I must admit I thought Robert was a goner in the previous episode. In the one scene that we saw him, he was out on the hunt, reminiscing about his glory days and getting drunk all while the sun is setting with a brilliant orange glow. Certainly this was the scene that would be the end for Robert of Baratheon. Nope, we had to wait until the following episode to see the death of Robert and all of the intrigue that ensued.
Even before Robert is brought back to the palace, Ned confronts Cersei about her children and she doesn’t deny that Jamie fathered them all. She is unrepentant about this, not only because she and Robert have been locked in a loveless marriage, but the Targaryens had intermarried for generations, so why not the Lannisters? Ned, being Ned extends Cersei an opportunity to leave Kings Landing and escape Robert’s wrath when he finds out the truth about his heir. When Robert does return, he is in no condition for court politics, having been gored by a boar, and he knows that he’s done for. He soon dies and Ned tries his best at duplicity, but he fails miserably. While he is named Lord Protector of the realm and changes the name of Robert’s words to reflect his knowledge of the illegitimacy of Cersei’s children, he doesn’t take the next step. Instead of cleaning house immediately after Robert’s death and getting rid of the Lannisters, Ned will not stoop to killing fellow nobles in their beds. He obviously hasn’t been paying attention to the world around him.
The other major story line took us back to The Wall and the initiation of Jon Snow into the Night’s Watch. It wasn’t just the taking of the vows that was important, but we find Jon being shunted off into the steward ranks. He is quite upset with this slight, but thanks to his fellow steward, Samwell Tarley who points out that it was the commander who requested him, grooming him for leadership beyond being a member of the Rangers. (The Rangers are those members of Night’s Watch who patrol beyond the Wall.) Though that is an interesting tidbit, especially when we look long-term for the entire series, more important to the current situation is the finding of a corpse while out praying to the old gods. It is never good when your pet wolf comes romping out of the woods with a human hand in his jaws. What is killing the Night’s Watch is going to have implications throughout the run of a Song of Ice and Fire, hopefully the show can play out all of the books.
A slightly minor event, but a really well done scene was when Drogo pledges his army to the conquering Westros. It was a reaction to an assignation attempt on the life of Dany. Basically he goes a little berserk over this attack on his wife and swears that he will not only take the Iron Throne, but crush their castles and rape and pillage across the land. Jason Momoa plays up this speech very well. It was done in a faux language and it still was stirring and exciting. Momoa’s performance has been pretty steady overall, but this little snippet may have sold me a ticket to the remake of Conan just to see if he can pull it off. I’m starting to think that he can, though I don’t know if he can top “Crush your enemies, see them flee before you and hear the lamentations of the women.”
To wrap up the episode the chess match between Cersei and Ned is ratcheted up another level. Ned tries to make his play with as little distastefulness as possible and, believing he has the support of Baelish and the City Guard. If there was any doubt that Ned was outmatched, this final scene left no doubt. Cersei, far from being worried about Ned’s information, Cersei has moved far more decisively than Ned, placing Joffery on the throne, naming herself regent and secretly making deals with Baelish for his support. When Ned presents his case, Cersei literally brushes him aside and before he can draw his sword, his men are dead and a knife is at his throat, held by Baelish who utters the line that pretty much summarizes life in the Seven Kingdoms, “I told you not to trust me.”