Game of Thrones Novice Recap: The Crowning

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Welcome to our Game of Thrones recap from a viewer who hasn’t read the books. Enjoy the love and snark.

“The Crowning”, hmm? Well, if I know my Game of Thrones, someone’s about to pop out another bastard or get a chance to sit on that spiked throne. OR, and now I’m just spitballing here, they might get a faceful of melted gold. SPOILER ALERT.

Ned’s barely woken up from his Jamie-driven sucker punch when Cersei descends upon him in a frenzy of pointed nails and golden hair. Alternately: she shamelessly bluffs some story about Ned leaving a brothel when he attacked Jamie. Even Robert is like: give it a rest. She gets extremely Lady Macbeth and unloads on him about him wearing her gown instead of her (…kinky), but he’s already drained of milk o’ human kindness and slaps her one. She leaves, and Robert admits that wasn’t very “kingly.” Yeah, he usually has his servants slap his wife for him.

Robert gets real with Ned: return the dwarf to Cersei. He says Jamie and Tyrion own half the kingdom. In that they are like the Koch Brothers of Westeros. Robert quickly gets tired of playing the Great Uniter between the Starks and the Lannisters, and decides to abscond the throne for a hunt until everyone gets their issues sorted. That’s certainly one way to king.

Dany’s back, which we know because the minor scale tinkles up and down. She’s holding a dragon egg in the fire, possibly trying to burn the sexiness right out of it. It doesn’t leave a mark on her hands. If only this were the single test she had to pass this episode.

Bran’s saddle contraption is ready in the North of Convenient Amnesia, so he bounds horseback into the local foliage. Since Theon and Robb (ROBB) are talking to one another, I have no choice but to learn their names. Bran suddenly disappears and ends up in the Lost jungle, where he is beset by The Others. I begin waiting for Robb to wail, “My boy! They took my boy!” but the ambush is over just as soon as it begins, with Theon shooting the vagabond holding Bran in the back. Robb is none too happy about how this went down, but he spares the female itinerant that was with them, for reasons that are unclear.

Tyrion is going a little stir-crazy in the Sky Cells and looking a little too longingly at the ground. He calls for the guard and tries to bribe him, but the guard is a very in-the-moment type dude and astutely observes Tyrion has no gold on him. The second time Tyrion calls him in, he patiently tries to drop some philosophy on his guard, calling him a “smart man” (Dinklage’s face at that point is priceless) and describing his abstract gold reserves. The guard begins to wake up to a little privately held capital dream and agrees to get Lysa his message: that he wishes to confess.

Dany is partaking of a Dothraki delicacy served rare — a still bloody horse heart. Eh, looks like something on plate at The Meat Hook. There’s a ton of chanting and face painting and drum beating, because of course there is. Dany finishes up her horse heart, yum yum, and in return is given the reward of being allowed to bear Drogo’s child. This makes me wonder what would have happened had she not finished it. There’s definitely an implication of peril, for which we are supposed to applaud her for avoiding a punishment of some sort at the hands of her supposed subjects. It’s dicey. (Also: worst pregnancy test ever. I suppose a rabbit test was out of the question.) Viserys is creeped out, too, but more because he feels the divine right slipping from him like so much fairy dust. He steals away…

…into Dany’s chamber, where he poaches her dragon eggs. Jorah is pretty firm about him not doing that, so much, and refuses to let him leave with the eggs. Viserys tries to promise him Dany as a reward for letting him go (what’s with this guy and prostituting his sister out?), but Jorah won’t have it. Viserys leaves, but does not take a cue and leave the camp. Yet.

Catelyn isn’t fooled by Tyrion’s sincere confession face, and rightly so. As he begins to confess his crimes (starting from childhood, natch), it becomes clear he’s turning the whole thing into a performance. “How every fool can play upon the word!” (Shakespeare, Google it.) Once he gets to the part where he puts his own Tyrion-juice into Cersei’s soup (hey, maybe that’s where she got the taste for Lannister fluids), Lysa cuts him off, disgusted. Her son is into it, unsurprisingly.

Tyrion demands a real trial and habeas corpus and all that — oh, wait. He actually just wants to have a trial by combat. Oh, and since he’s a tad diminutive, he gets to pick his warrior to stand in for him. Really? That seems a bit suspect. If that’s the case, I choose Bobby Flay to stand in at the next mojito contest I enter. No one offers for a while, and for a minute it’s like high school all over again. Then someone speaks up, and I’m surprised it’s not Jon Snow, who never met a down-and-outer he didn’t want to run all the way from the North to stand up for.

I finally learn that Some Brunette Guy is Robert’s brother, and he’s a total wet blanket on the hunt. He keeps bringing up all these old atrocities just when Robert’s trying to reminisce about some sex game. (I told you sex is the only entertainment around these parts.) The brother mumbles some angry things at him and stomps off to spit the marbles out of his mouth, hopefully. Robert downs some wine and goes off to continue hunting. That’s how you lose squires, Robert.

In the Throne Room of Someone’s Going to Lose an Eye Sitting in that Chair, Ned’s filling in for Robert. Some classic king arbitration takes place, and it all it takes is a bag of fish before Ned’s declaring full war on the Lannisters. I want to know if it was really necessary to dump the dying fish on the Royal Throne Room Floor. The King’s Custodian has to clean that up, you know.

THIS IS SPARTA. The trial by combat is in full swing. I’m not sure exactly how, but apparently Tyrion’s guy fights dishonorably, and wins, of course. Tyrion bows, pays the delighted, dim-witted guard, and waltzes on out of the Eyrie. The kangaroo court is displeased.

Sansa’s Septa is giving her a lecture on how to remain Jenny from the block even after moving South. Sansa is a total dick to the poor Septa, who after all is just trying to keep it real and avoid fronting. Suddenly, Joffrey shows up and goes all courtly love on Sansa against the setting sun. Even the music complies, and it’s straight up Chaucerian in this joint. Sansa falls for it wolf, line and sinker, and her smile is beatific, even if she is a little horrid.

In your Pudenda of the Episode, Ros leaves Winterfell and Theon, feeling sentimental, pays her one last coin to get a parting glimpse of cooch. It’s exactly as useful a scene as that sentence makes it sound.

Ned continues to earn his Best Dad of Westeros mug by packing up Arya and Sansa and sending them back to Winterfell. Sansa is not having it, and gets up on Joffrey’s jock, describing him as wonderful and hot and with the mane of a lion, etc etc. Arya corrects her and says Joffrey’s house is the stag. Ned puts his Realization Cap on…

…and checks out a book, which confirms that ever since the Long Long Ago, Baratheons have always been dark-haired. Ned reads back the lineage out loud for thirty minutes before he puts it together that Joffrey might not be as Robert-sired as previously thought. Seriously, no one has ever commented on his blond hair before?

Oh good, we were definitely missing out on the tribal dancing and orgies this episode. The Dothraki are having a celebratory feast in honor of Dany’s culinary triumph, so it goes without saying you can’t hear anyone over the sound of drums in this scene. Viserys comes in and enacts Plan B, which is to hold a sword to Drogo’s pregnant wife until he agrees to supply that army after all. Hmm. Viserys is obviously a lot more stupid than I thought, because he believes Dany when she tells him he’ll have all he wished for.

Two Dothraki grab Viserys as Drogo melts some gold in a pot. I’m sure that’s just for decoration. And it is, in a way, just…on top of Viserys’s head. Eeeeeugh. Close-up on Dany’s lobotomized face as she passively says, “He was no dragon.” Credits.

This was a fairly action-packed episode, featuring the first real character death of the show. The pacing was good, I still don’t miss Jon Snow, and I still fervently wish Cersei got more screen time. All the time.

I still have a lot of issues with the portrayal of the Dothraki and Pentos-as-the-East. For one thing, I think that in contrast with Westeros (West, so I’m not off with this Oriental reading of Pentos), Pentos and the Dothraki are much more one-note and less complex. Very few characters have names or opinions beyond “Eating that horse heart has really endeared the queen to me.” In Westeros, there are seven distinct realms and several houses, and they all have nuanced articulations of how they feel about politics, about money, about culture, &c. The Dothraki are about horses and babies, in that order, seemingly. The contrast is sharp, and the latter fall flat in this figuring. Not only flat, actually, but mysterious in their motivations and desires, which renders them as exotics psychologically as well as aesthetically.

Secondly, the interactions of the tribe with Dany are still reading as unfortunate. Before, she was White Heroine in Danger. Now, she is Fetishized White Heroine Still Sort of on Brink of Danger. It’s implied at various points that if she does not subscribe to custom or fulfill ritual, something kind of bad is in store for her. But as long as she satisfies the tribe, she is loved and worshiped by them, which makes all their interactions with her ones of lust or bloodlust. It positions the Dothraki as, again, savages, and her as the rightful leader of them. Even Drogo seems unusually compliant to her. This is the wishful primitivism that made Avatar so unfortunate.

In addition, making the Dothraki so flat is, I fear, a way to structure them as merely a stepping stone for Dany into her True Realm, which is Westeros. Which would mean that she is no less above using them as a tool to regain entry into the rightful, White domain, just as her brother did. And if she’s Our Lady of Shining Adoration, then that’s a problem.

See you next week!

Natasha Simons is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, if you can imagine such a thing. She blogs here.

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