The North Remembers – Episode 1 Recap

Man it feels good to be back! Just FYI, these recaps are coming from the perspective of someone who has read the series, so do not expect them to be entirely spoiler free. (I’ve decided to break the episode down by geography to make things easier).

King’s Landing

Lets start out with the most hated character on television, The Little Shit Joffrey Baratheon. Its his nameday (Westeros speak for birthday) and he’s doing what he does best, reveling in the torture and death of innocents. By his side sits poor Sansa Stark who knows she is one wrong remark away from sharing her father’s fate. She slips up slightly in this scene but is saved by Joffery’s personal bodyguard Sandor Clegane (The Hound) who seems to have a soft spot for the stunning Stark girl. This scene also introduces us to Ser Dontos, a character book readers know very well šŸ˜‰ My favorite part of the scene however is the dramatic arrival of King Joffery’s uncle, Tyrion Lannister. Dressed in full armor, he struts right up to his nephew and makes his presence known to everyone. It is painfully clear that there is a new sheriff in town, and it seems Joffrey may finally have met his match.

The next scene is definitely among my favorites of the premier. Tyrion waltzes into the Small Council meeting with his older sister and Queen Regent Cersei Lannister, Peytr Baelish, Vayrs, and Maester Pycelle. He confidently announces he has been appointed the new Hand of the King because Cersei has completely lost control of her son and Grandpa Tywin is not happy. It was hilarious watching Tyrion just cut her to pieces with his unabashed humor. His lines were brutal, though not untrue, and the way Peter Dinkalge delivers them is just so delicious (the cheekbone line, c’mon). Here, we also learn that Cersei has lost one of her hostages, Arya Stark, and if knowledge of this were to become public, Jaime’s life could be forfeit. Tyrion mocks Cersei’s failure as the Queen silently fumes. King’s Landing is about to get interesting…

Later on in the episode we see another exchange between Cersei and a rival. This time, her victim is Littlefinger. Cersei follows Baelish into a courtyard, trailed by armored guards. She asks him about Arya’s whereabouts. Baelish refers her to Varys. Cersei notes that Baelish is wearing a mockingbird pin, a sigil of his own devising. After Cersei starts remarking on his humble beginnings, Baelish threatens Cersei with his knowledge of her affair with her brother. He tells her that members of noble houses always forget that “knowledge is power.” Cersei is none too pleased with his sly words and has her guard seize the Master of Coin. She then proceeds to order them to cut his throat. “Oh, wait, I changed my mind!” she says brightly. The guards release Baelish and, at Cersei’s barked commands, walk exactly three paces away, turn around, close their eyes. Cersei slowly walks towards a shaken Peytr and, in the coldest voice imaginable, simply tells him that “power is power.” Brilliant!

In the closing scenes of the episode we see the throne room is a hive of activity. Cersei walks in to find Joffrey redecorating, taking down all the vines and flower for something a little more warlike. She tells him to set his armies searching for Arya. They need to get Jaime back, his life is in danger. Joffrey, of course, relents, then tells his mother he has heard the rumors about his parentage. Cersei smiles. “Our enemies will say anything…no one believes this foul lie.” But Joffrey can’t seem to let it go and goes on to remind his mother that King Robert had a number of bastards from girls he slept with when he got sick of Cersei. The Little Shit strikes again. Cersei, in her rage, slaps the crap out of her son (yep, definitely cheered there). Joffrey looks stunned. So does Cersei, “What you just did is punishable by death. You will never do it again, never,” he says, and stalks off (Nooooooo, Joffrey getting slapped my favorite :( )

In the final sequence of the show, Joffrey seems to have taken a play out of King Herod’s playbook and has ordered his City Watch to kill every living bastard of King Robert’s in the city. What follows is a gruesome and horrifc montage of infants and children alike, one by one, being slaughtered by the gold cloaked men. It is here we see Joffrey’s tyranny at its worst. The sequence ends with the guards interrogating a blacksmith about the whereabouts of Robert’s eldest bastard. The man screams that the boy left the city to join The Night’s Watch and is currently on the Kingsroad. Smash cut to Gendry, the boy in question, (oh my god when did Joe Dempsie become gorgeous) helping Arya (!!!!!!!) onto the back of a cart.

Winterfell

Next up is our return to Winterfell. Little Bran Stark rules in Robb’s absence and the way he deals with his bannerman is in direct contrast to Joffrey. Although clearly bored, Bran makes sure to be fair, but at the same time stern. The perspective then shifts, and suddenly we’re seeing the woods through the eyes of Summer, Bran’s direwolf. We then see the young Stark boy wake with a start in his bed, hmmmm…. Later that day, Bran is out with Hodor (HODOR!) and Osha and he remarks on the red comet in the sky and the different meanings the people of Westeros have given it. Osha flicks these false prophecies aside saying that stars do not fall for mere men, that comet means on thing: dragons.

The Red Waste

Ahem, Dany, that’s your cue! Last season ended with the unforgettable image on Daenerys and her three newly hatched dragons. I’m sure many people thought, “Oh well now that Dany has dragons, she’s just gonna unbeatable and whoop everyone’s ass in her inevitable return to the Iron Throne.” Yeah, not so much. Dany and what’s left of her Khalasar are dying in the endless Red Waste. Though her dragons seem healthy, they are still rather small (nice CGI by the way) and cannot produce the water and food Dany desperately needs. In a last ditch attempt to save her people, she sends out her best riders to try and find some kind of civilization, will it work? Tune in next week to find out :)

Beyond the Wall

Those who’ve read my blog before know that my favorite character is Jon Snow. He is my favorite in the books (no one really comes close), and with the casting of Kit Harrington (*swoon*) my love for him has only grown with the HBO series. But above all that, his story, in my opinion, is the most compelling and perhaps the most important. So when we finally got to him last night, I was bursting with excitement. His story this season begins in Craster’s Keep, the creepy wildling that marries his daughters, taking incest to a whole ‘nother level. The Night’s Watch are looking for a place to sleep for the night but they also want information regarding the strange wildling movements. This is where we first hear about Mance Rayder aka The King Beyond the Wall. According to Craster, he has amassed an army to rival any southern lord and plans on attacking The Wall… soon. Craster seems to take an immediate dislike to Jon, pestering him with hilarious insults, “You’re prettier than half my daughters.” (I mean, he’s not lying). Back with his friends, Jon notices that Craster only seems to have daughters. Knowing that’s statistically impossible, he wonders what happened to all the sons (cue ominous music). Other things I liked about this sequence include Lord Commander Mormont privately chastising Jon for being too vocal about his dislike of Craster, he reminds Jon that in order to rule, one must learn how to follow. I liked this because it firmly solidifies Mormont’s intentions for Jon to one day lead The Night’s Watch. Also, we get a short glimpse of one of Craster’s daughters/wives who will have a bigger role to play in upcoming episodes. I can’t forget to mention one of the most beloved of all of Martin’s characters, Dolorous Edd. He makes his grand entrance here and brings along his trademark Debbie Downer humor. I am so beyond happy that the showrunners decided to keep him as a character :)

Robb Stark’s Camp

The story then takes us to where the King in the North, Robb Stark is currently camped, awaiting the next battle with Tywin Lannister. First on his agenda is to visit the captive Kingslayer, Ser Jaime Lannister. Their exchange is so, so, fantastic thanks in large part to Jaime’s cutting humor and Robb’s newfound confidence. He tears Jaime apart, using his knowledge of Joffery’s illegitimacy and recent victories to further demoralize the emprisoned knight. If that weren’t enough, we get an absolutely terrifying scene of Jaime coming face to face with Robb’s gigantic direwolf Greywind. Although I don’t think the CGI is as good as the dragons, it’s still effective and the fear conveyed by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was palpable. The next scene involves Robb visiting with his trusted advisers devising a game plan. Robb decided to send a captured Lannister to deliver his terms for peace to King’s Landing. Although he knows they will never be accepted, it will buy him time to march further south. Theon Greyjoy, Robb’s adoptive brother, tells him that it is impossible to take King’s Landing without a navy. Theon’s father, Balon commands 200 ships and Theon believes he can convince his estranged father to pledge for the young wolf. Although his mother, Catelyn Stark, warns him that the Sea Lord is untrustworthy, Robb agrees to let Theon go. He also decides to send his mother to Renly Baratheon’s camp to try and strike an alliance. The pieces are moving…

Dragonstone

Though frequently referenced, Stannis Baratheonā€”King Robert’s older brother, and by rights the true heir to the throneā€”didn’t appear inĀ Game of Thrones‘ first season. As it turns out, Stannis has a severe case of middle-child syndrome (join the club). His petty whining about Robert, the elder brother who didn’t love him, and Renly, the younger brother who also claims the throne, is decidedly un-kingly. Stannis’ chief asset, and perhaps chief threat, is a red-draped sorceress named Melisandre, who has managed to seduce him metaphorically (if not literally). As Melisandre burns the statues of Stannis’ old gods in “The North Remembers,” she goads him into drawing a flaming sword called “Lightbringer.” It’s an empty symbol of an empty leader. “The night is dark and full of terrors,” Melisandre ominously chants. In a fantasy series that so far has been low on the “fantasy”, Melisandre may be the most magical character to date. He mysterious powers also come to light when she is able to resist the poison of a would-be assassin. Her supreme confidence in her god and her king is off-putting. Yet you can’t help being drawn to the character whose role will turn absolutely vital in the weeks to come. Also in these scenes in Ser Davos Seaworth. A definite fan-favorite and right hand man to Stannis. His loyalty is unfailing, though he’s seems unafraid to voice his doubts with some of his King’s suggestions. Look to him to be Stannis’ moral compass when shit starts to hit the fan.

Overall Thoughts

Holy crap was that amazing. This episode sets up the season perfectly and gives the viewer a sense of bigger things to come. The one hour showed seemed to fly by and the ending only left me wanting more. I literally cannot wait for next week!

 

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