(1.08, “The Pointy End”)
Arresting Ned Stark didn’t go maybe as smoothly as Cersei envisioned, evidenced by the ringing sound of swords throughout the Red Keep. As yet unaware of danger, Syrio and Arya are having morning practice, the lesson of the day is true seeing. According to Syrio, looking is not seeing, and the mouth will lie, but the eyes won’t. Sansa’s Septa doesn’t need the lesson, one look at the Lannister men coming towards them and she sends Sansa to hide in her room. Syrio too suspects that the Lannister men, and the Knight of the King’s Guard, don’t mean Arya any kindness, and he tries to send her away. Underestimating Syrio as an opponent, the thugs attack, and Arya stands shocked as Syrio beats down three armored knight with only a WOODEN PRACTICE SWORD! As the King’s Guard decides to take matters into his own hands, Syrio commands Arya to run, and she finally listens. Sansa too is running, but she runs into Sandor Clegane, sent by the Queen to retrieve Joffery’s fiancée. Arya stumbles into the carnage in the yard, and finding her trunk spilled open, searches for Needle, which she finds just in time to defend herself from a stable boy who wants to take her to the Queen. Arya kills the boy, and runs. In the shockingly silent dark of the dungeons, Ned gets a visitor. Varys brings water, news and rebukes for Ned. Alleviating Ned’s most pressing fear, Varys tells him that Sansa has been captured, Arya has escaped, but neither are confirmed dead, unlike ALL of rest of his household. Just to rub salt in the wound, Varys asks Ned what madness possessed him to inform Cersei he’s figured out who her baby-daddy was, and because Ned is a self-destructively honorable man, he replies “the madness of mercy that she might save her children.” Varys’ response is half pity/half rebuke, “your mercy killed the king.” Varys then proceeds to inform Ned that he doesn’t even have the bargaining chip that he thought he did: Catelyn no longer holds Tryion. (But he was the wrong brother to use to cow Cersei anyway.) Faced with little hope, Ned demands that Varys kill him and be done with it, but Varys chides him that it is not his day to die. Confused, Ned asks Varys whom he serves, and Varys surprises him by responding, “the realm my lord, someone must.” Far away on the Wall, the rangers have found the body to which the hand Ghost found used to belong; the Brothers gather around a pallet with the two dead rangers, the only sign of the party that went out with Benjen all those months ago. The brilliant Sam notices that the bodies don’t smell, quite an oddity. Jon suggests they burn the bodies, but Lord Commander wants Maester Aemon to have a look at the non-stinky dead first. The Lord Commander is alerted to a raven from King’s Landing. Jon, as his steward, follows him, and is instructed to pour a drink for Mormont and one for himself. Mormont shares the letter with Jon, informing them of Ned’s arrest for treason. Agitated, Jon insists that it can’t be true; his father would never commit treason, and worries that there is no news of his sisters. Aware of Jon’s temper, the Lord Commander admonishes Jon not to do anything stupid. If only Sansa had someone to give her the same advice, because the poor girl is getting bullied by the Queen and Council. According to the always truthful Cersei, Pycelle, Varys and Littlefinger, Sansa isn’t fit to be Joffery’s queen, since she is the daughter of a traitor. Sansa applies all of her logic to the problem, telling them that she loves Joffery and she will be a good queen just like Cersei. Watching Sansa fold like a cheep tunic, Cersei gets around to her point, assuring Sansa that if she writes a letter to Robb and one to Catelyn telling them to come to King’s Landing and pledge fealty then it will prove that she will be a loyal and true wife. Sansa’s letter doesn’t go over so well in Winterfell; Robb crumples it up, declares that he will go to King’s Landing, and that Maester Luwin should call the bannermen. Theon looks like he’s going to choke with glee, the northerners are marching to war. Despite his ire, Robb’s hand is shaking, he must be afraid, which Theon tells him is a good thing. (Lots of advice given out in this episode.) A host of crows erupts from Winterfell, the call to those loyal to the Starks. In the Eyrie Catelyn isn’t just furious over the news in Sansa’s letter, she’s furious that Lysa kept the letter from her. She was feeding Robin, she was busy. Catelyn begs her sister to call the Knights of the Vale to aid Robb, Lysa flatly refuses: the Knights of the Vale are staying in the Vale. Where they are very much needed, as Bronn and Tyrion find out when they’re attacked by one of the mountain tribes on their way out of the Vale. As quick as you can say, “I like living and I’m WAY smarter than you” Tyrion offers the hill men weapons in exchange for their protection, and with those weapons he will give them the Vale. He offers an alliance, for they have a common enemy, and Tyrion has decided it is time for new Lords of the Vale. It might’ve be time for a new Master at Arms on the Wall. Ser Alliser just can’t resist the opportunity to taunt Jon with Ned’s arrest, and predictably, Jon attacks him. The Lord Commander puts a stop to things, and Pyp and Grenn manage to get a hold of Jon, who’s confined to his quarters. Ghost doesn’t appreciate the bed rest, and refuses to stop prowling at the door, so Jon goes investigating. Calling for the Lord Commander but receiving no answer, Jon finds in his chamber not Mormont, but the dead ranger brought in earlier. And the dude is walking around. And trying to kill. Jon stabs him, and thinks he’s dead, Mormont comes out with a lamp to see what all the commotion is, but swords just aren’t doing the trick, because zombie-boy is undeterred. Jon grabs the lamp from Mormont, burning his hand, and throws it at his former Brother, burning him dead-er and saving the Lord Commander. (Yay Jon!) Across the sea, the Dothraki are on the rampage, sacking a town of the sheep-people, in order to fund Dany’s campaign for Westeros. She objects to the rape of the captive women, and not as Jorah suggests because she has a gentle heart. Dany commands Jorah to stop the Dothraki from raping the women, as she is taking them under her protection. Highly displeased, the warrior takes the matter up before Drogo, whose willing to give Dany what she wants. Rape-boy then decides to make an even better decision, and spits on Drogo for being led around by his foreign wife. Not one to take insult lightly, after allowing his opponent a courtesy stab, Drogo kills the every living bejesus out of him; he literally rips his tongue out from his throat. Worried for her husband, Dany insists that he accept the help of a healing woman, one of the woman Dany has protected, and like a good husband, he agrees to make her feel better. Isn’t that nice? Healer may be needed back in Winterfell. The bannermen are a bit more contentious than Robb had anticipated, Greatjon Umber in particular. Not impressed with Robb’s battle plan, since apparently Umbers don’t follow Glovers in the race of who gets the honor of dying first, aka, who gets to lead the vanguard. Threatening to take his men home with him, Greatjon brandishes his knife and Grey Wind jumps across the table and bites a couple of Greatjon’s fingers off. Unfazed by his pet attacking a man he needs to help him fight a war, Robb sternly informs Umber that it’s rather offensive to bare your steel to your lord, and should Greatjon decide to go home, when he’s finished with Joffery, Robb will return and rout Greatjon for an oathbreaker. Impressed that Robb isn’t as green as he thought he was, Greatjon decides to see the humor in the situation, and everyone laughs and goes back to eating. Later, Robb goes to Bran’s room to say goodbye. Bran asks to go, but Robb charges him that there must always be a Stark in Winterfell, and that is his duty now. (They grow up so fast.) After Robb leaves, Rickon sneaks into Bran’s room, dodging Robb. Bran encourages Rickon to say goodbye to Robb, but Rickon is as brilliantly stubborn as only small children can be, and refuses, on the ground that none of his family that he’s said goodbye to has come back. Baby needs a hug and there’s no one left to give it to him. (My heart, it breaks.) In the morning, Bran prays in the Godswood for the safety of his family, and Osha, who observes the Old Ways too, teaches Bran to listen to the Gods’ response, the wind. Full of dire prediction, Osha tells Bran that Robb is marching the wrong way; the real threat is to the north. Then there is obligatory male full frontal nudity. Up at the Wall, they’re having a bonfire of the zombies, and Sam, whose been doing some research in the library, informs his compatriots that their Brother’s rose because they were touched by the White Walkers, ancient creatures who sleep under the ice for thousands of years. His lesson causes everyone to look at the Wall, and maybe pee their pants a bit. Catelyn arrives at Robb’s camp, where the mens-folk are discussing Jaime’s harassment of the River Lords (Catelyn’s family). Mommy dearest wants a word with her first born, and those words are as helpful as ever. All Catelyn has to add is, “don’t loose or we are all going to die.” (Does Robb consider trading one parent for another as hostage to Cersei? Just a thought.) On the other side of the battle lines, Tyrion and his escort have arrived at Lannister base camp. His father, not really impressed. Which is ridiculous, because Tyrion has brought him some fierce fighters to help squash the Starks, and thought Tywin is perfectly willing to immediately take full advantage of the new recruits to the Lannister cause, with promises of even more reward than Tyrion has already promised, he doesn’t bother to thank Tyrion. In fact, Tywin gladly sends Tyrion into battle as the mountain mens’ collateral. Tyrion better get ready, the Northmen are planning away. Pouring over the map, Robb and the bannermen debate who to attack, Tywin or Jaime, in face of the serious problem that either way they need the permission of Lord Frey to cross the river at the Twins. The discussion is cut short, because a Lannister scout has been caught. After asking for what information he’s gleaned, which as it turns out isn’t entirely accurate; Robb decides to send the man back to his lord, much to the chagrin of the assembly in his tent. The scout runs off with bad intel, the army prepares to head for Jaime. Down in King’s Landing, King Joffery is handing out promotions: first to Janos Slynt the captain of the City Watch, and second to his grandfather Tywin, the new Hand of the King. Demotions are apparently in order too; Cersei calls up Ser Barristan and removes him as a Knight of the King’s Guard, offering him a nice retirement package. He decline, throws his sword in front of Joffery and leaves the hall. Sansa steps forward to beg for mercy for her father. Pleading with Joffery that a) Ned was lied to by Robert’s brothers and b) the only reason he said Joffery wasn’t king was that he was not in his right mind because his injury was being treat with milk of the poppy, she wins Joffery over, and he agrees to spare Ned if he will bend the knee.
The internet and I had a HUGE disagreement as to whether I would be allowed to watch this whole episode, in its entirety, uninterrupted. It turned out to be a draw, but I must say, the altercation messed with my GoT mojo. Stupid internet.
I didn’t mean that. Internet, I love you.
Okay, back to the show!
This was the first episode in which I really noticed the condensation of time. In everyone’s defense, there was a huge amount of story to get through. In places, it was distracting from all the glorious story-ness. For instance, as visually appealing as the ravens leaving Winterfell was, this is a universe without printers, those messages had to be handwritten, it’s unlikely that Robb could just snap his fingers and his orders are ready to go out. Similarly, assembling the bannermen, marching south, preparing for a war, all that would take time, time that it didn’t feel like was passing for the rest of the characters/places. What seemed to be a day or two on the Wall was what would have had to be months in the south. I suppose, in the end, an occasional break in my suspension of disbelief is worth keeping the brisk pace that this show needs.
She’s an idiot, but in a way I love Sansa. Let me be very clear, as the kind of person I would want to model my life after, I don’t like Sansa; she’s selfish, unkind, whinny, and stupid. She doesn’t have the good sense God gave a grapefruit. I pretty much want to punch her in the face. But, her behavior in response to the other characters is amazing. Sansa is completely guileless; she says exactly what she means/wants without any idea that other people will want to use her motivations/desires to manipulate her. It doesn’t even cross her mind that Cersei is trying to use her, that her future mother-in-law has plans that might not be in Sansa’s best interest. Because she hides nothing from others, Sansa can’t see that Cersei’s I-understand-and-sympathize smile is really really creepy. In a way, you can’t feel sorry for her that everyone plays her like a fiddle, because it isn’t that she’s innocent; she doesn’t have a giving heart and kindness towards mankind. Furthermore, the irony, that she can never hear, in what she says provides some of the only levity on the show. It’s a testament to what wonderful liars everyone is that Varys, Littlefinger and Cersei didn’t burst out laughing when Sansa said she wants to be queen just like Cersei, the woman whose brother father her children and then may or may not have arranged for her husband’s murder. Between the murders, the betrayals, and the univocally bad decisions, it’s nice to have an occasional chuckle, even if it is at the expense of an appallingly obtuse tween.
On the not funny side, ZOMBIES! Nothing can make all the royal jockeying and cloak-and-dagger plotting look like so much play yard bullying as the dead coming back to life and only being vulnerable to fire. That is some bullshit, that people are getting thrown in jail and fingers bitten off over the issue of who did or did not diddle Cersei while a bunch of cold, understaffed, and in some cases morally suspect guys are fending off attacks by the undead. But, it’s a safe bet that saving the Lord Commander’s life will get Jon off the hook for flying off the handle at Ser Alliser. Too bad about his hand.
Too bad about Tyrion’s dad. Your son manages to use nothing but his words to a) get himself released from the oh so insane Lysa Arryn who was determined to throw him off a mountain, b) convince some less than reasonable mountain men to not only not kill him but to protect him, and c) to gather even more mountain clans to follow him, but for all that you don’t even have a “good job” for him? How is it possible that Tywin Lannister, who approaches the vanquish of his enemies with the cold calculation of a hunter skinning his prey has absolutely no respect for his son’s brilliant ability to read a situation and draw out the conclusion that he needs? If you’re at the head of an army that is sort of starting a civil war, wouldn’t you want someone who is intelligent, prudent, and (mostly) impartial to be on your side? At the least give the poor guy a glass of wine! What a terrible example of missing what you could have over bitterness that you didn’t get what you want. Life lesson everyone.
And for the love of all, can someone give Rickon Stark a hug!
The TV Girl