Film and TV

Game Of Thrones: "The Kingsroad"

The second installment in HBO's adaptation of the George R.R. Martin epic wais an episode of goodbyes. Ned is leaving Winterfell for King's Landing, taking Arya and Sansa with him. Meanwhile Jon joins his Uncle Benjen to head north for the Wall, with Tyrion Lannister tagging along.

Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys is...adjusting to life as Khal Drogo's khaleesi. Not only does she have to get used to riding all day, she has to put up with her randy, mono-sexual positioned husband every night.

Some characters also say farewell to their previously long-held misconceptions, while others make a few new discoveries besides.

At Winterfell, no sooner has Ned left than an(other) attempt is made on Bran's life. Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) fights off the assassin just long enough for Summer, Bran's direwolf, to show up and tear out his throat. Shaken from her grief, she discovers a blonde hair in the tower Bran had been climbing. Since there apparently aren't any non-brunettes/redheads in the North, she suspects the Lannisters, and decides to travel to King's Landing to warn Ned.

After saying his own goodbyes (including to his father Ned, who promises to tell him about his mother the next time they meet) Jon Snow (Kit Harington) finally reaches the Wall. Along the way, he's forced to come to terms with the realization the Night's Watch is mostly a last resort for criminals given the choice between going to the Wall and some harsher punishment. It's the Song of Ice and Fire equivalent of "join the Army or go to jail."

Not that anyone needed any further convincing, but the Lannisters are assholes. While Prince Joffrey and Sansa are taking a walk, they come upon Arya (Maisie Williams) and her friend Mycah, the butcher's boy, playing at sword fighting. Joffrey thinks to teach Mycah a lesson, until Arya - with her wolf Nymeria's help - disarms him and throws his sword in the river.

There must be some exclusive private school in England churning out snotty little blonde twerps like Joffrey Baratheon and Draco Malfoy. I like to think it's called St. Bastard's.

Arya drives Nymeria off, but Queen Cersei (Lena Headey), not content to merely let Ned punish his own daughter, insists that some wolf pay the price. That wolf being Lady, who Ned kills himself.

This has apparently generated some hoopla over the fact that one of the show's beloved wolves got killed last night. And all I, or anybody who's read the book can say at this point is, "Really?" Game of Thrones isn't your typical fantasy, where every beloved character survives until the end (Seriously, how did only Boromir buy the farm in LotR? They were fighting Nazgul, for christ's sake). If Lady's death upset you that much, I'd recommend canceling your HBO subscription now.

Daenerys is coming more into her own, no pun intended. Honestly, there wasn't a lot of movement to her storyline. She finds out Ser Jorah fled Ned Stark's justice (he illegally sold poachers into slavery) and learns the cowgirl position. Trust me, this is all leading somewhere. And for you ladies, you finally got to see some man ass, because as the New York Times tells us, that's all women want from a fantasy series.

"The Kingsroad" didn't feel like too much of a letdown from the premiere, except I imagine people are starting to itch for a little more action. Sure, we saw some violence, but that was largely courtesy of the wolves. Ned and Robert defeated Rhaegar Targaryen to put Robert in the Iron Throne, Jaime is a knight of the Kingsguard, and Jon is going to do battle with the white walkers; when do we get to see someone besides a kid flashing some steel?

Lastly, it feels like the Daenerys scenes are getting shirt shrift. Drogo isn't just "some Dothraki horselord," as Ned refers to him; he's *the* Dothraki horselord, and his khal is supposed to consist of thousands of riders. So why is there no evidence of this? Last week's wedding had fewer people than mine in attendance (and less bloodshed), and there's still no sense of the power that made Viserys so eager to marry off his sister.

Next week, Jon gets a rough welcome from the Night's Watch, Arya looks to improve her fighting skills, and Visery and Daenerys have...a bit of a quarrel.

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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