Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 5: First of His Name

Kings Landing Where the Tyrells merrily stomp Lannisters in the first

Tommen is crowned king! Making time to share several smiles with Margaery of course. Cersei drops in for a chat, Margaery tries to be nicely complimentary but Cersei hits with truth – her eldest son was a monster, she knew it, Margaery knew it; Cersei loved him but his acts shocked her. Unlike Tommen who is good and decent – who will need help to be a good king. And does Margaery want to be Queen? Cersei plans to talk to Tywin if Margaery will talk to her father (well, Olenna, let’s be honest). Margaery has a happy little joke about Cersei marrying Loras – oh how close their families are coming

Cersei meets Tywin and they set the dates for the marriages of Tommen and herself. Without the ridiculous parties this time. Tywin, at last, acknowledges that Cersei doesn’t like them, but he didn’t like Robert, Cersei’s husband. It’s about alliances not liking or trust – the only people they can trust are they themselves. They need the Tyrells as the only House that has the same level of resources as the Lannisters, especially since the last Lannister gold mine, the very foundation of Lannister wealth, just ran dry. Aaaand for extra funness, they owe the Iron Bank of Braavos a vast sum of money they can’t pay back and there’s absolutely no way even the Lannisters can wiggle out from under the Iron Bank’s debt. They need the Tyrell weddings – and Cersei accepts that for the good of the family. Unlike her dastardly brothers – especially Tyrion.

Cersei moves to the next judge – Oberyn – and they talk about the loved ones they’ve lost, Tyrion’s guilt, Oberyn’s 8 daughters and Myrcella, Cersei’s daughter, who is in Dorne. Oberyn assures Cersei they don’t hurt girls in Dorne, a wiser and more cynical Cersei is sure they hurt girls everywhere. And she has a ship to give her daughter, because why be a Lannister if you can’t give lavish presents.

Vale of Arryn

Littlefinger leads Sansa to the Eyrie with a little exposition about the place – including how absolutely no-one could possibly conquer the fortress which is almost impossible to reach in the mountains. And Sansa travels incognito, just in case. They arrive in the Eyrie to be greeted by Lysa Arryn (Sansa’s aunt, Catelyn’s sister and Littlefinger’s betrothed) and Robin Arryn (a child, current Lord of Arryn since his dad’s (the Hand of the King before Ned Stark, killed by Cersei) death and not the most well adjusted of kids) who views Littlefinger as a favoured uncle. Lysa greets Sansa warmly, though cautions her against revealing who she is while in the Eyrie. All very good – but Sansa then gets a glimpse of how her cousin isn’t the most reassuring kid out there – and Lysa has a vast bitterness against the Lannisters (calling Tyrion a “filthy troll” – though Sansa defends Tyrion who never touched her and was forced to marry her himself).

Once Sansa is shuffled off with Robin, Lysa passionately kisses Littlefinger – a gesture he doesn’t return with the same enthusiasm. She wants to get married now now now, he wants to wait.  In her passion and eagerness she describes all the things she’d done for Littlefinger – including poisoning her husband and telling Catelyn and the Starks the Lannisters did it. Whether she meant that as a threat or she’s really hat daft, Littlefinger agrees to marry her right away – and she announces, before the Septon et al, just how loud she intends to scream when Littlefinger has sex with her

No pressure there, Petyr.

Which Sansa then has to listen to. Lovely. Later Sansa and Lysa bond with old stories (including the pressure on Catelyn to be beautiful so she could marry well) before Lysa derails into a complete rant about Littlefinger loving Catelyn and protecting Sansa and evil sex and whether Sansa has slept with Petyr – as Lysa becomes more agitated and ranting, Sansa collapses into tears and cries about her own stupidity and inability to lie – until Lysa comforts her. And reveals her plan – as soon as Tyrion is dead and Sansa is a widow they will marry Sansa to Robin.

Oh Sansa, out of the frying pan and into the fire.

On the Kingsroad a new comedy act!

Pod is Brienne’s new squire! Riding to the Wall where they think Sansa would have headed. And Pod cannot ride a horse, much to Brienne’s strained patience. Poor Pod also doesn’t know how to cook rabbit – and sets it on fire because he doesn’t skin it first. And the one thing he does know how to do – remove armour – she won’t let him (actually putting on and removing full plate is probably nigh impossible without help).

She asks what he can do and in between the serving he did for Tyrion he mentions fighting in the Blackwater and killing a Kingsguard. And Brienne finally accepts, either out of pity or realism, that yes, she does need help with her armour (it is new armour).

Riverlands Arya and the Hound

Arya continues to chant her litany of hate before going to sleep every night and while he doesn’t appreciate the noise, he does understand using hatred to keep going. And hey, if they find his brother, the Mountain, they can both remove a name at the same time. But I would have loved to see his face closer up when it turns out his name is at the end of that list.

But the next morning he still panics when she isn’t there – she’s practicing her swordplay with Needle. And she’s much much better than we’ve seen before. The Hound mocks her for the odd way she practices and mocks Cyrio, her trainer, on how useless he was. She shows him what she can do – but her sword doesn’t pierce his armour and he slaps her. The Hound, again, delivers brutal truth – Cyrio is dead and his killer isn’t because his killer had armour and a big sword.

In the North Slightly warmer than Canada

Locke, one of John’s volunteers, spies on the rebel camp where the women are being abused and where Bran, Jojen and Meera are being held captive. Meera worries about Jojen and Jojen is cryptic and them all guiding Bran to a special tree because CRYPTIC REASONS. And he calls fire to his hand – either he’s set his hand on fire, hallucinating or he can throw fireballs.

Karl, head of the mutineers, and 2 cronies go to where they’re imprisoned and grab Meera, planning to rape her (Game of Thrones gratuitous grimdark strikes again). Jojen tries to distract him with his Sight – and just as Jojen predicts Karl’s death, Jon the Pouty and the Night’s Watch attack.

Locke especially carves a hole through the mutineers so he can reach the hut where the captives are held (he has been sent to find Bran and Rickon). Bran tries to hide who he is – but Locke cuts his leg and Bran, paralysed, doesn’t react. He picks up Bran – and bran uses his Warg powers to possess Hodor. Hodor’s strength directed by Bran’s mind allows him to break free and follow – catch Locke, and break his neck with one hand. Gentle giant Hodor may be gentle – but he’s still a giant. Bran returns to his body and tells the upset Hodor to free everyone.

Bran crawls towards the fighting but Jojen warns Bran his brother probably won’t let him wander off Northwards chasing a dream tree. Jon Snow may know nothing, but he’s not that ignorant. They leave before Jon knows they’re there.

Jon confronts Karl, an expert with knives. They fight and Karl wins, he’s used to dirty fighting and his knives are fast – he has Jon almost helpless – when one of Craster’s daughters, one of the women he’s been abusing, stab him in the back. He turns on her – and Jon stabs him in the back of the head. Gruesome. They count the aftermath, shocked at whatever it was killed Locke (Hodor) and find one of the mutineers, Rast, is missing.

Rast is in the snow. Playing with a dire wolf. Awww, cute puppy! And Jon gets to be reunited with his pet, the savage, man eating pet. Jon offers Craster’s women a home at Castle Black but they refuse – Craster and the Crows have abused them too much for them to trust. They burn Craster’s keep though

Meereen, Daenerys the great white Mhysa

Daenerys hears the news of Joffrey’s death from Ser Jorah – but can’t celebrate because Daario has been naughty again: he took the Meereenese navy without consulting her. But counting ships, Daenerys asks if they can take Kings Landing – Jorah is cautious, the Lannisters have a larger army than she can move. But Ser Barristan points out that the Lannisters have been fighting a war for a long time and are likely weakened. Jorah can concede that much – but even if they take Kings Landing, they can’t take all Westeros – nor does he think the houses will flock to her, they’ll go to whoever is winning

And more bad news – Yunkai and Astapor have both risen up against the people she left in charge and put dictators and slave masters in place. She clears out her advisors except Jorah to talk about her worries – she can’t control Slavers Bay, 3 cities, how could anyone trust her to rule Seven Kingdoms? She decides she can’t let the people she’s freed become slaves again by abandoning them for Westeros – she has to be a Queen, she has to rule.

Cersei seems to be throwing up the white flag in the face of the Tyrells, just conceding Tommen to Margaery – maybe she, at least, has realised how little fighting the Tyrells, their only ally, helps. Or is it because she fears for her son and by having him married to the Tyrells he gets the strongest protection possible? Or maybe at least this makes the inevitable wedding her idea, rather than something she fights against and loses. Especially when Tywin lays out just why they need the Tyrells – the Lannisters have used their gold for power for so long and squandered it so completely that they now quickly need to find a new base of strength

I’m glad to see some lash back against Daenerys. Her whole campaign has been horrendously simple and simplistic – like these cities can just be brought into line because she says so. Her arrogance is damaged and now she has to prove herself as a ruler, not just a conqueror because she has dragons and a big army.

This may be a theme – not just of the episode but of the whole season. Yes you’ve won, but can you keep it? Even the Nights Watch with their victory against Craster – will any of it matter when Mance arrives? And with Mance’s victories matter when the White Walkers arrive?

So Littlefinger killed Lord Arryn… which means, basically, that he started the war. The Starks wouldn’t have left Winterfell if Lord Arryn hadn’t died, Ned wouldn’t have looked into the poisoning of John, he wouldn’t have found out about Cersei’s children all being Jaime’s… This may be the ultimate “can you keep it”? Littlefinger set everything in motion – but will he be able to hold everything he’s collecting?