The ‘previously on…” sequence at the episode’s beginning featured two season one scenes to remind the audience about Lysa’s existence and about Jon Arryn’s death. Jon Arryn’s death happened in the first episode. It was the inciting incident of the series. Arryn’s death moves Ned to accept the role of the Hand of the King. Ned suspected the Lannisters. The Lannisters, of course, did not poison Jon Arryn. The mystery was never solved. Season 4, though, is the season of answers to mysteries. Benioff and Weiss revealed Joffrey’s killer two episodes after his poisoning. So, a three and half season mystery is revealed in the early part of the episode. Lysa and Littlefinger kiss in her throne room after Robin took Sansa away to show her her quarters. Lysa, passionately engaged with Littlefinger in kisses and embraces, reminds Littlefinger of the day he told her to pour poison into her husband’s ear. The line is spoken fast. Littlefinger moves on to other matters. Lysa moves on to other matters, namely threatening Sansa, and the Jon Arryn reveal barely makes more than a faint ripple in a very small pond that seemed not caused by a massive rock hitting the water but by an accidental stone falling into the pond very softly. Littlefinger, in two episodes, has become the most dangerous man in Westeros. The Jon Arryn scene did not have the gravity of last week’s dual reveal about Joffrey. Littlefinger, the boy teased in his days in Riverrun, who lost Cat to Ned, and almost lost Lysa to Brandon (is that right?), changed. Littlefinger explained why he acted against the crown after he rescued Sansa from King’s Landing. Littlefinger continues to tell Sansa why he made the decisions he made, and how the Bloody Gate and its surrounding archers relates to his role in the game of thrones. The Bloody Gate sits below hills, at the mouth of the Eyrie. Archers perch on both sides of the pass. Men and women walk single file through the gate, towards the mountain. The Eyrie’s the strongest stronghold in King’s Landing because of its invulnerability to attack. The Eyrie’s an after-though, run by a man woman and her mad son. That’s part of Littlefinger’s brilliance.
Littlefinger doesn’t anticipate unexpected threats because he is the unexpected threat. Across Slavers’ Bay, Dany listens to her men tell her about the vulnerability of King’s Landing. The new child king could divide the kingdom under a new threat from a Targaryen, because he’s illegitimate, a bastard, born from incest. Jorah continues to update the queen on the news throughout the seven kingdoms, including the return of the council in Yunka’I (along with slaves), and the new rulers in Astapor. Dany declines to sail for King’s Landing, for she believes she cannot hope to rule the seven kingdoms because she cannot successfully rule Slavers’ Bay. Dany’s the outlier in King’s Landing. Littlefinger represents the most dangerous kind of power play. He lacks the morality of Dany, the sense of justice and doing what’s right for the kingdom; like many men in Westeros, Littlefinger thinks about himself, and Dany thinks about everyone but herself: the innocents suffering in chains behind tall walls, thickly protected with stones and gates.
Margaery began charting her way to the throne before Cersei conversed with her about her future in the family. Tywin told her that allies are not borne from a mutual love and desire for friendship, but from owing tremendous amounts of money to the Iron Bank in Braavos. Reliance on others reveals vulnerabilities; if not vulnerabilities, then a weakness. Olenna wouldn’t allow her granddaughter to marry a brute, so she removed the brute. Cersei reflects on her love for Joffrey, her love for Tommen, and, later, in a moment of honesty, her feelings about her absent Myrcella, who’s swimming in the Water Garden in sunswept Dorne where men do not harm little girls. Cersei objects to Oberyn’s comment about men and little girls, arguing that all men harm little girls. But Cersei hasn’t been to Dorne in a long time. Oberyn’s made of different stuff from others in Westeros. He shares in Cersei’s sorrow for her son for he feels sorrow for his murdered sister. Cersei wonders why anything like power matters after the death of someone so dear, and Oberyn muses that vengeance may suffice. Cersei thirsts for her brother’s death the way he thirsts for a sweetly rich red wine because she has little else. Her love, her Jaime, has drifted from her, or she from him; and her most loved child is dead. As she talks with Margaery about Tommen, one could read in her lines a sort of mute sadness about the effects of her son’s goodness. A good man has not sat on the throne for 70 years, surmises Cersei, and that’s because good men don’t survive the throne. She thinks something sad about her only remaining son.
Northeast of King’s Landing, Arya continues to say her nightly prayer. Oberyn would join her in her revengeful prayer of remembrance. Vengeance keeps men and women going where there’s little else. Arya practices water dancing and then suffers the insults of Sandor about her water-dancing master, Syrio Forel. Syrio represented another good, pure, honest man that was sent away from the physical world by men less good than he and less apt with a sword in hand. The Hound’s point to Arya about Syrio is that a lesser man beat the brilliant water dancer because he had the smarts to carry a big sword with him. So, the theme continues: the bad and powerful reign while the good and weak suffer that reign or meet a violent end.
Jon Snow, though, is different from the lot in King’s Landing, like that silver-haired lady in Slavers’ Bay. Snow and his group of volunteers slaughter the mutineers at Craster’s Keep. Afterwards, the women gather near the Night’s Watch. Jon offers the women safety, or, as much protection he can. The women wish not to go with men. Craster beat and raped them. Men of the Night’s Watch beat and raped them. They ask for Jon to burn down the Keep and let them find their way in the wilderness, which Jon agrees to with a solemn, silent ride. Of the many pursuant of power in the Seven Kingdoms, two leaders wish to free folk from entrapment rather than entrap the free. There’s a better image in “First of His Name” to remember: Arya puts Needle into The Hound’s stomach, but her Needle can’t penetrate his protection. The Hound slaps her to the ground. She’s not strong enough yet. One day, though…
-Bran will continue North. The stuff with Locke was but a brief aside.
-The Podrick/Brienne team has great potential.
-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote the episode. Michelle MacLaren directed.