Direwolves attack, Lannisters scheme and Dany is taught how to ride more than a horse

April 25, 2011 at 01:48 AM EDT

Was I right? Was was the second episode of Game of Thrones better than the first? Tonight’s story was only about 10 minutes shorter than last week’s premiere, yet felt half as long. With the heavy lifting of introducing the rival families out of the way, the producers started having fun with these characters and playing them off each other. It is known.

So much high drama to cover: Two direwolf attacks, Arya fights Joffrey, Bran’s fate revealed and, most intriguingly, a second sex position is introduced to the land of Westeros.

We start with shell-shocked newlywed Dany riding among the Dothraki calvary, having learned the hard way after her wedding that “No” in Dothraki apparently means “Yes.” She’s being reassured by Ser Jorah Mormont that “it will get easier.” Mormont is an exiled knight banished by Ned Stark for selling to a slave trader and has since fallen in step with the tribe, which is seemingly good for Dany as it gives her somebody to chat with aside from her breast-fondling crown-obsessed brother. As Dany dismounts, she needs help because she can barely walk. I guess they don’t call her new husband “the horse lord” for nothing.

Back at Winterfell, we get an excellent sequence centered on the Lannisters. The next few minutes may not contain any major action, but it was the first time watching Thrones that my uncertainty about whether producers were really pulling this off melted away and I thought “this show is going to work.”

Hungover Tyrion awakes in a dog pen to find his jerky nephew, Prince Joffrey. “Better looking bitches than you’re used to uncle,” Joffrey says, which is about as clever as he gets.

Tyrion orders Joffrey to give his sympathies to the Starks for the tragedy that’s befallen young Bran, then proceeds to start smacking the crap out him — presumably for his insolence, but really, any reason works. I could watch Tyrion whack Joffrey all day. Somebody needs to make a gif of that and post it on Reddit.

Tyrion enters the banquet hall to find his older brother and sister enjoying a post-treason-incest-child-murder-attempt breakfast. Tyrion orders the Westeros version of a Grand Slam — “bread and two of those little fish and a mug of dark beer to wash it all down and bacon burnt black.” Tyrion tells his siblings that Bran will live, but may be a cripple. How much Tyrion knows about what really happened to Bran is left deliberately unclear. We also get a sense that Cersei doesn’t much like Tyrion (it may be because their mother died giving birth to him, or perhaps having direwolf-style sex with her other brother uses up 100 percent of Cersei’s sibling affection). And then there’s this perfectly played exchange:

Jaime: “But even if the boy lives, he would be a cripple, a grotesque. Give me a good, clean death any day.”

Tyrion: “Speaking for the grotesques, I have to disagree. Death is so final, yet life is full of possibilities. I hope the boy does wake. I’d be very interested to hear what he has to say.”

Jaime: “My dear brother, there are times you make me wonder whose side you’re on.”

Tyrion: My dear brother, you wound me. You know how much I love my family.”

Tyrion’s lines seem contradictory and honest — just one reason this sequence rocked.

Cersei then does exactly what Tyrion ordered of Joffrey: pay bogus respects to the Starks. She tells Catelyn about losing her own child and her dewy-eyed earnestness muddies our feelings about her character. It’s not clear at this point if Cersei actually wanted Jamie to throw Bran out the window. Is there a smidgeon of real compassion for Catelyn? Or is she simply playing a role? And does it matter?

Meanwhile, Jaime takes a moment to give Jon Snow some grief about wanting to become a member of the Night’s Watch — you’re apparently cold all the time and don’t have any real enemies to fight. It’s a bit like joining the Coast Guard in Michigan. There’s an undercurrent here that Jaime, in his own arrogant blond way, is honestly trying to give Snow some advice. “It’s only for life,” he teases. We’re also reminded that joining the Nights Watch means Jon Snow will have to take a vow of celibacy — which means no sex with his sisters, ever!

NEXT: When direwolves attack!

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