Game of Thrones, S1 Ep3 – Lord Snow

Throne Room

We open with the Starks arriving in King’s Landing, greeted by an un-named (I mean really un-named, not someone who will turn out to be important later but hasn’t been given a name yet) flunky who invites Ned to a meeting of the Small Council once he has changed into something more appropriate. That something more appropriate is the slow and deliberate removal of his gloves, with one of Sean Bean’s finest deadpan expressions. I’m going to like Ned in King’s Landing, I can tell.

I also really like the throne room set. Gorgeous. The throne has been in loads of promotional shots, but the rest of the room is beautiful, too. I want to wander around it, look at the windows, and touch those pillars. I’m a bit of a nerd about sets and costumes, and this show has excelled on both.

CouncilSo, a Small Council of new characters. With names! And a very different way of working to that which Ned is used to. Ned might be the new Hand, but he sticks out like a sore thumb in this meeting. (Sorry, it was too good anopportunity to miss!) Marvellous casting here, too, both Petyr Baelish (aka Littlefinger) and Lord Varys are excellent.

Just to make it even more obvious that King’s Landing and the Lannisters are a world away from Winterfell and the Starks, Joffrey and Cersei have a bit of a chat about truth and power and being a king. Gods, they’re creepy, the pair of them. But Cersei isn’t just filling Joff’s head with self indulgent nonsense, she knows a thing or two about ruling, and she’s right. Creepy and disturbing, but right. This is unlikely to be a good combination, is it?

Ned’s just as out of his depth with his daughters as he is with the Small Council, it seems. Poor Ned. Although he does better with Arya and her sword than he does with Sansa and that doll, the contrast is striking between Ned’s conversation with his daughter and Cersei’s with her son. Both are advising loyalty to one’s family, but oh, in such different ways.

Old Nan & BranAh, I was wondering when Old Nan’s line from the trailer about fear being for the winter, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep, etc, would crop up. I don’t know if having heard it elsewhere so many times has thrown me, but it seemed out of place a bit here, spoken to bed bound Bran. I understand them using it in the promos, don’t get me wrong, but it spoils this scene a bit having it be so familiar in another context. It’s redeemed, though, by Isaac Hemstead-Wright’s acting. Small boys wishing they were dead normally sound petty and a bit pathetic, but this wasn’t, and it made it all the more powerful.

We’ve spent pretty much all our time with members of noble Houses and in literal noble houses so far, so it’s nice to have a reminder that our main characters really are the aristocracy, that Catelyn Stark is utterly horrified to be escorted to a whorehouse to meet Littlefinger, and that Ned is nigh on murderous that she was taken there. These Starks really are going to have to work on adapting to how things are done in King’s Landing.

Jon Snow

Jon Snow’s got a bit of adapting to do, too, up at the Wall. The rest of the new brothers need training in swordsmanshop, Jon in dealing with those same new brothers. Thankfully, Tyrion Lannister is a clever cookie and canhelp Jon out a bit. By the episode’s end, Jon is using the benefit of his Winterfell training to help his fellow recruits, rather than it being the source of their conflict.

I’m so glad Tyrion is being rounded out more every episode. He’s one of my favourite characters, and I love how he’s being portrayed here. He learns a bit himself, too, about the Night’s Watch. Of all the Lannisters, he’s the one most likely to actually do something about the state of the Watch. And there was actual pissing off the end of the world! In an episode with less in the way of sex and violence than the first two, a bit of symbolic urination was no bad thing, I reckon.

Actually, pretty much all the characters are developing nicely, with very few out and out villians so far, but equally, few out and out heroes. King Robert is also scary, sitting wrapped in finest silk and fur, talking bitterly about killing and the man he knows he has turned into. I’m not surprised his poor page is terrified of him. I noticed something about Jaime Lannister in this scene and then went back and checked previous episodes — all the Lannisters have a slight supercilious head tilt that they do when they feel someone they are talking to is being particularly beneath them. I don’t know if it’s the director’s idea or something the actors came up with, but I love it. Looking forward to seeing if Tywin Lannister, Tyrion, Jaime and Cersei’s father, does it, too. Charles Dance doing a superior head tilt will be awesome if he does!

PregnantDanaerys is getting her superior on, too, thankfully. The balance of power really is shifting between these two siblings from Viserys to Dany, and the idea that her marriage might bring him an army and a crown seems to be under some doubt. An actual Khaleesi would appear to have more clout with the Dothraki than a deposed King: a Khaleesi carrying an heir, even more so.

I don’t know if Arya’s dancing lesson plays as well to non-readers of the books, but I’ve been waiting for it since the premiere and I loved it. The sounds fading from wooden swords to the clang of steel and the shouts of war was a beautiful ending. Not as much actually happened in this episode as in previous ones, but the new characters we met were beautifully drawn without their motivations being in any way clear, and the ones we know already developed even further into the complex beasties they are and should be.