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 3: Lord Snow
[rubs hands together] I love this episode. So many introductions. In one fell swoop, we get introduced to Varys, Renly, Littlefinger/Petyr Baelish, Grand Maester Pycelle, Jeor Mormont, Alliser Thorne, Grenn, Pyp, the other guy in the Night’s Watch, Barristan Selmy, Yoren, AND Syrio Forel. We get a smattering of scenes that just introduce people and there’s no real sense of linearity or sequence in this episodes. Multiple cuts for no reason. This is a tactic to keep us invested in the show’s changing scenery and distracted from the fact that nothing is actually happening; we’re just getting to characters that will eventually play a larger role. Also, relationship building! Let’s go by location just to keep it all together.
First off, I’d like to shout out Jory Cassel, the captain of the guards to House Stark. He’s one of my favorite obscure background character that doesn’t get much to do but adds a lot to where ever he is. Ah, sweet, sweet Jory.
Ned arrives at King’s Landing and is immediately summoned to the King’s small council meeting, which is basically a cabinet of sorts. Ned, being ever so practical and putting duty before anything else heads straight to the throne room and runs into Jamie. This is the first scene where Ned’s honor is given some shades of grey (I was going to say greyscale, but I refrained) and Jaime shows some flashes of being good. It’s revealed that Ned’s brother and father were killed in the Throne Room by the Mad King, while Jaime, like the rest of the King’s Guard watched in horror; later Jaime acts and kills the Mad King when he threatens to burn the entire city. Ned first blames Jaime for not breaking his code when two people were being murdered, but then kind of backtracks and blames Jaime for breaking his code and killing the man he was supposed to protect. From this conversation, we can tell that Ned’s just looking for a reason to hate Jaime and this is the first time he can’t use honor as an answer for everything.
Ned is then introduced to the Small Council in the Scene of the Episode- Varys, Robert’s younger brother Renly, Littlefinger, and Grand Maester Pycelle, who all serve the King in some manner. Robert doesn’t show up to his own meetings because, remember- he sucks. Varys seems to genuinely like Ned. Most importantly, Littlefinger is introduced as the Master of Coin who oversees the King’s Budget and announces that the crown is three million gold dragons in debt. Ned puts a firm stop to all of Robert’s party plans because he is an adult. Littlefinger is also incredibly fond of Cat, who he grew up with and loved in his childhood, even fighting Ned’s older brother Brandon for her hand.
It’s weird that they don’t get into this in this scene, but Cat was previously betrothed to Brandon. When Brandon was killed, Ned stepped up to take his place and join House Stark to House Tully, because (yup) it was the honorable thing to do. I can’t remember if this even comes up in future episodes (I guess we’ll find out), but Cat and Ned are such a strong union that it doesn’t even matter. I think in the books, Cat gives Sansa after a whine or two a bit of a speech that she didn’t love Ned at first, but loved him over time.
We’ll conclude the Small Council meeting with this: Pycelle hands Ned a piece of parchment and drops the line, “Should we begin?” which Dany also drops in Season 7. A nice little callback.
We then get two really strong contrasting scenes in the way the Lannisters raise their children versus the Starks. Cersei is giving Joff illusions about how brave he is and feeding him a sense of entitlement that, as heir to the throne, he can say or do whatever he wants and call it honorable. Ned, seeing Arya act out, tells her the truth about how adults act and how politics work, using the opportunity to have a teachable moment that the most important thing is family, a conversation that hangs over Arya’s head for the rest of her storyline.
Cat lands in King’s Landing and is taken to Littlefinger, who is hanging around and running a brothel. Between this and his aforementioned crush on Cat, we just know this character is repressed sexually and I’m reminded of the term Nice Guy- grew up having a female for a friend, was really nice to her hoping it would turn into something. Nice Guys feel entitled to their female friend’s affection (usually in the form of sex!); often heard in the same phrases as “Friend Zone” and typically gaslights to get what they want or will build illusions to make themselves the victim in the relationship: “Oh, I’m so mistreated. All I am is nice to you and you never repay it. You walk all over me. You never notice me.” In some situations, and as it is here, a Nice Guy can be a really dangerous person to have around.
Cat shows the dagger that was used in the attack against Bran and Littlefinger claims he lost it in a bet to Tyrion Lannister. Cat is so determined to identify the people behind the attack that she immediately believes him- but we know there’s something off about Littlefinger. We just haven’t placed it yet. This is only further emphasized when Littlefinger takes Ned to the brothel, which Ned immediately sees this as a sign of disrespect- as if HONORABLE Ned Stark would EVER set foot in a brothel. Sheesh. There’s an incredible shot of Ned grabbing Littlefinger by the throat and Cat appearing from above between the two. Just a wonderful visual of where they’re all connected. Cat convinces Ned to trust Littlefinger and Ned says sure, but his face tells us otherwise and, of course, we believe Ned because he’s the main character.
Cat and Ned get a sweet sendoff before she heads back to Winterfell- again, just another wonderful, short scene that displays the strong relationship between the two. They’ve gotten just a bit of screen time together and the show does a good job of capitalizing on the marriage without ever getting the chance to show it. There’s such a… regalness and etherealness to Cat in this scene and it’s so easy to feel Ned’s sadness in watching her go.
Still in King’s Landing, Cersei yells at Jaime that he tried to kill a child, which negates the sentiment she had in the previous two episodes that they absolutely had to keep their relationship secret and Bran quiet. I’m not sure if this is an inconsistency across the episodes or just an indicator that Cersei wouldn’t hurt a child and was therefore not the person who sent the assailant into Bran’s chambers… either way, it contradicts the character development from the previous episode and takes me out of the moment. Cersei looks great, but entirely out of place, as her dress is this really soft blue that I don’t recall seeing her in again and doesn’t seem to go with the character. It’s a color I’d associate with a young female character, if not a color that pops up on Margaery later on. Maybe this is a comment on how out of place she is as Robert’s wife.
Instead of attending the Small Council and doing King stuff, Robert is trading war stories with Barristan, like the guy who peaked playing football in high school and was homecoming king. (Lancel Lannister, in an awful wig, is just feeding him wine because alcoholism.) Robert calls in Jaime for a bit of a posturing session and Robert immediately challenges him, asking about the Mad King’s last words before Jaime killed him. He knows this is a sore spot for Jaime’s pride as it reminds Jaime that he did exactly the opposite of his role’s responsibilities. Like in the scene with Ned, we get a flash across Jaime’s face that reminds us of a wounded puppy before he regains his composure, saying the Mad King’s last words were, “Burn them all.” Let’s remember that we’re not supposed to know yet exactly what situation Jaime was faced with and the decision he made- this is pretty chilling and we can tell Robert doesn’t quite know how to react- so not even he knows what really happened in the throne room.
Up at the Wall, Jon and Tyrion engage in some dialogue to show us that Tyrion is SMART and Jon is NAÏVE. Jon learns a few leadership pointers from Tyrion, notably something along the lines of, “Know the people you serve” and Tyrion provides a lot of perspective on the Night’s Watch- some people are just born poor and are forced to handle it in dishonorable ways; the system works against them and BOOM- Night’s Watch! Alliser Thorne, the master at arms, drops the first “Lord Snow,” a slight against Jon that reminds him that he was raised in a noble family but is of an immoral act, and also separates Jon from the members of the Night’s Watch of lesser means that didn’t have the choice to join, as Jon did. With the reminder from Benjen that he has to earn his place like everyone else, we can see the start of Jon’s character arc really taking hold as he learns humility, community, and all that other touchy-feely leadership stuff.
Side note, I think Benjen really hates entitled people. This might have something to do with being born as the third Stark brother and not having claims to any lands, ladies, or whatnot. Either way, he’s a little sour on the topic.
Other members of the Night’s Watch mill around and gossip about White Walkers. Benjen heads out North of the Wall because he’s heard uneasy murmuring about White Walkers. To deal with the White Walkers, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont sends Yoren down to King’s Landing to recruit more arrested citizens into the Night’s Watch. Yoren drinks with Tyrion and become travel buddies. Again, the Night’s Watch = merry band of pirates. I’m into it.
Over to the Great Grass Sea. Dany and Drogo’s Dothraki horde are headed to Vaes Dothrak, kind of like the capital of the Dothraki people. Already, there’s a visible difference in her posture and confidence in riding a horse. Her entire wardrobe has shifted to Dothraki fashion and it’s the first scene where she seems comfortable. She commands the horde to stop and Viserys immediately takes offense to this, saying she has no right to give him commands, since he’s the Dragon or he’s the King or whatever. (Benjen would hate this dude.) Viserys is exhausted and obviously thought it would be like:
- Marry off Dany to Drogo
- Get Drogo’s army
- Get the throne
Not the case. The Dothraki just don’t see Viserys or the importance of the Iron Throne at all- they follow the strongest rider and Viserys hasn’t really proved anything else beyond being blonde. As Dany is wife to Drogo, they immediately take her side and it’s pretty clear that Viserys has few allies here. In this scene, we can see Jorah weigh each of the Targaryen children and align himself with Dany. It takes him about five seconds to realize that Dany has the potential to be a good leader and Viserys is someone he would hate serving as a citizen or a soldier. Dany is revealed to be pregnant, having missed “two moons,” so we’re about two months into the timeline here.
The episode ends with Ned introducing Arya to her new “dancing” instructor, Syrio Forel, who to this day is one of my favorite characters. Syrio intends on teaching Arya the water dance, or the Braavosi style of fencing. There’s a real moment of pride in Ned, which turns to horror as he realizes he’s not just feeding Arya’s hobby but possibly preparing her for a world of violence. I think this is the moment where Ned pieces together that between the information Cat has given him, Robert’s somewhat betrayal in the previous episode, and overall mess of the Small Council, that he might not make it out of King’s Landing and it’s very possible that he’s set up his family for failure. It could also possibly be some PTSD from Robert’s Rebellion, etc.; whatever the case, Ned knows that Syrio’s not just for Arya’s hobby, but preparing her for some sort of fight.
Next up: 1.4 Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things