by Grace Crawford

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All Game of Thrones images courtesy of HBO.

4×05: “First of His Name”

So when I was first watching this episode, I thought it was about resignation. Then I thought it was about the decisions that people make. And then I figured, maybe it’s not anything that complicated. Maybe it’s just some really good action setting the stage for the events of the rest of the season. And that’s the theory I’m gonna go with when I break it down for you.

Daenerys receives word that her cities, the ones she freed from slavery, are back under the thumbs of slavers. This causes a crisis of confidence, because how can the people of Westeros trust her to be their queen when she can’t even hold onto Slavers’ Bay? So Dany decides to stay in the Bay and rule as queen there. And I think that’s pretty big of her, given how much she’s lost in the course of her young life. She’s placing the needs of her people above her own needs, and that’s one of the qualities that’ll make her an awesome queen of the Seven Kingdoms, assuming she ever gets that far.

In King’s Landing, Tommen has just been crowned king. He and Margaery are flirting from afar at the coronation when Cersei totally gets wise to it, because of course she does. But instead of flipping her sh*t as she always does, she caves and tells Margaery that she and Tommen will be married as soon as humanly possible. She then goes to Lord Tywin and tells him that she’ll marry Loras Tyrell, also as soon as humanly possible. So the question here is: what does Cersei have up her sleeve?

But let’s continue with what she’s up to. See, she also goes to Prince Oberyn and has a talk with him, which mostly deals with the fact that A) Cersei misses her daughter Myrcella and wants to send her a nameday present because she’s a caring mother, B) that people with power should be able to use it to protect the people they love, and C) when they can’t, they can avenge those they lost. To me, all that means one thing: Cersei’s gonna fix the hell out of Tyrion’s murder trial. But we already knew that.

"I can't believe it took her that long. Off with her head."

“I can’t believe it took her that long to figure it out. Off with her head.”

Yes, Cersei knows that her son Joffrey was a horrible monster of a person. Yes, she knows that Tommen is by far the better choice for the Iron Throne. But that doesn’t mean she’s not gonna avenge the crap out of Joffrey, because she said it herself: no matter how awful he was, Joffrey was her firstborn son and quite possibly the one thing she loved most in all the world. And now that she’s fixated on Tyrion as the murderer, she’s going to do everything in her power to sway the judges in her favour, whether that’s promising her father that she’ll make an advantageous marriage or connecting with Oberyn on a personal level to make him understand how great a loss she suffered. Dang, she’s conniving.

Now Sansa, who was essentially the mule for the poison that killed Joffrey, has made her way to the Vale with Petyr Baelish. He and Lysa have a quickie wedding because Lysa hasn’t gotten any in who knows how long, which is skimmed over a little bit but you guys Petyr Baelish is now Lord of the Vale you guys, so don’t forget that. Also, it turns out the two of them connived to kill Jon Arryn, and through a long chain of events they’re totally responsible for everything awful that ever happened to the Starks. So that’s a bit of a mind-blower, and I definitely don’t remember that from the books.


I also don’t remember the two of them making out quite this extensively. I threw up a little in my mouth.

Oh, and remember how Lysa’s totally crazy? Yeah, first she sweetens Sansa up with lemon sweets and stories about her mother. That quickly transitions into Lysa accusing Sansa of being a huge slut and being pregnant with Petyr’s baby because she’s exactly like her mother, because crazy people logic, that’s why. Sansa breaks down into tears and says she’s way too stupid to do anything with Petyr, so Lysa’s all reassured by that and turns into the caring aunt again.

But now we’re seeing that Sansa is getting the hang of how to lie to people. By coming right out and saying that she’s too stupid to lie, she completely gets away with it. Oh, I’m not saying she’s having sex with Petyr, because gross, but Sansa found herself in a near-impossible situation with a legitimately insane lady and managed to get herself out of it. That takes a fair amount of skill. I’m starting to get interested in Sansa’s story arc now, ’cause she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with simply because people underestimate her. And also she’s stopped weeping all over the place like a leaky faucet, which is great.

Now we're busy looking brooding and mysterious instead.

Now we’re busy looking brooding and mysterious instead.

Up in the north, Jon attacks Craster’s Keep with the rest of his Night’s Watch patrol. He kills that knife guy I don’t remember, frees the daughter-wives, gets Ghost back, and burns the Keep to the ground with all the bodies inside. Very exciting for him, but his presence there isn’t what’s important. What’s important is the choice that Bran’s forced to make when confronted with the half-brother he hasn’t seen in a long, long time.

In the books, Bran went on a lot about how he was “nearly a man grown,” even though he was all of like eleven. But the choices he made weren’t really consistent with a man grown, his actual age aside. Bran allowed himself to be a passive observer a lot of the time, at least until he started delving further into his warg abilities. And in this episode, he stops just sitting around, waiting to be killed, and takes action. He dives into Hodor’s head, kills the man who’s trying to kidnap him (for some unknown reason; I hope they address that soon), and manages to save his friends.

And then he’s faced with the choice: Jon or the three-eyed raven? Does he choose the last remnant of home and a faint promise of safety, or does he choose the harder path into the wild north? To me, it’s this choice that shows his depth of character and how he’s growing. Bran veers away from the path of the Starks and sets a new course for himself. He takes control of his life, or at least as much as he possibly can, and at once — to me, anyway — Bran stops being the crippled boy and becomes a man.

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty great episode. It sets up a lot of things for the second half of the season without being boring, and it’s a vast improvement over last week’s slump. It’s not by any means the peak of the season, but it’s weighted with a lot of significance, a lot of character development, and a lot of promise.

Also, a lot of Lysa Arryn’s sex noises. Which nobody ever, ever needs to hear. Not ever. Seriously, I have to scrub out my ears with Lysol now.

Final Grade: B+

Final Thoughts:

  • I totally saw that skinny bearded Night’s Watch guy coming. Trustworthy people don’t just show up out of nowhere. And trustworthy people never show up in this show, period.
  • When Prince Oberyn was in the garden writing poetry, I totally thought he had a giant spider on his sleeve and freaked out. Then it turned out it was just an embroidered sun and I felt very silly. But you can never be too careful.
  • I forget who the third judge is in the trial. There’s Tywin Lannister, Prince Oberyn, and who else? Seriously, tell me, because I’ve forgotten.
  • Aww, Brienne! You do like Pod. You can’t hide it from me. Nobody can kill a Kingsguard without impressing you at least a little bit, even if he can’t ride a horse.
  • I really want Sansa to hurry up and dye her hair. I know she does, so I wish she’d hurry up and do it because for some reason I want to know what she’d look like as a brunette. I know, I know, there are political machinations and invading armies and all sorts of crazy shenanigans and the only thing I care about is Sansa’s hair. Don’t judge me.
  • So now the Hound knows that Arya plans to kill him. It’s pretty hard seeing him smack her down like that, but there’s an underlying thing there: a hint of what’s going to come with Arya’s future. (Spoilers: She’s not going to get a big sword, but she’ll do just fine with murdering people anyway.)
  • Poor Hodor, snapping back to himself and finding blood all over his hands. Poor, poor Hodor.
  • So the Lannisters are out of money, hmm? And everyone is all of the sudden indebted to the Iron Bank of Braavos? There’s only one thing this could mean: YOU GUYS MARK GATISS IS NEXT EPISODE. That is all.

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