Monday, May 23, 2011

"Game of Thrones," Season 1, Ep. 6

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 2:20 PM

WRONG SIDE OF THE BED: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Viewers who complain that “Game of Thrones” lacks a sense of humor should appreciate this week’s episode. “A Golden Crown” features the usual bloodshed and Machiavellian behavior, but also some bona fide laughs

At one point, Sansa and Arya Stark have an exchange worthy of “Modern Family’s” Haley and Alex Dunphy. Joffrey puts aside his spoiled, hateful ways to properly court Sansa, so later the elder Stark girl simpers “I’m meant to be his queen and have his babies!” Prompting Arya to exclaim “Seven hells!” with disdain worthy of a contemporary tween. When Ned tells Sansa they can find her some other brave, strong husband, Sansa practically swoons, “I don’t want someone brave and strong, I want him!” If only Joffrey had been present for that endorsement.

Meanwhile, in the Eyrie, Tyrion’s public confession turns into Dark Ages stand-up comedy. Things hardly looking up for The Imp at first, since he’s still held prisoner on one of those shelf-like cells overlooking a sheer drop. Tyrion also has to teach his brutal, simpleton jailer the idea of taking a bribe on credit. Lyssa assembles a royal court to hear Tyrion’s confession, but he denies complicitly in the attempts on Bran Stark’s life, and instead relates his history of prankish, lecherous activities. “I once milked my eel into a pot of turtle soup!” he declares, which sounds unappetizing even if taken literally.

Lyssa threatens to throw Tyrion through the “moon door” for his crimes, so Tyrion demands a trial by combat and finds an unexpected champion in Bronn (Jerome Flynn), this week’s “Who’s that guy again?” Bronn took Catelyn’s side when she arrested Tyrion in the tavern, and the mercenary (or “sellsword” in George R.R. Martin’s term) fights the Eyrie’s noble champion while trying to avoid the gaping hole in the floor. Bronn prevails and Tyrion goes free, but not before paying his jailer what he promised. “A Lannister always pays his debts,” Tyrion declares. They may be murderous, incestuous schemers, but they’re not cheap.

Bronn’s sort-of defection finds a parallel when Theon Greyjoy discovers Roz the prostitute fleeing the North for King’s Landing. The tensions between the Starks and Lannisters have heated up so much — even though no actual Stark or Lannister has actually died — that the kingdom is preparing for war, and neither Bronn nor Roz think that the Starks represent the winning side. Theon pays Roz to flash him for old time’s sake.

This week’s scenes in the North finally give Robb Stark something to do. Bran has the three-eyed raven dream again, then awakens to find a chance to try out his new saddle. When he’s separated from Robb and Theon, however, Bran faces attack from a group of Wildlings, the rough-hewn tribes people who live on the far side of the wall, and have fled South to escape the White Walkers. Robb and Theon kick Wildling ass, and for the first time we see Robb as a plausible heir to Ned.

Ned, meanwhile, awakens in King’s Landing with the King and Queen at his sickbed. Cersei’s outraged at Tyrion’s kidnapping and the fight with Jamie, proving again that the Lannisters have some balls on them, given that Cersei and Jamie tried to kill Bran Stark. Fortunately the King wants to make amends with Ned, despite Cersei’s taunts: “I should wear the armor, and you the gown!” Robert insists that Ned take back his badge as Hand of the King, and if he balks, “I’ll pin the damn thing on Jamie Lannister!” It reminds me of “The Office,” when Jim turned down the Interim Manager job, so Jo offered it to Dwight Schrute instead.

Ned discovers that the Lannister paterfamilias, the as-yet-unseen Tywin Lannister, has loosed Ser Gregor Cleghane upon Catelyn’s kinfolk in reprisal for the kidnapping of Tyrion. Ser Gregor’s basically acting like a terrorist, and Ned condemns him (in absentia) in such harsh terms that likelihood of war will only escalate. Ned also discovers in the big genealogy book the likelihood that Joffrey is not King Robert’s biological son.

Across the Narrow Sea, Danaerys affirms her right to rule the Dothraki in a ceremony that involves eating a horse-heart and proclaiming, “A prince rides inside me!” It seems that in the Dothraki capital city, the spilling of blood is forbidden — except horseblood, that is. Viserys, meanwhile, realizes that the Dothraki will never follow him, so he attempts to abscond with Danaerys’ dragon eggs, but Jorah stops him.

At the episodes’ end, Viserys swaggers into the Dothraki nightclub/sweat lodge demanding the crown promised him. Khal Drogo promptly melts up a mess of gold and dumps it agonizingly over Viserys’ head in a grotesquely ironic joke that avoids the city’s rule against shedding blood. Danaerys seems disinclined to mourn her brother, seeing herself not only as an honorary Dothraki, but perhaps an heir to the dragons.

So did Viserys die of shock? A shampoo of molten gold would be incredibly painful, but would it be fatal?

I hope next week’s episode has a scene with Catelyn and her sister Lyssa. Catelyn didn’t get to do much this week, even though you had the sense that she believed in Tyrion’s innocence, and we need to see what she thinks of her sister’s mental breakdown.

The trial by combat at the Eyrie, with the big hole in the floor, reminded me of the Timothy Dalton whip-fight on the floating disk in the 1980 Flash Gordon film.

By the way, would Tyrion have faced summary execution if Bronn died? I’m a little fuzzy on the rules of trial by combat. (Another trial by combat is one of my favorite scenes in a future book.)

The background of the courtship scene of Sansa and Joffrey reminded me a little too much of the Padme/Annakin romance in Attack of the Clones.

Also, do any of the book readers recall the rules about who can sit upon the Throne? I thought the king’s representatives could only sit next to it, and only a true king can sit upon the bladed piece of furniture without cutting himself.

I wonder what modern hereditary studies have to say about inherited characteristics like hair color in children.

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