So Sunday evening has turned out to be television festival night. Between Game of Thrones and Mad Men, this is the best small screen twosome right now. Game of Thrones keeps getting better. Martin’s novels are long and complex, but they pay off hugely in the end. Last Sunday’s episode, The Night Lands, was a tour de force of the genre. A lot happened, and the table is still be set, so to speak, for events later in the season.
A handful of things should be noted. Gendry knows that Ary is really Arya. King Joffrey’s men are also looking for him, and this puts them both in danger. But it is a good thing to be part of the Night’s Watch. They don’t take guff from anyone.
Tyrion – has there ever been a cooler character? – has laid off Janos Slynt from command of the Kingsguard. He betrayed the previous Hand of the King and Tyrion doesn’t trust him not to do the same to him. But could Tyrion also be displaying some moral qualms about a man who murdered an infant? Tyrion is a good guy in spite of himself, a darker version of Han Solo, perhaps more appropriate for the modern age. We have also discovered that Cersei was unaware of Joffrey’s order to murder the bastards of the last king, Robert.
In the Iron Islands, Theon Greyjoy, after nine years as a hostage with the Starks in Winterfell, receives a cold welcome from his father, Balon. The Ironborn are a different kind of people from the ordinary Westerosi. They are from elsewhere, their historical analogue being Vikings in medieval England, and their code is strict and alien. They are very old-fashioned, and scorn anything that they have not taken by force. That is the iron price of things. The salt price is what is obtained with money. That is not valued.
Elsewhere, Stannis Baratheon, to my mind, the one man with the best claim to the throne, is busily recruiting ships to take on his rivals. Danaerys is still stuck in the midst of the Red Waste, and poor Rakharo has come back with his head stuffed in his own saddlebag. The Dothraki are dying of thirst. Dany does not know what to do. She has not had much to do lately. Given the explosive nature of the first season finale – Dany emerged from her husband’s funeral pyre with three dragons in tow – her activities so far have been anti-climactic. That won’t last forever.