Film and TV

Game Of Thrones: "Lord Snow"

"War is easier than daughters."

Ain't that the truth. Sorry, I may have inadvertently channeled my own...occasional frustrations with raising three girls of my own. However, unlike Ned Stark, I didn't have to deal with the blowback from killing my daughter's direwolf on the orders of my king after her *sister's* wolf attacked the heir to the throne. I also have no experience leading troops (unless all those years playing Squad Leader count).

Maybe I should reconsider buying the kids that dog.

We're only three episodes into Game of Thrones and new characters and plot lines are piling up at an alarming rate. Most of these are set off by Ned's arrival in King's Landing, where we discover he still holds a grudge against Jaime Lannister for failing to prevent Aerys Targaryen - Robert's predecessor, also known as the "Mad King" - for butchering his father in some horrific fashion. We also learn his sworn oath as a member of the Kingsguard doesn't mean much; he's the one who killed the Aerys.

Ned next meets the King's small council, which the Hand is supposed to lead in the King's absence (and the king is absent quite a bit, hunting and whoring being near-full time pursuits): there's Grand Maester Pycelle, Lord Renly (King Robert's brother), Petyr Baelish (The Wire's Aidan Gillen) and Varys, the "Master of Whisperers." His key takeaway from this meeting is that the crown is in debt to the Lannisters to the tune of six million dragons. I don't know how currency futures work in Westeros, but six million of anything is usually a lot.

Arya, unsurprisingly, still has anger issues over the Joffrey Incident. Ned reminds her she is a Stark, and though she was born during the long summer, winter is - as we're constantly informed (twice this episode) - coming. He also discovers Needle, but realizing his youngest daughter isn't exactly suited for making tea cosies, ends up hiring Syrio Forel, a sword master from Braavos. I like Forel. He brings to mind a swarthy Robert Downey, Jr.

Meanwhile, back at Winterfell, Nan regales newly awakened Bran with tales of the long night and the white walkers. He's not very impressed. But then, he's probably preoccupied with that below-the-waist paralysis. Fortunately for the Lannisters, he also has no recollection of what, or who, caused him to fall.

Catelyn arrives in Kings Landing shortly after Ned, and Baelish - who knew the Lady Stark from childhood (in more than a friendly capacity, to hear him tell it) - tells her the dagger Bran's would-be assassin was wielding belonged to him, but that he lost it to none other than Tyrion Lannister on a bet. Not that there's any way of proving this, but Ned vows to get to the bottom of the situation.

Jon, sarcastically referred to as "Lord Snow" by the Wall's master of arms, is making fast friends on the Wall, which is to say he's petulantly beating the shit out of his fellow recruits. That is until Tyrion reminds him the guys he's whaling on are common folk who probably haven't held a weapon before in their lives. He also gets a harsh rebuke from his uncle Benjen, who informs him that only trained rangers will be accompanying him on a journey north of the Wall.

The Lord Commander of the Watch is one Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo). If that name sounds familiar, it's because he's the father of Jorah, the Westerosi knight riding with Danaerys Targaryen.

We're a little light on the Daenerys arc this week. Brother Viserys is not having a good time of it, and it turns out the khaleesi is expecting. Jorah seems...unduly interested in the news, and rides off abruptly. For what I'm sure is a totally innocuous reason.

Tyrion makes good on his vow to piss off the edge of the world, and is about to go south to King's Landing. He'll go with Yoren, who's traveling to scour the dungeons for Night's Watch recruits, and a plea from Lord Commander Mormont, who wants Tyrion to use his family connections to convince King Robert that the Watch is weak and needs reinforcement against the coming winter.

Because winter, in case you forgot, is coming.

There's only a bit of perfunctory Lannister action. Cersei gives Joffrey a lesson in the ways of revisionist history, and is also scared of what Bran might reveal, until Jaime vows to kill anyone who comes between them. That's sweet the way he cares about his sister. And also gross.

Next week: The Tournament of the Hand, and Tyrion returns to Winterfell.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar