*Spoiler Warning: Please only continue with this series blog if you have watched up to series 5 of Game of Thrones*
Remember the advertising blitzkrieg set to the obligatory warblings of Florence Welch that accompanied the launch of Sky Atlantic in February? Well when they were shoving their ‘stories’ in our grateful faces, many were billing Game of Thrones as television’s answer to Lord of the Rings. But over a month after it all kicked off in Westeros, we are all realising that there has been less magic in this series than you’d find at a child’s birthday party. Maybe we all just got distracted by Sean Bean? (he was in LOTR you know..) Either way, it seems clear that those of you who sagely argued that it was more like Sopranos with swords should take a bow. Now we believe that you’ve read the books…
Despite frequent whispers of Dragons, Snarks and other viscous Northen creatures, the only actual supernatural being we’ve spotted so far came in the first scene of the series. Remember those blue-eyed White Walkers? I’m sure we’ll be seeing a bit more of them as Ned and his sprogs press on, especially with Nathan Tarley stationed on The Wall. In all honesty, the teletubbies would probably be able to get past the new recruit without raising a sweat. I’ve no doubt the chunky coward (his words!) will prove himself of use in dues course but to be honest I was glad that The Wolf and The Lion ignored life up in the snowy hinterland. Jon of Bastard might be good with a sword, but I was getting a little bit bored with his paint-by-numbers acting and back-breaking morality. I’m sure things will get better when the recruits actually get out there and see some action. At least they all know who’ll be going in the pot first if the shit hits the snow..
But if life is dull up at The Wall, then the opposite is true at King’s Landing. Indeed there are so many things going on that Ned Stark is beginning to look a bit haggard. After King Robert orders that Daenerys Targaryen and her unborn baby should be killed, Ned hands in his notice accusing his boss of acting without honour. Honour wasn’t one of the words we usually associated with the King, but of course this sparks the usual debate concerning the Dothraki: “Those guys are as hard as f**k, we should be very worried!” – “Yes but they don’t like the water, they’ll never cross the Narrow Sea..” etc. Robert may come across as an overgrown child, but a conversation between him and his black-hearted wife makes us realise that he’s a little more self-aware than we thought he was.
If the seven kingdoms are on the brink of declaring war on each other, then it is Ned who is holding this rapidly expanding plot together. He’s got more conspiracies on his plate than Mulder & Scully at the moment, but what he’s most interested in is the rapid rise and and even swifter fall of Sir Hugh. “That lad was a Squire until a few months ago, how is it that he could afford a new suit of armour?” ..and even more sagely.. “Ahh, but who holds the straws?” Who indeed Ned? Who indeed? Whoever was responsible for the death of the last Hand (and the line of suspects would probably stretch from King’s Landing to The Wall) it’s certain that they know that Ned know’s too much. “He’s already discovered one bastard!” says The Thick Of It‘s Roger Allam rather carelessly as he wanders about the castle. As the episode closes Ned is accosted by Jaime Lannister, a man of some prowess with a blade, who demands to know where his little brother is. It was only a matter of time before Ned ended up being stabbed in the back, he’s just lucky it was the back of his leg.
Meanwhile Ned’s wife is escorting the irrepressible imp Tyrion Lannister to The Eyrie – a truly spectacular addition to that iconic Game of Thrones map. “Some say it’s impregnable..” says one man, an observation that gets a predictable response from his companion. The place itself might be ‘impregnable’, but the woman in charge of it is no looker either. With the wide-eyed skittishness of a crack-addict and a 12 year-old son clutched to her bare nipple, Catelyn Stark’s sister looks more like a person in the Jeremy Kyle holding pen than the sovereign of an impressive Avatar-like sky Kingdom. But behold another connection! It turns out that her precocious child is the son of the late John Arryn (“The seed is strong..”) who happened to be the Lord of the Vale as well as the King’s Hand. Lysa Arryn doesn’t like anyone very much, but she holds a special dislike for the Lannisters, so Lord Tyrion is chucked into a jail cell immediately. It has quite a view though, giving us one of the best scenes of the series so far..