In a dream, Bran wanders Winterfell, led by a three eyed raven. He wakes up and Theon tells him that Robb wants to see him. Tyrion has reached Winterfell but to a frosty reception. Tyrion gives Bran a saddle of his own design to help him ride again and Robb is forced to open the hospitality of Winterfell to Tyrion. Tyrion turns him down, spending the night in a brothel. At the Night’s Watch, Samwell Tarly a fat young man with absolutely no martial skill arrives at the Wall. He is mercilessly mocked and bullied until Jon stands up for him. Sam confesses to being a coward.
Tensions between Viserys and Dany escalate as they Vaes Dothrak, the city of the horse lords. Dany and Jorah discuss his past as Viserys talks about his. Back in King’s Landing, Ned is frustrated by the problems that the tourney is causing, even draining his own household guard a little to help maintain the peace. Ned speaks with Pycelle alone and discusses the circumstances of Jon Arryn’s death. They discuss Jon Arryn’s last words – ‘The seed is strong’. Ned insinuates that Arryn might have been poisoned by a woman and Pycelle hints that it might have been Varys. Sam tells Jon about how his father threatened to kill him if he did not take the black. Littlefinger tells Ned about how everyone has spies everywhere. He directs Ned to an armourer that Jon Arryn was seen to visit several times in the weeks before his death. Ned visits this armourer who reveals that one of Robert’s bastards works for him. The boy, Gendry, reveals his mother had yellow hair.
Jory and Jaime reminisce about the siege of Pyke. Meanwhile Robert continues to keep the company of whores and Jaime is forced to watch his sister and lover disrespected. At the Wall, Jon takes measures to protect Sam, and when others disagree, he intimidates into obeying by threatening them with Ghost and violence. The next day at the training yard, no one will seriously take up arms against Sam. Viserys flies in to a rage when Dany offers him supper but she fights back and warns that the next time he strikes her will be the last him he has hands. Jon and Sam get better acquainted but are interrupted by Thorne who tells them of a time he was lost far north. He warns them that they do not have what it takes to survive winter in the North. Dany is upset that she hit Viserys but with some help from Jorah realizes that Viserys will never be able to take the Seven Kingdoms.
The tourney of the Hand has begun. Littlefinger meets Sansa and introduces himself. The tourney begins and Littlefinger introduces the contestants including Gregor Cleagane and Jon Arryn’s last squire, the now knighted Ser Hugh of the Vale. Cleagane defeats and kills him, shocking the audience though it is assumed that it was an accident. Littlefinger tells Sansa the story of how the Hound and his brother came to hate each other. Cersei visits Ned and they talk about Ned’s purpose in King’s Landing. They end with veiled threats to each other. Meanwhile Catelyn bumps into Tyrion and seizing the chance to arrest him, calls upon the men in the inn to seize Tyrion and arrest on the charge of murder. The episode ends with Tyrion arrested by a host of men from the inn.
This was another great episode in many ways. Once again, the easiest way to digest this episode would be to break it up into the different storylines that it comprises of. One of my favourite things about Game Of Thrones is actually how it is made up of many different storylines and how these storylines come together occasionally to give us a better picture of the whole series. In this episode, the most important storylines are once again in King’s Landing.
Ned continues to demonstrate just why he is such a bad fit for King’s Landing. Let’s assume that King’s Landing is like any other real life capital. If you’re on a lower social rung than someone then common sense dictates that you do not go out of your way to antagonize those who are above you on the social ladder. This is exactly the opposite of what Ned does when he clashes with Cersei. I think more savvy characters might have lulled Cersei into a false sense of security but not Ned. Ned, being exactly as Cersei says, a soldier at heart, fights to reach the heart of the matter. Similarly, you can see that when Littlefinger brings up the whole issues of spies, Ned accepts this information at face value – yes, he is being watched but at no point does he stop to think that maybe he should get spies of his own. I don’t myself know how he would go about doing something like this, but still the fact that he just accepts it without doing anything about it is a worrying sign for the future. Beyond that however, is the fact that he’s just not very politically savvy. I mean, not showing up for a tournament held in your name is just plain political suicide really.
A great deal of this episode was just exposition – several scenes were really little more than excuses for exposition. I’m not sure how I feel about that – on one hand, I do think that exposition is absolutely necessary but on the other hand I have to question whether there is a better way to handle it. Having said that, however, I think the exposition in this episode was very organically handled. Most of the scenes felt natural and the information that they revealed seemed to be a natural by-product of the topics being discussed.
This episode would leave viewers with the impression that Ned is on the way to uncovering a great mystery. The mention of Gendry’s mother having golden hair is certainly noteworthy once we find out that Robert was his father. The exact implication is unclear –does Robert have a thing for blondes? Well clearly not since he despises Cersei and Ned’s sister was unlikely to be blond. Whatever this great mystery is, it is being slowly, painstaking developed but at the same time we can’t help but think that Ned has gotten himself in way too deep. Meanwhile, back in the North, Jon continues his character development and adds a new character to his gang of trusted sidekicks. I’m not sure how I feel about Jon’s intimidation tactics, but I guess morality is slightly different in Jon’s world than in ours so I’ll let that go.
I was especially struck by the strength of the script in this episode – there were really hard hitting lines in this episode and not just from one plotline either. I really liked Thorne’s bitter comment of: “You’re boys still. And come the winter you will die, like flies” and Jorah’s “The common people pray for rain, health and a summer that never ends. They don’t care what games the high lords play.” I’m not entirely sure why exactly these lines stayed with me, but I suspect that it’s mostly because the put the show in a larger context than our main characters can portray.
I want to end on a more personal note. I still get a strong case of the feels at the end of the episode when I see Tyrion arrested. I can’t help it, there is just so much unfortunate decision making here. I find it strange that Tyrion does not speak in his defence but honestly, the whole thing is extremely believable – Catelyn has every reason to believe that Tyrion was in on the plot to murder Bran and she used her available resources (her father’s loyal bannermen) to their fullest. It’s sad situation but it also provides delicious drama.