Continuing its unstoppable upward trend in viewers, the third series high record… in a row, “First of His Name” brought in 8.6 million viewers through both of its Sunday night showings. Let’s not forget that as of last month it was still the most pirated show on the internet as well. That’s because this season has been moving at a breakneck pace with some big events happening. We are sadly at the middle of the season however, and this episode seems like a chance to catch our breath. Even the veritable directing chops of Michelle McClaren of Breaking Bad and Walking Dead fame couldn’t save some of the plots North of the Wall. The episode wasn’t a home run like the previous 3 for me, but there was a lot to like and some big information revealed. So lets get to it
I Would Do Anything For Love…
Sansa’s story took a big leap forward as we returned to the Eyrie for the first time since season 1. You remember… the place with the breast feeding 8 year old? It turns out that the kid didn’t get that crazy on his own. What first seems like a warm welcome home from Sansa’s aunt Lysa and some human emotion from Littlefinger soon reveals it to be the mummers farce it is. When they are alone, Lysa reveals that it was Littlefinger who convinced her to poison her husband Jon Arryn. Then she sent the letter blaming the Lannisters to Ned Stark which started this whole chain of events! The real question here is what did he stand to gain from it?
In a great scene that explains a lot about Robin, Lysa cranks is up to 11 on the cray cray meter as she starts to berate Sansa about her relationship with her new husband. When she is in tears, she reveals her plans for Sansa to marry Robin. Weird kid with mommy issues and a fixation on pushing things down the moon door. Still better than Joffrey.
Tommen Baratheon. The First of His Name. Long Live the King
Joffrey is dead however, and a new king is crowned in Kings Landing. With much applause and celebration Tommen, First of His Name, holds his coronation at the Sept of Baylor. Cersei notices Tommen and Margaery making goo goo eyes at each other, and confronts her about it. Cersei sees the writing on the wall and extends her the offer to become queen. She feigns surprise and says she will have to speak to her father on the matter.
Cersei is also trying to shore up the jury it seems for Tyrion’s trial next week. She visits her father and reminds him that they have a duty to always put the family first. Tywin reminds her that for her, that means marrying Loras and cementing their alliance with the Tyrells because they are running out of gold. She also meets with Oberyn to remind the viewers that her daughter Myrcella is chilling in the Dornish water parks and that Cersei misses her a lot. It’s hard not to feel a little for her character here. Just a little though.
– Daenerys Targaryen
The other queen across the sea, Dany finally starts to talk about heading for Westeros. This is it. She finally has some boats thanks to Daario. She has an army. Four seasons have been building up to her cruising over the water and taking the Iron Throne with blood and fire! Barristan Selmy is all for it!
Few issues to take care of on this continent first though. The cities that Dany had previously liberated have either been retaken by the slave masters or by tyrants raised to power in the chaos. Jorah councils her and she decides that she will stay and rule until she proves that she can competently rule.
Arya and Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane are unaware that they are traveling not only to Arya’s aunt but also her sister. I wasn’t sure whether The Hound would still be on her prayer kill list, but she was sure to let him know it. She lost it when the Hound made fun of her ‘water dancing’ fighting style and her old teacher Syrio and tries to thrust Needle into him. The sword barely touches the armor and he knocks her to the ground.
Brienne and Podrick ‘The Rod’ Payne are the other traveling companions of the show and brought a great moment of levity and humor to the episode. We learn they are heading for Castle Black, thinking that is where Sansa’s would flee to be with Jon. Turns out being a squire for Tyrion mostly consists of pouring wine and fetching books and has left Pod unequipped for life on the road. Brienne is standoffish and unimpressed until Pod tells her of how he killed a Kings Guard at the Battle of the Blackwater. Both of them have great comedic timing and can hold their own in battle. I’m sure we will be seeing more of them as we travel on.
Locke’s story was wrapped up rather quickly. He discovers Bran and the others, lies to Jon to keep him out of the shed, then sneaks off during the battle to retrieve them. Jojen is looking a little better, but his visions are growing stronger. He foretells the death of Karl with an ominous prophecy. “I saw the snow fall and bury your bones.” He sees the great weirwood tree which somehow seems to be connected to the three eyed raven, and his hand engulfed in flame. What he doesn’t see coming is Bran warg-ing into Hodor, breaking free of his chains, and snapping Locke’s neck like a twig. Good thing too, because that may have short circuited his brain due to all the awesome that was that last sentence.
Michelle McClaren excels at directing action and the battle at Crasters is exciting and well shot. The sword vs dual knives battle between Jon Snow and the mutineer leader Karl was suitably intense. The freed direwolf Ghost finishes off Rast and is reunited with his master Jon. The battle for Crasters Keep is won with only a few casualties.
Can’t help but think there would probably have been less casualties if they had rethought their battle plan. Maybe when you have a poorly defended fortress that you can obviously sneak men in and out of, you don’t run directly at the front door screaming. Probably shouldn’t wait for the cover of darkness just to light torches before the charge either. For that matter, when Karl was doing his evil monologue-ing, why did he not mention that he had his brother Bran? There were a lot of little things that made this scene just seem a little too contrived.
Jojen convinces Bran that he must choose between his trip to the tree or seeing Jon who would never let him continue. Again just feet apart from each other the two Stark brothers go their separate ways as Craster’s Keep burns to the ground.
That’s all for this week. Next week’s preview looks fantastic. The Ironborn finally show up for a Theon rescue. Stannis returns, and we get a glimpse of dragons! Stay tuned next week as Nathan Gifford breaks it all down at the next Game of Thrones recap.