by Matthew Thompson (Images-HBO. The Game of Thrones site can be found here)
“First of his Name” kicks off right where you’d expect an episode with that title to, the coronation of King Tommen. There is a surprisingly small amount of time spent in King’s Landing by series’ standards. What time we do spend there is focused on Cersei. In three separate scenes, she does her best to butter up the judges in Tyrion’s upcoming trial. While she isn’t exactly showing her truest self, some honesty does come through. Like her words about Joffrey to Margaery or Myrcella to Oberyn. She clearly has an ulterior motive this week, but it is still interesting to try to parse out what’s real and what is just her trying to push the judges in the direction she wants.
There are some other tidbits revealed in these conversations. This isn’t the first time we have heard that the crown is in debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos (whose name also came up in a Davos/Stannis plotline earlier this season), but we do learn for the first time that the gold mines in the Westerlands have dried up. And Oberyn like he has multiple times this season sheds a little more light on Dorne with talk of his eight daughters, Sunspear and the Water Gardens. He continues to act as a good introduction to Westeros’ southern-most kingdom. Even if that, namedropping Elia and his sexual exploits have been the focus of his role thus far, I continue to love Pedro Pascal in the role.
Since Dany’s wacky “Where are muh dragons?” adventure back in Season 2, she has been pretty much a non-stop wrecking ball, freeing slaves and sacking cities throughout Slaver’s Bay with ease. That is one reason this week’s scene, where we hear things are not all rosy in Yunkai and Astapor since she left, is such an important one. Not everything is going her way and seeing how she deals with the consequences should make her scenes a little less one-note. Her deciding to stay and rule also means another delay to her inevitable trip to Westeros. While this may frustrate some viewers antsy to see her join the main fray, I personally think her having to deal with some of the issues she has created of late should be a good thing.
Littlefinger and Sansa have arrived in the Vale and the biggest takeaway from what happens up in the Eyrie is that Lysa is a bit of a loon. She is crazy for Petyr and crazy jealous of everyone that might have come between them even accusing Sansa of sleeping with him. We also find out that she poisoned her husband Jon Arryn at the behest of Littlefinger which means the whole sequence of events of the show were put into motion by Littlefinger. So Sansa is stuck up in an impenetrable fortress with the devilish Littlefinger and the volatile Lysa. A definite situation to watch going forward.
This hour ends with a long segment depicting events North of the Wall as Jon and his party from the Night’s Watch attack the mutineers at Craster’s Keep. There is a lot to like here. It acts as a great action sequence to punctuate an otherwise low-key episode. Jon going one-on-one with Karl is fun to watch and I think it is fitting that one of Craster’s daughters who had been tortured there played a role in Karl’s ultimate demise. Ghost got his own revenge on Rast and the reunion between him and Jon was rather nice. I even thought how they represented Jojen’s visions was cool. And it was really just good to see this bunch at the Keep get what was coming to them after seeing what they had been up to all this time.
What I didn’t really like during this final sequence was Locke’s plan. Locke seems like a pretty resourceful guy. He gets himself inside Castle Black, buddies up with Jon and even does a bit of spying on him. He manages to get himself in the party headed to Craster’s and gets to be the one to scout things out despite only being a recruit. And then his big plan is to run off with Bran slung over his shoulder? Ignoring the giant wall that would be in his way or the fact that Jon would likely find out about this from Jojen and company? It all seems a little silly. He probably would have been better off letting Jon take Bran back to Castle Black and then trying to steal off with him in the night. So now it just feels like for Bran’s journey to continue North as intended, Locke became a bit of a moron all of a sudden. This really isn’t a big gripe in the grand scheme of things, but after watching it, I was just left scratching my head a bit.
A few more things:
- Scene of the Week: I’ll take the fight between Jon and Karl. I liked seeing Karl’s two dagger style and it reiterated the idea that Bronn showed Jaime a week ago, sometimes you have to fight dirty. This is one of those weeks where there isn’t an obvious choice for me for best scene though.
- There were some other small scenes this week that added some comic relief to the episode. Pod’s issues with horses and cooking rabbits for Brienne plus Arya’s harsh lesson about water dancing and armor from the Hound were good for some laughs. It shows these two pairs can be a lot of fun even if not a whole lot happens.
- I liked the way the show transitioned from Cersei to Arya’s list.
- I still remember seeing the Eyrie for the first time on the show and I still love the look of it.
- I’m going to try to make these reviews a bit shorter. They’d been getting out of hand, but that means they might be a bit less exhaustive as far as covering everything. This one feels like a good step in the right direction.
- Missing in Action this Week: A bunch of people and more if you exclude those who just appeared with no lines in the opening scene. This is only the third episode in the series without Tyrion apparently.
“First of his Name” is another solid entry in the fourth season of Game of Thrones. I think for me personally it was a little lacking compared to other episodes this year as far as really standout scenes go. The ones that stick with me like Arya and the Hound’s scene from the premiere. Or even something less action-packed like Oberyn’s conversations with Tywin and Tyrion so far this season. It was still an enjoyable hour though with some impactful reveals. And I still can’t wait to see where the back half of this season brings us.
What did you think of the latest episode of Game of Thrones? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!