HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones episode review: “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things”

This week’s episode of Game of Thrones comes with a theme: bastards, cripples, and broken things. There’s also some women, cravens, and eunuchs. And a lot of history lessons. But at least some of them were given in the nude, thus justifying my cable subscription. Episode spoilers after the fold.

I must admit that this wasn’t my favorite episode so far. Four episodes (out of ten, mind) and we’re still getting quite a bit of set-up. It was like that in the book, too. It’s a huge world with an even bigger cast of characters, both living and dead. It’s gonna take some time. That said, I was a little impatient for some more action. Things picked up by episode’s end though.

We begin with Bran, a broken thing, and his dream of a three-eyed crow at Winterfell. A powerful portent of… something I’m sure. Glad to hear the always-eloquent Hodor speak for the first time, thus beginning his new service as Bran’s transportation. Hodor doesn’t look anything like how I pictured him from the books. I always imagined him as Tom Cullen from Stephen King’s The Stand. M-O-O-N spells Hodor. Luckily Tyrion dropped by Winterfell for a visit with some plans for a special saddle. That was kind of him. He’s got a soft spot for Jon Snow and Bran. Clearly Tyrion can’t be all bad.

However, I didn’t like him sowing some seeds of discord with Ned’s ward Theon Greyjoy. This far in, we did need some explanation of who this greasy kid with the shifty eyes is, I suppose. It was just pretty clunky.

Meanwhile, in the lavish late-night Cinemax movie across the Narrow Sea, we get some more clunky exposition, but at least the showrunners are clever enough to put Viserys and Doreah in a bathtub while they do it. Exposit, I mean. Some things of note: Doreah’s seen men who can change their face as easily as other men change clothes. Viserys rattles off some dragon names. Scenes like this are more for people new to the series. I thought the second episode had just enough dragon lore for me. If Dany can get raped on her wedding night and Viserys can be commanded to walk behind the horde by Drogo’s bloodrider instead of his sister, why not find time to add in a boring scene with Viserys and Doreah in a bathtub?

At least it provided an unintentionally (or was it?) hilarious edit:

Viserys to Doreah: “You pretty little idiot, get on with it.” And… cue Sansa, worrying about not giving her Prince Smug-face sons. “Everyone would hate me,” she whines. Too late, Sansa. We already do.

I think the broken thing in Vaes Dothrak is the relationship between Dany and her brother. Finally. I’ve been waiting for a moment to actually like Emilia Clarke’s performance and here it was. When she whipped her brother with that medallion belt, I cheered. At last she can see that Viserys is no leader. She still doesn’t look entirely convinced that she can be a leader as well, but she’s definitely warming up to the idea.

Back in King’s Landing, Ned Stark did some sleuthing into Jon Arryn’s death and discovered a book of what is surely many royal bastards. You can’t entertain as many whores as King Robert without making a few bastards. He must really love to torture his bother-in-law. Ned thinks Jon was poisoned and in Westeros, only “women, cravens, and eunuchs” use poison. So that gives Ned at least two suspects right off the bat.

The only craven we meet this episode is Samwell Tarly, over at the Wall. He’s beginning what’s sure to be a beautiful bromance with Jon Snow. Like Tyrion and his broken things, I’m with Jon. I, too, have a soft spot for chubby, cowardly sidekicks named Sam in epic fantasies. And big-nosed fictional siblings of Sean Bean in epic fantasies. I loved the guy-talk between Jon and Sam. Jon is totally not a Lannister. Starks remain steadfast in the face of painted whores. It was also a little heartbreaking. The new recruits really are just kids. And we learned why the men of the Night’s Watch are really called crows. That drove home the point that life as a peasant in Westeros must be really shitty if the Wall seems like a safe option.

Ned and Littlefinger Game of Thrones

We get only the briefest peek at the big tournament for Ned. While I loved Littlefinger talking with Ned earlier in the episode, there was something a bit unsavoury in the way he confided secret stories of brotherly abuse with Sansa. I guess that she’s around the same age as her mother was when he dueled for her hand. Yeah, creepy. The Hound’s backstory is so sad. His brother, The Mountain, sounds even more sadistic than Joffrey. That was some Tarantino-quality jousting. Again happily justifying my HBO subscription.

Lastly, Catelyn is all impulsive and has her father’s bannermen take an unlucky Tyrion prisoner for the attempted murder of Bran. Naive, Lady Stark. But a good cliffhanger. Gives Tyrion enough time to figure out how he’ll talk himself out of such a mess. Very much looking forward to next week, which promises to be a bit more lively. There was a definite dearth of Tyrion, Jamie, and Syrio this hour.

Share your thoughts below, but please be warned that book spoilers may be discussed. For a true spoiler-free zone, please visit Leigh Butler’s ASoIaF read. (Though the TV show has now outpaced the novel chapters in the Read.)

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.


Theresa DeLucci had so many “pointy end” puns ready for Jon Snow’s monologue, but is trying to exercise some restraint.

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