After an eventful journey from Winterfell, Ned ‘wolfslayer’ Stark finally arrives at King’s Landing. Within minutes, Stark is exposed to Jaime Lannister’s sneering, the worryingly well-informed Lord Varys and the slimy Littlefinger. Not only that, but the kingdom of Westeros is bankrupt and in serious debt to none other than the loathesome Lannister family.
After some of the shocking events of the first two episodes, Lord Snow feels a little slower paced. The main thrust of the episode focuses on the children of the series – Bran’s frustration at being crippled, Arya struggling to cope with the move to King’s Landing and Jon Snow’s alienation and disappointment that the Night’s Watch isn’t the noble brotherhood he was led to believe.
Tyrion continues his bizarre holiday at the Wall, while we continue to be confused about his allegiances. Since he’s the chief suspect for arranging the assassination of Bran, his compassion toward Jon Snow is strange to say the least. When Jon treats his peasant brothers on the Night’s Watch badly, Tyrion teaches him compassion for them by telling him their backgrounds. The Night Watch are also pinning their hopes on Tyrion using his influence at court to boost their flagging numbers.
In warmer climes (aka King’s Landing again), Catelyn Stark has caught up to Ned, but gets ‘escorted’ to a whorehouse by two masked riders. Her visit to the south has been pre-empted by Lord Varys (a eunuch, don’t you know) and Littlefinger. Littlefinger turns out to be that most wretched of creatures – a dude who was in love with Catelyn when they were younger and never quite got over her. He has no warm and fuzzy feelings for Ned Stark, let me tell you.
Catelyn is there to tell Ned about the assassination attempt on Bran. But politically astute Littlefinger points out that without proof, there’s no way they can go public with their accusations. Tyrion – their chief suspect – could merely claim that the blade used in the attack was stolen from him. As Catelyn prepares to return to Winterfell, Ned voices a hope that Robert is the same man he knew all those years ago. This is swiftly followed by a scene with Robert in his throne room, verbally abusing everyone around him. It’s satisfying to watch him insulting golden-haired Jaime Lannister, but Robert Baratheon is worryingly mean.
Elsewhere in King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister is teaching her son the fine art of being a liar and an adulterer. It’s a bizarre scene in which she tells Joffrey that when he’s king, he can write whatever history he likes. Who’s going to argue? Prince Psycho also displays a hostile attitude toward his future subjects – especially those northern scum.
NEWSFLASH: Daenerys Targaryen is knocked up! After five minutes of marriage, Dany is expecting her first child to Khal Drogo. And she’s settling beautifully into the lifestyle of theKhaleesi, thanks very much. The news of her pregnancy seems to disturb the exiled Mormont though, and he rushes off immediately, presumably to feed the news back home in order to redeem himself in Westeros.
The ludicrous beggar king Viserys also goes nuts when his sister orders the procession of horses to stop while she stretches her legs. Clutching at her throat, raving about ‘waking the dragon’ again, he suddenly has the leathery end of a whip wrapped round his neck. It’s such a delight to see this deluded brute getting his comeuppance – but the novel goes into more detail about how shameful it is for a man to be made to walk among the Dothraki. It’s still a nice contrast to see Daenerys becoming more regal among the Dothraki while Viserys becomes more of an obvious laughing stock.
The episode is ended with a beautiful scene. Ned Stark, indulging his tomboyish duaghter Arya, sends her for swordfighting lessons. As her instructor leads her in an elaborate dance, Ned watches from the door. What’s wonderful about this scene is how there’s a playfulness in its execution, but slowly Ned starts to hear the clash of metal even though Arya is only training with a wooden sword. It serves to show how serious the art of swordfighting can become.
A much slower paced episode, Lord Snow packed in masses of character development and managed to bring along the many disparate story threads. It’s the sheer number of plots that are spinning like plates that makes this series awful to recap, but wonderful to watch. You never quite spend enough time with any one character to get bored of them, but it feels like we’re getting to know their intricacies as this first season of Game Of Thrones progresses.