The Wolf and the Lion (Season 1, Episode 5, Game of Thrones)

1 The Wolf The LionDirected by Brian Kirk

Written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss

There is plenty of mystery and intrigue in Game of Thrones, but what are the strategies of the various players?

“It’s a neat little trick you do, you move your lips and your father’s voice comes out,” Robert says to Cersei.  He explains the advantage the Dothraki will have if they manage to cross the Narrow Sea.

When Robert asks what is the greater number one or five – he explains that one united army would be better than the five fragmented armies with different loyalties and treasurers.  While the Kingdom has been at peace for 17 years, it is now a strained peace, held together by their marriage, uniting the power of the Lannisters and Baratheons; and Robert’s friendship with Ned securing the army of the North.

The status quo (Robert as King; Joffrey as heir apparent; plenty of Lannister money; Stark control of the North; and Stannis and Renly Bratheon third and fourth in the line of succession) is ideal for the Lannisters.  As Cersei explained to Joffrey in Lord Snow, someone from the North is necessary to lead the Northern bannermen.

But bad decisions seem to keep the Lannisters and Starks at each other’s throats:  Jaime pushing Bran out the window and now Catelyn taking Tyrion as prisoner.

3 The Wolf The LionMeanwhile, Lord Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger) and Lord Varys have been feeding Ned clues regarding Jon Arryn’s mission and his fascination with Robert’s bastards and “The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms.”   What are they hoping to accomplish and where are their loyalties?

We see Lord Varys meeting in the dungeon with Illyrio (this is who Jorah Mormont went to see when he abruptly left the Dothraki Horde after hearing the Khaleesi was pregnant).  And, with Ned on the verge of packing up the girls and heading back to Winterfell, Littlefinger tempts him with information on the last place Jon Arryn visited before his death, and Ned agrees to check it out.  (Another bad decision – Ned should have left immediately.)

Ned ventures to Littlefinger’s brothel and meets the young blond girl who has given birth (very recently) to Robert’s black-haired illegitimate daughter.  As Ned is leaving, he is ambushed by Jaime Lannister and has obviously been set up, but by whom?  Was it Cersei, Littlefinger, Varys, or someone else?

2 The Wolf The Lion“It’s about your wife, my lord.  She’s taken the Imp.”

The Wolf and The Lion is stuffed with great scenes, but the best has to be the identical expressions of shock on Catelyn’s and Tyrion’s faces when witnessing Lord Robin (maybe 5 or 6 years of age) being nursed by his mother.  While on the East Road, Tyrion warns Catelyn that she hasn’t seen her sister in a long while and so she might not be prepared for what she will experience.  But it’s obvious that even Tyrion’s more recent exposure to a “touched” Lady Lysa Arryn is not enough to prepare him for her current state of mind.  Michelle Fairley does a masterful job of conveying “I’ve gone from the frying pan into the fire” through facial expressions alone.

“The seed is strong.”

What did Jon Arryn mean by that repeated phrase as he lay dying?  Lysa firmly and ridiculously believes he was talking about their son.  “He wanted everyone to know what a good strong boy his son would grow up to be.”

While the obvious mystery of the episode is Ned’s investigation of what Jon Arryn discovered and how that led to his death; the nagging question is what are Littlefinger and Varys up to?  Are they helping Ned or are they setting him up?

If they are setting him up, why are they setting him up?  What interests are they serving by providing him with clues to discover what Jon Arryn discovered?  If they are not loyal to Robert, who are they loyal to?

Westeros:  No place for musicians

On that eve the captive Imp

Downward from his horse did limp

No more would he preen and primp

In garb of red and gold

Even though Ser Rodrick says (in Lord Snow) he’d rather throw himself down a well than listen to his song, the musician from the inn is traveling with Lady Catelyn and her guard.  The lyrics above, he composes and sings while Tyrion (bound and hooded) is lifted from his horse for a discussion with Lady Catelyn.  When the entourage is attacked by the hill people – the musician is the first to get hit.  (I can’t tell if  it is a mortal blow.  I suspect not, because I think this is the poor musician who ends up before Joffrey later on.)

A bit about the Lannisters

The Lannisters are not without their flaw (incest, bloodlust to name just a couple), but they are loyal to one another and you get the sense that there is a fondness between Tyrion and Jaime.  I love the certainty with which Tyrion knows that his father is searching for him. Also, when he is before Lady Arryn and she points out that the Knights of the Vale would die for her, Tyrion confidently notes that if anything happens to him, Jaime will see that they do.

When Jaime ambushes Ned Stark, there’s no denying that he been itching to go toe to toe with Ned since the banquet at Winterfell, but he makes it clear that he wants Tyrion back.  “I’m looking for my brother. You remember him don’t you Lord Stark?  Blond hair. Sharp tongue.  Short man.”

In hind sight, Lady Stark’s decision to take Tyrion into custody appears rash and ill-advised. But how disastrous will the abduction of Tyrion be?

Sigil Notes:

Bran is doing his studies with Maester Luwin reviewing the words and sigils of great houses of the Seven Kingdoms.

Here’s a cheat sheet for your reference:

Stark:  Winter is coming

Bratheon:  Ours is the fury

Lannister:  Hear me roar  (yep, that made me giggle too)

Arryn:  As high as honor

Tully:  Family, duty, honor

Tyrell:  Growing strong

Greyjoy:  We do not sow

Martell:  Unbowed, unbent, unbroken

Targaryen:  Fire and blood

Further Reading:

Winter is Coming – Episode 1, Season 1, Game of Thrones

The Kingsroad – Episode 2, Season 1, Game of Thrones

Lord Snow – Episode 3, Season 1, Game of Thrones

Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things – Episode 4, Season 1, Game of Thrones

A Golden Crown – Episode 6, Season 1, Games of Thrones

You Win or You Die – Episode 7, Season 1, Game of Thrones

The Pointy End – Episode 8, Season 1, Game of Thrones

Baelor – Episode 9, Season 1, Game of Thrones

Fire and Blood – Episode 10, Season 1, Game of Thrones

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wolf_and_the_Lion

AV Club http: http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-wolf-and-the-lion-for-experts,56076/

Watch along with me: Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season

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