Winter is coming, but not soon enough. So to help pass the time until season seven of Game of Thrones, we’re doing a weekly rewatch of the series, episode-by-episode, with the knowledge of what was to come, and with more information about the yet unrevealed rich history of events that took place long before the story began. Be warned, though, as this series is full of spoilers for every season, even beyond the episode itself. So if you haven’t watched all of the show yet immediately get on that and then come back and join us for Game of Thrones Re-Throned.
Because the next best thing to watching new episodes is re-watching old ones.
Season 1, Episode 4: “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”
Original Air Date: May 8, 2011
Director: Brian Kirk
Written by: Bryan Cogman
As a loyal man of House Stark, re-watching season one is like witnessing the world’s worst trainwreck in super slow-motion, made all the worse because the cause was human error. Poor decisions by the Starks aside though, the show’s fourth episode, “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things,” managed to move lots of storylines forward and introduce us to a bunch of new characters. Some we would come to love, and some we would come to hate.
This week opened with Bran’s first dream of the Three-Eyed Raven, who beckoned him to the crypts of Winterfell. That’s followed by Bran waking up in his room and being told by Theon that Robb wants him to come downstairs to greet their guests, Yoran of the Night’s Watch and Tyrion. Bran doesn’t want to go, and Theon says, “Robb’s Lord of Winterfell, which means I do what he says and you do what I say.” This was not the last time Theon would explain the hierarchy of Winterfell to Bran.
During the greeting Robb doesn’t even attempt to hide his dislike of Tyrion, who is confused by the lack of hospitality. Little does Tyrion know that his family is suspected of trying to kill Bran. It’s important to remember that in the moment it did seem as though Tyrion sent the catspaw to assassinate Bran, because we did not have a reason to doubt Littlefinger yet, and Bran waking up would be very bad for House Lannister.
Tyrion’s first comment after seeing Bran awake and alive is, “So it’s true,” which seemed weird originally, but now comes across as genuine shock. He gives Bran blueprints and instructions on how to make a contraption so he will still be able to ride a horse. (“I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things.”), which leads Robb to changing his mind and offering him the hospitality of Winterfell. Tyrion declines and says he’ll be happier in a brothel. Reasonable.
Before leaving, Tyrion and Theon have a contentious conversation (Tyrion recalls the animosity between them at Winterfell years later in Mereen), where Tyrion sows the seeds of Theon’s future betrayal of Robb by saying he is the Starks’ captive. Tyrion also gets in some digs at Theon’s family for the failed Greyjoy Rebellion against Robert. That was when Theon’s two older brothers were killed, and he became a ward of Ned Stark to ensure fealty from Balon Greyjoy. This mini-rebellion gets referenced later in the episode too by Jory Cassel and Jaime, as well as by Jorah. The show did start setting up the Iron Islands story very early on.
At Castle Black we see Jon has continued to take on a leadership role for his fellow recruits, when we meet Samwell Tarly (Sam!) of Horn Hill for the first time. Rast beats on Sam badly while training (or for Sam, training to lie on the ground screaming). Jon wants to stop this, because his sense of right and wrong is so strong, but he’s stopped by Pyp.
Jon tells Sam, “It’s not going to get any easier, you know? You’ll have to defend yourself.” He didn’t mean against White Walkers, though, which Sam will one day do even though here he tells Jon he is a coward. Sam’s journey as a character is one of the most surprising of the entire show.
Across the Narrow Sea we get to Vaes Dothrak for the first time, the only Dothraki city (city-ish). One day Daenerys would burn down the Dosh Khaleen and kill all the living Khals here, uniting all the Dothraki into her own khalasar, but for now it’s just a place with a cool dual horse entrance.
Viserys gets angry when his sister defends the Dothraki and calls them her “people,” insisting the “savages” are his army. Viserys was very stupid, but she is not, and she then asks Jorah about whether the Dothraki could actually conquer Westeros.
“If my brother was given an army of Dothraki, could you conquer the Seven Kingdoms?”
“The Dothraki have never crossed the Narrow Sea. They fear any water their horses can’t drink.”
“But if they did?”
“King Robert is fool enough to meet them in open battle, but the men advising him are different.”
Jorah says he knows these men because he fought beside them (during the Greyjoy Rebellion, where his bravery got him his knighthood), but he is also spying on Daenerys to them right now, trying to win back favor to return home, which is what he wants more than anything. He also tells her why he sold men into slavery, because he had a wife with expensive tastes and he needed money. When Daenerys asks where she is now, he says, “In another place, with another man.”
That scene is followed by some world-building “sexposition,” with Viserys being “bathed” in a tub by Doreah. They talk about the dragons, Valyria, Aegon the Conqueror, the forging of the Iron Throne, and some of the wondrous things Doreah has seen (“A man from Asshai with a dagger of real dragonglass. I’ve seen a man who could change his face the way that other men change their clothes. And I’ve seen a pirate who wore his weight in gold and whose ship had sails of colored silk.”).
Doreah’s love of dragons seems to come from the fact they can fly away to any place and also burn their victims to nothingness, which makes sense since she has been a slave since she was very little. It also makes her eventual betrayal of her Khalessi in Qarth that much more painful, because she turned on the Mother of Dragons and the Breaker of Chains.
(Viserys names a bunch of famous dragons here—Ghiscar, Valryon, Vermithrax, Essovius, Archonel, Meraxes, Vhagar, and Balerion the Dread—but for the sake of time you’ll need to look them up on your own.)
In the Iron Throne room we see Sansa acting like a big baby, worrying about what will happen if she only gives Joffrey daughters, and saying she hates her father. Like Sam, Sansa has come a very long way. She does ask Septa Mordane about why her uncle and grandfather were killed in this room, but she is told to ask her father. It’s a reminder of just what this place represents to House Stark, and a hint at the horrors yet to come.
Her father is at the Small Council meeting, where we encounter the rat-faced slimy Commander of the City Watch in King’s Landing, Janos Slynt, the man who would betray Ned Stark after Robert’s death, but who would ultimately get his from Jon Snow at The Wall.
After the meeting Ned learns from Grand Maester Pycelle about the book (“The lineages and histories of the great houses of the Seven Kingdoms, with descriptions of many high lords and noble ladies and their children”) Jon Arryn was reading right before he died, and how the late Hand’s last words were, “The seed is strong.” Ned insinuates that Jon Arryn might have been poisoned, a “woman’s weapon.”
Pycelle says, “Yes. Women, cravens—and eunuchs. Did you know that lord Varys is a eunuch?” That’s some real shade he throws at Varys. (Awesome people named the Red Viper also use poison FYI.) Pycelle thinks it is unlikely Arryn was poisoned, but not only was he killed, he was murdered by his own wife Lysa on the orders of Baelish.
After he leaves Ned finds Arya training by trying to stand on the edge of some stairs on a single toe, and after discussing the merits of studying the movements of cats (training that would one day help her in Braavos, because we all know cats are immune to being stabbed in the stomach), they discuss Bran’s future, as well as Arya’s, though says she is not meant to be a lady.
That’s followed by the heartbreaking scene where Sam tells Jon why he joined the Night’s Watch, because his father was going to kill him otherwise. This is the real start of their friendship, when Jon realizes Sam might have been noble born, but he is a bastard just the same (as well as a broken thing). As a result Jon makes every other recruit, under the threat of Ghost, swear not to strike Sam anymore.
This is honorable, but here’s the thing about this defiant act to Ser Alliser’s authority: Jon is wrong. Jon is woefully wrong. Later, Jon and Sam are cleaning the tables when Ser Alliser tells them about the real cold beyond The Wall, and how he got stuck their once for six months while looking for Mance Rayder. It’s a story of survival and cannibalism, one that shows Jon doesn’t know what he is talking about because he’s still just a boy. The rough, unforgiving training in the courtyard and the “Lord Snow” jokes aren’t because Ser Alliser is jealous or twisted, it’s because he knows how bad it can be out there. He wants to train the recruits under tough conditions because of how hard this life will be for them.
Jon might think he is doing the right thing by protecting the weak Sam, but he is hurting all of the Night’s Watch by going easy on him, and preventing Sam from having a better chance at surviving life at The Wall.
Back in King’s Landing Baelish explains the concept of spies to Ned (really), and how everyone in power has them, himself included. Baelish also knows Ned has that book (because there are no secrets in the Red Keep), and pushes him towards seeking out an armorer. Ned never seems to realize just how dangerous everyone around him is, least of all Littlefinger.
“Lord Baelish, perhaps I was wrong to distrust you.”
“Distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you climbed off your horse.”
During this conversation Baelish also points out that Jon Arryn’s squire, Ser Hugh of the Vale, was knighted shortly after Arryn’s death, which is obviously very suspicious, but before Ned will get a chance to talk with him The Mountain will put a lance in his throat later in the episode during the tourney celebrating Ned’s new position.
Ned goes to see the armorer with Jory, the man Ned most trusts in King’s Landing. Jory’s father, Martyn Cassel, died when he accompanied Ned to the Tower of Joy, and Ser Rodrick, traveling with Catelyn Stark, is his uncle, so House Cassel is very close to House Stark. There we meet Gendry (not rowing a boat), and Ned puts the pieces of this Jon Arryn puzzle together by figuring out this is one of Robert’s bastards. Gendry remembers little about his mother, but he does say she had blonde hair, setting off sirens about the significance of his black hair.
(If you don’t understand why Ned and Jory scoff at knights, it’s because the North doesn’t really have them. You need to follow the Faith of the Seven to be knighted, and the North mostly follows the old gods, so they can’t be knighted.)
Jory then goes (and fails) to give a letter to Robert, because he is refused by Jaime Lannister, who is furious that Robert waits for him to be on duty to start having extra-marital relations.
Jory tells Jaime the two fought together once (this would also be during the Greyjoy rebellion), but Jaime doesn’t remember him. This is a great reminder that Jaime is one of the most famous people in the entire realm, and everyone would remember meeting him, but not vice versa. It’s why he gets captured when traveling with Brienne, because he’s one of the few people in all of the Seven Kingdoms that can’t be anonymous.
There’s lots of great nuggets in this scene, like Jory saying a Greyjoy nearly took his eye during the siege of Pyke (Jaime will put a dagger through Jory’s eye next week when he kills him), they talk about Thoros of Myr and his flaming sword charging through the breach, and Jaime telling Jory he doesn’t think Theon is a good lad. One thing that stands out during this re-watch is just how good the show was at filling out the massive world around the story, in ways that were entertaining and intriguing.
In Vaes Dothrak Daeny fights back against her brother for the first time, striking him after he assaulted her, and saying, “I am a Khaleesi of the Dothraki! I am the wife of the great Khal and I carry his son inside me. The next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands.”
This is only episode four, and she very quickly got her crap together from the scared little girl she was in the premiere. Also, Harry Lloyd, who played Viserys, was really great in this role. It’s not always easy to play such an obviously terrible person, but Game of Thrones has been great at these casting decisions. You can almost feel sympathy for Lloyd’s Viserys, whose entire family was killed when he was a boy, who was without a country to call home, and who only pretends to be brave and strong so he can gain his rightful crown.
In the scene where Ser Alliser tells Jon and Sam about resorting to cannibalism, Jon and Sam first talk about never having slept with a woman, and Sam hates the hypocrisy of the officers going to Mole’s Town to sleep with whores while they’re expected to remain chaste. Both would break this part of their vows eventually anyway, so, uh, good for them.
Jon tells Sam why he never slept with a woman, even when he had a chance (with Ros, who was mentioned earlier by Theon to Tyrion, because she’s apparently the only working whore in the North).
“I never met my mother. My father wouldn’t even tell me her name. I don’t know if she’s living or dead. I don’t know if she’s a noblewoman or a fisherman’s wife–or a whore. So I sat there in the brothel as Ros took off her clothes. But I couldn’t do it. Because all I could think was what if I got her pregnant and she had a child, another bastard named Snow? It’s not a good life for a child.”
That’s brutal. Man this first season was great.
We then again see Jorah and Daenerys speaking, and she admits she doesn’t want her brother on the Iron Throne, nor does she think he could win it anyway. “My brother will never take back the Seven Kingdoms. He couldn’t lead an army even if my husband gave him one. He’ll never take us home.” That was obvious in the moment too, but what wasn’t as obvious was that she could and probably will succeed where he never would have.
During the tourney for the Hand, which Ned doesn’t even attend, Baelish and Sansa meet for the first time (little-finger did we know what this would be the start of), and he scares the crap out of her by revealing how The Hound got his scars, telling her he might kill her if he knew that she knew.
(Note: I wish Baelish explained why The Hound’s scars always seem to look different, but first I’d like him to tell us why his own accent changes every season.)
That’s followed by a short but intense scene between Ned and Cersei, when she goes to see him to get past “the ugliness with the wolves” from when Nymeria bit Joffrey and she forced Lady to be put down. She delivers a very prophetic line about her own future actions, “Though sometimes we go to extremes where our children are concerned.”
Considering Baelish knew about Ned reading the book of lineage, Cersei probably did too, which is why she came to feel him out and get a sense of what he might have figured out. (Oh, and way to have that dagger out on the desk Ned! Wouldn’t want to try and hide the weapon you believe the Lannisters used to kill your son.)
“You’re just a soldier, aren’t you? You take your orders and you carry on. I suppose it makes sense. Your older brother was trained to lead and you were trained to follow.”
“I was also trained to kill my enemies, Your Grace.”
“As was I.”
Man how could Ned have not seen how dangerous she was?
But Ned’s careless investigation and disregard for keeping secrets in this episode isn’t even the dumbest thing a Stark does. That award goes to Catelyn, who has Tyrion very publicly arrested at the inn at the Crossroads when the two encounter one another. This is shortsighted and endangers her family more, but she can’t help herself. Even in the moment, when we suspected Tyrion tried to have Bran killed, this didn’t make sense, but she does it and essentially declares war on the Lannisters. Tywin responded to the Reynes of Castemere defying him by brutally burying the entire family alive underground, so she had to know what this would mean between the houses.
But hey, at least we got to meet one final new, awesome character in this episode.
One of the few characters that always makes the smart decision showed up in an episode full of stupid decisions.
What did you think of the fourth episode? Talk about it with us in the comments below.