One of the reasons Sean Bean is brilliant as the grim Northerner Ned Stark in Game Of Thrones is that he’s such a fish out of water. They say that power corrupts, but Stark hasn’t been at King’s Landing long enough to have his sturdy morals eroded by the vipers and backstabbers at court.
There’s a light-hearted scene where Robert is being generally abusive toward one of his many Lannister in-laws and Ned is watching on. You can tell (even if you haven’t read the books) that Ned feels a kinship with this ribald man who was once as close as a brother to him. However, by the end of the scene, when Robert’s being mocking about his subject “Kneel before your king, you shits!”, Ned doesn’t find it so easy to laugh along.
It’s Ned’s solid but grim morality that arguably makes the turning point in this episode. When Robert later decides to have the pregnant Danaerys Targaryen killed, Ned refuses to have any part in the slaughter of innocents. In doing so, he resigns as the King’s Hand, leaving him utterly unprotected against his many enemies in the Red Keep. So, with his wife holding Tyrion Lannister captive and Ned without the King’s protection, it isn’t long before the Lannisters take their opportunity for revenge.
Madness in the Eyrie
Catelyn Stark has taken Tyrion to the Vale of Arryn to answer for his crimes (and the perceived Lannister involvement in the killing of her sister’s husband). But Tyrion warns that Lysa Arryn is not the same woman she knew. However, no warnings could prepare Catelyn for the bizarre scenes that await – her sister breastfeeding her son (who’s easily between 8 and 10 years old).
While there was a subtle bit of CGI work at play in the Eyrie, I had expected something a bit more cinematic and breathtaking. Certainly based on the description in the book.
However, all that is well compensated for with the shrieking, manic Lysa Arryn and her awful, spoiled, slightly mad son. Tyrion’s bemusement at all the accusations levelled at him is all the funnier, especially as Catelyn begins to doubt his guilt herself.
Full Frontal Nudity for All The Family
Shocking, I know! But intercut with all tonight’s madness, trickery and deception was Theon Greyjoy and a prostitute doing the dirty within the walls of Winterfell. Hot bods all round, though I was a bit shocked to see Theon’s dangly bits on screen. (Though they may have been a bit too dangly for someone who’d just been having nookie!)
I’m assuming that the prostitute in question was the fabled Roz – and she was no pushover either, taunting Greyjoy about his family’s fall to the Starks and his own drop in status.
The Knight Of Flowers and his unlikely lover
Ser Loras, the knight of flowers, turns out to be a shrewd trickster himself winning against Gregor Clegane because Clegane’s horse was in heat. However, that’s not the surprising thing about his appearance tonight – in one of many departures from the strict interpretation of the novel, Game Of Thrones has written Loras into a gay relationship with Lord Renly Baratheon. It is, of course, a secret relationship, one which involves mutual chest shaving. However, after a snide remark from Littlefinger, it’s clear that it’s not a very well-kept secret.
Robert and Cersei have a relatively civil sit-down chat about how terrible their marriage is. “It’s a neat little trick you do. You move your lips and your father’s voice comes out.” These two are under no illusions about the fact that their marriage is a political one and nothing to do with romance. “How long can hate hold a thing together?”
The tricksters at court are hard at work this week. But Littlefinger’s manouevering is nothing compared to Lord Varys, who’s seen having a clandestine meeting with Magister Illyrio (the guy who arranged the marriage between Danaerys and Kahl Drogo). But he promptly reports on Danaerys’ pregnancy to the small council. With these two, you never know where their loyalties lie.
Were you hoping that somehow Jaime Lannister would fell a horse on Ned’s leg? That’s how it got broke in the book. And it’s not like it wouldn’t have been possible – Sandor Clegane managed to behead a horse after losing at the jousting. Shocking scene. Even animals aren’t spared on this show!