There were three processions in the latest Game of Thrones episode, “The Kingsroad.” The first, led the still-reluctant Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) on her white horse across grassy fields, home to her new husband’s nomadic people, the Dothraki. The second was Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and his two daughters, Sansa and Arya, with their pet direwolves, joining King Robert across rolling green fields to King’s Landing. And the third found Ned’s bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Tyrion Lannister on their way to the Wall, where Jon will become part of the Knight’s Watch.
Peter Dinklage is wonderful as Tyrion, who is an outcast within his family because of his dwarfism (and superior intelligence). He is acerbic and witty and kick-ass and the only person who seems to be abe to see everything that is going on behind closed doors and in people’s minds. He informs his sister the Queen (Lena Headey) and the rest of his family at one of the most unpleasant family breakfasts ever that young Bran is alive, but no one knows if he will live or be a cripple as a result of his fall from the battlements (at the hands of the Queen’s twin brother and lover Jaime.)
The queen is worried that the boy might live, but says publicly, “I hope the boy does wake, I’d be very interested to hear what he has to say.” She visits Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) and at first seems genuinely concerned for the boy’s welfare, as she shares a story about losing her own young son. But it is most likely a warning, a preparation for Catelyn’s impending loss, as there is soon an attempt on Bran’s life. Catelyn has been complaining about the direwolves howling outside Bran’s window as an assassin enters and tries to kill both the boy and his mother. She fights valiantly but is about to be murdered when one of their pet direwolves springs into action and kills the assassin and then perches on the edge of Bran’s bed, the ultimate watch dog.
Catelyn investigates the castle room that looks out and over where Bran fell, finds a long blonde hair and deduces that his fall was not an accident. She meets with her oldest son and advisors and decides to travel to King’s Landing to tell Ned her suspicions about the Lannisters. It seems kind of crazy for her to take off now and leave her son’s side after a month of his being unconscious and second, vicious attempt on his life. But the wolves should protect him.
On the road to Dothraki, Daenerys is obsessed with her wedding gift of dragon’s eggs. The distraction may help her get through her difficult adjustment to her new marriage and rough-hewn, rough-sex husband. She enlists one of her ladies-in-waiting to teach her how to make her husband happy, and take some sexual charge of her situation. A few quick lessons in lovemaking and apparently a flash course in the Dothraki language seem to work wonders, as Daenerys and Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) seem to move into a new, more satisfying phase for both of them in their relationship.
On the way to the Wall, Tyrion has a campfire chat with Jon, but still doesn’t make it clear why he is so interested in going to there. Tyrion tells Jon that he must always deal with his bastard status, relating it to his own precarious survival, “If I’d been born a peasant, they might have left me in the woods to die.” But Jon got more encouraging words from Ned, who told him before they parted, “You are a Stark. You might not have my name, but you have my blood. The next time we see each other we’ll talk about your mother, I promise.” In the morning Jon and Tyrion reach the Wall, and a big wall it is.
As Ned and the King camp on their way to King’s Landing they trade war stories — fun when it’s about women from their past, not so fun when it turns to politics. Ned is in a difficult position, where he can be ordered about by an old friend, with a daughter who is being dangled as a potential bride for the king’s nasty son, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson).
And what a rotten little creep Joffrey is, too. Tyrion appears to be the only decent member of the Lannister family. Joffrey threatens Arya (Maisie Williams), who is play-dueling with sticks with the butcher boy, with a real sword. Big mistake. Arya’s pet direwolf saves her from this physical threat by biting Joffrey on his hand. Arya tells her wolf to run away, knowing it will be killed — unfortunately she didn’t give the butcher boy the same advice, as Joffrey sees to it that he is killed, because he can.
It’s a case of “he said, she said” until Sansa (Sophie Turner) is brought forward, but she claims she doesn’t know what happened, as she doesn’t want to betray Joffrey or Arya. Since Arya’s wolf cannot be found the queen orders Sansa’s wolf to die instead, with her henpecked King saying nothing to stop the execution. Ned senses the cruelty in the Queen and her followers and says he will do it himself. “The wolf is from the north, she deserves better than a butcher.” When he kills the wolf, back in Winterfell, Bran wakes up.
The Starks all seem to be going in different directions, It will be interesting to see if they can come together to vanquish the Lannisters, who all seem to be evil, apart from the witty Tyrion. Ned also seems to be predisposed to feel somewhat sympathetic to Daenerys’s situation, before even meeting her. The King has told Ned that a war is coming, and clearly lines are being drawn, but how soon before Ned will have enough of King’s Landing and its dangerous inhabiants?