Delayed Reaction: Game of Thrones (1×10)

…Whooops! Because I am a jinx, real life drama got in my way AGAIN yesterday. Mea culpa, mea culpa!! So, nearly two weeks late, I present you:

THE GAAAAAME OF THROOOOOONES FINALEEEEEEE!

Last time on GoT: Ned Stark is a fool! Robb Stark is slightly less of a fool! Jon Snow is a broody fool! The Stark women wonder what their menfolk have gotten them into THIS time! Ser Jorah’s Westenros armor and the values of patrilineal royalty and proper serfdoms protected him from a Barbarian’s Scimitar/Scythe/Sword-of-Sibilance, but DAENERYS IS IN DANGER!

~dramatic strings~

The executioner’s sword is still sticky and dripping with Ned Stark’s blood as the noise buzzes back from Arya’s ear-ringing mindfog of shock. She sees him lift up her father’s head, and Sansa pass out, while the Knight of the Watch carries Arya off to a secluded location, repeatedly calling her “boy.” He seems gruff, but he’s actually doing her a tactical kindness by snapping her out of her stupor, and tactical kindnesses are the most highly valued kind when you are a Wardude of Honor.

“I’m not a boy!” Arya protests after a few minutes not getting it.

“You’re not a smart boy, is that what you’re trying to say? Do you want to live, boy?” He cuts off her hair, and says he’ll take Arya North, where presumably it will be safe.

Branflake Stark is dreaming again, of the three eyed raven, and walking, and archery. He follows it into his family crypt. The next morning, the White slave woman is carrying him and listening to his dream of portent, but she doesn’t want to go to the crypts, even in the day, and awake, and even though she doesn’t believe he really saw his father among the tombs– but Bran urges her on. “I’m the crippled boy and I’m willing to go,” he says. Bran outlines the entire family history of painful deaths in a guided corpse tour. One guy burned because TARGARYENS, and another woman was kidnapped because TARGARYENS. Consistent loyalty to one regime can have its price.

Suddenly, OOGA BOOGA DIRE WOLF UNCHAAAAINED! “Here, shaggy dog!” Aw, it’s just Rickon Stark, who has a name now! (I haven’t read the books and I’ve seen just under half of this season, okay? Geez, I know already, I’m on it.) This freaks everloving shit out of the white slave, who thinks the beast should be chained in the kennel, but youngling Stark had the same prophetic dream as second-younglingest Stark.

The slave tries to discount the importance of symbolic dreaming twice as fervently, but at that moment, an older courtsman with sad eyes has gotten the letter about Eddard, to tell the sad news to his sad, sad children. The music and SFX are just beautiful here, by the way.

Cut to Robb’s army encampment. Catelyn has likewise just received the news. To a chorus of “My Lady”s and solemn bowing from the armed men (one guy seems to make his horse bow, but the horse just started eating), she makes her way, composed and with her ever-present dignity, to a spot by herself just beyond the tree line– and needs a moment to fall apart privately so she can be the emotional and psychological anchor that Robb and his soldiers need her to be in front of them. Robb, meanwhile, is lashing out at a tree, slashing at it and fucking up his sword. This is both masculine and very young of him, and also, he’s fucking up his sword. It’s still appropriately emotional-yet-butch, but not as reserved as a seasoned warrior’s response “should” be to anguish– we’ll see if it comes up later or if everyone is that upset.

“I’ll kill them all. Every one of them. I’ll kill them all,” Robb chokes out in between sobs, the sun lighting up the lake below.

“My boy. They have your sisters. We have to get the girls back.” Catelyn rubs the back of her son’s head soothingly. “And then we will kill them all.”

NIIIIICE.

Cut to King’s Landing. A musician is playing a sort of rude and disrespectful song about King Rob’s death and Cersei’s badassedness/emasculating horribleness in bed (WHATEVER, her presence is a present, kiss her ass) for King Joffrey and now-Queen-Dowager Cersei. It’s very typical Medieval Ballad type lyrics– everyone is fat and drunk and oversexed, and probably engaging in bestiality. Sansa stands aside, not in the court proper, and still despondent and pale and red-eyed, but the air is tense besides that. The bard seems to have both broken into a cold sweat and maybe pooped himself, wondering how in all his possible nightmares he was plucked from a tavern to play musically themed political insults in front of Justin Bieber on a chair made of lethal weapons.

A low murmer ripples through the room, Joffrey slow-claps, and courtiers immediately follow suit, either hoping to climb socially or hoping not to have their heads cut off. Baby King makes a sneaky little mouse face and sweeps one hand back under his annoying asymmetrically draped cape (ONLY POWER GIRL CAN PULL THAT OFF, BB), and says, “Very amusing. …Tell me, do you favor your fingers or your tongue? …Or I could just cut your throat,” Joffrey adds quietly. Have I mentioned these child actors? These child actors, y’all.

“E-every man needs hands, your grace,” the musician stammers, starting to hyperventilate. While the bard begs, Joffrey has Sir Illin’ (Like A Villain) heat a blade over flames and cut the man’s tongue out in full view of everyone present. On the one hand, smart, because while I don’t think you can bleed out from a tongue injury, it does bleed an awful lot and is also one of the strongest muscles in the human body. And it also probably is the closest to clean any of these guys’ weapons ever get. Sterilization + cauterization + greater ease of effective injury = the best de-tongue-in’ money can buy. However, that guy’s teeth will probably never be the same after being all collateral-damaged by a red-hot knife. ALSO, OH MY GOD, HIS TONGUE IS ABOUT TO BE CUT OUT.

Joffrey is unfazed. “I’m done for the day,” he declares, sounding bored, and handing his crown off to the Hound. “I’ll leave the rest of the matters to you, mother.” Cersei gives him a calculating look full of barely concealed resentment, and is unsure of what move to make against her too-big-for-his-britches son– yet.

He cheerily strolls directly up to Sansa. “You look quite nice.” At first I thought Joffrey was just being an ass, but what if he means it? He likes that broken, weeping, nothing-to-lose, trapped look. Joffrey is maybe 12 years old. That is a squick that punches you in the chest, right there. I may or may not have actually shuddered.

Sansa, who appears to be thinking, “This motherfucker,” simply responds, “Thank you, My Lord.”

“Your Grace,” Joffrey corrects. “I’m king now.” Sansa attempts to disguise an eye roll of revulsion by shifting partway through to look elswhere, but instead sees the still-wailing and -struggling bard, and has to gulp air so she doesn’t vomit. “Walk with me, I want to show you something.” The musician’s screaming is cut off with a sharp yelp and a horrible gurgle.

Sansa seems only dimly aware of her surroundings beyond being mired in the suffering of herself and others, but the Hound says, “Do as you’re bid, child,” with a look of genuine concern. Maybe Baelish was just being a creepy uncle and the Hound can school Sansa in the ways of burny, bloody revenge. I hope so. I really, really, hope so, because while Cersei and Jaime are horrible Lannisters in a way where I can objectively like them as well-executed characters, I just want the character of Joffrey executed well.

Did you see what I did there? Ha-ha, ho-ho, it is to laugh. They all exeunt to an exterior walkway, where the immediate jump is to Joffrey telling Sansa in a slightly too-deep voice for his little-boy face, “…and as soon as you’ve had your first blood, I’ll put a son in you. Mother says that shouldn’t be long.” 1. OH. MY. GOD. 2. Wait, how old is Sansa? 3. OH. MY. GOD. Hibbitiest of jibbities.

Sansa is not paying much attention to all of this creepfest because she’s depressed and traumatized, and also has never been raised to consider herself master of her own fate, beyond what she tried to do for her father by negotiating with her betrothed (which he turned back on). Life is looking understandably bleak. However, Joffrey has led Sansa to the catwalk to the external fortress walls, where all the head pikes are kept, and that is where she loses her cool, because her dad is up there.

The soldier attendant that isn’t the Hound grabs Sansa and makes her turn toward the heads, and Joffrey commands the sobbing teenager to look into her father’s dead, element-exposed face, while claiming he had been merciful by giving Ned a quick death, and since mother says Joffrey and Sansa are still to marry, she will stay here and obey.

…If one were to measure character development in moments, this would be the one where Sansa’s despair and anguish turn into rage, hatred, and anguish to be visited upon others, particularly the boy she has just realized is vile and powerful, yes, but is also weak.

It’s pretty fucking great.

“Well?” says Joffrey, expecting a show of horror and emotional damage for his efforts.

“How long do I have to look?” Sansa asks as calmly as she can.

Bullies don’t like that shit, and Joffrey’s face falls. “As long as it pleases me.” He blinks rapidly, trying to adjust his intimidation scheme, not quite at the point where he needs to measure Sansa up. (This is also why Cersei is having an issue, because apparently she just makes all that manipulation look too easy, so Joffrey thinks it ain’t no thang and he’s all of that and a bag of Stark heads.) “Do you want to see the rest?”

Even more in control of her voice, Sansa takes on a dry tone. “If it please Your Grace.”

Sansa’s nurse (Joffrey calls her a “Septa,” like the Septons, but being that’s she’s now a head on a pike, her title is also a really cruel joke,) has been beheaded, and without comment, Sansa’s eyes slide over to look at her protector’s remains. Sansa’s face promises gruesome revenge. These Stark ladies, man.

“I tell you what. I’m going to give you a present.” Sansa manages to look uninterested in what Joffrey is saying, keeping her eyes focused on her dead loved ones. “After I’ve raised my armies and killed your traitor brother, I’m going to give you his head as well.”

“Or maybe he’ll give me yours,” Sansa immediately snaps back without moving or even looking at Joffrey. He takes a step to her, and then she turns and glares at him full-on. He adjusts his shit momentarily, then orders Sir Whatsit to slap Sansa for him on the grounds that kings don’t strike their ladies. I think it’s because Sansa’s bigger than him, and probably wants him dead more than he wants to live. Thinking the whole thing is done with, Joffrey turns his back.

Just as Sansa realizes how high up they actually are.

She approaches Joffrey’s tiny blond weasel body, but the Hound catches her by the shoulder just as the Annoyingest (but still better-liked than Tyrion) Lannister turns around at her footsteps. He wipes her bloody chin off and gives her a handkerchief, which I sincerely hope has a hidden message tucked inside it, and Joffrey asks Sansa, “Will you obey now? Or do you need another lesson?” She ignores him and examines a thumb she smeared on the corner of her busted lip as if it is far more fascinating than his burst skull 20 feet below would have been.

Joffrey swishes off like the brat he is, but the Hound hangs behind. “Save yourself some pain, girl. Give him what he wants.” Sansa tries to hand back the cloth. “You’ll be needing that again.”

Robb’s men (who include women! How unexpected) argue about what to do now that Lord Eddard, to whom they owe their loyalty, has died. There are suggestions of King Rob’s brothers, but also arguments about age-based succession rules, and Honorable Loyalist Warriors are nothing without Tradition. Robb is declared the King of the North by all his followers– none will bend a knee to Renly or Stannis Baratheon, and definitely not to Joffrey, in his red castle with his iron chair (may a cat eat him and the devil eat that cat!). The dragons are dead, the Old Gods are wrong, and the soldiers’ new king sits before them. They chant for Robb, “The King of the North! The King of the North!” Robb and Catelyn for their parts look very grim– it’s still a sober moment, though stirring.

That business settled, Catelyn heads to where Jaime Lannister is bound. He’s all, “Have ya ever had sex with a pharaoh? I put the pussy in a sarcophagus.” Catelyn can’t believe he would say King Rob doesn’t care about Black people, and expresses this with a rock to the braincase.

I’m joking, but not about the rock. The only way to get rid of temptation (TO SEE YOUR ENEMY’S BLOOD) is to give into it (BY SPLINTERING THEIR CRANIUMS). It also looks like Joffrey got his horrible horribleness from Jaime, but without his father’s gall or Cersei’s MASSIVE BOSSNESS to back it up. “Widowhood becomes you. Your bed must be lonely; is that why you came? I’m not at my best, but I think I can be of service. You slip out of that gown and we’ll see if I’m up to it.” POW! Straight to the kisser.

“You shut your whore mouth when men are talking,” the rock says.

Jaime spits blood, and continues goading Cate, saying he likes a violent woman. “I will kill you tonight, sir,” she says, her voice shaking with anger, “pack your head in a box, and send it to your sister.”

“I’ll show you how,” he retorts, trying to make her foolishly slip into murdering him quickly, without witnesses and without any gain on her part.

Catelyn wants Jaime to fear her, to fear death, to know what is coming for him and be unable to stop it, to look into oblivion and realize there is no escape from the singularity of her vengeance, but he is a Lannister, and would rather die by her hand now than be used against his and his family’s interests. “The dark is coming for all of us,” he says, “Why grab at it?”

She tells him he is going to the deepest of the seven hells if the Gods are just; and when Jaime mocks her (despite being bleeding and tied to a pole, sitting on the ground in the cold) and her just Gods, Catelyn sneers that the world is so full of injustice, “Because of men like you.”

“There are no men like me. Only me,” Jaime replies, turning away. Catelyn sees this as her moment to demand the information she came for: the details of how Bran came to “fall.” Jaime maneuvers quickly, “I pushed him out the window.” Why? “I hoped the fall would kill him.” Why? “…You should get some sleep, it’s going to be a long war.” Catelyn drops her bludgeoning rock, disappointed, but unwilling to kill Jaime when he’s still so useful (despite succumbing to the temptation to see him bleed earlier). Jaime looks longingly after her and/or the rock, either sympathizing with her care for her family, wishing she’d brained him, or pitying himself while trying to outmaneuver everybody and everything in his way.

Cersei is reading a letter in her bedchamber. A skinny young thing who I have been told is another Lannister son (also better-liked than Tyrion) is talking too much for Cersei’s liking, and talking foolishly about war to boot, but she just tells him to shut up and get back into bed. She won’t show him the letter. Cersei keeps it all in the family, and she double dips.

Tywin Lannister has also received a letter. “They have my son,” he says softly. The other high-ranking men of the Lannister army discuss varyingly futile tactics; Tyrion thinks the whole thing just a clusterfuck, and blames Joffrey for being an insufferable little shit. Tywin kicks everyone out of the room but Tyrion in his emotional distress. “THEY HAVE MY SON!” Tyrion is bracing himself for your standard-issue Lannister abuse and awkwardness, and finds himself surprised.

Tywin opens up with, “You were right about Eddard Stark. If he were alive, we could have used him to broker peace with Winterfell and River Run, which would have given us more time to deal with Robert’s brothers. But now? Madness, madness and stupidity. …I always thought you were a stunted fool. Perhaps I was wrong.”

Half-wrong.” Tyrion swirls the wine in his glass. “I’m new to strategy, but unless you want to be surrounded by three armies, it appears we can’t stay here.”

“No one will stay here.” They will split up, burn and salt all the enemy lands they encounter, dismiss the unwilling troops, regroup, and, oh, by the way, Tyrion will be sent to act as the new Hand in Tywin’s place. He will rule, and spy, and keep Joffrey’s little ass in check.

“Why not my uncle? Why not anyone? Why me?” Tyrion asks.

“You’re my son.” Tyrion has a moment, and it is beautiful and heartbreaking, because Ozai has given Zuko his honor back, until Tyrion ruins it. “And one more thing– you will not take that whore to court.” Awwww, daaaaaad! Dangiiiit.

Daenerys wakes up in the haunted tent. “Ser Jorah…”

“Gently, gently.”

Daenerys wants her son, and Jorah hesitates. “Where is he?” The baby didn’t make it, and Dae wants to know how he died, but the infant was stillborn. Besides which, the women have been talking, saying horrible things. Jorah can’t bring himself to repeat them without struggling to cloak the words, to try and shield the Khaleesi from pain. Mirri Maz Dur has no such qualms.

“Monstrous. Twisted. I pulled him out myself. He was scaled like a lizard. Blind, with leather wings, like the wings of a bat. When I touched him, his skin fell from his bones. Inside, he was full of graveworms.” Oh, it was a nightmare baby. No, it’s not like I had to sleep after this or anything, don’t mind me. Mirri Maz Dur WAAAAARNED YOUUUUUU. The fell spirits she summoned took the life-iest life in the devil tent, and that happened to be a Targaryen fetus. Dae wants to see Drogo, to see what she bought with her son’s life. Jorah, still trying to protect Daenerys, tries to keep her resting, but she is having none of it.

Outside, the Dothraki have moved on, because they follow only the strong, and a Khal who cannot ride is no Khal. The music is ominous, and the wide shots reveal a cliff. Sound effects of flies are piped in. Drogo lives, but seems brain dead– Daenerys asked for life, and paid for life. “This is not life. When will he be as he was?” Daenerys demands, realizing she woke up to a crumbled world and very ready to tear anyone in the way of recovering it to pieces.

“When the sun rises in the west, and sets in the east.” Daenerys turns to Mirri Maz Dur, realizing the sinister depths of the carefully orchestrated tragedy that has befallen her. “When the seas run dry, and the mountains blow in the wind like leaves.” She walks away, while two of the lower-ranking Dothraki and/or higher-ranking slaves, along with Jorah, watch Daenerys crouch by Drogo and put together the pieces of the evil worked upon her.

“…Leave us.” Jorah doesn’t want Daenerys left alone with Mirri, but Dae explains she has nothing left to fear. There is a meaningful glance towards the Khal, which I’m kind of disappointed by, because I would rather there be no insinuation that Daenerys has nothing to fear because of him being taken– however, despite her badass potential, Daenerys is still a woman in this series, and women have power through their husbands and their sons. Daenerys was never nothing, as she said in 1×09, but she is still no man, and without her men, there is nothing left to take.

Either way, woman to woman, Daenerys will cut Mirri Maz Dur into thousands of tiny pieces before Mirri will even conceptualize the power it would take her to injure Dae once over. See, Mirri doesn’t know what kind of show she’s in. Still, despite Jorah having watched the same show I have partially seen, Daenerys still has to tell him to go. I think I might have missed the part where Dae wasn’t a badass? Huh. As Daenerys approaches, Mirri Maz Dur pretends to be very chill. It doesn’t work as well as Sansa’s fake-boredom from earlier, but then, justified bloodlust combined with teenagerdom will do that.

“You knew what I was buying, and you knew the price.”

“It was wrong of them to burn my temple. It angered the Great Shepherd.”

“This was not God’s work!” I might venture a guess that this episode is a lot about making choices and taking responsibility for your actions and determining your own fate. Also, bullying. Daenerys says her son was innocent. Now your son WON’T be the stallion that mounts the world, or burn any cities, or trample nations into dust, yeah? Cool with Mirri. But! Daenerys saved you!!

Saved me? Three of those riders had already raped me before you ‘saved’ me, girl. I saw my God’s house burn. There, where I had healed men and women, beyond counting. In the streets I saw piles of heads. The head of a baker, who makes my bread. The head of a young boy, that I had cured of fever just three months past. So, tell me again exactly what it was that you saved?”

“Your life,” Daenerys seethes.

“Why don’t you take a look at your Khal? Then you will see what life is worth when the rest is gone.”

The shots for this scene are gorgeous, and the accompanying music dramatic. It’s grand and epic, but not in the way you’re probably thinking it is, and here’s why.

I am really upset by this scene, and how Mirri Maz Dur comes off. Not because she hasn’t done something cruel and spiteful, because she has; but because the politics of the character’s role in-story are so contradictory and twisted and bigoted. Mirri’s introduction was as a “saved” Poor Unfortunate from the villainies of rape in wartime, saved by the White Silver Lady rape-survivor from Westenros, who wanted to war for a just cause, but did not understand– and was therefore innocent of the ramifications of– what the costs were to prepare for and undergo battle. Mirri was “saved” from the genocide of the rest of her people and theft, destruction, or sacrilege of everything she had owned or held dear, by being enslaved by the queen of the conquerors, who’d taken a fancy to sympathizing with the people she was oppressing. I am disappointed that Mirri could have been the representative for Brown Folks With Science/Medicine and Women With Power Fully Their Own in the GoTverse, and took that opportunity to be the Bad Witch/possible poisoner of the Khal to begin with, but if it was me, I’d have destroyed everything I laid my hands on as well. I’d want them all to remember me.

For any other character in Game of Thrones, this would make them a badass, a la Catelyn and Sansa Stark’s pending plots against those who have wronged them. When it’s against the light-eyed pregnant darling of the show, it makes Mirri Maz Dur a traitorous villain, despite being just as wrongfully overthrown as any Targaryen. I would watch the shit out of a show about a shaman and the remnants of her people psychologically torturing and painfully murdering their slavemasters, because that is the stuff epic fantasy revenge plotlines are at their core, but only if the protagonist is appropriately non-swarthy and their accent is distinctly Germanic and/or British.

Back at the Wall, Jon has received word about Eddard. He is deserting his post– Samwell tries to talk Snow out of it, warns him of what awaits deserters, and then stands in his way. “They’ll put out the word! They’ll send out ravens! People will come after you! D’you know what they do to deserters?”

“Better than you do.” Is that all you took from your lecture on Lurve, Jon Snow? Shame on you. Not all Conversations of Import will be so easily thrown in everyone’s face, you know.

“…I won’t let you go!” NOT ALONE, MR. FRODO!! Jon Snow knocks Sam down with his horse like a Jerky McJerkerson O’Jerky, Ghost in his wake.

“And your father said you couldn’t take anyone with you to King’s Landing?” Shae is already packing for her trip as the Lady of the King’s Hand. Don’t trip, you know she’s coming with you, Tyrion.

“No, he said I couldn’t take you to King’s Landing. He was very specific on that point.”

“He knew my name?”

“…What?”

“He said, ‘Don’t bring Shae with you to King’s Landing.’”

“I believe he used the word ‘whore.’”

Shae has a snit. Are you ashamed of her? Do you think she’s running around court with her tits out? Her tits out like a clown?! She’s Shae the funny whore, apparently. Tyrion reminds her that his dad is a cunt, and psssssh, he’ll take her anyway. FEEEEEELINGS, remember? If you can’t beat ‘em, don’t address ‘em until you’re out of a war zone. Sex, however, is okay anytime you aren’t being shot at. Tyrion! Providing the best advice you can apply to your real life out of all the Game of Thrones characters. Aw. They are going to be my canon couple OTP in this fandom. It has been decided.

Jon Snow’s bros catch up with him in the woods after Samwell rounded them all up, and remind him of his oath, and his place at the wall.

“My place is with my brother!” Does… your brother know you, dude? I know Jon’s a bastard, but he displays some interesting concepts of family dynamic. No one seemed too keen on their place being with him.

We’re your brothers now.” Oaths being pretty important to these dudes (almost more important than half-siblings!), it’s considered a tense moment when Jon Snow doesn’t go back to the wall right away in the face of enormous peer pressure from able-bodied men with swords and fire.

Daenerys wipes Drogo down in a sponge bath, which is not sexy at all. She is begging for him to remember her, to remember them, to fight and come back to himself. Sad instrumentals well up, and Daenerys sobs, accepting the reality of her husband’s brain dead-ness, though that is, of course, relative in a series of worlds with little-to-no organized medical care or technology whatsoever. She smothers him with a pillow and weeps openly. Uh. Wasn’t this an arranged marriage with a lot of rape going on? And isn’t Drogo’s power base already gone? *wrist flick of dismissal* I might be done with this.

The maester (who was the one arguing against Sansa being allowed to remain in court and marry Joffrey on account of her TRAITOR’S WOMB) in a yellow robe is talking about how much he knows about kings, and serving them. He knows it all. He has been there. “Of all the maladies the gods visit on us, madness is the worst,” he says, speaking of Aeris Targaryen, and his dreams of dragons and fire and blood. He talks about one’s enemies at war and one’s enemies next to them regarding Robert Baratheon, and how he now serves Joffrey, and isn’t that funny? He senses true greatness on the horizon from Joffrey, TRUE greatness. The prostitute he has apprently just slept with with gives herself a hot-spot “whore bath,” dresses, and leaves. Old dude stretches, dresses, checks himself out in a mirror, and departs his quarters.

The bald eunuch chats up Uncle Creepy in the throne room by talking some amazing (and expository) back-and-forth shit about ambition and politics. Baelish, were he to gain control of the throne, would have all his enemies executed. Baldy would not bet against a man like Baelish, with great ambition and no morals, but claims to be one of the few men in the city that doesn’t want to be king.

“You must be one of the few men in this city that isn’t a man.

The eunuch tuts, “Oh, you can do better than that,” and turns away from the iron throne to walk back down the court. Baelish turns to accompany him.

“When they castrated you, did they take the pillar with the stones? I’ve always wondered.”

“Have you? Do you spend much time wondering about what’s between my legs?”

“I picture… a gash. Like a woman’s. Is that about right?”

“I am flattered, of course, to be pictured at all.”

“Must be strange for you, even after all these years. A man from another land, despised by most, feared by all.”

“Am I? That is good to know. Do you lie awake at night fearing my gash?”

Baelish secretly admires Bald Eunuch, you see, for his perseverence and will to survive, and skill for insinuating himself into positions near the king, changing loyalty with each new dynasty. The feeling is mutual: Baelish is upwardly mobile and an excellent networker, with friends of both genders in high places.

“Playing our roles,” Baelish says.

Their conversation is cut short by Joffrey’s entrance, and both of them are appropriately simpering and fawning and respectful to a child who could probably use a good punch in the face. SIGH.

The Knight of the Watch walks an alley with a newly short-haired Arya. “Ari, the orphan boy. Nobody asks an orphan too many questions. What’s your name?”

“Ari,” Arya says sullenly. It’s just hair, goodness gracious.

The Knight warns her that she’s going to be traveling a long road with a rough crowd all sentenced to serve at the Wall. Yeesh. Half the men and boys going would turn Arya in to Joffrey for a pardon, and the other half would do the same, but rape her first. “So keep t’ye’self, and when ye’ piss, do it in the woods, alone.” Good lord, I forsee the imminent Dramatic Menarche episode already. Having prepared her as best as he can, Arya’s Knight deliberately drops her off at the wrong sleepaway camp and disappears.

Smelling her anxiety, bullies instantly set upon Arya. They want to steal her sword. One claims to have kicked a boy to death, which seems plausible until he says how.

“I knocked ‘im down, an’ I kick ‘im inna balls, an’ I kept kickin’ ‘im, ’til ‘e was dead. I kicked ‘im all t’pieces.” NOT HOW THAT WORKS. Although, word to the wise, you can bleed out from a dick wound. Still, do kids actually talk like that? Because that is absurd, even beyond being an astoundingly misaimed threat.

Arya agrees, and is making a “Whaaaat?” face, because whaaaat? She is totally not scared now, because she can clearly take on anyone as stupid as these two kids. When Stompy lunges for the sword, Arya grabs him and pulls him closer as she unsheathes her pigsticker.

“You want it? I’ll give it to you. I’ve already killed one fat boy. I bet you’ve never killed anyone. I bet you’re a liar. But I’m not. I’m good at killing fat boys. I like killing fat boys.

Ari/Arya has backed this kid all the way up to another wagon, where he bumps into an even bigger guy, but this one is because he’s grown, not because of the weird ways in which puberty deforms us into caricatures of our adult selves. Haaaaaay, it’s King Rob’s bastard! Nice. He also can’t stand bullies, and makes the two boys run off.

“You know, I been hammering an anvil these past ten years. When I hit that steel it sings. You gonna sing when I hit you?”

He recognizes Arya’s sword as being castle steel, but also doesn’t care very much beyond curiosity. He’s being shipped off, despite being an armorer’s apprentice (AND SECRET HEIR TO THE THRONE, if bastards were so eligible) who got dumped for being such a sassmouth or something. He’ll probably be Arya’s/Ari’s backup. Not that she needs it, mind, but having backup that scares off “rapers,” pickpockets, and murderers will probably keep Arya from getting completely unhinged with having to stab everybody up in that wagon train to DOOM.

Jon Snow’s boss TOTALLY KNOWS about Jon Snow sneaking out last night. Busted!! He also reminds Jon Snow that his plan to avenge his father’s honor is totally stupid, because Ned is still dead, Jon is still a bastard, and the snow zombies are showing up in rapidly increasing numbers. Does it really matter who’s king in that world? NO IT DOES FUCKING NOT, JON SNOW. You ride out tomorrow against Wildings, White Walkers, and whatever else is out there! Are you a brother of the Knight’s Watch, or a bastard boy that wants to play at war? ARE YOU A MEXICAN, OR ARE YOU A MEXICAN’T?!

Dae, she and Drogo’s few loyal Dothraki, Jorah, and Daenerys’s slaves set up a funeral pyre for Drogo, by which I mean the loyal Dothraki and the slaves set up a funeral pyre for Drogo. Placing the dragon eggs around the Khal’s head and body, Daenerys prepares to lay herself across the flames with her husband. Ser Jorah says he won’t watch Daenerys burn, because he’s sworn to protect and obey her– but sell the eggs, live your life, live! Let him go, Khaleesi! Dae kisses him on the cheek. Her, burn. That’s cute.

She frees her slaves. “You will be my khalassar,” she says. “Take off your collars, go if you wish, no one will stop you. But if you stay, it will be as brothers and sisters, as husbands and wives.” At least half of them bounce mid-speech. Dude, the slaves have to wear collars? I’m out. Mirri Maz Dur, bound and kneeling in front of Daenerys, seems to get a kick out of this. Dae is less amused, and has Mirri tied to the pyre. NOT SO FUNNY NOW.

“I am Daenerys Stormborn, of house Targaryen, of the blood of old Valyria! I am the Dragon’s Daughter!” She swears vengeance on all who would or have harmed her or her khalassar, and promises that they will die screaming, and their screams will be heard by her loyal subjects. Mirri Maz Dur shouts from the background that they won’t hear her scream.

“I will,” Dae says flatly. “But it’s not your screams I want. Only your life.” Mirri Maz Dur was talking that mess exactly as long as it took her to set on fire. She knew it, too, and that’s why she started out the process singing prayers, but she overestimated her own strength. Everyone watching in real life cringes at the screaming, but everyone in-show seems surprisingly chill, despite the horrible, horrible, horrible smell of burning hair and flesh. No one vomits. Daenerys climbs into the middle of the fire and sits with her husband’s body.

Approaching the burnt-out frame of the pyre the next morning, Jorah walks past wakening Dothraki and Freedmen, who gather around him to see the strange sight before them. The Khaleesi sits, soot-smudged and naked but unharmed (even her hair), in a mound of ash, clutching in her arms a tiny dragon. Another climbs over her shoulder, and as she stands, a third wraps itself around her leg like a cat.

“Blood of my Blood,” Jorah says, bowing to his princess. The khalassar all bow, as the newly hatched dragonlings screech into the quickening dawn. The horses do not scare at this. Good horses.

Personally, I would have taken 1×09 as a finale, myself, but I love a good cliffhanger and ending a show on a high dramatic note. I know that when the season was written, Game of Thrones’s future was uncertain, so it’s better to tie up loose ends, but 1×10 took longer to grow on me as an ending episode than 1×09 did. I’ll probably end up watching the series beginning to ending as they’re replayed on HBO, since I only jumped in around episode 7, so heads-up, I definitely may have missed some things– though I am pretty excited for season 2, particularly Shae and Tyrion joining the gang up at King’s Landing.

Also, I would like to throw out there that arbitrary spellings are arbitrary, and the names of stuff in this show have been challenging. Extra vowels and ‘y’s all over the place! Gah!! Just needed to get that off my chest.

Thoughts?

Comments

  1. JubilantHierophant says

    Yaaaay recap :)

    Mirri Maz Dur… On the one hand, I thought it was a good counterbalance to Daenerys’ kind of simplistic approach to resolving the, er, problematic aspects of her newly adopted Dothraki culture – the idea that you can’t just magically Help The Brown Folks by making them your personal servants and ‘being nice’ to them.
    On the other… well, it’s like you said. While the scene/episode pinged, for me, as sympathetic towards Mirri (since the show’s been pretty heavyhanded with the “barbarian Dothraki” bit and the raping and pillaging), she’s not the protagonist, and so it’s hard not to give that whole business the side-eye. :[ As it stands, she gets to say her piece and have her moment – and then gets booted off-stage to make room for Daenerys’ dramatic rebirth.

    On another note entirely, this episode made me like Sansa a lot more than I did reading the books (though, uh, that was back in the 90s and smack in the middle of a long bout of internalized misogyny), and that scene between Baelish and Varys may be one of my new favorite things.

  2. Shaun says

    Since you mentioned it, and to get it out of my system, Ser Ilyn Payne is the executioner. Arya’s alias is Arry. Also, the blacksmith boy Arya encounters was in the series earlier. He’s one of Robert’s bastards who Ned met with to figure out the royal kids were Cersei’s bastards. Personally I think his master put two and two together and figured out Joffrey might have Robert’s bastards executed on a whim and sent him away for his own protection.

    As for Joffrey. Yes. Yes he is ENTIRELY as psychopathic and messed up about women as you think he is. If I remember right he has his guards strip Sansa naked and beat her randomly a couple of times, and having the guy’s tongue cut out is just the start of his brutality as a king. Regardless of age he’s pretty much exactly the kind of man/boy we talk about on here.

    As for Mirri Maz Duur… I get what you’re saying. I actually really liked the way she was presented because *I* found her sympathetic. I was expecting her to sound angry when she read those lines–that’s how I pictured it when I read the books. I’m not sure how sympathetically fans view her–I probably don’t want to know–but she had a huge influence on Dany’s development too. I don’t think Dany would have freed the slaves or realized ‘saving’ them wasn’t enough without a reality check like that.

  3. Shaun says

    Also, I kind of like that the Septa was killed (from a storytelling perspective), even though I felt really bad for her and thought she was extremely braver than I gave her credit for when she faced the swordsmen. Our culture would tell us a woman in a position like that (like a nun) would be safe–because of her piety or virginal status or chivalry. And she really wasn’t. :(

  4. says

    Shaun,

    See, I had guessed Ari because that’s an actual name, but I also thought Cersei was Circe and Jaime was Jamie for a while. I don’t even know about all the extra ‘b’s in all the Robbbbbbberts. For future reference, I’m just going to have to hit up the Game of Ice and Fire wikis.

    That would be cool if the blacksmith was kindhearted to his apprentice like that. I don’t know if the groundwork was laid for that, because I think I only saw about 5 minutes of the episode where Ned Stark was all, “HURR DURR, I am going to loudly explore state secrets in public while being watched/followed,” and I was not impressed with his stealth mode.

    If Joffrey is that whacked out and HBO doesn’t pull any punches (I know the characters have been aged up significantly from the books to match modern sensibilities/romantic views of the Middle Ages), I am particularly looking forward to seeing the younger actors grow over the next few seasons. I mean, I have some issues with the Harry Potter movies, even though I prefer them to the books (it’s a long story), but the Game of Thrones kids act the pants off the Hogwarts gang.

    As far as Mirri Maz Duur goes, I think the potential was there for her to be interpreted as sympathetic or not, depending on the viewer (I would honestly guess most fans don’t feel too bad for her), but in either case, Daenerys is meant to be more sympathetic, which is problematic. And wouldn’t be as bad if the show owned up to it, but the non-White and non-Westenros characters are portrayed very differently from and often as somehow inferior to (culturally, morally, etc.) the rest of the “core” cast. Mirri’s also, as I said, a woman with power not tied to her relationships with other men or her taking on a masculine role (Arya as Arry, Daenerys’s pending shift from Khaleesi to Khal), and she’s explicitly villainous rather than misunderstood/foreign, since her scheme all along was to inflict as much harm as possible.

    &

    Shaun,

    Oh! Septa! Okay, that makes more sense. Is that a weird Westenros title or her name?

    I liked that she died, too, because I felt it was more “realistic” vs. the cultural ideals that say a woman wouldn’t be hurt/killed from within that same culture in her high ranking and non-problematic position, because those standards are a lie. They’re very specific standards that don’t protect most women, and only protect/tolerate the rest in name, and I think she knew that, which is why I found it very significant when the eunuch told Ned in prison that Sansa was still engaged to Joffrey. Rape, assault, and murder happen. People are raised not to see them, but all the women in Game of Thrones live in a world where you might not talk about it, but it’s an everyday reality that you will one day have to face.

    I thought the Septa was more brave than Arya’s Braavosi (sp?) sword instructor for it, and liked that dying to protect one’s charge wasn’t coded as masculine or feminine, and one death would be deemed suitable to show onscreen while the other needed to be hidden. The sword guy got way more screen time, of course, and got to fight to protect Arya, but that’s also an expansion of the “feminine” vs. “masculine” and traditional vs. subversive roles each of those characters play. Still, in the context of the world of Game of Thrones, it was a great moment.

  5. Shaun says

    Gena,

    Yeah that’s an awesome juxtaposition I didn’t even think of. And… I think Dany moves completely away from a male/khal/her husband’s identity by Book 2. Really I don’t even remember his memory even being significant after the first book, which is kind of an interesting flip on the ‘male hero’s wife and kids are killed to give him a story.’

  6. Maria says

    Just a reminder about our commenting guidelines:

    Criticism of post content is always welcome, but criticism of typos, grammar, punctuation, spelling, word usage, site design and how we operate the site are not relevant to any individual post and tend to derail threads horribly. Please drop us emails (select “Jennifer Kesler” in the form) about these issues, and we will look into them. If you go ahead and submit them as comments anyway, we will delete them. We may pay attention to them anyway (hey, we like constructive criticism!) but we’re more likely to pay attention to emails on these issues.

    http://thehathorlegacy.com/guidelines/

    I understand that some of you have read the book series, and give a shit about correcting the spelling of words/names that have real-world homonyms, but those comments do not belong in comment threads because they are distracting from the hilarity of Gena’s review and an overall critical analysis of the series.

  7. Chai Latte says

    I love having a fresh perspective on the “Game of Thrones” series, so can I just say how much I’m enjoying these reviews?

    ALSO, OH MY GOD, HIS TONGUE IS ABOUT TO BE CUT OUT.

    I KNOW RIGHT?!!! The whole scene is so awesomely haunting….that scene is a horrible glimpse of what Joffrey’s whole reign will be like. You just know it in your gut.


    “Well?” says Joffrey, expecting a show of horror and emotional damage for his efforts.
    “How long do I have to look?” Sansa asks as calmly as she can.
    Bullies don’t like that shit, and Joffrey’s face falls. “As long as it pleases me.” He blinks rapidly, trying to adjust his intimidation scheme, not quite at the point where he needs to measure Sansa up.

    AWESOME SANSA IS AWESOME. Seriously, I’m kind of laughing at the rest of the fandom for taking so damn long to catch on. I blame that on general misogyny–but have you noticed that the haterade is REALLY strong toward preteen girls, like Sansa? Especially if they enjoy stereotypically feminine things. Seriously, that kind of venom could burn through metal. And I don’t quite understand it, such hate leveled at a group that I, at least,

    Re: The Hound and Sansa

    I hope we’ll see more of their interactions. They were among my favorites in the books, and I felt like we learned so much more about the two characters during their dialogue. It’s such a mismatch, and yet…it’s fascinating. :D

    “…I won’t let you go!” NOT ALONE, MR. FRODO!!

    That made me LOL so hard. Thank you for that. XD

    She’s Shae the funny whore, apparently.

    So far I’m not loving the show’s characterization of Shae for precisely this reason. In the books, she’s impudent and often funny—her sense of humor is very much like Tyrion’s, which is why they get along so well. So far in the series, my gut reaction to her has been “WHAT A BITCH”–even though I dislike the ‘b’ word intensely. I’m not proud that this has been my reaction to her at all.

    Re: Jon Snow

    I like how he finally sees that Robb is screwed—just like everyone else in Westeros will be—should the Wildlings, Others, etc., bring down the Wall and invade. In a way, he IS helping Robb–abstractly, by distracting/dealing with an enemy that even Robb, as good as he actually is at the whole war thing, would never have seen coming.

    ARE YOU A MEXICAN, OR ARE YOU A MEXICAN’T?!

    ROFLOL….you are killing me here, seriously.

    She smothers him with a pillow and weeps openly. Uh. Wasn’t this an arranged marriage with a lot of rape going on?

    Yep. KINDA wish they’d kept the marriage the way it was in the book. I’m not saying it was rape-free, but the eventual love between Drogo and Dany is much more believable than ‘She rides him like a cowgirl and totes rocks his world and then BOOM PREGNANT LUV’.

    Re: Maester Pycelle

    OMG that scene was gross. And totally unnecessary. And EW. AND WHY ARE WE STILL BEING SUBJECTED TO ROS THE WHORE?!! She wasn’t in the books, so I don’t understand why she’s being continually thrown in our path, to the neglect of other characters’ development (*coughTHEHOUNDcough*–we haven’t even been told his real NAME yet–and it’s Sandor, actually. You’re welcome.)

  8. says

    JubilantHierophant,

    The impression I got overall from Mirri Maz Duur’s speech was that she as a character needed a painful backstory to work believably as a plot element against Daenerys. Because from what I’ve seen, Dae has never been portrayed as wrong or to blame for things– only mistaken, learning, or very young/innocent when she’s not right or standing up for an ideal– I felt that the whole interaction with Mirri was meant to be a way to harden Daenerys through vindictive loss into the character she needed to be for the story. Mirri Maz Duur is sympathetic if one chooses to view her through the lens of a culture of subjugation vs. the imperialist slant (favoring the conquerors as protagonists at any given time) the series has taken thus far. Daenerys is interesting, but she’s also just as horrible and has wrought as much destruction as any Stark or Lannister is capable of, but her likeability is based in her conceptualized purity and civility and goodness, at least in comparison to everybody around her at any given time.

    However, I love Sansa. She is probably going to be my favorite Stark. <3 Never read the books, though, so I can't really speak to any differences in character portrayals between the two.

    Chai Latte,

    Hahaha, thanks!

    I think there’s a lot of issues with misogynist fandoms generally, and particularly in SF/F, so haters can take it to the left. In some anime fandoms I… sort of got it? Because a lot of the hatred was coming from other women/girls where the main argument was “[female character] is such a [gendered slur]!! [male romantic interest] deserves so much better, LOL *winks* like maybe [self-insert/OC/etc.]? [Japanese pop-culture based emoticons and/or mangled exclamation of cuteness or coolness]” Rinse and repeat: women hating women because even fictional women are competition for fictional men. In more male-dominated fandoms, though, I thought the hatred was just reeeeeally bizarre and creepy, but then, I also thought the anime hatedom was a thing that girls (children and teens) did, not grown women, so I think I’ve also got some Horrible Adults Squick going on. Surprise, the internet is full of jerks!!

    I’m really digging that the Hound is not what he seems, even though there’s only been the one episode with him getting all this exposition. *steeples fingers* I can wait. As far as Shae goes, my curiosity is piqued by her, but I’m not totally champing at the bit to see more of her on her own. I love Tyrion, and I like that from what I’ve seen of them they’re both very sarcastic people, and I think it will be awesome if Shae becomes the biting wit of King’s Landing to snark alongside the new King’s Hand.

    And is Ros the same whore who all the dudes seem to talk about somewhat incessantly? How big is Westenros? Goddamn. I’d say “Ros” is just what people call the redheads, but presumably this is also the same actress. Plus, if she’s that popular, there’s no reason she wouldn’t set out to establish a sociopolitical foundation for herself (even if she just knows where all the bodies are buried, or she’s a plant or something), or at least start her own brothel. There are plenty of badass prostitutes and courtesans in history to choose from. That’s just poor character planning. …Or the actress just has really good connections. Eh.

  9. Patrick McGraw says

    Gena,

    In some anime fandoms I… sort of got it? Because a lot of the hatred was coming from other women/girls where the main argument was “[female character] is such a [gendered slur]!! [male romantic interest] deserves so much better, LOL *winks* like maybe [self-insert/OC/etc.]? [Japanese pop-culture based emoticons and/or mangled exclamation of cuteness or coolness]” Rinse and repeat: women hating women because even fictional women are competition for fictional men.

    I’m getting flashbacks to my exposure to Gundam Wing‘s fandom and their universal hatred for Relena Darlian. Although in that case it was generally wanting Heero to get together with Duo rather than any self-insert characters, who were usually there just to force the desired ship.

  10. Casey says

    Patrick McGraw,

    I recall watching Gundam Wing back when I was 10 and not really into slash, and I fully supported all the girl-equivalents of the G-Boys getting together (I really liked Duo/Hilde, LOL) and was kinda taken aback when my two best friends talked about how much they ZOMG HATED RELENA ‘CUZ SHE’S NOT DUO SO SHE SHOULDN’T BE WITH HEERO AND SHE’S A STUPID ANNOYING BITCH ZOMG!!1one

    It’s even alarming for me to go on YouTube and find comments on the “It’s Just Love” ending theme and reading comments like, “OMG MILLIARDO NEEDS TO SLAP HIS SISTER! WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT!?”

  11. Patrick McGraw says

    Casey,

    I found it very interesting that there seemed to be relatively little interest in Teowa/Quatre, for whom the show was loaded with subtext, when compared to Heero/Duo, where there really wasn’t, especially since both of them had clear love interests.

  12. Casey says

    Patrick McGraw,

    It is surprising, I’ve only found lots of Trowa/Quatre shipping from non-USian fans, hell, in the French dub they made all the subtext between them canon!

  13. says

    Gena:

    JubilantHierophant,

    I think there’s a lot of issues with misogynist fandoms generally, and particularly in SF/F, so haters can take it to the left. In some anime fandoms I… sort of got it? Because a lot of the hatred was coming from other women/girls where the main argument was “[female character] is such a [gendered slur]!! [male romantic interest] deserves so much better, LOL *winks* like maybe [self-insert/OC/etc.]? [Japanese pop-culture based emoticons and/or mangled exclamation of cuteness or coolness]” Rinse and repeat: women hating women because even fictional women are competition for fictional men. In more male-dominated fandoms, though, I thought the hatred was just reeeeeally bizarre and creepy, but then, I also thought the anime hatedom was a thing that girls (children and teens) did, not grown women, so I think I’ve also got some Horrible Adults Squick going on. .

    I hope I didn’t screw up the hypertext here!

    I was actually accused by another female fan during a chat of having a crush on a male character so strong that THAT was the reason I strongly disliked, er…despised…the then new character of Vala in Stargate SG1. Her accusing me of that had nothing to do with the fact of the horrible development Vala got, nor had anything to do with her background, which if she’d treated any other character as she had, would have gotten Vala venomous reviews anywhere else. It was bizarre.

    So it’s not limited to anime, and it’s not limited to male dominated fandoms. Women will accuse other women of hating a female character simply because it’s a female character. Doesn’t have to do with ownership of the male character involved, if there is one. It’s a gender card everyone likes to pull out in order to make crits of female characters not matter at all even if the crits are legitimate.

  14. Robin says

    Gena And is Ros the same whore who all the dudes seem to talk about somewhat incessantly?

    Yes, it’s the same Ros. She moved from Winterfell to King’s Landing in… episode 6, I think, and they made a point of showing it. The elder Stark boys crossed paths with her while they were out in the woods with Bran and she was riding down the road on the back of a merchant’s wagon. She told them that she was going south to make better money from a better class of clientele, and avoid the impending cold and monsters about to come down from the north. There’s a long tradition of using sex workers as spies / informants / expositors in fantasy fiction.

  15. Robin says

    Chai Latte,

    Not the only one — there are multiple brothels, after all — but she certainly seems to be one of the most popular. The men in the series seem to fetishize redheads the way a lot of people do in our society, so that probably helps. And, presumably, if guys are recommending her to their friends, then she’s very good at what she does.

    I’ll admit that she’s been used as more of a plot device than a fully developed character. The realities of TV production may have more to do with that than anything. When you find a decent actress who’s willing to play a whore and be naked for most of her scenes, it’s easier to keep using that character (and actor) rather than trying to cast someone new every week.

    Maybe Ros really is a spy from Winterfell sent to King’s Landing… or returning there now that the Stark family has mostly dispersed and there’s no one left to spy on… Okay, now I really hope this plotline happens, because it would make her so much more interesting.

  16. Maria says

    Robin,

    Sadly, I think she’s more a comedic device than an actual plot device. Like, look! Irritated Whore is Irritated. Over it Whore is Over it. Isn’t it funny when sex workers think they should be treated with respect? LOLLERSKATES.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.