Game of Thrones: The Kingsroad

Lesbian eroticism, vicious animal attacks, butts and boobs galore. My faint hope that Game of Thrones would tone down the salacious indulgences in future episodes went right out the window after “The Kingsroad”.

At this point I may have to accept that this show falls into the guilty pleasure category, rather than the brilliant epic I hoped it would be. I’m still enjoying it, but I wish there was more complexity and depth to the story and the characters.

Despite the Lannisters’ attempt to silence him, Bran Stark survived his fall from the tower. But he lies in a coma, unable to spill their dirty secrets … for now. Eddard Stark has to leave his ailing son behind and begin the long ride to King’s Landing with the Royal Family. With him are his two daughters Arya and Sansa (who is being primped and preened for the young prince Joffrey).

Jon Snow also departs Winterfell, to join the Night’s Watch with his father’s blessing. “Starks have manned the wall for thousands of years. And you are a Stark. You might not have my name, but you have my blood.“ I’m still at a loss as to why he’s so keen on a life in the Night’s Watch. Half the people who serve are criminals and rapists who choose the wall over losing an appendage. And many people consider the Night’s Watch a joke; they guard the kingdom against fictional boogeymen. I know that he’s searching for his own identity because he feels like an outsider in his own family, but is a life of isolation and celibacy really the way to find yourself?

Catelyn’s resentment of her husband’s bastard was front and centre in this episode. Jon visited Bran’s bedside for a touching goodbye (he and Bran have always been close) and she spent the entire time glowering at him before finally screaming at him to get out. I can’t understand why she would harbor such hatred for him. Yes, her husband cheated on her, but she has known Jon his entire life and watched him grow up. It’s completely childish to treat him with such disrespect. If she feels the need to be bitter towards anyone it should be her husband, not an innocent young man. Although considering it’s been about 20 years … she should probably just suck it up!

Word of Daenerys Targaryen’s marriage to Khal Drogo has reached the King and he’s concerned that a power play is imminent. His hatred for the Targaryens knows no limits and he vows to kill every Targaryen he can get his hands on. There are still those in his own kingdom who consider him a usurper and he’s worried that if the Targaryens make it across the narrow sea he may be fighting internal battles as well.

As the Dothraki march across the landscape, Daenerys is adjusting to her new role as Mrs. Khal Drogo. It mostly involves hanging around in his tent until he stumbles in naked and horny and takes her from behind. Out of all the puzzling characters in this series, Daenerys is by far the most infuriating. I spent the first half of the episode feeling genuinely sorry for her. She’s miserable; forced to bend to Khal’s sexual whims. In the first gratuitous sex scene of the episode she is tearing up and staring straight ahead as he has his way with her … drifting away from herself as much as she can. But then she inexplicably seeks the advice of her handmaiden, a former prostitute in the ‘pleasure palace’, to learn how to please a man. What follows is a pointless scene packed with lesbian undertones where her handmaiden shows her how to take charge and essentially ride Khal like a mechanical bull. Lovely. At first Daenerys protests that it doesn’t seem like the Dothraki way, but her handmaiden says, “If he wanted the Dothraki way, why did he marry you?”

The next time Khal stomps into the tent and tries to flip her over, she resists. Instead she stares deep into his eyes and shows off her new skills. She appears to be having the time of her life. Daenerys’ struggle could have been believable and interesting, but instead it turned into the plot of a Harlequin Romance novel. I guess the moral of this story is that it’s okay to be sold into sexual slavery … as long as you get to be on top!

As Catelyn stands vigil by Bran’s bedside, a knife wielding man bursts in and attempts to stab him. She tries to fight him off, but is rescued by Bran’s dire wolf who goes right for the throat and tears the would-be assassin to shreds. Suspicious of foul play, Catelyn visits the spot where her son fell from the tower and finds a single long thread of golden hair. It’s enough to convince her that the Lannisters are behind his ‘accident’. She knows in her bones that they’ve tried to kill him twice now because he saw something he shouldn’t have. Catelyn heads off in secret to meet her husband in the capital and reveal their treachery.

The young Stark girls get themselves into trouble after an altercation between Arya and the young prince. Joffrey takes Sansa on a romantic walk in the woods where they discover Arya and a local boy ‘sword-fighting’ with sticks. Joffrey tortures the boy by holding a sword up to his face and slowly slicing his cheek open. Arya stops him by thwacking him on the back with her stick. When he turns to attack Arya, her dire wolf protects her by latching onto Joffrey’s hand. While the wolf is restrained before he can do any mortal damage, Arya forces him to run away before he can be persecuted. The vindictive Queen is determined to make someone pay for her son’s injuries. When her husband refuses to punish Arya and her wolf cannot be found, she demands they execute Sansa’s wolf instead. Despite sobbing protests from his girls, Eddard does the honourable thing and stabs the wolf himself. Back in Winterfell, Bran’s eyes shoot open at the moment Sansa’s wolf is killed.

I’m not seeing a lot of depth in these characters so far. They all make a lot of noise, but I have no real understanding of WHO they are and WHY they do the things they do. It could be because there are so many people to service and so little time to explore each of them. I’m hoping that as the series progresses, the writers will delve into what makes each person tick. The only person who really intrigues me so far is the Tyrion Lannister. He’s a complete man-whore but has a stronger moral code than his awful siblings. I loved the scene where he slapped around the brat prince and forced him to go pay his respects to the Starks. Thank God someone had the sense to put that whining baby in his place. For someone who “can’t stand the wailing of women”, he’s sure mastered the art of whimpering like a girl. Tyrion is forthcoming with his opinions and can be harsh, but he’s sharp and intelligent. He gives Jon a hard time for his decision to join the Night’s Watch, but also seems to be forcing Jon to think about his choices. Because he was born a dwarf, it’s freed him from many expectation and obligations that would have otherwise been forced upon him. He spends his time reading and learning and has become quite observant. I like the insinuation that he’s not entirely on his incestuous brother and sister’s side. He’s a bit of a wild card and I can’t wait to see what he does.

Photo Courtesy of HBO

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