Ned looks to a book for clues to the death of his predecessor, and uncovers one of King Robert’s (Mark Addy) bastards. Robert and his guests witness a tournament honoring Ned. Jon takes measures to protect Samwell (John Bradley) from further abuse at Castle Black; a frustrated Viserys clashes with Daenerys in Vaes Dothrak; Sansa (Sophie Turner) imagines her future as a queen, while Arya envisions a far different future. Catelyn rallies her husband’s allies to make a point, while Tyrion finds himself caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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Episode four offers a few more character introductions that are sure to please fans—Samwell Tarly and Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides, deserve special mention—but plenty of room is also given to developing existing characters and to further several storylines, in particular in King’s Landing.
Ned is starting to get a sense of just how much more complex life in the capital is thanks to the ever so helpful Lord Baelish; Aiden Gillen continues to be delightful in the role. We also get a first look at a certain ponderous tome and at a bull-headed young man. And while Lord Stark himself could do without the tourney being put on in his name, the rest of the court (except for the Queen) seems more enthused. Sansa certainly seems to appreciate the pageantry more than the history lesson she gets from Septa Mordane, though we expect that fans will not mind either!
On the Wall, Jon makes the acquaintance of a new recruit by the name of Samwell Tarly and from this ensues some of our favourite scenes in this episode. Atop the wall they share a very poignant scene that illustrates the demands a society like Westeros can put on men who do not fit the standard mold and later on they have a scene together which we found very funny; John Bradley has great comedic timing and very illustrative body language. The scenes at the Wall also feature a fearsome appearance of Ghost, so those who have been lamenting the absence of the wolves will no doubt approve. Though, we admit, there is a small problem with that scene…
We also get a brief look the wolves at Winterfell and the scenes there also include more of everyone’s favourite stableboy—and this time he speaks, too!—as well as some more insights into a certain ward of the Starks.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys and the Dothraki finally reach Vaes Dothrak and it becomes the setting for one scene that reveals a fair bit more about the Targaryens and their dragons (which one character seems to find very exciting) as well as an important confrontation between the two Targaryen siblings.
The episode concludes with an unfortunate encounter.
[HBO’s video preview.]