Game of Thrones recap: Enter the Dragon

The dragon is unleashed as Daenerys seizes control of her destiny in a stunning game-changing episode
Ep. 04 | Aired Apr 21, 2013

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON SNAFU Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is here to kick ass and speak High Valyrian. And she's all out of High Valyrian. 

We're deprived of feeling really happy that Craster is killed because the Lord Commander is murdered, too. Sam wisely bolts amid the mayhem and grabs Gilly with her baby. "Run fast, Piggy!" yells one of his Lord of the Flies brothers. The rest of the men are presumably indulging in an orgy of food and wine, and are now left alone with Craster's wives. What do you suppose the odds are that they'll honor their chastity vows at this point?

Brotherhood Without Banners Hideout: Arya is taken to the bat-cave hangout of vigilante group Brotherhood Without Banners. The Hound mocks them, and I tend to agree -- whenever your choices in life lead you to living in a cave, you've made a wrong turn.

We're introduced to their leader Beric Dondarrion (technically reintroduced -- he was briefly in the first season played by a different actor).  Like Melisandre, he worships the Lord of the Light. Beric, who is also called the Lightning Lord, is trying to hunt down The Hound's brother The Mountain.

The Hound takes a step away from the fire when his hood is removed. He says they got the wrong brother. Then Arya speaks up. She accuses The Hound of murdering the butcher's boy in season 1. Beric decides The Hound will get trial by combat next week. I love trials by combat! Haven't had one of these since the first season when we met Bronn. And hey, at least one innocent death on this show might actually get avenged! Not Ned Stark, but it's a start. Also: Our lives would be more fun if everybody had a nickname.

Now here's a scene I've been waiting years to see.

Astapor: Before we get into this scene I'm going to say something that I know is not very smart. When you blog for Entertainment Weekly, you learn not to write things like "[Hit Show X] is better than [Hit Show Y]." Because you alienate the fans of [Hit Show Y], since people like people who like the same things they like. Many psychological studies have proven Paula Abdul wrong -- similarity attracts, opposites do not. And who's to say, really, that one show is better than another show? It's all art. It's all subjective. If you tell me Two and a Half Men is funnier than Modern Family or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, okay, you're not lying. For you, Two and a Half Men is funnier. I accept that. Who am I to question your experience or suggest my opinion of a TV series is more valid?

So now... having said... all of that... I feel compelled to write... in regards to this next scene with Dany in Astapor... that IF... after watching this... you still think The Walking Dead is better than Game of Thrones... you're just wrong. The Walking Dead is fun, but Thrones is creatively playing at a higher level. Every element in this scene is meticulous. Every shot matters. The editing is fantastic. The score is terrific. Every expression by every character conveys unique information. The word "epic" gets lazily thrown around a lot (guilty) but this scene is truly epic, and I suspect fans will watch it more than once. As one of the executive producers pointed out, director Alex Graves just "directed the s--t out of this scene." And unlike Alan Taylor's masterfully composed execution of Ned Stark in season 1, which was by design awful to behold, this scene is really fun to watch. It's not just a plot twist and action scene, it's an earned climax to Dany's growth as a character across three seasons. She's been called the "dragon queen," she's bossed people around and made lots of lofty declarations and was sometimes downright annoying. Now she earns her title.

And this is how she does it:

The gates open and Dany strides purposefully into a massive square (charmingly titled the Plaza of Punishment in the book). She's in her blue gown and acid-washed jeans. All 8,000 Unsullied and some slave masters, including Kraznys, are waiting. Kraznys is prattling on about how to train the Unsullied, but hasn't asked her anything about the care and feeding of a dragon. He advises her to send back captured enemies from sacked cities for him to convert into new Unsullied. We're not really paying attention to him. We're watching Dany, who is full of tension and resolve.

NEXT: How NOT to train your dragon

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