Game of Thrones “First of His Name”

Game of Thrones S4E5 “First of His Name”

King’s Landing is the center of politics in Westeros and therefore, is where most of the content that makes Game of Thrones what it is, comes from. We started this fourth season in the capital with a boom and with more action to come such as Tyrion’s trial, we continue this biding of time in King’s Landing that “Oathkeeper” started. While Cersei stands in for each King’s Landing scene and offers some intrigue, things are definitely moving faster elsewhere. “First of His Name” sort of puts the capital on pause for an episode and allows the happenings of other places to speed up. Among these plot lines, we have Littlefinger and Sansa arriving at The Eyrie while Arya and The Hound continue their march to the same place, Brienne and Pod starting the long march to Castle Black, a change of plans for Dany in Meereen, and a gritty fight up at Craster’s Keep. A closer look at everything just mentioned coming right now.

It’s kind of odd to say that King’s Landing was slow in an episode that featured a coronation but that’s exactly what happened. Tommen succeeds his brother in this episode and officially becomes the King. Cersei confronts Margaery when she spots her eyeing Tommen but there’s nothing mean intended by this confrontation. In fact, it’s just a conversation and it’s probably the “realest” one they’ve ever had. The two talk about how Joffrey was and how Tommen is so much different than his brother. Cersei than asks if she still desires to be queen and the two ladies agree to talk to their fathers about the issue.

Cersei does just that in her next scene as she goes to talk to Tywin. As usual, Tywin defends his decision making wonderfully and tells Cersei that they need an alliance with the Tyrell’s for a surprising reason, money. As alluded to in season two by Tyrion, the crown owes a great deal of debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, and there’s no Lannister financial relief coming  because the world famous gold mines from the Lannister lands have all gone dry. Cersei doesn’t see the big deal and asks Tywin why they don’t just try to find someone on the inside to help them out but Tywin shoots that down, saying the Iron Bank is less a group of people and more a structure, it can’t be brought down by one brick. As the second wealthiest family in The Realm, the Tyrell’s can help greatly with paying back the crown’s debt before the Iron Bank takes matters into their own hands and funds the crowns enemies.

Later on, Cersei invites Oberyn for a walk through the gardens and they talk about life before Cersei gets to her point. She misses her daughter Myrcella greatly and wants Oberyn to bring her a belated birthday gift. Must be nice to be a part of the royal family because Myrcella’s birthday gift is a ship. Even luckier for her, Dorne is a peninsula with warm weather year round. Oberyn promises to bring Cersei’s gift to Myrcella down in Sunspear and that ends our paused check in on King’s Landing for this episode.

We don’t move too far away for our next check in, just some miles up The Kingsroad. Brienne and Pod are continuing their adventure and Castle Black is revealed to be the destination. Much as I feared, Pod is proving to be not so good at “real” squire things such as horseback riding. It’s so bad that Brienne tries to release Pod from his squire vow so he’ll leave her alone. Pod refuses to leave and leads his horse onward, kind of.

Things get worse at lunchtime where Pod messes up lunch by putting their rabbit lunch on the fire without skinning it first. When Brienne bears witness to this ineptitude, she flat out asks Pod if he has any experience doing anything practical. Pod says life squiring for Tyrion mostly consisted of pouring wine, bringing food, and cleaning. She asks if he has any experience on the battlefield and Pod brings up his saving of Tyrion by shoving a spear through the head of Ser Mandon of the Kingsguard. This impresses Brienne enough to let Pod help her remove her armor. Pod’s starting from scratch in learning how to be a knight’s squire but he’s getting there, step by step. Also, his honest best but miserable attempts at doing things such as horseback riding and cooking provide some humor that has been slightly lost in this more serious season so I for one welcome Pod to find his way as a squire at a slower pace, I could always use a laugh or two.

Let’s check in with our second roadtripping duo, Arya and Sandor. Sandor is trying to grab some sleep but is kept awake by Arya’s ever growing pre sleep death list. He enquirers about the list and Arya tells him what it’s about and Sandor promises that if they run into his brother Gregor, they can both cross a name off their lists. Sandor tells her to finish her list and in a cool bit, Arya tells him she’s got one name left, The Hound.

Sandor wakes up after Arya the following day and he’s surprised to not spot Arya. After checking his surroundings, he finds Arya at the bottom of a hill near their camp, practicing her water dancing. Big tough Sandor is obviously skeptical of the fighting style and when Arya tries to defend it, she has a tough time doing so. Sandor even offers her a free poke at his armor with her sword. Arya thrusts Needle into Sandor but it hardly makes a dent into his armor. Proving his point, Sandor knocks Arya down and says that small swords and evasive combat aren’t going to help you win fights against big armored guys with swords. It may be tough love from Sandor to Arya but this is a tough world and Arya has more firsthand experience with that than any girl her age should have. Arya still clings to the hope that there’s decency in the world but she might be better off realizing that the Hound’s way of seeing the world is harsh but true. With a long way to The Eyrie, there’s plenty of time to see if Arya will learn that lesson or not.

While one Stark girl makes her way to the Eyrie, another one arrives. Littlefinger and Sansa have made their way to the Eyrie and Littlefinger cautions Sansa to cover her hair and go by the name Alayne as to not blow their cover. When they arrive inside the castle, they are welcomed by Lysa Arryn and her son Robin, who seems to be just a little less crazy than the last time we saw him. Sansa takes quickly to using her cover name but Lysa talks to her openly as her aunt but warns Sansa not to call her as such when around other people. Robin escorts Sansa to her chambers and leaves the hall to Littlefinger and Lysa.

Lysa is quite the eager person and insists to Littlefinger that they get married the very same night. Littlefinger seems hesitant to do so but ultimately agrees to it to get her to shut up, and I don’t blame him because this is some very critical and confidential information. Lysa reveals that Littlefinger basically put the events of the show into action. She poisoned Jon Arryn at Littlefinger’s request, she framed the Lannisters for it at Littlefinger’s request and sent that false accusation letter to her sister Cat, and the rest is history. Being the mastermind of all of that would make Littlefinger quite the wanted man  if someone were to hear Lysa admit all of that so he agrees to marry Lysa that night and it’s revealed that Lysa wasn’t taking no for an answer anyway, she had a Septon waiting outside the hall anyway. Good thing words don’t carry over doors, right Littlefinger?

If you needed any more proof that Lysa is a crazy women (I don’t know why you would), you get it when she treats Sansa to lunch. It’s an innocent conversation, at first. It quickly turns into Lysa getting super paranoid and asking Sansa if Littlefinger has slept with her, all the while she is physically hurting Sansa. Sansa tells her the truth that nothing happened between them and lets out years of bottled up emotions from her time in King’s Landing. Lysa almost acts like that intense conversation didn’t happen and assures Sansa that everything’s okay now. Lysa plans on marrying Sansa to Robin, which is better than Joffrey I guess but marrying Robin means you have to be around Lysa a lot, and she’s far too crazy for my liking.

Quick stop in Meereen but an important one. News has finally reached Dany that King Joffrey is dead and most of her advisers like her odds of taking King’s Landing right now, with her 8,000 Unsullied, 2,000 Second Sons, and the navy of Meereen that Daario took without permission. Jorah seems a bit hesitant though and delivers the bad news that Yunkai and Astapor have fallen back to their slave ways now that she’s left. In a conversation between just the two of them, Dany tells Jorah she has no hope of ruling The Seven Kingdoms if she can’t rule the three slaver cities. She intends on doing that last one and doing it good, announcing that she won’t be leaving Slaver’s Bay for the time being. Makes sense I suppose, she only came to Slaver’s Bay to free slaves, if they get recaptured, what was the point? Dany is starting to learn even though she claimed these cities pretty easily, ruling is a lot harder than winning.

Way north we go, all the way to Craster’s Keep. Karl is getting ready to rape Meera when Jojen buys his sister some time by telling Karl that he’s a seer and he sees tonight ending badly for Karl. This stall tactic works wonderfully because as soon as Karl looks done with the distraction, Rast comes into the hut and tells Karl that they are under attack by the Night’s Watch. Karl leaves to get in on the fight.

Bran and friends are left alone but they’re still tied up. That presents a problem when Locke works his way out of the fighting and into the hut. He cuts Bran on the leg to confirm that it’s him and when Bran has no reaction, he knows he has his man. Locke begins to drag Bran away and Bran decides to warg into Hodor to defend himself. Bran guides Hodor over to Locke and brutally breaks Locke’s neck in a killing move. Bran returns to his own body and orders Hodor to cut him free, do the same to the Reeds, and free Summer. While Hodor goes to do that, Bran inches his way closer to the fight coming oh so close to Jon who could probably hear his half-brother if it wasn’t for the chaos of the fight. The newly freed Reeds come over and Jojen tells Bran that if he wants to meet the three eyed raven, they’re going to have to leave because Jon will bring them back to Castle Black. Bran knows Jojen is right and somberly says that they have to leave now, ending this Stark reunion bid tragically short.

Jon’s makes quick work of the first few mutineers and then heads inside to face Karl when he appears to be the last one left. Last episode did a good job of establishing that Karl is a great killer and one that plays dirty but even still, it might be surprising when Karl gets a stab on Jon’s side after spitting in his face to startle him. Karl has Jon on the ropes but one of Craster’s wives comes from behind and stabs Karl in the back. Karl turns around to kill the woman but he leaves Jon unattended and that’s a move that costs him his life as Jon sends a sword through the back of his head and out his mouth. After the chaos, Dolorous Edd does a head count and finds they’re one mutineer short. Rest assured, Ghost takes care of the runaway mutineer, Rast, by brutally killing him. Ghost returns to Jon and they share a happy moment, a reunion after a real long time away. With the madness over, Jon offers Craster’s wives refuge at the wall. They refuse, not being able to trust brothers of the watch after what the mutineers did to them, fair enough. They do take Jon up on his second offer though, and are more than content when Jon says they should burn the place to the ground. Craster’s Keep, a place of true nightmares and atrocities is no more.

Other Thoughts

Interesting to note that Dany refers to King Robert as a usurper but they actually have quite a bit in common. They both took cities that weren’t theirs and did it quite easily. Robert struggled with the ability to rule and Dany looks like she might be running into the same problems here in Slaver’s Bay.

All this talk of The Iron Bank makes you wonder if we’re going to see this bank anytime soon. Davos wrote a letter to them a short while back and Tywin made them sound big and scary in this episode. Seems like a lot of screen time for a throwaway location if that’s all that it is.

We learn more about Prince Oberyn in the episode and he continues to be an interesting fellow. Newly learned in this episode is that Oberyn is an aspiring but ultimately mediocre poet, and he has eight daughters. Eight daughters? Wow!

Tyrion sits this episode out, his third no show in the thirty five episodes of the show up to this point. They’ve been making a big deal about the trial, and all of a sudden he gets a bye week? His trial is most likely next episode then.

Do you reckon Sansa got any sleep that first night in The Eyrie? Lysa said she was going to scream so loud while having sex with Littlefinger that night that the whole country would be able to hear them. Not quite sure about the whole country but it was very much audible from Sansa’s chamber.

It’s kind of odd that Littlefinger loved Cat all his life but his moves to create chaos are the reason that Cat is dead now. He thrives on chaos though so he can keep climbing that ladder, and he’s got Cat’s crazy sister as a consolation prize, so it’s alright, maybe?

Also kind of odd that The Eyrie wasn’t featured on the intro map. The Eyrie was on the map in season one and we spend a lot of time there in this episode so there doesn’t seem to be an excuse to ignore it.

Quote of the day comes from Sandor, showing his surprise at Arya’s claim that Syrio was the world’s best swordsman. “Meryn Trant? The greatest swordsman in the world lost to Meryn fucking Trant? Any boy whore with a sword could beat three Meryn Trants”. Absolutely no one takes Meryn Trant seriously.

“First of His Name” sees Tommen Baratheon become King of The Seven Kingdoms while plot lines outside the capital move at a quickening pace. 

Grade B+

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