Game of Thrones: Lord Snow

“Lord Snow” was a character episode that explored our Game of Thrones regulars in more depth. While it was far from perfect, it was a nice change of pace from the first two offerings of the season. And the writers managed it all without one single porny moment or graphic goring. GO TEAM!

Throughout the realm, everyone is struggling to come to terms with their new roles and identities.

In Winterfell, Bran Stark has awoken, but is wishing he was still unconscious. He’s learned that he’ll never walk again and swears he’d rather be dead then live as a cripple. Bran still can’t remember the ‘accident’ and the Lannisters’ sins are safe for the moment.

Jon Snow has arrived at the North Wall and is underwhelmed by the reality of life in the Night’s Watch. He’s easily the most skilled swordsman there, besting a rabble of paupers and criminals who resent him. Jon sacrificed his freedom to pursue a noble cause that doesn’t really exist and he’s feeling angry and betrayed. He tells Tyrion Lannister (who has travelled to the wall of out curiosity), “Everybody knew what this place was and no one told me … no one but you. My father knew and he left me to rot at the wall all the same.” He’s also frustrated to learn that his superior skills won’t get him the prime assignments right away. He has to stay behind while his Uncle Ben journeys beyond the North Wall. But Tyrion forces Jon to see his comrades in a new light, revealing that many of them are merely poor orphans and petty thieves who were trying to feed their families. Jon begins to help the other watchmen with their training, teaching them to improve their skills.

Ned Stark finally arrives at King’s Landing and quickly discovers that being the King’s Hand doesn’t so much mean helping the King govern as it does making tough decisions while the King drinks himself into a coma in the middle of the afternoon. He’s shocked when he realizes Robert has essentially bankrupted the realm. The Crown is six million in debt, including three million to Tywin Lannister (father of the three Lannister siblings). The former King’s Hand, Lord Aaron, advised Robert to be responsible, but he never listened. Ned immediately cancels a planned celebratory tournament until he can speak to the King about his reckless spending.

Young Arya is trying to reconcile how she is supposed to live with the royal family when they are a bunch of liars, cowards and murderers. She’s wracked with guilt over the death of her friend the butcher’s boy because she made him ‘swordfight’ with her and it got him killed. Ned tells his youngest daughter that they are indeed living in a dangerous place and they’ll need to stick together and not fight amongst themselves. He agrees to let Arya keep ‘needle’, the sword Jon gave her, and arranges for proper sword-fighting lessons.

Poor Prince Joffrey is feeling like the pathetic little weakling he is, humiliated that both Stark girls watched him panic and scream when the dire wolf bit him. Queen Cersei tries to boost his spirits by reminding him that when he sits on the throne he can make up all kinds of stories about his brave escapades. Who cares if they’re not true! The truth will be what he makes of it. Joffrey no longer wants to marry Sansa, but his mother tells him he has no choice. But no worries; if he hates her, he’ll only have to see her for ‘public appearances’. If he’d rather “f*ck painted whores” that’s just fine! And if he wants a harem of virgins, he can have those too! He’s a precious, precious boy and he’ll have whatever his heart desires. Nothing like a pep talk from Mommy!

Across the Narrow Sea, as the Dothraki continue to ride through the countryside, Daenerys Targaryen is embracing her new role as the Khaleesi – Queen of the Dothraki clan. She’s certainly decided to dress the part, trading in her ethereal gowns for tight fitting tribal bodices and hip grazing skirts that show off her navel. Daenerys’ power and newfound confidence doesn’t sit with her brother Viserys, who flies into a range when she orders the army to stop so she can take a short stroll. He viciously attacks her: “I am Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. I don’t take orders from savages or their sluts.” Unfortunately for Viserys, the Dothraki Clan are loyal to their new Khaleesi and are happy to kill him to defend her. One of the men ropes him into a choke-hold and only releases him when Daenerys demands he not harm her brother. I can’t imagine why she’d be interested in saving him. First he manhandles her like a piece of meat and sells her into marriage to improve his own status. Then he violently threatens her for daring to take pleasure in the position he thrust her into. Blood may be thicker than water, but it ain’t stronger than that bullsh*t!

As if Viserys wasn’t humiliated enough, Ser Jorah Mormont (an exiled member of the Seven Kingdoms who travels with the Dothraki and views the Targaryens as the rightful occupants of the throne) ignores his order to kill ‘those Dothraki dogs’ to avenge his honour, and looks only to Daenerys for guidance. The Dothraki won’t even let him get back on his horse and force him to walk instead!

Daenerys will soon be experiencing another life changing event … because she discovers she’s two months pregnant with Drogo’s child. Her previous sexual advances must have worked wonders. She and Drogo are now the picture of young love and marital bliss, snuggled up post coitus talking about the pregnancy. Daenerys is sure she’s carrying a boy.

I’m still not buying this plotline at all. Drogo had one line this entire episode and I’m fairly certain it’s the first full sentence I’ve ever heard him speak. How are we supposed to buy a real romance with Daenerys when we haven’t seen their relationship develop outside of their sexual encounters?

I also have no sense of the passage of time in this show and yet apparently months have gone by since the first episode. I was completely surprised that Daenerys could be two months pregnant. People keep arriving in different parts of the kingdom, but I have no idea how long it takes them to get there. I was under the impression that it was a long journey for the King to come to Winterfell, but it felt like only a day or two passed while Ned rode back with him. And Lady Stark showed up almost instantaneously. Maybe we need to see day to night changeovers more often or a few time-lapse scenes. I have no idea … I just know it confuses me.

Favourite Scenes:
– When Ned first arrives at King’s Landing he encounters Jamie Lannister in the throne room and Jamie brings up Ned’s father and brother’s murder. They were burned alive in that very room, by order of the ‘Mad King’ Targaryen. Ned wasn’t there to witness the atrocity, but Jamie saw the whole thing. Ned wants to know why he just ‘stood there and watched’. Jamie says, “500 men just stood there and watched. All the great knights of the seven kingdoms. You think anyone said a word, lifted a finger? No Lord Stark. 500 men and this room were silent as a crypt.” Chilling scene with fantastic dialogue! I think I’m more intrigued by the scandals of the past than the present. I’m dying to know more about the ‘Mad King’ and his actions. Why did he murder all of the Starks? And why did Jamie, who was the King’s Hand at the time, finally decide to turn on him?

– Queen Cersei angrily confronts her brother lover, worried that Bran Stark could remember their treachery at any moment. So what? Jamie will just kill him and the King too if he has to. “They’ll write a ballad about us. The War for Cersei’s c*nt.” He’ll kill the King, the Starks and everyone else, until he and his sister are the only two people left in the world! Aww, that’s really … sweet?

– Tyrion Lannister peeing off the North Wall. Enough said.

Catelyn Stark is still determined to uncover the truth about Bran’s ‘fall’ and she arrives in King’s Landing to present Ned with the dagger used in Bran’s second attempted murder. With the help of the King’s Brother (and Catelyn’s old suitor), Lord Baelish, they learn that the blade is a one-of-kind model that used to belong to him … until he lost it to Tyrion Lannister in a tournament. So now the Starks are convinced the Imp tried to kill Bran. It’s possible that Tyrion knew what his brother and sister were up to and tried to take matters into his own hands. Maybe he felt he was just doing his part to clean up their mess. But I think it’s far more likely that they just borrowed his dagger! If Tyrion was involved, it spells bad news for Bran because Jon specifically requested that Tyrion stop by Winterfell on his way home to check in on Bran.

Oh, and in case you missed all the heavy-handed winter references, winter is coming and it’s not going to be pretty! This ain’t no regular seasonal winter either. This is a terrifying frozen wasteland of a winter, with snow 100 feet deep and endless dark days. It will last years, stretching through generations. “Children are born and die all in darkness.” The White Walkers are out there and they will ride through cities on dead horses, with spiders as big as hounds! Ick … and I thought Canadian Winters sucked!

Photo Courtesy of HBO

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