Welcome to the Fresh Prince of Westeros, a Game of Thrones Recap. Needless to say, MAJOR SPOILERS lie within these walls. Enter at your own caution. This week, we recap ‘The First of His Name.’
We open on the throne room. No doubt anticipating an arrangement that will be something like the marriage of Pooh Bear and Samantha from Sex and the City, Margie Tyrell watches on as her husband-to-be, Tommen, is crowned by the High Septon (that’s a “pope,” sort of) as King of the Seven Kingdoms. Tywin stands by, as imposing as ever, to receive those who line up to pay tribute to their new king: Grand Maester Pycelle, fake-limping his way up to the throne, Varys, giving an effete bow and clutching together the long sleeves of his kimono, and all the rest. Everyone plays their Game of Thrones role, paying homage to the one who gives this episode its title, ‘The First of his Name.’
Everyone except Cersei. Cersei’s being… decent.
As she approaches Margaery, we know that she’s about to make a thinly-veiled threat, or do some verbal posturing to remind Margaery that a rose doesn’t have a chance against a lion. And then… she asks for help. It’s fairly obvious that this takes nearly every ounce of her energy.
Cersei knows two things: she loves her children, and she needs Margaery’s help. Her family’s help, anyway. The Tyrells are the second most powerful house in the country, and without their support, the Lannisters cannot hope to hold their position, which doesn’t appear to be so secure as it once did. Not only do they need the numbers; they need Tyrell wealth to help secure the “tremendous” amount of money owed to the Iron Bank of Braavos. Not much is known about the shady Iron Bank, but by the way Tywin Lannister describes it, it’s an institution that you do not want to piss off.
As Tyrion once told Cersei, “You love your children. It’s your one redeeming quality. That, and your cheekbones.” Cheekbones aside, Cersei’s scenes with Margaery and Oberyn as she talks about her children show us a – dare I say – softer side of her character. Has Joffrey’s death changed her, leaving her more pliant and vulnerable, or is she up to no good? Side-eye indeed, Margie.
Meanwhile, the “Murderous Little Bitch” (henceforth to be known as MLB) that Cersei wanted killed tromps with Littlefinger to the Eyrie.
Sansa WLB is finally safe in the company of her mother’s sister, Lysa Arryn (née Tully). As you recall, Lysa is the one who, with her creeeeeepy, too-old-to-be-breastfeeding kid, wanted to make Tyrion ‘fly’ through the Moon Door (fall thousands of feet to his death) for the alleged murder of her husband, Jon Arryn. ‘Deranged,’ some might say. “Putting a bit of a fine point on it, are we?” You’re right, she’s out of her damn gourd, and is on her way to cementing the Tullys’ reputation as the lamest house.
It isn’t long before Lysa begins to reminisce over how, at Littlefinger’s command, it was she who poisoned Jon Arryn’s wine a long, long time ago, and it was she who wrote to Cat in episode one framing the Lannisters for the murder. It’s easy to forget, but Jon Arryn’s death was the crux of season one, the mystery that Ned went to King’s Landing to solve. Laura Hudson, inher recent Wired article, says it well:
“[Lysa] reveals a far bigger and more pivotal secret: the letter Lysa sent Catelyn back on the very first episode of the show was a lie. The Lannisters never poisoned Lysa’s husband, former Hand of the King Jon Arryn; she did it herself simply because Littlefinger asked her to. This isn’t a trivial revelation. This is the entire reason that everything in the show has happened: why Ned Stark left Winterfell and became Hand, and why he died. It is the original domino whose fall caused the War of Five Kings, the Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding, all set into motion by Littlefinger.”
The first of the dominos that set the entire Game of Thrones story into motion finally reveals its face: one one half, it looks like Gary Oldamn with a goatee, and on the other, a woman who looks like Gollum with an auburn wig. Sansa: You’re hurting me! Lysa: Your mother was FAT!
Out of the frying pan and into Crazytown. Poor WLB.
Out in the Riverlands, Arya and the Hound continue their seemingly destination-less trek. Nothing much happens here, except for Arya getting some screen time with Needle, reminding us that despite her size, she’s easily the show’s biggest badass. Paste Magazine did a recent post that basically, scientifically, proved this. Czech it out byclicking here.
Not too far away, Brienne and Podrick begin their misadventures, serving if nothing else as a much nicer foil to the Arya / Hound duo. A warrior mocked for their looks and a child, one male and the other female, one of whom is really, really eager for the immediate dissolution of the duo, and all of them killers in one way or another. Again, not much of note happens, except that Podrick inadvertently reveals to Brienne that not only is he sweet, loyal and dedicated, but he will also #%@$ing kill you.
Across the sea, Daenerys decides to stay in Meereen, and thousands of fans, who have been eagerly clamoring for her to head to Westeros and burn the Lannisters to a crisp, throw their hands up and groan in despair. SMH, Khaleesi.
The final chunk of the episode deals with Bran Muffin and company, as they escape the mutineers who are being slaughtered by Jon and his crew. In an earlier post I had stated that Bran’s plot, though divergent from the books, was needed to make the glacial pace of his storyline a bit more interesting… but the effect now seems somewhat akin to using bellows to blow life back into a corpse. It’s over-bloated, doesn’t work, and kinda stinks. The conclusion of ‘The First of His Name’ marks the halfway point of this season, and showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff were likely concerned about the story going flat.
I’m not quite sure what exactly was achieved here, except to inject some action into a season that has so far been pretty dialogue-driven, and to reunite Jon with Ghost. Bran escapes, Jon kills the mutineers, the two do not speak, and each goes on his way, much to the non-advancement of the overarching plot. The only thing of value that we’re left with is a moment of conflicted feeling, when Hodor – Hodor, of all people – kills the repugnant Locke. He’s had it coming, and it was good to see him go… especially at the hands of someone so unquestionably good as Hodor. But Hodor isn’t only good; he’s innocent. And immediately as he realizes what he’s done, his sweet simple mind is terrified. It’s an interesting move: killing off such a bad character with such a good one, and then immediately withdrawing the gratification by the character who arguably has the show’s purest moral compass.
Interestingly enough, we didn’t get in any real screen time with either of the Lannister brothers. But given the title of next week’s showing, ‘The Laws of Gods and Men,’ we’ve got a trial to catch, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty of them both.
Things we can take away from ‘The First of His Name’ – The Good:
Arya’s water dancing – Arya is so well liked because she doesn’t suffer fools, and cuts through the bullshittery she’s faced with like Valyrian steel cutting through… well, bullshit. “Dancing? Maybe you ought to put on a dress.” Who ever thought the Hound would be so damn funny?
Cersei and Oberyn’s scene – in a scene that stands in ‘stark’ contrast with the one they had moments before Joffrey croaked, a Lannister and a Martell, hated rivals, take a stroll through the gardens and talk about the children that they love. It was a moment of tenderness with two cutthroat game players, and much needed.
Olenna Tyrell’s exit – ‘The First of His Name’ marks the first of a bunch of Granny-less episodes. Because “There’s nothing more tedious than a trial,” the Tyrell matriarch has peaced out for Highgarden (the Tyrell version of Winterfell). Olenna added zing to the episodes she was in and always stole her scene, and she will be missed. Diana Rigg is good. She is very, very good.
Lysa’s septon – Lysa wants marriage now. Littlefinger defers, then caves. Gleefully, Lysa reveals that she’s had a septon literally waiting behind the doors to perform the service this whole time. It was a weird mix of comically awkward and clawingly desperate.
Jon Kills Karl – Despite Karl’s fancy knife tricks, the fight was wooden and predictable, and was over before it began. Typical good vs evil battle: the villain talks too much, does some fancy tricks, injures the hero, then is killed. Karl’s demise was inevitable, even if it hadn’t been predicted by Jojen. Also, stabbing someone through the top of their head: not practical.
In a moment that should make the NRA proud, the White House (or their social media team, anyway) tweeted this the other day… apparently, our Commander-in-Chief is a fan. You can have my guns, but don’t take my crossbow.
And as if in response to my comments last weekabout the cheezy scene with the freed slaves, someone made this little gem (via Will Todd):
Jon Snow was so kind as to dictate this week’s kill count:
+5 Night’s Watch Brothers
GAME OF THRONES KILL COUNT: 5377
Until next time readers, check out a preview of next week’s episode: