Last night’s installment of HBO’s Game Of Thrones was called “Lord Snow”, but the title could be considered a bit misleading. It is the name of one of the POV characters from George R.R. Martin’s sprawling epic, and he seems to be an important one, but he wasn’t really in primary focus. Instead, Ned Stark took center stage once again, beginning his tenure as the Hand of the King during his stay at King’s Landing.
“People have been swinging at me for years but they always seem to miss” – Jaime Lannister
“You’ve chosen your opponents wisely then” – Ned Stark
“I have a knack for it” – Jaime Lannister
Wow. What a way to start a new job. In his very first meeting as the Hand of the King, Ned learns that his old friend Robert has squandered the royal funds and gotten the kingdom deep in debt to his in-laws, the Lannister’s. Now this marriage is starting to make some sense! Though he’d been advised to throw some kind of flashy competition, Stark wants nothing of it and states that there will be no more spending until this matter is sorted out. Ned has a verbally hostile encounter with Jaime Lannister in the Throne Room, a scene which divulges plenty of information about past and current events and tonally foreshadows the future between these two rivals. Jaime brags about how he slaughtered Aerys Targaryen and earned the name Kingslayer while Ned essentially calls him a coward, traitor and murderer (even though Aerys, the Mad King, killed Ned’s father). I don’t think they like each other very much. However, the most visually important shot in this sequence is the big reveal of the actual Throne, made of 1,000 swords of conquered enemies. We’d seen it on ALL the promo materials for this show for months, so it was nice to finally get a look at that wonderful piece of branded imagery.
While in King’s Landing, we catch up with several familiar characters and meet a few new ones. Most significant, perhaps, is Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, the treasurer and a longtime friend of Catelynn Stark (though it’s pretty obvious that he desires her greatly in spite of her marriage to Ned) who intercepts her upon her arrival in the city, claiming that it could be too dangerous for her to venture inside its walls without proper protection. Naturally, she’s furious to find herself brought to a brothel he owns, but he has a point: Catelynn is in town to see her husband and inform him of the Lannister’s treachery back home regarding Bran’s “fall” and there are those loyal to them in the city that could make an attempt on her life because of this news. Of course, Ned is just as displeased with finding out that Catelynn has been hanging out at a whore house, but his mood will certainly improve when he sees that his wife has evidence against the Lannister’s in the form of a unique blade that was used against her during the attempt on Bran’s life in “The Kingsroad.” The catch: it used to belong to Littlefinger, but he lost it to Tyrion Lannister in a gamble on a jousting match that Jaime was engaged in. The plot thickens…
“Everybody who isn’t us is an enemy.” – Cersei Lannister
Elsewhere in King’s Landing, Cersei hits the gas on the scheming in “Lord Snow” as she tends to her son Joffrey’s injuries (from the direwolf back in “The Kingsroad”). The little brat tells his mother that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with Sansa and that he’d actually like to sack Winterfell and enslave its populace. Cersei, playing it cool and calm, says that Sansa will make a beautiful bride and produce many sons for him but that he’s not bound to her if he doesn’t desire her. Instead, she explains the spoils of royalty to him, giving him permission to sleep with whomever he’d like and basically do as he’d please because when he is King, “the truth will be what you make it.” Clearly, she deserves the mother of the year award. As she instills fear and hubris into her son, she’s sealing his fate, and I’m sure she’ll rue the day she gave him this advice.
Cersei also confronts Jaime about making the attempt on Bran’s life, chiding him for being so cavalier with their lives and reputation. Between the scene with Ned and this one, in which he brazenly declares that he’d kill everyone in this world until he and his sister can be together, Jaime’s true nature become quite clear: he’s a take-no-prisoners warrior who will surely be a force to be reckoned with when the Battle for the Throne begins.
“Starks are always right eventually; winter is coming. This one will be long, and dark things will come with it.” – Weird old guy from the Night Watch
Meanwhile, at the Black Castle at The Wall, Jon Snow begins to work with the farmboys and peasants who have joined the Night Watch. As you might assume, he’s not the most popular kid at school being the son of a mighty ruler, but his skills with a sword speak for themselves. He’s by far the most able and ready young recruit in the North, but that won’t help when he faces the terrors beyond.
As the dwarf prepares to leave the Wall, he fulfills his goal – to piss off of the edge of the world – and gives Jon a raven-delivered message from Winterfell: Bran is awake. It’s a touching scene; not because of the good news, but because of the obvious bond between Tyrion and Snow, two friends from families that are actually enemies. I’d like to see more of them together in the future and am hoping that they both live long enough to reunite.
Over to the Dothraki: We didn’t see as much of the Targaryen twins and Khal Drogo in this episode, but what we did get pushed their stories forward a bit. It was obvious that Viserys wasn’t going to last long amongst the horse people, what with his high-and-mighty attitude and constant threats toward their new Khalessi (or princess/Queen). When his sister halted her advancing Dothraki caravan to wander off into the brush, Viserys took this as her giving the army and him orders, which he doesn’t like. He throws her to the ground and presses his blade to her throat before a loyal warrior wraps his whip around his neck, rendering him incapacitated. They all leave him as he’s still screaming about his power and this and that, blah blah blah. I know very little about where this story is going (being a non-reader), but I do know what happens to Viserys and I can’t wait to see it, because he’s a sniveling little shit that deserves what’s coming.
After all kinds of lovemaking, Daenerys is apparently pregnant. It’s “confirmed” by one her servants (who apparently knows a thing or two about what to look for when one is expecting) who tells Jorah. By the time we finally see the daddy, Dany’s already butt naked in bed with him again, predicting the sex of the child. This was pretty much the first episode in which Dany was happy full time, so I’m happy to watch her getting comfortable in her new life.
Finally, there are some minor developments with the Stark children. Bran, now fully awake but crippled, is bed-ridden and very unhappy. In his mother’s absence, he’s being cared for by a particularly frightening-looking old wench, who gladly tells the boy stories to pass the time. Only Bran like the scary ones, so she proceeds to tell him of the White Walkers and the monsters that dwell in the far north. The filmmakers brilliantly captured the fear that the opening scene of the pilot conveyed in this hag’s monologue and are doing a great job at building tension as we await the coming battles.
Back in King’s Landing, Arya gets a new dancing instructor at her father’s recommendation. Lucky for her, he’s actually Syrio Forel, a warrior from Bravos skilled in the art of “the water dance” – fancy swordplay and footwork. The episode ends with a contemplative shot of Ned watching his daughter spar with Syrio, in which he’s both amused and appalled by the thought of Arya engaged in a real battle. It was just one bit of foreshadowing of many in “Lord Snow”, an entry that has continued to set-up events in the near future that will very likely shake the very foundations of Westeros.