Although the Joffrey’s death still lingers as unfinished business, this episode marks quite a few new beginnings. Several new marriages and new alliances are soon to be forged. The depths of Petyr Baelish’s depravity and Lysa Arryn’s insanity are revealed. As the gears turn and these new alliances click into place, for others like Tyrion, Tywin, and Sansa the wheel turns tighter. As Tywin notes, you don’t need formal alliances – or marriage pacts – with people you trust.
The episode opens with Tommen’s coronation – when he becomes known as Tommen I or Tommen the “First of His Name” – the traditional King’s Landing epithet for rulers. After he is crowned, Tommen appears uncertain, but he finds comfort in Margaery’s smiles. Cersei catches Margaery smiling prettily at Tommen – in the wannabe queen’s quest to curry his favor and gain control over him.
Cersei approaches Margaery, but instead of chastising Margaery like we’d expect, Cersei converses with her. Cersei acknowledges that Joffrey “would have been your nightmare” and that the things he did shocked her. Cersei notes that Tommen is good boy, but he will need help to rule well. She then asks Margaery if she would still be interested in being queen. To which, Margaery disingenuously claims she’s never given any thought to what’s next.
Later on, Cersei approaches her father to suggest Margaery marry Tommen. Tywin consents: a low-key ceremony will be in two weeks. Cersei will marry Loras Tyrell two weeks after that.
A truth then emerges that will no doubt have serious consequences. Tywin reveals that the Lannister mines are “dry”: the Lannisters haven’t mined an ounce of gold in three years. The Iron Bank of Braavos – and not the Lannisters – have been propping up King Robert and then King Joffrey’s rule.
The Crown owes the Iron Bank of Braavos a tremendous amount of money: “war swallows gold like a pit in the earth” Tywin says.
The Iron Bank is an organization — not an individual – and it is not possible to negotiate with them. In terms of historical allusions, Tywin notes, that the “Iron Bank is a temple,” which automatically brings to mind the first major lending institution: the Knight’s Templar banking system. About the Iron Bank, Tywin states quite intriguingly: “We all live in its shadow, although most of us don’t know it.” It’s not possible to run from the Iron Bank, cheat them, or sway them. They always get their due.
The Tyrell marriages have to take place. The Tyrells are the only ones with enough money to save the Crown and the Lannisters. But, the Tyrells are also the Lannisters only true rivals.
Cersei tries to sway her father’s judgment against Tyrion, but he refuses to discuss the trial with her.
Still, later on, Cersei’s campaign to convict Tyrion continues. She pays Prince Oberyn a visit to appeal to this man – who wants nothing more than to avenge the death of his beloved sister – to help her avenge the death of her son. “What good is power if you cannot protect the ones you love?” she asks him.
Despite the Lannister’s cash flow problems, Cersei asks Oberyn to bring Myrcella – now living in Dorne and betrothed to a Martell — her massively expensive nameday gift: a ship. The unspoken message from the bereaved mother is that her darling Myrcella can come home, regardless of the diplomatic cost.
Daenerys learns that Joffrey is dead, and her council debate whether they should invade king’s Landing. Each councilor has a different opinion; however, also of them, except Jorah, like the idea of invasion. But is 10,000 men enough to conquer King’s Landing?
Jorah shrewdly notes – taking a page from the Wars of the Roses — that the Houses of Westeros will flock to whatever side they think will win. Daenerys decides to listen to his counsel. Instead, she will hold off from invading for now.
Daenerys isn’t happy with how her liberation of the Slaver Cities has gone. She feels that the freed slaves don’t trust her yet. This claimant-across-the-sea resolves that she will not let those she has freed end up back in chains (i.e., if she loses a war). Instead she wants to consolidate her rule and build a bond with her people.
The sequence ends with Daenerys proclaiming, somewhat imperiously, she will do what queens do: “I will rule.”
Sansa and Petyr arrive at the Eyrie, where he counsels her to pull up her hood so people don’t spot her bright red hair. They have to pass through the Bloody Gate, the only entrance to the impregnable fortress of the Eyrie.
Lord Robin greets Petyr like a long lost father. Lysa greets Sansa very warmly, but her paranoia quickly reveals itself. Sansa can’t be named by name lest the Lannisters learn of her. Is Sansa still a virgin? Lysa won’t even introduce her precious son to Sansa until she knows.
Sansa quickly discovers that the little lord Robin is just as much of a psychotic princeling as Joffrey. He tells Sansa he wanted to make her husband Tyrion fly and bluntly mentions her family having their heads chopped off.
Lysa Arryn is desperate – and deranged. She is completely in lust – and love – with Petyr. Lysa killed her husband, Jon Arryn, and manipulated her sister Catelyn at Petyr’s behest. Petyr has successfully kept her in a state of suspended lust since they slept together years before. The owner of brothels clearly understands how to fan her lust – perhaps by not sating it. Petyr is the real puppeteer here and he is the one who started the game of thrones. As Varys warned long ago, Petyr is far more dangerous than anyone would imagine.
Lysa insists Petyr marry her that very evening. Lysa’s screams of sexual satisfaction are so loud Sansa can hear them in her chamber.
Later on, Lysa and Sansa bond over lemon cakes: considerate Petyr brought three crates of lemons, so Sansa could have lemon cakes. But, the cozy moment quickly turns to paranoid accusations.
The verbally abusive Lysa browbeats Sansa to discover if she’d slept with Petyr – her paranoid irrational jealousy. She informs Sansa that Petyr is risking his life to save her, the daughter of a woman who never loved him. Then she accuses Sansa of being pregnant with Petyr’s child.
Once Sansa bursts into tears and it becomes clear she is telling the truth, Lysa comforts her – the hallmark of an abuser. As she soothes Sansa’s tears, she lets the anvil drop. Lysa tells Sansa that she will marry the clearly psychotic Robin, as soon as Tyrion is dead, and become Lady of the Vale.
Arya and the Hound
Arya and the Hound share a moment by the fire, and the Hound teaches Arya another harsh lesson in survival.
Before Arya and the Hound go to sleep, Arya recites her standard bedtime “revenge prayer.” However, the Hound learns he is (still) on her list of people to kill. We also get to a bit of insight into the Hound’s relationship with the Mountain – the elder brother who melted his face years ago. The Hound is fueled by his hatred of the Mountain.
When the Hound awakens the next morning, Arya has runs off. He finds her practicing her “water dancing” – the swordplay and footwork her former “dancing master” Syrio Forel taught her back in King’s Landing.
After the Hound mocks her style of fighting, Arya tries to stab the Hound in the chest. His armor blocks it. He informs her that the knight who killed Syrio Forel was able to do so because he had armor and a big sword. That’s the lesson: not so much walk softly, but carry a big stick.
Brienne and Pod
Brienne tries to discourage Pod from being her squire and releases him from his oath. True to Pod’s loyal character though, he persists and sticks with her. Later on, it comes out that Pod has no skills whatsoever as a squire.
Pod sets the rabbit they caught on fire. He has never cooked as part of his squire duties. The lady knight is also prickly about having Pod help her remove her armor, either due to independence or her gender. After Brienne discovers that, although he is without skill, he is loyal and brave, she relents and asks for his help with her armor.
North of the Wall, Craster’s Keep
This episode picks up with the men of the Night’s Watch descending on Craster’s Keep to bring justice to the deserting mutineers for breaking their oath to the Night’s Watch. This arrival might be just in the nick of time.
Bran, Hodor and the Reeds are still being held prisoner at Craster’s Keep, but Jojen Reed is sick, needs water, and may be on the verge of death. He has a vision of the heart tree, tells Bran he must find it, and it looks like the end is near.
Karl and his men arrive, intending to rape Meera Reed. (Yes, that really is more rape.) Jojen tries to cut a deal with Karl: Jojen’s psychic services in exchange for Karl leaving Meera alone. As a proffer, Jojen warns Karl that he saw him die that very night. Before Karl can kill the messenger, the Night’s Watch descend upon the mutineers.
As the attack proceeds, Locke carries Bran off. Bran, however, wargs into Hodor’s body and uses it to kill Locke. But, there is a cost. When Hodor comes out of it, he sees that his hands are covered in blood.
Jojen convinces Bran not to let Jon know he is there. Jon would never allow him to continue to travel North beyond the Wall by himself.
Meanwhile, Karl and Jon have a face-off in the Craster’s Keep. Karl appears to wound Jon, but not fatally, and then mocks Jon for fighting with honor. Big mistake. Following these words, ironically, Karl is stabbed in the back twice – once by Jon.
Once all the mutineers are dead, only Rast remains. He escapes into the woods. However, Ghost kills him and avenges his torment. Mercifully, Ghost has survived his neglect and imprisonment.
In one of the happier moments of this episode, Ghost and Jon are reunited.
Craster’s wives don’t want to go with Jon and his men back to Castle Black. They tell him they will make their own way. But, they don’t want to stay in Craster’s Keep either. They tell him to burn it to the ground with all the dead.
Interestingly, the First of His Name episode opened with Tommen’s coronation but ends with Jon Snow. Who are the other “firsts of his name” in this episode? Is this a subtle clue that Jon Snow is actually the rightful king of Westeros like some fans believe?
Image credit: All images copyright HBO.