Game of Thrones: Fire and Blood

King’s Landing
The sword has been swung, blood trickles slowly down the blade and Eddard Stark is no more. In the opening moments of “Fire and Blood” a ravenous crowd erupts with blood lust, Sansa passes out from shock and grief and Arya remains hidden amidst the chaos, pressed up against Yoren of the Night’s Watch.

With their father dead, the Stark girls have very different paths to follow. Arya finds an escape from the city walls, disguised as a street rat boy named Arry. Travelling with Yoren and the recruits bound for the wall, she is sporting a short hairdo and must stay under the radar until she’s back at Winterfell. An interesting addition to her party is Robert’s bastard son Gendry who is ‘taking the black’ because he has nowhere else to go. I’m guessing the blacksmith, who was paid to train him, tossed him aside when there no-one left to pad his pockets. Gendry has no knowledge of his true identity, but it’s a good thing he’s getting the hell out of dodge!

Sansa’s road may be cleaner and warmer than Arya’s, but it is no gentler. Joffrey shattered her girlish delusions forever, but intends to take her as a wife anyway. “As soon as you’ve had your blood, I’ll put a son in you”. His nonchalance is so creepy … as if he’s going to swing her stomach open like an oven door and just toss a baby in to be baked. I find it odd that despite Joffrey’s pubescent age and sleazoid nature he doesn’t seem to lust after Sansa as a woman (or any other girls for that matter). Guess he only gets his hard-ons from torturing people. And there is nothing Joffrey enjoys more than inflicting pain. He walks Sansa up to the castle battlements and forces her to look at her father’s head on a spike. At first she begs and cries, but when forced to look she discovers an inner calm and doesn’t shriek or scream. Joffrey is irritated that he didn’t get the horrific reaction he was looking for. All Sansa says is, “How long do I have to look?” Joffrey promises to bring her Robb’s head as a bonus gift, but Sansa retorts, “Maybe he’ll give me yours”. Joffrey’s blood boils at her insolence, but a ‘king doesn’t strike his lady’. He orders one of his kingsguard to backhand her instead. Joffrey’s minion wallops her without a second thought. Sansa will have to keep her anger bottled inside if she hopes to survive, but at least her fury will keep her warm.

While her brother remains a captive of the Northern army, Queen Cersei is making do with a baby Jamie look-a-like … bedding her cousin Lancel. Ick! The boy looks all of 13, but I’m hoping he’s just a late bloomer because we were ‘treated’ to a prolonged view of his scrawny ass. Robert’s former squire is delighted to be free of his master’s mockery. He probably only just stopped searching for the breast-plate stretcher!

Bran is still haunted by dreams of the three-eyed crow and this time it leads him down into the crypt, where he finds his father. Shaken, he forces Osha to take him down there when he awakes. There is no sign of Ned, but they find his brother Rickon waiting. He was visited by the same dream. It’s really confusing how Rickon just pops into the story out of nowhere. After the pilot, a reader on this site helpfully identified him as the missing 5th Stark child, but to the best of my recollection his name has only been mentioned once in the series. Robb told Catelyn she needed to leave Bran’s bedside because Rickon needed her. Without the benefit of the book, I would have found this scene jarring. They could have at least shown Rickon hanging around Winterfell in a few previous episodes. As they exit the crypt they are met by their Maester who brings tidings of their father’s passing … confirming their worst fears.

Northern Army
The news has also reached Catelyn and Robb at the Northern army camp and they are crippled by grief. Robb wants to rush into action and punish the executioners, but Catelyn cautions patience and stresses the need for a calculated plan. “They have your sisters. We have to get the girls back. And then we will kill them all”. The Northerners have struck a fierce blow to the Lannister army, but are stuck on what to do next. Some want to pledge fealty to Renly Baratheon and join with him to vanquish the Lannisters. Robb – ever his father’s son – is adamant that Stannis has the only true claim and they cannot recognize a false king. One of Robb’s fiercest warriors, Great John, says to hell with all Southern Lords. “It was the dragons we bowed to and now the dragons are dead.” He will bend his knee for Robb alone and declares him King in the North. Others quickly take up the chant and offer Robb their swords and their loyalty.

Lannister Camp
Tywin Lannister is raging about Jamie’s capture, while his cohorts plot their next move. Somebody suggests suing for peace and Tyrion scoffs. Any chance of peace faded when Ned Stark’s head was ungraciously removed from his shoulders. Tywin agrees with his black sheep son that Joffrey has made a mess of his short time on the throne. But no one is more shocked than Tyrion when his father announces he’s sending him to King’s Landing. Tyrion will serve as Hand of the King and keep his bungling nephew and scheming sister in line. Tyrion has shrugged off his father’s cruelty and indifference thus far, but his bravado slips just a little as he asks, “Why me?” and his father answers, “Because you are my son.” Do we ever really strop craving daddy’s approval? But Tyrion is not willing to cow tow to his father completely. Despite a stern warning from Tywin, he decides to bring his feisty little trollop Shae to King’s Landing.

The Wall
For someone who was so determined to join the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow has been frustratingly indecisive since arriving at The Wall. He’s had one foot out the door the entire time. Even after taking his vows, he showed no real commitment to the cause. When he hears of his father’s death, he grabs a horse and rides off in the night to join Robb. His little sojourn doesn’t last long though, as Sam and the rest of his crew track him down and convince him to return, reciting the oaths he took.

This whole plot felt like a silly after-thought to feature Jon in the finale. It made a little more sense in the book, but in the episode it was like he rode off in a flash, came back just as quickly and it was over. What was the point? If nothing else we did get to see Sam get knocked clean off his horse by a rogue tree-branch … HA!

The only great scene at the Wall was between Jon and Commander Mormont where he finally demands some sense of him. “Do you think your brother’s war is more important than ours?” “When dead man and worse coming hunting for us in the night, do you think it matters who sits on the iron throne?” It’s time for Jon to sack up and commit to his destiny. The night’s watch will be riding out in force to confront whatever is waiting for them beyond the wall. The Commander wants Jon and his wolf beside him on the dangerous road. I don’t blame him … I’d want a dire wolf on my side if ever came up against supernatural demons!

Across The Narrow Sea
Daenerys wakes up weak and hazy to find that her whole world has fallen to pieces. Her stallion son is gone. He was delivered, “Monstrous, twisted … scaled like a lizard, blind with leather wings, like the wings of a bat … The skin fell from his bones. Inside he was full of grave worms.” Her ‘sun and stars’ still breathes, but there is no life left inside him; no strength, no love, no joy. He lies still and stares ahead blankly. The Khalasar has ridden off and only the old, the weak and the enslaved remain.

She confronts the witch who performed the spell to save Drogo. Why would this woman do this when she knew what would happen? Dany saved her! The witch mocks the notion that she was never saved. She was raped by three men, her god’s house was burned down and the heads of her friends littered the streets. “Take a look at your Khal. Then you’ll see exactly what life is worth, when all the rest has gone.” Clearly I hate this evil bitch because she messed with Dany … but she has a point. The Dothraki do unspeakably horrific things to the people they conquer and they write it off as ‘the way things have always been’; the spoils of war. Dany can’t bear to see Drogo continue in his current state, so she tearfully smothers him with a pillow.

An elaborate pyre is built to lay the fierce Khal to rest. Dany places the dragon’s eggs with him and ties the treacherous witch to the wood posts to burn alive. She turns to her rag tag band of followers, declares them her new Khalasar, and pledges to lead them. The slaves are free to go if they wish, but all who remain will be equals. “I am Daenerys Stormborn, of House Targaryen, of the blood of old Valyria. I am the dragon’s daughter and I swear to you that those who would harm you will die screaming.” Damn. I’d like to bow down before her!

The fire is set and Dany walks towards the flames, getting lost in them as they burn through the night. When dawn comes, her followers find her sitting naked among the smoking embers, with three tiny dragons curled up against her flesh. Everyone stares in awe and Jorah falls to his knees. I do have to point out that the book was very clear that her long fair hair was burned completely off, but they chose to keep it in tact on TV. I guess scorched bald chicks don’t look as hot naked.

Other Randomness:

– I loved the scene where Catelyn visits Jamie and smashes him across the face with a rock for being mouthy with her. In the wake of all the tragedy she’s dealt with, Catelyn has developed an icy outer shell. But she can’t resist asking Jamie about Bran’s fall. When he casually admits to tossing him out a window, she crumbles. She’s looking at this man, who she knows is capable of evil … but can’t help sounding like a naïve, confused, grieving mother when she asks him “Why?” It’s like she’s begging for an explanation that would makes sense and somehow ease her pain.

– What was up with that creepy Pycelle scene? After a romp with the whore Roz, he was apparently in the mood to make long speeches about past kings … while she washed up her dirty bits in the background. Yet again with the nudity spicing up boring speeches! Either write more interesting dialogue or show less booty!

Side note: Pycelle is clearly crazy if he really “senses true greatness on the horizon” for Joffrey!

And so ends the first season of Game of Thrones. I was a little sceptical initially, but once this show hooked me … I was toast! The characters were a little prickly, but they opened up beautifully. The gore was a little heavy handed, but I’ve developed a stronger stomach. The dialogue was smart, the setting was magnificent and I probably won’t stop humming the theme song for months. I might write a more detailed retrospective on the first season, but I’m still digesting. For now I’m just excited that this fantasy epic has years of material left to explore!

Photo Courtesy of HBO

One thought on “Game of Thrones: Fire and Blood

  1. The Pycelle scene is to show that he is playing a role too, and is really much more spry and less senile than he pretends. The meandering speech about kings is for Ros’ benefit since Pycelle knows she reports back to Littlefinger.

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