Episode 3 ‘Lord Snow’ rewieval
Ned arrives at King’s Landing, and promptly receives a lesson in how Government really works: bread and circuses, dude. “The King shits, and the Hand wipes”, Jaime Lannister tells Ned, and it’s fairly clear that King Robert is enjoying the benefits of a high fiber diet. Ned shows up at his first official function, a meeting of the King’s Small Counsel – his Cabinet, of sorts. We’re introduced to Varys, King Robert’s spymaster; Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, Robert’s money guy; and Renly, one of Robert’s brothers. The group is planning a big tournament to celebrate Ned’s appointment as Hand; of course, they’re spending money they don’t have, and of course, the Lannisters are only too happy to loan the Crown more cash, because they really do want Robert to succeed and have no ulterior motives whatsoever. It’s just like Cersei says to Prince Joffery: “When you’re the king, you can do whatever you want and no one will have a problem with that.” Also, she hates being married to Robert, and she encourages the kid to go whoremongering when he’s old enough (14 being “old enough” in happy-go-lucky Westeros). Oh, and something about how everyone who isn’t a Lannister is their enemy. She’s like the best Cheerleader Mom ever. Yes, King’s Landing is a hotbed of sedition, all right. It’s a good thing King Robert isn’t just sitting around, getting drunk and reminiscing about the first guy he killed to anyone who’ll listen. Robert also seems to enjoy talking smack to the Lannisters – the same guys who are basically footing the bill for his reign, to the tune of some 6 million in gold. Robert the Wise he ain’t.
Also arriving at King’s Landing: Catelyn Stark, who is brilliantly disguised as “Catelyn Stark In A Schmata”. It takes all of two seconds for Lannister soldiers to recognize her and bring her to Littlefinger. Turns out Littlefinger runs a couple of whorehouses, and still has a thing for Catelyn. Littlefinger reveals that he knows who owned that pretty dagger that was used in the attempt on Bran’s life: it used to be Littlefinger’s, but he lost it in a bet to…Tyrion. Littlefinger does not reveal the origin of his nickname. I’m guessing it has something to do with his penis. Ned’s beginning to realize that he and his family are in some pretty shit; he sends Catelyn back to Winterfell, and hires a swordfighting trainer for Arya. Syrio Forel looks like he’ll be a great instructor, but he keeps using the word “boy” when he addresses her. I do not think it means what he thinks it means.
Meanwhile, up North, winter is coming, and this does not bode well for the men of the Night’s Watch. Understaffed, poorly trained, and ill-equipped, they don’t make a good first impression on Jon Snow, who promptly beats the shit out of his fellow recruits. They, being the good sports that they are, attempt to kill him. Luckily, Tyrion arrives, and with a few witty remarks, manages to teach everyone a lesson. Come to think of it, what exactly is Tyrion doing up at The Wall? Yes, of course he wants to take a 700-foot piss – that’s something that the Night’s Watch recruiters tout as a perk, along with the occasional meal of bear balls (“A bit chewy!”) which certainly makes one want to chance being killed by Wildlings, the cold, or zombies. Despite his snark, mostly aimed at Benjen Stark, who’s preparing to lead a mission beyond the Wall aimed at gathering intelligence about what’s out there butchering his men, Tyrion is on a fact-finding mission, and we get the sense that he’s not as dismissive of the White Walkers as he lets on. (A word here about Peter Dinklage’s performance; he’s excellent again. If his accent seems to be a bit forced, I think that’s intentional – playing the part of the foppish, tail-chasing “The Imp” suits Tyrion’s purposes nicely.)
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, the long ride to Vaes Dothrak – it’s somewhat easy to forget that the Dothraki, Daenerys, Viserys, and Jorah Mormont are actually going someplace – takes the gang through what appears to be a massive marijuana forest. Dany is quickly figuring out that being the Khaleesi has it’s perks; she can, for instance, order the help to bring her some tasty, tasty cooked dog instead of the usual horsemeat, and she can have her asshole brother killed if he touches her again. Tonight’s big news: Dany is pregnant, and everyone is excited and says that it is the work of The Great Stallion, who is the Dothraki god, or possibly Khal Drogo’s nickname, which is certainly better than Littlefinger.
So things are rotten in Westeros. And here’s where that slowly revealed backstory comes into play. We learned quite about about the throne that Robert usurped, from an effective source: Jaime. Mad King Aerys was, it seems, literally so: when Robert goads Jaime about stabbing Aerys in the back, he asks Jaime about Aerys’ last words. “The same thing he’d been saying for hours”, Jaime replies, clearly reliving some very bad memories. “Burn them all.” And when Ned goads Jaime for being an opportunist and a coward, doing nothing while Aerys executed his father and brother, Jaime points out that there were 500 other guys who also got to watch, and none of them dared raise a finger to stop it. Aerys was crazy, but he had a grip on Westeros. Robert? Not so much.