Game of Thrones “The Wolf and the Lion”

Game of Thrones S1E5 “The Wolf and the Lion”

I noted last week that last weeks episode of Game of Thrones was the first one that felt like the plot was thickening. In “The Wolf and the Lion”, things heat up even more and in big ways. Featuring predominantly King’s Landing, along with very very brief check ins at Winterfell and with Tyrion, “The Wolf and the Lion” is definitely the most narrowly focused episode of Game of Thrones so far. “The Wolf and the Lion” features the news of Tyrion’s arrest getting to King’s Landing, Ned further delving into the mystery of Jon Arryn and Ned ultimately getting more than he bargained for in coming to serve as Hand of the King.

We’ll get it started with last week’s cliffhanger, which I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wanting quick resolution on. Tyrion was taken under arrest and Cat pulls a quick one on Tyrion (which probably wasn’t that hard considering he was blindfolded) by proclaiming all the way on the road that they were going to Winterfell. As it turns out they are actually going to The Eyrie, the capital of the region known as The Vale, and a region in which Cat’s sister is currently in charge of. The Lannisters as we know, have tremendous power and influence so anyone pro Lannister that heard Cat’s words will have been misdirected.

As they stop for a little break, Tyrion defends himself using that good old brain of his. His argument that no intelligent person would arm an assassin with their own weapon makes a very compelling case but before Tyrion cat continue his attempt to clear his name, the group comes under attack. The Vale is a very rural mountainous area home to a savage native people known as the Hill Tribes and their arrival is bad news. Tyrion asks Cat to untie him stating that there will be no justice done if he dies before they can even try him so she does as he asks and Tyrion actually ends up saving her life and earning his first kill with ruthless shield bashing to a hill tribes man head.

After successfully ending that threat, the group continues its journey to the Eyrie and boy does it look gorgeous, an untouchable castle peaking above the high mountain ranges. Before we can get much time to admire the beautiful landscape, we find ourselves in The Eyrie’s great hall.  Tyrion warned Cat on their ascent to the Eyrie that her sister Lysa had gone crazy since she last saw her and he sure didn’t lie there. In a rather disturbing scene, we see that she still breastfeeds her son Robyn, who looks to at least be seven or eight years old. Lysa is upset that Cat would bring such a “dangerous” person to her and then adds her own charges against Tyrion, claiming he played a part in the killing of her late husband and former Hand of the King, Jon Arryn. Tyrion will get a chance to defend his name, but it won’t be right now as Lysa orders he be sent to the Eyrie’s dungeons, which anyone who is scared of heights, would find petrifying. A three wall room with the open side facing a drop down the ever so high mountain side. Brilliant camera work to show without anyone having to say anything, that the floor is actually slanted, so you can’t even sleep easy as the threat of rolling off the edge to your death is present. Right now, things are definitely trending downward for Tyrion

And with that, we move down to King’s Landing, where the majority of today’s action takes place. Ned finds himself talking with King Robert for what feels like the first time in a while. Robert is trying to get in the jousting tournament but he can’t fit into his armor. Ned also notes that it wouldn’t even be fun because whoever he faces wouldn’t dare try to win in fear of hurting the king. Robert has to agree with his friend here, for what may be the last time and they go outside to watch the rest of the tournament.

Jousting today, we have  Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, and Ser Loras Tyrell in his first appearance on the show. Loras is the heir to the very wealthy House Tyrell which rules over the region known as The Reach, from their home in Highgarden. He is also quite the jouster and ends up besting The Mountain, but not by the fairest of methods. Loras’ horse was in heat and it ended up driving Gregor’s stallion to throw him off. An enraged Gregor decapitates his horse and comes in sword swinging at Loras. Before Gregor can hurt him, his brother, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane comes in and matches him strike for strike. The two brothers go at it until Robert orders that they stop. Gregor storms off and Loras in appreciation for Sandor, raises his arm as the true victor.

Later on, Varys the spymaster pays a visit to Ned in his living quarters. He admits that he’s kept a close eye on Ned and knows what he’s up to. Having earned his trust, Varys is ready to reveal some important information to Ned. He tells Ned that Jon Arryn was in fact poisoned and the deed was done because he was starting to “ask too many questions”. This seems to be very foreboding information and I hope for Ned’s sake that this was enough information to satisfy his search. The characters around him have made it abundantly clear that he is being watched and we now know his predecessor was killed for his curiosity.  Varys also mentions that there is a plot to kill King Robert and only Ned will be able to keep him safe. It will prove difficult for Ned to save Robert if Ned keeps putting himself in potentially dangerous situations.

Further adding to the mystery of Varys and the general fishiness of the whole situation at King’s Landing, was an Arya scene. On the orders of Syrio Forel, Arya has started chasing cats and one particular cat brings her down to the dungeons. She hears two people coming and knowing she shouldn’t be here, she takes cover. She doesn’t see them but the two people are Varys and Illyrio (the man who was hosting Dany and Viserys in the first episode) and they have a very suspicious conversation. They talk of an inevitable war between the wolf and the lion and how it was coming faster than they could anticipate, leaving them unprepared. Arya only half remembers what she heard so when she goes to warn her father about this, it comes across as a jumbled mess that isn’t really coherent.

In shocking news, Robert attends a small council meeting in this episode. The topic at hand is Daenerys. Varys has heard reports that she is pregnant and Robert thinks the time is now to end the Targaryen threat once and for all, fearing the ramifications of Dany birthing a son. Ned is repulsed that Robert would put a hit out on Dany and her unborn child and says he will not condone it. Robert is insistent on the matter though and the rest of the small council agrees so it really isn’t up for debate. Not wanting to be a part of the assassination attempt, Ned resigns the position of Hand of the King.

As Ned is packing his things to head on home, Littlefinger stops by and asks if Ned is still interested in that investigation of his. Ned initially says he doesn’t have the time for any further actions in that matter but Littlefinger says he can take him to the last place Jon Arryn went to before dying and that it would take less than an hour. Ned makes a fateful decision in deciding to go with Littlefinger as things escalate greatly at the end of the episode. The place in question was one of Littlefinger’s brothels and Ned finds another bastard of Robert.

Ned has a so what look on his face as he departs, wondering why Jon cared so much about Robert’s bastards as both of Littlefinger’s leads have lead him to bastards. As it turns out, Ned is going to have to hold that though as in comes Jaime Lannister with a bunch of guards at his back. Turns out news of Tyrion’s arrest has made it to his brother’s ears. Ned defends his wife saying that she arrested Tyrion under his orders. The two seem to be at a standstill as Jaime killing Ned would just lead to Tyrion’s death.  Jaime then decides to just kill Ned’s men instead. In our second large action set piece of the episode, the Lannister men make quick work of the Stark men and we turn our focus to a Jaime vs Ned sword fight in which Ned more than holds his own against one of the best swordsmen in Westeros. A Lannister guard cuts the fight short by spearing Ned through the knee. An upset Jaime knocks out the guard for unceremoniously ending the fight and departs, telling Ned that he wants his brother back. The Lannister Stark feud is on.

Other Thoughts

The best scene of the episode was one that didn’t exist in the book and was only added last second as the original cut of the episode was too short. This scene being the one between Robert and Cersei. They discuss their loveless marriage and how its holding the kingdom together but seems to be slipping as of late. Cersei says she did genuinely love him for a time and asks if there was ever a chance that their marriage could work. Robert answers no, saying the death of Lyana Stark, Ned’s sister and his first betrothed, left a whole so big that seven kingdoms couldn’t fill it. Wonderful acting from both actors here.

How cool were those dragon skulls in the dungeon? They were larger than I expected that’s for sure.

Varys’ source on Dany being pregnant is Jorah Mormont. That answers the question of why he left the Dothraki herd a few episodes ago.

Arya has some sass to her. Loved her scene where she talked down the guards into letting her in the Red Keep.

The man Tyrion is starting to bond with on their way to the Vale is called Bronn. Keep an eye on him.

During his lessons, Bran incorrectly states that House Lannister’s words are “A Lannister always pays his debts”. Can you blame him? We hear that one a lot. You don’t hear the actual words, “Hear me Roar” very much.

Quote of the Day comes from Robert, messing with his squire Lancel after Ned tells Robert he’s too fat for his armor.  “You heard the hand, the king is too fat for his armor. Go find the breastplate stretcher, now!” Poor Lancel probably searched for hours before realizing there’s no such thing as a breastplate stretcher.

“The Wolf and the Lion” turns last episodes cliffhanger into an afterthought and still found a way to be the most exciting episode of Thrones to date.

Grade A-

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