“I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things.”
It’s unsurprising that Tyrion Lannister is such a fan-favorite character in Game of Thrones. At times, he's manipulative, lecherous, and calculating, but he's also witty, candid, and wickedly intelligent. More than anything, however, he's consistently, fascinatingly inscrutable. It's possible (and probably wise) to read three or four meanings and motives into virtually everything he says.
Last night's “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things” saw Tyrion expressing his sympathy for the downtrodden of Westeros—the "cripples, bastards, and broken things" that give the episode its title. As the sole dwarf in a family of legendary regal beauty, Tyrion himself is no stranger to feeling like an outcast. But no matter how sympathetic he may or may not personally be, what are his real intentions for the Stark family?
The cripple that Tyrion refers to is Bran, the permanently-disabled 10-year-old son of Ned and Catelyn Stark. Tyrion has taken an interest in Bran, and in “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things” he presents Bran with the plans for a specially-made horse's saddle that even a boy in his condition can use to ride. But there's something more to the bond between Tyrion and Bran. Even before his injury (and much like Tyrion), Bran was destined for a strange, tenuous place within his family; his older brother Robb is the next “Lord Stark” by birthright, so the best Bran could hope for is a position in the King's Guard. When Bran was pushed out the window by Jaime Lannister, even that possibility was waylaid, and he's in a deep depression before Tyrion brings him the plans that could revive his dream.