Hello all you nameless soldiers in an endless war and welcome back to Recap the Realm! We’re at episode 9, an episode number that never bodes well in this show, as we’ll come to find. This tends to be where the BIG DRAMATIC EVENT of the seasons occurs and it all started here with perhaps the BIGGEST DRAMATIC EVENT of the show’s entire run. Also this is when my Body Count Tracker of Ultimate Sadness ™ is going to become very difficult to update! So that’ll be fun.
At the Lannister Camp
Tyrion (correctly) assumes that Tywin is trying to get him killed by putting him and the hill tribes in the vanguard. There’s a tactical reason for Tywin’s decision here but it’s still a flimsy justification for him trying to get rid of Tyrion. Tywin’s so dumb. I don’t understand everyone in Westeros considers him such a tactical genius. He’s basically just Zapp Brannigan, sending endless waves of soldiers to die until his enemies are too overwhelmed by dead bodies to fight. Fuck Tywin.
Shae shows up and Tyrion recounts the story of his first wife Tysha and the MONSTROUS way that Tywin handled that whole situation. It’s also the last time the show ever mentions it. This, the single most important event in Tyrion’s life and his greatest motivating factor; this event that dominates his world view and shapes his (comparative) sympathy for the small folk and royals alike is never brought up again. Guess Tysha didn’t matter all that much. Good. Great. Thanks for understanding your characters D&D. I’m sure dropping this narrative thread won’t have any consequences down the line.
Anyway, the battle happens and since season 1 didn’t have much of a budget Tyrion gets knocked out and misses the whole thing, as do we. It’s an overwhelming victory for the Lannister forces but only because they were punk’d by Robb.
RIP a shitton of soldiers.
We’re told that 2000 Stark soldiers are present at the battle, as well as 30k Lannister forces. Add to that the unknown number of hill tribesman (some places say 3000) who in the show are almost entirely lost and we have a huuuuuge body count here. All 2000 stark soliders are either killed or captures. I’ll be optimistic and say that 1000 were captured and the other half were killed. The Lannister forces only lost a few hundred (we’ll say 400 to be safe). Again, we don’t get an official count but we know that not all the hill tribesman are killed but a lot of them are so, for prudence, we’ll say half again. That’s 2900 dead. In one of the smallest battles of the War of Five Kings. Fuckin’ feudalism.
Body Count: 2936
Robb of War
Not a lot going on with Robb this week but we do meet Walder Frey, the grossest man in Westeros. He’s played to perfection by David Bradley as a mix of Filch, the Crypt Keeper, and that creepy uncle you wish your parents would stop inviting to parties. He complains a lot and agrees to help Robb if Robb will marry one of his daughters and betroth Arya to one of his sons. In the book this Arya betrothal actually leads to a pretty fun and subtle easter egg where she meets the kid she was betrothed to and hates him. Alas, the things we lose in visual mediums with budget restrictions.
Robb crosses the Twins, they engage in a battle with more Lannister forces and capture Jaime.
RIP even more soldier dudes.
We know that Jaime was leading a force of 30k (much larger than in the books, btw) and Robb had a force of at least 18k. But he also had some of Walder Frey’s forces with him so his numbers were inflated. I’m gonna say 21k because Walder doesn’t like to give away his soldiers and even 3000 seems like a lot for him but is likely the smallest token force a vassal could give to their liege lord without committing an offense. Jaime’s forces were routed and scattered but Robb only lost a token amount. I don’t think it’s safe to assume that Jaime lost half his host but a third feels right. So 10k. Robb had the advantage of surprise and didn’t lose many. We’ll say 2000 cus I wanna stan for my Starks.
Body Count: 14,936
Drogo is sick because the wound he allowed Mago to give him is infected. He falls from his saddle and is immediately deemed unfit to rule. The Dothraki don’t fuck around. So despite his infection obviously being caused by Mirri Maz Duur (come on Dany, don’t be so stupid), Dany asks for her assistance in curing him. Jorah tells her she needs to leave cus if Drogo dies his bloodriders will kill her…which doesn’t make sense since all Dothraki wives are supposed to go to Vaes Dothrak but whatever. Even Mirri tells her to just kill him quick so he won’t suffer but Dany refuses and tells her to do blood magic. Dany is kind of dumb, but also desperate so I get it.
Mirri kills Drogo’s horse because “only death can pay for life” and tells no one to go into the tent while she does her spells. One of Drogo’s bloodriders wants to kill Dany because the Dothraki don’t like witchy business but Jorah kills him.
RIP Qotho. Body count: 14,937
Dany goes into labor but none of the midwives will help her so Jorah carries her into the tent.
At the Wall
Jon hears about Robb going to war with the Lannisters and wants to leave to help but he is summoned by Maester Aemon. Turns out Sam pre-emptively snitched on Jon and Aemon wants to convince him not to be a dumbass and throw his life away by leaving the Wall. He asks Jon what Ned would do when faced with a choice between love and duty and Jon says that he would do “what was right, no matter the cost.” Aemon basically rolls his eyes and lays down the facts about how love tends to get in the way of people’s notions of ‘right’ and ‘dutiful.’ A nice foreshadowing of Ned’s choice to fight for Lyanna and keep Jon’s identity secret. Good shit. This is one of my favorite parts of Jon’s story.
Then Jon is all like “GOD you don’t understand me DAAAAD. You have no idea what I’m going through!”
And Aemon schools his ass by revealing that he’s actually Aemon Targaryean and, oh yeah his whole family died while he was at the wall. Aemon tells Jon that he must choose between his duty to the Night’s Watch or his duty to his family but no matter what he chooses, it will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Aemon goes hard.
Speaking of sacrificing your honor in the name of love: Detective Ned decides that he’ll take the fall for the Lannister’s crimes in order to keep his daughters safe. Don Joffrey agrees to grant mercy on this, the day of his daughter’s wedding, and he will send Detective Ned to the Wall.
This is perhaps the single most important episode of Game of Thrones. It cemented the fact that no one is safe; that even when the show very obviously codes a character as its hero, that doesn’t mean that person is safe from death. Too bad the showrunners learned the entirely wrong lesson from this and decided that people liked this scene because they like brutal, uncompromising grim-darkness. It would take a few seasons (and a few deviations from the plot of the books) for their worst tendencies in this regard to really come out, but it is a definite detriment to the show. But for now, this shit is crazy and good and awful and I’m crying.
The best part of this scene is the fact that Ned gets to see Yoren take Arya to what he hopes will be safety. He wasn’t able to do much to protect his daughters, but he was at least able to get Arya out of King’s Landing and have a little peace as he faces his death.
RIP Ned. RIP my heart.
Body count: 14,938
This episode is as rough now as it was when I first watched it. Detective Ned will always be my favorite character. It’s also a great episode. Everyone was really at the top of their game in these first few seasons and Sibel Kekilli is great as Shae. She really humanizes her. In the books she’s very obviously manipulating Tyrion from the beginning and here she’s manipulating him, sure, but she really seems to grow to care for him too.
We’ve got just one more to go in season 1! See you next week!