HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones episode review: “A Golden Crown”

This week on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Ned finally makes a connection that was obvious to viewers of this show from the very first episode. Tyrion stands trial and confesses to his crimes in the Eyrie. And across the Narrow Sea, the language barrier between Drogo and Viserys leads the Khal to make a major faux pas.

Keeping up the breakneck pace from last week, “A Golden Crown” was the kind of quality episode one expects when scribe Jane Espenson is listed in the credits. She’s written some of the best episodes of the Whedonverse on Buffy, Angel, and Firefly as well as other geek faves Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13. I had high expectations for this episode based solely on the title and the tight, clever script had lots of excitement, some great character development, and quite a few raunchy chuckles.

We open on Ned, recovering from his leg wound. I was really hoping for a flashback/fever-dream here. Something to show us a bit of his sister’s death, Robert’s Rebellion, etc. But instead, he wakes up to Cersei’s glare. And Robert’s. That little moment of bonding last week was really short-lived. Cersei suddenly seems to care about Tyrion when he’s kidnapped. Even half a Lannister is worth more than three Winterfell men, including poor Jory. And while she’s a total bitch, she does have a point when it comes to who would’ve made a sterner king. And when Robert hits her, she proves she can take a slap better than her little bastard Joffrey.

Yes, finally I can say it. Joffrey is a bastard. The Jon Snow kind of bastard. (Remember him? I’ve been getting my fix of Jon Snow via Twitter since we haven’t been to the Wall in two weeks.) That Joffrey, and his siblings, are bastards was pretty damn obvious to anyone who saw Jaime and Cersei’s twincest in the premiere. The Baratheon seed is strong, says Jon Arryn and his dusty book of genealogy, but Lannister gold is even stronger. I’m not quite sure genetics work this way, but whatever. It’s what Ned needs to realize the heir to the Iron Throne is illegitimate.

Now what Ned does with that knowledge is left for next week, but getting his own children the hell out of dodge is a good first step. I would definitely send Syrio with the girls. Maybe he can smack a little sense into Sansa. Yeah, yeah, she’s thirteen and naive and blah, blah, Hodor. Arya continues to be the mouthpiece of the audience. “Seven Hells,” she says. Word.

But before Ned can deal with the twincest revelation, the Stark-Lannister war escalates. (Or does he suspect Jaime is the father? It could be the half-wit Lancel, for all Ned knows.) For as sadistic as Joffrey is, maybe former-Ser Gregor Clegane is the father. Clegane has gone brigand and is killing and raping all along the riverlands, despite being Cersei’s father’s bannerman. Ned sends a knight, Lord Beric Dondarrion to bring Clegane to justice and demand Tywin Lannister’s return to King’s Landing. I squeed a bit to see him. Too bad we never got to see Dondarrion fight at the tournament. Also of note, sitting between a needling Littlefinger and a grumpy Pycelle at court day after day would drive me to drink, too.

Meanwhile the Lannister accused of starting all of this trouble nearly fell out of his Sky Cell in the Eyrie. I loved his jailer Mord. Mord and Hodor would have some pretty scintillating conversations, I bet.

I confess; even when I was reading the book, I never for a second believed Tyrion was in any danger of getting killed. Even if the descriptions of the Sky Cells gave me vertigo, I was just waiting to see how he’d talk himself out of this situation. Always bet on the Imp. He’d been way too friendly to Bronn on the road to the Eyrie. Dropping promises of gold to a sellsword is enough to bring him to your side. But you get the feeling Bronn actually likes Tyrion, too. Can’t blame him. Tyrion’s “confession” to Lysa Arryn was a real highlight. It reminded me a bit of Chunk in The Goonies. Only really, really nasty. About five different euphemisms for… doing what he did into that turtle stew? Disgusting comedy gold. He forgot “releasing the dragon.”

I was also hoping Bronn would toss Lysa and her little freak out the Moon Door, too, but you can’t have everything. At least we didn’t have to see her prosthetic boob again. Seven Hells.

There’s a few scenes in Winterfell, not amounting to much. But there is some more depth given to Theon. He’s getting a chip on his shoulder about as big as Viserys’. He’s not a Stark, not really a Greyjoy, and now his favorite whore is leaving town on a turnip cart. That was a a cute goodbye, of sorts. In a twisted kind of way.

Finally, across the Narrow Sea, Dany performs a pregnancy ritual that involves eating a raw horse heart. She’s not showing nearly as much as King Robert was last week. I really loved Viserys in this episode. It’s clear that Dany has the true dragon spirit. But now her brother sees it, too. Harry Lloyd really made Viserys much more sympathetic than he was in the books. He’s still twisted and mean, but he’s also pathetic. And now he’s jealous of Dany and knows that he, as the Beggar King, will never have the love and loyalty of any kingdom. But he still demands things he has no right to demand. And flaunts his arrogance. I loved his exchange with Jorah. And Jorah’s continued loyalty to the true Targaryen heir. He’d been begging for Drogo’s kind of crown since the start. And while I cheered at the wicked, heavy thunk his molten head made when it hit the ground, I’ll miss Viserys a little bit because he was always good for instigating trouble.

And that’s all I have to say this week because Time Warner doesn’t have HBO Go service and I could only watch one episode last night. No fair.

Some links of interest:


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 is going vegetarian after this episode.


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