Game of Thrones delivered another intense episode with “A Golden Crown.” Most of the wrangling was political in King’s Landing and the land of the Dothraki, where a desperate Viserys (Harry Lloyd) tried to take charge. There was also an exciting scene where Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) got to try out his new saddle with some dangerous results, and the Stark’s ward Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) got some more screen time, but I just can’t get interested in his character. I’m not sure if it’s the actor, or if I’ve just reached my limit of characters, but his scenes leave me cold.
The stand-out for me, once again, was Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. His characterization of “The Imp” continues to amaze. He is brilliant, brave, sexy, and hilarious as he tries to escape from his open-air prison cell with a view, where he has been held captive by Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) and her sister Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie).
His attempts at bribing his thick-headed guard Mord at first do not impress. But after explaining the intricacies of the pay-off he finally gets through to the oaf and is brought before the Lysa and her court. Lysa’s disturbing and disturbed son Robin (Lino Facioli) just wants to throw “the little man” through an open hole in the middle of the throne room. A convenient thing to have, I’m sure, if you’re a despotic ruler. Tyrion asks to confess his crimes — lying, cheating, gambling, whoring. He tells bawdy story after story, enrapturing the court, and even Robin, who wants to know after each story, “What happened next?”
Upset that he didn’t admit to killing her husband, Arya is ready to throw him in the hole when he demands a trial by champion, first asking for his brother Jaime Lannister. That is quickly rejected, but Bronn (Jerome Flynn), a mercenary, or “sellsword,” steps forward, “I’ll stand for the dwarf.” Bronn fights Lysa’s armored champion in a brutal fight and it’s a long way down for the beaten knight. Tyrion is set free. He tosses a purse full of coins to Mord on the way out with his new employee Bronn, “A Lannister always pays his debts.”
As Tyrion fights for his life his incarceration has had reverberations across the Seven Kingdoms. Ned Stark (Sean Bean) wants revenge on Jaime, who was trying to avenge his brother Tyrion when he attacked Ned in last week’s episode. King Robert (Mark Addy) doesn’t want to hear any of it, as he feels he still needs the Lannisters and he isn’t particularly interested in anyone else’s problems. He re-installs Ned as Hand of the King, puts him on the throne to hear grievances, and goes out hunting (or escaping.) “I’m the king, I get what I want.”
In a scene lit like a Maxfield Parrish painting, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) shows she has picked up some rude behavior from her true-love, jerky Prince Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), when she speaks in a nasty manner to her nurse. Joffrey then enters, as if on cue, and gives her a necklace and apologizes for his previous rudeness. She eats it up, but the insincere brat is strictly following his Mama’s orders to make nice.
Ned sees the danger mounting around him and his family and decides to send the girls back home to Winterfell, much to each of their dismay, but for different reasons. Sansa calls Joffrey her “golden lion” and says she will give him beautiful blond babies. You can see the lightbulb go off above Ned’s head as he thinks about Joffrey, King Robert’s dark-haired bastards, and recessive genes. He starts studying old Baratheon family trees.
In the land of the Dothraki, Khaleesi Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is fascinated with her wedding gift of three dragon’s eggs. She puts one in the fire, and when she lifts it out her hands don’t burn as she holds the glowing egg. As if that wasn’t enough proof that the little blond girl is a badass, when we see her next she is eating a raw horse’s heart in a Dothraki tribal trial/ritual. She passes the test, and it is determined her baby will be a boy and a brave warrior. Her brother Viserys has been watching from the sidelines and is not pleased. His solution is to try and take the dragon’s eggs, but he is stopped by Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen).
The Dothraki hold a celebration honoring Daenerys and her unborn son. Viserys comes in, drunk and disorderly and threatens Daenerys and her unborn child with his sword. Her husband and tribe leader Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) at first watches quietly, and then speaks, but Viserys doesn’t understand. Daenerys translates for him, “He says that you shall have a golden crown that men shall tremble to behold.” Bye bye Viserys. He gets crowned in molten gold, hotter than anything Midas ever touched. Dany watches, unemotional. “He was no Dragon, fire cannot touch a Dragon.”
Game of Thrones is about politics, but also about humanity, in some of its harshest moments. In “A Golden Crown” Sean Bean’s Ned Stark is the heart, Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys is the power, and Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion is the mind. The question is, will these three come together or continue to be at odds?