This review may contain spoilers.
Arrested by Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is whisked off to the Eyrie to face charges that he is responsible for the attempted murder of her son, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright).
This event marks a turning point for the series. It's more than clear now that King Robert Baratheon's (Mark Addy) warning of a coming war is closer to reality than anyone could have imagined. As the title of the episode -- "The Wolf and the Lion" -- hints at, Lannister and Stark are poised for a showdown. But can Robert keep the peace? Up to this point, he continues to demonstrate that he has little flair for managing the affairs of the crown.
Robert's alienation of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) in this episode couldn't have come at a worse time too as events in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros deteriorate. Seeking to assassinate Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd), Robert crosses Ned's deeply rooted sense of honor. Ned can't stomach such a move against the Targaryens, who he views as innocent children. But when it comes to Targaryens, Robert's hatred is as unbreakable as Ned's honor.
As a result, Ned resigns as Hand of the King, moving quickly to pack for his return journey to Winterfell. Before leaving, however, he makes a quick detour to investigate another of Robert's bastards in hopes of learning what lead to the murder of the previous Hand.
Meanwhile, Arya overhears a plot against Ned while chasing cats as part of her training for sword master Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou). But before Ned can fully process Arya's tale, news of Catelyn's seizure of Tyrion arrives.
This news leads to the episode's climax as Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) intercepts Ned for some serious playback.
Points Of Interest
1. Between the political intrigues of Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen) and Varys (Conleth Hill), it's evident that King's Landing is the last place Ned should have come to. So many schemes are in play that it's dizzying. Varys' grim warning to Ned was a fascinating scene. Bean's eyes and sobering expression deftly channeled the weight of the moment.
2. Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney), the commander of the Kingsguard, makes his second appearance. McElhinney's portrayal of a virtuous and veteran soldier is spot on. I look forward to seeing more of this guy.
3. Robert's attempt to put on his old armor is a hoot. Addy is an amusing fireball in the scene and deserves serious praise for nailing his cantankerous character so well.
4. Gregor Clegane (Conan Stevens) will feel the wrath of horse lovers around the world after beheading his steed in a shocking act of frustration during the joust. "The Mountain That Rides" knows how to grab a crowd's attention!
When Catelyn seized Tyrion at the end of the last episode, you could sense the series was shifting gears. And sure enough, "The Wolf and the Lion" was an engrossing episode that effectively captures a series of critical moments from George R.R. Martin's novel. It's at this point that "Game of Thrones" truly enters a stride and stands on its own.
And several action scenes helped add to the show's allure this week, including an ambush on Catelyn's party, a second round of jousting and Jaime's bloody confrontation with Ned.
Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), known as the "Knight of Flowers," receives a story thread not seen in the novel as a secret romantic relationship with Robert's brother, Renly (Gethin Anthony), unfolds. As the series progresses, this development should add a nice dimension to both characters.
Finally, Catelyn's arrival at the Eyrie to meet up with her sister Lysa (Kate Dickie) is hardly the hopeful moment it was supposed to be. Lysa immediately demonstrates a psychotic demeanor, and her breast feeding scene alone said it all. Now that was unsettling.
What Didn't Work
The attack by the mountain clansmen on Catelyn's party was an exciting, brutal action scene; however, a bit more explanation about the significance or background of the attackers would have been nice.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"Game of Thrones" stars Sean Bean, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Jason Momoa, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Kit Harington, Harry Lloyd. "The Wolf and the Lion" was written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. It was directed by Brian Kirk.
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.
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