Put a Ring On It
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The shadows are where the true power plays lie in the hands of those who can seemingly go unnoticed. It’s easier to hide and plot your ascension while the big dogs so to speak play for greater strength out in the open. The title of this phenomenal hour is quite literal in one sense, reflecting the different sigils of Houses Stark and Lannister, respectively. But in another sense the title refers to the two largest, most significant houses of Westeros marching inevitably towards war. Sure, Robert of the House Baratheon, First of His Name, is on the throne but he’s about as powerful as a kumquat that enjoys whoring, drinking, and hunting. And he knows that. But while Jamie slaughters Ned’s men in the streets of King’s Landing, inevitably setting an entire war in motion, another game that we don’t entirely know yet is being set in motion by Varys and Illyrio in the dragon-skull-filled catacombs of the capital, overheard by a terrified Arya who was merely chasing cat.
He found one bastard already. He has the book. The rest will come.
And when he has the truth, what will he do?
The gods alone know. The fools tried to kill his son. And what’s worse – they botched it. (close and lock gate.) The wolf and the lion will be at each other’s throats. We will be at war soon my friend.
What good is war now? We’re not ready. If one Hand can die, why not a second?
This hand is not the other.
We need time. Khal Drogo will not make his move until his son is born. You know what these savages are.
“Delay,” you say. “Move fast,” I reply. This is no longer a game for two players.
It never was. “
Arya races to tell Ned what she saw, who thankfully takes her seriously even though she doesn’t remember everything accurately. Yoren runs in, revealing that Catelyn had taken Tyrion prisoner. Speaking of shadows, a secluded area of Westeros named the Eyrie is where Catelyn arrives. Unfortunately that may not have been the most well-thought out plan, considering that Lysa is batshit crazy and is breastfeeding her child that looks like he’s eight years old. She even adds Jon Arryn’s death to the list of Tyrion’s alleged crimes. The design of the Eyrie was one of the best things in Martin’s books and the visuals here are simply stunning. The simplicity of the Sky Cells is brilliant and terrifying. One just has to roll a bit while asleep and you would just fall right out of the window and plummet to your death.
The tourney was a highlight of the episode, with the Mountain losing in the tourney to Ser Loras of the House Tyrell (who will make a splashy entrance in Season 2). A furious, giant Mountain attempts to kill Loras and the Hound jumps in to save his life. Varys reveals to Detective Ned that Jon Arryn was killed for asking questions by a poison known as the “Tears of Lys”. Slyly he implies that the impaled Ser Hugh was responsible, hence his quick ascension to a knight from a squire.
Further trouble for Ned arrives when Jorah reveals to the Small Council that Daenerys is pregnant with Khal Drogo’s child. Immediately a hailstorm of panic ensues, mostly from Robert and the Small Council that essentially tells him what he wants to hear and not what he should, a terribly stupid situation for any leader of any sort. Thrones has always been interested in the question of what makes a good leader and it finds a plethora of examples in almost every character. Ned, for example, is far too kind, trusting, and concerned with nobility to be as an effective leader as possible. As a leader, it isn’t always the best thing to hear someone telling you that you’re wrong and why so. But if you are able to learn from that experience, you can be effective. Drinking wine while everyone around you basically says yes to whatever you’re saying isn’t going to help anyone. Robert wants Viserys, Daenerys, and her unborn child dead before they can become a threat. Ned refuses, citing that she’s a mere girl and that the Dothraki can’t cross the Narrow Sea on account of them fearing water their horses cannot drink. He cites honor, comparing Robert to the Mad King and resigns while Robert shouts threats into the air.
Following that lies the best scene in the entire episode and the second best in entire series up until that point in my opinion. Robert continues to drink, joined by Cersei. The mark of a good adaptation is if it can figure out how to present what’s in the books cinematically over faithfully while retaining the elements that make the story crackle. There is no equivalent scene to Cersei and Robert’s conversation in the books but it feels so natural it might as well be there in the pages. Cersei takes Ned’s side slightly as Robert explains why he takes the Dothraki seriously. He is no longer the warrior he once was and certainly not the man Cersei had met at the altar. He is acutely aware of how far he has fallen in life and that the only option for him if the Dothraki attacked would be to hide in the castle because only fools met the Dothraki in the open battlefield. And if that did happen, then who would want such a coward for a king while the other villages and towns burn? Cersei notes how their marriage is what is holding the entire Seven Kingdoms together. The two erupt in their laughter, two people wallowing in the irony of their loveless union being the bonding glue to holding millions together. And we get a better picture of Cersei. She’s a woman who’s been so ostracized by most of the people she’s loved she just doesn’t care anymore and to a certain extent that’s why she lets Joffrey get away with so much. She doesn’t want to lose him either. Her children are all that she has as Robert admits that he never loved for a single moment.
Littlefinger reveals to Ned that Jon Arryn has been searching for Robert’s illegitimate children before his death. But poor Ned doesn’t get that much time to settle in with that information. Jamie arrives like a bone fide Disney villain, ambushing Ned and stabbing Jory through the eyes. Ned and Jamie duel before he’s speared through the leg by one of the Kingsguard. Jamie spares Ned, warning that he wants his brother back. He departs, leaving a bleeding Ned lying amidst his dead guards. The drums of war just grew a little bit louder.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Bran depressed about Catelyn leaving him. She’ll never see him again.
+Maester Luwin deciding to teach Bran the art of Dothraki horseback archery.
+Loras convcing Renly he’d be a good king before giving him oral sex. Nice methodology of convincing someone to listen to your advice, no matter how potentially ill-advised it may be.
+Ned was sending Sansa and Arya back to Winterfell. If only he had gone with them and not stayed back and listened to Petyr Baelish.
+There’s a great lightsaber mash-up of Ned vs. Jamie. Go watch it.
Title: The Wolf and the Lion
Written By: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
Director: Brian Kirk
Image Courtesy: Wiki Noticia, Game of Thrones Wiki, Poetry @ Rapgenius, Fanpop, Steven Bakhtiari @ YouTube, The Action Elite, D Westerberg @ WordPress, HBO Watch, Wikipedia