Episode Title: "A Golden Crown"
Story by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Teleplay by: Jane Espenson and David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Director: Daniel Minahan
Previously on "Game of Thrones":
Word reached King's Landing that Daeneryes Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was pregnant by Khol Drogo (Jason Momoa), leader of the Dothraki hordes. King Robert (Mark Addy) ordered Daeneryes' assassination, but his loyal friend, Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark (Sean Bean) refused to be a part of it and resigned as Hand of the King in protest. Elsewhere, Ned's wife, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) captured the Imp, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and brought him to the Eyrie, home of her sister, Lysa (Kate Dickie). However, both Tyrion and Catelyn were stunned by just how deranged Lysa had become.
Before leaving King's Landing with his family, Ned continued his investigation into Jon Arryn's death and discovered another one King Robert's bastard children. Afterwards, Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) confronted Ned with a group of his personal soldiers and demanded the return of his brother, Tyrion. Jamie's men slaughtered Ned's personal guards, which led to an epic duel between Jamie and Ned. One of Jamie's men interceded and stabbed Ned through his leg. Rather than kill him and doom his brother to die as well, Jamie reiterated his demand before leaving Ned lying helpless in the street.
Some time later, Ned awakens with King Robert and Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) watching over him. They ask him about his wife's actions, but he protects her and says that he ordered Tyrion to be taken. Cersei lies about the circumstances of Ned's fight with Jamie, who has fled the city. Ned argues with Cersei and asks the King for permission to pursue Jamie. Cersei berates her husband and he slaps her for it. After she leaves, the King demands that Ned settle things with the Lannisters and get Tyrion back. He also insists that Ned take back his position as the King's Hand and threatens to give the job to Jamie if Ned ever quits again.
Back in Winterfell, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) has another strange dream before his custom saddle is finished. His brother Robb (Richard Madden) and Ned's Ward, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) watch over Bran as he rides in the woods, while Theon argues that Robb must prepare Winterfell for war with the Lannisters. Robb harshly says that Theon isn't a member of his house before going off to search for Bran. He soon finds Bran menaced by Wildings. Robb manages to dispatch most of them, but ultimately it's Theon who saves Bran. Across the sea, Daenerys tests herself by handling a burning hot dragon egg without being harmed. Later, her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd) watches in disgust as Daenerys eats a raw horse heart as part of a Dothraki ritual.
When Daenerys finishes the heart, she declares her son to be a Dothraki prince named Rhaego. And Visnerys is stunned when the people demonstrate their love for her. Incensed, Visnerys tries to leave the Dothraki camp with Daenerys' dragon eggs, but Jorah (Iain Glen) prevents him from stealing them, At the Eyrie, Tyrion bribes his jailer, Mord (Ciaran Bermingham) into telling Lysa that he's ready to confess his crimes. But in her official court, he recites a humorous list of boyhood pranks which only incites Lysa and Catelyn. He denies any other crimes and demands a trial by combat. After one of Lysa's knights volunteers to serve as her champion, a mercenary named Bronn (Jerome Flynn) volunteers to champion Tyrion.
In a relatively brief duel, Bronn out fights the knight and sends him to his death, freeing Tyrion in the process. But Tyrion makes a point of paying Mord his bribe before leaving Lysa's court. In a far off forest, King Robert goes on a hunt and reminisces about the old days, much to the annoyance of his brother. Back at King's Landing, Ned holds court as he receives word of a series of rapes and murders potentially committed by Ser Gregor, The Mountain on behalf of the Lannisters. Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen) also cheerfully points out that his actions may have been a direct challenge against Ned and his family.
Ned proceeds to strip Gregor of his lands and titles and he also demands that Tywin Lannister (the family's patriarch) come to King's Landing to answer for his actions or be branded a traitor. Realizing that war is immanent, Ned prepares to send his daughters Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) back to Winterfell. Both girls protest, but Sansa is more taken with the idea of being Queen and marrying Prince Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) than honoring her father. But her words cause Ned to realize that all of Robert's bastards have dark hair, meaning that Jamie Lannister may be the real father of Joffrey.
Across the sea, Viserys bursts into a tribal ceremony to honor Daenerys. He pulls out his sword and threatens the life of Khol Drogo's child if his promise of a crown isn't kept. Drogo relents, causing Viserys to believe that he's won. However, Drogo has his men hold Viserys while he crowns him with a pot of molten gold, killing him. As she watches her brother die, Daenerys states that he was no dragon, otherwise fire would not have killed him.
I can't speak to the experience of every viewer watching "Game of Thrones," but I find that it keeps giving me what I want to see. Ever since the first episode, I wanted to see Viserys get what was coming to him. As I've mentioned before, when a character is that annoying, their death is usually inevitable in a story like this. His "crowning" was just a perfect end for him, although his demise happened a lot sooner than I expected it to.
This was also my favorite Daenerys storyline to date, as she's starting to emerge into an interesting character in her own right. I keep getting the impression that she's ultimately being set up as a direct adversary to Robert and Ned, but I'm not sure how far down the line that's going to happen. I should also mention that I'm getting more impressed with Jason Momoa's performance as Khal Drogo. Momoa actually does more with his face and expressions in this episode than he ever did on "Stargate Universe." I think it may simply be that he's more effective when he doesn't speak that often.
The members of the Stark family are generally the protagonists on this show, but they really treat their wards and bastards badly. What Robb said to Theon may have been true, but it was still a s***y thing to say to someone who clearly loves the family as if it was his own. I didn't really notice Theon until last week's episode, but he's beginning to grow on me. Now that Jon Snow is off at the Wall (which we haven't seen for two episodes now), Theon is the most prominent outsider within Stark's castle walls. And if they keep treating him like garbage, then they shouldn't be shocked if he ever turns on them.
On a side note, when the prostitute flashed her vagina at Theon, that was a definite "we're not in 'The Lord of the Rings'" moment. I actually don't mind the nudity one way or the other, but it could have been just as strong of a series without it.
One last Stark note for the week: Sansa is really unlikable. She's incredibly rude to her servant and all she seems to care about is being Queen some day. Are we sure she's really a Stark? There are some jerks in the family, but she's on a different level of arrogance.
Of course, Peter Dinklage stole the show again with a genuinely hilarious reading of Tyrion's supposed crimes. I guess I misread Catelyn's concern for his well being last week, but it was immensely satisfying to see him trick his way out of danger. It wasn't shown on screen, but I assumed that Tyrion knew that paying Mord in front of Lysa was probably going to mean she would punish her jailer for aiding him.
I also have a theory regarding Littlefinger, just based upon what we've seen in the show. He was the one who told Catelyn that the assassin's dagger was Tyrion's and he practically goaded Ned to take action against the Lannisters in this episode. I think instead of a shady loyal friend to the Starks, he's trying to pit them against the Lannisters for his own agenda. I do have the novel heading my way within a couple of days, so I'll find out for sure soon enough.
If I haven't been clear, "Game of Thrones" is easily the most exciting show on TV right now. And watching this story unfold continues to be the highlight of my week.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.