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!
1.10 Fire and Blood
Fire and Blood is a reference to the words of House Targaryen. Fire, of course, being a reference to their dragon sigil, and blood being a reference to conquest and victory, as well as… well, it can also be a reference to their incestuous traditions to keep the Targaryen bloodline pure. Fun!
The episode kicks off right where its predecessor left off- a shot of Ice with Ned’s dripping blood as his head is raised before the crowd. From here, we hit up all the Starks as the receive the news of Ned’s death. I’ll go with the cuts for now as this placement is very deliberate. Yoren escorts an anguished Arya, calling her “boy” the entire time, and Arya watches Sansa faint as Ned’s body is dragged off the dais. Yoren cuts her hair and says he’s taking her North. Smart move by Yoren. Thanks, Yoren!
Up at Winterfell, Bran is having another Three-Eyed Raven dream at the same time as the execution. He tells Osha he saw Ned down in the crypts and so that’s where they go. Note that when Bran is giving a briefing on Rickard (Ned’s father) and Lyanna, the camera angle changes- Rickard is out of focus and featured as a background, but as we pass Lyanna’s statue, she’s in full focus and shot as if from a POV. That means this shit is important and we absorb this information differently than if we just saw Bran casually passing in the same shot- Bran says Lyanna was supposed to marry Robert but was captured by Rhaegar Targaryen and Robert started a war to win her back; he killed Rhaegar but Lyanna died anyway. They run into Rickon, who also says he dreamt about Ned in the crypts. As Bran and Osha get back to Winterfell’s square, Maester Luwin receives a raven- and Bran knows bad news has been received.
CUE THE WINTERFELL THEME. It’s about damn time. It’s a theme that has a very natural longing and sorrow, dramatic and expressive, and my favorite across the series- composer Ramin Djawadi just extends and manipulates its use in so many brilliant ways, especially in the saddest scenes or the ones that need that real grip to it. While I miss it in earlier Season 1 episodes, the use of it here is overwhelmingly effective. Mid-theme and in my Scene of the Episode, it cuts over to Camp Stark and it perfectly matches this… sinking feeling and grief as we see Cat wander through the Northmen. And the look on Michelle Fairley’s face- unreadable, emotionless, yet with a certain strength to it- it’s absolutely crushing and one of the first scenes that made me feel a really deep connection to both the context and the content.
It’s one thing to recognize the emotion on screen and another to self-realize it- to feel it. All the elements contribute to this one shot of Cat. It’s devastatingly perfect.
Cat holds it together until she reaches the edge of a small forest, where she just breaks down and hears Robb processing his grief by swinging wildly at a tree. Cat pulls herself together to tell him he’s ruined his sword- such a mom thing to say, but also a remark of how if he fights with emotion, they’ll lose. Their next move is to get the girls back from King’s Landing- and then kill all the Lannisters.
Over in King’s Landing and fully in Lannister red and gold, Joffrey orders Ilyn Payne to cut out the tongue of a minstrel, who composed a song about Robert’s death and how a lion ripped off his balls, with the lion being Cersei in a not so veiled metaphor. Joff has had his blood for the day, so he offers to escort a very sickly-looking Sansa around the palace, leading her to where Ned’s head decorates the castle walls, right next to Septa Mordane. Joff is foul- he orders Sansa to look up and that he’ll bring Robb’s head next. Sansa gets a little sassy and says maybe it’ll be the other way around and Meryn slaps her under Joff’s orders without question. In a daze, she half contemplates tossing Joffrey off the bridge and to the cement below but the Hound turns her around to offer her a handkerchief and some advice- it’s easier to be compliant than to react.
Back at Camp Stark, which I believe is now somewhere northish-eastish in the Riverlands, the Northmen are discussing who to support, Stannis or Renly and Greatjon asks why should the North be ruled by kings who don’t live in the North? They last bent the knee to the dragons and the dragons are all dead- so there is no longer a requirement to be held to King’s Landing. (Fun fact- Torrhen Stark bent the knee to the Targaryens in order to save the lives of the North during Aegon’s Conquest nearly 300 years prior to Robert’s Rebellion. Those who argued against the surrender were exiled and started a sellsword company- The Company of the Rose. Jon does a bit of the same in Season 7, as he aligns and surrenders to Dany in order to preserve the lives of Northmen and strengthen the Westeros army against the White Walkers.) The Northmen declare Robb KING IN THE NORTH in a very moving moment and Theon pledges his sword to Robb from that moment to the moment he dies, in victory or in defeat. Oh, Theon.
Meanwhile, Jaime admits to Cat that he pushed Bran out the window with the intention of killing him, but won’t say why. It’s clear that he’s ashamed of what he did and is regretful, but he’s not willing to let anything get in the way of being with Cersei… which is a shame because as devoted as Jaime is and will do anything for love (including that), down in King’s Landing Cersei is post-sex with LANCEL LANNISTER. I have no doubt that Cersei loves Jaime- but she’s no where near as devoted to him as he is to her. I’m not sure of Cersei’s selection of Lancel- maybe he reminds her of a very young Jaime? Lancel is also dumb as a rock and easy to manipulate, so there are other working aspects to this… relationship. If you can call it that. Feels like a strong term though.
Back to geographic dissection. Up at the Lannister Camp, everyone is moaning about how Robb is kicking their asses. Grey Wind has supposedly killed a dozen men alone. If they didn’t have enough to worry about with Robb, Stannis and Renly have also taken up against them, and Kevan, Tywin’s younger brother and Lancel’s father who means well but isn’t as smart as Tywin, suggest maybe they should just compromise for peace. Tyrion casually tosses his glass to the ground and compares it to how easily Joff ruptured any chance of peace when he called for Ned’s death. Tywin declares, “THEY HAVE MY SON,” and Tyrion is genuinely hurt- Tywin reacted no where near as violently or visibly when he was the one held by the Starks. Tywin tells Tyrion he’s going to handle business, drops the name Harrenhal, and send Tyrion to be Hand to Joffrey in his absence, and as this is a huge responsibility, Tyrion asks why.
Tywin’s answer is, “Because you’re my son” and leaves it at that. Keep your ear out for this line- Tywin drops this whenever he wants Tyrion to do his bidding to great effect. Tyrion is controlled by a need to feel validated and approved by Tywin, which Tywin knows and uses, and Tywin is really the only person Tyrion will stop for. Just look at how Tywin controls everything when Tyrion goes for the wine- in every other scene, no one bothers to stop Tyrion from his indulgences and he’ll talk back to whoever attempts to do this. With Tywin, it all stops and he commands Tyrion’s attention.
This is only more evident in Tyrion’s next scene with Shae. Tywin has commanded Tyrion that he “will not take that whore to court”. Tyrion does end up taking Shae with him, but his entire posture has changed and there’s a sense of self-importance rather than self-deprecation as Tyrion prepares to leave. Shae wants to know if Tywin called her out by name, which if he didn’t then he has no idea who she is and he’ll never know if she, specifically, is brought to King’s Landing; and on the other hand, I think Shae would be very interested in a powerful man, one who Tyrion claims as the most powerful in Westeros, knew who she was.
Up at the Wall… well… slightly south of the Wall, Jon attempts to desert the Night’s Watch to join Robb, but he’s stopped by Grenn, Pyp, and Sam because Jon really needs to pass Night’s Watch Pledge 101. Sam reminds Jon that the Night’s Watch are his brothers now. Note that Jon’s scene is not included with the rest of the Stark children. It’s not clear if the news about Ned has reached the Wall yet, but he is still noticeably absent from the lineup. Jeor gives him a bit of a lecture and says honor to his family made him leave, but Night’s Watch honor from the others is what brought him back. Jeor knows there’s something sketchy going on above the Wall- the wildlings are gathering and over in Eastwatch- yes, THAT Eastwatch- Cotter Pike found four blue-eyed corpses and burned them. He then fuels the scope and scale of these events by saying the war to the south means nothing compared to what might be coming from the North and locks in Jon by saying they’re going to find Benjen Stark. While it’s not as unifying as THE KING IN THE NORTH, I’d still pledge my bow or ax or whatever to Jeor. It was moving.
I love this random scene between Pycelle and Ros, something that’s not in the books as neither character has their own chapters. Ros, first of all, really the GOAT. Look at how many people she appeals to and can manipulate. Pycelle is going on and on about all the kings he’s served, which is careless of him, useful information depending on who is listening, and telling of how the lower class or certain demographics of the capital are regarded as not smart and not powerful. According to Pycelle, Aerys was mad, but a charmer, and Robert was the complete opposite as a warrior but went through life with his visor down and this made him blind to the enemies at his side. According to Pycelle, Joff is strong with a military mind, but it’s too soon to know his true demeanor as a king.
Ros is bored this entire time. I find this entire bit pretty telling of Pycelle- either he’s completely clueless in feeding a Littlefinger employee information, or he’s aware of Ros working for Littlefinger and hopes she passes on his obliviousness. Or- Pycelle generally disregards both Ros and Littlefinger as unintelligent and unworthy people and so he just doesn’t care. Pycelle shows he’s not as frail as he appears to the Small Council and that it’s all just an act. The Small Council is all just an act. I expect that Pycelle underestimates the classes people come from, as in the next scene after some hilarious banter, Varys is commenting on Littlefinger’s impressive ability to befriend powerful houses and powerful people while coming from a much more minor house.
Outside the Red Keep, Yoren is telling Arya about her new identity- she is now a he, he is now Arry, and he is of poor upbringing. For all the secrecy Yoren demands, he sure is yelling a lot. We’re introduced to Hot Pie, who tries to bully Arya but Arya says she’s good at killing fat boys. Gendry steps in and the two become immediate friends after Gendry notices Needle is made of castle-forged steel. Gendry said he was an apprentice, but his master woke up that morning and decided he didn’t want him anymore, so he was sent to the Watch. I suspect his master either put together that Jon Arryn and Ned were interested in Gendry and Gendry was a bastard of Robert’s or he already knew and was tipped off that Gendry would be hunted.
Yoren yells out they have a long journey to the wall and that “Winter is Coming.” As the Wall is the Northmost tip of Westeros, they probably received a lot of hospitality and support from the Starks, and not to mention Benjen’s leadership- I expect the Starks and the Night’s Watch to be natural allies, even if the Night’s Watch is not supposed to take sides in the wars that don’t involve the Wall.
Somewhere across the Narrow Sea and with a sparse Khalesar (it went from 40,000 to maybe 30), Dany awakens to find out her son didn’t survive the delivery and was born with scales and “when touched, the skin fell from his bones and was full of graveworms.” Dany demands to know what she bought with her son’s life and is shown Drogo, who is… let’s just say unresponsive is putting it lightly. Excellent acting by Jason Momoa, as he has to lie awake but can’t react to being touched or cried on, etc. Mirri says that Drogo will return to Dany in one of the more famous riddles from the series, “When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. When the seas go dry and when the mountains blow in the wind like leaves.”
The Mirri prophecy is a little more vague in the show than it is in the books, as the books can deliver more metaphors and visuals that match the words and the book also tacks on the phrase that once Dany can again bear children, Drogo will return. I’ve always thought the sun to refer to the Martell sigil, meaning a Martell must travel west across the Narrow Sea and then east to Westeros. Then throughout the series, Dany’s chapters note that the Dothraki lands, also called the Great Grass Sea, look paler than usual and even drop a direct saying that it looked like the grass was dying. Some pyramids of the slave trading cities are also left in ruins.
Or it could just be a bitchy way of saying, “He’s never coming back.” I can understand how this would go overlooked if not explained by characters, and this sort of explanation doesn’t always go over well. In any case, it waned away in later seasons and I can’t say I mind. Mirri tells Dany that she did nothing to save her and she had been raped multiple times before she came along; she’s somewhat pleased with herself, as now the prophesized Stallion won’t be born to raise armies and death where he goes.
Dany still doesn’t understand or see the threat her son could have posed from an unallied perspective. At from her perspective, she’s has had everything ripped from her- her child, her husband and protector, and without Drogo, she’s also lost everything she saw in her future. In her final moments with Drogo, she smothers him with a pillow, a defining moment for this character as everything rode on their relationship and in doing this, Dany is acknowledging that she will have to complete her mission alone and for the most part, without a partner. Lots of people see this as sooooooo heartbreaking because they were soooooo in love but I’m more of the types that sees this as overcoming Stockholm Syndrome. I would love for some later-season Dany to be like, “He held me captive and bought me like a horse. I was delusional,” but no. We always get this romanticized memory of Drogo. Whatever.
The final scene of the season and the real Scene of the Episode is the burning of Drogo’s body, the death of Mirri, and the placement of the dragon eggs in the heat. Dany whines some more (really, I can’t stand her sometimes so get used to it) that she’s the dragon’s daughter. I do need to commend Emilia Clarke for capturing Dany so well- there language is strong, but there’s still a sense of youth and uncertainty in the delivery- Dany is nervous and she’s unsure herself if she alone is worthy. In her wedding dress, Dany walks into the flames and emerges unburnt the next morning- with a baby Drogon peeking over her shoulder. Jorah utters, “Blood of my blood,” a common Dothraki phrase said by a bloodrider when they voluntarily pledge their life and service to a khal.
Up next, we are moving onto Season 2! 2.1 The North Remembers