Got G.o.T.? – The Night Lands
Another episode, another case of incest and baby murder. Well, technically the baby carried away by a white walker wasn’t murdered yet, but I can’t imagine he’s bringing it to some beyond-the-wall orphanage 1. On top of this, we’ve got pervy Theon groping his cabby from the backseat of her horse, only to discover later that she’s his estranged sister. If last week taught us anything, this show is chock-full of taboos, and episode 2 was no different. I don’t think they can top episode 1’s baby-hunting trip and daughter-wives, but this came pretty close. Still, I promise, the show is not complete filth.
The first good note, I’m happy to see the producers are reading Pender Journal, because Jon Snow’s giant CGI direwolf Ghost looked great. Clearly that’s where they’re focusing their graphics budget, since we’ve had a serious lack of dragon camera time. The poor, pregnant, daughter-wife Gilly’s terror was completely believable with that monster sizing her up, and I hope that type of quality continues.
Another highlight was the chemistry during the interaction between Gendry and Aria. These two have more in common than they realize, although it didn’t take Aria long to spill her beans about being a Stark. Gendry still has no idea that he’s King Robert’s bastard, only that the City Watch is looking for him, and willing to pay anyone to turn him in. I’m interested to see how Lommy Greenhands and Hot Pie, the two kids bickering about knights and battles, get more involved, as they’re major characters in the books. Jaqen H’ghar, the locked-up gentleman, and his cellmates, Rorge and Biter, become crucial as well. The casting for this seems spot-on, especially for Biter, the mute gnashing his disgusting filed teeth. The caravan to the Wall is one of my favorite parts of this book, and episode 2 did not disappoint with Yoren the recruiter threatening the Gold Cloaks.
Nerd Alert: F.A.Q.
Q: Who did Tyrion meet with over dinner?
A: Tyrion met with Janos Slynt, the commander of the City Watch. Tyrion planned on getting Janos drunk on expensive Dornish wine, hoping he would inform him on who ordered the murder of Robert’s bastards. When Janos refused, Tyrion had him arrested and sent to the wall to serve on the Night’s Watch, replacing the commander position with his friend, Bronn.
Q: What do the different animal symbols mean?
A: Every major house in the realm has a “sigil” associated with their family. During the opening credits, at the title screen, you’ll see a few of these surrounding the title. The dragon, sigil of the Targaryens 2 The lion, sigil of the Lannisters. The wolf, sigil of the Starks. The stag, sigil of the Baratheons. Some other major sigils are the Arryn’s falcon, the Greyjoy’s kraken [Footnote: Seen built around Balon’s fireplace, which I want.], and the Tully’s trout.
Q: Where are Aria and Gendry going?
A: Yoren, the recruiter for the Night’s Watch, made the trip to King’s Landing to trawl the dungeons and bring the city’s “gutter rats” back to the Wall. He was also good friends with Ned Stark, as are most of the Black Brothers, so when he found Aria at Ned’s execution, he chopped off her hair and disguised her as a young recruit. Currently, they’re traveling north to the Wall, with plans of dropping Aria off at Winterfell.
Q: When did Davos stop pirating?
Note: This is explained early in the book, well before the current events in the show. I’m not sure if they plan on getting to it, so this could be considered a spoiler, but it won’t ruin anything…
A: Davos Seaworth, Stannis Baratheon’s confidant, is a former smuggler from Flea Bottom, a poor area of King’s Landing. During Robert’s Rebellion 3, Davos smuggled onions into a castle being held by Stannis while it was blockaded by a Targaryen army. This gave Stannis’ men enough time to wait for reinforcements, and win the battle. Stannis thanked Davos by knighting him and giving him land, but cut off the fingers of his left hand as punishment for his past smuggling crimes.
Q: Why does Theon’s father reject Rob Stark’s offer?
A: As Balon Greyjoy touched on while questioning the origins of his son’s necklace, the people of the Iron Islands believe in “paying the iron price.” In other words, killing someone and taking their things 4. Theon acquired his clasp by “paying the gold price,” or buying it. This rule breaks down into taking what you’ve earned, and not accepting gifts. A kingdom for Balon given to him by Rob Stark is not only a gift he’ll accept, but an insult.
As much as HBO likes to sex-up this show, all of Theon’s actions on Pyke were very accurate. The book details his affair with the ship captain’s daughter, who was described to be as goofy and desperate as she was in the show. The molesting of his unknown sister, if anything, was downplayed. I did appreciate her tomboyish appearance though, it would be hard to imagine a man like Balon Greyjoy handing down his Kraken throne to anything less than a hardened girl. One sexual liberty HBO did take was the seduction of Stannis by his priestess Melisandre. Although a relationship was hinted to in the books, nothing like what we saw took place 5.
Episode 2 didn’t really break open any burning questions we had, and the only real change we saw was Theon’s arrival at Pyke. I’m not sure where they’re going with the final scene, Jon Snow being bashed in the head by Craster, as this never happened in the book. This could be the first major plot change for the show, and I hope they don’t get too crazy with it. Next week’s episode glimpse shows Caitlyn arriving at “King” Renly’s camp, which should introduce some new characters. I have not been impressed with how HBO is handling character backstories, especially new faces this season, so episode 3 has a chance to prove me wrong.