Game of Thrones “Lord Snow”

Game of Thrones S1E3: “Lord Snow”

If I really had to stop and think of a simple way to describe the narrative of Game of Thrones up to this point, I would probably have to go with this. The first episode presents situations where the main characters have to go somewhere, the second episode features these characters en route to where they are going, and the third episode features the characters arriving where they were headed and getting acclimated to their new surroundings. In “Lord Snow”, Jon and Tyrion arrive at Castle Black, home of the Night’s Watch, Ned with his daughters, and the rest of the royal entourage make their arrival to King’s Landing with Cat not too far behind and everyone has so settle in before they can hit the ground running.

“Lord Snow” gets its namesake from Jon Snow so I guess its only fitting that we start with his bit of the show. As it turns out, Tyrion was right and Jon’s romanticized notions of the Night’s Watch are nowhere near reality. The Night’s Watch is mostly home to orphans and criminals and people with no other place to turn to. It’s little surprise that Jon, a very lucky bastard who was raised with a noble family, is viewed with resentment. It also doesn’t help that he got proper training with the Stark’s master of arms back at Winterfell and consistently wipes the floor with the new recruits at sword fighting.

There’s so little love lost between Jon and the rest of the new recruits that they all team up against him inside. Before they can do any harm though, Tyrion shows up and flaunts his power to get them all to leave Jon alone. Power can go a long way, even thousands of miles away from home in the case of Tyrion here at Castle Black. With the numbers and overall status of the Night’s Watch rapidly deteriorating, the higher ups at the Night’s Watch have a proposition for Tyrion.  They would like him to use his power back in King’s Landing to get more recruits sent their way. Winter is coming and the Night’s Watch is in absolutely no condition to face the challenges winter provides in their current state. Tyrion says he doesn’t believe in the mythical things that the Watch is allegedly protecting the Seven Kingdoms from but he is sympathetic to their cause and will try to get some prisoners sent up to the wall.

This marks the end of Tyrion’s time at the wall and he says his goodbyes, particularly to Jon. It seems as though they’ve earned each others respect. I hope Jon takes some of Tyrion’s offered advice to heart as Jon prepares for a new challenge in his life here at the wall. His nobility means nothing and if anything, it has already put him at a disadvantage. His given nickname of “Lord Snow” is meant in a demeaning way. He’s not even going to have his Uncle Benjen to help him get accustomed to everything as Benjen is due for a range beyond the wall as First Ranger. The spotlight and the entire Night’s Watch narrative is on Jon now. I’m curious to see where it goes from here.

Jon asks Tyrion if he’s going to stop at Winterfell on his way home and Tyrion assures him that he will. We head to Winterfell for some big news. The good news we got from last episode is that Bran is alive. The new and bad news is that he will never walk again. If Bran plays a big part in the show going forward, its definitely going to be something interesting to watch.  Future warrior, much like Bran himself in the first episode, is out the window so you can start taking your guesses at how he plays into the narrative as we move along.

Kings Landing offers the most moving plot of the show but like the rest of the episode, features some acclimation to new surroundings so we’ll start with that. Not one minute after arriving to King’s Landing, Ned’s presence is requested for a meeting of the Small Council (President’s cabinet in effect).  Before arriving to the council room, Ned runs into Jaime in the throne room. Through a bit of exposition we learn that Jaime killed the old king, Aerys Targaryen, stabbing him through the back and earning the nickname Kingslayer. After some more tense conversation, Ned heads over the council room. Here we meet some other members of the council including Robert’s youngest brother Renly,  Grand Maester Pycelle, (leading official on academic and medical subjects) the seemingly all knowing Varys, (head of Intelligence in effect) and Petyr  “Littlefinger” Baelish the master of coin (treasurer in effect) and a childhood friend of Cat. King Robert is missing and that’s not new news apparently. While he’s off doing everything other than politics, he’s managed to get the crown over six million gold dragons in debt. Ned decides that they won’t be hosting him a welcome tournament until he speaks with the King personally.

While Ned is getting used to his new life in politics, his family life is proving to be just as difficult. Cat also arrives to King’s Landing in this episode but she doesn’t manage to go unsuspected. She is intercepted by guards immediately and brought before Varys and Littlefinger at the latter’s brothel. Varys asks about the knife but in a rare instance of him lacking knowledge, he doesn’t know who it belongs too. Littlefinger steps in and says the knife was his until he lost it in a bet to Tyrion. Tyrion doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to call in a hit but its better to investigate matters than to brush them aside. They call Ned to tell him of the news and he’s a bit skeptical but curious to get to the bottom of it. Accusing a Lannister of a crime is serious business and you’ll need serious proof to back up the claim. Ned promises to look into it and tells his wife to go home now. She does just that, leaving Ned alone with his daughters.

Speaking of his daughters, Arya really shines in this episode. She’s still hurt that Sansa would side with Joffrey over her and Ned explains how delicate and compromising the situation was that Sansa found herself in. Still not quite happy with that answer, Ned has to look elsewhere to cheer her daughter up. He sees Needle for the first time and not only decides to let her keep it, but he gets her a teacher in former first sword of Braavos, Syrio Forel. Thrones really shows off its versatility in this episode, the scene with the least dramatic tension of the episode actually proved to be the most captivating. The lesson was amazing to watch and the sound effects of a big battle going on let you know that Ned is thinking that Winter really is coming. A sword lesson may be innocent enough, but with how volatile the situation at King’s Landing is turning out to be, how much longer will things be safe for him and his family?

Other Thoughts

This is the first episode of Game of Thrones in which nobody dies. I will be keeping count of such instances and noting them in the other thoughts section as we go along. If you want to join in at home, you don’t have to be that great of a counter, trust me.

We met some of the higher ups at Castle Black in the episode. Jorah Mormont is the commander of the whole thing, Benjen is first ranger, Alliser Thorne trains the recruits, Aemon is the maester and Yoren is the recruiting agent. Yoren will be travelling with Tyrion back to King’s Landing.

We did check in with Dany and the rest of the Dothraki but it was a minor check in. She is getting more comfortable with her role as queen or khaleesi. Viserys gets mad when she uses her queenly powers to stop the herd and lashes out at her. The Dothraki make quick work of him before he can do anything.  I don’t think Viserys realized making Dany the Queen of the Dothraki would mean she would get more respect than him. This is a deteriorating relationship. Dany is apparently also pregnant and her money is on it being a boy.

When Jorah hears news of the pregnancy, he leaves the herd and says he’ll catch up with them later. Whats up with that?

Cerise’s scene with her son makes it pretty apparent where Joffrey got his pretentiousness from. After an actual informative lesson on why Joffrrey’s hotheadedness wont always be the best strategy on politics, she later tells him that when he’s the king, the truth will be whatever he wants it to be. No humility in that room.

Robert calls in Jaime to talk about killing and in some cleverly done exposition, the topic of Aerys comes back up. Aerys was saying “Burn Them All” the entire day of his death. Interesting.

Quote of the Day comes from Benjen, correctly deducing what Tyrion is going to say before he says it. “My brother once told me that nothing someone says before the word “but” really counts”. True words Benjen.

“Lord Snow” continues to move people into place and introduce more people while delivering exposition is a fascinating fashion

Grade B

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