Warning: Full Spoilers for Season 4 Episode 5 to follow.
“First of his Name” brings Game of Thrones season 4 to its half way mark in wonderful style, with twists spanning the entire series, all the way back to the very beginning. The episode saw a new, yet somewhat familiar face now perching upon the iron throne, but it was the events that transpired across the country that sold the episode.
Daenerys and her most trusted advisor, Jorah, took centre stage over in the east where it was decided that Dany would not be invading Westeros! Well… not yet anyway. It was actually the first time they’d talked about it in a quite some time and whilst it’s good to know that it’s still an on the table for her, news that she wants to stay and hold down her new cities for a while left me with mixed feelings. As far as reasoning is concerned, the show does a sound, if a little rushed, job of explaining that if she can’t expect to conquer Westeros if she can’t prevent these cities from slipping back into slavery. It’s just slightly disappointing from a fans perspective, eager to see what will transpire once she does finally cross the narrow sea. Still, Dany’s story has been only excellent in the series thus far and is the only part of this massive story not set in Westeros, so it’s probably wise not to wish it away too quickly.
Arya brought back memories of season 1, practicing her water dancer sword technique, at which The Hound scoffed at before proceeding to slap her across the face. Arya has seemed to have had some sort of mentor from season to season, be it Syrio, Jaqen H’ghar, The brotherhood, but having the hound as her companion in season 4 has been antagonistic for her since they cleared the house full of Lannisters during the season premier. Her night time ritual of recounting the names of all those on her “death list” still included The Hound himself, and when he asked her to take a stab at him, she didn’t waste a moment before attempting to poke him with the pointy end. Their confusing relationship continues to manifest as the season continues, I just hope it leads to something worthwhile.
Meanwhile her brother, Bran, finding himself imprisoned at Crasters Keep hatched an ingenious escape. With a little convenient help from Jon Snow, he managed to enter the mind of the half-wit, Hodor, and use him as a human killing machine. And the scene with the ex-Night’s Watch men pining over, and threatening Meera Reed was excruciatingly hard to watch, as are many scenes for Game of Thrones, but it did give an insight into Jojen Reed’s foresight abilities leading to a great line in which he told Locke he saw his body burning. And right he was, as Locke bit the dust just moments later before Jon Snow even had a chance to learn his true identity.
The episode also saw Jon face off, one to one, with the leader of the betraying Night’s Watchmen. Though Game of Thrones never shies away from offing its most beloved characters, something about the fight didn’t feel as tense. It didn’t seem like the time for Jon to die, not that it did with Robb back at the Red Wedding in the third season, but at least that made sense. If Jon were to die here it wouldn’t have served a purpose for the story and thus, his escape seemed inevitable from the beginning. Despite that, he and Bran narrowly missed seeing each other again, though they gave a pretty sound reason as to why they shouldn’t meet well, so we’ll let them off this time.
Meanwhile Sansa made her way to the Vale, under protection of Littlefinger. Seeing that location again brought back warm, fuzzy season one feelings from a time before the show had decided to kill of all but the youngest of the Starks. But with the return to the Vale comes the return of Lysa Arryn, the craziest lady in Westeros, and her creepy son. The somewhat bipolar scene, in which she treats, then attacks, and then comforts Sansa over her mother’s feels towards Littlefinger was unnerving in all the best ways and served as a good reminder as to how clinically insane this woman is. Weirdly, the child playing Lysa Arryn’s son hadn’t seemed to age a day, and even weirder was the news that Sansa would be marrying him. She just can’t seem to get away from forced marriages to seriously shorter men than herself.
Talking of marriages, Littlefinger exposed his intentions to marry Lysa Arryn, and whilst she seems to be pining over him like a dog on heat, his thoughts on it seem more tactical. Marriage in Game of Thrones seems rarely about love and more about the strengthening of houses, and Littlefinger is clearly making some sort of power play here. Even bigger than that though was the reveal that he had convinced Lysa to poison her husband Jon Arryn, the event that caused everything from the very first episode onwards to transpire. This retroactively changes the way we view the entire series to this point. It was a huge bombshell, and one dropped so casually, like it was just small talk, something that didn’t even matter for a second.
Episode 5 of the fourth season of Game of Thrones was literally a game changer in many regards. We got a subtle but huge plot point reveal, a new king, and a new direction for many of the characters. Whilst we still patiently wait to see what is to happen to Tyrion, it can’t be much longer before his trial, and the wait between has been more than satisfactory. The episode definitely had both strengths and weaknesses, but as far as moving the narrative forward as well as upping the stakes, First of His Name was excellent.