Hi there. Still here, still writing about “Game of Thrones,” and will be for the rest of the season, so if you dislike my tone or the fact that I might complain about the specific portrayals of rape on screen, you might as well find another recapper to bother. Here’s the thing: I accept the fact that rape exists in Westeros, just as it exists in the world we live in (but, for the record, Westeros Time never existed. There are DRAGONS and SNOW ZOMBIES. It’s not real.) I accept rape as a part of a complicated, dark human nature that the show creators and GRRM choose to depict. My specific issue is with how the creators of this television show, who live in this world, in 2014, chose to represent it onscreen. I do not think it was necessary for storytelling or character purposes to have repeated graphic and violent depictions of rape, most particularly those in the scene in Craster’s Keep. If that makes me a Puritan, well then slap a bonnet on me and call me Goodie Walsh. I (and others!) also think the writers of the show really, really missed the mark with Jaime’s trajectory, and did not fit that particular rape into his storyline well at all. On a pure storytelling level, they really whiffed that one—it seems random, which an act like that definitely should not seem. My one question for you all is: is defending TV rape in the comments section really the fight you want to put your energy into? If so, that’s sad.
This week is a much more staid, exposition-y affair (well, staid by ‘GOT’ standards). There is some sweet vengeance on the part of some of our most victimized members, but for the most part, there’s a lot of setting the stage, elucidating and illuminating some past or unclear events, and inching things forward, with of course a couple of offed characters because this is “Game of Thrones” and that’s how they do (by the way, here’s a game to play with your ‘GOT’ watch party if you like to account for those sorts of things).
Sweetie boy and kitten lover Tommen, the First of His Name (Dean-Charles Chapman) is crowned King! Oh happy, somber day. While he makes googly eyes at his girlfriend/babysitter Margaery (Natalie Dormer), dragon Mom Cersei (Lena Headey) intercepts the two and makes a beeline for the temptress of her sons. As the two gaze on Tommen, they have a frank discussion about Joffrey, with Cersei acknowledging that Joffrey would have been Margaery’s nightmare, and that she herself was blinded by her mother’s love for him in spite of his shocking actions. It seems that Cersei has calmed down and accepted that she might as well delegate some of the Tommen-wrangling duties to Margaery, since Tommen doesn’t need that much wrangling anyway. Though Margaery plays coy, she basically accepts Cersei’s proposal to marry Tommen, and re-become queen. Also, Cersei has to marry Loras, which is going to make this whole situation so, so weird and incest-y (as Marg points out).
Cersei even negotiates the timing with Tywin (Charles Dance) to ensure it takes place after the appropriate mourning period (a fortnight). She’ll marry Loras a fortnight after that. Tywin then gives her a very boring and Dad-like lecture about fiscal responsibility and the Tyrells and the Iron Bank of Braavos. They are deep in the hole to the IBB, and although Cersei thinks they should just talk to someone “who works there,” (LOL) Tywin explains that the IBB is sort of like the IMF, and is an unmoving institution. WE GOT IT, DAD, DEBT IS BAD. Interestingly, Tywin also suggests that he is on the side of a fair trial for Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), whatever that may be. He’s not entirely Team Cersei it seems.
Next on Cersei’s Friend-Making Tour, Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal)! They stroll the gardens and talk of their daughters (he has eight). Cersei is super cynical about the “power” or lack of she has in her life, especially when it comes to her kids. As Oberyn promises the safe-keeping of her daughter Myrcella, Cersei very tellingly states, “everywhere in the world they hurt little girls.” Sad, and true. As they look over the water, Cersei asks him to take Myrcella a present—a tall ship sitting in the harbor. Is this for Myrcella to make an escape? Start a revolt? Take an afternoon sail? It’s a poignant and humane moment for Cersei.
Across the Narrow Sea
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is holed up in a random tower with her coterie of men. At least she changed her dress! Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) informs her of Joffrey’s death, while Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) informs her that he has taken the Meereenese navy of 93 ships just for kicks. While Dany is miffed he acted without her orders, she nevertheless contemplates a raid on King’s Landing with her army and newfound navy. You can tell she likes the idea of glory. However, Jorah informs her that Yunkai and Astapor are back to their enslaving, corrupting, power-hungry ways, and Khaleesi knows she will never be respected, and empowered, without ruling justly and firmly. Westeros will wait.
Littlefinger/Lord Baelish/Mayor Carcetti (Aiden Gillen) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) make their way through an the oppressive and terrifying canyon to the Bloody Gate of Eyrie, guarded on all sides by archers at the ready. Once they pass through the Bloody Gate, things don’t get any less terrifying or oppressive, not with auntie Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie) to welcome them! You may remember Lysa as Catelyn’s sister who frequently breastfed her way-too-old son Robin (Lino Facioli), a sadistic little simpleton who likes to make people “fly” through his “moon door.” Where on earth are the “Game of Thrones” casting directors finding these creepy little children?
Lysa is eager to marry Baelish right away, because, and there’s no other way to put this, she is horny as fuck. While smooching on Baelish, she reminds him that she herself poisoned her husband John Arryn, at Littlefinger’s behest. (Remember John Arryn, the Hand of the King in Season 1? Ned Stark went to King’s Landing to replace him, and discovered that Cersei’s kids didn’t belong to Robert Baratheon but to Jaime, and Ned suspected the Lannisters of poisoning him to keep that secret.) Baelish makes out with her to shut her up, and oh look, she’s got wedding officiants right here. She warns them all she’s going to scream during their wedding night and she does, which poor Sansa has to listen to. Damn those thin-walled castles.
The next night, Lysa brings Sansa a plate of sweets and shames her for snacking in the form of a story about her mother getting fat but also needing to “remain desirable.” God, it’s like, if you aren’t getting raped, you’re having to diet. Westeros sucks for women! Of course this turns into Lysa questioning Sansa about Littlefinger’s good treatment and affection for her, indicating that Littlefinger’s long standing love for Catelyn would have something to do with his treatment of Sansa. She accuses her of sleeping with Littlefinger, and Sansa gives an admirable performance of crying and denying, enough so that Lysa believes her, comforts her and promises her to be married to little Robin. Blech, there is so much little boy marrying in this show. Ick ick ick.
Arya (Maisie Williams) is keeping the Hound (Rory McCann) up with her incessant recitation of all the people she has to kill (notice Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr have made the list). She’s even got her traveling companion and his brother on the list (though it seems the Hound wants to kill his brother, the Mountain, too). In the morning, Arya is practicing her water dancing sword fighting training, taught to her by Syrio Forel, The Greatest Swordsman in the World. It’s understood that Syrio Forel was killed in Season 1 by Meryn Trant et al., when they came for Arya. The Hound wants to see her moves, and demonstrates to her that fighting dirty, armor, and a “big fucking sword” can sometimes be more powerful than fancy footwork.
Outside King’s Landing
Our favorite new show, the Pod n’ Brienne show, is going great! In this week’s episode, Pod (Daniel Porter) can’t ride a horse OR cook a rabbit. What a city slicker! Eventually, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) comes to respect him when he tells her he killed a King’s Guard by putting a spear in the back of his head. Yo, Brienne, you got messed up standards for your friends, tho.
Over at Craster’s Keep, the crazy, violent, abuse-y, rape-y party is over, cause the Night’s Watch are about to pounce. Locke (Noah Taylor) is hilariously sneaking around the grounds, doing a lot of head-swiveling, scoping out the joint. He clocks Bran (Isaac Hempsted-Wright) and pals in a shed, and when he goes back to relay his recon to Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and the rest of the Night’s Watch on Craster’s Keep raiding duty, he mentions they should avoid the hut where they have “hounds chained up inside” and promises they will carve up those bad guys “like walnut pie.” Meanwhile, in the hut, Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is having visions of the magic tree and telling Bran he has to make it to the tree, that it’s his responsibility. Also his hand is randomly on fire.
Creepface Karl (Burn Gorman) shows up to torment and threaten assault to Meera (Ellie Kendrick). He is totally gross. Jojen distracts him by being like “woo I’m psychic I see you dying tonight!” and it actually works, especially when the Night’s Watch storms the Keep. Good timing! Also, Jojen’s psychic vision is such a relief for us viewers right now.
Snow and the boys show up and slash a bunch of terrible mutineers. Meanwhile, Locke sneaks off to kidnap Bran. Quickly, Bran wargs into Hodor (Kristian Nairn), who rips loose of his chains with HULK POWER, follows Locke into the woods, and straight up liberates Locke’s neck from his head with his bare hands, while possessed by Bran. However, it’s clear he’s pretty freaked out by the blood on his hands. While Bran watches Snow kicking ass and taking names in battle, he crawls to reach him, but Jojen reminds him that reuniting with Jon will only take him off the path towards the magic tree and the three-eyed raven. Bran sadly agrees and says they need to get Summer and peace out.
Jon faces off with Karl in the hut, one broadsword vs. two knives. Karl’s taunting him about how Jon fights with honor, a nobleman, and that’s not his style. Karl’s fighting dirty, just like the Hound fighting dirty with Arya, but he doesn’t anticipate the knife in the back he receives from one of the Craster women. Before he can retaliate, Jon drives his sword straight through the back of his head and and through his mouth in a delightfully phallic and violating way. If only our gal had been able have the pleasure of doing that to Karl. As the Night’s Watch count the dead, Rast (Luke Barnes), who’s run off into the woods, gets ripped by what can only be dire wolf, Ghost, in the ultimate vengeance to his torturer. Ghost quickly reunites with his owner, Jon. Snow invites the remaining women of Craster’s Keep to the Wall to escape Mance Rayder’s army, but the ladies are like, “Umm, NUH UH, y’all homeboys did us wrong, burn this place to the ground, and we OUT.” Who can blame them really. They’ve had enough of men for awhile. Can’t wait to see what their badass all-women camp turns into.
In following with the “Game of Thrones” ebb and flow of dramatic episodes vs. story building episodes, this one decidedly resides in the latter camp, though what happens at Craster’s Keep is much more violent and action-packed than the rest of the episode. There are many deaths among the Night’s Watch and mutineers, but they are throwaways, really, and treated as such, with the exception of Locke. “First of His Name” was also directed by Michelle McLaren, and while a strong episode considering the context, it’s not entirely compelling, and much of the fight scenes were dim and confusing. And, as the series diverges more and more from the books, it’s really wide open as to where it will go in the latter half of the season.