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Those of us without access to HBO Go had to wait until tonight to see the latest installment of Game of Thrones and it was certainly worth the wait. If there’s a lesson to be learned tonight, it’s that you can plan things out all you want but if you don’t have trustworthy people to help you carry them out, expect to find yourself standing with a knife at your throat.

Most of the shorter characters were absent tonight. Tyrion was reference but never shown on screen. Bran, Arya and Sansa were also no-shows. Jon Snow was back on screen, so we’ll start with The Wall tonight.

The Wall…
Tonight the best of Westeros’ worst graduated from The Wall Academy of Watchcraft and Night-Watchery, but not before Uncle Benjen's horse came running from north of the wall, without Uncle Benjen. Not a good sign.

Samwell’s character came through nicely tonight during two separate scenes. The first was when he joined Jon in requesting to take his Nights Watch vows before a sacred tree that’s some kind of shrine to the old gods. Joining Jon in this old ritual could be seen as an attempt to stick by the side of his new BFF, but the reasons he gave actually made sense. The Wall is now his official house, so there’s no real reason he should stick to the family religion, especially considering it never did anything for him. Perhaps if his gods had answered his prayers, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

After Jon learned he was to be a steward, as opposed to a ranger, which was the position he (and probably every other trainee there) thought he was going to get, he huffed and puffed about being a servant and how it wasn’t fair. Samwell pointed out that Jon wasn’t just a steward, but the personal steward to Lord Mormant. He’ll be the right hand man to the man in charge of the Watch. There’s certainly something to that and that seemed to get through to Jon, proving that while Samwell may not be the best fighter, he’s a good friend and his perspective is certainly useful.

Pyp gets the laugh of the night when he admitted that the real reason he was sent to the Nights Watch wasn’t because he was stealing food for his sister but rather, because a lord tried to check out his man-parts. When Sam asked why he lied, he frowned and responded, “Who’s gonna tell a bunch of strangers the high lord tried to grab my cock.” Fair point, Pyp. Now sing us a song!

The last we saw of Jon, his direwolf Ghost was holding a frozen looking severed arm in his mouth. If a riderless horse is a bad sign, a severed arm is a worse one.

King’s Landing…
Ned now understands why Jon Arryn was killed. He figured out that none of Cersei’s kids are actually Robert’s. A confrontation with Cersei confirmed this as she admitted that she and her brother are super close because they shared a womb, which somehow justifies sharing a bed and making babies together. Where Cersei does earn a bit of sympathy is in the story she shared about Robert whispering Lyanna’s name into her ear while consummating their marriage. Not cool, Robert.

Cersei managed to keep Robert from giving her any children by “finishing him off” in other ways. This does call to question whether the story she told Catelyn about the child she lost was true. If I recall the book correctly, she admits to Ned that she did get pregnant with Robert’s baby but she aborted it, unwilling to give him a true heir. So, if the story about the lost child is true, it’s fair to speculate that Robert’s son went the way Jon Arryn would… at the hands of the Lannisters.

Ned prepared to tell the King everything and offered Cersei a chance to take off with her kids before that happened. But “conveniently,” Robert was mortally injured during the hunt. As the person feeding him wine was a Lannister, (and as Varys quietly hinted at), it’s probable that Robert was made to be much drunker than he might have normally been. If that’s the case, it’s just another instance of Cersei being a step ahead. Damn those Lannisters!

Robert made the wise choice to sit with Ned and have him draw up the paperwork to make sure Ned continued on as protector of the realm until Joffrey was of age. Of course, Ned intentionally reworded the document to say “the rightful heir” as opposed to specifying Joffrey. Robert also asked Ned to call off the bounty on Daenerys, admitting Ned was right. There was no undoing that. In fact, just about everything was too little, too late for Robert.

During a random bit of sex between the prostitute that used to give Theon (and Tyrion) some good times during her days up north and another woman from wherever, Littlefinger spoke vaguely of his affection for Catelyn and the duel he lost with Ned’s brother (the man who was originally supposed to marry Catelyn, but died before that could happen). It’s during this conversation (if you could pay attention to it over the sounds of the moaning) that we not only get a better understanding of Littlefinger’s affection for Catelyn but also his bitterness toward the Starks. As Ned’s brother isn’t around to pay the price for leaving Littlefinger with a scar and a big bag of shame and defeat to wear on his back, Ned earns that honor.

Littlefinger did tell Ned not to trust him, but Ned’s back was somewhat against the wall. He’s an honorable man and he was trying his best to do the right thing. Joffrey isn’t the rightful heir to the throne. Technically, Stannis Baratheon is next in line but how to orchestrate that? Renly’s suggestion is to have Cersei and her kids captured. It’s evident that Renly sees himself as more fit to sit on the Iron Throne than his brother Stannis but again, Ned wants to do this the right way. After a conversation with Littlefinger, he has him pay off the City Watch to take his side against Cersei and the Lannisters guards. But when he attempts to seize control of the throne, Cersei tears up Robert’s signed letter and the City Watch turns on Ned’s men.

Ned finds himself with Littlefinger’s sword at his throat.

Meanwhile, Out East…
If Viserys had been a wiser man, he might have realized that all it would take to motivate Khal Drogo to march his men across the salty sea was a threat on the life of his wife and unborn son. Of course, Viserys did make a similar threat not long before he received his "golden crown," but having it come from a man who was doing it on behalf of King Robert gave Drogo a reason to reconsider riding a wooden horse and claiming the “iron chair.”

While at the market, a man selling wine offered Dany a cask of some fancy dry red. Jorah noted that the man changed the wine he was offering when he learned who she. This prompted him to step in, and force the man to take a drink of it himself. Of course, the would-be assassin ran off and was quickly caught and tied up. Upon learning that the moon of his life was nearly killed, Drogo announced that he would take his armies across the sea.

The affection between Dany and Drogo is evident. Whether it’s because he’s genuinely fond of her, because she’s carrying his heir or a combination of both, his protectiveness and willingness to be affectionate with her is strangely sweet.

So, now they march west to cross the sea and make a play for the throne, as Viserys had wanted to do all along and as Dany attempted to persuade Drogo to do earlier in the episode. Robert’s body isn’t even cold and there are already a number of people vying for the throne. Given Drogo’s rage at the wine-assassin, who was left to stumble naked, tethered to Dany’s horse, Robert may be better off dead than at odds with Drogo.

Other tidbits
We did catch a glimpse of Jaime Lannister, who was with Tywin when he received his orders to return to King’s Landing to answer for Gregor’s misbehavior. Tywin and Jaime evidently haven’t heard that Tyrion was released from Eyrie. Interestingly enough, despite not thinking much of Tyrion, Tywin doesn’t want his son held captive because it makes the family look bad.

Tywin expressed a measure of disapproval toward Jaime, whom he seems to think is too wrapped up in his own glory and what other people think of him, rather than what people think of the family name. His belief is that the Lannister reputation will and should outlive the memory of any individual Lannister. There’s probably some truth to that, but I don’t think Jaime’s in the frame of mind to fully appreciate that. Tywin, being much older, has the perspective of a man who can look back on his life and see what really counts. I think right now, for Jaime, personal glory means a lot to him and the family name is worth more as a matter of convenience and entitlement than it is something he should be working to improve. If there’s anything keeping him from being the man his father wants him to be, it’s ego, which ironically enough, comes from a the common Lannister trait of loving the family name.

Finally, we saw a few minutes of Theon Greyjoy chatting it up with the wildling Osha, whom I actually recognized this week, beneath the mess of hair and tattered clothing as Natalia Tena (probably best known as Tonks from the Harry Potter films). Theon seemed to be getting around to making a pass at the wildling, who is being held prisoner and mad to crawl around the floor spreading hay around for some reason. Osha seemed unimpressed with Theon’s titles or his attempt to get her out of her chains, but she’s from north of the wall, where life is much harsher.

And that about covers it for the night. What did you think of the episode? Did you miss Tyrion as much as I did?

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