With a thrust of Longclaw, Jon Snow ran his giant sword through the head of a mutineer at Craster’s Keep Sunday – giving a gory victory to the Night’s Watch and unwittingly saving his little brother Bran Stark and the Reeds.
But Jon (Kit Harrington) did more than just save his kid brother and burn down a house of horrors. His closing scene saved what was otherwise the weakest episode of the fourth season of HBO's "Game of Thrones."
Most of “First of His Name” meandered through various plotlines with little action or storyline advancement. By my count, there was only one major revelation. That said, it was a pretty major revelation: Littlefinger and Lysa killed Jon Arryn. (!!!. Mind. Blown.)
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In the capitol city, Tommen Baratheon (really Lannister) is crowned king. He’s sure to be a better king than his haughty, sadistic older brother. So, that’s a good thing for the fine folks of Westeros.
Margaery is planning to marry Tommen, and Cersei, surprisingly, is helping her. Tywin confides in Cersei about the great debt the kingdon owes to the Iron Bank of Braavos. Both characters somehow manage to misuse the word “comprise’ while discussing this.
In Meereen, Daenerys learns about Joffrey’s death (but puzzlingly doesn’t dance around her room like your correspondent did). She also learns that several of the cities she previously conquered have fallen back into tyranny. Being the generally admirable person that she is, Dany decides against sailing for Westeros.
“How can I rule seven kingdoms if I can’t control Slaver’s Bay?” she asks. “I will not let those I have freed slide back into chains. I will not sail for Westeros. I will do what queens do. I will rule.”
The Vale of Arryn
Littlefinger and Sansa arrive with Sansa posing as his niece. Littlefinger is toying with Lysa Arryn, who is crazy and in love with him and will agree to do basically anything for him, including, it’s revealed, poison and kill her own husband.
All this time viewers were led to believe it was Cersei who killed Jon Arryn. This plot twist, of course, has major implications – some even metaphysical: Is the whole war between the Starks and Lannisters just a product of LIttlefinger’s meddling? Is there such a thing as free choice or are we all just pawns in a master plan in which all of our actions are foreseen in advance and breathed into existence by Lord Petyr Baelish? I’m left to conclude: If there is a God in Westeros, his name is Littlefinger.
Meanwhile, Lysa continues to be crazy and breaks into a jealous rage against Sansa, who quickly and smartly mollifies her aunt.
Two buddy travel plotlines also are going on, and one is much better than the other. Arya and The Hound continue to wisecrack and parry their way across the country in a highly entertaining manner, while Brienne and Pod do the same in a largely uninteresting way.
Just when I was about to switch the channel for what was bound to be more action on “Mad Men,” we were taken up north. (Yes!)
At Craster’s Keep, the mutineers were about to gang rape Meera Reed (the writers of this show love to add in mysogonstic violence that’s not in the books, don’t they?) when Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch attack.
Bran is nearly kidnapped by Roose Bolton’s man, but he skin-changes into Hodor and breaks the villian’s neck. (That was creepy and murderous and, well, awesome.)
Meanwhile, Jon shows some skillful sword work and, after some help from one of Craster’s mistresses/daughters, wins the day. (Jon was in sore need of a victory on the battlefield, after getting, you know, captured and shot up by wildlings. If he ever wants to sit atop the Iron Throne, he's going to have to do quite a bit more of that.)
And once the Night’s Watch realizes one of the mutineers escaped, Ghost (!) makes short work of him. I might complain about multiple plodding storylines, but show me two seconds of dire wolf action and I'm happy.
Episode grade: B