TV Review: “Game of Thrones” Epi 5 – “First of His Name”

Written by Spencer Sterritt May 06, 2014

First of His Name, Game of Thrones, Cersei

Striking the exact middle of “Game of “Thrones'” fourth season, “First of His Name” manages to be a well-acted and staged episode that takes the series back to it’s roots, without really doing anything. There’s a lot of standing around and having ominous and weighted conversations, but it’s all for naught because “First of His Name” is nothing more than a placeholder episode.

Teased at the end of “Oathkeeper,” Jon Snow rides into Craster’s Keep and does some serious damage, and comes so close to meeting up with Bran. Even though Bran is on his own quest, I had really hoped that they would meet up, even for a moment. Every Stark child is in such a shitty position, it would be nice to have a moment of levity or two. The Stark boys never meet though, which makes me wonder why writers Benioff and Weiss invented the siege of Craster’s Keep in the first place, if it’s not going to lead to anything. Time is always of the essence in “Game of Thrones,” and there has to be a better reason for it than simply the joy of seeing Jon Snow shove a sword through Karl’s mouth.

A sword through the mouth!

A sword through the mouth!

Though there’s little of consequence in “First of His Name,” the episode does manage to plum some serious thematic depths, mainly how children (specifically daughters) are destroyed by their parents. The title of the episode is particularly loaded, since most of the oldest children (Robb, Joffery, Robert, and Catelyn) have died. A good lesson for the newly crowned Tommen Lannister to learn is that nice guys might finish last, but they keep their heads. Unless you’re Ned Stark.

 “Long may he reign”

“First of His Name” refers to Tommen, but it is the put upon women who take the main stage of the episode. “Everywhere they hurt little girls” Cersei says to Oberyn during their meeting, referencing everything from her rape at Jamie’s hand a few episodes ago, to her supposedly safe daughter Myrcella, to Sansa and Margaery. Brienne’s scenes did not add much to episode, but an early scene between Cersei and Margaery emphasized the mind games that women are forced to play because of their husbands and fathers and kings.

Game of Thrones, Margaery, Cersei, First of His Name

Margaery is coming along in the game of thrones, and delivering some serious jabs to Cersei, telling her “I won’t even know what to call you, sister or mother?” Them’s fightin’ words, but Margaery is doing it because she has to. Natalie Dormer puts in a great performance in “First of His Name,” and she gets across both how much fun it is to mess around with Cersei, and how much effort it takes. She really has to try to deliver a line like that, unlike Cersei who’s cold and bitchy nature comes naturally. After so many years under her father’s rule, Cersei has become the hateful and manipulative woman she was told to be.

Vale, Lady Arryn, Sansa, Littlefinger, crazy aunt

Besides Jon Snow killing some dudes, the other major plot point in “First of His Name” is that Lady Regent Lysa Arryn, Sansa’s aunt, poisoned her husband Jon Arryn, which is what started the whole conflict in “Game of Thrones,” way back in season one. This news re-contextualizes the whole series, especially since she did it at Littlefinger’s behest, but honestly, I don’t care. I had to scramble to the deep and scary parts of my memory just to remember who Lord Arryn was. So many fights and grievances have stemmed from his death that it doesn’t matter. If the Lannisters learned that Lady Arryn was responsible for her husbands death, would they say “my bad, sorry Starks, here’s your land back?” It’s a nifty twist, but this late in the game it doesn’t mean much, and the whole scene fell flat because of it. I like how it ties into the greater theme of the episode, since Lady Arryn offed her husband to serve Littlefinger (who seems to be the best lay in Westeros, after Poderick), and she really has no security or morality left.

 “Oooh, ah, woo-hoo!” (Lady Arryn yells, totally faking it for her new man)

I’ve been talking a lot about how I liked the themes in “The First of His Name,” but I don’t want you to get the impression that I liked this episode. It’s easily the worst episode of the last two seasons. All of the scenes are well acted, and the direction is better than last week (both of which were directed by Michelle MacLaren), but nothing really happened for the second week in a row. Most of the individual scenes between people involved the Iron Throne, or Tyrion’s impending trial, as Cersei goes around and tries to get the various judges on her side. Political intrigue was “Game of Thrones'” bread and butter in season one, but since we know Tyrion didn’t murder Joffery there’s no suspense. We are all waiting to see the trial and the fallout, which has something to do with the Red Viper being a badass, not the lead up to the trial. Like I said before, time is of the essence and “Game of Thrones” seems to be squandering it.

My Rating: 6/10

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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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