Moreover, as you noted back in our first recap, Spencer, the postwar landscape of much of Westeros has devolved into chaos and plunder. Didn’t someone once tell us that chaos is a ladder? And what better seat from which to watch it unfold than one high above, in a fortress that “has never been overcome—not once—in a thousand years”?
So, 10,000 men or one Littlefinger? Easy choice.
(It should be noted, though, that dragons rather complicate the calculation—and presumably could render the Eyrie a great deal less impregnable.)
And that was only the beginning of this week’s developments in the Vale of Arryn. There was also the marvelous scene between Lysa and Sansa, in which the former shifted from maternal compassion to brutal sexual competition and back so quickly that her niece nearly suffered whiplash. It was probably for the best, though: At least this way Sansa was already in shock when she was told of her upcoming betrothal to Lysa’s puling, infantile son, Robin. By my count that makes three upcoming nuptials: What could possibly go wrong?
How about you, Spencer? What did you think of “The First of His Name”?
Kornhaber: I thought it was a nice mid-season episode, propelled by Michelle MacLaren’s elegant direction, Benioff and Weiss’s smart dialogue, and the refreshing fact that storylines from Essos to King’s Landing seemed to enter new chapters.
But as the one member of this roundtable who hasn’t read any George R.R. Martin, I find myself in the curious position of wanting to carp about the showrunners’ divergence from the books. Tonight, they wrapped up the digression involving Craster’s Keep they’d begun an episode earlier, leaving the larger storyline essentially unaltered—Bran’s still heading north, Jon Snow’s still an emerging leader of men, and Locke isn’t going to dismember any other characters. Looking back, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that a big part of the reason for the new subplot’s existence was the need to a) kill time and b) inject some additional sexual assault and violence onto the show. Both of which are curious goals when you’re adapting an already dense, mayhem-laden text.
Don’t get me wrong—the return to Craster's did make for some good television. The last 15 minutes or so of this episode packed more suspense than any scene since Joffrey’s wedding-day torment of Tyrion has. But it was all decidedly, almost parodically, television. By which I mean, Game of Thrones is better than most shows precisely because it doesn’t typically trump up drama by putting its characters in situations as silly as the video-game boss duel between Jon and Karl (with the mutineers outnumbered and outmatched, there’s no reason for Snow to take this guy on alone). I’ll agree that we got a nice fist-pump moment when a Craster wife intervened, but we’ve seen that kind of deus-ex-machina fight resolution so many times elsewhere that the thrill feels a bit hollow. I’m conflicted here—I do want the producers to enliven the dull parts of the books, but am wary about any slippage away from the genre-busting realism that makes Game of Thrones so distinctive.