May 2 2011 12:29pm

Game of Thrones episode review: “Lord Snow”

Game of Thrones episode Lord Snow

This week on Game of Thrones, we get good news and bad news about Bran, Catelyn hides out in a brothel, Arya gets her first “dancing” lesson, and Tyrion finally gets to piss off the Wall. Episode spoilers ahead.

It’s getting to be a party down in King’s Landing, where Ned, Arya, and Sansa arrive at the beginning of the episode and Catelyn rides up later on. One of the first scenes is probably my favorite in this whole episode: Ned running into Jaime in the throne room. Sean Bean and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are making a strong argument for being my two favorite casting choices (although “favorite casting choices” is a long list on this show), and watching them be hostile at each other is delightful. Jaime reminds Ned of how Ned’s brother and father died, and wonders if Ned would respect Jaime more if he’d stabbed Mad King Aerys in the belly instead of the back. Ned is unimpressed.

Ned meets with the small council and learns what a mess Robert has made of the kingdom’s finances, and then he gives Sansa a doll she doesn’t want, and then he finds out someone’s given Arya a sword. (“War,” he sighs, “is easier than daughters.”) In the small council we get our first glimpses of Varys, Littlefinger, Renly, and Grand Maester Pycelle. Renly and the Maester don’t have much to do yet, but Varys is appropriately creepy and Littlefinger is his oily self. Later on, Lord Mormont and Maester Aemon make their first appearances, too, on the Wall; a lot of important characters still being introduced as we start the slow build to the end of the season.

You’ve got to feel sorry for Ned in this episode. As he knew it would, becoming the Hand means cleaning up the king’s messes (see: this post’s cut text), and he’s just having a whole string of rotten days. But, as he reminds Arya, “winter is truly coming,” and they’ll all have to depend on each other in the coming days—and right now, since they’ve come to a dangerous place. Meanwhile, Cersei is giving Joffrey some advice to live by, as well, though hers is a bit less orthodox than “let’s all stick together.” When Joffrey is skeptical of her version of what happened in the previous episode, in which he comes out as brave and righteous, she tells him, “Someday, you will sit on the throne and the truth will be what you make it.”

Catelyn arrives in King’s Landing, where she’s met by masked men and taken to a brothel to meet Littlefinger. She’s not too happy about it, and neither is Ned when he finds out, but hey, we get to watch Ned choking Littlefinger into the deal, so it’s not all bad. Both Littlefinger and Varys have some information to give her about the dagger Bran’s would-be assassin carried: Varys identifies it as Valyrian steel, and Littlefinger identifies it as...his own. At least, until he lost it to Tyrion Lannister, betting on a joust.

The word that Bran’s alive—and awake—has gotten around, and Cersei confronts Jaime about pushing him out the window. He doesn’t remember anything yet, but what if he does? They can handle a ten-year-old, but Cersei is more worried about the king. Jaime says if he has to, he’ll kill everyone until they’re the only ones left. Aww, how romantic. No, wait, eww. Speaking of killing, Robert is off drinking and reminiscing about the first man he killed. “They never tell you how they all shit themselves” when they die, Robert remarks. With Jaime the talk naturally turns to his most famous killing. What were King Aerys’s last words? “He said the same thing he’d been saying for hours. ‘Burn them all,’” Jaime tells him coldly.

Back at Winterfell, Bran is not only alive and awake but talking. Everyone else is thrilled over this news, but despite Old Nan’s creepy stories of winters that last for generations, he’s clearly unhappy. He tells Robb he still doesn’t remember anything. Bran has scampered over the walls in all weather, and “you never fall,” Robb says incredulously. “I did, though,” Bran points out, and now his legs are useless. He tells Robb he’d rather be dead, which is the last thing Robb wants to hear.

Farther north, Jon is discovering that he’s the least useless of the Wall’s new recruits. Even when Grenn and Pyp double up on him, he still beats them—which doesn’t make them big fans of his. He’s rescued from an almost certain beating by Tyrion’s characteristic good timing. As if Jon needed more reasons to hero-worship Tyrion; “Everyone knew what this place was,” he tells Tyrion, “but no one told me. No one but you.” The other boys are bullies and thieves. But it’s Tyrion, too, who points out to him that none of them had held a sword before coming here—and who delivers the message that Bran’s finally woken up.

Not that Jon’s off the hook yet when it comes to being emo in this episode. He takes a nifty elevator to the top of the Wall, where Benjen tells him he’s leaving in the morning—but Jon’s staying here. He’s not ready to be a ranger yet. “We’ll speak when I return,” Benjen promises. I assume Jon stays up there to mope in the cold while Benjen heads inside, where he runs into Yoren and Tyrion comparing the strangest things they’ve ever eaten. “Do Dornish girls count?” Tyrion asks with a sly grin. Benjen chides Tyrion for his feelings towards the men on the Wall, who protect the rest of the kingdom so that everyone else can live their ordinary lives. Tyrion protests that he has nothing but respect for the rangers, but doesn’t believe there’s anything beyond the Wall except wildlings.

Tyrion decides to go back south with Yoren, who’s headed to King’s Landing for more recruits. He has time first to nod his approval of Jon, who’s now teaching Pip and Grenn how to fight, and, of course, to head up to the top of the Wall and piss off it, as he’d always wanted to do. Mormont wants Tyrion to convince his sister to send more aid to the wall. “When winter does come,” Maester Aemon warns, “gods help us all if we’re not ready.”

This was a relatively happy episode, compared to the two that came before, and one of the happiest parts for me was when Viserys nearly got strangled. Last time we got Tyrion slapping Joffrey, now Viserys is choking in the dirt: thank goodness, in the world of Game of Thrones, terrible things happen to terrible people as well as the good ones.

Viserys’s near-strangling came about when Dany stopped the khalasar and Viserys was appalled that she had the temerity to give an order to him, the rightful king of Westeros. “I don’t take orders,” he hisses, “from savages or their sluts.” A Dothraki rider lassos him and would kill him at Dany’s word, but she still doesn’t want her brother harmed (what a shame).

Theresa and I have made no secret of our dissatisfaction with the treatment of Dany and Drogo’s relationship up to this point, but if I had only seen the third episode I don’t think I’d have much to complain about. We see Dany and Drogo cuddling (they’ve really branched out from direwolf-style now), she’s learning Dothraki, and—she’s pregnant! They seem to share a moment of real intimacy when she tells him she’s sure the baby is a boy. And then we have Jorah Mormont, who, as soon as he finds out about the pregnancy, has to run off and ride to Qohor. A peculiar reaction, to say the least....

The episode ends on a high note, with Arya’s first “dancing” lesson. Syrio is exactly how I pictured him (which is odd, because I think in the book he’s bald), small and wiry and energetic, and you can see Arya’s troubles melting away as she learns to properly hold Needle. Maisie Williams continues to inhabit this role amazingly well, and I’m sure we’ll get a lot of pleasure out of watching these two interact in the future. (We’ll need it.) Ned enjoys watching them, too, until we hear a clanging that Arya and Syrio’s wooden swords couldn’t be making: Ned’s memories of other, less light-hearded, swordfights are forcing their way to the surface.


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.

Ellen B. Wright lives in New York, where she works in publishing and takes an excessive number of pictures.

1. dank3
I was very curious how they would do Bran's coma dreams, but it seems like the just decided to leave them out. I guess thats a reasonable decision, given the approach in other aspects so far.
2. Serious77
Good episode! Not my favorite of the episodes I have seen so far, but still pretty good. I really loved the "Dancing Lesson" scene, as well as the interactions with Tyrion and Jon. This episode appeared to be more of an "info dump" episode, which is why I don't favor it as highly. Still, that is definitely a good thing for those new to the series. Hopefully, it clears some (at least) confusion up.
Ellen B. Wright
3. ellenw
dank3 @1: I wondered about this, too. I realized only in looking back at my notes how little time we spent at Winterfell in this episode; I wonder if a future one will be more Bran-centric and they're waiting to introduce the dreams until then. We've also barely been introduced to Theon, which is going to become a problem sooner or later!
David Thomson
4. ZetaStriker
All in all, the series is progressing along nicely. Arya in particular must be making the audience fall a little more in love with her every time she pops on screen. Damn, that girl is just so likeable! I just want to pinch her cheeks and give her another deadly weapon.

I'd love to hear the reaction of one of our new fans on the sudden change in Dany/Drogo's relationship though. That's all I'll say on that, because it's already been beaten to death. I'd rather leave the whole topic to new fans of the series at this point.

There were two things left out of this episode that I feel may hurt the narrative though. Not in large ways, but enough to put it just a tad off kilter.

The first is more of a personal thing, one that new viewers may not even notice. And I have to admit may not have worked as well on screen as it did on the page in any case. That was Bran's dream. Other people have mentioned that Bran being pushed out of the window was the moment that hooked them into the series, but for me Bran's dream was what cemented George R.R. Martin as a name to remember in my mind.

The quality of the writing in the moment, the fairy tale aspect combined with the grim reality of it . . . I freely admit I cried when reading that sequence. Bran's fall to the Earth, the crow's multi-layered meanings, the other-worldness of it all crawled out of the page and under my skin, and it got to me. Even when other aspects of the novel rubbed me the wrong way, as Dany's plotline did for a good long while due to how disconnected it is from the rest of the narrative, moments like this kept me going, because I felt I could be sure I was in good hands.

The other problem I have is one that should be fairly obvious . . . we're wolfless. We've seen a good amount of Summer over these novels, but I really wonder if viewers hadn't forgotten that anyone other than Bran even has a wolf. Ghost hasn't shown up once since being discovered, not during Jon's journey to the Wall or after his arrival. Lady and Nymeria are out of the picture. Shaggydog is arguably unimportant, as is Robb's wolf for the moment(whose name I forgot) . . . but the lack of Ghost is a bit disconcerting. I just hope the audience hasn't forgotten him entirely.
Mo -
5. Astus
Grey Wind is the name yer looking for :)

Yeah, this week's episode did seem to have a happier tone than the last two though a few scenes still did send some chills up my spine, knowing how certain things would play out in future.
I think they can tie in Bran's dreams into a future episode though they are pretty important. I am very interested to see how the dream is portrayed though.
Zayne Forehand
6. ShiningArmor
I will admit that I am a very new aSoIaF fan. I'm about 60 pages from the end of aGoT. However, this book has quickly risen in the rankings of my favorite series'.

That being said, I was a little disappointed by some of the things this episode changed, namely Jon and Tyrion's interactions. While the general spirit of their relationship has remained intact, I was disappointed by the lack of Ghost-related incidents and banter. I was also disappointed that the line from Jon asking Tyrion to help Bran like he helped him was missing. I'm wondering now if Tyrion will give Bran the saddle plans. Those two together were hands down the highlight of the book for me until I got to the later Arya stuff and the eventual Lannister/Stark Battles.
Ellen B. Wright
7. ellenw
ZetaStriker @4: I'm also curious to hear what some new viewers think of Dany and Drogo's relationship after this episode. One new viewer I know said, "I don't understand why all of a sudden she's in love with the guy when she hated him before!"

Robb's direwolf is named Grey Wind, FYI. I agree that the wolves ought to be showing up more often, especially Ghost.
Rob Munnelly
8. RobMRobM
Set up-heavy episode, not as good as last week's but enjoyable.

@4 - agree that we need more direwolves, stat! They did have one shot of Ghost from a distance when they camped on the way up to the Wall but that's it. He should have been with Jon going up the elevator. I am informed from another site that we'll see Ghost next week, so that's something.

The thing I missed was Jon asking Tyrion to "do something" for Bran when he visited the castle. Cemented Jon and Tyrion's relationship and also sets something in motion that will have future implications (but won't be discussed here by me).

Loved Varys, loved Littlefinger, loved Old Nan (RIP to Margaret John), very much liked Syrio (but, realistically, wouldn't a teacher have begun by teaching simple blocking/thrusting techniques rather than going at each other right off the bat).
9. Timpenin
ZetaStriker @4: My husband is new to the series and I never actually finished the first book, despite trying twice. I've been filling him in or clarifying little details as I remembered them and the Dany/Drogo thing was one that I remembered well enough to be a bit surprised by. I asked my husband what he thought about last night's turn in their relationship and he noted that a) they didn't make Dany's age as obvious as in the book, he thought maybe so they could be a bit rougher with her and not freak audiences out and b) that the roughness might be one more way to quickly illustrate how different the two cultures were, how little prepared she was, etc. He thought it made Dany look stronger because she made the first step towards intimacy rather than him and that overall, the changes were fairly effective. He did get why I was a little upset at the first episode though!
Chuk Goodin
10. Chuk
(RIP to Margaret John)

Thanks, I'd forgotten to check who that was referring too. Sad, she was excellent.

I continue to love the casting of this show -- Littlefinger was excellent, and we got to see Bran do some decent acting. I am a big Arya fan in the books and she's at least as good here, I loved the dancing lessons, too.
Evan Langlinais
11. Skwid
I think what annoyed me most about this episode was the practice swords Syrio and Arya were using. Arya's was a huge thing entirely inappropriate for learning how to wield Needle, and Syrio's was a bloody hand-and-a-half that no one with sense would try and use from a "Braavos" style side-facing position.

Propmaster fail!
David Thomson
12. ZetaStriker
Hmm. One thing I did notice, in retrospect, is that Dany still isn't standing up to Viserys at this point. In the novel, this was the turning point in their relationship for both sides. She commanded him specifically not to come near, not the whole army, and shoves him away when he attacks her. She also was the one to give the command to take away his horse, not the bloodrider.

I'm not necessarily complaining though . . . the change in her relationship to Drogo is already sudden enough, I suppose they want to drag out her willingness to face her brother a bit longer for her television role. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, just different. Like most of her storyline, apparently.

As for the props for sword practice, I think they're fine, actually. The weight is probably similar, even if the size isn't.
Tom Wook
13. Twook00
Is it just me or does King's Landing seem a little "off"? The tropical aspect is not working for me.

Also, I want Varys to be creepier, uglier, and older! He's always been like a transgendered grandpa in my mind (if that even makes sense). I mean, I understand I can't expect everything to be as I interpretted it, but this was one of those that I looked forward to. I honestly wanted them to cast a creepy old eunuch to play that part.

Lastly, I loved the scene between Ned and Jaime, and hated the scene between Robert and Jaime. It's hard to see Mark Addy play Robert Baratheon (maybe because of his roles in "A Knights Tale" and the "Still Standing" sitcom.)

Still loving the show, just in a different way.
Theresa DeLucci
14. theresa_delucci
Yeah, what a shame about Margaret John. I wonder how many episodes she filmed.

My favorite part of the episode was definitely meeting Syrio. Different look from the books, but they must've just loved that actor too much to care. He was very fun. Even if the swords were a bit off. It was very interesting to hear the battle sound effects over their practice fight as Ned looked on.

Loved Littlefinger and Varys too. I think it took the TV show to make it really clear that Cat Stark is wildly out of place in a brothel. Even what looks like an upscale brothel.

I definitely saw Ghost in the preview for next week.

@8RobMRobM: I think some thing just have to be edited out for time. They can't show everything and I don't think that line was hugely important. Maybe the creators of the TV show want to have Tyrion use that great brain of his to help Bran on his own, instead of being asked to by Jon? Just making the Imp even more cool with every episode.
Joseph Kingsmill
15. JFKingsmill16
As to Arya's training, he could have been having her attack him so he can gage where her strengths and weaknesses are.
16. Edgewalker
I don't care if they leave out things from the book. I am enjoying the show very much.

As for worrying about viewers being able to follow, stop. This is HBO, home of the Wire and the Sopranos, 2 of the greatest shows of all time. This is TV for smart people.
17. Abyss
@Skwid - no prop fail. it's 'normal' (in the sense that it's a fantasy lit trope) to train with heavier more awkward blades, making it easier to handle the real thing.

- Abyss, liking the series so far.
18. peachy
I haven't read book 1 in ages, but am I right in thinking that the show has pulled a lot of the Rebellion backstory (particularly the death of Aerys) much further forward in the narrative? We don't have any notion how the Starks actually died until the Jaime-Catelyn scene, which is... er, the end of book 2? I'm guessing there was a decision somewhere along the way that viewers would hate Jaime a little too much if they didn't get more context for his behaviour... (and frankly, if I had done something like what he did, and then gotten nothing but grief for it for fifteen years, I'd be pretty disdainful of my fellow man too.)
Evan Langlinais
19. Skwid
A sword of the type Arya would be using is not used in the same way that the sword she is training with would be used. The grip is different, the pommel is different, but more importantly the way the sword handles when you swing it and poke it is completely different. A practice blade for that sword would have a leaden core and a weighted pommel to keep the balance the same, but would be roughly the same size and shape as the real thing.

And there's no excuse for Syrio to be using that monstrosity, unless it was to mock it and then discard it. It's absurdity.
Claire de Trafford
20. Booksnhorses
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode; it really moved on. Yes, we didn't see the dream, and I noticed a lack of wolves - Bran's wolf hadn't been named in the book when he fell, but I guess that isn't really a vital plot point for tv.

Dany and Drogo did come across as sudden but it has been at least two months in her storyline, and probably a bit more, so we've not seen many developments. I loved the interaction between her handmaid and bloodrider, especially when they rolled their eyes at the funny foreigners. The setting also seemed more correct this week - last week they seemed to be freezing just outside Belfast.

Littlefinger was spot on to me and really showed just how out of his depth Ned Stark is. Catelyn and Ned are like babes in the wood in King's Landing (which wasn't quite right to me, but I guess the budget wouldn't stretch to filming in Carcassonne) - you can just see already how Ned's 'I speak as I find' Northern bluntness is going to go horribly wrong.

Looking forward to next week - I hope Tyrion does give Bran the saddle plan.
Ellen B. Wright
21. ellenw
peachy @18: I've actually been thinking that they pushed out a lot of the Rebellion backstory, presumably to keep new viewers from drowning in all the detail. I've pulled out my old dog-eared paperback of A Game of Thrones and found these two passages:

(p43) "Brandon had been twenty when he died, strangled by order of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen only a few short days before he was to wed Catelyn Tully of Riverrun. His father had been forced to watch him die."

(p77) "Ser Jaime Lannister looked more like the knights in the stories, and he was of the Kingsguard too, but Robb said he had killed the old mad king and shouldn't count anymore."

The former is from Ned and Robert's scene in the crypt, and the latter also before they leave Winterfell. So we're getting slightly different details, revealed in different ways, but the timetable's pretty similar. Judging by the new viewers I know, they still hate Jaime pretty thoroughly, despite the backstory!
22. peachy
@21 - Interesting. I guess what we're getting is more on Jaime's role then, which in the book (insofar as I recall) is shrouded in mystery at best and remembered by people who weren't there (and don't like him) at worst.

I quite liked Barristan the Bold - nice bit of chemistry with him and Jaime when they were reminiscing about the campaign against the outlaws.
Bill Stusser
23. billiam
Since I just finished ACoK I can confirm that Jaime using the deaths of Ned's brother and father as the reason for killing Aerys does indeed come from Jaime's conversation with Cat in the dungeons of Riverrun from the second book.

I think the series is moving along nicely and a few minor deviations from the book aside I really like it so far. I am more than willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt so far concerning said changes and see where it goes.
24. jcfocarino
I think it is interesting how Jorah's betrayal is shown early on. I don't believe there being any indication that he was sending information to Westeros until ASoS, when Selmy calls him out on it. I think this is interesting, but it is odd to me that this is being shown so early on, especially since a viewer who has never read the books will be ernest to learn why he suddenly wishes to go to Qohor, and they will not get a true answer until the third season (although we will not learn who truly sent the knife to kill Bran either, so I guess it makes sense).

Also, for some reason I never noticed/remembered this, but Syrio is from Braavos, and he teaches Arya the sword style of his city (how I never noticed this is beyond me). It made me smile in excitement, however, for when Arya sets off to Braavos herself. Obviously another clever clue from GRRM.
William Fettes
25. Wolfmage
Pretty good episode overall, I thought. It was a little exposition heavy, but despite the slower pacing I thought it hung together quite well.

Loved the throne room scene with Jaime and Ned particularly; it established that underneath the Lannister bravado Jaime has a more conflicted nature than might be apparent to the Stark point of view, and that the general suspicions he engenders for his role as a Kingsguard during the Robert’s rebellion do weigh on him more than he would like to pretend. This forms a perfect dovetail with the subsequent scene with uber-broody Robert and Selmy. Speaking of which, with Selmy’s evident approval of Jaime’s prowess as a squire, we’re really starting to get the light and shade of the series here.

Oh, and yay for the introduction of Varys and Littlefinger! The spider knows all! Catelyn’s reaction to Varys reaching for her hands was priceless.

That said, Littlefinger was predictably good, but I’m somewhat ambivalent about the flatness of Aidan Gillen’s inflection at certain points in this episode. I can’t quite tell yet whether this is the result of Gillen still getting a feel for the role. But I have to doubt that he couldn't just crank out a much more flamboyant performance at will, as his casting was clearly influenced by his awesome job as Mayoral candidate Tommy Carcetti on The Wire. So, I’m forced to wonder whether this wasn’t actually a specific direction he was given to help accentuate his creepy qualities. Maybe this Littlefinger is going to be much more creepy than cool -- maybe to avoid stealing too much focus from Dinklage as the cool wise-cracker of the show.

Now that the show is giving us a less ambiguous read on the genuine affection building between Dany and Drogo, as a direct result of the new intimacy she has brought to the relationship, I hope we’ll put to rest the carping of previous weeks. I won’t pretend the transition was perfectly handled, in the end, but we got there and it’s certainly no less realistic than the books. My feminist lawyer wife, who has a keen nose for male-written discordant female characterisations, only commented on the impossibility of her knowing the gender of the child. So that leaves me thinking the Stockholm Syndrome theory fails on its merits.

Just to echo everyone else: Arya’s dancing lesson was awesome. Syrio was perfectly cast as the First Sword of Braavos. Just so! The size of the practice swords did seem a little big to me, but do these ones even have lead cores like in the books? If not, the size could be a weight thing. Anyway, I’m happy to overlook something small like that given how perfect this scene was. And really, physical conditioning, awareness and movement are just as important as actual sword technique at this point. The ominous transition from wooden clanks to steel clashes, as Ned looks on, was good way to end the episode. It's all fun and games for now, but Winter is Coming.
Bill Stusser
26. billiam
I'm not trying to argue with you Wolfmage, I actually agree with everything you have said about Drogo and the Dothraki being ruthless savages. I never liked Drogo in the books either. I don't have a problem with Drogo raping Dany, where my problem lies is Dany falling in love him. I do not like stories where a woman falls in love with a man who raped her, I find it unrealistic and to be honest, degrading. This is still the biggest problem that I have with the series so far, not that Drogo raped her but that she falls in love him. But like I said earlier, I'm more than willing to see how the show developes.
William Fettes
27. Wolfmage
billiam @ 26

I take your distinction, but to belabour the point, I think that objection applies almost equally to the book based on the coercive nature of her arranged marriage and the sexual relationship after the wedding night. Now, I'm actually totally fine with such a pox on both houses - I just dislike the pretence that the book was all rosy and consenual from the beginning.

That said, I probably owe you some kind of response about how it could work.. So, I guess to answer that we need to be careful here to separate the exogenic values we bring to the show, which affect our identification and sympathies and do tend to foreclose on it working, and the internal values germane to the setting, which might still leave it open. In terms of the latter approach, we must ask ourselves: would Dany herself really view Drogo's sexual demands, as her rightful husband, as illegitimate? I'm not so sure she would given Westerosi and Essosi culture on the question of spousal rape. So, though she may be suffering from Drogo's attentions at certain points, I think we have reason to believe that, culturally, she would not put the locus of blame on Drogo for this, but rather she would shift it to her brother and their circumstances as exiles, more generally. On that account, we may still judge the situation by our own standards, but still refrain from saying there is some kind of moral discordance in Dany's subsequent feelings.

Now, that doesn't close the matter, but it is one way that we may import the kind of context necessary to mediate our primary reaction as modern readers.
Claire de Trafford
28. Booksnhorses
Wolfmage - I agree that marriage is one of the big differences between a medieval style culture and a modern western one. Dany would have been in an arranged marriage in any case (as indeed are all of the women in the series) given her social position - and let's not forget that it would probably have been with her brother given the fact that they are the last two Targaryens. Catelyn was originally to marry Ned's brother, and Cersei hoped to marry Rhaegar and was married to Robert to cement House Lannister's loyalty to the new order. Women were raised to expect such a marriage and that their bodies were subject to their husbands. The advice would have been to make the most of their situation however they can. So I don't think that Dany would be thinking of her marriage as rape as such in the same way that we would be in the same situation.
Theresa DeLucci
29. theresa_delucci
I feel I've exhausted all of my thoughts on the representation of Dany and Drogo's arranged marriage. I was disappointed that Dany wasn't the one who made Viserys walk behind the horde. Can't TV Dany do anything cool? It makes me angry. Though maybe not as angry as Arya.

30. cheem
@24, actually, Jorah's betrayal is brought up in the book very early on... on the Kingsroad, in fact.
David Thomson
31. ZetaStriker
I agree Wolfmage, it's good to see that the new viewers seem to be acknowledging Dany's decision, even if by and large they seem to find it rather sudden. It seems my initial thoughts on the matter were spoken in haste, and the treatment of the storyline from the second episode on has been what stilled my tongue on the debate ever since.

That's not to say I'm happy with it; the suddenness of the change is still jarring, from my experiences with new viewers and several accounts I've heard. It's hard to argue that it amounts to good storytelling when acceptance of the material as presented in entirely reliant of suspending all disbelief in regards to the matter. For a show that, for the most part, seems to be encouraging the viewer to think about what's happening, Dany's scenes seem to beg the audience to do quite the opposite and accept it all at face value.

I'm still of a mind that the primary reasons for this are a lack of time with the character, a lack of internal monologue, and my continuing disapointment with Dany's actress . . . perhaps the latter being the primary factor. While I wouldn't go so far to call her terrible, I feel Dany's role requires a lot of very subtle cues that display complex emotions with minimal expression, and the actress seems entirely unable to do any of this, in my personal opinion. Am I alone in this, or are others warming up to her?
Rob Munnelly
32. RobMRobM
@31 - I like Emelia Clarke in the role and have liked her from the outset. I wish she had a chance to ride the silver and have Drogo take time to love her in the first episode, the time need to get all the first six chapters plus hers into the first episode created a time crunch that made it impossible. The way the writers have taken it is fine and will still result in a compelling story.

Theresa DeLucci
33. theresa_delucci
@31 Nope, haven't warmed to Emilia Clarke at all. I'm pretty convinced she was chosen for her sex appeal and not her acting abilities. There's absolutely nothing compelling about her performance at all and I'd rather watch Viserys. At least he does interesting things.

So now they've changed the wedding night, which we've discussed at length. Much length. And if it's for the benefit of TV or more realistic or whatever, the change had its positives and negatives.

But why not let Dany give the order to make her brother walk like a slave? That was a huge moment in her storyline. What possible benefit could there be to changing it? I think having so many storylines condensed into an hour will make one of them suffer. The Dany storyline is the one. They can't spend the time giving characters depth so it makes the plot real flat. If I hadn't read the books, I'd probably wish they cut it out entirely. I'd rather spend more time on the Wall.
Marcus W
34. toryx
I actually liked this episode quite a lot. Most of the changes made here from the book were far more appropriate than previous ones have been (in my mind) and did what was necessary in telling the story.

I still don't like the Dany scenes. As was mentioned above she didn't come across nearly as strong in the encounter with her brother as she should have (imho). I really wish she had been the one to tell Viserys to walk too.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the episode quite a bit. I liked seeing Cersei give Joffrey bad lessons, I liked the encounters between Jaime and Ned and Jaime and Robert, though I missed Ser Barristan on the council. I thought the actor portraying Varys (one of my favorite characters from the novels) did a pretty good job, though I don't think he was quite slimy enough. Littlefinger was portrayed perfectly.

My favorite scene, for all that props totally screwed up the swords, was Arya's first dancing lessons. Syrio was very well done even if he didn't quite match my imagination of him, and I loved listening to him speak. All in all, Arya's story is my favorite in the tv show and I constantly find myself wanting more.

I'm really looking forward to the next episode.
Theresa DeLucci
35. theresa_delucci
Everything not across the Narrow Sea is fantastic. There were a few chuckles this week, too, aside from Syrio's awesome flourishes and great hair. (Honestly I never paid attention to the swords that much.) When Cat accused Littlefinger of treating her like some "back alley Sally," I lost it. Total Marge Simpson.

Ned: "War is easier than daughters."

Littlefinger snapping his fingers to make the whores disappear. Very Clarence Boddicker. "Bitches, leave."

Everything Robert said to Lancel. Speaking of men pooping themselves in fear... I guess not all Lannisters can be brave like Jaime.
Mo -
36. Astus
I haven't seen this posted yet so forgive me if it's repeated. It's just a nice video showing a great scene from last week's episode repeated. Just a few times, haha.
It'll me keep me warm in the Winter to come. :P
Marcus W
37. toryx
I also liked old Nan speaking of Ser Duncan the Tall. That was a nice touch.
38. Carolyn H
I'm going to nitpick here on a thing I didn't pick up on when reading the books, probably because the two scenes in question weren't as close to each other in the book as they were in the show.
1) Dany is "2 moons" pregnant, a statement that seemed to correlate roughly to the real Earth's timeframe of 30 day moons, suggesting that Westeros' moon(s?) orbit similarly to our own.
2) Summer has been 9 years long?!?! How does that work?
Seems to me it's physically impossible for both of those statements to be true. So, this planet spins but doesn't tilt but since winter is coming, it's soon going to tilt???

I guess I should simply suspend disbelief here and would have continued to do so happily if the two scenes didn't occur one right after the other in the show.
Don Barkauskas
39. bad_platypus
Carolyn H @38: Actually, the length of a "moon" is dependent on a combination of the moon orbiting the planet and the planet/moon system orbiting the sun, and the length of a day is dependent on a combination of the planet spinning on its axis and the planet orbiting the sun. As you note, the seasons (and therefore a "year") are determined by the time it takes the planet to orbit the star, assuming the planet's axis of rotation is tilted. So your two statements are not actually contradictory: the length of a day (sunrise-to-sunrise), the length of the lunar cycle (full-to-full), and the length of a year are (almost) completely independent of each other, in the sense you can have practically any combination. (To give a cool example, a "year" on Venus is 1.92 Venusian "days" (sunrise-to-sunrise) .)

The strange seasons, on the other hand, don't make sense in our physical universe without a changing axis tilt or possibly a variable star. This being a fantasy, however, I just accept it as part of the setting.
Theresa DeLucci
40. theresa_delucci
@38 It's fantasy, so a wizard did it. (Martin says there's some yet-to-be-explained magical reason behind the unusual seasons he'll get to soon.)

@37 Yeah, loved Old Nan. I also loved Robb and Bran's exchange about living in the eye of a giant named Macumba(sp?). "Maybe we do."
Julian Augustus
41. Alisonwonderland
Probably doesn't matter much, but I thought Arya was left-handed? And why not have all the Stark children except Arya (and Jon) dye their hair blonde to match the books? Surely that is nothing in this day and age ... the sight of Robb with black hair put me off somewhat.
Mo -
42. Astus
If I'm remembering correctly, they have auburn hair not blonde. And I could swear Robb's hair had a reddish tinge.
I think it's Bran that doesn't show the correct colouring in the series, at least not how he's depicted in the books. Not complaining though, a brilliant cast for the most part!
43. Patrick C
Arya did hold her practice sword with her left hand in her face-off with Syrio. To give Maisie Williams credit, the actress is right handed but wanted to hold the sword with her left to be true to the character.

And yep, the Stark children have auburn hair, Robb's has a reddish tinge. All the talk of blondes is usually in connection with the Lannisters, and silver-gold hair is the Targaryens. None of the Starks were described as blonde, not sure where you got that from.
Mo -
44. Astus
I never really drew the dots together until now, with Cersei being Sarah freaking Connor. It may be old news to most but it just amazed me really. Considering I was a big(ish) sort of fan of the SCC, I'm surprised it didn't really click. In any case, watching Cersei is going to get a lot better now. I mean, she'll do anything to protect John Joff, right? :P
Rob Munnelly
45. RobMRobM
@44 - ....and you probably didn't even notice Summer Glau acting as Arya's stunt double during the fencing scene....? ;-)
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
@41 - she played it lefthanded. They happened to use a photo with the story here of a move where she tried to switch hands to trick him.
Theresa DeLucci
47. theresa_delucci
@44 Ha! I miss the Sarah Connor Chronicles. She was really good on that. It's strange seeing her as a blond. The wigs on this show leave something to be desired.

Bran may not have the Stark look, but Robb definitely looks like a Tully. In the books, he was never a standout to me, but I'm really liking him on the show and can't wait to see more of him.

I'm really excited that my parents have been tuning in every week. They're not into fantasy AT ALL. But they love HBO shows and this one's no different. My mom keeps asking me when the White Walkers are coming back. But mostly they're into hating all of the Lannisters (except for Tyrion, of course.) And they're waiting for Ned to fight Jaime. They're really adding a lot of macho tension to that relationship.
Chin Bawambi
48. bawambi
I think you've got something there with the actress that plays Dany. Lets extrapolate that out. Actress hired for sex appeal. Actress can't play character to depth needed. Script simplified to her short-comings.
Not far-fetched at all.
Marcus W
49. toryx
bawambi @ 48:

It certainly seems that way but I can't believe that the producers would have settled for that. They've otherwise been so committed to the story that it just doesn't make sense. Dany's one of the most important characters to the series and to simplify her simply for sex appeal...that's just too much for me to believe.

On the other hand, I'm having a really hard time seeing how they're going to make her transition from this blank, weak girl into the queen she's supposed to be. Maybe it'll be as abrupt as her cowering around Drogo and then cuddling in bed with him. That'd be a disappointment.

RobM @ 45: I didn't notice that Summer Glau was the body double at all! How awesome is that?
David Thomson
50. ZetaStriker
I'm with Toryx, that little bit of news just made my day, RobM.
Rob Munnelly
51. RobMRobM
Toryx - You know I was kidding, right?

Re Emilia Clarke, a bunch of the critics who saw the first six episodes commended her performance. I'd wait and see. As noted above, I think she's doing a good job so far.

Edit - original Dany in pilot (Tamzin Merchant) had sex appeal but they were concerned about acting quality. Emilia was intended to be an acting upgrade, so she's not just a pretty face. Producers have featured her on all press tours with the big guys/gals (Bean, Dinklage, Headey, etc) - they're confident she's the real deal.

Nathan Martin
52. lerris
CarolynH @ 38:

I've always taken the change in seasons to be reflective of the waxing and waning of the power of the White Walkers rather than as a product of the tilt of the world's axis.

toryx @ 49:

It was mentioned that the King's party was 2 months on the road from King's landing to Winterfell. It's important to remember, while viewing the series ( as while reading the books), that there is significant time passing between scenes. Her transition from cowering around Drogo to cuddling with him really was not abrupt at all.
Theresa DeLucci
53. theresa_delucci
@51 I don't know. Tamzin Merchant was okay on The Tudors (it's not a well-written show, it's almost unfair to hold the performances against anyone on it with such blah material) and looked very much like she could be Viserys' sibling. And I thought she had unconventional sex appeal, certainly. I can't help but notice when they upgraded Dany's acting abilities they also upgraded her... conventional sex appeal, let's say. Ahem. And the first two episodes played like some late night Cinemax movie. There's been no official explanation about why the execs got rid of Tamzin as far as I've seen, whether it was scheduling conflicts after the original pilot filmed, acting concerns, or HBO execs looking at their bottom line. It's speculation on my part. Emilia is only an okay actress, in my opinion. Certainly not as good as she needs to be and definitely not on the same level as Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage. (Maisie Williams is the breakout young star of the cast, hands-down.) But every show needs a hot chick who frequently gets naked. She looks good on posters. I know it sounds catty to reduce an actress to this, but, to be fair, every other part of the show leaves very little to complain about. The Dany scenes really lack depth and it's in the script as much as it's in her performance. (I'm really digging Jorah though.)

Three episodes in, maybe I'll still warm up to her. But the changes in the storyline make it difficult to do.

@48 I wouldn't go so far as to say they reduced the material to play to her stronger points (an enviable rack) because they have been so respectful in other areas of the adaptation. Like I keep saying, much of Dany's book storyline was internal and compelling. There's no time for going into the details of a culture, the Dothraki slave-trade, and the bulk of an internal arc of a powerless girl growing into a seriously powerful woman in a fraction of an hour-long show. I feel no heat in this storyline at all. (Pun intended, I guess.) And when Jason Momoa is getting naked, too, there's definitely some sort of fail going on here.

Maybe reading the books is my problem here. There are many readers who didn't like the Dany storylines in the books, but I loved them a ton. And the show isn't matching up to my high expectations. In this one thread out of many threads of the books.
William Fettes
54. Wolfmage
I like Dany's storyline in the books, and I like Dany in the show too -- so go figure. I don't think Clark is a bad actor at all. IMO she hasn't really had enough material to work with as of yet, in term of emergent leadership, for me to feel she has flubbed anything. Basically she's had to communicate the victimhood of her brother’s attentions, the renewed objectification of her person in being passed off as a chattel, then an underlying kernel of spunk and resistance via anchoring and resolute looks at Dragon Eggs (whilst she is being painfully taken by a Dorthraki warlord), and finally acceptance of her position and gaining power by bringing real intimacy to the relationship. It hasn't been perfectly written, but the performances have been adequate for the material. So it's hard to fault her too much IMO. The only randomly jarring thing I've seen so far was when she apparently had to stop the whole Kalasar for no apparent reason just to wonder off? Number 1 perhaps? But that's not the actor's fault.

Despite the Azor Ahai issue, I really don’t want or need to see every emerging leader given sign-posts just to match every inflection point within the books as we chart her rise to power. Generally, you don’t want to see such a destination coming so far off, and what is subtle in a book can be ham-fisted on the screen, especially with a savvy meta-audience like the one HBO attracts. Jon Snow is already far too close to that pre-packaged self-made leader, and a character driven medium like long-form HBO shows, can ideally cover much of this territory with more finesse than simply repeating every inflection point from the book. That doesn't mean HBO has always succeeded so far in achieving this graduated development, but the full journey will only be comprehensible once we near the finale of the season.
55. VoxOrange
Did I miss something. In the book I could have sworn that Jon expressly offers friendship to Tyrion while that are at the Wall. They shake hands, but its not stated outloud in the show? *in the book as I recall, it is serious moment of reflection for Tyrion - which would not be as easy to convey.

"Just so" - loved it.
Claire de Trafford
56. Booksnhorses
Isn't Arya also described as having the Stark look like Jon? She is conscious that she isn't pretty like Sansa, but Ned thinks that she reminds him of his sister Lyanna, who Arya knows was considered beautiful.
57. Bad_Brainz
I keep wondering as I watch and hear all the rave reviews about how people are going to feel when they realize that nearly everybody cool dies in some pathetic fashion or another. Maybe the only people watching are "true believers" and have read the books and don't mind having all hope and joy crushed. I guess we'll see if the entertainment value of dispair is enough to keep the ratings up.
58. Biolith
Just watched cripples etc. And very struck by how much the Lannister siblings remind me of Blades of Glory. Yes, the Imp too.

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