Game of Thrones – “A Golden Crown”: Be careful what you wish for

Sorry for the delay on getting this up.  I’d like to say that my mind was so blown by the amount of pure awesome in Sunday’s episode that it’s taken me this long to process everything, but the real answer is that I’ve just been super busy.  Still, busy is much better than what’s befallen several of our main characters over the past two episodes.  Jory got the worst Lasik surgery ever courtesy of Jaime Lannister, Ned hit the disabled list with a torn MCL, ACL, meniscus (well, really everything in a knee that a freaking spear would tear up), and Viserys is going to be saving a lot of money on haircuts going forward.

I’m kidding of course.  Viserys won’t need any haircuts at all going forward.  He’s dead.  Cooked alive by a cauldron of molten gold poured on him by his brother-in-law, who was fulfilling his promise of giving Viserys a crown.  Aside from being an all-around fantastic scene of television, this was also one of the better realized scenes from the book that the show has done.  It played out pretty much just how I had pictured it.  And so ends the erstwhile reign of Viserys Targaryen, third of his name, self-styled King of Westeros, Lord of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men.  I am truly sorry to see Harry Lloyd go, he brought a level of humanity to the character that was entirely absent in the books.  Even in his last episode, he managed to show us (through his confrontation with Jorah) that he ultimately was a scared child, terrified of not living up the expectations that he feels have been placed upon him.  Viserys was certainly a monster, but the show seems to want us to understand that he was a monster who perceived himself to have a selfless purpose- he was the last hope of a realm begging for the return of his family’s rule.  He saw himself as having the responsibility of saving Westeros from the tyrannical rule of a vile and viscous man, Robert the Usurper.  I suppose perspective is always based on where you stand.

Another large chunk of the action this episode occurred at the Eyrie, as Tyrion bent his considerable intelligence to the task of escaping Lysa Arryn and her sky cells (my brain knew those were computer graphics, but my eyes were certain Tyrion was thousands of feet above a valley floor- well done effects people).  Between his negotiations with the remarkably dim gaoler Mord and his tongue-in-cheek confession to the Eyrie court (I’m with Robin- what does happen when one brings a honeycomb and a jackass into a brothel?) Tyrion used his wit and charm to full force.  He took a calculated gamble that his assessment of Bronn on the road (and a series of well dropped hints about how well he’d pay anyone who helps him) would lead to the mercenary stepping up to fight on his behalf, but the fight itself was no gamble.  As Bronn reminded us after it was over and Ser Vardis was doing his best Luke falling out of Cloud City impression (except with no well placed antenna to grab onto), there’s fighting with honor and then there’s just plain fucking fighting.  And Bronn is quite good at the latter.  It would seem that Tyrion has made himself quite the useful ally.  One additional note- I thought the fight choreography for the trial-by-combat was excellent.

While King’s Landing was light on the actual action this week, it’s not to say that nothing of import happened there.  In fact, several developments crucial to our story occurred.  Ned wakes up from whatever kind of fevered post-stabbing sleep he was in to find both the king and queen standing over his bed.  Cersei is pissed and full-on spinning on behalf of both her brothers.  Robert doesn’t necessarily buy it, but neither is he pleased with Ned for stirring up trouble.  He just wants it all to go away, and decides to go hunting while things sort themselves out.  Far from making it go away, Ned decides to poke the bear by commanding Lannister paterfamilias Tywin (the oft-mentioned, not as yet seen) appear before the court to answer for the crimes of his bannerman Ser Gregor Clegane, who is terrorizing the countryside (complete with horse-head chopping off action!)  In a great moment of fan service for readers of the book, Ned commands Ser Beric Dondarrion to take a force of men and bring The Mountain to justice.  Not sure how much  of Ser Beric’s story the tv writers will be able to include going forward, but it was nice to at least see him here, if only briefly.

Finally, in a “kid’s say the darnedest things” moment, Sansa proclaims that she wants to have Joffrey’s beautiful blonde babies and Ned is all ohhhhhhhh… Samsonite.  A quick check of Hogwarts, A History (or whatever the hell massive book that was) confirms Ned’s suspicions- Baratheons are never not black of hair.  I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to figure out what that means Joffrey is the product of (I’ll give you a hint- it rhymes with “blincest”).  What Ned will do with this knowledge is surely the topic of next week’s episode.

Some other quick hits:

– I do love that HBO can never resist reminding us that we’re watching pay cable.  This week it’s an up-skirt shot of Roz the whore, who seemingly goes commando even while in a turnip cart.

– The scene with Bran and the wildlings was also realized pretty true to the book, right down to Theon’s rescue and Robb’s reaction.  A friend of mine did point out, however, that they seemingly removed the direwolves’ role in that rescue (I would imagine for budget reasons, as it can’t be easy to shoot with animals all the time).  The writers have really gone out of their way the past several weeks to highlight Theon’s marginalization within the Stark clan.

– I never pictured that a boar hunt would take place on foot, but at least there was ample wine!

– I couldn’t help but snicker at all of Littlefinger’s Homer Simpson-style stage whispers to Ned during the court scene.  The guy really revels in being a prick.

There’s not going to be an Explainer this week, as there were no new characters or places of note.  So if you had questions about anything, leave them in the comments and I’ll see if I can help sort out any confusion.

(photo credit, HBO)

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