Game of Thrones: Crazy Aunts, Sword Fights, and Chest-Shaving

Season 1, Episode 5, "The Wolf and the Lion," original HBO airdate: May 15, 2011

This week's episode of Game of Thrones contained so much badassery, I don't know where to begin. "The Wolf and the Lion," Episode 5, represents a tonal shift for the series from "pretty good fantasy series" to breathless wheezing from the amount of awesomeness on display. To paraphrase the none-too-good-with-words miscreants who cruise Flea Bottom (the slums of King's Landing), "$#*! just got real."

From the opening scene to the stabby ending, "The Wolf and the Lion" (the wolf being the Starks, the lion being the Lannisters) benefited from a lot of hard work that went into the previous four episodes. After four hours of groundwork (which was done splendidly), characters and storylines are now free to take on their own life. We're getting more in-depth second-looks at the players, which means we've reached the ever-important stage that transforms them into living, breathing entities who we're spend our Sunday nights with. And now that we're getting into the show's groove, we're spending less time trying to remember who's who and more time engaging with the story. And right now we're fully engaged in...

Jaime and Ned's encounter outside Lord "Littlefinger" Baelish's whorehouse. After who knows how long, Jaime finally found reason to lock swords with Ned Stark: Catelyn has taken his brother Tyrion as prisoner. And with Ned quitting his position as Hand of the King, there's little to protect him except his personal guard and whatever steel is at his hip. Come to think of it, his personal guard didn't do much good last night, did he? Jory, we were just getting to know you, and then Jaime planted his dagger right through your eye and out the back of your head. Go ahead and feel sorry for the guy, but at least one of his last memories was the siight of the glorious ta-tas on one of Littlefinger's whores.

Jory's death once again leaves Ned Stark alone. Ned is a unique character in Westeros, in that he's the only one out there who knows the meaning of honor. While everyone else in the kingdom regularly engages in blind vengeance, treachery, and self-preservation, Ned is a bastion of good intentions and doing what's right. This is a hard character to pull off; not only can the "type" seem too good to be true, but it tends to be one-dimensional and boring. There's something different about Ned, though, and it works. Maybe it's that bit of struggle so perfectly conveyed by Sean Bean's eyes, or Ned's constant bewilderment over how business works (murdering children?) in King's Landing. Regardless, Ned comes out of everything looking very much like a White Knight. But how long can he champion honor before he must change his ways? Or, more likely, before his ways are changed for him?

We leave "The Wolf and the Lion" with Ned finally bending the knee, not in servitude of the king, but because he's got a pike through his leg. Hurt and with no protection in a city where he's considered a traitor, what's to become of Ned? So far Bran has been crippled and Ned has been gravely injured; in case you can't tell, nothing is off limits when it comes to characters in this series.

Game of Thrones is already proving that it can shock viewers like the best of them (it's currently challenging HBO's True Blood for the title), and three moments stand out from last night. First: full-frontal male nudity, courtesy of Theon (Alfie Allen). I guess when your sister is pop-star Lilly Allen, you have to really stand out to be noticed. Second: Ser Loras and Renly Baratheon's hair-removal scene. This might be the first time I've heard male-on-male fellatio. To imply it is considered scandalous enough; to have the sounds blasting through 5.1 Dolby surround sound is on another level. Third: Cat's crazy—and I mean CRAZY, like Tyra Banks crazy—sister Lysa breastfeeding her too-old-to-be-breastfed son Robin. The debate rages on regarding whether that was a prosthetic "stunt boob"; if it wasn't, child actor Lino Facioli just became the coolest kid in his group of friends. A lot of paperwork and lawyers went into that scene.

Another important scene: What did Arya overhear in the dungeons? Varys and Ilyrio, the man who helped Viserys marry Dany to Khal Drogo, were discussing how much Ned knows. Ilyrio seems interested in keeping whatever secret Ned is close to discovering a secret—and thus wants to kill him. Varys came to Ned's defense, yet he's scheming with the man who is responsible for an impending flood of Dothraki on Westeros shores. Who is in the right here, and who is to be trusted? We don't have those answers yet, but I suspect that Varys is just staying ahead of the game and looking out for himself. It just goes to show that everyone has their hand in the cookie jar.

Discussion points for those who've read the books (spoiler free!):

Some of those who have read the books are wondering whether Ser Loras (the Knight of Flowers) and Renly's homosexual relationship was added to the show, but it didn't take a keen eye to know that these two were fabulous in the book. He's the Knight of Flowers; if your gaydar didn't explode when you read that, it's time to upgrade. It's also plainly obvious in book 2, if you've gotten that far.

That chest-shaving scene was one of many that've been added to the show even though they weren't the books. The quality of these added scenes tends to be hit-or-miss. Some, like the one with Theon and the whore, don't appear to be more than setups for future stories, so they feel tacked on. But some of the TV-only bits are fantastic. Watching Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) and Varys (Conleth Hill) verbally joust in the throne room was a treat, because both actors brought the goods; these two characters are some of the show's best, because their intentions are unknown and we're only gleaning what's poking up from the surface. Witnessing Cersei and Robert discuss the mess that is their marriage and having a laugh over it was also a high point. It not only gave us some insight into their relationship, but into how royal marriages in that time were often shams, with real love taking a backseat to putting on a good face. Most of these additional scenes aren't fodder—they're a testament to the universe and characters that author George R.R. Martin has created, as well as to producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' understanding of that vision.

Notes from Westeros:
... I'm a big fan of the way the show's fighting scenes are staying true to the times. The battle between The Hound and The Mountain featured two men in full plate; hence, the sword strokes were slow and awkward. But in the mountains and with Ned and Jaime, the movement was faster, as most of the men were clad in leather armor.

... Maisie Williams deserves all the praise she's been getting for her portrayal of Arya Stark, but don't overlook Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran. The lesson with Maester Luwin that turned into a rant about his mom was very well acted—he didn't come off as a brat, but instead as a smart kid who was emotionally wounded.

... There was no Dany, Viserys, Khal Drogo, or Jon Snow in this episode, yet it still was the best episode yet.

... I'll never get sick of watching Robert terrorize Lancel. Someone please spin off a series featuring those two.

... Who else thinks Jaime is the most badass of the bunch?

... Tyrion's "what the heck am I witnessing" face when Lysa was spouting mad theories and breastfeeding Robin was classic. I'm officially joining the Peter Dinklage Deserves an Emmy support group.

Heard around Westeros:
... Renly: "Robert's rather tasteless about it. Every time he talks about killing her, I swear the table rises six inches."

... Littlefinger: "When you find yourself in bed with an ugly woman, it's best to close your eyes and get it over with. Cut her throat, be done with it."

... Bronn: "You need a woman. Nothing like a woman after a fight."


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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It was an awesome episode, I just had a mini marathon with the last episodes and def. best episode
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This episode needs more discussion-- back to the first page with you!!
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The only part I hated (and don't shoot me, I know it was important to the story, in the book and important as being part of the time period this is supposed to be set in) was the scene where The Mountain cut off his horses head. I really don't have a problem with violence, and I really couldn't care less if any human character gets their head cut off, but showing that horse get it's head cut off was the first thing on tv in a long time to turn my stomach... However, I still very much enjoyed the rest of the episode, it really does just keep getting better and better...
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Lol, I was thinking about the paperwork and lawyers in the breast feeding scene. I agree that Isaac Hempstead-Wright is doing a great job, but so far Maisie Williams stands out between the little ones. Amazing episode altogether!
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Yes, it's Robert Arryn, although sometimes in the books he is called Sweet Robin by ppl who is close to him.
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GReat Episode!!
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best episode,best tv-show,love it.
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BEST episode yet!! So many amazing moments, too many to list. Except for Loras/Renly (as I commented about below), Lysa being skinny instead of chubby, and Ned's horse not falling on his legs, he was stabbed instead-- everything else was was true enough to the books, and executed perfectly. It's only gonna get really crazy from here on out.........
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This episode was shockingly good. I thought I won't be surprised anymore from any show, and thought after last week's ep that okay, I know that show, BAM, this week's ep made me jump few times and curse a few more lol. From the Hound cutting his horse's head, till Jaime - he is a total badass, and a jerk too, love/hate him - stabbed Jory in the head, IN THE FREAKING EYE. The least to say about this show thats its VERY interesting, acting is really good - the king and the queen's talk, asking him about his love, talking that their hate to each other that kept them going, wow... And yes its shocking, even more than True Blood, when I thought nothing can top TB lol.. But its a very good show, I'm fan from the first ep and so far, I'm loving it.
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Without spoilers--The way Renly and Loras are portrayed in the books, you can't conclude (as fact) that their gay and in a relationship. Although there are several comments, hints, and allusions- nothing is ever confirmed. Knight of Flowers refers to the 'Rose of Highgarden.' Are they (his house) all gay too????? Anyway the show is placing importance on this relationship, when Martin did not in the books. and he had thousands of pages to do so. Obviously it wasn't important. I have no problem with the fact they're gay but I don't like how transparent this is.... We literally got 3 seconds of Sansa with Lady and .876 of a second of Jon with-- oh that's right, he doesn't even have a name yet!! So wasting time on a relationship that was not even important enough to ever be confirmed in 4 books is dumb!!
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It was e pretty awesome episode!!! Keep them coming! :D
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Renlys and Loras Relationship is pretty clear in the Books, Loras is described as "Renlys Little Rose", and Jaime adresses Loras at one Point in Book Three: ...sheathe your bloody sword, or I'll take it from you and shove it up some place even Renly never found." And Renlys personal Guard is called "The Rainbow Guard" for their more colorful cloaks. So this doesn't came as a surprise.
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I haven't watched any of this. I need to check it out.
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Jaime's normal outfit and armor is awesome , just love the look and the actor playing is excellent choice :)
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What a great new series, love this show. These are going to be some messed up kids tho between being thrown out a window and breast feeding beyond necessary wow.
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Gah, Jamie is so annoying. Hope ned doesn't die o.O

Anyways, best episode yet
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@RitariKnight: thinking back on it, GRRM made such a huge point talking about how loved Renly was by EVERYBODY that I didn't assign any specific relationship between the two of them in particular.
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I love to hate Jaime
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There were numerous hints in the first two books on the nature of Loras and Renly's relationship. In the third book it's made very clear after a certain character taunts Loras verbally in a way that shows he knew of their relationship. And if this person knew of it, it stands to reason that at least some others would know too. Varys and Littlefinger would certainly know, it's their business to know things. The flower as a house sigil has nothing to do with Loras being gay nor him calling himself the Knight of Flowers. The Tyrells come from the Reach, and the golden rose in their sigil has a long history, so it's only natural for Loras to use that term. The next sentence might be a SPOILER, I don't know whether this will ever be made known in the TV show. Loras was Renly's squire before being knighted, so that explains how they got together.
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apparently my gaydar is broken because i didn't pick up on that at all in the books. wasn't loras' family crest a flower? thats why i thought knight of flowers.
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Being a fan who's read the books, it was a big shock seeingt renly and loras as a couple. In the books that doesn't happend, at least not explicitly. However, that doesn't bothered me as musch as it does their "homosexuallity" being obvious, and because of that, also known (littlefinger comment in the joust). Even if they're gay it should be a secret to majority of the other characters, because that will havea consequences later in the books and in the show, regarding some new characters. But, worst than that it's loras character gay or not), he is supposed to be a great swordsman and knight and whatever, yet he posesses 0% muscle in his body. No matter how much you use your imagination, that kid couldn't even beat up Samwell Tarly. This criticism doesn't apply only to loras, but to other characters, such as king robert, who was supposed to be a "best" that just gotten Fat, Mark Addy is just fat . Of curse i don't mean they should hire Spartacus type of steroid pumped actors, but they should find a middle term. Holding a racquet in tenis you develop your arm muscles, imagine that being a sword wich weighs more and practicing since being an infant. Just need to make it a little more bealivable.
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@Left4Ed. You are correct in Robin Arryn's name being Robert Arryn in the books. But Jon Arryn's last words did not include any names, simply the "seed is strong" part. I believe little Robert's name was changed in order to not confuse the viewers with two Roberts.
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I don't know if they changed the character's name for the show, but Lysa's son's name is Robert... In the books, it's how they threw everyone off with Jon Arryn's last words, "Robert, the seed is strong." That's not too spoiler-y, I hope but as far as I remember, that little bastard Lord of the Vale's name is Robert. But I'm in the Peter Dinklage needs an Emmy boat. The man is a great actor and he pulls of Tyrion so well. Loved how they nailed the Sky prison so wonderfully from the description in the book!
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AWESOME episode!
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Tim, Lysa's boob is definitively fake. There was a mention about that in a recent interview with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau at nymag.com. Also, I believe Kate Dickie is more flat-chested than the scene implies.
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Was a great episode and much needed. Although the past episodes have all been good, the past couple had been rather dull. Was a great pick up.
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good episode, just loved it
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And we all love to see girls getting it from behind!!!
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Pretty much agree with everything you said Tim, although I would have given room to praise the Clegane brother\'s fight at the beggining of the episode. Like you said, just about every interaction added extra dimension to already complex characters and their fight did just that for Sandor(although I guess given that every interaction was important it would be hard to fit them all in for one review).



@Noelveiga and GoKuVeGeTaGoHaN- I think you two may have misinterpreted what Tim meant when he said true to the times. Anyone who has read the books (which it seems the reviewer has) knows the setting isn't historical. Given the nature of his comment, I interpreted 'real to the times' as 'honest to reality'. As he said, anyone wearing heavy body armour and weilding a large a** sword, regardless of what time period they're in, is going to fight slower than someone who is wearing no body armor and weilding less heavy swords. Simple physics.
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why do you guys think Jaime is a "badass"? he's an immoral spoiled brat who not only is screwing his sister, he most probably fathered her children.
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Boooom crazy episode, score : 10 .

It was a shame see Boromir fall down again :( !!!
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@noelveiga I agree with you. The comment about being "true to the times" made no sense at all. Awesome episode. The most action packed one yet!. Poor Ned.. I guess we won't see him fighting any time soon.
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I've read all four books so far and had no idea that Renly and Loras were gay I paused the episode, and immediately googled "Are Renly and Loras gay A bunch of stuff came up that people wrote back when the the books came out, a couple took the time to use quotes and cite page numbers. After reading these I realized it made total sense. I just missed it
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I'm still curious about how much the TV series will be different from the books. I understand that those who have read the books can appreciate the whole story being played out on screen. On the other hand, as someone who hasn't read the books, following the plot is becoming quite difficult. For my kind of people cutting large portions of the story would be beneficial, but that would take away much of the excitement, beauty and magic of the whole story. Also, if the series follows the books very accurately, nothing comes as a surprise. The amount of material also seems daunting. How many seasons are they going to make? How many years of my life will I have to invest on this series? Moving the story forward requires cutting corners when it comes to the original plot (at least that's what I think, never having read the books). So what then is left for the TV show? If the TV series is very true to the books, it must be planned to go on for a long time. This increases the chances of cancellation scares and the child actors growing up making the show feel ridiculous. If the the show deviates much from the books it increases the chances of the plot becoming terrible.
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Every episode that comes out turn to be the best. The major bad-asses so far are the hound, the mountain, Jaime, and then snow.
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@Raziela12 There were a few hints in book2 about Loras and Renly being gay But it isn't before book 3 Martin makes it pretty obvious with some of the characters comments. Actually you have to think really hard to put together their entire scheme in book2, from later conversations in the books. Seems the show is making a point of all this instead of having it all in the background and only hinted. As for who Arya overheard, well i caught that the first time i read it, as the book describes the 2 pretty accurate.

Otherwise i thought it was the best episode yet, with so many great moments. And i disagree, Tyrion is definetly the most badass of the bunch. Jaime couldn't even defeat Ned without help.
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Great episode last night. Hate seeing my dude Ned on one knee with a spear through it. I wonder what will become of him and his children next episode. Just don't do nothing to my girl Arya and we're cool. I feel sorry for Tyrion, one strong wind through his cell and it is so over for him. And man I felt sorry for that horse that the Mountain killed, that's such a wrong way to go.
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The fighting isn't "true to the times". There are no times to be true to. This isn't set in medieval times at all, it's a fantasy novel in some sort of parallel universe that just happens to look remarkably like a thirteenth century England if Rob Zombie was your history teacher. It's the second time today I've read people refer to Game of Thrones as if it was a historical novel and it weirds me out a lot.
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Lloras being gay was something completely unexpected for me, I am at the beginning of book 3 now, and I really didn\'t pick up on that. I always thought the \"Knight of Flowers\" was his name because of Highgarden and all. Another thing: Is Littlefinger ****ing dead people? He kind of looked like he was caught in the act by Lord Varys\'s mention of it.

To be honest I feel kind of spoiled by the TV show now, in the books I never knew who the 2 people that Arya overheared talking in the dungeons were, never knew about Baelish **** corpses, and never knew about Lloras tendencies. But I guess thats the risk, as they have to set up future storylines, after all, in the books I barely knew who Theon Greyjoy was until the end of book1.
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awesome episode.
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Awesome episode, and finally we see how much Jaime Lannister is a badass.I'm sorry for Ned, but I was cheering for Jaime on that fight, the attention to detail in this show is impressive to say the least.
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Haven't watched it yet, and I didn't pick up the Renly/Loras whatever when I read book 2. I mean, I got that the "Knight of Flowers" insinuated something, but the rest never came through. Though looking back, it would account for a lot.
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Yes this episode was awesome, and the best yet.
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PURE AWESOMENESS !!!!!!!!!!!!
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Good stuff to read there Tim. Too bad the episode ended as quick as it did! :(
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