Background Perspective: I haven't read the books, I haven't played the games. Minor broad Internet research, although I'm doing a lot more IMDB-face-to-Westeros-name connections because >whew< almost too many names to know.
Episode 3 Randomites
Let's just get the Targaryens out of the way, since so far they are almost a completely separate story (which is kind of relaxing, really, to not have to try to tie them into the knot of the rest of the cast). There are a few threads blowing in the wind (mostly Mad King history), judiciously reminding us that the Targaryens are still in this...stay tuned.
Here I thought the Targaryen story was about unbalanced Viserys taking back his throne, but inside of three episodes, he's been shoved to the side as more minor than anticipated. No, the Targaryen story is about the rise of Khaleesi Daenerys. I love how easy it is to spot her in a herd of Dothraki: her hair just hyperbeams out. She is getting stronger: standing up to Drogo, standing up to her brother, the horde easily falling into her command...while Viserys keeps whining about how uncooperative the Dothraki are, Daenerys is BECOMING one of them, and excelling at it. Very cute as she learns the language, and (time passes quickly) chats with Drogo lounging upon him. It would seem I may yet get to see the offspring of Daenerys and Drogo.
Now there is one other thing here on the eastern continent: Jorah Mormont. It almost seemed a throwaway moment (if one wasn't paying attention) that the Commander of the Night Watch is also named Mormont. Jorah claims he betrayed his father, and now he's across the sea. If one betrays the Night Watch, that's a DEATH sentence, and it is common among people with that kind of stigma that they leave the country that wants them dead. So I’m thinking that Jorah was Night Watch under his father, then bailed out for some reason, and joined Stark’s greatest enemy. Although…he seemed pretty shaken when Daenerys’ pregnancy got out, and suddenly had somewhere else to be. So I suppose he could be a merc-narc for just about anyone who wants to keep tabs on the Targaryens…which narrows it down to probably just about anyone in Westeros.
Back on the mainland, Eddard is soooo out of place. (LOVED his glare when that buffoon asked him if he wanted to change.) The contrast between his rough shagginess and dark clothes and Jaime’s gleaming face and armor is like an antimatter explosion. Everything out of Jaime’s mouth is a coated barb, even when discussing how he (everyone) watched Stark’s father die (burned alive???), but I love how Stark never really takes the bait, instead trying to parry back (dug the implication that Jaime only fights opponents he knows he can beat, i.e. the wussiest). But I don’t think Stark is winning these exchanges with Jaime: Lannisters are too good at disguised insults.
The Iron Throne is reeeeeally nifty.
And then Stark is shackled to a small cabinet of idiots…er, King’s Advisors. Oh, perhaps I’m not being fair, but these guys stink of today’s Republicans: the status quo is the status quo…wait, you want to change it? Well, we’ll look into that, we will, we will, sure. They collectively make Robert look pretty bad at state management, and I’m not sure I would disagree…
Petyr Littlefinger is a smarmy weasel who speaks out of the corners of his mouth. There’s a history there, probably more with the Tullys than the Starks, and although Catelyn buys his blather, he feels way too much like the ex who hangs around your girlfriend, waiting for you to screw up so he can swoop in. And this is the State Treasurer? All that malarkey about Tyrion’s dagger? DO NOT TRUST.
Varys knows much, speaks little. He seems good at gathering information, but reticent at disseminating it. A perfectly untrustworthy Intelligence Broker.
Grand Maester Pycelle is old, but there’s some small note that he was once just as Machiavellian as the rest of them, but is either too old to play anymore, or is using his age as a tactic.
I can’t get too much of a bead on Renly, although he might have more Baratheon fire than his brother.
Speaking of Robert…I still can’t figure him out (testament to Mark Addy for wringing some sympathy out of such a drunken jerk). His “war stories” ramble wasn’t really endearing, but seeing how he’s surrounded by an entire court who has no respect for him (and he knows it), it’s either tragic or pathetic (I’m still trying to decide). I totally didn’t appreciate his treatment of Lancel (Son of Cersei? Cousin?); he’s obviously fed up with Lannisters, but when he tries to pick fights with adult ones, he ends up “losing” (Jaime’s “burn them all” shut Robert down), so instead he rags on the kids? No wonder his Knight Commander looks so indifferent about him.
Lots of history. Mad King Targaryen torched Stark’s father and brother (on a whim?) while Jaime watched. This seemed to be some kind of catalyst for some “nation cleansing”: “Burn them all.” Not clear of the timeline, but Eddard’s sister ended up dead, and thus begat Robert’s uprising, and somewhere in there, Jaime took out the Mad King from behind. Loved how these tidbits were delivered adversarily: Jaime vs. Eddard, Jaime vs. Robert. (Jaime won both times.)
“Anyone who is not us is an enemy.” Yikes. Cersei is a political steamroller, and she’s not going to stop until the Lannisters, and ONLY the Lannisters, have the throne. The problem is, Joffrey is an over-privileged twit, and I wouldn’t trust him with the competence to carry out Mommy’s plans. I’m kinda hoping Arya stabs him in the face…with the pointy end.
Arya is still so very adorable. She so wants to be better at “knighthood” than she is, but there’s a little bit of fear that Daddy will never understand. I think that Eddard is figuring out that this is who Arya is, especially after she proclaims her sword is “Needle”. Even though he’s not too happy about it, if he tried to force her from her path, she’s just going to look elsewhere for it…and around King’s Landing, that would likely mean pain, or worse. Better she learn to protect herself. So enter Syrio, this Master Duelist Jester. He’s a HOOT. After his “water” anology, he now reminds me of Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop) but with a more flamboyant sense of humor. I LOVED watching Arya’s face go from confusion to elation as it dawned on her that she was actually learning to fight, but tempered with Eddard’s face darkening with the hard truth that now his youngest daughter is part of his history of violence. (At least that’s what all the war sounds felt like. Flashback…or foreshadowing? Probably both.)
And finally, back to the Wall: lots of little things. Jon’s deceleration of pride, from “I’m better than them!” to “Here’s what I know.” Maybe I missed it, but Jon was SENT here by his father; he didn’t seem to have any more choice than his sorry cadetmates. It really kinda sucks to be Jon Snow.
Benjen as First Ranger, spending long stretches of time in the wilderness: what makes a man want to do that? Is he really that into his duty and commitment? I think it has more to do with firsthand knowledge of the white walkers, and what happens if the Night Watch fails. Still…lonely man.
The Night Watch actually reminds me of where I work. Before I was hired, there was a budgetary “hiring freeze” that lasted 7-8 years. So when I got here, all that was left were the old farts that couldn’t afford to retire and a gaggle of student interns. What a mess of a border guard. Something will go very very very wrong at the Wall, I’m almost sure of it.
LOVE the set design, though. The huge elevator, the freezing ramparts, the rickety barracks. Feels kinda like a prison that was made out of a legendary old fortress. (Alcatrazy.)
Tyrion is just a blast. “Do you think I’m plump?” He is way too smart and aware to not have his own agenda, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what it is. He seems unconvinced that the northern beasts exist (or at least in numbers that matter), but he also has a great concern for Jon’s well-being. (Very interested in the “kindred spirits” respect between Tyrion and Jon.) Did he really come to the Wall to just piss off it? I don’t believe he has any interest in advancing his family’s schemes; they don’t like him, and he seems to use his name only as a “press pass” for luxury. (“Better to be a rich cripple.”) And now he’s walking right back into Jaime’s alibi.
Poor Bran. “I’d rather be dead.” SOBERING. Do the white walkers really have giant spiders? Let's put that on the list of "things I want to see" under "dragons".