Season four is going from strength to strength. With First of His Name, writers D. B. Weiss and David Benioff (plus director Michelle MacLaren) manage to keep approximately 17,000 different storylines woven tightly together, while also ensuring events that took place before the series even started are still fresh in our minds.
Tommen is crowned, and the ongoing necessity for an official alliance between the houses of Lannister Baratheon and Tyrell is again discussed. Cersei ‘if you ever call me sister again I’ll have you strangled in your sleep’ Lannister has a little chat with Margaery Tyrell, then with Tywin, and discovers that while the Lannisters always pay their debts, they’re almost always paying them with someone else’s simoleans. Enter the Tyrells, although with the way most weddings in Westeros have been going lately, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking Margaery and Tommen will never get near a Septon (and that Cersei and Loras won’t either).
There’s good news and bad news for Daenerys in Desert City No. Three (or is it Four?); she learns of Joffrey’s death, but also that the other slave cities she has liberated are gradually tumbling back into disorder. Reasoning that no-one in Westeros will take her seriously if she can’t even keep control of Slaver’s Bay, she decides to hold off on storming King’s Landing, meaning that she will be staying out of the main action for quite some time. Much as we’d like to see Dany and her dragons dive into the mix, we have to concede that neither the time nor the dragons are quite ripe yet. However, we’re liking the direction Dany’s character is taking; she’s getting colder and meaner, but still holding onto her principles.
Sansa arrives at the Eyrie, possibly the most impregnable fortress in Westeros (whatever Bronn might have threatened to do with ten good men and some climbing spikes). Unfortunately, she’s certainly not safe there. Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie) is back, and just as wonderfully sickening as she ever was. The gap of a few years has not dulled our memory of her madness, and in one concise scene it is revealed that her unnerving obsession with Littlefinger has been going on for much longer than anyone realised. It was Lysa who, at Littlefinger’s urging, poisoned her husband Jon Arryn way back at the beginning of season one – before the beginning, in fact – kick starting the whole caboodle.
We’re sure the Lannisters would have got there eventually, what with Jon poking his nose into their incestuous goings-on, but the point is that Lysa beat them to it. This cements our gradually forming view of Littlefinger; we might have been forgiven for thinking he was more like Varys, playing the long game in order to hold onto his already very powerful position (but serving himself, and not the realm). In fact, Littlefinger really does want everything for himself – and is prepared to do anything to get it.
Like many episodes lately, the best scenes this week take place north of the Wall. Jojen Reed has a hauntingly picturesque vision, reassuring Bran that he hasn’t yet reached the end of his journey. Thankfully this proves to be true, as Jon Snow and his brothers storm the Keep. Locke finally shows his true colours and makes a beeline for Bran, but he didn’t count on Bran getting his Warg on and using Hodor to snap his neck in twain.
We’re then treated to another ‘Stark gets within spitting distance of another Stark but not quite’ scene, as Bran decides to keep heading north instead of staying for a chinwag with his brother. Still, we do get to see Ghost and Jon reunited; forget Arya and the Hound, Brienne and Pod, and all the rest – Jon and Ghost are the best pairing this show will ever see.
Believe it or not we’re now half way through the fourth season. Tommen is the first good king we’ve seen in a while, but he’s a Lannister puppet. Tyrion is still in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Arya’s death list isn’t getting any shorter, and Littlefinger is getting away with murder. Is his smarmy grin going to turn out to be behind every high profile death in Westeros? And who, among our grand cast of characters, is still going to be alive after five more episodes?
Best Scene: Some truly brilliant scenes all over this week, but Jojen Reed’s vision of the future, followed by the death of Locke and the burning of Craster’s Keep, are our faves
Best Line: “You don’t need to make formal alliances with people you trust.” – Tywin Lannister