Damn, this is a complicated episode. I’m gonna have to break it down bit by bit. Why did I sign up to recap this again?
As my title indicates, to me the theme here was how parents (not just fathers, but it’s catchier) fuck up their kid’s lives.
The eppy begins in King’s Landing, where Ned has (after, I assume, a long journey we didn’t see) arrived at the palace. It looks pretty Greece-y to me; people are chilling in some togas, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some sodomy too. Ned does not look pleased to be there; he’s all “you talkin to ME?” at the page who asks him if he’d like to change from his dirty sweaty man-leathers into something a bit more “appropriate.” The heat looks oppressive.
His first stop is the throne room, where the Iron Throne – or as I like to call it the SNM chair – sits.
This chair has seated like a bajillion kings, including the previous one, Mad King Aerys Targaryen. At the foot of the throne sits Jaime Lannister, who I believe is one of Ned’s Least Favorite People. You see, Jaime was a member of the Kingsguard for Aerys Targaryen; he swore an oath to protect him. However, when Aerys got a bad case of the crazies and started torturing and killing people, and Robert and Ned started a rebellion, Jaime broke his oath and literally stabbed him in the back.
You would think Ned would be down with this, since he was trying to kill Aerys anyway and since King Aerys burned his dad and brother alive. However, since Ned has big stick up his butt called Loyalty and Honor, he is pretty judgey of “Kingslayer” Jaime for breaking his oath. Honor is pretty tiresome sometimes. I don’t bother with it.
Ned continues on to his first meeting of the King’s Council, that is the King’s bitches – which Robert doesn’t even bother to attend, mind you. Ned learns right away that the kingdom is, basically, effed. They are 6 million in debt, 3 million of that to the incesty Lannisters, which can’t be good. I don’t know what currency they’re using, but 6 million sounds like a lot either way. Ned also greets the king’s advisors: Peter “Littlefinger” Baelish, a nefarious character who was (is?) in love with Catelyn; Renly, Robert’s hot and more responsible younger brother; and Varys “The Spider,” a sneaky eunuch (that means he has no balls!!) There’s some old bearded guy too but I don’t care about him because he looks like he’s ready to keel over. Either way, the kingdom is in a terrible financial position, and Ned needs to kick Robert’s ass into gear. On top of all that, Robert wants to throw a new tournament to celebrate Ned becoming the Hand. Oh, national finances. Shitty in every world.
After this, we get two parent child scenes: The mother/son between Joffrey and Cersei, and the father daughter between Ned/Arya. As you might expect, one is traumatizing and horrible and one is adorable.
Let’s let alone the whole “is this ugly fuck Joffrey an incest bastard?” question. (Another recapper calls him “Prince Draco Malfoy”, which is awesome. Cersei tells her son to lie about the dire-wolf incident, and claim that he killed it himself in battle; she explains that when he is king “the truth will be what you make it.” She goes on to explain that he has to marry Sansa, but “if you want to fuck painted whores you’ll fuck painted whores.” Apparently this is a familiar talk, because Joffrey jaw didn’t just drop so far it plooped him in the balls when it mom said “fuck painted whores.” She finishes with “everyone who isn’t us is an ememy.” Wow. She’s really setting him up for a douchalicious future. I can’t wait til we meet her dad and see where this is all coming from. (Sins of the Fathers 1 & 2: Papa Lannister clearly messed up Jaime and Cersei by not teaching them incest is wrong; Cersei is taking some pointers by making Joffrey evil-er.)
Joffrey may not like the Starks, but Arya really hates them: Arya and I are apparently having a mind-meld, cause she’s stabbing stuff left and right pretending it’s Joffrey’s face. Ned grumbles, “war is easier than daughters.” before following Arya to give her a pep talk. My dad, sole purveyor of my sisters Drunk and Lazy and I, would probably agree.
Ned and Arya have a nice father daughter moment, where Ned tries to get Arya to forgive her sister. Arya is still pretty mad about the whole “Joffrey got my friend murdered, tried to kill me, and made me send away my direwolf” thing, and she blames Sansa for lying and standing up for him before the court. Ned makes a good point: Sansa was brought before her future husband; she can’t betray him before they’re even together, especially since he’s an asshole. Arya makes an even a very, um, poignant point: “But how can you let her marry someone like that?” Ouch. Ned is putting loyalty/the realm/etc above his family. Arya is surrounded by enemies and Sansa’s going to marry a douchetard. (Sin of the Father moment 3.)
Ned doesn’t know it, but his old hag wife Catelyn rolls in town not long after he does. She thinks she’s being all sneaky, but is immediately pulled over by some soldiers who recognize her haggy face. She’s delivered to a whorehouse, where she finds… Littlefinger! Littlefinger, who we met earlier in the King’s Council, and who dueled Ned’s brother Brandon over Catelyn’s love. (Did you miss that? Littlefinger mentions a big scar left from Brandon during the King’s Council scene. So… Brandon loved Catelyn first? Do they hand wives down like property? Hm…) Littlefinger appears to be the pimp of the whorehouse, which works for me since he’s kind of a twat himself. Catelyn hilarious accuses him of treating her like a “Back Alley Sally” by bringing her to a whorehouse (there’s BOOBS! Thanks HBO), and he rightly points out that noone will look for her there.
Catelyn wants to know who knew she was coming… and it’s the creepy, castrated, Varys the Spider of course, who has “little birds” all over the kingdom. He asks about the dagger Bran’s would-be assassin carried, and Catelyn whips it out. Varys, for once, doesn’t know where it came from – but Littlefinger does: It’s his! Or, was his, until he lost it to Tyrion in a bet. Dun dun dun… This points the finger at the Lannisters, but isn’t it Jaime and Cersei who wanted Bran dead? And why should be we trust Littlefinger, anyway? He’s all smary and apparently loves Catelyn.
King’s Landing/Catelyn and Ned reunite!
Littlefinger delivers Ned to the whorehouse so he can visit Catelyn – but not before Ned awesomely slams him against the wall and chokes him, thinking the whole excursion was a complicated “You’re wife’s a whore! Get it?” joke. I briefly felt bad for Littlefinger when Catelyn explains why the Starks can trust him: “He’s like a little brother to me.” Ouch, that’s even worse than the friend zone.
After just a few moments, Catelyn is on her way back to Winterfell, and the couple have a teary goodbye. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe believe in this couple. Catelyn is just so dry and crusty, it drives me crazy. She’s supposed to be a beautiful redhead in the books. Their kiss feels weird to me. I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t like old people love, but I thought I would like it with Sean Bean involved. Anyway, they bid adieu.
King’s Landing: Arya
After Ned and Arya’s heart-to-heart, he commissions a ‘dancing master’ – that is, a swordsman – to teach her to fight. Her dancing master is Syrio, an import from across the narrow seas with some sort of flamboyant Russian/Italian accent. Arya pretty much sucks at first, but she’s clearly loving it, and the episode ends at Ned’s joy slowly turns to apprehension and he heards the clack of the wooden practice swords turn to the clink of metal.
Watch the eyes. There’s already one cripple in the family.
At the end of the last episode, Bran woke up; he’s still kicking metaphorically, but lierally, he’s paralyzed. He’s stuck lying in bed all day while his Classic Old Sassy Nanny tells him stories about the White Walkers and their giant pale spider minions. In a nod to those daytime soap dinosaurs that extinct-ing as we speak, Bran doesn’t remember anything about what he saw before the fall. Older, boring, upstanding brother Robb is suspicious – Bran never falls! Um… yea that’s it from Winterfell. Where is the youngest brother, Rickon? I don’t think we’ve even met him yet.
The Wall: Jon & Tyrion
We then cut to the Wall, where Jon Snow is kicking all the other new recruits asses with his Bastard Son of an Awesome Warrior skills. Unfortunately for all of the other recruits, they didn’t grow up with a sword in their hand like “Lord Snow.” Unsurprisingly,Jon isn’t making a lot of friends, which results in his getting ambushed by three other recruits he fought earlier and gave wounded pride/noses. He looks about ready to get his throat slit when Tyrion saunters in to save the day with some ‘my sister the queen could kick your butt/put your head on a spike’ talk and a slice of humble pie. Tyrion tells Jon the sad stories of the other recruits: one was abandoned at the age of 3, another sent to the wall for stealing cheese to feed his starving little sister Jon quickly changes his “But I’m better!” tune, coaching the other recruits in swordfighting. His Uncle Benji is going off beyond the wall as a ranger, and Tyrion is returning to King’s Landing, so Jon has to fend for himself now. (Sins of the Fathers moment 4: cheating and having a bastard is definitely a sin. Bad Ned.)
Before Tyrion leaves, he pees off the wall and does some good male bonding with the leaders at the Wall, including Lord Commander Mormont. They request that Tyrion use his influence with the Queen (doesn’t she hate him?) to bring more recruits for the Wall. Tyrion also reminisces with a Watchman about eating bear balls and pussy. Love you Dinklage!
King’s Landing: King Robert, Cersei & Jaime
Back at King’s Landing, Cersei is losing her shit, having heard that Bran is awake. She knows he hasn’t said anything, but worries it could come back to him. Jaime, as always, tells her to relax: he’ll “outfox” the ten year old, and fight King Robert if he has to, and memorialize the twins in “The Ballad of Cersei’s cunt.” Wow, that’s a very unbrotherly, unloverly, and unbabydaddedly thing to say, so I’m glad Cersei WHAPS him in the face. He then soothes her with some talk about he’s going to kill everyone else in the world til they’re the only ones left. Hot?
Remember how Mark Addy is fat and adorable? Um, he’s still fat, but now he’s scary. He’s chilling in the throne room giggling happily about all of the people, including young boys, he’s killed in battle. I think he does a little projection here, when talking about the coulda woulda’s of the boy he killed’s life: “His wife would be making him miserable, his children would be ingrates, he’d be waking up three times a night to piss in a bowl.” (Sins of the Fathers moment 5: Joffrey is clearly a dick, but he could probably benefit from some parenting from his fake dad, especially since he appears to be the least evil adult around.)
I’m going to take this fictional-celebration-of-death moment to comment on how creeped out I am about all the Osama death celebration. Yes, he was evil, yes, it’s good that he’s gone, but I’m not going to do a little dance about. He killed lots of innocent people, but so did the U.S. in the quest to get him. Okay, dismounting soapbox…
The Dothraki Plains!! Daenerys, the Drogo, and Viserys
Ah, the open plains! We return to Daenerys, dressed like Gabrielle from Xena, on the constant move with her Dothraki ‘horde.’ She’s just starting to realize her power of them: when she says “stop,” they literally all, the thousands of them, stop and wait for her. She takes this stoppage opportunity to kind of aimlessly wander into the forest, I guess to just be alone. Her brother Viserys follows, and he PISSED that she gave an order to the horde – and thus to him! She’s nothing but a lady and he’s the king of the Seven kingdoms! (I’m just a girl in the world..) He comes at her, but a Dothraki horseman comes out of the woodwork and lashes his whip around Viserys’ neck. Damn, are all Dothraki hot? Or is this just my ‘ambiguously brown’ fetish shining through? Daenerys tells the Dothraki to let Viserys go, she he does, cause She’s The Boss. The two Dothraki present kind of glance at each other in incomprehension that Daenerys wouldn’t want to kill him. I’m with you, guys. (Sins of the Fathers moment 6: if Aerys hadn’t gone all crazy and tried to burn everyone, Viserys probably wouldn’t be such an asshole and Daenerys wouldn’t be getting rammed by a savage.)
In the next scene, Daenerys randomly gets her boob groped by one of her servants.
REPORT ABUSE! REPORT ABUUUSE!
The servant promptly reports that Daenerys is, as we say, with child, with a blessing from the Great Stallion. Everyone is very pleased and we get to see sexy naked cuddling.
Wait, did they fall in love from that one boning?
A note on religion, which will play an increasing role as the series goes on: we’ve already been exposed to three religions that I remember: the Northern, ancient ‘spirit of the trees’ religion the Starks (minus Catelyn) follow; this is represented by the big Pocahontasy tree Ned sits under in the first episode. In the second episode, when Catelyn prays for Bran’s health, she prays to ‘the mother,’ who is one of a series of idols worshipped by the southerners. Finally, there are the dothraks, with their ‘Stallion’ god.
I’ve heard a lot of criticism about the Dothraki portrayal being racist, since they are basically a bunch of ambiguously brown oversexed violent tribal people, a la 17th-century (and much more recently unfortunately) perceptions of pretty much every non white race. There’s also been criticism of the inconsistency of the accents.
I, for one, find the whole Dothraki melting pot to be true to their description in the book: the Dothraki are a conquering tribe, which means the basically travel all over the place killing people, taking slaves, and assimilating others to their tribe. If the Dothraki are a mix of people from wherever, who spoke whatever languages before, the inconsistency makes sense – and can be blamed on Khal Drogo for being an awesome baller and never losing a battle.
That’s all, folks. Pweez comment below!