A few of our writers will contribute a weekly discussion on HBO’s television series Game of Thrones. In these discussions, our writers will analyze each episode and contribute their thoughts on what they liked and didn’t like. As with all of our discussions, these posts will contain spoilers of the most current episode, so read at your own risk.
For more Game of Thrones, visit our pop culture page.
Vinny Ginardi: Well, the only logical place to begin this discussion is at the end of the episode. We’ve heard about them occasionally and seen them here and there, but it appears that the White Walkers are finally here.
The episode ends with Jon Snow witnessing Craster offering one of his baby boys to the White Walkers. I believe there was something mentioned about the terror of what Craster does with his sons in the premiere, but I didn’t think much of it. When it was again mentioned in the beginning of the second episode, I actually got the feeling that he killed them off, but I didn’t think it was in this way. I see it somewhat as a similar reason as to why Joffrey had the bastard sons killed off- Craster doesn’t want his power challenged. But the fact that he offers them to the White Walkers is significant. Is he merely offering them as a sacrifice to ensure safety of his group? Or is it something more?
Michael Cresci: Cliffhanger! Yeah, I am totally absorbed by the Night’s Watch storyline and everything going on above the Wall. It’s amazing that with all the power grabs and chaos in the south, that there is this far grander doom hanging over (literally over on the map) everything. Jon witnesses the sacrifice/donation of a baby to somebody or something (I’m not sure it’s a white walker though the possibility is definitely there) and now I’m beyond amped for next week’s episode. I suspect this is somehow related to the army amassing on the other side of the wall but I’m, for the most part, clueless and I love it.
On another note Daenerys is starting to annoy me. She talks a big game but it’s all sort of meaningless and not going anywhere at the moment. I’m sure something is going to change but she’s treading water right now and is losing my interest in comparison to the amazing exchanges in King’s Landing (Tyrion and Cersei emotionally eviscerated one another) and the weird incest stuff in the Iron Islands. Thoughts?
Joe Binckes: The events north of the Wall were probably the most interesting thing here, we got to see a bit of Sam actually asserting himself which was nice for his growth, although his suggestion may not be the wisest one I’ve ever heard. They’re doing a good job of giving us the great sense of foreboding and mystery regarding what’s going on above the Wall that I found myself with a lot when reading. It serves to keep everything else that’s going on in this world in perspective, because there’s something greater looming, whether it’s the threat of the army gathering under the King Beyond the Wall or the White Walkers. Cresci, if you re-watch the last scene you’ll notice that when the baby is taken, they have a shot of the creature taking it and you can see the glowing blue eyes- it’s one of them.
Daenerys has gotten pretty poor treatment these first few episodes. So far this season, all she’s done is send her bloodriders out to search, and then have one of them come back dead. Now they’ve established that other Khals don’t like the idea of a woman leading a Khalasar, but it has been pretty minimal. I suppose it’s tough when a lot of what she’s done so far is wander around the red waste looking for nothing in particular.
VG: I agree completely with Binckes that the focus (or lack thereof) on Danerys has been somewhat disappointing. Her story line has been somewhat stagnant, and since the season one finale ended with her and the birth of the dragons, I expected great things right away. I’m sure the story with her and the dragons will pick up speed later in the season. It was too big of a reveal to continue to be somewhat ignored.
The White Walkers have always been interesting to me because they are mysterious. I thought it was brave for the show to open up with a scene involving White Walkers and then not really address them all too much for the rest of the first season. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If they waited to introduce until middle of the season, it would have seen completely out of place and straight up weird. Instead, we’ve known that the White Walkers have always existed and although they haven’t been a focus, the mystery of what they actually are and how they will eventually affect our main characters has stayed in the back of our minds.
The Tyrion scenes from this episode, as usual, were great. I love the fact that despite his size and everyone else’s patronizing attitudes toward him because of his size, he never loses confidence. His scenes from this episode showed just how aware he is of everything that is going on and he seems to pick just the right time to step in and take action. I think this is part of the reason he seems to be the consensus fan favorite.
MC: That’s a really smart point about the White Walkers. The early introduction got us into the fantasy aspects of the world so we’d be expecting them but then reeled it all in to focus on more human affairs. It creates that foreboding Binckes mentioned because throughout all this arguing over who is the rightful heir to the throne (an inherently flawed concept/man made idea) there is a genuinely scary supernatural force lurking, and not giving a shit about this fake concept of being a king.
I loved Tyrion’s interaction with his sister and Varys and I want more of it. I could watch whole episodes of how Tyrion spends his days. He fires people with some serious panache and he takes threats about as well as you’d expect. His long journey to the wall and back has really added a lot of fortitude and real world edge to all of his eloquent pontifications and verbal clashes and I’m loving every second. Unless those dragons start becoming and interesting plot point I’m going to be angry that Daenerys is on screen instead of Tyrion every single episode. Her plot is become a real Walking Dead “missing little girl” plot in that it wastes time and I don’t care about it which is a shame because her arc first season was one of my favorites. I have faith she’ll come around but the writers need to move things forward and, luckily, something about the focus of the funeral pyre she plans to build makes me believe the dragons are about to find a food source.
JB: I’m glad to see this discussion becoming more of a Tyrion love-fest in place of the Robb adoration that was being thrown around after the first episode. Maybe it’s a function of the lack of Robb in this episode, but I’ll take it! As always, he was fantastic. His exchange with the small council was great, and even though it was ignored he had the wisdom to try and heed the warnings being sent south by the Night’s Watch (on top of using the plea for more men to get rid of Janos Slynt, mitigating his sister’s control over the city). I was happy with the Varys/Tyrion scene too, putting the two of them together was an excellent opportunity to show how cunning each of them are, and the unwillingness of either to make an outright threat plays on their desire to always seem like they are better prepared should things start to turn against them without tipping their hand. While I think both served similar purposes, I much preferred this to the Littlefinger/Cersei “power is power” scene from the first episode.
I’m trying hard to take the show for what it is and not hold changes from the books against it. It may have colored my opinion of this episode though, but even downplaying those things I felt like very little actually happened in this episode. Sure, Jon’s discovery is a nice way to remind us to keep that sense of dread, but they still haven’t left Craster’s Keep. We’ve already addressed that Daenerys did little but walk around the wastelands so far. Gendry learned Arya’s true identity, and while their banter was entertaining, that’s all the scene did (aside from showing what a badass Yoren can be). Theon’s homecoming was a let down for him (to say the least), and we did get some more foreshadowing in the Iron Islands (“Who said anything about the Lannisters?”), but I couldn’t help but feel that the time spent on the scene with the ship captain’s daughter could have been better used elsewhere in the world. Yes, it was from the book, but was it really that important to further establish that Theon’s a self-important asshole? Along the same lines, the scene in Baelish’s brothel felt a bit like HBO has a topless woman quota that they have to meet. We already know that he’s all about getting his money and will do anything to further his own cause. While parts of the episode were entertaining, as a whole I can’t say I was a big fan.