is joined by Osha, the wildling they captured. She talks about the gods and the Weyrwood but also says the troops are going the wrong way. There’s something stirring north of the wall and the troops should be going north.

In the Eyrie, Catelyn the Spunky is furious that Lysa the Unstable kept the news of the arrest of Ned secret from her. Lysa won’t help them though, she will not send any troops from the Vale – choosing to hunker down and protect the Vale. Not unreasonable given how secure the Vale is and how impenetrable the Eyrie is (and how incompetent her allies are).

Unfortunately for Robb, Catelyn the Spunky joins Robb on his march south. And I like the Northern lords, the way they talk to each other, the rough and readiness. They must have scoured all of Yorkshire to get that many actors with appropriate accents. Robb shows Catelyn the letter from Sansa then begins to analyse the forces at their disposal. She agrees that he cannot possibly bend knee to Joffrey - he’d never be allowed to leave. When the Targaryen’s fell Tywin Lannister ordered their children killed in their sleep – they can’t risk losing to the Lannisters.

To move south they have to secure the loyalty of Lord Frey. Though sworn to Catelyn’s father, he was late during the last war and isn’t known to take his oath of fealty to the Tullys seriously. They capture a Lannister spy and Robb decides to let him go to carry threats about them

Tyrion and Bronn, meanwhile, are walking through the Hill Tribe haunted paths away from the Vale. Tyrion has a very simple relationship with Bronn and no illusions about it – he knows he’s not his friend or ally, but while Tyrion lives and while he has the near limitless funds of the Lannister, anything Bronn wants, Tyrion can give.

Of course living means surviving the Hill-Tribes – not by weapons by with Tyrion’s clever words recruiting the Hill Tribes under Shagga under him to fight against their mutual enemies in the Vale. And they join that force of Hill Tribes with Tywin Lannister’s army. Though it’s clear Tyrion isn’t exactly overjoyed to meet his father. Tywin brings Tyrion up to date with everything that’s been happening and gets the Hill Tribes to join his army by promising them more riches – but Tyrion has to lead them in battle to ensure their loyalty.

Across the sea with Daenerys, the horde has attacked a settlement of farmers for slaves – slaves they can give to slavers in the Free Cities to hire ships with to get across the ocean to the Seven Kingdoms. They don’t normally need money – but to sail they will need to be able to hire ships. Of course it’s a massacre with many dead, more enslaved and women raped. Daenerys objects to the rapes and demands they stop, caliming all the women as her own. Ser Jorah protests that she can’t claim them all – but she is Daenerys, the Khalesi and yes she can and will.

Naturally one of the Drothraki men objects to her actions and takes the issue to Khal Drogo – Daenerys is unrepentant and says if they want to have sex with women they should take them as wives (which is scarcely better) and takes the contempt the Dorthraki has for the Lamb People and throws it back – the Dragon feeds on the Lamb and the Horse equally. Did I mention how awesome Daenerys has become? And I love that Drogo is respecting her for her ferocity – there’s no attempt to damp down her growing strength, it’s encouraged, even if he does mistakenly think it’s because of her pregnancy.

One of the men challenges Drogo and he kills him with his bare hands – I have to say I’m impressed by whoever choreographs the fights scenes because they’re incredibly well done, first Syrio then this. But it does make any fights we’ve seen  with the Westeros swordsmen look clumsy – probably intentionally since they spend their fights hammering through armour. Drogo takes a wound from the fight and Daenerys convinces him to let it be cleaned and sewed by the healer of the Lamb people who she took as a slave to save her from rape.

At the Wall with the Night Watch, they follow the trail from the hand that Ghost had torn off and find 2 bodies that they bring back to the keep, 2 Night Watchmen who went north with Benjin Stark, but no sign of Benjin himself.  Sam sees that they don’t smell – which is unusual given how long they’ve been dead. The Captain is advised to burn them but he wants them examined first.

Meanwhile Mormount the head of the Night Watch informs Jon that the King is dead and that his father, Ned Stark, has been arrested for treason.  And he tells Jon not to do anything stupid. Ha, given his family that seems unlikely – and yes, Jon allows his poutiness to be goaded and attacks Alistair Thorne (the unpleasant master of arms), getting himself confined to his quarters.

Ghost is wakened by something in the night. Following him to the Lord Commander’s quarters, Jon finds that the bodies they brought in earlier in the episode have now risen as murderous zombies –and they’re damn hard to kill even when you chop bits off – it takes fire to make them stay down.

At the pyre where the bodies are burned, Sam reveals what he’s read about them – their eyes turned blue and they rose from the grave because they were touched by the White Walkers – and fire is the only way to stop them.

Remind me again why people like the whiny, unpleasant Jon Snow again? Because I really really don’t see it. His whining, pouting, sulking temper tantrums get on my last nerve.

We need to see more Tyrion, at this rate the almost-as-awesome Daenerys may overtake him. she also seems to have the awesome magical power of perfectly clean, neat hair while everyone else is wild, matted and greasy.

I actually find it hard to be sympathetic to ther heroic Starks because their actions are just so far away  from basic logic. The Lannisters don't have to be cunning, they merely have to be not utter fools.

Oh and this may be the first episode we've seen that didn't mention prostitutes!