We return to the present and the sad realization that Cersei's father was crossbowed to death in the previous season by her brother, Tyrion. This is a drag, because the recently deceased patriarch was played by actor Charles Dance, whose turn as the villain in the criminally underrated Schwarzenegger action flick lampoon, The Last Action Hero, was just shy of some brilliant, Alan Rickman-esque goodness. Anyway, the people are bummed, but Cersei and her glorious braids aren't really having it. Condolences are offered from anyone with enough sympathy to hang around on the stairs outside the church-like building in which her father's body is being kept, but she meets these people with serious bitchiness. We don't like her.
Elsewhere, newly freed slaves are wrecking shit while the dragon queen (you know the one) says, "No way!" to the resurgence of pit fighting in her kingdom. We know from cultural osmosis that she's called Khaleesi or some such, and she refers to the proposed fighting pits as "human cockfighting." Her realm is reminiscent of ancient Egypt, one in which prostitutes let their tits hang out freely in the streets. Any statue-toppling skinhead looking for a back-alley lullaby and spooning from a whore can feel right at home here, though apparently hanging around the brothels also comes with a throat-slitting, which is too bad, because it seems that recently-freed slaves still feel pretty sore over the whole forced-labor thing.
The dragon queen—right this second, I've just learned from a buddy who likes the show that she is named Daenerys Targaryen —makes snide jokes about being a queen rather than a politician and has chained up her dragons for reasons we can't possibly know if we're attempting to get into the show now. One thing's for sure, though—things are tense.
Across the Narrow Sea, Tyrion Lannister (the always-enjoyable Peter Dinklage) emerges from a crate and bitches about the trip by debating the practicality and logistics of shitting while trapped in said box with some Matt Pinfield-looking guy named Varys the Spider. Varys attempts to convince Tyrion that he's a smart enough guy who might be able to help out a ruler down the road and that such a ruler might not have to be a dude, and we as the audience are kind of like, "Whoa. This reminds me of Lord of the Rings, when Eowyn tells that Ringwraith leader that she can fully kill him because of women's rights!"
Is this statement on a possible female ruler a gasp-worthy moment? Maybe so, but we new viewers wouldn't know. Tyrion, meanwhile, is clearly bummed about Westeros, and an earlier "Previously on…" moment that showed us how he killed his girlfriend and dad makes us empathize with his situation, even though he's evidently killing whoever he can. Still, one can't help but think that even though he says he won't go back to Westeros, he probably will.
In various other parts of the world, gay vacation plans are fantasized about between lovers (kudos to GoT for providing homosexual characters who aren't there for the sole purpose of being included), Daenerys is given a history lesson on why fighting pits aren't all that bad and is then yelled at by her poor, imprisoned dragons, and that one lady warrior who looks like Tilda Swinton and Charlie Bucket had a kid travels with some young guy who was apparently in some kind of danger but who knows, because they don't get into it.
Meanwhile, in the frozen north by that one big-ass wall, Jon Snow (finally, a name we can all recognize) doles out sword lessons to children and attempts to get the Braveheart-esque king of the bearded forest-dwellers from the other side of the Wall to swear fealty to Stannis Baratheon who, apparently, claims to be king of all seven kingdoms (even though my buddy just told me he's not actually king of anything). For whatever misguided reason, the king of the forest-dwellers simply won't bow to Stannis, even though this means he'll be burned alive. Jon Snow, who respects the guy as a leader, tries desperately to remind him that winter is right around the corner and that means ice zombies who pretty much want to kill everyone. But the guy just won't listen and makes a lackluster speech about standing up for what you believe in.
Does he die? You bet. Sooner or later, everyone does on this damn show, but it isn't how you think, and along the way, we learn that Jon Snow is probably the kind of guy who always stands up for what he believes is right no matter the cost…wow, maybe that guy's speech about conviction made an impact after all. Anyway, Jon Snow is also handsome.
Santa Fe Reporter