We're at the halfway mark of the series, and just as the Morganza Spillway was recently opened to divert water from endangering Baton Rouge and New Orleans (topical!), so did the producers apparently decide it was time to open the arteries of several extras, one well-liked character, and a horse.
In "The Wolf and the Lion," tensions finally come to a head between the new Hand and King Robert, and Catelyn's decision to seize Tyrion Lannister has far-reaching consequences for Ned.
When last we left "Lifestyles of the Rich and Incestuous," Ned and Cersei were exchanging pleasantries about who was best suited to kill his opponents. Ned would seem to have the upper hand in that regard, except for the fact that Cersei's brother is Captain of the Kingsguard and widely considered to be the finest swordsman in the land.
Man, it's a good thing these guys don't have a reason to fight each other, isn't it?
As I suspected earlier, they're adding locales to the opening credits animation as we visit new areas. This week, it's the Eyrie, home of Catelyn's sister (and widow of former Hand Jon Arryn) Lysa. We'll get back to her later.
It's becoming more and more apparent Robert is about as fit to be the king as Charlie Sheen. First, he throws a fit when he's told he can't joust in the tourney, then bitterly complains about the way he was matched him up with Cersei, all while pounding glass after glass of wine. Ned listens, but his regret at taking the position of Hand is practically tattooed on his forehead.
Gregor "The Mountain That Rides" Clegane, whom you might remember from such jousts as Oh Shit, My Neck!, tilts with Loras "The Knight of Flowers" Tyrell. Loras' horse is in heat, which affects Gregor's charger, causing him to lose the joust. Gregor, exhibiting all the calm reserve of a man rumored to have horribly burned his 6-year-old brother, kills his own horse and attacks Loras. Only intervention by Sandor "The Hound" and a command from the King prevent further bloodshed.
As an aside, I think one disadvantage to living in modern times is that nobody has a cool nickname. One advantage? Mine would probably have been "The Wombat."
I was going to mention the not-so-subtle suggestion of Littlefinger's that Renly and Loras were, well, "fabulous." But after the tourney we cut to Loras shaving Renly's chest and discussing the possibility of Renly taking the throne should "something happen" to Robert. Never mind that Robert has two sons (Joffrey the Prick and eight-year old Tommen), or that there's an older brother, the still unseen Stannis. And holy crap did he just shave his armpits?
I'll say this for producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss, they aren't watering down Martin's original text. And in some cases - the explicit confirmation of rumors the two were gay, not to mention the fact that Loras Tyrell invented manscaping - they've even added to it.
Catelyn's citizen's arrest of Tyrion is seeming less and less of a good idea. Her party is attacked by the hill tribes on their way to the Vale of Arryn, and several are killed. Bronn proves his mettle, while Tyrion - given the choice between fleeing and defending Catelyn from attack, opts for the latter. [Wiggum]That's some nice face mashing, boy.[/Wiggum]
Lysa has, uh, changed in the five years since Catelyn last saw her. For starters, she's still breastfeeding her 6-year-old son Robert, and...okay, honestly, I doubt anybody remembers anything she said. The expression of everyone in attendance reminded me of the Mrs. Cohen in Life of Brian when she finds Judith naked in Brian's room. Anyway, after ranting about how she warned everyone about the Lannisters and how they killed her husband, she throws Tyrion into a "sky cell."
You see, the Eyrie is built atop a mountain and rumored to be impregnable. Rather than mess about with a proper dungeon, the Arryns just have cells with a missing wall that open out of the mountainside. Escapes are rare, unless a 900-foot plummet counts.
Back in Winterfell, Bran wants to learn to shoot a bow from horseback. And in an effort to even out the episode's liberal gay agenda, Theon has a naked discussion of his family history with a prostitute (Theon's father led a rebellion with Ned helped put down). Theon's loyalties are obviously going to come into question soon.
If it seems like the North gets short shrift this week (we don't see Jon, Sam or the Wall at all), try being Viserys and Danaerys. We only see them in previews. At least it's confirmed that Jorah is an informer for the king.
Ned talks with Varys "The Spider" (another good one), who informs him Jon Arryn was poisoned, confirming - it would appear - that the recently deceased Ser Hugh had a hand in doing the deed. In Varys' words, Arryn was killed because he "started asking questions."
Hey, I get it! They're the same questions Ned is asking!
Arya overhears Varys and Ilyrio discussing Ned's investigations and tries to warn her father, there's also some interplay between the two master manipulators, Varys and Littlefinger. If you're wondering who to root for, I'd suggest a cholera epidemic.
Robert is...displeased to hear Danaerys is pregnant. The council advises him to assassinate her and her brother. Ned dissents, Robert threatens, and Ned resigns. Littlefinger offers to take Ned to see the last person Arryn spoke with before he died. Perhaps unwisely, he agrees. It turns out to be a prostitute with yet another of Robert's bastard kids. A girl this time. Man, that seed is strong.
Robert and Cersei have a frank conversation. Robert laments the lack of an honest fight, and the two share a laugh over the fact their loveless marriage is the cement holding the kingdoms together. A rare tender moment. It won't last.
And why not? Because Jaime has finally heard his brother was taken prisoner by Catelyn. He has Ned's men killed (taking care of poor Jory himself) and the two fight to an apparent draw before one of Jaime's henchmen spears Ned in the leg. They ride off as the former Hand passes out in the dirt.
Next week: Viserys delivers an ultimatum, and Arya is in a spot of trouble.