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!
2.1 The North Remembers
Peter Dinklage has been given first billing! This title is a bit on the nose, isn’t it? The North Remembers is a reference to a common Northern phrasing after Ned was executed- basically that the North would never forget the act of betrayal and treason, declaration of war.
In the opening credits we get the new addition of Dragonstone, along with the familiar King’s Landing, Winterfell, and Vaes Dothrak. It’s like in later seasons when Sunspear is just labelled as DORNE. I guess there’s only so much you can do to make a desert interesting with the pop-up style. It would have been hilarious to see RED WASTE with one cactus springing up.
The episode opens with Joff throwing himself a nameday party, not a birthday party. It’s essentially the same thing, but I’ve always thought that namedays came after as infant survival rates were most likely lower and they wanted to ensure the baby was healthy prior to naming it. Just me? Anyway, Joff is making people fight for his attention and the Hound knocks some dude off a balcony and he SPLATS. Sansa’s new persona is ROBOT MODE with Joffrey and repeating his opinion as to not offer him any excuse to strike her and she’s pretty much desensitized herself or turned off her reactions to anything that might cause an emotional outburst. We’re introduced to Ser Dontos, wearing a Captain America breastplate, a dimwitted man who shares Tyrion’s penchant for bad wine. Sansa manages to talk Joff into making Dontos his jester instead of torturing the poor man- it’s a pretty brilliant way of showing how far Sansa has come in her captivity and how she is managing to survive Joff’s hotheadedness.
Speaking of Tyrion, he shows up with a better-dressed Bronn at his side and helps himself to some wine. Nobody stops him so he proceeds to steamroll everyone in his proximity. In my favorite part of the episode, Tyrion tells Tommen that he’s going to be bigger than the Hound but much better looking, kindly points at the Hound, and clarifies for Bronn that, “He doesn’t like me.” Then, he takes the time to offer his condolences to Sansa, who immediately beep-bloop-bleeps that her family is full of traitors and she’s loyal to her beloved Joffrey; there’s a look of admiration that flashes across Tyrion’s face as he recognizes the rehearsed speech. I’m not sure if he’s just happy that she’s making Joff’s life difficult or perhaps it’s because she’s showing she’s not submissive and still has fight in her, or perhaps it’s because he didn’t necessarily dislike Catelyn Stark and recognizes much of her strength in Sansa. I’ve always liked the dynamic between Tyrion and Sansa, as he’s really the only person who doesn’t want to sell her off for a purse of gold or a castle. At the same time, he recognizes both of their family duties but he wants her to mature properly, if not normally, and treat her as well as possible.
Apparently, no one received word that Tyrion is interim Hand because everyone is shocked to see him and he’s just in time for a Small Council meeting. King’s Landing receives a white raven, a message from the Citadel in Old Town that the summer has ended, with a common superstition that a long summer means a longer winter- and this has been the longest summer in recent memory. WINTER IS COMING. On top of that, King’s Landing is full of beggars and peasants, a number that will only grow as people panic when food storage begins to run out because King’s Landing only has supplies for five years if they are lucky. Cersei is wearing blue, which I’m kind of miffed about because I keep saying she’s only in red from here on out, so I’m halting these false promises. Sorry, guys. Anyway, she’s cutting off access to King’s Landing if they’re not of the right status.
Tyrion waltzes into the Scene of the Episode, sans Bronn, whistling a tune that grows in purpose over time: The Rains of Castamere. I distinctly remember Cersei educating Margaery on this song later in the series, so I won’t get into too much of it here. What’s necessary to know is that this is the Lannister theme of the series and it’s used in the same ominous way as the phrase “A Lannister always pays his debts.” Since this is its first use, this is just the showrunners telling us to get familiar with it, and from here, it swells and grows until… you know. THAT. Keep an ear out.
Tyrion’s swagger here is all Tywin and he just shits all over the Small Council, faulting them for not only letting Ned Stark die, but also marking this as a smear in the Lannister legacy- Tywin’s words. Also, Robb is winning. And how did they go from having three bargaining chips to just one? All Tywin and all points Tywin would make if he were there. The statement of “You’re my son” in the previous episode has clearly inflated Tyrion’s ego a little bit, but to great effect- Tyrion is determined to do a good job and sees this as the chance to exceed his father’s expectations. Tyrion drops another gold line about Cersei’s love for her children being her redeeming quality along with her cheekbones, and says that the Starks also love their children- something they can use to their advantage and to get Jaime back.
Up at Winterfell, Bran is running the show with the help of Maester Luwin and we get the first sense of dissent in the North as a farmer complains he has no help on his land since all the men left for Robb’s war. Bran has a dream that he is his direwolf, the first introduction we get into his warging ability and then notes on a red comet streaking across the sky, which Osha notes can be a whole bunch of things. Bran says he heard it means a great victory for Robb, but Osha counter-argues that she’s heard it means that the Lannisters will eventually rule all seven kingdoms, it’s the mark of Ned’s death, and it means dragons. I’d like to take the time and point out that none of these are wrong- they’re all happening or have happened. Robb did have a victory. The Lannisters- with the children being all Lannister blood- technically do rule the seven kingdoms. And dragons, you know? It could be a person of Targaryen blood or a literal dragon. It’s like horoscopes- things are so vague that they’re correct to some extent.
The comet is so huge that it can also be seen across the Narrow Sea and in the desert of the Red Waste, southeast of Vaes Dothrak, by Dany’s ragtag Khalesar. Why southeast, Precious? If Dany heads back west, she’ll most likely encounter people who want her dead or want her dragons- or both. The dragons are too young and weak to fight, as are Dany’s bloodriders. Dany says, “NO ONE WILL TAKE MY DRAGONS,” like the child she is- but she literally has nothing, again, reeking on immaturity and entitlement. This wasn’t really a scene so much as a, “Dany will be in Season 2” reminder. So… we’re moving on…
We’re introduced to Dragonstone, which is technically the seat of House Targaryen but became House Baratheon of Dragonstone after Robert’s Rebellion and is now occupied by Stannis, King Robert’s older brother who is also heir to the throne. I’m not… entirely sure how land inheritance works here but I assume an already established noble house was placed here to prevent any other form of disruption from vassals, peasant folk, or servants still loyal to its previous occupant. That and to strengthen Baratheon hold across Westeros. Interestingly enough, we never get a full, gorgeous view of Dragonstone despite it being a new location- at least not in the THIS IS WINTERFELL, THIS IS THE TWINS, THIS IS KING’S LANDING sense- it’s almost as if they were saving that triumph and wonder for when Dany made it back. Melisandre, otherwise known as The Red Woman, is chanting about how the Faith of the Seven are false gods, burning statues of the said-seven, with her brood repeating behind her, “For the night is dark and full of terrors.” Grr. Arghhh. She bids Stannis come forth and grab a sword from the fire to fulfill the prophecy of Azor Ahai, who would end the Long Night with a sword ON FIRE called Lightbringer. Stannis does draw a sword from the chest of one of the statues and it is indeed ON FIRE, though not in the exact way laid out in the prophecy- it’s more of a pony show for Stannis’ followers to believe even more in him.
Long story short, the prophecy is that Azor Ahai worked tirelessly to make Lightbringer but it broke as he tempered it. The first time, he tempered it with water and it failed. The second time, he drove it through the heart of a lion and that broke the sword as well. The third time, he was successful but only having tempered the sword by… driving it through the heart of his poor wife and Lightbringer was tempered with elements of her soul, etc, and when he pulled it out (snicker), it was ON FIRE. I don’t remember if they get into these exact details in the show and I kind of remember they dropped all these things except references to swords ON FIRE and the title “The Prince that was Promised.”
Melisandre seems to be untrustworthy from the start, and this is reinforced by Davos Seaworth’s distrust, s Stannis’ voice of reason and right-hand man. A maester who is equally distrusting of Melisandre attempts to poison her, but who knew? That bitch is immune to poison and seemingly has visions of the future or at least is keen enough to read what is going on in a room. I’ve never linked Melisandre- I mean, as a character, that’s fine and all but I’ve never been compelled to back her or join her Red God or whatever. She’s always read as more of a villain to me.
The main takeaway from this scene, other than the vibe that screams Melisandre is manipulative, is that Stannis is a very different kind of guy than Robert. He lacks the warmth and chumminess of his younger brother, in favor of sternness and technicality. He orders letters sent to pretty much every house of note in Westeros with Ned’s information- that Joffrey is a bastard born of incest between Cersei and Jaime. It might have been a poorly kept secret before but now it’s definitely out.
This is a good time to head over to Camp Stark. I’m totally out of scene order but I don’t care. Robb and Jaime have a dick measuring contest that Robb wins because he has a direwolf and Robb adds another kick to the balls as he says he knows Joffrey is his son, deduced that Bran must have seen Cersei with Jaime, and that’s why Bran was pushed. On a bit of a power trip now, Robb tells Jaime’s cousin that the Lannisters are to release Sansa and Arya, return Ned’s bones and the bones of his men so they can provide a proper funeral service. In addition, the Lannisters are to renounce all claims to the North and they can never set foot in it as it is now a free and independent kingd-
ARGH THE KING IN THE NORTH. THE KING IN THE NORTH. THE KING IN THE NORTH. Sorry, I just can’t help myself. Does this sound like an unreasonable settlement? Yes? That’s because it is, and Robb knows that but he really just needs the excuse to attack the Lannisters if he wants. Robb’s righthand man, Theon, points out that King’s Landing sits on a bay and you can’t take a bay without ships- Robb is going to need the help of the greatest sailors ever known to Westeros, the Greyjoys, if he is going to siege King’s Landing.
Cat, speaking up for everyone with common sense, tells Robb that Greyjoys are not to be trusted, but let’s put this here: Rob doesn’t quite trust his mother either as she sees Jaime Lannister, eldest son of Tywin Lannister, as the equivalent of her two middle daughters and keeps begging to trade them. It’s kind of like trading an injured Carson Wentz for a kicker and a third-string running back. Robb knows that this doesn’t make sense and there is no way that any noble house serious about the war would put those two at the same value of the Kingslayer and heir to Casterly Rock. If anything, Sansa and Arya can be used as bargaining chips- but ultimately, someone in Jaime’s position or similar to it is the person who would be making the deals. Robb also seems resigned to the fact that Arya and Sansa are casualties of war or at the very least, he is prepared to lose them. Instead of sending Cat back to Winterfell- which, really, he should have done- he sends Ser Rodrick back to Winterfell to watch over the boys and Cat to negotiate with Renly and form allyship.
Somewhere North of the Wall, Jeor and his ranging party with many, many ravens arrive at Craster’s Keep, which is kind of like a rest stop for Rangers who venture above the wall so if Benjen was out a-Ranging, he might be there or at least might have stopped there. Craster and his group are Wildlings, mostly female- and most of them are his children. According to newcomer Dolorous Edd (!), Craster marries his daughters and breeds more daughters- but Jon wants to know what happens to the boys because equality, amIrite?
Craster is like a watered down Walder Frey, as he’s a tad disrespectful to his guests and not as perverse, but still dislikeable enough, yet not delightfully unlikeable. He immediately points out Jon and his luxurious locks for being pretty and says “You southerners make good wine.” I really love the territorial defensiveness in this show. It’s so typical of real dialogue- “I’m not from the Jersey Shore- I’m from BELMONT.” “I’m not from SOUTH Florida- I’m from CENTRAL.” Craster might be rude, but he’s not entirely stupid- he immediately catches onto Jon’s last name and identifies him as a bastard from the North, and also demands gifts from Jeor in exchange for information about Mance Rayder. Apparently, all the Wildlings are uniting behind Mance and leaving their villages abandoned to be by his side and march on the Wall. As if this wasn’t a threat on its own, it’s also a personal one, as Mance was a member of the Night’s Watch and abandoned them to be free. Better to be free than die a slave, chants GILLY in another rehearsed speech, not too dissimilar from what Sansa was saying about Joffrey only scenes earlier.
Jon gets a little mouthy with Craster so Jeor drags him outside to teach him one of those lessons that will stick with Jon forever- in order to lead, Jon has to learn how to follow. He has to learn how to be diplomatic, how to negotiate, and how to listen to those he will serve. Of all the lessons Jeor hands off to Jon, this is one of the most prevalent in later seasons.
Generally speaking, Jon’s character arc is one of the more traceable and one of the fullest of the entire series and it’s fascinating to go back and see all the little stones that have built his foundation; as the show becomes more about Dany and Jon, it’s clear who got the shorter end of the stick. I’m always thinking to myself where these characters started off and where they developed- and I’ve always felt like Dany hasn’t really gone off her “I’m a Targaryen and it’s mine by birth” argument. They haven’t done a great job of demonstrating why she deserves the Iron Throne. She pulls power moves- but as Jaime says earlier in this episode, three victories doesn’t necessarily make you a conqueror, and as Varys pointed out to Ned last season, soldiers don’t make great kings.
Let’s wrap this back up in King’s Landing, where Shae is whining to Tyrion that the city reeks of dead bodies- and that SHE LOVES IT. She clearly loves her new life of luxury and the benefits that come with Tyrion. More on Shae in upcoming episodes- I have a bit to say on her, both book and show.
Meanwhile, Cersei is teasing Littlefinger about his affections for Cat and one of the comments hits home, so LF brings up how as children, they were like brother and sister and it’s always awkward for the opposite sexes to grow up together- especially as the two can develop feelings for each other, implying that Cersei’s affair with Jaime is becoming more and more common knowledge. Without flinching, Cersei orders her guards to do a bit of a shuffle- kill Littlefinger, wait, no, don’t, do this dance- and it’s a complete power move. The scene ends on a little boy who has been scrubbing the floor- an implication that Varys will know about this soon enough.
Cersei’s day wasn’t bad enough, so we’re going to have Joff be a little brat as he’s redecorating the Throne Room with the theme of FEAR. Because he’s a prat and just… does whatever he wants because he’s the king, he says Tywin is an idiot (false, Tywin is a genius) and the Starks put too much value on women (as he’s talking to his mother). He’s not a complete idiot as he catches onto Cersei’s concern for Jaime and mentions he heard the exact same rumor that LF was alluding to, but still idiot enough to think that he’s not Jaime’s son and still Robert’s legitimate heir. Joff knows that Robert slept with several hundreds of other women when he got bored with Cersei- and it’s in this exact moment Cersei realizes what a monster she’s raised.
In an attempt to mitigate the bastards Robert has fathered and any claims to the throne they could have, Joff orders the City Watch to murder all reported and rumored bastards. Commander Janos Slynt walks right into LF’s brothel to straight up murder the baby Ned had visited in Season 1 and the episode ends on Gendry and Arya who are heading up to the Wall to join the Night’s Watch.
Sidenote: GOAT Ros greets Slynt with a ton of familiarity, meaning that she has done him as well. Ros has also received a promotion to, I don’t know, Lady of the House, and she’s spitting out the same directions to a bunch of workers- the same directions LF gave her. WELL DONE, ROS.
Our next episode is 2.2 The Night Lands. Subscribe and stay tuned!