Game of Thrones S1E2: “The Kingsroad”
The Kingsroad is sort of like an interstate highway as it connects many of the major cities of the Seven Kingdoms. It is where the name from the episode is derived from and it’s a rather fitting name for the episode. While much of the first episode was based in Winterfell with some check in’s here and there for other places, “The Kingsroad” features a lot of travelling. A lot of the characters are travelling, the people who stay in place are effected by those who are travelling and most of the action takes place on the road. So while everyone is hurrying along their way in the show, here we’ll sit back and recap it all.
The episode starts far off from the Kingsroad, not even on the right continent actually. We check in with Dany and Viserys first and we get a little bit of exposition on the knight from the first episode, Jorah Mormont. Jorah is from The North but had to flee all the way to Essos to keep his life. Jorah was in the business of selling slaves. Slavery is illegal in Westeros and Ned would surely have Jorah’s head cut off if he ever came back. Viserys doesn’t seem to care about that stuff, promising he won’t be punished for that when he’s the king. Before he does that though, he’s going to need an army and Drogo isn’t quite ready to keep his part of the deal just yet.
Speaking of Drogo, his relationship with his new wife at the start of the episode seems unchanged from the first episode, lacking any personality to it. Dany is in clear discomfort and pain from their lovemaking and much like I thought she would, she tries to get comfortable with her situation. She enlists the help of one of her maids, Doreah, a former prostitute to help her take control of her love life. At first she seems hesitant, realizing that Drogo probably wouldn’t like it if she was in charge but she turns around on the thought. When she puts her new skills to use, it seems to work rather well. Small steps really. Her newfound confidence in her lovemaking and her learning of the Dothraki language are small steps that show she’s well on her way to fitting in here.
Meanwhile back at Winterfell, Bran is in a coma from his fall but Maester Luwin says at this point, he’s highly unlikely to die. Tyrion unveils this information to his siblings over breakfast and that’s obviously bad news for Cersei and Jaime. If Bran were to remember everything when he woke up, it would be very very bad for them. When an assassin comes to town trying to kill Bran, we aren’t told who he’s doing the job for, but the Lannisters are a safe bet. Luckily for Bran, Cat is able to hold off the assassin long enough for Bran’s direwolf to come along and end the threat permanently. Cat’s motherly instincts kick in, knowing something just has to be wrong. She correctly deduces that someone wanted Bran dead and pushed him and then concludes that the assassin was sent to finish the job. She went over to the part of the castle where her son fell and she finds a long piece of blonde hair. She reckons that the Lannisters have a part in all of this and she has to leave for King’s Landing at once to warn Ned of their treachery. Robb, her oldest son who already was doing a good job stepping in charge of Winterfell while Cat stood vigil for Bran, will get a whole lot more time getting used to running things as he’s now in charge for real. By the time Bran wakes up, most everyone is gone and we don’t get to see anyone’s reaction to it as this was our episode end scene. While his end scene in “Winter is Coming” was probably better, its good to see that he’s alive and we’ll certainly see more of him next episode.
Among the list of people who are leaving Winterfell, we have King Robert, Jaime, Cersei, Tyrion, Ned, Sansa, Arya (and their direwolves) and Jon Snow. Jon is heading towards the wall but before the road separates north and south, he shares his goodbyes with his father. He asks Ned about his mother, if she knows he’s alive and what he’s doing with his life. Ned seems troubled by the question but promises that he will tell him all about his mother the next time that they see each other. Ned also tells him that despite not formally having the name, he considers Jon a Stark. With that the two head their separate ways.
Tyrion is also going with Jon. Tyrion definitely strikes one as an intellectual and a cultured person so he’s intrigued by the concept of going (along with a desire to piss off the edge of the world). Along the way and even beforehand, Jon’s romanticized notions of the Night’s Watch are being shut down. Jaime sarcastically thanks Jon for his future service while they’re both still in Winterfell and points out in a demeaning tone that if Jon has a change of heart, the oath is only for life. Tyrion adds to the trash talking of the Night’s Watch mentioning that half the things that the Nights Watch are allegedly protecting the Seven Kingdoms from don’t actually exist. Also the fact that the honor seems to be lost as the majority of Night’s Watch brothers are there nowadays as a form of punishment. Jon could use a break so hopefully his vision of the Night’s Watch is the closest to reality. Either way I’m sure we’ll find out who’s right soon as he and Tyrion’s bit of the show ends with them arriving at the wall. What a sight that wall is.
Back on the Kingsroad going south, the show probably gets its most exciting bit. The royal entourage has stopped and made camp near the crossroads inn. Arya takes this opportunity to practice her sparring with a butcher boy down by the river. Her sister Sansa who is clearly interested in very different things gets to spend some personal time with her promised, Prince Joffrey. Both sisters seem to be having a good time until their paths cross each other. Joffrey shows us how much of a jerk he is when he stops the sparring session to bully the butcher boy and takes out his sword and makes the butcher boy’s face bleed. Arya decides she has to stand up for her friend and decides to attack Joffrey. Joffrey doesn’t take this lying down and actually starts swinging his sword at Arya. If things weren’t already getting out of hand, Arya’s direwolf, Nymeria swoops in to protect her owner and takes a big mean bite out of Joffrey’s arm.
Arya buys some time by wandering off into the woods and realizes that if they find Nymeria, she will likely be killed. Wanting to spare her pet, she forces the direwolf to run off and we lose our first direwolf not even two episodes in (She’ll probably come back though). A lot of time has passed throughout all this though so massive search parties are out looking for her. When Ned hears that a Lannister search party found her first, he furiously runs over to the inn to ask why his daughter wasn’t brought to him first. He finds Robert, Cersei, and Joffrey there. Joffrey further shows off his how much of a jerk he is by completely lying and saying that Arya and the butcher boy started it all by beating him with clubs. Arya vehemently denies this and calls him a liar. Sansa then comes out to clear up this he said she said. Does she side with family or her prince? She cops out of it by giving a generic I didn’t really see what happened response. It’s hard to feel bad for her since she clearly did see what happened and didn’t back her sister but you just have to feel for her for what happens next.
Robert is content to discipline Joffrey himself and let Ned do the same to Arya but Cersei chimes in saying that something should happen to the direwolf. Good on Arya to have the foresight to chase Nymeria away but Cersei is hellbent for revenge and insists that Sansa’s direwolf, Lady should step in as punishment. Ned pleads Robert to not let this be a command but he sides with his wife and orders the direwolf to be put to death. Ned gives a nice little speech about direwolves being from the north and that they deserve a northern death so he earns the right to kill Lady himself. Ned does the deed and we lose our first direwolf for good.
Using the direwolves growth as a method to show the passage of time is very clever. Those things grow up fast. Sad to say we have one that ran off and one that’s dead already.
We didn’t expand roll call for the starting cast in this episode but we did spread the spotlight on some other characters that kind of blended in the background of the first episode. Among these are Jorah who I mentioned and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane. Sandor is Joffrey’s body guard and an absolutely huge man. His first impression isn’t that great as he chased down the butcher boy after the whole incident down by the river and killed him. He even seemed to take joy in the act.
This episode also did a good job of fleshing out relationships more. By the end we clearly see that Arya and Sansa have your classic sister rivalry but on the nicer end we have Jon and Arya. They share a very heartfelt goodbye before Jon heads off for the wall and he cares enough about her to have a sword made for her. She calls it Needle and Jon tells her to stick them with the pointy end.
Tyrion slapping Joffrey for not wanting to offer the Stark’s his condolences was hilarious. Tyrion doing it again was even better.
Quote of the Day comes from Robert, to his son. “You let that little girl disarm you?” When you say it like that, it does look a bit silly.
“The Kingsroad” sets many characters and plot lines in motion as we get more accustomed to the main cast.