God, remember when it felt like every episode opened with one of Bran’s dreams about that damn three-eyed crow? Ugh. The worst. Those are even worse in the books, I promise you. But in this one, at least some intrigue! Bran pre-sees a character he’ll meet later, and gets told cryptically that the three-eyed raven is him. Don’t try to untangle that metaphor; it’ll get explained in its own due time.
THEONNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is MY FAVORITE plotline. See my thoughts on Theon here, and stay tuned for his harrowing tale this season. If the scenes so far are any indication, you’ll at least wind up feeling a little sorry for him.
In the books Sansa has the biggest crush on beautiful Ser Loras Tyrell; he’s the knight in shining armor of her dreams. This is why it’s such a massive bummer that he doesn’t even remember giving her that rose that time! Poor Sansa; should’ve cut your losses and run away with The Hound when you had the chance.
Speaking of Sansa, she’s in quite a bind with the Tyrell women asking questions about the King. She could certainly use a friend, and one decidedly less creepy than Littlefinger, but perhaps her experiences would teach her to remain a bit more cagey. In the book, Lady Olenna and Margaery incentivize her a bit more to tell her tale, but I suspect that’s still to come.
As for Catelyn’s sob story about sitting up with little Jon Snow when he was sick: Poppycock. I have never been a Catelyn fan, so I feel duty-bound to report that in the source material, this never happened. Catelyn never displayed any such devotion or kindness to Jon; the praying for his death is far more characteristic of her feelings on him; and as far as I recall she never showed much remorse for this later in life (though in fairness she has a lot else on her plate.)
This episode introduces the concept of wargs, or warging. That guy with the creepy all-white eyes North of the Wall was doing it with the bird and saw the Night’s Watch besieged by the White Walkers, and later Jojen talked about it with Bran. Wargs are another of those now-thought-to-be-fairytale things that are coming back with a vengeance, like White Walkers and dragons; they’re also called skin-changers. As the show says, they are people who can look through animals’ eyes and sort of “possess” them. The way Bran has those wolf dreams is his starting to warg, and there’s definitely a carnal connection between those Stark children and their direwolves (more than one of them show the ability in the books.)
The introduction of the Reeds is one fans have been rabidly awaiting. A little background: Jojen and Meera come from Greywater Watch, which is a swampland belonging to The North. Their castle is said to move in the swamp, so as to be impossible for outsiders to find. People from this area are also somewhat racially derided; they’re known as crannogmen, or more pejoratively as frog-eaters. Most people look down upon the crannogmen, but Ned Stark for one always respected them. Jojen and Meera’s father, Howland Reed, was a close confidant of Ned’s during the last war. I’ll avoid spoilers, but there’s a major theory floating around about one of the show’s big questions, and if fans are right about it, Howland Reed would be the only person alive capable of verifying that. They’re also very fringe characters, in that they “get” things like warging and other so-called nonsense. SO, suffice to say the Reeds have some stories to tell and secrets to share.
Thoros, the guy who sort-of/not-really captured Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie, is from Myr (one of the Free Cities on Essos) and a red priest of R’hllor. Not ringing a bell? To rephrase, he’s a devotee of the same religion propagated by Melisandre, Stannis’s red woman. Nervous yet?
Also on the topic of Thoros and co., they belong to the Brotherhood Without Banners. That’s the group the Lannister troops were searching for last season (when they were torturing prisoners at Harrenhal, the questions ran along the lines of “where is the Brotherhood?”) If you can remember as far back as season 1, when Robert went hunting and Ned sat on the throne, some villagers came complaining that the Mountain (that’s the Hound’s brother and Tywin Lannister’s lapdog) and his men were burning villages in the Riverlands. Angry Ned dispatched the knight Ser Beric Dondarrion and some coterie to bring the king’s justice to those criminals. WELL, while we’ve all been worrying about other things like beheadings and political upheavals, Dondarrion and his crew named themselves the Brotherhood Without Banners and took up the cause of protecting the common people, fighting with no allegiance to any king and basically Robin Hooding around the countryside. Vigilantism: good or bad?
Jojen Reed is played by the little boy who played Liam Neeson’s son in Love, Actually. Just thought you should know.
Okay, another heavy topic introduced this episode: Jojen tells Bran about “the sight.” In the books it’s called Greenseeing, done by Greenseers. The name comes from the Children of the Forest, which are another maybe mythical/maybe historical race, native to the North, and believed to be ancestors of the Northerners. They practiced an animistic religion relating to the godswoods and those white trees with the faces like they had at Winterfell (you know it from the title sequence.) These people could supposedly commune with nature and do things like use the trees to see places thousands of miles away and events many years ago or in the future, or at least the special few could. There aren’t any Greenseers anymore… or are there? Jojen purports not to be one; he does have prophetic “green dreams”, though, which are like a diet version of Greenseeing.
Arya must take after her mother, because she just keeps getting one tough break after another! Freed from Harrenhal, only to be recognized in some random pub by The Hound.