Everyone in Game of Thrones is after power, whether it’s over an entire continent our simply over their own lives, and “First of His Name” asks the question: Once you have power, what do you do with it? If you’re Daenerys, maybe you take a moment to think about what that power is really worth. She’s conquered all of Slaver’s Bay, yes, and now arguably has the resources to make a grab for the Iron Throne. But as she astutely points out, winning isn’t the same as ruling; so she decides to try her hand at the latter before she heads to Westeros. “Why should anyone trust me? Why should anyone follow me?” she says. Good questions, and ones that, say, the Lannisters would never think to ask themselves.
For the first time since we’ve seen him, Prince Oberyn was writing poetry instead of presiding over an orgy.
And up in the Seven Kingdoms, in the wake of child-king Tommen’s coronation, others are trying to figure out what to do with what they can control. We’ve got two pairs of reluctant allies—Cersei/Margaery and Arya/The Hound—who are each primed to go at each other’s throats, but at a stalemate for now. And with loyal, bumbling Podrick Payne as her squire, Brienne has power over someone else for what may be the first time in her life but no idea what do with that power. And then of course, there’s Littlefinger, who knows exactly how to work his connections—but more on that later.
Locations visited: 6. In King’s Landing, Cersei worked her angles leading up to Tyrion’s murder trial, and Tywin dropped the bomb that the famously moneyed Lannisters are deep in debt; in Meereen, Dany consulted with her cabinet of bros and decided to stick around to try out this whole being-queen thing; in the Riverlands, Arya practiced swordplay and got a harsh life lesson from the Hound; Littlefinger and Sansa arrived in the Vale, home of the deeply screwed up Lysa Arryn and her creepy son; on the road to find aforementioned Stark teenager, Podrick burned a rabbit and Brienne blustered; and in Craster’s Keep, Karl and his band of creeps finally got what was coming to them, and Bran & Co. made their escape.
Deaths: At least 17—Bolton stooge Locke at the hands of a Bran-controlled Hodor; loathsome mutineer Karl, when Jon stabs him through his entire head; and about 15 Night’s Watchmen, following what amounted to a very tiny civil war.
Swordfights: 3. Arya with a sword and the Hound with one brutal slap; the Night’s Watch versus, er . . . the Night’s Watch; and Jon and Karl, in a vicious standoff that included a kitchen-knife cameo from one of Craster’s wives.
Boobs: 0. But that’s probably because for the first time since we’ve seen him, Prince Oberyn was writing poetry instead of presiding over an orgy.
Moment of badass: Craster’s daughter-wives have had it up to here with men, and we don’t blame them. Following Jon Snow & Co.’s defeat of the AWOL rangers who had been making their lives hell on earth, they opt to make their own way in the world rather than take Jon up on his offer for protection at Castle Black. When their leader says to “burn it to the ground,” she doesn’t just mean Craster’s Keep—she means the whole patriarchal structure that’s been keeping them in misery.
Effed up thing of the week: Lysa Arryn: bad aunt or worst aunt? First she calls Sansa’s dead mother fat, then accuses her virginal niece of bedding Littlefinger. Then she comforts Sansa with the promise of marrying Robin, who is not only a sociopathic eight-year-old who still breastfeeds, but also Sansa’s first cousin. Yuck.
Dany, not really having the pickup line of the week
Pickup line of the week: When Dany asks sexy sellsword Daario why he went ahead and conquered a whole navy without her permission, he remarks, “I heard you liked ships.”
What we liked: This episode, which comes at the midpoint of the season, really took a moment to step back from all the plot flotsam and just breathe. We got to see lots of emotionally resonant exchanges and callbacks to earlier points in the story that brought us to where we are now. And we’re haunted by Cersei’s devastating response to Oberyn, when he promises that they don’t hurt little girls in Dorne: “Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls.”
What we didn’t like: Two things we really want to happen—a Stark reunion (any Stark reunion) and Dany finally conquering Westeros—were delayed indefinitely. We kind of figured they would be, but still, it would be nice to get at least a little catharsis now and again. We get why Dany wanted to stay in Essos, but come on, Bran. Say hi to your brother, just for a second. Do it for us. Pleeease? (Also, can we get Tyrion out of that prison cell already? We really miss hanging out with him.)
Giant plot reveal of the week: Lysa “Crazy Eyes” Arryn is the one that set the entire plot of the series in motion. The reason Ned Stark (R.I.P.) agreed to be King Robert’s (R.I.P.) Hand in the first place is because the previous Hand, Jon Arryn (R.I.P.), was poisoned, and his widow, Lysa, sent a letter to her sister, Catelyn Stark (R.I.P.), claiming that she suspected the Lannisters. But guess what? It was actually Lysa herself who did her husband in, at Littlefinger’s behest! If she hadn’t, the Starks never would have left Winterfell (R.I.P.), and Game of Thrones would have all turned out very, very differently—and probably would have had a lot less R.I.P.s in it.