Game of Thrones, Season 1, Ep 3

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

The locations are intercut throughout the episode, but let’s recap from north to south.

The Wall: Jon Snow settles into his role as a member of the Night’s Watch, while Tyrion Lannister lurks around enjoying himself, knowing that he can head back to the comforts of more southern climes at any point. The Night’s Watch seems to be made mostly of ne’er-do-wells who are rounded up and brought north by a guy called Benjen who seems to be the captain. The result is that they are poor fighters, and Jon Snow shows his superior combat training against them in an exercise. This earns him their enmity, and a group of ruffians overwhelm him and threaten to mess up his pretty face, when Tyrion appears and pulls his “my sister is the Queen” card to get Snow out of it.

Snow takes a hand-cranked lift to the top of The Wall and peers out into the snowy north beyond. Tyrion takes a very meaningful piss off the Wall into the land of the Wildlings. We hear that Benjen and his rag-tag mob patrols north of the Wall. It’s not clear why they bother – the Wall is so huge that surely it can keep a bunch of people (they say explicitly that the Wildlings are “just people like us”) out without bothering about patrolling the enemy territory. But there’s also the threat of White Walkers and monsters and stuff, although Tyrion says dismissively that he doesn’t even believe such things exist. Famous last words, perhaps?

We get the first explicit explanation of how the seasons work here. Summer and winter each last a variable number of years. The current summer has lasted a very long nine years, and the winter that is coming is expected to be long and harsh.

Winterfell: Bran Stark is awake, but the bad news is that he will never walk again, his legs having been ruined in the fall he took. He says he doesn’t remember anything about the fall – significantly including the damning evidence of Queen Cersei and her brother (Jaime) engaging in incest. It’s not entirely clear if he’s telling the truth or lying to protect himself, but given that he expresses the wish that he’d died instead of been crippled, odds favour the truth. So whether he regains his memory is to be seen.

While lying in bed, an old nursemaid regales Bran (at his insistence) with dark stories of winters past, when the sun vanished for years at a time, and horrible monsters stalked the land. Foreshadowing much? One of Bran’s older brothers appears – I still don’t know his name. I didn’t notice the second brother this episode – not sure if he’s in Winterfell too, or accompanying their father Ned to…

King’s Landing: The King’s party arrives back from Winterfell, with Ned Stark and his daughters Sansa and Arya. Ned is thrown straight into the politics and duties of the Hand of the King, discovering from a group of advisors that the kingdom is in serious debt trouble because the King (Robert Baratheon, I learn is his name) can’t control his spending. Ned cancels an expensive tournament which was to be held in his honour as the new Hand. You get the feeling that he’s gonna clean this place up.

Ned has a verbal spar with Jaime Lannister, in which we learn some of their backstory. The previous king was a Targaryen, and is now known as “The Mad King”. Jaime had served the Mad King, standing loyally by as the Mad King had murdered some of Ned’s relatives (including his father, I think) and other people by burning them alive right there in the throne room. But later, Jaime had stabbed the Mad King in the back (both literally and figuratively), thus helping install Robert as the current King, whom Jaime now serves. Robert even calls Jaime “king-killer”, and you really get the sense that Robert doesn’t fully trust him (with good reason, I suspect).

Cersei patches up Joffrey’s wolf bite, and Joffrey complains the scar looks ugly, like the snivelling little git he is. He doesn’t want to marry Sansa, but Cersei verbally kicks him into his place.

Surprise! Ned’s wife Cat shows up, having ridden from Winterfell incognito! A guy whose name I didn’t catch, with a thin face and neat moustache, hides her in his whorehouse until he can bring Ned to meet her. Moustache-guy is an old friend of the Starks, and seems to have a bit of a crush on Cat. She’s brought the dagger that was used in the attempt on Bran’s life while he was in a coma (which I forgot to mention back in Episode 2: the assassin was foiled when Bran’s wolf ripped his throat out). Moustache-guy recognises the dagger as his… before he lost it in a bet to… Tyrion Lannister! So the Lannisters were behind Bran’s brushes with death – but Ned needs more proof before taking it to the King. Honestly, I’m not sure what more proof you need than the smoking dagger that belonged to Tyrion Lannister, but there you go.

Cat takes her leave and heads back to Winterfell, leaving Ned to deal with court politics. He finds Arya holding the small sword that someone (I forget exactly who it was) gave to her back in Winterfell, apparently without Ned’s knowledge. He tells her it’s not a toy. In the closing scene of this episode, we see Arya meeting a diminutive swordmaster, who has apparently been hired by Ned to teach her how to wield a sword properly. He reminds me of the wedding planner played by Martin Short in Father of the Bride. As he and Arya spar with wooden swords, we see that she has some real talent, and Ned appears looking on proudly. It feels like this is setting up Arya to be the main “good guy” of the series: tough, honest, independent. She’s certainly the most likeable character so far.

The Land Across the Narrow Sea whose name I don’t know yet: Daenerys is really warming into her role as Drogo’s Queen. She’s learning the language and adopting the barbarian clothing and hairstyles. Her brother (whose name I still haven’t picked up) tries to rebuke her at one point, and her loyal guard snags him with a whip and asks if she wants him to be killed. She could easily have said yes, but holds back this time.

I sense that this won’t last much longer. I reckon that Daenerys won’t carry through with the plan of having Drogo’s army under the command of her brother so her brother can retake the throne at King’s Landing. I think she will soon get rid of her brother, and hatch (ha!) her own plan to invade Westeros with Drogo’s army in an attempt to install him as king and herself as queen.

And what’s so funny about “hatch”? Well, we see another lingering shot of those dragon eggs, just before Daenerys informs Drogo that she’s carrying his child(!). I mean, come on. Seriously… eggs, and then the very next line of dialogue is Daenerys telling Drogo that new life is growing inside her? If those eggs don’t hatch at some point, then the writers are doing a serious botch job of foreshadowing.

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