TV Review: Game of Thrones, S01E03 – Lord Snow

Show: Game of Thrones
Channel: HBO
Episode: S01E03 – Lord Snow
Original Air Date: 1 May 2011
Spoiler Warning: Active, for TV and books

Yes, I know this post is ridiculously late (and Episode 4’s review will follow close on its heels, I promise, if not tonight then tomorrow). My apologies – I’ve been on vacation, and I’ve gotten quite behind in reading, viewing, and reviewing. So! Here we go:

“Lord Snow” traces a lot of heightening tensions. I’d say the dominant theme of this episode is of fracture points starting to show, of friction starting to rub hot, and of factions, not yet closing ranks, but eying each other and wondering which direction they’re going to have to bolt. It’s not a very action-packed episode, but a lot of information gets disclosed, and it’ll all be important later on.

I really can’t help but love Jaime Lannister. Which is interesting, because it took me a damn long time to warm up to him in the books. They’re definitely moving to make him more sympathetic early on in the series, which makes sense — a third-season sudden conversion doesn’t make nearly as much sense as finally getting his POV in the books does. I’m really not coming at this as a Jaime fangirl, but I’m finding him really appealing, despite all his unsavory elements – probably because he’s so unapologetic about them, so unashamed. He owns what he is, in a way that contrasts pretty sharply with so many other characters, all of whom are striving to hide what they are, battle what they are, change what they are. Jaime is totally comfortable in his own skin, and that’s, well, very attractive. This scene also goes a long way towards illustrating just how much Ned Stark’s sense of honour blinds him to, well, everything else. It’s funny, because both these characters actually are fundamentally honest — just in very different ways (and Jaime does, of course, have that one damning secret).

We’re back to more “As You Know, Bob” trope going on in this episode, which is inevitable, I suppose, with so many new characters to introduce in King’s Landing. All of the Small Council seems very well-cast so far. Petyr is skeezy, Varys is just as I imagined, Renly isn’t as cute as I’d hoped but is very appealing nonetheless. Pycelle’s Maester’s chain is nothing like I pictured. Together, they let us and Ned know a lot about how things stand in King’s Landing.

The conversation between Cersei and Joffrey is really interesting, for a lot of reasons. We see Cersei nudging him along in political thought, which is something we really don’t see in the book. It makes her look more, well, responsible, and less just like she’s spoiling the brat past all human sympathies. “The truth will be what you make it” sums up really so much of Cersei’s worldview, though. It’s interesting to hear Joffrey admit his own cowardice and shame, and then to see the explosive anger that comes out of that.

Arya continues to rule my world, and Sansa continues to be an insufferable little bitch. This second parent-child conversation is interesting as well – Ned makes a somewhat valid point in saying that Sansa has to take her future husband’s side, but Arya makes a far more valid point asking how Ned can let her marry the little prick. Ned, having no answer, swiftly changes the subject. It’s all interesting enough that I suppose I can forgive them for leaving Lyanna out of it. (But could we hear her name sometime soon? Please?) I do feel, though, like the Lyanna-Arya connection is important – for how Ned reacts to her, and for that warning, “Beautiful, and willful, and dead before her time.” Maisie continues to be so perfect, and she is going to be such a stunner when she gets a little older. She has such a beautiful face, but she definitely commands that wolf look as well.

It took far too long (34 minutes) to get to Dany in this episode. She’s finally starting to come into herself a bit, though I really wish they’d let her be the one to order Viserys to walk, like in the book. It’s the first moment we really see her assert herself over him, and they sort of undercut that by making it the suggestion of (the ridiculously attractive) Rakharo. I’m still not sure I’m thrilled with what’s happening with Dany/Drogo, largely because we don’t really get to see the transition. We’re not seeing them together enough for me to buy that all of a sudden she’s just pregnant and happy. I sort of love Jorah and Rakharo talking battle techniques, though. And man, the Dothraki language sounds brilliant. I also sort of ship Irri/Rakharo now, because watching them bicker was just too entertaining.

Meanwhile, up on the Wall, Jon’s learning some tough lessons about what the Night’s Watch has truly become. He’s finding out it’s not all noble men who serve for honour, like his uncle; the Watch is, in large part, the outcasts of the world, men and boys with no other place. Between some stern words from Benjen and some snarking from Tyrion, Jon decides that, rather than sulking about this fate, he should make the best of it and see if he can’t turn the rabble into something a little more impressive. Kit Harrington is growing on me, though there’s still something about his appearance that just rubs me the wrong way. I sort of can’t express how happy it makes me, though, that Tyrion does, in fact, piss off the Wall, like he wanted.

Finally, Arya and Syrio. Syrio is not at all how I pictured him – I expected a tall, wiry sort, whippet-thin and lanky – but he nails the attitude, just dead-on. I really enjoyed the music in this scene – so far the score hasn’t impressed me. Hasn’t been bad, just hasn’t been that much worth noticing. Here, though, it definitely hit the mood and energy just right. The episode ends with Ned apparently having a PTSD flashback – the audience has to wonder just about what.


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