Game of Thrones S1E6 “A Golden Crown”
Last week’s episode, “The Wolf and the Lion” really quickened the pace of the show by focusing almost exclusively on the happenings in Kings Landing. A “Golden Crown” presents a return to what we’re used as we’re back to bouncing around the Game of Thrones world but “A Golden Crown” does more than just check in, as the plot thickens across the board rather than having one stand out location. Highlighting the episode we have Tyrion working his way out of trouble up in the Eyrie, a dramatic change of plans across the narrow sea with Daenerys and Viserys, and the King’s Landing plot line continuing its quickening pace as Ned makes some questionable decisions and makes a grand discovery.
Last we left Tyrion he was left in a less than desirable position, clinging on for dear life to the safe end of his three walled dungeon/drop of doom waiting to happen. Nearly rolling to death in his sleep, Tyrion realizes he has had enough and bangs on the door until Mord the turnkey comes in. Mord isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed so Tyrion’s cunning brilliance actually sort of flies over Mord’s head. Tyrion eventually dumbs it down to the point where even Mord understands. With the promise of gold from Tyrion, Mord tells Lysa that Tyrion is ready to confess. Tyrion is granted his wish and is brought back to the great hall with all of the Eyrie anxiously watching. Tyrion hilariously makes a mockery of the entire thing by admitting to “crimes” that really boil down to tomfoolery more than anything. While most everyone is enjoying this and having a laugh, Lady Arryn is not pleased and reminds Tyrion that he is here to confess to the crime of conspiracy to murder. Tyrion bluntly says he took no such part in either murder. With his non confession over, Lysa tells Mord to send him back to the sky dungeon, upping the stakes with a smaller and steeper dungeon but before any of that can happen, Tyrion demands a trial by combat.
For you history buffs out there, (join the club) a trial by combat was a perfectly legal way of settling a case. In essence it was a judicially approved duel and if the defendant wins the duel, he is deemed innocent of the crime in question. This bad ass rule is perfectly valid in Westeros and Tyrion fully plans on using it. With Lysa being a woman, she asks for a volunteer and gets plenty of men to volunteer. The not so lucky winner goes by the name Ser Vardis Egen. After being told that Lysa will not wait for Tyrion’s champion Jaime to show up, he too asks for a volunteer champion. Just as it was starting to look like a lost cause, Bronn the sellsword volunteers to champion for Tyrion.
And with that we’re off to the fight! Ser Vardis is loaded up with very heavy armor while Bronn is wearing next to no armor at all. Bronn uses this to his advantage, using evasive tactics making Ser Vardis chase him around the room. With all that armor, Ser Vardis starts to get tired and this is when Bronn strikes and seals his victory and Tyrion’s freedom by pushing Ser Vardis through the moon door (what a crappy way to go). Being deemed innocent in the eyes of the gods, Tyrion is free to leave and exits the Eyrie with Bronn, paying Mord on his way out. As the saying goes, a Lannister always pays his debts.
Down in King’s Landing, Ned awakens from his injuries to find Robert and Cersei by his bed. Cersei spews out some lies again claiming Ned drunkenly attacked Jaime but before she and Ned can go at it, Robert emphatically slaps Cersei for calling him a women and she promptly leaves. Now alone with Ned, Robert tells him that he can’t run the Seven Kingdoms if the Starks and Lannisters are going to war with each other. He tells Ned that his wife has to let Tyrion go and to make peace with the Lannisters. Robert gives Ned the Hand of the King pin again and says if he quits again, the position will go to Jaime. Before leaving, Robert says he will be going on a hunt to clear his head and Ned will serve as King Regent until he returns. Sounds fun.
While serving his King Regent duties, Ned listens to a group of refugees from the Riverlands claim that a ridiculously tall man and his group are raiding cities and killing people. Realizing that this is likely Gregor Clegane, Ned deduces that Tywin Lannister, Jaime, Cersei and Tyrion’s father and head of House Lannister, is behind this. Gregor takes orders from Tywin and Tywin is trying to punish Cat for taking his son prisoner by destroying House Tully’s lands (her father’s lands).
Tywin is an important guy in the grand scheme of things. He’s so rich that he basically funds the crown as Littlefinger eluded to in “Lord Snow” so it makes what happens next all the more shocking. Ned decides to lay the hammer down, stripping Gregor of his knighthood and all his lands and demands Tywin come to King’s Landing to answer for his crimes or be deemed an enemy of the crown. Ned’s an honorable man so he is in the right that Tywin should pay for his crimes but honor doesn’t run kingdoms. Making an enemy out of Tywin probably isn’t the smartest thing to do but Ned’s honor will not allow someone to get away with not answering for their crimes, no matter how important they are. Ned may be barking up the wrong tree here.
Meanwhile, Joffrey gets his first bit of action in a while. He goes over to Sansa to “apologize” for the incident on the way to King’s Landing and pronounces his love for her and his promise to never harm her. Sansa is just a teenage girl who has basically been promised the world so the fact that she is oblivious to Joffrey staging this because his mother told him to do it isn’t all that surprising. She won’t be earning any sympathy for not realizing like the rest of us that Joffrey is quite the jerk but you can understand where she’s at right now.
Sansa’s sense of entitlement actually leads Ned to crack the case of Jon Arryn’s death. Ned fears for the safety of his daughters and tells them that they are returning to Winterfell. Sansa is irate over this and says it’s her duty and dream to give Joffrey blonde haired children while noting that Joffrey is nothing like his father. Ned gets the light bulb going off moment from this and returns to that boring book about family lineages. Every single Baratheon dating back to ages ago has had black hair. Ned realizes that Joffrey isn’t Robert’s son and this was the secret that Jon Arryn cracked and was killed for knowing. Fascinating! Where does this go from here?
Across the narrow sea, it seems that Viserys has reached his breaking point. In a ceremony in which Dany has to eat a raw horse heart, her son is claimed to be the “stallion that mounts the world” and she will be treated as a Queen. She already is being treated like one and power crazy Viserys never bargained for his sister to become more powerful than himself. Realizing that this whole thing has turned into a sunk cost, he decides to steal his sister’s dragon eggs and sell them to buy his own army. Before Viserys can leave, Jorah comes in and tells him that he can leave but he will not be taking the dragon eggs. A frustrated Viserys exits, no dragon eggs in hand.
Later on, a drunken Viserys stumbles into a feast with Dany, Drogo and the rest of the Dothraki. He’s clearly had enough and is demanding payment for his sister immediately. He’s unfortunately made a few mistakes here that cross the line. Firstly he brought a sword into the city of Vaes Dothrak, which is highly illegal. Second, he uses the illegal sword to threaten to cut out Dany’s unborn child. Drogo decides to stop this before it goes any further, promising to give Viserys the golden crown he covets. In a rare moment of happiness for Viserys, he says that’s all he ever wanted, happy as a child. Very little time to enjoy the moment though as this isn’t the golden crown that he wanted. Drogo’s guards break Viserys’ arms and hold him down while Drogo throws his gold belt into the fire. Realizing what’s about to happen, Viserys pleads with his sister to spare his life but it’s of little use as Dany not only doesn’t stop Drogo, she watches as Drogo pours the molten gold onto Viserys’ face, claiming his brother was no dragon, fire cannot kill dragons.
The show is hinting that perhaps Dany is the last dragon, particularly with that last quote about fire not being able to hurt or kill dragons. Dany went into that scalding water bath in “Winter is Coming” and picked up her dragon eggs unhurt after putting them on a fire in this episode.
Harry Lloyd as Viserys becomes the first of the starring cast to bite the dust. A brutal way to go out for sure. Great job by Lloyd bringing just enough humanity to a crazy villain to make us sympathize with Viserys just a little.
Quick check in on the North. Tyrion’s designs for a saddle for Bran work and Bran goes horse riding in the episode. A group of wildlings attack Bran but Robb and Theon kill them before they can hurt Bran. There was a female wildling in the group named Osha. Her life was spared and she was taken prisoner.
The scenes with Arya and Syrio continue to be amazing. Glad to see the sword lessons are back.
Anyone else disappointed Tyrion didn’t get to finish his joke about the honeycomb and the jackass in the brothel? He was on fire up to that point.
No Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch again this week. We’ll see him next week probably.
Exposition has been done really well so far but this was the first episode where it fell just a little flat. In the scene where Ned drops the hammer, Littlefinger reminding Ned what he already knows, but the audience may not know ends up not really sounding like something he would actually say.
Quote of the Day comes from Bronn after the trial by combat. Lysa claims in disgust that he fights with no honor. Bronn claims “No, but he did” pointing at the moon door. I like this guy.
“A Golden Crown” quickens the pace everywhere as the first season continues to pick up steam