Thursday, June 9, 2011
To say I've been waiting quite a while for this one episode is a severe understatement. I'd known that the book series' author, George R. R. Martin, would be writing ep. 8 since the middle of last year. Needless to say, us book fans have been up in a lather to finally catch this climactic turning point in the first novel that this season is based upon.
And now, the time has finally come. I'm literally bouncing in my seat to get this show cued up and ready to go! But before I do, please take a moment to check out my previous episode reactions by clicking their appropriate links below:
Episode 1: "Winter is Coming."
Episode 2: "The Kingsroad."
Episode 3: "Lord Snow."
Episode 4: "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things."
Episode 5: "The Wolf and the Lion."
Episode 6: "A Golden Crown."
Episode 7: "You Win or You Die."
And now, let us begin the show!
THE POINTY END
Quick recap of all the important points from last episode. The items of great note are:
That the Lannister patriarch, Lord Tywin, has amassed an army of some 60,000 men to send against the Starks and their allies.
Ned foolishly reveals to Cersei his knowledge of the true parentage of her children.
King Robert dies in a hunting accident.
At the Wall, Jon Snow's uncle Benjen, First Ranger of the Night's Watch, goes missing along with his party while in wildling territory. Ghost comes back from the woods with a human hand in his jaws.
Across the Narrow Sea, an attempt on his khaleesi's life by an assassin sent from Westeros enrages Khal Drogo and spurs him to proclaim war on the Iron Throne.
Ned is too late to mobilize against Cersei's faction and is arrested for treason after being betrayed by Littlefinger.
Opening sequence rolls. Still no new changes. The five locations on the map are as they have been for the last several episodes: King's Landing, The Eyrie, Winterfell, The Wall, and Vaes Dothrak. To be more accurate, though, Khal Drogo's khalasar is no longer in the capital of his people. They're on the move now crossing the grassy plains called the "Dothraki Sea."
The big item of interest here, however, is the writing credit. George R. R. Martin is in the DA HOUSE!!! I'm expecting great things tonight.
Daniel Minahan is still the director. Sheesh, how many episode is that now? Three? Four?
Okay, damn. This is how I know the episode is going to rock. It opens on Arya receiving a "dancing" lesson from her Braavosi trainer, Syrio mutherfucking Forel! And, yes, I need the MF-bomb in there so as to properly convey just how awesome this man is.
I love the sound of the wooden swords plunking against each other -- especially because I know where this scene is leading to . . .
Oh BOYEEE! They're really not holding back. The episode's only begun and already we're getting blood and carnage in the streets of King's Landing. Looks like Cersei wasted no time in sending her Lannister guards out to slaughter every single member of House Stark's household at the castle. Northmen are dying left and right. It's like straight out of the Bible, that's how epic this slaughter of the innocents is. Whoa!
Hmm, looks like some of the City Watch guards are also involved. See Ned? This is how you play the damn GAME of THRONES!
. . . Syrio and Arya still sparring. This little girl's gotten quite good. For the honor of Greyskull!!!
. . . Sansa and Septa Mordane hurrying down a hall in the Red Keep. Sansa's complaining about having to pack and leave for Winterfell, and how Arya's busy with her stupid dancing master. Heh, heh. Everyone thinks Arya's taking real dancing lessons. Morons!
But, wait! Septa Mordane hushes the child. She hears the sound of swords clashing and men dying out in the streets. She quickly sends Sansa booking in the opposite direction, back the way they just came.
Aww shit! I remember how much this scene moved me in the book. How Septa Mordane stood up to the Lannister guards who come pouring in. I actually felt sad that all these people from Winterfell who I'd grown attached to started to drop dead all over the place. But by this point in the novel I couldn't turn the pages fast enough!
Syrio pauses to teach Arya a valuable lesson in seeing the truth beyond what your mere eyes show you. It's a lesson she'll get to use in about, oh, 3 seconds tops . . . because into the room comes stomping Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard in full body armor. Five Lannister men, also armed and armored, spread out across the room behind him.
Meryn rudely demands that Arya come with them on request of her father, the Hand. Arya automatically steps forward to obey when Syrio blocks her progress with one hand.
Syrio: "And why is it that Lord Eddard is sending Lannister men in place of his own? I am wondering . . ."
Meryn: "Mind your place 'dancing master.' This is no concern of yours."
Arya finally sees the truth of what's going on here. She instinctively reaches down to retrieve her wooden sword. Good girl!
LOL! One of the stupid guards gives Syrio some lip as he tries to take Arya. Syrio quickly slaps his real sword aside with his own wooden one, then smartly strikes the fool across his throat with a vicious slice. The fool goes down hard. The other four Lannister guards draw their weapons. Meryn steps back out of their way.
Syrio: "Arya, child, we are done with dancing for the day. Run to your father."
What transpires next is a sequence of movements so awesome in their kick-assitude that Miyamoto Mushashi himself jumps out of his grave, clapping!
Syrio proceeds to quickly and very efficiently lay the smack down on these candy asses with nothing but a single wooden sword! HOLY FUCK!!! I'm simply dumbfounded by how easy he made that all look. And, yes, I did indeed shout out loud at the screen, for this is a scene straight from the book that I've been waiting YEARS for! Can you imagine having read this on paper over a decade ago, then hearing about a show being made on the same material but having to wait 4 years before it came to fruition?
Yes, now you know why I've been so crazy about this show. This scene alone tells it all. Damn! It's so good I could almost cry! Here--watch it for yourself below and weep, too:
Arya looks worried, though. But Syrio's not afraid.
Syrio: "Be gone now, Arya."
Arya: "Come with me. Run!"
Syrio: "The First Sword of Braavos does not run."
Eventually Meryn Trant is the only opponent still standing. He pulls out his own sword and slices Syrio's wooden one in half. Syrio gives him this look like: So? I'm still going to kick your ass, son!
Syrio: "What do we say to the god of death?"
Arya: "Not today."
Finally, this little girl listens to sense and runs out of the room. Go Arya!
We don't know what happens to Syrio. Is he alive? Is he dead? Shit.
Sansa runs smack dab into. . .
Sandor Clegane -- the Hound! Oh, fuck!
Sansa tells him to stay back, that she'll tell the queen.
Sandor merely laughs as he closes in on her. "Who do you think sent me?"
. . . Arya eventually emerges from the stables near the Tower of the Hand. She finds all of her father's men dead on the ground outside. Obviously she cannot go back to her father.
Wisely, she searches through all the household boxes that were being loaded for Winterfell and finds her sword, Needle. Good thing, too, because an overreaching stable boy thinks he's going to take her in for a reward.
Except, the only reward he gets is a bellyache of cold STEEL! Ouch. Guess he now knows why the title of this episode is "The Pointy End."
Yeah! Don't MESS with Arya Stark!
Speaking of Ned . . .
Yup, folks. It's happened. He's locked up in the deepest, darkest part of the dungeon. Damn, I do so hate to see a good man brought so low.
Lord Varys--aka, the Spider--comes to visit. He brings a torch and some water for Ned. He also berates the former Hand, asking why in the hells did he tell Cersei what he knew?
Exactly, fat man. Exactly. This is what everyone watching the show has been asking themselves.
Varys also brings some grim news.
"I trust you know you're a dead man, Lord Eddard?"
Ned is further dismayed to learn that Tyrion Lannister has escaped justice and is now free of his wife Catelyn's hold. Now there will be no bargaining with the Lannisters for his life.
Ned: "Tell me, Varys: who do you truly serve?"
Varys: "The realm, my lord. Someone must."
Suuuure you do, ball-less wonder. Sure you do.
Meanwhile, up at the Wall, Jon and Sam return from giving their vows at the weirwood tree with the frozen bodies of two rangers in tow -- Othor and Jafer Flowers. Jafer's left hand is missing where Ghost tore it off in the woods. Guess he'll have to learn to both shake hands AND "make the bald man cry" with the right one now. Not at the same time, of course.
Wait, what am I saying? He's DEAD!
Or, is he . . .?
Sam astutely points out that the bodies are not rotting from decay. Hoo-boy. I know what that means, but I won't say for now. Something tells me we'll be finding out soon enough anyway.
Uh-oh, a raven just came for Lord Commander Mormont. Bad news, Jon. Might want to pour yourself a horn of ale, too.
Mormont breaks the news to his squire that Ned is being branded a traitor and is in captivity at King's Landing. Jon wants to rush off to help his family, but Mormont reminds him that he put that world behind when he took his vows. No man of the black can ever return.
Damn, that's harsh dude. Dave Chappelle as Rick James was in the corner during this scene. As Jon walked by, he sang out: "Coooold blooded!"
Ugh! I want to puke. The queen and the Small Council are in cahoots trying to get Sansa to believe that they have her best interests at heart. Littlefinger and Grand Maester Pycelle do an excellent job of acting off Cersei's cues. They play Sansa like a fiddle!
Hmm, I get the feeling they rehearsed all this before the poor girl was dragged into the chamber. Varys stays curiously silent throughout most of the ordeal. They convince her that her father is indeed a traitor to the throne, and to write a letter to be sent by raven to Winterfell asking her brother, Robb, to travel south and swear fealty to Joffrey in their father's place.
Sansa is still loyal to her father, but she also wants to be on the queen's good side here. Dumb, dumb child!
At Winterfell, the raven's arrived from King's Landing with Sansa's message. Maester Luwin confirms for Robb that it is indeed Sansa's handwriting, but that those are the queen's words. Glad to see someone can see through all the bullshit. Of course, Maester Luwin has the benefit of not being an emo 13 yr old girl.
Robb: "Joffrey puts my father in chains, and now he wants his ass kissed?"
Yeah, Robb! You're finally coming into your own--w00t! He tells Luwin to call all the banners, the noble lords of the North who owe their allegiance to his father.
HOLY CRAP!!! Look at all those ravens Maester Luwin lets loose! They're spreading the word far and wide: WINTER IS COMING!
OH FUCK YEAH! That was such an awesome--and chilling--scene right thar! The music got all ominous sounding as we see what must be HUNDREDS of birds flying out in all different directions. If that's one raven per bannerman . . .
Hmmm, methinks the Lannisters just picked the wrong family to fuck with!
Looks like one of those ravens flew to the Eyrie, where Ned's wife and Robb's mum, Catelyn, gets word of what happened only much later in the day. She storms into her sister's chamber pissed as all get out.
Oh. My. GAWD!!! Why, damn it, why??? Why must I be subjected to that little shit, Robin, again? He starts pulling at his batshit crazy mom's blouse and demanding to be fed. For a chilling second, I almost fear we'll be subjected to another uncomfortable breast feeding display. ACK!!!!
But, PHEW! Nope. Got spared that shit as Lysa sends her brat packing so she and big sis can talk in private.
Oh that bitch! She doesn't want to get involved in a war between the Starks and the Lannisters. Loony Tunes here just wants to sit perched in her high castle with her darling boy and wait it all out, is that it? Oh, I see how it goes.
Cat: "Does family mean nothing to you?"
Lysa: "Family means everything to me. And I will not risk Robin's life to get caught up in another of your husband's wars."
Kanye comes out of nowhere with a mike in his hand. "Cat, look -- Imma let you finish, but you seriously need to punch yo sister square in the face. Oh, and everyone knows Beyonce's video was the best. Peace, y'all!"
Lysa refuses to devote the knights of the Vale to her kin's cause. The Lannisters have her shook.
Looks like Catelyn will have to leave the Eyrie behind now. Good riddance!
Oh, I love this scene! Tyrion and Bronn are walking through the Mountains of the Moon after having left the Eyrie a couple of episodes back in episode 6. Tyrion is whistling something that sounds suspiciously similar to Beethoven's 3rd Symphony in E Flat.
I wonder if Peter Dinklage improvised that? In the book, the song he's whistling is called "The Seasons of My Love," and is supposed to be popular in Myr--one of the Free Cities across the sea.
Bronn is sick of hearing it, though, whatever it is. He's also on edge because the mountains are crawling with hill tribes who'd love nothing more than to rob and gut two unsuspecting travelers taking a merry stroll through the countryside.
Tyrion: "I'd much rather die with a song in my heart."
LOL! What a rascal!
Oh snap, it's SHAGGA! I was wondering if and when the crazy ass Stone Crows would show up. Yeah, boyeee!
Yo, this dude is PERFECT! This is how I always pictured Shagga, son of Dolf, to look. Although, strange. Here he's coming across like he's the chief of the Stone Crows. But that would be Gunthor. Hmm, where the hell is Gunthor?
Ah, yes! The scene is complete! One of my favorite exchanges from this particular chapter, slightly reworded, is here:
Shagga: "How would you like to die, Tyrion son of Tywin?"
Tyrion: "In my own bed, at the age of 80, with a belly full of wine and a girl's mouth around my cock?"
LOL! I couldn't help but guffaw at that! Shagga and the Stone Crows get a kick out of it, too. But they still want to rob the pair blind and leave them for the flies.
Ah, but Tyrion knows how to work his way out of a sticky situation. Gotta love the little dude! He knows how to use his tongue as well as his mind! In return for the hill tribes' help through the wilderness to safety, Tyrion promises that he will use all the resources of the Lannisters to give the Vale over to the mountain clans.
It's apparently an offer Shagga can't refuse, much to Bronn's relief. LOL! I thought dude was gonna shit bricks there -- haha!
Oh great, Ser Alliser Thorne being a dick to John again. He's always had it out for him, and now he's using news of Ned's treason to taunt the kid mercilessly.
Whoa, there! Jon shows he's not to be fucked with! Way to go, man!
Unfortunately, Ser Alliser's not likely to let that one slide. Lord Mormont shows up and tells Jon he's confined to his room for the night.
YES!!! I knew with George R. R. Martin writing this episode -- THERE WILL BE DIREWOLVES!!!
See, this man put the wolves in his books for a fucking reason! And with him in charge this episode, he made damn sure they were there to represent. In this scene we get my favorite direwolf besides Arya's Nymeria -- GHOST!
Uh-oh, Ghost doesn't seem too happy with something going on outside the room. He's doing his best Lassie imitation at the door. Jon lets him out and then follows.
Oh shit, oh shit . . . THIS IS IT! This is the scene I was wondering if they would get right. Ghost leads Jon to Commander Mormont's chambers at the top of Castle Black, only to find the dead ranger, Othor, waiting there!
Well, hot damn that had me on the edge of my seat! Othor has come back from the dead as a wight -- more workings of the White Walkers. You can barely see his blue eyes in the darkness of the scene, but they're there.
Remember the little girl in the pilot episode? How she came back from the dead in the woods beyond the Wall and had those creepy blue eyes? She was a wight. The White Walkers (called Others in the books) bring dead people back to life to serve as their thralls.
Can we say, CREEPY?
Aww, shit! Jon figured out the wight's weakness -- FIRE! Got burned a little for his troubles, but now poor Othor can truly rest in peace.
Yup, it's true. Jon Snow is still DA MAN!
Across the Narrow Sea, the Dothraki are boys gone wild out on the town. In fact, they're raiding all the sedentary villages in the area in order to raise enough slaves to sell for gold and ships to invade Westeros.
Daenerys doesn't look too happy at witnessing the number one and two top Dothraki hobbies -- raping and pillaging! She orders her men to stop one Dothraki raider by the name of Mago from enjoying his spoils.
Oh shit, I forgot all about Mirri Maz Duur! She's the woman Mago tries to , er, "mount" before the Khal's bloodriders pull him off.
Holy hells, this woman is hideous! Mirri Maz Duur is the village's healer and "godswife", priestess of the Great Shepherd. But here she looks more like a future Snooki in Season 68 of Jersey Shore -- my GODS!!!
Mago, I think Daenerys saved you from a fate worse than death.
But Mago is pissed. He has the effrontery to call Drogo out for listening to his wife--a mere woman--and denying him what is his right.
Uh-oh, that did it. That's your ass now, son!
WHOA -- OH SHIT!!! Drogo completely OWNED this dude! He didn't even bother using any weapons. He took homie on with his bare hands, turning his own blade against him, slitting his neck, and then fucking reaching through the hole to rip out his TONGUE through his fucking THROAT!!!
WHAT THE HELLS???? That was just badass!
Groucho Marx, cigar wagging in his mouth, wanders over to where Mago is sprawled on the ground and asks: "Whatsa matter, fella? Khal got your tongue?"
Seriously, though, that was some epic ownage right there. This fight isn't in the book, but I guess they wanted viewers to see Drogo in action finally. I heartily approve!
After the fight, Dany rushes over to her "Sun and Stars" and fusses over the gash he's received on his chest. She calls for a healer, and Mirri Maz offers up her services. Drogo doesn't see the big deal, but he rolls his eyes and gives in to the "moon of [his] life."
I don't know that I would let that little troll creature near me, dude . . .
At Winterfell . . . hey look--it's Grey Wind! Robb Stark's direwolf. Yeah! That's two separate direwolf sightings now! George is the da man!
Robb is hosting his father's bannermen, getting them riled up for war against the Lannisters. At his dinner table, Jon Umber of Last Hearth--known to all in the North as "The Greatjon"--takes offense at Robb's decision to place Galbart Glover, Lord of Deepwood Motte, at the head of his vanguard.
The Greatjon tests Robb, standing up and drawing his blade in the feast hall--a big no-no in the North. But Grey Wind suddenly leaps forward and jumps his ass, biting off two of the man's fingers in the process!
HAHA! Yeah, that's right! Don't fuck with a direwolf and its master, fool!
Afterwards, Robb displays his leadership skills and cleverly disguises Jon Umber's insult:
Robb: "Doubtless the Greatjon only meant to cut my meat for me."
Umber grasps the bloody ruin of his hand and glares at Robb. Then he busts out laughing.
Greatjon: "Your meat . . . is bloody tough!"
All in the hall join him in laughing, and now everything's all okay.
Northmen, I tell ya. What a strange lot. I like them!
After the feast, we get a touching scene in Bran's chambers where Robb says goodbye to his little brother. Bran wants to go south with him despite his disability, but Robb reminds him that there must always be a Stark in Winterfell.
Yup, that means Bran is now the man of the house! And by the way, where the hell is Hodor? He's supposed to be carrying Bran around in a big ol basket Maester Luwin makes for that purpose. I demand more Hodor this episode. HODOR!
LOL! A random little boy wanders into Bran's room after Robb leaves. I know many of you who didn't read the books have no idea who the hell this kid is -- but that's Rickon! He's the youngest Stark child, only around 5 or 6 years old. Believe it or not, he was briefly in the pilot episode. Sitting on a post in the courtyard, laughing, as Brandon shot arrows in that one scene. And standing just barely within frame when King Robert and his retinue show up at Winterfell in another.
Rickon is like the Carrie Ingalls of Winterfell. Barely ever mentioned, even in the books, but brought out every now and then just for show. Actually, he has a pretty interesting talent which you see hinted at here in this scene:
Rickon: "They've all gone away."
Bran: "They'll be back soon. Robb will free father, and they'll come back with mother.
Rickon: "No they won't!"
Oooh, CREEPY! He says it with such finality, like as if he knows things . . .
Oh, and we don't get to see Rickon's direwolf on this show, like, EVAR! But his name in the books is Shaggydog, fyi.
Oh, wow! I like this scene! Bran prays in Winterfell's Godswood before the heart tree by the pond. Osha, shackled and bedraggled, shuffles across the leaf-littered forest floor. She teaches Bran that the Old Gods are not merely symbolic, but alive among the weirwood trees. They are answering his prayers!
Oh, how cool is that? We get a closeup of the face on the weirwood tree! Each heart tree has a different face. If you remember, the one Jon and Sam said their Night's Watch vows to had a more Jack-O-Lantern type of face. This one seems to have its eyes closed with red sap tears dripping down. Hot damn that is so AWESOME!
She also reveals that all the Godswoods have been cut down in the south, and that where Robb is now headed the Old Gods won't be able to help him. And she--
--holy fuck, I'm BLIND!!!
You know, when I said I wanted to see more Hodor in this episode, I didn't mean LIKE THAT! Jesus tap-dancing CHRIST!
Osha finds the sight of Hodor's . . . um . . . "Hodor", amusing.
"Now there's a big man! He has giant's blood in him, or I'm the queen!"
LOL! Guess she also knows why this epsiode's called "The Pointy End", too. What's funny is that giants are real, and they're behind the Wall. What's not funny is that Osha isn't kidding when it comes to the Old Gods not having any power in the south. Yes, the Old Gods are real, too!
Osha warns Bran that all these blasted armies should be directing their rage towards what's coming out of the Far North, and not each other.
Winter is indeed coming.
Back at the Wall, all the new recruits-turned-Watchmen are standing around as the bodies of Othor and Jafer are burned in a blazing pyre. Sam educates everyone about what's going on--he's read it all in one of Maester Aemon's books, see?
Turns out that both men were touched by the White Walkers upon their deaths. And, as such, they were brought back to life as wights, who's eyes are icy blue. Fire is the only way to kill them.
Uh, yeah. Thanks kid. I already mentioned all this earlier.
Sam: "The White Walkers sleep beneath the ice for thousands of years. And when they wake up . . ."
Pyp: "And when they wake up--what?"
Sam: "I hope the Wall is high enough."
Okaaaay then. Right, I don't think we'll be getting any sleep tonight. Thanks Sam old pal, old buddy!
Catelyn and Ser Rodrik Cassel have traveled all the way from the Vale to The Neck, not far from the Riverlands--Cat's old stomping grounds. They run across Robb's army there.
Cat finds her son in one of the larger tents, going over strategy with the Greatjon and the other top lords of his army.
Greatjon: "Have no fear, my lady. We'll shove our swords up Tywin Lannister's bunghole! And then it's on to the Red Keep to free Ned."
Ah, I'm loving the dude they picked to play the Greatjon. But, alas: if only it were that easy, my man.
Aww, Cat's little boy's all grow'd up! You can tell she wants to hug him fierce, but she holds back because all of Robb's men are watching them. How embarrassing would that be? You're supposed to be some big general, and here your mum shows up to peck you on the cheek and tousle your hair?
No, Cat's smarter than that. She waits until Robb's men leave before bestowing properly motherly love.
What a great moment! I'm so happy to see them reunited.
Robb hands his mother the message from Sansa. Like Maester Luwin, she sees right through it as the queen's doing. She realizes now that, although she doesn't want her eldest son marching off to war, there is no choice. Robb's committed to battle.
Cat: "Our best hope--our only hope!--is that you can defeat them in the field."
Rob: "And if I lose?"
Cat: "If you lose . . . your father dies, your sisters die, we die."
Rob: "So that makes it simple, then."
Cat: "I suppose it does."
That's right! It's just like Cersei--that bitch!--said to Ned in the previous episode. When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.
In Robb's case, there is no turning back.
What powerful writing in this scene!
Tyrion, Bronn, and various hill tribes' representatives from the Mountains of the Moon--the Stone Crows, Burned Men, and Black Ears--arrive safe and sound at Tywin Lannister's main camp. Guess the dwarf's bargaining tactics paid off in spades! But now the barbarians want their due.
Have no fear: A Lannister always pays his debts!
It's so funny to see the normally confident and verbose Tyrion cowed and just a tad bit fearful in front of the Lannister pater familias. Tywin is conferring with his brother--Tyrion's Uncle Kevan--about the movement of Robb's army.
Tyrion interrupts and introduces his "companions", as his father puts it. He saves his personal bodyguard for last.
Tyrion: "And here we have Bronn, son of . . ."
Bronn: "--You wouldn't know him."
LOL! Good ol' Bronn. He's so much fun to have around!
Damn, Tywin's a right bastard, ain't he? He wastes no time in blaming his son for the war, asking why he couldn't take more after his older brother.
Tyrion: "We have our differences, Jaime and I. He's braver, I'm better looking."
Ha-ha! That Tyrion, what a jokester!
Ser Kevan fills his nephew in on what's been going on since his capture. Tyrion is shocked to hear about the King's death and Ned's arrest. You can tell he knows his own family is behind these recent developments.
Sorry, dude. You can't pick your family. Gotta just deal with what you were born with. Certainly a theme he's all too familiar with, no doubt.
Tyrion mentions to his dear ol' pops the debt owed to his companions. Tywin sizes them all up, before addressing Shagga of the Stone Crows directly:
Tywin: "It is said that the men of the mountain clans are great warriors. Ride with me against my enemies, and you shall have all my son promised you and more."
Shagga: "Only if the half-man fights with us. Until we hold the steel he pledged us, the little lion's life is ours."
At this, Tyrion gets this OH SHIT look on his face. I almost expect him to cry out: "But I'm a lover, not a fighter!"
LOL! This should be interesting.
Back at Robb's camp, more strategy is discussed. Because Tywin's forces are split between himself and Jaime, the men are divided on who to attack first. Robb astutely points out that to do either, they must first cross the river. And the only crossing is at the Twins, a double stronghold held by House Frey spanning both sides of the river. The Freys owe allegiance to Cat's father, Lord Hoster Tully of Riverrun, but they're not the most trustworthy of bannermen.
Some soldiers catch a Lannister spy skulking about the camp's outskirts. Robb learns that he's been taking count of his men and arms.
All the commanders want him executed, but Robb decides to show mercy and send him back to Tywin with a message.
Catelyn objects firmly, but quickly quiets when she realizes she'll be undermining her son's command if she voices her opinion. Wow, the look in her eyes as she fights to hold it all back is such an amazing display of great acting. The eyes say it all!
Hmm, is Robb suffering from the same noble curse as his father? Being too merciful at a moment when he should be hard as nails toward his opponents?
Actually, Robb is being very smart here I think. He's okay with the spy knowing the size of his forces. And the message he wants him to deliver?
Robb: "Tell Lord Tywin, winter is coming for him! 20,000 northerners marching south to find out if he really does shit gold."
Now, some of you might be thinking that this is a dumb move on Robb's part. A potentially costly one, too. But, see, this is a ruse. Robb has no intention of launching his entire force at only one point against his enemy's host. But Tywin will assume that's precisely what he's doing, because Robb is young and too eager for the glory of war.
Robb knows Tywin will think this, and so he plans to do the opposite. I won't say any more. You'll just have to wait and see.
But damn I'm loving this plot!
Ack! Gag me now! Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne and presides over court, with his dear mum Queen Cersei guiding him.
Grand Maester Pycelle reads off a list of promotions for those who helped to put down the traitor Ned Stark in his bid against the throne. Commander Janos Slynt of the City Watch (those bastards who turned on Ned, and who helped the Lannister men butcher his entire household at King's Landing) is bestowed the title of lord and granted the hold of Harrenhal as his seat.
Next up: Tywin Lannister is named the new Hand of the King.
And to add insult to injury, Ser Barristan Selmy--aka, Barristan the Bold--is retired and Jaime set in his place as the new Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Wayne from Wayne's World shows up, cups one hand behind his ear, and asks: "Exquise me? Baking powder?"
So let me get this straight: One Lannister is Queen. The other, Commander of the Kingsguard. Their bastard is King, and granddaddy is the Hand?
Does no one at court hear any alarm bells going off? HELLOOOOOO!
And hey, there's Meryn Trant again! He's standing there guarding the throne along with 4 other Kingsguard. Remember, this is the guy we last saw squaring off against Syrio Forel before the camera switched away.
*gulp* Does this mean . . .?
No, no. Best not think on that. Where were we now?
Oh yes. Ser Barristan goes ballistic at this news. And rightfully so! Kingsguard don't retire. They serve until they die in battle protecting the king. This is a grievous insult!
Joffrey: "You let my father die. You're too old to protect anybody."
Oh, that little fucker! Arrgh! I can't stand seeing this kid's pansy ass face! I just want to smash things like the Hulk now.
Holy shit, the old dude gets all righteous indignant and shit. He angrily throws down his helmet and starts stripping his armor off right there in the throne room. RIGHT ON!
Barristan: "I am a knight! I shall die a knight!"
Littlefinger: "A naked knight, apparently."
The whole court laughs at this. Oh, Littlefinger. You're such a prick!
Ser Barristan whips out his sword suddenly. Meryn Trant and his guards are quick on the defensive, the ring of steel echoing throughout the hall.
Barristan: "Even now I can cut through the five of you like carving a cake!"
Whoa! This dude is no joke. But, alas, he's only making a point. Barristan throws down his sword and storms off.
Poor Ser Barristan. I hope we see him again, sporting a long white beard, perhaps, in future seasons . . .
Next up: what to do with Ned Stark.
As if on cue, Sansa steps forward and addresses the throne. By the smile on Cersei's face, you can tell that they've rehearsed this well. The ice bitch never smiles unless she's in control of all contingencies.
Cersei: "Do you have some business for the King and the council, Sansa?"
Sansa: "I do."
She kneels before the throne and beseeches Joffrey to show leniency and, perhaps, even mercy on her father. She blames his bum leg and the milk of the poppy administered to him by Grand Maester Pycelle for her father's poor lapse in judgment.
Ick! That ass Joffrey puts on a grand show of carefully considering her plea. Stop with the theatrics, you little shit! We all know Cersei has her hand so far up your ass your breath smells like nail polish.
Joffrey: "Your sweet words have moved me."
"But your father has to confess. He has to confess and say that I'M THE KING! Or they'll be no mercy for him."
Wow! Now that, my friends, is a damn EPISODE! Woooo!
I swear, this is the best one yet! I know I say that each week, but this time it can't be disputed. So much awesome in just 60 minutes of screen time. George R. R. Martin can write his ass off, I tell you what! Every scene served exactly the right purpose for what was needed to advance the plot. No sexposition. No droning reminisces. No unnecessary characters fisting their co-workers whilst taking up valuable screen time. Just pure, unadulterated STORY advancement!
Oh, and the dialogue was quite snappy too!
So what did you all think? Will Ned be shown the same courtesy of mercy he granted the Lannisters, or is this the end of our noble hero?
What I love about this episode is the notion of mercy, and how granting it may or may not be the wrong way to go about playing the Game of Thrones. This is a central theme that runs throughout the entire series of books, not just the first one. Does mercy make you weak, or strong? Does the moral but weak man make the best king? Does the corrupt but strong one? It's actually a conundrum that is not so easily answered. So don't go expecting it all to be neatly resolved anytime soon.
Still, that all being said -- yes, you can expect a helluva lot more from the final two episodes of the season. Things come to such a head, with so many twists and betrayals thrown in the mix for good measure, that I can confidently say that no one who hasn't read the books will ever be able to predict how this season ends.
Oh man, it's going to be JAW-DROPPING to say the least! Are you excited? I certainly am!
So, if you will, please join me next week when I bring you my reactions to Ep. 9: "Baelor."