What a stunning hour.
The world of Game of Thrones grows considerably in this hour with the introduction of Catelyn Stark’s sister Lysa, The Knights of the Vale, and the ominous kingdom that is The Eyrie. Lysa herself is particularly bizarre – her first seconds of screen-time feature her grown-up son sucking on her breast. The fact that she is the widow of Jon Arryn (the former Hand of the King), adds an even more intriguing layer and positions her as an integral element of the story.
The Wolf and The Lion also features one of the finest scenes Game of Thrones has ever produced: the extended conversation between Robert and Cersei. Both Mark Addy and Lena Headey are absolutely incredible here, conveying a spectrum of emotions that constitute the whirlwind that is their marriage. From discussing the consequences of a Dothraki invasion to Robert’s first love Lynna Stark, it’s all so captivating on every level. It also ends on a surprisingly depressing note, with Robert admitting to Cersei that they never really had a chance. Wow!
This episode is also notable because it finally sees Ned and Robert clashing. While the latter is insistent on murdering a pregnant Daenerys Targaryen, Ned can’t bring him to assassinate a child. And while he does quit his post as Hand of the King, he doesn’t make it out of King’s Landing before Jaime intercepts him in search of his brother. The fight between the two warriors is quite the suspenseful one, climaxing with a guard interfering on Jaime’s behalf and swiftly stabbing Ned in the leg. Uh oh.
Bits & Beheadings
– The Mountain might have won his last jousting session, but here he loses against Ser Loras. His reaction? Brutally slicing off a horse’s head (this made me very uncomfortable as I loathe animal abuse). He then attacks Ser Loras only for The Hound to save the poor knight. The dynamic between the two brothers definitely has potential, particularly considering their twisted history.
– I love that Tyrion struggles for a moment, and then decides not to escape and instead save Catelyn’s life when a hill tribe attacks. Sadly, that still doesn’t stop her from keeping him a prisoner.
– It’s also worth nothing that this is Tyrion’s first kill, and he does it quite viciously by repeatedly bashing in the attacker’s head with a shield. Not bad at all!
– The scene with Maester Luwin making sure that Bran has memorized all the sigils is a genius way of dumping a whole lot of exposition on us. Well done writers!
– Another first in this episode: full frontal male nudity courtesy of Greyjoy! His scene with Ros the whore is also quite illuminating; I’d like to see more of these two and their amusing relationship.
– As Arya finds herself chasing cats (according to Syrio’s instructions), she eventually stumbles upon an enormous dragon skull in the dungeon and then overhears Varys’ machinations. I love her resourcefulness in getting out of the castle and then scolding the guards who don’t believe she’s a Stark.
– Hilarious detail: everyone always assuming that Arya is a boy and her frustrated reaction.
– Spoiler (avoid if you haven’t finished season one) Arya asking the guard if he’ll ever let her father die. How heartbreaking.
– So Robert doesn’t want to become like the Mad King, but he sure starts screaming like one after Ned quits!
– How terrifying is The Eyrie prison that Tyrion gets thrown into? Damn!
– Say hello to the show’s first gay couple: Robert’s younger brother Renly Baratheon, and his boyfriend, the knight Ser Loras. The scene in which Loras shaves Renly is a pretty long one, but it conveys quite a bit including Renly’s insecurities, and the fact that Loras desperately wants Robert’s brother to become King.
– So Ned realizes that Jon Arryn poisoned, and that he was tracking down all of Robert’s bastards. Hmmm.
– Awesome touch: Ned lying and protecting his wife by telling Jaime that he ordered Tyrion’s capture.
– Another terrific detail: Jaime punching the guard that interfered in the fight and helped him win. Talk about pride.
– The final shot is beautifully framed: a fallen Ned surrounded by all his dead men.
Kings & Quips
Ned: (to Robert) You’re too fat for your armor.
Rodrik: Should I gag him?
Tyrion: Why? Am I starting to make sense?
Bronn: You need a woman. Nothing like a woman after a fight.
Tyrion: (looking at Catelyn) Well, I’m willing if she is.
Littlefinger: (to Varys) You look a bit lonely today. You should pay a visit to my brothel this evening. First boy is on the house.
Varys: (to Littlefinger) And I heard the most awful rumor about a certain lord with a taste for fresh cadavers. Must be enormously difficult to accommodate that inclination. The logistics alone … to find beautiful corpses before they rot.
Littlefinger: Tell me. Does someone, somewhere, keep your balls in a little box? I’ve often wondered.
Varys: Do you know, I have no idea where they are? And we had been so close. But enough about me. How have you been since we last saw each other?
Littlefinger: Since you last saw me or since I last saw you?
Varys: Now the last time I saw you, you were talking to the Hand of the King.
Littlefinger: Saw me with your own eyes?
Varys: Eyes I own.
Tyrion: The Eyrie. They say it’s impregnable.
Bronn: Give me 10 good men and some climbing spikes … I’ll impregnate the bitch.
Tyrion: I like you.
Robert: Honor?! I’ve got Seven Kingdoms to rule! One King, Seven Kingdoms. Do you think honor keeps them in line? Do you think it’s honor that’s keeping the peace? It’s fear — fear and blood.
Renly: Robert’s rather tasteless about it. Every time he talks about killing her, I swear the table rises six inches.
Loras: It’s a shame he can’t muster the same enthusiasm for his wife.
Cersei: (to Robert) I’m sorry your marriage to Ned Stark didn’t work out. You seemed so good together.
Robert: (to Cersei) It’s a neat little trick you do — you move your lips and your father’s voice comes out.
Robert: Someone took her away from me, and Seven Kingdoms couldn’t fill the hole she left behind.
Cersei: Even after we lost our first boy — for quite a while, actually. Was it ever possible for us? Was there ever a time, ever a … moment?
Robert: No. Does that make you feel better or worse?
Cersei: It doesn’t make me feel anything.
Littlefinger: Brothels make a much better investment than ship, I’ve found. Whores rarely sink.
Ned: What do you know of King Robert’s bastards?
Littlefinger: Well, he has more than you, for a start.
Ned: How many?
Littlefinger: Does it matter? If you fuck enough women, some of them will give you presents.
Jory: If you threaten my Lord again.
Jaime: Threaten? As in, “I’m going to open your Lord from balls to brains and see what Starks are made of”?
A sensational hour and probably my favorite episode thus far.