All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
Season 1, Episode 2: The Kingsroad
I promise these will get shorter around Episode 4, and will have less set up and more analysis. There’s just so much info. We left off Winter is Coming with Bran getting shoved out the window- so the follow-up episode is obviously going to take off from here.
We’ll start off with Dany, as the Khal Drogo’s Dothraki horde is being led through (I’m assuming) what’s part of the Great Grass Sea because… there is a lot of grass. Dany’s scenes in this episode are about her learning to please Drogo sexually and learning about her own sexuality because… he raped her on their wedding night and… now I guess the message is, if it’s going to happen, learn to deal with it? Again, that whole wedding night scene didn’t need to be rape. It just hasn’t carried over well. I guess one of the big moments of Dany in this episode is that she’s disengaged and totally focused on her dragon eggs- you know she’s plotting or imagining some sort of revenge for those that wronged her… which… I mean… she talks about him so lovingly in later episodes… DAMNIT D&D.
Let’s also note that Jorah is calling her Child as a predominant term of endearment, and something that will shift to Khaleesi somewhere this season. It’s creepy and weird when he lusts after her later on. I’ve never been a huge Jorah fan. He’s had his moments, but they’re really outweighed by the lurk factor here.
Onto the important stuff- THE NORTH. I mean. This is just amazing stuff. Sequentially, this is one of the best episodes I can recall that slowly feeds you a lot of information that you’re not aware of.
The North opens with Tyrion waking up, presumably hungover, in a dog pen and I think this is the first episode we really start to love Tyrion. He demands that Joffrey offer sympathy to the Starks and Bran and when Joff refuses, Tyrion slaps him around a little. Clearly this wins Scene of the Episode. It’s a nice little revealing moment for everyone- Tyrion is the only one who refuses to let Joff prance around doing as he pleases and Joff comes off as a little whiny brat. We all win. I also find it interesting that the Hound calls Tyrion “little lord,” a term of endearment and affection we become familiar with in Seasons 2 and 3. I have theories on the Hound- we’ll get to them later.
Lannister sibling rivalries. There’s a great dynamic between Jaime and Tyrion- it’s clear the two have affection for each other and might possibly have had a stronger bond if Jaime wasn’t constantly put in the middle fo Tyrion’s and Cersei’s battles. Cersei heads up to Bran’s room, where Cat is grieving and praying for her son to stay alive. Cersei regales her with a tale that she lost her first son, a “black haired beauty,” when in the most previous scene, all of her children are shown as blonde. This is the first indicator that her children might not be Robert’s. Headey is at her finest here- I can’t help but sympathize with her story, but at the same time, question her motives for telling Cat any of this. Is she being honest? Is she trying to strip all of Cat’s hopes away? It’s a multilayered scene that plays off beautifully. She really got to toe that line in the earlier seasons and we don’t get to see this anymore. I remember really liking Cersei’s character in the beginning and not blaming her for a lot of her actions in early seasons, so this will be fun to rewatch. I think it’s important to note that Cersei does have her own chapters in the books- she’s not a straight-up villain as the show later portrays her to be and she has perfectly valid reasons for doing things.
On the other hand, Jaime runs into Jon and this makes me really excited to see each of the characters in future episodes, as they’re two of the most changed and developed throughout the series. And Kit Harington has come so far as an actor- he plays it so perfectly as young and in awe of Jamie, who’s rumored to be the best swordsman in the realm and part of an elite set of knight’s as opposed to the Night’s Watch… which… sounds like a merry band of pirates, if we’re being honest.
Jon heads up to Arya to say farewell and this is the ONLY scene we get between the two, in the entire series, to date. Isn’t that strange? This is a really, really strong scene and there’s a genuine love and affection between the two. The show doesn’t go into much detail but in the books, Arya felt particularly close to Jon because she felt she didn’t look anything like Cat and thought she might be a bastard as well. Jon convinces her otherwise. Ah, kids. Maisie Williams perfectly captures Arya’s innocence and youth here.
More information on Jon as he runs up to Bran’s room to say goodbye and Cat basically screams him out of the room. Cat reminds Ned of how she was humiliated when he came home with another woman’s son. Cat is another character who gets a lot of crap (seriously, why do people hate GOT moms?), but let’s be real: I can’t imagine how hard that might have been for Cat to be reminded of Ned’s unfaithfulness and its product walking around while her own son is in a coma. the conversation with: “You do have a choice and you’ve made it.” I think a lot of people see this as a reference to Ned leaving to become Hand of the King, but I see it more as an accusation about putting Jon and just the general concept of honor before her own feelings.
This scene tells us a lot about RLJ and Ned’s part in it. There are a lot of fans out there that think if Ned had just told Cat about everything, then things might have been different and it was unfair to her. Yes. Absolutely. It was unfair to her, but think how obvious it would have been to people that a Tully (whose house words are Family, Duty, Honor) wasn’t offended by the presence of a child her husband (also big on honor) fathered with another woman. Cat’s palpable hate for Jon made the lie more real and more believable to everyone else.
Jon’s farewell tour then hits up Robb, who again, just looks so princely. (Swooning. Richard Madden has so much presence on screen.) Again- it’s just astounding to me that Jon’s rounds was less than maybe… eight minutes? And still we get such a strong sense of his relationship with the other Stark children. This really carries throughout the entire series.
Ned, Arya, Sansa, the Lannisters, and Robert then head down to King’s Landing, while Tyrion, Jon, and Benjen start their trek off to the Night’s Watch. As if dropping all these consecutive Jon scenes in a row weren’t enough, we’re given a farewell scene with Ned, where he states, “You may not have my name, but you have my blood,” and yet ANOTHER scene between Robert and Ned, discussing Robert’s Rebellion, Lyanna, and Ned’s affair. Another fantastic scene where there is lots of context around Ned’s character and how it was surprising to everyone that he had a child with another woman. There is so much information in these earlier scenes that go beyond the dialogue. GODS I’VE MISSED YOU, SEASON 1.
Back at Winterfell, some dude with a dagger tries to kill Bran, but Cat fights him off, even grabbing the blade of the dagger with her hands. This is where I really started to like Cat- she’s tough, she has fight in her, she knows how to lead in her husband’s absence. Even if she is by blood a Tully, she’s very much a Northerner as well. Cat heads up to the tower to inspect where Bran fell and finds a long blonde hair that she immediately deduces is Cersei’s. She holds her own small council in the weirwood, stating they can’t be trusted and need to find out why they would push Bran out the window. Most importantly, she has to warn Ned and drops, “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell,” a mantra we hear numerous times throughout the series.
And this is something that has really stuck with me- this show, the series really, has always been about the Starks. I never really cared for Dany’s story or anything that wasn’t going to have consequence on the Stark family. That’s attributed to these strong first episodes where we get to know the family so well without really spending that much time with them.
The episode ends when Sansa and Joff stumble upon Arya practicing swordplay with Mycah, a boy of humble means. Joff cuts Mycah, Arya intervenes, and then her direwolf comes out to protect her and practically bites off Joff’s hand.
This is the real beginning of the break between Ned and Robert, who is persuaded by Cersei to take the life of a direwolf. Since Arya’s has run off, Cersei volunteers Sansa’s instead and Robert doesn’t seem to have an issue with it. While everyone is kind of terrible in this- Sansa lies and says she doesn’t remember, Joff lies, Arya whines- most of the crap gets dumped on Cersei but really Robert is the worst one in the room. He’s the king and has absolutely no control over the situation, doesn’t even seem to care, clearly hates decision making and accountability, is a bad husband, and is a bad father. This is all in this one scene. And Ned, extremely symbolically, chooses loyalty to Robert over his own family, as he executes the direwolf the sigil of his own house. It’s some heavy stuff.
Last but not least, Ned runs into the Hound, who has killed Mycah at Joff’s request and it’s the first time we’ve seen the Hound’s actions match his reputation. I’ve always viewed the Hound, especially in this rewatch now, as someone who did terrible things because he was commanded to and now he’s just over it. The two scenes he has leading up to this- with Tyrion and Sansa- don’t give any indication of this terrible nature he’s rumored to have. I think when we are introduced to him, he’s just about had it with Joff and is already questioning his own values.
Side note, did anyone catch the line Robert drops: “What would you have me do, whip her through the streets?” AHHHH now THAT is some foreshadowing for Cersei.
Next up: 1.3 Lord Snow