Episode Title: "Lord Snow"
Writers: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Director: Brian Kirk
Previously on "Game of Thrones":
Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), the youngest son of Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark (Sean Bean), was seriously injured in a fall from the castle. But in reality, he was pushed from a window after discovering that Queen Cersel (Lena Headey) was having an affair with her brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster Waldau). Ned's wife, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) stayed by Bran's bedside and she was present when an assassin was sent to finish the job. Bran's direwolf helped her survive the attack, before she left after Ned to warn him that Bran's fall was no accident. At the same time, Ned's bastard son, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) left to serve on the Wall, accompanied by the Imp, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Cersel's other brother.
Across the sea, the King's enemy, Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) married off his sister, Daeneryes (Emilia Clarke) to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), a warlord with a barbarian horde at his command. Although Daeneryes was often treated like a slave, she asserted herself with Drogo and seemed to earn his respect. On the road to King's Landing, Ned's youngest daughter Arya (Maisie Williams) came into conflict with Cersel's son, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Arya's direwolf attacked Joffrey when he threatened her, so Arya sent her wolf away to spare its life. However, King Robert (Mark Addy) later seemed to order the death of the direwolf owned by Sansa (Sophie Turner) as punishment. Reluctantly, Ned carried out the sentence, over his daughters' anguished pleas.
Ned and his daughters arrive at King's Landing. Almost immediately, Ned comes upon the literal throne of the kingdom and verbally spars with Jamie, who killed the previous King (Daeneryes' father) when the tide had turned against him. Ned is then ushered into a consul meeting almost immediately, much to his annoyance. He also learns that the King wants to put on a tournament in his honor despite the kingdom being heavily in debut to the Queen's father, among others. Elsewhere in the castle, Queen Cersei tends to Joffrey's direwolf bite as she gives him a lesson in ruling the kingdom. She also tells him that everyone outside of the family is an enemy.
Returning to his daughters, Ned finds Arya and Sansa at each other's throats, metaphorically. He also learns that Arya now has a sword, though she refuses to say that Jon Snow gave it to her. However, Ned lets her keep it and insists that she learn how to use it. Back at Winterfell, the now fully awakened Bran listens as Mrs. Bonnet (Margaret John) spins a tale about winter long ago before his brotherm Robb (Richard Madden) enters. Bran mentions that he doesn't remember the fall and his brother reiterates that his injuries are permanent and he will never walk again. In response, Bran wishes that he had died.
Catelyn Stark arrives at King's Landing, and to her surprise, she is met by guardsmen loyal to Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen). Baelish greets her at a whorehouse, where she and her advisor show him the dagger that belonged to the assassin, To their surprise, Baelish says that the dagger was his, but he lost it to Tyrion the Imp in a tournament. At the Wall, Tyrion watches as Jon outclasses the other recruits in fighting ability. Later, the other recruits overpower Jon and prepare to hurt him until Tyrion intercedes. Tyrion goes on to tell Jon that he isn't any better than the men that he's joining. He was just lucky enough to have received some real training.
Tyrion also tells Jon that a messenger raven arrived with word that his brother, Bran woke up. At King's Landing, Baelish arranges a meeting between Ned and his wife and pledges to protect Ned as a favor to the woman he once loved. Elsewhere in the castle, Cersei worries that Bran's awakening may expose them, but her brother assures her that the boy doesn't remember what happened. Across the sea, Daenerys begins to get a taste of power, which her brother, Viserys takes exception to. He threatens her with his sword, only for one of the riders to nearly kill him in response.
Later, Daenerys learns that she is pregnant with Drogo's child. Back at the wall, Jon rides the robe elevator to the top, where he meets his uncle, Benjen (Joseph Mawle). Although Jon is eager to join Benjen for his mission behind the Wall, Benjen rebukes him and tells him that he has to earn his place there. Down below, the old men of the Wall plead to Tyrion to appeal to the King and Queen for more men and resources. Later, Tyrion notes that Jon is on much friendlier terms with his fellow conscripts, as he begins to teach them how to fight. Before Tyrion leaves, Jon asks him to look in on Bran for him.
Back at King's Landing, Arya is surprised that Ned has arranged for Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou) to train her with a sword. While Syrio notes how little she seems to know about swordplay, Arya appears to be a quick study. Ned then watches his daughter spar with a mixture of pride and fear.
Judging by the first three episodes, I think that "Game of Thrones" has the potential to be the greatest fantasy series to ever air on TV. And it's already one of the best new shows of the year, period.
From a production standpoint alone, "Game of Thrones" looks better than most movies. As a television series, it doesn't have a peer. "Camelot" has its moments, but it doesn't come close to the sheer scale of this show. This is the epic television series that we've been waiting a long time for.
The writing alone would be enough to carry "Game of Thrones," but every actor and actress seems to be perfectly suited for their respective roles. And the cast seems to be unusually solid throughout.
I never liked Jamie (and I still don't), but he was pivotal in two terrific scenes this week. First, in his verbal interplay with Ned that was also a great use of exposition. And second, in a smaller scene with the King in which he recounted the last words of the previous king whom he had killed. As a character, Jamie is reprehensible. However, Nikolaj Coster Waldau took what could have easily been a one dimensional villain and made him into an interesting person. But it's still really creepy that Jamie's having a sexual relationship with his sister.
Sean Bean also continues to prove himself to be the right choice for Ned by showing his character as a warrior, a father and a reluctant statesman. The scene in which Ned watches Arya train with the swordsman was particularly effective, just in the conflicting emotions on Bean's face while Ned contemplated what he had set in motion. I've also changed my initial impression of the Stark children. Arya has become my new favorite among Ned's "legitimate" children, but the rest are growing on me too.
However, Jon Snow and Tyrion are still my favorite characters on the show. And their scenes again featured some of the most interesting moments. Jon's obvious disappointment with his new life on the Wall was affecting and I love the way that Tyrion never quite takes anything seriously. This might literally be the role that Peter Dinklage born for.
Even Daenerys is becoming a lot more intriguing as she starts to assert herself as a leader. And I can't wait for someone to kill off Viserys. I haven't read the novels, but when someone is that obnoxious, I figure that death is the great inevitability for them.
This was more of a setup episode than anything else, and yet I still found it very entertaining. There's not enough ambitious TV series anymore, but "Game of Thrones" has already filled that void for me.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.