S1E4: I'm beginning to see just how important the geography of Westeros is to the storytelling in Game of Thrones. And because of that I thought we'd try something a bit different today. Instead of recapping last night's episode in a more traditional manner, I'm going to take you through "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things" directionally, from North to South.
So, starting from the furthest, most desolate location in the North, we find Lord Snow still swinging swords and training makeshift soldiers at the Wall. Though he's gained respect from his peers and superior Thorn, he throws his bad-ass reputation down the toilet by sticking up for Samwell Tarley, a pathetic excuse for a man who has ventured to the Wall to prove himself to his father (I like the big guy too, mainly because I refer to my cats Sam and Maxwell as one -- calling them Samwell). You've got to admire Jon; he's a really good guy with morals, a conscience, a kind heart and all that jazz. He really doesn't belong in The Night Watch freezing his ass off waiting to die. Of course, Thorn is upset that Jon didn't let Sam take the beatings he thinks the little fatty deserves, so he barges in on them while they're cleaning up what looks like the mess hall and tells them, essentially, they're not ready for the natural and supernatural terrors that await them once they're sent into the wilderness. I'm not too worried about Jon; though he's been raised in the relative comfort of Winterfell, he's a solid warrior. Sam, on the other hand, will be bantha-fodder (oops, wrong fictional universe. Old habits die hard).
Anyway, other than learning why Sam has joined, we find out that he and Jon are still a virgins (poor guys) but Jon came really close to losing it to a whore named Roz, who he describes as a particularly beautiful red-head. Normally, this wouldn't have any bearing on my recap, but this unseen young lady takes us further south to Winterfell, where Tyrion Lannister receives a much cooler welcome than he did a few episodes back. He's met by Robb Stark, who's in charge of running the city in his fathers (and mothers) absence and is not particularly fond of the imp. Tyrion coolly downplays the hostility and asks for young Bran, who's brought into the chamber room and given schematic designs for an apparatus that will help him ride a horse in spite of his ailment. When asked why he's brought these blueprints, he says he "has a tender spot in his [my] heart for cripples, bastards and broken things," which again explains his liking of Jon and makes the extension of his kindness to Bran more sensible. Gotta love this little guy: aside from having the best lines, he's the shortest dude on the show with the biggest set of balls of all. Robb feels pretty stupid after Tyrion's intentions become clear and offers the dwarf all the hospitality a Lannister should receive but turns it down, opting for a brothel where he knows he'll be appreciated. Before he leaves Winterfell, however, he's met by Theon Gray Joy, the ward of Ned Stark, who recommends a specific red-headed whore. Instead of taking the advice kindly, Tyrion gives Theon the verbal smackdown:
I grow very curious about the identity of this Roz, whose reputation precedes her. If I were Tyrion, I'd also be cautious of Theon, who wasn't too happy about being ridiculed by the imp. And especially since, by the end of the episode, we find Tyrion apprehended by the locals at a nearby establishment when Catelynn Stark, who he calls out for being at such a seedy place, turns them on him, citing his responsibility in the attempts on the lives of her and her son. This is a direct result of Littlefinger's claim that the knife used to attack her in "The Kingsroad" belonged to Tyrion, and now the shit has hit the fan.
Speaking of Littlefinger, back in King's Landing he gives Ned some advice: don't trust anyone, even him. Apparently the Hand of the King has been all too gullible and careless while in the capital and is warned to watch his back. He also takes Littlefinger's advice and questions various parties about Lord Arryn's death. Grand Maester Pycelle says the sickness struck him very hard and fast, but also tells him of a book that Arryn requested the night he died. It's an account of the lineage and houses of the kingdoms of the seven kings, complete with birth records and related materials. An interesting read, I'm sure. Ned wonders why he would've wanted to read something like that on his death bed, but Pycelle has no answers. Instead, he tells him that he kept saying "The seed is strong" before he perished. Kinky? A little bit. Confusing? Definitely. But that's not all. Littlefinger also told Ned to interrogate an armorer's apprentice named Gendry, who Arryn spoke to as well. Turns out Gendry is King Robert's bastard son. Because everyone has a bastard son in Westeros. No, seriously, this is going to have some major repercussions for the King, so I'm pretty excited to see what happens now that his secret is slowly starting to come out.
Later, Ned finds Arya practicing balancing exercises her teacher gave her. She's becoming quite the spunky little warrior, though her father tells her that eventually she'll marry and have sons. "No, that's not me," she says. Kids, you gotta love 'em. Meanwhile, Sansa has a walk through the throne room with her nanny Septa, who tries to ease her worries about potentially giving birth to only girls. You'd think Westeros invoked a population control on child rearing the way she fears having daughters. She also asks about her grandfather and uncle, who died in that very chamber, but Septa tells her to ask her father about it. Unfortunately Sansa is still mad at him for killing her direwolf at Cersei Lannister's command, so that's out of the question.
In the most strange and unusual conversation of the episode, at a jousting match Littlefinger tells Sansa of the horrific relationship between her betrothed's (Joffrey) keeper Hound and his brother Gregor the Mountain (I guess that's what you could call him), who happens to slaughter his opponent in the joust. He then tells her that few are privy to that information and that if Hound knew that she knew, no one could keep her safe. Ouch. It's a creepy scene, no doubt, but I'm not quite sure why it was necessary. If it was to simply scare the shit out of the spoiled Sansa, then I'm for it.
Finally, across the sea we find Viserys bathing and banging his sister's sex teacher, who asks him about dragons. Since the Targaryen line is closely associated with them, he's got lots to say, but one thing is certain: though his ancestors may have had dragon blood running through their veins, Viserys doesn't. There's not one ounce of fight in him and Jorah, Daenerys and everyone around them know it. However, Daenerys is another story. We've been shown those dragon eggs on multiple occasions as their significance has been accentuated by the camera, and the young Khaleesi is with child. Something tells me a game changer is brewing in her belly. When Viserys attacks her again after she sends her servant (the same one he was screwing earlier) to get him to come to a lunch she'd had prepared for them, Dany strikes back, once and for all letting him know that her people aren't savages and that she will be respected. My major concern here is that Khal Drogo hasn't done a damn thing to stop Viserys from beating her yet. I know justice is coming, but come on already. Get to the good stuff.
That's my major complaint with the show thus far. There's been bloodshed, but not a lot of action. The previews for next week's episode show that things will start to heat up, and I'm looking forward to some medieval mayhem. All in all, a decent episode, but more of the same in Dothrakitown and up North. I want to see some more development with the characters in these areas soon.