Episode: Game of Thrones 1.05 – “The Wolf and The Lion”
Original Air Date: May 15, 2011
After learning of the fruit of the Targaryen alliance with the Dothraki, Robert orders an assassination that doesn’t sit well with Ned. Catelyn takes Tyrion to the Eyrie, which not only causes problems for them but also for Ned back at King’s Landing. Meanwhile, Arya overhears a conversation that threatens her father’s life and war in Westeros. In short, this is not a good episode to be Eddard Stark in and the action really starts to pick up.
Loads of stuff happened in this episode, and a lot of it had to do with Ned. The writers set this up nicely, having Ned and Robert laughing and being friends right at the beginning, then having Robert threaten to put Ned’s head on a spike towards the end, with everything in between being the sweet stuff. We’ve got Ned still asking about Jon Arryn’s death and the events leading up to it. Seemingly, he doesn’t come up with too much more that would make his death lean more towards murder than natural causes (though, according to Varys, the possibility of poison being used is very high). Through Littlefinger, he finds the last person Jon Arryn spoke with before he took ill (a young pro who just had King Robert’s baby). The major things that happen are when Ned stands up to Robert and Yoren shows up to warn him about how Catelyn took Tyrion prisoner before word gets out to Jamie and Cersei. Him standing up to Robert was surprising, at first, because they have such a history and because he has a duty as the Hand to serve the King. However, Ned is honorable to a fault and, like I said in a previous review, just isn’t built to play the game and can’t even believe they would all be considering killing Daenerys and her unborn child (and Viserys) just because they are Targaryens and possibly have a Dothraki army behind them and maybe they would come to Westeros to reclaim the crown. Ned doesn’t believe that would ever happen (the Dothraki are known not to ever cross the Narrow Sea), but Robert is convinced it needs to happen for the good of the Seven Kingdoms. Whether that’s actually true or if he just has a seriously huge grudge against all Targaryens for what they did to Lyanna, we don’t really know, but Ned quits his job and heads off to pack everyone up to get the hell out of Dodge before anything happens. But, unfortunately, his curiosity to find out what happened to Jon Arryn messes those plans up.
That detour, letting Littlefinger pull him away from getting himself and his girls out of King’s Landing as soon as possible, is probably the biggest mistake Ned makes after the mistake of agreeing to be Hand of the King. While he does find one more bastard child of Robert’s, I don’t think he has made the connection to why Jon Arryn was looking for all the bastard children or why he was reading that giant book of famous families of Westeros right before he died. Right at that moment, it doesn’t matter since wasting time for this side quest has given Jamie the opportunity to find him and demand his brother back. Poor Jory, is all I’ve got to say about that. In the book it sucked, on screen it was really brutal but totally Jamie. Also totally Jamie was how he handled the guy who disabled Ned right in the middle of the two of them fighting each other and how much he wants his brother back. I think both those acts say A LOT about Jamie and he may not be just a straight up arrogant prick.
Arya also had a few great scenes. The first is finding the dragon skulls (tell me I wasn’t the only one who squeed at that) and overhearing Illyrio and Varys talking about the war they (seemingly) have been planning. It appears that Varys thinks having the conflict between the Starks and Lannisters is going to start the war much sooner than they had anticipated. Illyrio tells him that Drogo won’t go to war before his son is born and that if the previous Hand could be killed then so can Ned. I thought this conversation was interesting for the fact that it shows how far the scheming goes, but for what purpose is the question I’m left with. They want a war, but why? We also get to see how smart and strong-willed Arya is while dealing with a couple of idiot guards, and those are traits that will come in handy further down the line. While she does have those traits, she is still a child, which we see when she attempts to tell Ned about what she heard in the dungeons (she couldn’t remember it all), and unfortunately Ned doesn’t believe her story.
Catelyn finally gets Tyrion to the Eyrie where her sister, Lysa, has gone completely crazypants. I’m pretty sure that’s the technical term for this. This was perfectly done. From showing that Lysa is still breastfeeding her son (dude, how old was that kid? 50?), to the way both she and her son acted at the sight of Tyrion, it was all fantastically in the realm of the Oort cloud on the “How Far Crazy Can You Go?” chart. It really makes me wonder why Jon Arryn’s men are so loyally serving her. I mean, she is clearly incompetent and Robert, her son, is a child and a weak one at that. That’s the one thing I didn’t get. Catelyn, if the look on her face is any indication, is probably really regretting her decision right now (I have to think that her time with Tyrion might have as well, but I’m fairly sure she still believes he tried to have Bran killed). Besides the epic sideshow entertainment we got out of Lysa, she also reminded us of Jon Arryn’s final words: “The seed is strong.” Lysa believes he was speaking about his own son, Robert, but one look at that kid and it’s pretty clear he couldn’t rule a couple of floaters in his waste pot let alone the Eyrie. I wonder if anyone has put together the Jon Arryn mystery yet…
There were quite a few added scenes that I thought were great and that really helped develop the story and characters a bit. The first was the manscaping scene between Renly and Loras Tyrell. I found this very interesting for two reasons: 1. While it is kind of alluded to that Renly might be lovers with Loras, it’s never explicitly said; 2. Having Loras suggest Renly should be king sets stuff up that wouldn’t be shown if the series would never got picked up for a second season. I like that a lot when the writers do that. What I could have done without was the continued use of the “nomnomnom” noises they keep using for blow job scenes. It makes me laugh and completely takes me out of the moment.
The next was the scene between Cersei and Robert. I liked that it had a feeling of something that was a long time coming. It continued to show that Cersei is a master at playing the game, but also kind of made her seem more human and less Ice Queen than she had previously. I say kind of because, and this is my bias from reading the books, I don’t believe for a second that she ever had any love for Robert. Though she did look hurt for the briefest of seconds when Robert admitted that he never loved her and only carried that torch for Lyanna. I also thought her saying that their marriage was the only thing holding the kingdom together was some major foreshadowing. Robert’s speech about how one army rallied behind one man and one cause could destroy five armies was also very interesting to me.
Lastly, the scene between Varys and Littlefinger before heading into the council meeting was about the best thing ever. I so wish it had been in the book, but neither were POV characters so they didn’t have it (which can be said about all the “not in book” scenes here). Watching these two guys who are masters in knowing things others don’t know, things others wouldn’t want you to know, just one-upping each other was brilliant. This right here is a prime example of how an action scene doesn’t have to be traditional action (i.e., swords and fists flying). Words can be used for dueling as well, and can be just as damaging. Basically, Varys uses the entire conversation as a feint/deception that ends with a trompement at the end as he’s walking after Renly. While I think Cersei is a master at the game, I definitely get the feeling that Varys may have created it.
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars