Episode Title: "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"
Writer: Bryan Cogman
Director: Brian Kirk
Previously on "Game of Thrones":
After a long and arduous ride, Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark (Sean Bean) arrived at King's Landing to begin his new position as the King's Hand. And once there, Ned learned that King Robert (Mark Addy) was heavily in debut to the Lannisters, the family of his Queen, Cersel (Lena Headey). While Sansa (Sophie Turner) shunned Ned, his other daughter Arya (Maisie Williams) quickly took to her sword fighting lessons from Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou). And at the Wall, Ned's bastard son, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) came to terms with his new life in part due to the consul of the Imp, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).
Back at Winterfell, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) awoke from his fall, crippled for life and unaware that he had been pushed to his presumed death by Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster Waldau), the brother and lover of the Queen. While searching for the truth behind Bran's accident and subsequent assassination attempt, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) learned that the dagger of the assassin belonged to Tyrion. And across the sea, Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) grew frustrated as his sister Daeneryes (Emilia Clarke) began to assert herself as the wife of Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa).
In a dream, Bran is whole and practicing archery when he spots and follows a raven; before noticing that the bird has a third eye on its forehead. Waking up from his dream, Bran is summoned to see Tyrion; who seems frustrated by the cool reception from Robb Stark (Richard Madden). Tyrion presents Bran with a way to ride horses again despite his paralysis, but he still refuses the Starks' reluctant offer of hospitality while snipping with Ned's ward, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). At the Wall, Jon takes pity on Samwell Tarley (John Bradley), an overweight and practically helpless recruit to The Night's Watch. Jon even fights off his fellow recruits when then they are ordered to gang up on them.
Across the sea, Viserys recounts the last of the dragons to a curious slave girl and then abuses the poor girl when she innocently upsets him. Back at King's Landing, Sansa worries that Prince Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) has lost interest in her since his humiliation and she imagines herself as queen who gives birth to nothing but girls. At the next counsel meeting, Ned grows increasingly frustrated at the calls for a tournament while the kingdom is greatly in debt. Ned also takes note of Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) and learns that his predecessor, Jon Arryn was greatly interested in a book of royal lineage.
Ned soon learns at least one of the secrets behind Jon's death; he had discovered Gendry (Joe Dempsie) a blacksmith's apprentice who is also the bastard son of King Robert (Mark Addy). Back at the Wall, Jon learns that Sam was forced to join The Night's Watch or face death at his father's hands. Jon resolves to protect Sam from their fellow recruits through intimidation, including his seldom seen direwolf, Ghost. The Trainer is angered when the recruits defer to Jon out of fear and he warns them that they are not equipped to survive the harsh rigors of life on the Wall or on the other side.
Back with Viserys, the exiled prince actually strikes his sister, Daenerys for a perceived insult, which she returns in kind to defend herself. She also comes to realize that her brother isn't a leader and he will never reclaim their family's throne. At King's Landing, the tournament goes forward despite Ned's reservations. And Gregor Clegan (Conan Stevens) kills Jon Arryn's former squire in a joust, much to the horror of the young Stark children. Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen) also tells Sansa the story of how Gregor scarred his brother when they were children.
On the road, Tyrion and his company stop at an inn. He recognizes Lady Catelyn Stark traveling with her protectors in secret. To Tyrion's great surprise, Catelyn calls upon the men in the room to detain Tyrion for the attempted murder of her son and to help her force him to return to Winterfell to face "the king's justice."
I think I'm finally able to define why Tyrion is my favorite character on this show. Like the rest of the Lannister family, he's extremely arrogant, self important and kind of a jerk. But Peter Dinklage gives him so much innate charm that it's impossible not to like him. It doesn't hurt that Tyrion tends to get most of the best lines and that he's shown rare kindness to Jon Snow and understanding to Bran. Not having read the books, I can't say for certain if Tyrion will ultimately side with the Starks against his family or if he'll remain loyal to his incestuous siblings, his bratty nephew and his currently unseen father.However, I really do want to see Tyrion emerge as a hero in this story.
On the face of it, this was the slowest episode of the series to date with very little in the way of forward progression. But the world unfolding before us has captured my interest and I'm still enjoying the slow reveal of its many layers. Viserys' memories of the dragons was also a good reminder that is a fantasy series, we just haven't seen much in the way of magic or dragons yet. And I think it may be the absence of those elements that has helped this series play to a broader audience. That said, I think those things will come up soon enough and I can't wait to see how the show evolves over time.
I didn't mention Arya in the recap since her part in this episode was relatively small. But I still really like the way she's already challenging the life that Ned wants to lay out for her. By contrast, Sansa is getting on my nerves both for her constant pouting against her father for Lady's death (which wouldn't have happened if she had told the truth about what happened) and Sansa's constant worrying that she'll lose her shot at being queen. Forget Jon Snow, I think this is the kid that needs to prove she's actually related to Ned!
And speaking of Ned, I'm enjoying his investigation into the King's secrets and his surprising partnership with Littlefinger. I wouldn't put it past Littlefinger to betray Ned at some point, but Aidan Gillen was very entertaining as he schooled Ned in the court of castle intrigue. It also a very effective exposition tool to get us up to speed on the castle politics.
I've started to appreciate Daenerys more now that she's starting to realize that her brother, Viserys has to go. I'm looking forward to seeing him get what's coming to him, I just hope it doesn't take until the season finale to play out. With only six episodes left this season, it seems like we still have a lot of ground to cover. But "Game of Thrones" is the best HBO series in a long while and it's easily one of the most epic shows currently on TV.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.