Game of Thrones recap: Labor Pains

This week's Game of Thrones is dark and full of terrors as a variety of torments are unleashed
Ep. 04 | Aired Apr 22, 2012

"I love this season, but I'm having a hard time following it" -- that's the comment I'm hearing the most about Game of Thrones this year (right behind: "I want to kill Joffrey!"). So many characters, so many locations, and tonight there's two new cities on our pop-up map. Have no fear. There's relief around the corner. Tracking the story should get easier starting next week since most of the new characters and places are now in the game. And below I'll do my best to clear up some of the potentially confusing bits.

So let's get right to Episode 4: "Garden of Bones." If the second episode this season was arguably the most sexually provocative, this week is possibly the most pain-filled -- there's an amputation, a disturbing prostitute beating, a shocking torture scene and a downright bizarre birth.

Opening: We meet two red shirt cloak guards in the Lannister army. We're amused by the bawdy banter of the Westeros version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, then they're attacked by Robb's direwolf Grey Wind.

Next morning, Robb tours the grisly aftermath. One of his bannerman, Lord Bolton, is eager to torture the prisoners. Robb is too noble, and practical, for that. The young Stark meets a comely field medic diagnosing a soldier's wound. The kid's foot needs to come off. And by "come off" we mean gradually sawed through with a serrated blade right there on the field without anesthetic and a nasty piece of cloth stuffed in his mouth. I've seen this in so many movies, it's a cliche, yet it always gets me squirming in discomfort.

We see Robb checking out Nurse Jigsaw out while she dourly cuts away. What's the opposite of "meet-cute"? This.

After she's finished, Robb follows her. He's impressed by the cut of her jib, but she's not a fan of war and killing. Their mismatched viewpoints spark amusing banter. "I have no hatred for the lad," Robb says. "That should help his foot grow back," she counters. Haha, it's like watching a Thrones RomCom, How to Lose a Foot in 10 Minutes.

Interestingly, Robb admits he doesn't want the Iron Throne and has no idea what he will do if he defeats the Lannisters. That's sort of the same mistake his father made in the previous war which resulted in his ultimately lazy buddy Robert Baratheon taking the throne. You need an exit strategy.

King's Landing: Joffrey is back this week and more psycho than ever. He torments Sansa, threatening her with a crossbow after hearing a rather inaccurate report that her brother Robb is using sorcery to control an "army of wolves" to defeat his men. Right now I bet she hates crossbows even more than Yoren (but I'm quite pleased, you can't have too many crossbows in a story).

NEXT: Beware of Littlefingers bearing gifts; It puts the rat in the basket

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