I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things
Written by: Bryan Cogman
Directed by: Brian Kirk
"Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" is a Game of Thrones episode dedicated to the, shall we say, special characters of Westeros: people who are undeniably looked down upon by the higher-ups in the Seven Kingdoms, believed to never be able to earn the titles and honors that have been bestowed on the likes of Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark. So far, that means the likes of Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, and now Bran Stark, the last of which is now paralyzed and unable to use his legs. Now, a new character comes along that fits quite snugly into the group of cripples, bastards, and broken things, and he looks to be Jon Snow's new best friend.
That character being Samwell Tarly, (John Bradley), the fat and clumsy new recruit to the Night's Watch. Poor Samwell is forced to try and fight against the other boys at Castle Black, only to get his ass handed to him time and time again. We later learn that Samwell was forced to "take the black" by his father, believing Samwell to be unworthy of his inheritance, going as far as to threaten to kill him. Yeesh. Now we've got parents threatening to murder their own children? Are there no bounds to your cruel, cruel ways, Game of Thrones (the answer is no; no there are not)? The early conversations we saw between Jon Snow and Tyrion were easily some of the best moments of the first handful of episodes, and I like to think that Samwell, in a way, replaces the presence of Tyrion for Jon Snow. Jon Snow easily sees that Samwell is getting the same kind of verbal harassment that he himself has been getting for being a bastard, so it makes sense for the two to immediately develop a friendship. There will definitely be more to talk about between these two as they get to know each other better down the road.
Meanwhile, tensions are starting to boil between Daenerys and Viserys. Daenerys invites Viserys to dinner, but Viserys misinterprets the invitation as an order, thus, he strikes Daenerys and begins to "unleash the dragon." However, we no longer have the timid Daenerys from "Winter is Coming"; her confidence is sky-high, and she feels a sense of purpose as we learned from last episode that Daenerys is pregnant with Khal Drogo's son. Daenerys strikes back at Viserys, threatening to cut off his hands if he tries to strike her again. My, how the tables have turned; Viserys is now the one who is the weak, broken thing, having little to no control over what Khal Drogo, the Dothraki, and now his own sister decide to do. This certainly won't end well for both of the Targaryens. I know I'm reaching a bit when I call Viserys a "broken thing", but now with Daenerys having the courage to strike back at her brother, Viserys' power over her is truly broken.
One thing that does not exactly fit the criteria of cripples, bastards, and broken things is the detective work taken on by Ned Stark in King's Landing, as he further investigates about the death of Jon Arryn. Ned learns that Arryn was reading a book on the lineages and histories of the Great House of the Seven Kingdoms, and with some help from Petyr Baelish, Ned finds a smith's apprentice that he deduces is a bastard son of King Robert. This discovery of a bastard son does not remedy the fact that the sequences in King's Landing in this episode are forcibly latched on and a bit unsuited for what this episode is trying to be. Granted, watching Ned ask about Jon Arryn continues to fuel the suspense of how everything is going to go down in King's Landing, but even if the happenings in King's Landing is arguably the main plotline of season 1, this is the one episode of the entire season that could afford to omit King's Landing, because there aren't many cripples or bastards to be in the royal capital of Westeros.
So, last but not least, we get to Tyrion, who really gets moving in just a 56 minute span. Tyrion makes a brief stop back in Winterfell before heading out onto the Kingsroad. At Winterfell, Tyrion encourages Bran that even if he is now a cripple, he can still try to ride a horse. Tyrion gives Bran the blueprints for a saddle that will allow him to ride again, and this earns Tyrion the approval of Robb Stark, who doesn't give Tyrion a warm welcome prior. Let's be clear on one thing: Tyrion Lannister has a heart of gold, despite the rest of Westeros constantly treating him like scum. Peter Dinklage's effortless charm is truly able to bring the character to life, because, as cheesy as this sounds, this was the role that Dinklage was born to play. The Lannisters have so far been built up as the primary villains of the show, yet Tyrion has displayed none of the malevolent cunning shown by his siblings. And though I said that "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" is dedicated to the "special" characters in Game of Thrones, that doesn't mean this episode is going to treat them with love and adoration. It's been quite the opposite, actually, as you can probably guess based on what happens to Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly for a portion of the episode. After Tyrion leaves Winterfell, he stops at an Inn that Catelyn Stark just happens to be at as well. Although Tyrion is able to easily see through Catelyn's disguise, she is able to earn the support of several bannermen at the inn after she requests that Tyrion be taken prisoner for the attempted murder on Bran. The episode ends with Tyrion getting a bunch of swords pointed at him, and it's pretty much the perfect way for the episode to end, a maligned dwarf being arrested and threatened by the swords of men he knows he can't fight against.
Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Bran Stark, and now Samwell Tarly: Westeros is full of divergent characters that end up being the subjects of intense mockery and prejudice, which is why an early episode almost entirely dedicated to these characters is a wonderful thing for Game of Thrones to have early on. "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" brings us further development with these characters, all the while delivering some heated moments, most notably Daenerys striking back at her brother, to assure us that tensions are still on the rise and due to reach a fever pitch very soon. The episode could have probably done without its sequences in King's Landing, though watching Ned Stark play detective admittedly fuels more suspense. It's a good thing that we love the cripples, bastards, and broken things (well, maybe at least some of them); Westeros isn't going to give them any love.
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