The Westeros Watch Part Two

Jimmy and Tom got off to a good start last time.

Let’s see what they have to say about the next two episodes, namely “Lord Snow,” and “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”.

tomk:  So, Jimmy, here’s a quick lesson on surviving on Game of Thrones: survival is often tied to adapting to challenges. People who don’t learn don’t last.

jimmy:  Also, don’t joust.

tomk:  Well, that’s a given.

But take a look at the characters who seem to be doing better. You mentioned Aquaman and the Dothraki last time, so look at Dany. She’s not wearing those impractical, willowy dresses anymore, she’s learning the Dothraki language, how to carry herself as a Khalessi, and how to tame her barbarian husband. Viserys? Not a chance. Even if he weren’t a twerp, it would be obvious he’s not cut out for what he’s doing.

And then there’s Jon Snow who takes some words from Tyrion to heart and befriends some of his new brothers on the Night’s Watch by teaching them skills he already has.

Sure, he could just go on smacking them around, but he won’t make many friends that way.

jimmy:  And protects Sam.

tomk:  Yes.

He knows a Samwell and a Pip now.

That might make him Frodo. He certainly isn’t Merry.

jimmy:  No one on this show is. Except Tyrion a lot of the time, but that almost seems racist.

tomk:  Is it racism if we compare a little person to a hobbit? It’s not like he comes from a race of little people.

There’s a word there for that, but racist isn’t it. Besides, the fourth episode does feature a character who can generally be relied on to be in a good mood, and I don’t mean Hodor.

jimmy:  The Hound’s brother?

tomk:  No, that’s the Mountain.

Hodor is a large man who works in Winterfell. He’s called “Hodor” because that seems to be the only word he can say.

jimmy:  I meant the Mountain was the happy character. It was a joke. Ahem…not a good one.

tomk:  Yeah, I meant Bronn. He’s the fellow who gives up his room at the inn for Tyrion. He isn’t going anywhere for a while.

And hey, Arya’s dancing instructor seems pretty jolly.

jimmy:  He does indeed. Very wise. Very skilled. Very pro-cat chasing.

tomk:   Littlefinger is also into some Cat chasing ifyouknowwhatImean…

jimmy:  Heh. Indeed. I don’t trust that guy.

tomk:  Look at the whole Small Council. There’s Littlefinger, Lord Baelish, the Master of Coin.

Then there’s Lord Varys, the Spider, the eunuch spy master.

Renly, Robert’s youngest brother (middle brother Stannis won’t be seen until season two), he seems OK and he knows Ned already.

And in his youth, Grand Maester Pycelle led an attack on the Rebel base on Hoth.

 

jimmy:  Lol. That was a long time ago.

In a galaxy far, far away?

tomk:  And since Robert himself can’t be bothered with actual governing, it falls to the Hand of the King to actually do stuff.

jimmy:  Robert is too busy making Jaime uncomfortable.

tomk:  Jaime made Robert uncomfortable when he told Robert what the Mad King’s last words were.

Besides, do you honestly think Robert cares how Jaime feels? Does anyone outside of Cersei and Tyrion even like Jaime? That “Kingslayer” nickname is not exactly a compliment.

jimmy:  When he was talking about the battle he was in I kept expecting him to slip up and say something and for Stark’s man to be like “yeah, that never happened”.

I get the feeling that Tyrion’s not exactly a fan either, but blood, water, etc.

tomk:  Well, we’ll see how Tyrion feels. Remember the pilot: Jaime was nice to him, or at least got him some more prostitutes.

jimmy:  There sure are a lot of prostitutes around. And marriages are arranged and political. Are there any real couples around?

tomk:  Ned and Cat?

They are genuinely glad to see each other.

We can make a case for Jaime and Cersei, but ew.

jimmy:  Ned and Cat seem genuine, but I think the marriage started the same as the others did it not?

And yes, very ew.

tomk:  You asked who the real couples were. They became a real couple despite how they started out. I’d say that counts.

And with that in mind…Drogo and Dany.

One of the things you don’t see as much on the show as opposed to the book is Drogo doesn’t say as much since, you know, he speaks Dothraki. But book-Drogo is actually a bit sweet to Dany, giving her an affectionate nickname and being all around gentle to her. It’s sort of how the series works: much of the time you get the opposite of what you expect, so the barbarian chieftain who’s never lost a battle is actually a decent husband.

jimmy:  And I hear he can talk to fish.

tomk:  Fish aren’t much for conversations.

Point is, Dany tamed that man.

She adapts.

And she’s growing a spine.

jimmy:  She “grew a pair of balls” according to Ms Impossible.

tomk:  I am guessing Ms. Impossible approves of her smacking her weasel brother around.

jimmy:  She enjoyed that quite a bit. He is number 3 on her Death Pool behind Joffrey and the Queen.

tomk:   There are so few clear villains on this show, given that even characters like Cersei have some good qualities (she’s good to her children), that having someone like Viserys and Joffrey around makes for a good case of having someone to root against.

So let me ask you this: do you believe Tyrion tried to have Bran killed?

jimmy:  Not a chance. Are we supposed to believe that? I understand the characters thinking so as what little evidence they have implicates him.

tomk:  Someone who attempts to murder a crippled child does not then turn around and offer that same child a special saddle so he can ride a horse again.

jimmy:  Exactly.

tomk:  And he seems as baffled as anyone when he’s arrested. Cool scene when he’s arrested, by the way.

jimmy:  Agreed on both counts. And is completely against character for him given everything we’ve seen so far. Particularly his time spent at the Wall with Jon Snow.

tomk:  True. He’s a bit of a hedonist, but he will bring the request for more men for the Wall back to the capital.

Though, again, having seen more of the show, I pick up little clues. Maester Aemon at the Wall mentions Wildlings massing and rumors of the White Walkers. We meet Jeor Mormount, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. His son Jorah is riding with Dany and the Dothraki in the form of that exiled Westerosi knight. Robert says his first kill was a Tarly boy. That’s Sam’s family name. Cat sees a member of the Frey household, whose Lord is turning 90 and is remarrying. Some of these we’ve seen a bit of, some we haven’t yet, but we will. Tyrion’s dressing down of Theon Greyjoy is another example.

jimmy:  I have to say, it’s difficult to keep all these names straight.

I also find it hilarious that in a show with so many exotic names that I can’t pronounce or spell, the lead character’s name is Ned.

tomk:  It’s short for “Eddard”.

jimmy:   I know, but still.

tomk:  It’s why I’d rather type Dany than Daenerys.

Some names are just more important than others.

And there are a lot of connections between characters if you know where to look. Many of these will eventually be revealed, so don’t sweat it just yet. I only bring up Theon, for example, because Martin made him a POV character starting in book two, and since the producers knew that when they started the show, they made sure to give the character some scenes so you won’t be blindsided when he suddenly has a plot line of his own next season.

Heck, Hodor is in the crowd at Winterfell for Robert’s arrival. He just doesn’t really do anything or speak his one word until episode four.

jimmy:  Yeah, how everyone is connected and keeping everyone straight is challenging at times.

tomk:  How about we chat for a bit about individual plot lines for now? Ned is basically our main character right now. What do you think of his looking into Jon Arryn’s death?

jimmy:  There is definitely something suspicious going on. And a lot of folks are in no rush to help him.

tomk:  If you were Ned, who do you trust?

jimmy:  Hmm…

His family. That head of the guard that goes to deliver the message to Robert…that might be it. Littlefinger says himself that he can’t be trusted. The Lannisters obviously want to send him back to Winterfell sooner than later (the Queen going so far as to very thinly veiled threaten him). The old book guy seems helpful, but also seems like he may know more than he’s saying. Or says things just the right way to not reveal exactly what he knows, but is technically not lying. Then there’s the whole Robert’s bastard son…

tomk:  Gendry? He doesn’t seem to know who his father is. He’s just a simple blacksmith.

jimmy:  He doesn’t know, but Ned does. And he doesn’t seem like he wants to be of any help to Ned.

tomk:  Ok, Ned’s family is pretty much two teenage or younger girls. Cat was just visiting. He can trust the people he brought with him…probably. Varys and Littlefinger working together knew Cat was coming to King’s Landing. Those two don’t generally cooperate like that, but Littlefinger insists nobody (himself included) is trustworthy. Pycelle seems more like a doddering old man than anything else. Renly we don’t know anything about. And an apprentice blacksmith can only do so much. And even if Cersei is making a thinly veiled threat, she was trying to get on his good side. Ned killing his enemies is literal and a statement of fact. Cersei saying it means more than that.

jimmy:  So…the guard guy. 🙂

tomk:  Which isn’t of much help in a non-military situation. King Robert could be an ally, but that would require Robert to care about actually running things.

jimmy:  And if Robert thought anything was up he would have investigated himself or at least brought Ned on to investigate.

tomk:  Which, again, would require Robert to care.

What about Ser Barriston Selmy, head of the Kingsguard and still a legendary swordsman?

jimmy:  The guy who comes looking for more men?

tomk:  The guy Robert was talking to about first kills before he calls Jaime in to ask him.

You probably didn’t notice him much, but like Theon and Gendry, he becomes more important later.

jimmy:  I remember the scene, but didn’t really take note of him.

tomk:  I am mostly letting you know which characters you should keep an eye on in the future. So far, Ser Barriston hasn’t done anything of note on the show.

But I think the bottom line is Ned is in a place where there are a lot of spies, few trustworthy people, and a king who doesn’t care about much of anything.

The face of royal apathy.

jimmy:  But I got a good feeling about Ned. He’s gonna do ok.

tomk:  He’s being played by Sean Bean. What can go wrong?

jimmy:  I can’t think of anything.

tomk:  True. Was there anything else going on in King’s Landing that caught your eye? Or Winterfell, since those two plot lines are more or less connected?

jimmy:  Hmm. Well, Sansa can’t take a hint.

tomk:  Her mom’s creepy childhood friend is telling her how the Hound got his scars, and her father is giving her gifts for a younger girl. She’s mostly in a pouting stage right now.

jimmy:  What was his goal in telling her that? And I bet it’s less of a secret than he lets on…especially when he tells the story in earshot of a dozen people.

tomk:  He’s giving exposition. It’s been a while, but I think in the book the Hound tells her himself. And she’s awfully intimidated by the Hound, moreso than most people. It doesn’t help that she keeps running into him. And he’s scary in every setting.

jimmy:  Unless you have a stuffed monkey, then you’re fine.

tomk:  There are other ways to slow down the Hound.

jimmy:  Ok, so how about the Aquaman and his mighty tribe storyline?

tomk:  The curved blade of the Dothraki is highly effective on horseback, but not as useful against armor. It is known.

You said you wanted to talk about these guys in the previous chat. What about them, Jimmy? Or did you just want to make more Aquaman jokes?

jimmy:  I’m always up for some Aquaman jokes. But you mentioned walking through each of the storylines, so I was (unsuccessfully) setting you up for that.

tomk:  Ah.

I actually think we covered what we need to there. Dany grew a pair and may be carrying a baby boy.

jimmy:  …”may be”…

tomk:  The Sea of Grass is largely devoid of ultrasound machines.

jimmy:  Heh. Which leaves…what? We talked about Arya becoming a bad ass I think. Well, we at least talked about her “dancing instructor”. I love the scene where she is talking to her father after the whole balancing on one leg on the stairs thing and asks if she can one day be a general in the army (or whatever) and he smiles and says “one day you’ll marry someone and produce sons who will be great warriors” or something and kisses her head because she is a silly little girl and she’s like, “I don’t think so. I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. I’m gonna kick some ass myself.”

tomk:  The look on Ned’s face as he watches Arya at her first lesson, watching it go from smiles to concern as he remembers his own wartime experiences, complete with combat sounds, is a wonderful moment from Sean Bean.

jimmy:  Yes. It’s funny though. With that scene we have a father giving his daughter what she was looking for (and probably not a bad idea to have some fighting skills as a male or female in this world they live in). As you said, he looks on happy and then grows concerned. But contrast that with the second scene on the stairs where he is much more “I’ll let her play her silly games”. Though again, he eventually ends with a look of concern.

tomk:  Arya may remind him of Lyanna…and we know how she turned out.

jimmy:  Good point.

tomk:  OK, so, let me toss out one more thing and then I’m done: Ser Alliser Thorne is a major dick at the Wall, but he has a good reason to be because these new recruits have to somehow survive very harsh winters, and in Westeros, a winter can last years.

jimmy:   You can understand each man’s point of view. As you said, Throne is the drill sergeant, tasked with getting these men ready for when/if the zombies and the Ultrons come over the Wall. While Jon is the hero, looking out for his men. Strong and weak. Especially the weak, because someone has to.

tomk:  But there may not be room in the Night’s Watch for a physically weak man. He’s someone who would die quickly and then you’re down a man.

But it’s not like these guys are hurting for recruits.

Oh wait, they ARE hurting for recruits and will take whatever they can get!

jimmy:  Well, when they are in that position they should help train him, not humiliate him. Though I understand the tough love and chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link cliches that apply here.

tomk:  It’s not like Thorne likes Jon all that much. Accents are actually important for this show, and while I am in no way, shape, or form an expert on English accents, Thorne sounds pretty working class and Jon’s from a noble family. Jon also has a ton of idealistic views about the Night’s Watch that are slowly being wiped out, but has them he does. Someone who coddles the rookies isn’t going to help, and Thorne is a good Brother of the Night’s Watch according to the Lord Commander.

Of course, since Jon is actually teaching his friends, with his direwolf Ghost there for back-up when necessary, you can maybe ask who really is doing the training job there.

jimmy:  Agreed. But then, we are supposed to feel that way.

tomk:  But the point is, Thorne may be a dick, but he is the experienced man there, and he isn’t wrong.

jimmy:  Well, before we wrap up and move onto episodes 5 and 6, just wanted to pass along that Ms Impossible said to me tonight, completely out of the blue, “Game of Thrones is getting interesting.”

tomk:  Ah ha! She may be, dare I say it, hooked!

jimmy:  That sounds like step one for sure…

tomk:  You know what might help? I do, but that would be telling.

jimmy:  And I definitely don’t want to be told. 🙂

tomk:  Then we should move on…

Ms. Impossible is starting to come around.  Jimmy may be caught up sooner than he thought.  Next up, we’ll be covering “The Lion and the Wolf,” and “A Golden Crown”.  Don’t miss it!

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