This week’s batch of critics highlighted the women of Westeros and how true power often lurks in the shadows. Cersei Lannister was discussed often, and reflection was given on the state of the show as it reached its halfway mark.
As always, we’ve tried our very best to sort out the Book Readers and Show Watchers out for your convenience, and while no review is chock full of book spoilers, it goes without saying that it is the comments sections that Unsullied should really avoid.
The women of Westeros learn lessons — and teach them — in a cathartic and emotional episode…”The First of His Name”…was Game of Thrones‘ most emotionally sensitive, and satisfying hour so far this season.
One person can sometimes be more deadly than 100,000, in the right circumstances. That’s a bit of a motif in last night’s episode: the strongest force and the best swordsmen aren’t always the winners.
The great strength of the episode is with its women, operating in side passages and shadows while men claim official power, living as best they can in the conditions granted to them.
B+; Power being an illusion is not a new idea for the show to bring up…but what’s new and different about season four is how tenuously power’s grasp holds Westeros… it seems key to me that the episode is full of people either rejecting the illusion of security that power provides (as with the last remaining survivors of Craster’s Keep, who choose to make their own way in the world) or aiming to strengthen it in service of increasing their own power.
More book readers review and Unsullied react under the cut:
Game of Thrones has been on a generous streak of giving us answers. Who killed Joffrey? What do the White Walkers do with Craster’s sons? Now this week, Thrones blows wide open a hugely crucial murder mystery cold-case file that we long assumed was solved. Plus, we see a new side of Cersei, Dany makes a game-changing decision, Jon Snow attacks Craster’s and more…
“First of His Name” is, more than most, a this-thing-and-that-thing-and-another-thing episode, contributing a little each to a lot of storylines, but much of it is concerned with the same question: So now what?
This balance between the self-made Littlefinger and the anointed Tommen sits on the periphery of an episode that functions as a highly logical mid-point of the season. And yet their respective paths are placed as guideposts for other characters who are faced with decisions that could lead them down one path or the other, depending on the choices they make in a moment of transition.
Whether you loved or hated last week’s episode, this week you’re getting more of it: more quietly interesting conversations that were never in the books, more Sansa, more Craster’s Keep, and more moving the pieces around the chessboard in preparation for whatever big play is coming next. Rather than action, this one’s all about family, but especially about mothers, sisters and daughters–and about how mixed up and tragic those relationships can get when loss and jealousy get involved. Also Cersei is really, really nice, which is actually kind of frightening.
Power ranking: Dany’s been booted from #1! But by whom?
Recap: In this latest lesson on the nature of power from Game of Thrones, we are being told that the will to command is utterly meaningless.
As Oberyn tells her that her daughter Myrcella is safe with his family in Dorne, where they “don’t hurt little girls,” Cersei retorts, “Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls.” The line resonated throughout several scenes in the episode, from Sansa encountering her new protector/tormentor — her ferrety, paranoid Aunt Lysa — to the liberation of Craster’s women.
There was some awesome stuff in tonight’s installment…And what’s more, a lot of it was material that reached its gauntleted fists back into events from the past, bringing everything up to the present story in a wonderful way. Hell, even seeing scenes from the pilot episode (involving Jon Arryn, Ned, and Catelyn) during the “Previously on…” part right at the beginning was cool. And an effective reminder of just how much the show’s changed over the past four seasons.
As Game of Thrones made painfully clear a few episodes ago, not even the queen is truly safe — and Cersei’s narrative provides the backbone to Sunday’s episode, as she has candid conversations with Margaery Tyrell, her father Tywin, and Oberyn Martell.
Power and justice are the themes this week, but – despite an action-packed conclusion – it feels like time to pick up the pace
The episode turns on somewhat more distant matters, matters that are less thematically connected than viewers may have been used to. Sometimes the writers are able to line up certain things so that there’s a thematic through line, but other times—as with this episode—the needs of plot movement override artful thematic unity. As the middle episode of the season, “First of His Name” feels very much like a bridge episode, preparing the way for the back half of the season and the decisive events fans are no doubt anticipating. In the course of doing this, one potentially-interesting thread was snipped in a fashion that felt short-sighted, a significant plot movement was revealed to be a closed circle with no real lasting impact on the wider narrative, and the significant changes in one character’s screen translation from the source material became highlighted.
A; If any criticisms linger about the lack of momentum in these episodes (including those that were registered in this space last week), it is because the majority of their movement is in retreat.
We saw lots of subtle maneuvering on the fringes of “official” power, where the real power always resides. I’d describe this week’s installment as one of those “move-the-chess-pieces” episodes, but really, with the exception of the action at Craster’s Keep at the end, the chess pieces mostly just stood around chatting.
Last week Game of Thrones was full of setups. Last night’s episode offered plenty of payoffs, including the answer to the show-starting mystery of who killed Jon Arryn!
it’s an episode that brings us to season 4’s midpoint, and as such it mainly features characters recognizing that their jobs are far from over, and that they — many of them misfits, rejects, or otherwise overlooked figures who now play an enormous role in the future of this story and the world in which it takes place — need to figure out what particular strengths are and how they can apply it to the task at hand.
You know, this is what’s wrong with Westeros: no one appreciates a nice gift.
Tyrion has the jokes. Tywin has the power. Bran has the sight. And Daenerys has the dragons. But midway through this extremely engaging fourth season, I’m starting to think that Cersei Lannister is the most important character on Game of Thrones. No one else so perfectly captures the show’s myriad contradictions.
This was another slow-burner of an episode, which might have annoyed some of you, my beloved Throners. But it was a lovely character study, full of small decisions, big revelations and a great dollop of comeuppance to finish off.
A few unexpected revelations (Littlefinger is the Mole!), the destruction of the Northern Rape Squad, and the return of the world’s oldest breastfeeding boy were almost enough to distract from the fact that last week’s breakout star – Ser Pounce – was nowhere to be seen this week.