I watched episodes 6 and 7 back-to-back. Well, almost back-to-back; it took a few hours for HBOGO to come back online after episode 6 aired, as I can only assume its servers were crushed by rabid fans looking to get their next fix of this great work of television. Both episodes were outstanding, but today I’m only going to write about episode 6. Thoughts on episode 7 will come along next week, once the episode actually airs on HBO rather than its streaming site. I’ll do my best not to get the two mixed up. I’m going to skip over any detailed recapping, if you’re reading this you’ve probably seen the episode already, and jump right into the bullet-points this week.
* I made it through fifty minutes of the episode before I realized there was again no Jon Snow or Wall scenes. Although Jon’s one of my favorite characters, I’m fine with this. The last two episodes have sped along so quickly, and held together so well, that I didn’t miss him.
* Ned gets to sit on the Iron Throne for part of this episode, ruling in Robert’s stead as the King is out hunting and drinking in the woods. They provide an interesting contrast in leadership. Robert’s a blunt, boorish drunkard who, aside from a brief moment of regret, doesn’t have much difficulty knocking around his wife for a snide comment. Despite this, he’s not willing to kick over the Lannister beehive, and advises Ned to drop his dispute with the golden-haired clan and let things alone. You could look at this as Robert being lazy and shrinking from his responsibilities again, but it’s also being practical. The situation’s already volatile, so it’s best to order Cat to free Tyrion, and let things settle down. While at court for Robert, Ned does the opposite, effectively dumping kerosene on a fire when he orders Ser Gregor (also known as “The Mountain” or as I’ve been calling him, the “Horse-Killer”) to be hunted down and killed for his banditry. Worse, he orders patriarch of the Lannister clan, Tywin, to report to King’s Landing to explain Gregor’s actions; if he fails to show, Tywin will be declared an enemy of the state. It’s a bold move, but a foolish one as well. Despite his reconciliation with Robert, Ned’s position in the capital is still precarious. He doesn’t have a lot of allies, and by openly threatening perhaps the most powerful Lord in the kingdom, he may be setting something into motion that he cannot control.
* Meanwhile in Winterfell, Bran continues to have the same three-eyed crow dreams. This time, it lasts a little longer, and the crow leads him down into a torchlit underground hallway that looks suspiciously similar to the crypts that Robert and Ned visited in the third episode. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.
* On a related Bran note, it brought a huge smile to my face to hear Bran shouting in glee as he rode around with his new horse and saddle. So good to see him happy again, even if it was only for a moment.
* Speaking of events spiraling out of control, Theon’s urging Robb to raise an army and retaliate against the Lannisters for harming Ned. While Robb seems to resist the idea right now, Robb’s potential decisions increase the possibilities for unintended consequences.
* Ned finally realizes that Robert’s children are not his, but instead a product of Jaime and Cersei. But we had already figured that out, right?
* Not much Arya in this episode, though she had a fun “dancing lesson” with Syrio and she was appropriately spunky at the dinner table (Seven Hells!)
* I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Peter Dinklage is just killing it as Tyrion. It was a real treat to watch him use his wits and his silver tongue to escape near death at the Eyrie. His confession of sins was a great, hilariously funny moment. It was also a nice reminder to avoid Turtle Soup.
* And finally, across the Narrow Sea, Viserys finally gets his crown, though it’s not the one he wanted. I think Harry Lloyd did an outstanding job with this character. In the books (please forgive the reference) he was a wooden, one-dimensional monster. Here, though, I actually felt a smidgen of sympathy for him. He had been told all his life that he was the last hope of a dynasty, destined for the Iron Throne. The weight of these expectations were heavy, but once his plan to gain his army backfired, and he saw his sister becoming more self-assured and powerful than he, they became crushing. Yes, he was petty, vain, cruel, and selfish. But he was also sad and pathetic too, and I did feel for him just for a moment.