MD

2014-05-05

Friday, November 21, 2014

Advertise with us »

May 5, 2014 - 9:08pm

'Game of Thrones' RECAP: 'The First of His Name' a reminder of why we love this show

BY CHLOE GILKE

HBO

Chloe Gilke
As much as my faith has been shaken during the past few episodes, "The First of His Name" made me remember why I love this show. It's the subtle exchanges, minute actions of power play and the ever-rare moment of emotional intensity. The big moments are certainly cool, and this episode wasn't without them — Jon Snow stabbed somebody through the mouth, and it was totally awesome. But Arya listing off the names of the men she wanted to kill, Brienne growing to trust Podrick, the hush of a room as a boy too sweet to wear such a bloody crown ascends the throne? It's amazing that one look between Cersei and Margaery could be as fascinating as seeing Jon slash someone's throat or Dany's dragons breathe fire and revenge. There's so much to talk about here, I barely know where to begin.
Alex Intner
So much happened in this episode! We probably learned the most from Sansa's trip to the Vale, which featured the return of the crazy Lysa Arryn (or, as of now, Lisa Baelish) and her son, Robin. (Robin still complained that he couldn't let that horrible imp fly). Sansa is safer there than in King's Landing, but at the Vale she'll be forced to marry the breastfeeding Robin. The Vale is a striking, dark castle, so obviously a place where you would go for safety. It was great to see Kate Dickie back on the show, she makes Lysa suitably creepy (and batshit crazy).
Chloe Gilke
I was not expecting that Littlefinger/Lysa marriage (although I probably should have been, seeing as he's demonstrated that he's got it pretty bad for those Tully ladies). I'm still getting over how absolutely icky they are. Poor Sansa had to listen to them loudly making love, as if she hasn't suffered enough. Kate Dickie was fantastic, though, and she really relished every ounce of Lysa's craziness. Her conversation with Sansa, where she accused Sansa of sleeping with Petyr, was chilling. And her comment about Sansa's potential marriage to Robin (I will never forget his brief appearance in season 1 as a breastfeeding eight year old) was wrong in so many ways. Also, an enormous revelation about Jon Arryn sort of snuck its way into all the Eyrie action. Yes, Petyr Baelish was involved in another poisoning of another prominent Westeros citizen. If I wasn't skeptical before, I'm really worried about Sansa being trusted to Baelish's care. She really can't catch a break, can she?
Alex Intner
Now we know that Baelish is responsible for the events of the series (Ned went to King's Landing in order to take over for Arryn). While his care is better than the Lannisters, Sansa really can't get a break! Meanwhile, her sister is still on the way to the Vale, and learning a thing or two about sword fighting from The Hound. The two scenes with the two of them were as good as others in the arc. Arya essentially telling the Hound she wants to kill him was suitably tense. I can't tell whether the two of them will end up fighting in the end or not (for awhile, it looked like they were getting along), but these scenes remained strong. (I can't wait for the moment when Sansa and Arya reunite, although at this rate the closest thing we're going to get is the #TrueDetectiveSeason2 meme.)
Chloe Gilke
One of my favorite moments in the episode was when the Hound told Arya that her beloved mentor Syrio had died because a little sword is always thwarted by armor and a bigger sword. Arya took this as an insult to her own reliance on skill and cunning, and for good reason. This sums up their relationship quite succinctly. While she fantasizes about killing Joffrey (sorry, honey, but Littlefinger beat you to it), the Hound is jaded and beyond revenge. Both have seen the damage a sword can do (let's not forget that Arya witnessed her father's beheading with Valyrian steel), but at this point their ideologies couldn't be more different. But despite the animosity, the Hound and Arya actually make a good team. He's gruff, but has a sort of fatherly tenderness toward her — casually teasing her grumbling before sleep, and even his snapping Needle from her hands could be interpreted as him trying to teach her a lesson. Sansa could definitely benefit from hanging out with these tough two, as their camp is probably the safest place in Westeros. Speaking of fan favorites, Hodor had some awesome moments in this episode. Another reason it's my favorite of the season — maximum utterances of Hodor and Hodor snapping a guy's neck with his bare hands. (!!!!!)
Alex Intner
HODOR! The sequence at Craster's keep was my favorite of the episode. It had all the tense action and a couple of great plot twists. I didn't see Locke attempting to take Bran somewhere else (to kill him?) coming. That also led to the best use of Hodor this season (as you said, HE SNAPPED SOMEONE'S NECK WITH HIS BARE HANDS!) Although I'm not a fan of the general “two people who are not supposed to see each other get so close to each other without seeing one another” gimmick, this use of it with Bran and Jon was pretty well executed. There was also Jon fighting the former Night's Watch members, including an awesome fight with Karl, ending with one of the best "kill shots" of the season with Jon stabbing Karl through the mouth. Michelle MacLaren has shown she's an extremely talented director on Breaking Bad, and this was another fantastic sequence from her.
Chloe Gilke
Of course this episode was directed by the fabulous Michelle MacLaren, who's proven before that she can direct fight scenes like no other. But besides the skill she employed in the more action-packed scenes, the same intensity was still present in all the quieter scenes. I know in past weeks I've complained about some inherent misogyny on the show, but D&D finally addressed it in this episode. I certainly appreciated Jaime's brief break from the action in this episode, but what really changed my tune was a line from Cersei. Oberyn assured her that Myrcella would be safe in paradise at Dorne, but Cersei sadly and knowingly replied that "everywhere in the world they hurt little girls." In that one phrase, Cersei perfectly articulated the worst thing about Westeros. It's not the fight for power or the death, but the fact that there's no way to escape it. Even the safety of home, or a foreign place where things are promised to be different — they're not. You can hide all you want, but like those White Walkers circling the North, tyranny and abuse are inescapable. I've had problems with Cersei's character before, but in her conversation with Margaery, discussing the details of her marriage to Tommen, some crucial character details were revealed. She's not oblivious, and her weary looks to Margaery as she barely disguises her power plays, are so telling. She's ambitious but powerless and broken. Please stop me before I talk about Cersei Lannister forever. In other news, Dany is making her own play for the throne. But despite Jorah's urging, she's skipping the actual conquest part, and going straight to "ruling."
Alex Intner
Cersei's scenes in the episode were some of her best material in awhile. She's probably one of the more powerful women in Westeros, but she still has to ask her father about her decision to marry Tommen to Margaery. Even if she has power, it's nothing compared to that yielded by the Lords. I agree with what you said on that subject. And, I found Dany's decision to rule her current territories rather than expand to be a fascinating one. Her small "kingdom" is collapsing and I agree with her that if she can't control three cities across the sea, she won't be able to take control of Westeros when she returns. She's been so focused on freeing the slaves and taking control of the cities, that her change of heart (taking a step back from conquest) shows that she is wise beyond her years and extremely pragmatic.
Chloe Gilke
It was really a week for the ladies to have a change of heart or a new revelation. Brienne, who's always been more comfortable being a loyal follower than having one, now has a squire of her own. Podrick, who's always been one of the most mystifying characters on "Game of Thrones" (did we ever find out why all those women were so pleased with his performance in bed? Or why that was relevant to the plot?) was an eager and competent hand, but Brienne wasn't initially impressed. However, as much as Brienne likes to assert her independence, Podrick was endearing and helpful. He was sweet and mature for treating her like the knight she really is, rather than helping her along simply because she's a woman (I think this was part of the reason for her hesitance. Brienne doesn't need anyone's charity. And last time she accepted help, Jaime got his hand cut off). And he isn't so useless after all. He threw a spear through a Kingsguard's head!
Alex Intner
Brienne seem alike the kind of person who doesn't like anyone's help, let alone a squire who was forced into her care. Poderick started to break through that stubbornness a little bit. He has always treated those he served with respect, and that means a lot to Brienne, who values that over many other qualities. Something tells me he'll be very useful later on in the journey. And, I don't think we'll ever know what he did to those prostitutes, maybe for the better.
Chloe Gilke
We may have found out who killed Jon Arryn, but I agree. This is a mystery that doesn't need to be solved.
Next week, we'll discuss "The Laws of Gods and Men." (And hopefully not the laws of Podrick's attraction). Talk to you then!


|