Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 5 recap & review
“First of His Name”
“First of His Name” is the weakest link on the season four chain so far for “Game of Thrones” mainly due to a lack of a recurring theme and tame, solemn end scene. A Tyrion-less episode makes us miss him more, I suppose, but the audience should nevertheless note the absence of the series’ most popular character as the episode also lacks his humorous perspective in addition to a theme. This week’s episode exists to tie up a few plots and unravel a fee others. That’s as close to a theme as we’re given. Instead, the season’s theme of “Valar Morghulis—All Men Must Die” plays heavier.
The episode begins with a scene viewers have anticipated since the Purple Wedding: King Tommen I Baratheon’s coronation. The entire sequence of crowning and paying homage plays out exactly as one would expect. The camera takes us to Cersei and Margaery conversing in the Red Keep mere moments after the Queen Regent blocked the line of sight between her remaining son and Joffrey’s mourning bride. While Margaery keeps up the appearance of mourning the king-that-nobody-mourns, Cersei confesses her oldest lived his life as a despicable tyrant. They agree to speak to each other’s fathers about Margaery marrying Tommen in a warmer exchange than the last time Cersei spoke to her future-daughter/ sister-in-law. Even in Westeros, royal bloodlines seem peculiar. Think how crazy some of those Targaryens have dared to dream.
The camera then jumps across the Narrow Sea to Meereen where we learn that Daario Naharis took the Navy of Meereen for Daenerys because he “heard she liked ships.” The Mother of Dragons now has means to sail to Westeros and take King’s Landing—but can she conquer the Seven Kingdoms just like her ancestors Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters did? However, Daenerys announces her intention to rule in Essos upon news that Astapor and Yunkai have slipped from what she envisioned. The good note for her in all of this was Ser Jorah’s news of Joffrey’s death. Nothing much gets accomplished again in another Daenerys scene. Her story isn’t propelled forward as she, however appropriately, decides to stay put. Her story drags more often than not as her character’s maturation takes precedence over her path.
Sansa and Littlefinger then walk the stone path to the Eyrie as he tells her the history of the castle’s fortitude. As they approach the appropriately-named “Bloody Gate,” Lord Baelish announces himself and his niece, Alayne, as uttering Sansa’s true name would certainly end poorly for everybody. Enter Lysa and Robin. Oh dear. Sansa’s spooky relatives genuinely creep her out as much as they do the audience. After Robin takes his cousin, and evidently betrothed, off on a tour of the Vale of Arryn, Lady Lysa gets all up on the Lord of Harrenhal. After she crawls off of him, she shouts her idea to wed her suitor that very night and for them to revisit the wedding night they had years ago as young adults with her screams echoing the halls of the castle. Unfortunately for Sansa, the Vale, and everybody within a league, her aunt meant every word. I kinda felt bad for Littlefinger this week until I realized it’s all part of his plan. Who ever thought Petyr Baelish’s masculine (?) wiles were a necessary step in the game for the Iron Throne?
Let’s not forget Lysa’s shocking revelation about poisoning Jon Arryn under her lover’s direction. “YOU gave me those drops and told me to pour them in Jon’s wine. YOU told me to write Cat and tell her it was the Lannisters!” This whole game started when Jon Arryn died. End tied. Lord and Lady Petyr Baelish of Harrenhal and the Vale? End unraveled. Lysa later corners her niece during a meal and grills Sansa about her sexual history with Littlefinger and Tyrion in particular in a manic mess.
A necessary, yet boring (can that be a theme?) scene between Tywin and Cersei follows the introduction of Sansa to the Vale with a scheduled date for Tommen and Margaery’s wedding and sights on Cersei’s marriage to Ser Loras Tyrell. She ends the scene with her opening statement for Tyrion’s trial. Practicing law and subtlety do not fall under her fortes. Cersei shines later in the episode as actress Lena Headey shows us she can be more than an ice queen in this Song of Ice and Fire. In an emotional exchange with Oberyn Martell about daughters, the Queen tasks the Red Viper with returning a ship to Dorne for Myrcella—a nameday gift. Where are Oberyn’s daughters, the Sand snakes? Can we just get a quick establishing scene?
Arya then lies awake trying to say her nightly prayer as the Hound complains. She ends her prayer of death with his name. Later in the episode, Sandor awakens to find that Arya fled the campsite sometime before he awakens. Arya doesn’t make her great escape, instead she chooses her water dance exercises with Needle by a creek before the Hound shows up to dampen hopes of Syrio Forel’s survival and demean her ability.
In perhaps the funniest moment this week, Podrick Payne laughably tries to ride horseback alongside Brienne and performs poorly. Brienne doesn’t take to her new squire immediately as he comes off as spoiled as his first master, Tyrion Lannister. It isn’t until Pod confesses he killed a White Cloak attacking his Lord at the Battle of Blackwater that Brienne warms up to her travel buddy and even lets him undo her armor, a task in which he has some proficiency.
Although this week ends on yet another expected, captivating end sequences, we aren’t left with a twist or chilling, sour note. Instead, Jon and Bran’s arcs collide without the characters ever interacting. The Bolton’s rat, Locke, scopes out Craster’s Keep and reports back to Jon’s party. He conveniently leaves out Bran and advises the others to keep away Bran’s area, no doubt for the Boltons’ sake. Inside Bran’s hut, Jojen describes a tree that they need to visit. Bran recognizes it, as well. Jojen gives a sense of urgency before Meera asks when it will all be over. As Jojen envisions his arm on fire, he confesses only, “We’ll know.” A Song of Ice and what?
After Jon’s crew agree to attack at sundown, Karl “The Legend of Gin Alley” Tanner rolls up to string Meera to the ceiling with promises of certain rape. Of course, Meera and the rest are rescued when the brave men of the Night’s Watch show up to rescue them right before Jojen predicts Karl’s death. I really fear Coldhands won’t show up now. “Game of Thrones” is a terrific, entertaining series, but squandering a fan favorite like Coldhands just comes off as a missed opportunity.
Locke appears in Bran’s hut to abduct the Lord of Winterfell. Meera and Jojen don’t put up too much of a struggle as Bran makes his most ambitious move yet. Bran wargs into Hodor once more, but not to calm him. Hodor, with Bran’s mind, lifts Locke by the throat and kills him with his bare hands. Bran calls out for his brother, but Jojen halts him in order to remind him that Jon will only hinder their journey toward the three-eyed raven. Jon carves up bad guys as a backdrop for his brother’s escape.
Jon then meets Karl in the main keep. Karl wields his “legendary” weapons from Flea Bottom as Jon wields Longclaw. Karl seems to confuse Jon with his daggers, stabbing Jon, forcing him to drop his sword and fall to the floor. As imminent death looms over Ned’s bastard, one of Craster’s daughter-wives stabs the mutineers’ leader deeply enough to distract him. Karl turns his attention to the woman, raising a dagger to her before Valyrian steel enters the back of his head and exits through his mouth. Jon leaves the scene to go outside and regroup. They’ve won the fight and realize one has escaped. Enter Rast entering Ghost’s hungry jaws. Ghost finally reunites with Jon before the women of Craster’s Keep elect to burn the outpost.
It was a little confusing as to why the Night’s Watch had to kill the mutineers and not Coldhands, especially because the show already put Jon and Bran close to each other without their interacting before. It’s getting repetitive and the point seems more and more muddy. Why the need for throwing Bran and Jon in close proximity without interaction? It’s an unnecessary tease. We know Bran needs to get to the raven and we know Jon has to prepare for the Wildlings. Otherwise, the episode seemed to drift from scene to scene with less fluidity than usual. Cersei Lannister wove throughout scenes, tying King’s Landing to one point of view. The unveiling of Jon Arryn’s murder almost slipped by viewers as it was mentioned in haste and with caution. The beginning of the next chapter in Sansa’s life just began as she finally set foot off of King’s Landing after being a captive there since the first season.