Monday, May 5, 2014

(TV) Game of Thrones: Season 4 Episode 5 "First of His Name" TV Review

After two episodes of steady build up for future events, finally we get an episode with some punch.

The Lannisters

Things move pretty quickly in King's Landing as we open to the sight of Tommen's crowning ceremony. The tears and mourning over the late boy king have clearly subsided and everything's business as usual or at least as close to usual things can get in Westeros. After catching Margaery and Tommen exchange a glance Cersei and Margaery have a rare conservation with each other. It was a suspringly frank and rather courteous conservation which revealed Cersei  untapped ability to be a human being. many of the exchanges we have seen Cersei have with others has been poisonous as she has issued threats ( including to Margaery), orders or subjected other to her own brand of free floating hostility 

Despit being the only person who loved Joffrey in the seven kingdom, she knew full well what a nasty little shit her firs born was when she cut through Margaery mourning wife act reminding her that being married to the late boy king would be a "nightmare". So far, the show has gone out of its way to show us that Cersei was as unforgiving and crule as her son was in "first of his name revealed that what her son was capable of even got to her.

Margaery, not exactly Cersei's BFF, couldn't resist throwing a thinly veiled jab at Cersei and the Lannister in general when she makes a subtle reference to the chaos of the "war of the five kings" a war Cersei and indeed the Lannisters clan had a key role in starting.  Cersei, not missing the veiled jab at her family role starting the war for a minute, breaks a series long habit of quite hostility and asks Margaery to watch over the last son she has. Margaery, a game player to the end, feigns her disinterest in being queen despite all of us, including Cersei, knowing that being is all she's interested in punctuate by Queen Regent priceless "who do you think you're kidding" look while she was mid stream of her BS about "giving it on thought"

"First of His Name" was a Cersei heavy episode as we saw Cersei follow up her chat with Margaery with her father and Oberyn. While her son's and her own wedding plans. Tywin gets onto the subject money and the Lannisters quickly running out of it. Sucked dry by Robert Baratheon's wars and their mines dry of gold, The Lannister face a real dilemma of facing up a to a debt they can't pay and telling from Tywin's concern, who they have to pony up to. The Iron Bank of Braavos has been referred to in a number of episodes and what we have learned is that they are just as well known collecting debts as the Lannisters are known for paying them.

It's pretty amusing to see Tywin, a rather unflappable patriarch, knows about the Wildlings marching south, is aware of a certain teenage girl with three dragons and an 10,000 strong army but what's keeping up at night is a raven from his bank manager asking for this month's payment. However his concern is genuine as he is convinced that the bank has nobody that they can bribe or kill to cancel or ease their money problems.

Her chat with Oberyn was other scene proving that Cersei can hold a conversation without threats, orders or put downs. We know her intentions is influence the court's decisions on which her father and Dornish prince sits. However she again reveals her human side as she reveals how much she misses her daughter. This show loves redeeming characters but as we're concerned, one reprehensible Lannister is enough for us.

Daenerys and Slavers Bay

Finally! we get a scene with the Mother of Dragons not in full epic mode Yippiee!! Don't get me wrong, the scenes of Dany taking over the slave cities are epic and brilliantly done but they were getting repetitive and gave the sense that writers of this great didn't know what to do with Mother of Dragons other than show her lay the smackdown on every slave city she could get her hands on. Finally it seems the show creators (also writers of this week's episode) have found an answer: transforming the Mother of Dragons from a conqueror to a ruler.

Having gotten used to Dany kicking butt across the far side of the world, we find out that Dany has the resources to bring her successful ass kicking tour of the far side of the world to Westeros, King 's Landing in particular. However Jorah informs her that all is not well as Yunkai and Astapor have fallen in to the hands of slavers and a "butcher" which makes Dany realize that must first learn to rule as we have seen that she's one hell of a conqueror.

We didn't spend time with Dany this week but "First of His Name" was a welcome reprieve from the excellent but repetitive city sackings as this week we saw the Mother of Dragons contemplate what's next rather than who's next. 

Baelish, Sansa, and Lisa Arryn

In tonight's episode, we learned a great many things but what we learned most is more of what we already know, Petyr Baelish knows how this game is played and is proved Varys right that he just may be one of the most dangerous men in Westeros, 

Poor Sansa can't catch as she has swapped the viper's nest that was King's Landing for the Vale which thanks to a cray cray aunt and a just as disturbed son, looks like it might be a more dangerous a place to be. Her first hint came from her cousin more than morbid fascination with the "moonbeam" we came acquainted with in season one as she witnessed the boy throw Baelish's coming home present down it. The last four seasons have been an unmitigated nightmare for Sansa and with an aunt and cousin who are both unstable, which makes them even more dangerous than the Lannisters, the nightmare looks set to continue. 

However Sansa's crazy aunt and cousin are the least of her problems as we learn how much of a hand Littlefinger has had on the events that have led up to almost the events that have taken place from season one onward. Through Lysa Arryn getting up close and personal with Baelish, we learn that it was Baelish who conspired with lady Arryn to kill John Arryn and write the letter accusing the Lannisters for his death setting into motion the bloody events of the next four seasons.

Varys has often talked about how dangerous Petyr Baelish is and in this short exchange we found out just how much. Despite having a reputation of untrustworthy and ruthless SOB, this shocked the hell out of us as we found that Baelish more powerful than we thought. the man has gone from a connected pimp to a lord of a famous a house in a short space of time adding credence to his disconcerting credo of "chaos is a ladder". 

Arya and The Hound

There have been a bumber of odd couples in the game of thrones but Arya and The Hound have been the best. however the relationship bettween the two has taken the turn for the worst as Arya runs down her kill list, she makes a point to mention The Hound's name at the end which makes the one of the most hostile and battle hardened men in the whole of Westeros sit up and pay attention. While we have been lulled into thinking that Arya and The Hound may end up being partners in crime, this week's episode showed us that their relationship is based on convenience as Arya remains with the Hound for protection and The Hound protects Arya for potential riches sown the line.

Things reach boiling point as The Hound wakes the next morning and finds Arya practicing the "waterdance" taught to her by Sylvio Forel. The Hound, a true skeptic if ever there was one, makes fun of Arya's dance and Sylvio's status as the first sword of Braavos due to his death at the hands of Merryn Trant to the her point Arya stabs The Hound with needle only to hit metal rather pierce flesh. Neither Arya nor The Hound seem to notice it but Thse Hound might be Arya best teacher about the dark art of war as he brutally beats away her pretensions about the skill of battle by pointing a simple truth that Ser Merryn is alive and Slyvio isn't because he had armor "and a big fucking sword". In sum, the The Hound gave the lesson Jamie received  from Bronn, forget winning pretty, just win. 

Jon, Bran, and the Mutineers

Jon's and the Nightswatch storyline has often been a weak link in a very strong chain but in "First of His Name" the nightwatch's charge on the mutineers at Craster's Keep was stellar television. First we're with Locke scouting the keep and ever the hunter spots bran and co held up in a hut.

Jojeen has one of his visions as the made one of its few dips into full fantasy which seemed out of place as while the show is populated with dragons, cruel interventionist gods and whitewalkers, the show has done its best to depict fictional world with as much realism as possible. 

Locke return to the small band of crows and reports to Jon the number of men at the keep but conveniently tells Jon not to enter the same hut he found bran and co in. We return back to the hut as Karl and his fellow mutineers enter the hut and string up Meera to be raped and maybe worse. Jojeen, seeing what about to go down, interjects and tell Karl about his ability to see the future and informs the gin alley assassin that he will die a fiery death.

Before Karl can say or do something despicable, we hear then see the charge and bear down on aCraster slicing and dicing their way through the mutineers. back in the hut, Locke 
makes his way to the hut and cuts Bran loose but reveals himself when he asks Bran who he is then slices his thigh then threatens to slice his friends throat.

Outside, Jon and his brothers continue slicing their way through the mutineers, Locke meanwhile, with Bran other his shoulder, makes a run for it. However,  the vicious House Bolton enforcer is stopped by a warg induced Hodor who knocks Locke over and picks him up by his neck then snaps it in two. We thought it was a premature death but one that was on the cards given that while bad guys can win in the Game of Thrones, they often lose and lose in the bloodiest fashion possible.

Bran, now on the floor, orders Hodor to free Jojeen and Meera then calls out to Jon who in the midst of battle can't hear. Jojeen and Meera catches up with him and force him to make a choice between his destiny and a long awaited family reunion, he chooses the former.  Jon, finished slicing his way through  mutineers outside the keep, enters the keep and finds the king rat of them all, Karl, armed and ready to fight with two daggers.  

Karl made a point of professing his murderous past in Gin Alley and in his fight scene with Jon we see he wasn't lying as he inflicted a painful lesson of what fighting with honor can get you reminiscent of the lessons issued by the Hound and Bronn to Arya and Jamie.  Having injured Jon, disarmed him and knocked him to the floor, Karl makes the mistake every TV and movie villain makes, talk too much. Before Karl can finish Jon off, one of Craster's abused daughters stabs Karl in the back   Karl, shocked and in pain turns round and walks towards her knife in hand before Jon buries his sword in the back of his head and through his mouth.

Were back outside and Jon and Craster's numerous daughters make an appearance as John's brother make light work of the few mutineers left. we're then with Rast, as he escapes the onslaught only to be mauled by a vengeful Ghost. we're back with Jon, the brothers and Craster's daughters where Jon finds ghost walking into the keep. tasked with question with what to do with Craster's daughters, Jon implores them to come with them  to Castle Back in light of the Wildlings bearing down on both sides of the wall but one of Craster's daughters reminded Jon that they had just endured rape and torture at the hands of his late brothers of the nightswatch. He also neglected the fact that while the mutineers were no prize, a good number of nightswatch at Castle Black are just as bad as the late mutineers.  

When asked by Jon if they were planning to stay at Craster's Keep, one of his daughters spits on the ground and requests for it to be burned to the ground, a fitting end to their torture and endless bad memories.

in sum, while "first in his name" had its faults, it was the most entertaining episodes in sometime in lieu of two episodes that moved the pieces on GOT's expansive board.

Episode Rating:


Connect with us via Twitter @TCRblogspot. Also check our review of last week's episode

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