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Game of Thrones – “First of His Name” Review: Another Space Filler

Last week’s episode of Game of Thrones made a lot of news, as it marked the first time the series took major steps in diverging from the book series- thereby sending a number of book fans into a tailspin, not knowing what would become of Jon or Bran at Craster’s Keep. Well, tonight the book fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as absolutely nothing of note occurs as a result of the this major change in the plot.

When I saw that the show was finally taking a major step off the neatly laid out path of the book series, I’ll admit I was pretty excited. Without giving much away to those who haven’t read the books, Bran’s story is pretty widely accepted as the most dull of all the tales within the story. Like, incredibly dull. So, the chance to spice things up a bit with a new chunk of storyline was fine by me. But after getting my hopes up that something interesting might be in store for young Bran, my hopes were cruelly dashed with the revelation that this entire change in the story (Bran’s capture, the creation of Locke for the television series, and Jon’s excursion to kill the mutineers) does not matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Not one iota. Bran and his gang escape, albeit a bit battered and bruised, while Jon manages to kill off the mutineers and burn down Craster’s Keep. I can’t help but think the entire worthless storyline was simply an excuse for an excellent sword fight. I can think of several other stories I would have rather spent time dealing with than this ridiculous excursion into the woods.

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Like, for instance, perhaps spending some more time with the instantly awesome pairing of Podrick and Brienne. It turns out that time spent as a squire for Tyrion in King’s Landing has not made Pod a suitable road companion for Brienne. I mean, not knowing that you need to skin a rabbit prior to cooking is a pretty glaring rookie mistake if I’ve ever seen one. But, with a short but poignant conversation, we see Brienne’s borderline disgust at having an inept squire change to true respect with Pod’s revelation that he killed a member of the Kingsguard to save Tyrion’s life at the Battle of the Blackwater. If there is one thing Brienne respects above all it is loyalty, and now that she knows her squire is loyal and true, I have a feeling the journey of Brienne and Pod just became a bit more interesting.

“First of His Name” also provides an interesting look into the role of women within the very paternalistic society of King’s Landing. We have spent a great deal of time over the past three and a half seasons seeing how men play the game of thrones, but precious little time watching two women work together to enact change. Cersei, in a bout of honesty, admits to Margery that life with Joffery alive and on the throne would have been horrific for all involved. Now that little Tommen is on the throne, there is a chance for real change to come to Westeros. And, Cersei admits, she would feel better if Margery were on the throne beside him as his queen. Knowing Cersei, one instantly assumes there is an underhanded motive here, but I honestly cannot see one, other than a desire to keep the Tyrells within the fold. Cersei doesn’t learn of the dangerous money troubles plaguing the throne and the now poor Lannisters until after she proposes the marriages (interesting that Tywin continues to trust Cersei with these important matters, when only several episodes back he was deriding her refusal to marry Loras- which she has agreed to do once more). No matter what the motivation, Cersei is now back to her scheming form, which is something I couldn’t be more happy about.

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Final Thoughts

— Littlefinger and Sansa have made it safely to the Eyrie (taking what must have been the Westeros highway, since they made it there in record time). Nice to see Robin is no longer nursing from Lysa, because ewwwww. But Lysa remains as insane as ever, with her obsession with Littlefinger and her hatred of Catelyn out in full force. Poor Sansa.

— We get another life lesson from the Hound this week, as he highlights the folly in Arya’s “dancing” lessons. When you are as small as she is, you don’t stand a chance against the larger bullies in the world.

–There is troubling news from Dany’s free the slaves tour, with Yunkai once again falling into the slave trade and Astapor now under the control of a dictator who has pledged to kill Dany. And, at home in Mereen, it’s becoming clear that Dany cannot control Daario, as he takes control of the Mereen navy without her consent. When presented with the idea of heading back to King’s Landing to take the throne from Tommen, Dany balks and instead decides to remain in Mereen and rule as queen- which may be a mistake on her part.

— Finally, in our shocking revelation of the episode, we learn that it was Lysa (at Littlefinger’s persuasion) who poisoned and killed Jon Arryn, thus beginning the entire cycle of war and violence in the series. After all, if Jon Arryn lives, Ned never becomes the Hand of the King, and the entire Stark family remains safe and cozy up North.

Rating
8.0
Pros
  • Great Cersei scenes throughout
  • Intriguing pairing between Pod and Brienne
  • Sansa is finally in an interesting storyline
Cons
  • The Jon and Bran diversion turned out to be a major waste of time

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

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