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 4: Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things
Bran, Jon/Gendry, and… Sam? Relationships? Bran again? The title can really be a reference to a bunch of things. I like this whole going by locations things so let’s have at it.
At Winterfell, Bran has his first dream about the three-eyed raven, who begins to lead him down to the crypt. Tyrion, fresh from the Wall, is greeted by Robb and Tyrion immediately notes that Robb is greeting him instead of Cat who should be greeting him instead of Ned. Tyrion is SMART. Robb is wary of Lannisters since Cat found the hair, but cools it once Tyrion hands over a saddle plan for Bran so that he might be able to ride again.
We finally get some backstory on Theon, who was just lurking around in the back. Previous to this, all we knew is that Theon wasn’t a Stark but seemed to be close to the family. Tyrion calls him a Greyjoy, which turns out to be the ruling family of another kingdom. When the Greyjoys attempted to rebel against King Robert and were shut down, Theon the only surviving son was given to Ned as a hostage/ward, but Ned being Ned raised him among his own family. Tyrion calls out Theon’s seemingly submissive nature to the Starks, which Theon is both insulted by and defensive about. More on that in the next episode (I think), so I’ll save it.
Up at the Wall, Jon is teaching his buddies how to fight because they’re all pals now and Jon believes that they all need to work together as a unit to make the Night’s Watch successful. We’re introduced to a new potential member of the Night’s Watch, Samwell Tarly, who comes to us from a noble family in Horn Hill. The other young lads immediately start picking on Sam for his weight, and to be fair, it doesn’t look like Sam has ever held a sword in his life. Alliser immediately tells the other guys to beat up Sam because we need a bad leader so we can root for Jon later on in the series. By the way, the third guy that’s not Pyp and not Grenn is RAST. Rast is around to be a stepping stone to mark when Jon is hitting his leadership milestones. Bless you, Rast.
Sam reveals to Jon that his father essentially deemed he was unfit to inherit the lordship, lands, and moneys of Horn Hill, telling him that if he didn’t join the Night’s Watch, he would have Sam killed on a hunting trip. I don’t know about you, but Sam’s dad seems like a nice dude! Knowing what it’s like to be an outcast and frowned upon by a parent, Jon immediately feels a kinship with Sam, telling Pyp and Grenn to lay off. In aligning himself with Sam, Jon sets himself up to be Alliser’s next target.
Like lots of other bad guys on the show, Alliser isn’t so terrible of a person in his first few episodes. We know that he’s been at the Wall for a while and probably has severe cabin fever (Wall fever?). I wouldn’t call his character mean in these first few scenes- maybe just hardened. He’s a serious fellow. He knows the responsibilities that come with the Rangers, is annoyed by the quality of the men he’s stuck with, and perhaps feels a little hurt that the Night’s Watch isn’t taken seriously. I’m not saying he’s not an ass later on in the show, but it’s not so hard to understand him when he drops a couple of lines about how he’s seen the Night’s Watch be defeated by winter and Wildlings. At the end of the day, he just wants them to be capable. Maybe his type of leadership isn’t good or the right kind, but his intentions aren’t wrong. It’s a really great line: “They’ll call you Men of the Night’s Watch, but you’re boys still.” It’s not degrading or meant to be insulting- it really is just telling of how the new members of the Night’s Watch will be completely unprepared for the things that he’s seen. If he and Jon could have come together at a middle point, great things could have happened- the fault is that Alliser started putting himself and his pride first instead of the overall vision of the Night’s Watch.
Before we leave the Wall, let’s lol at Jon and Sam commiserating over the fact they’re both still virgins. Jon said he had a chance with Ros, who seems to be Winterfell’s GOAT: Prostitute Edition. My takeaway from this is that Jon has a thing for redheads as we’ll come to see later on. You know, for a show/series that emphasizes how redheads are so special and hard to come by, there sure do seem to be a bunch of them around. I ALSO really appreciate how the name Sally is synonymous with the word slut- in the previous episode, Cat accuses Littlefinger of associating her with “Backalley Sallys” and here, Sam asks Jon if he had “Sallys on the side.” Hilarity. I don’t think they go back to this. I enjoyed it while it lasted. I’m sure Sally did too. ZING!
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany and her Dothraki horde have finally arrived at Vaes Dothrak and she and Viserys get into a little argument about whether the Dothraki are her people or his army. (The answer is neither, if we are being honest.) Dany is already clearly dependent on Jorah for insight and advice, but Jorah’s not to be trusted based on his delivery of the line:
“The Dothraki have never crossed the Narrow Seaaaaaaaa. They don’t TRUST any water their HORSES won’t drink… King Robert won’t meet them in open battle, but the MEN ADvisING him are different.”
Seriously, dude. You can’t not be suspicious of Jorah and Littlefinger, with each of their really weird emphasis and articulation. Somewhere else in the camp, it’s revealed that the handmaiden who has been teaching Dany tricks of the (sex) trade is also, um, servicing and bathing with Viserys. In their foreplay, she pours wax on Viserys who immediately reacts to the heat as an indicator that he’s kind of weak and not impervious. (Book version- I believe Dany is only invulnerable to dragon fire, so this might be a moot point anyway. Show-Dany is pretty much immortal to any flame.) As a pleasure worker, Doreah has seen some interesting stuff- a dagger made of dragon glass, a man who can change his face, and a pirate dressed in gold with sails of silk- all of which come into play in Season 2, in the forms of Jaqan H’agar, Salladhor Saan, and well… Dragon glass. Actually, the pirate might also be Euron Grejoy. We’ll never know. Good job, Doreah! The takeaway from this scene is that as the Targaryen’s reign came to a close, dragons were small and stunted, about the same size as a large dog. This could be a direct commentary on King Aerys II/the Mad King/Dany’s father and the decline on his mental state. It’s also important to note that, like koi fish, dragons adapt their size to their surroundings- limit them to a small pond and they’ll stay small. Let them free and they’ll get as large as they need to.
Viserys then throws another hissy fit, when Dany invites him over to try on a new outfit- Viserys asks if she also wanted to braid his hair like Khal Drogo and Dany throws it in his face that he doesn’t deserve a braid since he hasn’t won any battles yet. She then pulls the I AM KHALEEEEEESI line for the first time and so begins my tirade of, “Jesus, please stop whining, Dany, we get it.” I’ve always had mixed feelings on Dany and there are some days where I really do like her and then in other scenes, it can be argued that she doesn’t act any less entitled than Viserys- the whole basis of her “I AM KHALEEEEEESI” argument is that she married the right guy-but that doesn’t mean she’s entitled to a braid either. Just saying.
Jorah then starts throwing all support over to Dany, slowly convincing her that she could be a great leader, a great Queen of Westeros. Dany knows that Viserys is pretty much incapable of invading King’s Landing and maintaining rule over Westeros. The seed is planted and all that has to happen is for Dany to continue standing up to her brother.
In King’s Landing, we get some more exposition on how the hierarchy works in the capital- titles are passed to boys only and Sansa’s worried that she might only birth daughters. She’s already terrified of what Joffrey might do to her if she were unable to produce an heir. Goodness gracious, that should be enough of an indicator that he’s not the one, girl. Sansa is just a mixed bag of emotions- she doesn’t think she can confide in Ned due to what happened with Lady, she’s not 100% on Joffrey anymore, she already feels like she has to serve him hand and foot and make him happy, and she’s missing maternal guidance at an age where she really needs it. Arya might be a tomboy, but Sansa really is the black sheep of the family and the only Stark who really wants to be involved in King’s Landing and the idea of nobility- for her, it’s an ideal to be attained, not one that she needs to fulfill.
Arya is busy training for Syrio. That’s fun. No real assessment here, other than her declaration that she already knows she’s not meant to be a noble woman. Things we already knew. Moving along.
We’re introduced to Janos Slynt, who is in charge of the City Watch, in another really tiny scene. Ned and Pycelle discuss Jon Arryn, who apparently loved big old books and was in the middle of reading something called The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms with Descriptions of Many High Lords and Ladies and their Children, which is full of fun facts about the noble families, including physical descriptions, name days, and deaths (shout out to House Umber, a noble family of the North). Ned, calling back to the letter received from Cat’s sister, says Jon Arryn was possibly poisoned; Pycelle replies that it’s a woman’s weapon, or eunuchs (just a strong hint that Pycelle and Varys are not friends), and that Jon Arryn’s last words were… “The seed is strong.” There is no grosser euphemism for sperm than “the seed.” Just… wanted to leave you with that.
In the Scene of the Episode, we get the first of many strolls through the garden, which is yet another exposition dump, as Littlefinger points out to Ned (and us) how to identify all the spies in King’s Landing and who they serve. As if Littlefinger’s diction wasn’t enough, he drops “Distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you climbed off your horse.” But you know, Ned trusts Cat and Cat trusts Littlefinger so… Yeah. We’ll just go with it. Under the guidance of Littlefinger, Ned goes to visit an armorer’s apprentice who Jon Arryn had been visiting, takes one look at the kid, and immediately identifies him as Robert’s bastard son- Gendry.
The tournament is starting! Littlefinger creeps in on Sansa and Arya, while we get the first look at the Mountain, who is the Hound’s older brother and supposedly shoved the Hounds face into the fire when they were boys because the Mountain doesn’t like to share toys. The Mountain straight up murders (well, outjousts) Ser Hugh, whom Ned conveniently had been trying to talk to since Ser Hugh serves Jon Arryn. A tiny detail of this scene that isn’t given enough attention is when Robert, clearly drunk and belligerent, begins calling for the joust to start and Cersei just leaves- his behavior is something that clearly humiliates her. Again, I don’t think Cersei is the cause of her own unhappiness. MAYBE Robert is an okay king but he’s definitely a terrible husband and a bad father. I don’t think what she does behind his back is right by any means, but it’s understandable.
Cersei offers an olive branch to Ned, saying that having Sansa’s direwolf killed was “extreme” (that’s a nice way of saying it) and that they’ll always go to those lengths when children are involved. It seems like they’re finally going to get along… until the veiled part of the conversation where Ned says he was trained to kill his enemies and the two are finally on the same level where they know they don’t trust each other at all.
Before we wrap up at King’s Landing, shout out to my man Jory, who bonds with Jaime for a bit as Jaime guards Robert’s room, occupied by the king and his harem. Since we’ve- I mean, since I’VE come to trust Jory, I also trust his instinct that Jaime’s not totally a bad guy, he’s just bitter that his sister is being insulted. Jory likes Jaime so much he even offers to leave Ned’s letter with him- which was a bad move. Shame on you Jory, and thank the gods Jaime said NO.
The episode ends with Cat and Ser Rodrick hanging out at the Inn at the Crossroads, which we visit quite often during the series. It’s not just a reused set- the location of the inn is convenient and right on intersection of the Kingsroad between Winterfell and King’s Landing (which runs north and south), and the East Road and River Road, which runs east to west from the Vale to the Riverlands. The very location of the inn plays right into Cat’s hand, as her House Tully is the Great House of the Riverlands and her sister, Lysa, is Jon Arryn’s widow, and the Arryns are the Great House of the Vale. Geography! Tyrion strolls in aaaaaand we get introduced to some fellow that seems to do anything for money, taking Tyrion’s purse in exchange for his already paid for bed. Dude. It’s Bronn. BRONN! Another small part that we don’t think much of, who plays such a larger part in the series and in our hearts.
Cat, who has just been fed the idea that the dagger used in Bran’s attack belongs to Tyrion Lannister, immediately leaps into action and in a total boss move, identifies the sigils and families around the room as being loyal to her father and orders them to seize Tyrion for attempted murder. 10 out of 10. I don’t care if Cat is totally wrong in this accusation- this is where I really fell in love with her. She’s intelligent, she understands her duty as a wife, she knows the power of loyalty, and she’s willing to take matters into her own hands. At the same time, this is very much part of her downfall, but I’m going to save that analysis for a particular scene later on in the series.
Next up: 1.5 The Lion and the Wolf