This was a heavy episode. Through Ned Stark’s investigation of Jon Arryn’s death, Game of Thrones unleashed bucketloads of exposition and history. It’s narratively rich material, but undoubtedly exhausting all at once.
The story at The Wall takes a delightfully amusing turn this week with the introduction of Samwell Tarly, hilariously played by John Bradley-West. Sam is bullied by the Night’s Watch and taken under Jon’s wing. Their dynamic is ridiculously fun, with the two bonding over the fact that they’re outcasts AND virgins. Of course the reason behind Jon remaining a virgin is actually quite sad: he doesn’t want to create another bastard as he knows what a tough life that entails. Ouch.
Continuing with the tradition of fantastic endings, Cripples grippingly ends with Tyrion recognizing Catelyn in a tavern. But Lady Stark is far from weak, and she impressively turns the tables on him by ordering every man in the tavern to arrest him. The way she does so, by appealing to their various sigils and nobility, is wonderfully clever, culminating in a truly blood-pumping moment for Catelyn Stark. Who knew she was THIS tough?
Bits & Beheadings
– I know I’m late to the party but I just want to point out that it’s insanely cool how the show’s opening credits change with every episode depending on the locations being showcased. That’s some fantastic attention to detail.
– Bran dreams of a three-eyed raven in this episode; it’s very bizarre.
– Hodor makes his first appearance, and he only says one word no matter the context: Hodor.
– Thrilling moment with Dany fighting back and finally hitting her abusive brother.
– A little history lesson: in exchange for his father remaining Lord of the Iron Islands, Theon Greyjoy remained with the Starks who raised him.
– Foreshadowing: Viserys is told by Doreah of a man who can change his face.
– The bathtub scene between Viserys and Doreah is strangely erotic as he starts reciting dragon names to turn her on while they have sex. Only on Game of Thrones do dragons constitute dirty talk!
-Ned discovers a boring old book filled with family trees and Gendry, King Robert’s bastard son. Hmmm…
– My favorite scene of the hour: Ned telling Arya that she will grow up to marry a lord, and her rejecting his forecast and swiftly returning to her training. What a lovable rebel!
– Plain evil: the fact that the King forces Jaime to stand outside his door and listen to him having sex (an insult to Cersei).
– I like the continuity with Roz the whore being continuously mentioned by different people (first Theon, then Jon).
– Loved Tyrion giving Bran the schematics for a saddle that would allow him to ride a horse even without the use of his legs.
– This episode sees the introduction of The Mountain (The Hound’s older brother). They’re both immensely terrifying, as is the creepy fire story that resulted in the Hound’s burnt face.
– The Mountain “accidentally” kills Jon Arryn’s former squire in the jousting tournament (it’s a pretty gory visual). Guess Ned can’t question him anymore.
– The scene with Cersei visiting Ned is very odd. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.
Kings & Quips
Bran: I’m not a cripple.
Tyrion: Then I’m not a dwarf. My father will rejoice to hear it.
Sam: Samwell Tarly, of Horn Hill. I mean, I was of Horn Hill. I’ve come to take the black.
Rast: Come to take the black pudding.
Sam: I’m not going to get any better, you know?
Jon: Well… You can’t get any worse.
Rast: You girls can do as you please. But if Thorne puts me up against Lady Piggy, I’m gonna slice me off a side of bacon.
Viserys: You do not talk back to me! You are a horselord’s slut. And now you’ve woken the dragon…
Daenerys: I am a Khaleesi of the Dothraki! I am the wife of the great Khal and I carry his son inside me. The next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands.
Ned: I was also trained to kill my enemies, Your Grace.
Cersei: As was I.
Not as fantastic as the previous three hours, but still a strong episode bolstered by a fantastic ending.