GAME OF THRONES Recap: Back on Track

This is a recap of what happened on Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 5 (First of His Name). So, you know, there are MANY spoilers. DUH.

Good news, everyone! After last week’s lackluster and infuriatingly (seemingly) plot-altering episode, Game of Thrones is back on track this week with all the things you love but thought they’d forgotten — intense and dirty swordfights, woo-woo magic, and a healthy dose of “bitches be crazy.” And they didn’t even jack up the storyline like I thought they would.

King’s Landing: All hail and rejoice, as Tommen is crowned king, the first of his name. A polite and smiley fellow, our favorite feline-lover only has eyes for his betrothed Margaery — that is, until Cersei physically interposes herself in their line of eye-fire. We eagerly anticipate the explosion as the two begin to converse — but to no avail. Cersei is all sweetness and light, sympathizing with widow Margaery, conspiring that their dual unions to Tommen and Ser Loras proceed apace, not even losing it when Margaery calls her both sister and mother! She even tells Tywin she’s happy to marry Loras for the Tyrells’ money, when he reveals the Lannister gold mines are kaput. Hell, she even seems interested in Oberyn’s poetry and sheds a tear for her dear daughter Myrcella, who is a guest of the Dornish prince (and who you probably forget existed). Is Cersei playing the long con with the Tyrells and Martells, or is this for real? Between making Cersei a rape victim (not how it happened in the book) and having her say all these things, I can’t help thinking HBO is back to trying to make Cersei a more sympathetic character, something they subtly started doing way back in Season One with her telling non-canon background stories. I don’t think it’s any big spoiler to tell you book Cersei pretty much has no redeeming qualities, except maybe that she loves her kids. So I’ll be interested to see where she’s going with this good girl act.

Meereen: Dany’s council convenes with the happy news that a) Joffrey is dead, and b) Daario and the Second Sons have captured the Meereenese navy, just for shits and giggles, so Dany now theoretically has enough ships to carry her army to Westeros. But bad news abounds: the last two cities she freed, Yunkai and Astapor, are in shambles, the former having been taken over by the Wise Masters who re-enslaved the people, and the latter having its learned ruling council overthrown a butcher named Cleon. Dany weighs her options with Jorah’s advice — her army could probably take beleaguered King’s Landing, but not all of Westeros. And, as she reasons, how could she rule the Seven Kingdoms if she can’t even handle three cities in Slaver’s Bay? She decides to stay put in Meereen and “do what queens do” — rule. A short scene, but be prepared for it to start a new chapter in Dany’s story as she settles in and tries to be a queen and create peace in Slaver’s Bay.

On the Road: Arya recites her own personal Death List Five for the Hound, not failing to point out that he’s on it. She even gives him a pretty sweet exhibition of her Water Dancer skills, and he’d be toast if it wasn’t for a pesky little thing called armor. Elsewhere on the road, Brienne can’t quite conceal her impatience with the Most Useless Squire Ever, Podrick Payne. Dude can barely ride a horse and can’t cook rabbit, but he did, you know, kill a Kingsguard once, so Brienne takes pity and decides to let him continue as her squire. I like the pairing of these two, and I think they may give Arya and the Hound a run for their money for Best Meandering Side Story.

Stick him with the pointy end.

The Eyrie: Petyr and Sansa are inexplicably approaching the Bloody Gate of the Eyrie on foot, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. What happened to the ship? Surely Petyr at least has some luggage? Petyr presents himself and his “niece Alayne” to the guards, and is presented to the favorite characters you didn’t even know you missed — Sansa’s aunt Lysa (Tully) Arryn and her son Robin. Aunt Lysa couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her dear niece Sansa, who is masquerading as Petyr’s niece Alayne Stone for her safety, since she’s wanted in connection with Joff’s murder. Sansa, who must be so happy to be safe at last, is led away by Robin so Lysa and Petyr can have some time alone…and that’s when the shit hits the fan. Yes, for anyone missing their weekly dose of cray-cray now that Cersei’s behaving, I give you Lysa Arryn. Lysa is hot to trot and ready to jump Petyr’s bones right then. After all, they’re practically man and wife already. There was that one time, at band camp…and adult Lysa has already proven her worth as wife material by, oh (spoiler alert) POISIONING HER HUSBAND JON ARRYN AND WRITING CATLEYN TO TELL HER THE LANNISTERS DID IT — JUST LIKE PETYR ASKED HER TO DO!! Oh shit! What, oh what, has our Littlefinger been up to all these years?? Fomenting a massive war that’s killed Ned Stark and 4 kings to date for…what purpose? No time to find out, because did I mention Lysa is hot to trot and ready to marry Petyr NOW; forget informing the Lords of the Vale, forget even letting Petyr shower and change, she just happens to have the septon waiting outside, and proceeds to inform everyone how much she’s going to scream that night when they’re doing it. Watch out, Westeros: Lysa is coming! And she’s a screamer!

“Do I really have to stick her with the pointy end?”

But the fun doesn’t stop there. We next see Lysa having happy family time with Sansa, telling fun stories of her mother’s childhood and encouraging Sansa’s love of lemon cakes. Those lemons are hard to get, but Petyr brought them in because he knows Sansa like them, and he feels responsible for Sansa, and why is he so interested in Sansa because he has so many whores and he does stuff to them and did he do stuff to you and what are you doing with him ’cause his mine, bitch??!! That’s right, if you had any doubt that Lysa went off the deep end long ago, doubt no longer. Lysa finally accepts Sansa’s repeated protestations that she is a virgin and Petyr never did anything to her, and Petyr only loves you, Aunt Lysa!! Poor Sansa. At least she’s finally starting to learn a little of the wisdom of the serpent. Again, this epsidoe opens a whole new chapter for a main character, with Sansa settling in to life in the Eyrie with a fake identity and betrothal to sickly Sweetrobin. (Too bad she didn’t appreciate Tyrion while she had the chance!)

Craster’s Keep: Last but not least, we head north of the Wall to undo the damage done last week. First we get a nice dose of magic, with Jojen’s abilities as a greenseer showing that their journey has not ended, and there’s a weirwood tree with Bran’s name on it waiting for him farther north. Then lo and behold, just as the evil dudes are about to do bad things to Meera, Jon and his team attack the keep. We finally learn Locke’s ulterior motive to capture Bran Stark, but in the end it doesn’t matter because HODOR. Bran wargs his way into Hodor’s body, and good-bye Locke! Bran sees Jon fighting, but Jojen talks him out of reuniting since Jon would never consent to Bran going north, so the gang frees Summer and walks away. And millions of book readers breathed a collective sigh of relief, since Jon’s not even supposed to know his brothers are alive, let alone see one of them! Things end satisfyingly with a good old-fashioned serious swordfight that ends in a most satisfying and gory way. I literally cheered and made touchdown arms when Jon’s sword came out of Karl’s mouth. This is my HBO!

So that’s it — lots of revelations and changes is this week. I did also want to address the possible accidental spoiler from last week (non-book readers may want to skip this part). We know that the showrunners know from GRRM how the series ends, and many astute viewers pointed out that the White Walker in the last episode was listed as the “Night’s King” before being hastily renamed as a plain old “White Walker.” But the word was out. Did HBO accidentally tell us that this being is actually a thousands-year-old human who was Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch before he took a cold-as-ice-white bride and led the Watch into evil sorcery? Maybe. But even if they did, I don’t think it’s THAT big of a deal. So what if this creature is the Night’s King? It doesn’t change any part of the story in the existing five books, as far as I can tell. The WWs are coming, and bringing winter with them, whether their leader is the NK or not. No need to get your panties in a wad.

So what do you think? Are you happy the storyline is back on track? Who’s your favorite pair of traveling buddies? Did the Karl/Jon fight make up for the lack of skin shown this week? Let us know in the comments.

Boob Count: 0 (better luck next time)

Death Toll: 11 bygone Brothers; also the last shreds of Lysa Arryn’s dignity

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