Game Of Thrones – A Golden Crown (or The Gruesome Death of Viserys Targaryen) – Episode Review

As the Pussycat Dolls once sagely cautioned, “be careful what you wish for, ‘coz you just might get it”, so Viserys Targaryen now wishes he’d heeded their advice.

I’d read about Viserys’ epic meltdown in the Dothraki capital just over a week ago, and it was by far one of the scenes I most anticipated seeing on-screen. What happens? Well, Viserys witnesses his sister Danaerys eating a horse’s heart. It’s a Dothraki pregnancy thing, by the way. It’s not the ritual that upsets him though – it’s how well she’s settled into Dothraki society, and how insignificant he has become, seated far outside Khal Drogo’s inner circle.

After initially trying to steal her dragons eggs – only to be stopped by Mormont – Viserys strides drunkenly into the Khal’s tent and threatens Dany and her unborn child unless Drogo delivers him an army and the crown that’s rightfully his.

I’m sure “The Dragon” didn’t expect his request to be taken so literally. But there’s a rule in Vaes Dothrak that no matter how brutal the people are away from home, they do not spill blood on holy ground. So Khal Drogo improvises – he melts down his golden belt and pours the molten liquid over his brother-in-law’s head. It’s brutal, it’s gruesome, it’s a hideous painful death for a vile, hateful character. In short, it’s surprising how primal it feels to see such a heinous character as Viserys killed this way.

If you hadn’t read the Song of Ice and Fire books beforehand, no doubt the killing of Viserys will have come as a major shock. I’ve just finished the first book, and was left reeling a couple of times by deaths of major characters and how the plots twisted. Seriously: no character on this show is safe.

A Golden Crown

I love the double-meaning that this episode’s title has. Sure, it blatantly refers to the molten crown Viserys received. But it also subtly refers to the ‘golden crown’ that is the Lannister family trademark. When Sansa Stark mentions that Joffrey is nothing like his disgusting, drunken father, Ned realises that she has a point. And upon consulting with the Big Book of Westeros Family Trees, Ned makes a shocking discovery – all of Robert Baratheon’s family have a thick head of black hair. Which means that blonde Joffrey is not Robert’s son. Which means something fishy’s going on with the Lannisters.

I wonder if Ned will work it out?

Tyrion goes free

Cunning Tyrion walks right out the front doors of the Vale Of Arryn tonight after tricking the Tully sisters into giving him a fair trial. All Crazy Lysa wants it to chuck The Imp out the Moon Door (a wonderful hole in the middle of the main hall that has a fatal drop to the forest below) for the amusement of her spoiled brat of a son, Lord Robert.

I like to think that Lysa Arryn is a subtle social comment on helicopter parenting. I may be wrong.

Tyrion shrewdly chooses trial by combat. A host of knights volunteer for the honour of killing The Imp, but Tyrion outmanouevers them again by demanding a champion to fight on his behalf. Step forward the mercenary Bronn, whom he’d befriended along the road.

It’s the ultimate mismatch – weighed down by his armour, Arryn’s knight tires fairly quickly, while Bronn dances around the room and continues to exhaust him. And of course, Bronn isn’t weighed down with ideas about nobility either. Once the knight is tired, a couple of deft sword moves disable him, but Bronn stabs him in the neck and pitches him through the Moon Door. Unlike the killing of Viserys, this death leaves a nasty taste. The knight specifically didn’t want to fight against Tyrion because it wouldn’t be a fair fight. 

A note on the shock elements of Game Of Thrones

There’s a lot of gore in Game Of Thrones. I’ve never found it particularly off-putting, because the show depicts a fictional medieval world – and injuries, deaths and travesties were all part of everyday life.

Although the series is based in fiction, this – like the Spartacus series – shows how violent people were. One of my favourite scenes from tonight’s episode was Robert talking about how he prefers the honesty of a good battle to the backstabbing that goes on at court. Ned Stark shared a similar sentiment at the beginning of the series – the hand that dispenses the judgement should also hold the blade.

Tonight we saw a man murdered by melted gold after he’d held a sword to his own sister’s belly and threatened to “cut it out” himself. Yet there are moral boundaries – most of the characters remain aghast at the Targaryen’s reign and how the mad king had women and children slaughtered on a whim. Of course, it’s interesting to note that Robert Baratheon seems blinkered to the fact that he’s essentially ordered a similar execution on Danaerys.

Theon Greyjoy

I wanted to make special mention of Theon Greyjoy in this review. He’s quite an under-developed character at this point, but I have a feeling there’s more lurking under the surface.

In both the book and the series, Theon is the Starks’ whipping boy. No matter what good deeds he does for them, the Starks – Catelyn and Robb mostly – never have a kind word for him. Theon clearly thrives on battle, but when he becomes excited at their various victories, Caetlyn and Robb snipe at him and cut him off mid-sentence.

I’d love to know more about the character’s background, though I doubt it’ll happen in this series. I also wonder how loyal he’ll remain to the Starks if they keep treating him like a dog?

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