HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Episode Review “First of His Name”

A wedding where no one dies? What bullshit Game of Thrones episode is this?!

A new bride and groom, a new king, a new queen, and one old outstanding debt made for a pretty talk-heavy first half of “First of His Name.” The pace did take an unexpectedly fast turn into action north of the Wall, transforming what promised to be a huge detour from the books into a mere spin around the block. After the tantalizing speculation on what a jaunt to Craster’s Keep could mean for two Starks I have to admit that I feel a little silly for getting so excited.

But not as silly as Sansa must feel after meeting her aunt Lysa.

Major episode spoilers ahead. Book comments fair game in the comments. Tread carefully.

There’s a new king on the Iron Throne and he might not be a flagrant sadistic asshole! This is news worthy of jugglers and feasting, but it’s understandable that the mood in King’s Landing is still muted after Joffrey’s death. I loved how Tywin was the person saying “Long may he reign!” the loudest. I bet you do, Tywin. It’d be so much easier for the Lannister patriarch to have a nice little puppet listening to his advice, providing impending puberty bomb doesn’t blow up in his face. Tommen’s more advanced age in the TV series gives a… different tone to his secret glances with Margaery. But if we thought Cersei was going to be Queen Regent and Royal Cockblocker, she seems to have changed her tune about the Tyrells. (If only because she hates her youngest brother enough to remain blind to the ones who really poisoned her firstborn.)

It was strange and yet delightful to see Cersei share a little moment with Margaery, both recognizing that Joffrey was a nightmare and being truthful about Margaery’s desire to be a queen. At least we can’t say that Cersei didn’t learn a little from her mistakes with Joffrey, recognizing that it’d be better for her and Tommen if she could get along with Tommen’s future wife. But still, I had to chuckle at Margaery’s little dig. “I wouldn’t even know what to call you. Sister or Mother!” Considering that Cersei threatened to have you strangled in your sleep if you ever called her sister, I’d just bite my tongue, Margaery.

Game of Thrones First of his Name Tommen

Across the Narrow Sea, Dany also wants to be a queen and actually rule the people of Meereen, instead of leaving another broken city in her wake. I’m glad the show finally touched on Dany’s naivety. Yes, she’s the badass Mother of Dragons, but she’s also really, really green. And yet, I wonder how the people of Meereen would feel, knowing that they’re just part of Dany’s epic training montage on the way to the “real” throne in Westeros.

I just realized that if Tommen is potentially “the first good man” to sit on the Iron Throne in decades, if he survives to rule long enough, he’d be the king going to war against Dany. And that would certainly muddy her claim, ethically speaking. But that’s getting way ahead of ourselves.

Meanwhile, Sansa arrives in The Eyrie with her “uncle” Littlefinger. Oh god, as if he wasn’t cartoonishly creepy enough? Good to see Sweetrobin is right where we left him in the first season, i.e. at his mother’s breast. Ha! Sansa’s red hair and love of dessert isn’t the only thing inherited from her mother: they both share the same “Oh shit. This bitch is crazy. Back away slowly” expression. Poor Sansa, trapped in the Eyrie with a desperate, jealous Lysa Arryn and no interrupting pigeon pie to save her from the awkward conversations.

Sansa just can’t catch a break. Lysa’s so terrible, I almost feel bad for Littlefinger. But he helped create this monster, so I’d say he got the bride he deserves for his hand in poisoning John Arryn and kicking off the war between the Starks and the Lannisters. Littlefinger’s game spans back to before the very first episode. What felt like a HUGE moment of admission in the books got rushed over in the show.

Speaking of rushed, I did think the build-up to a confrontation with the Night’s Watch and the mutineers at Craster’s would have taken longer. If the plan was to slow down Bran’s story from the books until other storylines catch up, it really didn’t buy Bran much more time. Kind of a strange diversion in that regard, but most disappointing to me was that this change from the books didn’t take enough liberties. I really wanted Bran and Jon to see each other. But so did Bran and the time spent captive at Craster’s forced him to really stay on his path to the Three-Eyed Raven. That’s commitment.

But it made my heart break a little.

At least I got to see Craster’s Keep burn to the ground with the skewered corpse of Karl Tanner inside. Burn it to the ground, salt the earth, and let Game of Thrones have at least 80% less rape for the rest of the season as this battle has ended and the real war — with Mance Rayder’s army — marches at Jon’s heels.

Game of Thrones First of his Name Arya

Final Thoughts:

  • At least when Tyrion’s not in an episode of Game of Thrones, it doesn’t feel as torturous as a whole damned novel bereft of his wit and wisdom.
  • “The greatest swordsman who lived didn’t even have a sword?!” Shut your cunt mouth, Sandor! Syrio Forel was the best. Just so.
  • Okay, maybe Syrio’s technique isn’t the best for every situation. But knocking him isn’t going to get Arya to take the Hound’s name off of her bedtime prayer shitlist.
  • Damn, Locke’s death was brutal, even moreso because Bran did it through Hodor’s body. I felt so bad for Hodor when he woke up post-warging, looking down at his hands in panicked incomprehension. It’s so unsavory for Bran to warg into a human, but I won’t say it wasn’t necessary.
  • If Tanner had raped Meera, I really think I might’ve quit watching the show.
  • Not only did Cersei not completely bite off Margaery’s head tonight, but she actually swallowed some pride and showed a bit of vulnerability by asking Oberyn about her daughter Myrcella. “Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls.” Too true, Cersei.
  • I wish we got to hear Oberyn’s poem. Also: hooray! A Sand Snakes reference by the mention of his eight daughters. Will they ever be introduced?
  • Pod’s face when he was trying to cook rabbit. Priceless.

Next week: Stannis goes to the bank. Seriously. First a wedding with no deaths, then this?! At least Tyrion looks to get some screentime.

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


Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com, covering True Blood, Game of Thrones, and gaming news. She’s also the resident Hannibal fannibal at Boing Boing. Follow her on Twitter @tdelucci

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