“I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things”

Earl’s take on episode 4: 


Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things is the name of the fourth episode of Game of Thrones. In the episode, Ned goes about trying to learn the secret kept by the former hand Jon Arryn. With the assistance of Littlefinger, Ned discovers that King Robert has bastard children in Kings Landing. Thanks to a book given to Ned by Maester Pycelle, Ned is starting to piece together the information that Jon Arryn knew and was likely murdered for.

Elsewhere in Vaes Dothrak, the Dothraki are not moving as to the wishes of Viserys Targaryen. Viserys craves an army, and Khal Drogo has no intention of providing it. In his frustration Viserys misinterprets Daenerys’ inviting him to dinner as an order. In anger, he strikes her, but for the first time Daenerys stands up to her brother. She is growing into her role as the Khaleesi of the Dothraki.

On The Wall, there is a new recruit: Samwell Tarly. Sam is fat and cowardly and therefore an easy target for the harder men of the Watch. Jon comes to Sam’s defense and with the help of his direwolf, Ghost, he warns Rast and others to take it easy on Sam. Jon is starting to learn to be a leader of men, but also how to become a good friend. The type Sam will need if he is going to survive at the Wall.

Finally, we have Tyrion. Tyrion passes through Winterfell on his journey south and he is treated harshly by Robb who is acting as the Lord of Winterfell in his father’s place. Tyrion eventually wins Robb over when he explains to Bran that he will one day be able to ride a horse with the help of straps. This excites Bran who up to that point thought he would be unable to do these things as a cripple.

Robb extends the hospitality of Winterfell, which Tyrion refuses do the initial harsh reaction he receives and retreats to an inn further down the Kingsroad. At the inn is Lady Stark who is on her way back to Winterfell. Catelyn Stark tries to stay hidden but she is discovered by Tyrion, however, in a room full of her father’s bannermen, she calls upon them to seize Tyrion as her prisoner for the attempted murder of Bran. That is how Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things comes to an end.

Theme of the episode:

Earl: Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things in my mind are the underdogs in this World. No one would expect Tyrion, as a dwarf, even as a rich dwarf, to really be anything. No one would expect Bran, who no longer has usage of his legs, to be anything. No one would expect Sam Tarly to be anything. Yes, all three are from lordly families, and all three are better off than most in the world of Game of Thrones, but they are still at great disadvantages.


Samwell is the son of a hard man. Lord Randyll Tarly is ashamed of his fat and bookish son and gave him two options: an accidental-looking death or banishment to The Wall. Both might as well be options of death to poor Sam, but what could have been a strong and resourceful person came into the Nights Watch broken by his hard-driving father. He will need to be built up again, and that will be the mission of Jon and friends.

Bran’s days of becoming a knight were thought to be over when Jamie pushed him off the tower but thanks to Tyrion’s ingenuity he could ride a horse again. He won’t have his legs again, and it wouldn’t have been easy, but Bran has a renewed sense of purpose that an average crippled child in Westeros would not have.

Tyrion might be the son of the richest man in Westeros but he’s a dwarf. He’s the imp. He’s the one who quoted that all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes and despite his wealth, he has to overcome a lot in this world. He has to overcome the power of perception, that he is more than a short stunted dwarf. Him proving himself will come in time but every episode appears to be a step forward.

Shauna: I agree with Earl that this episode is about the underdogs and the disappointments that these boys (Theon, Tyrion, Sam, in particular) are to their fathers. Tyrion understands this disappointment, I think, more deeply than the others do. He’s been disappointing the great Tywin Lannister his entire life, which is why I found that exchange between Tyrion and Theon at Winterfell to be particularly interesting. Tyrion takes a sort of pleasure in jabbing Theon for being “his enemy’s squire”, and the foolish attempt at a rebellion by his father, Balon Greyjoy. Tyrion’s jabs further at Theon’s displacement at Winterfell, inferring that his father, Balon Greyjoy would not be pleased to see his son wrapped up in Stark clothing. Later on, when Jory Cassel mentions Theon to Jaime, Jaime notes that seeing Theon at Winterfell was like “seeing a shark on a mountaintop”.

Sam is also a great disappointment to his father, who deemed him weak and ill-equipped mentally and mostly physically to be Lord of Hornhill. He relays the incredibly sad story of how he was forced to take the Black ( a victim of a hunt gone wrong was the story his father would tell his mother) to Jon while on patrol. Later, when Sam is forced to spar with the other new recruits, it is clear that he is not meant for the Wall. Jon, an underdog himself, in so many ways, vows to protect him from the cruelty of Rast and the others.


I might even throw Danaerys in this mix, she is a huge disappointment to her brother, Viserys, who seems to grow impatient with each passing minute. Her horselord savage husband is marching the wrong way with Viserys’ army and she cannot sway him otherwise. In a fit of rage, he strikes her, but unlike the others (Theon, Tyrion, Sam), she immediately fights back, striking him. Here we see the beginnings of the transformation of Dany into Khalessi.

Another theme at play here in this episode is Bastards and where to find them!

Alliser Thorne makes it clear, whenever Jon is within earshot, that he is a bastard. Jon’s name might as well be bastard to Thorne. The disdain that Thorne feels for Jon is palpable; he hates how good of a swordsman he is, and he hates that despite being a bastard, Jon grew up in a castle surrounded by servants. We shouldn’t have been too surprised later on in Season 5 at the events that occurred.

Another bastard that is discovered, this time by Ned Stark, is Gendry, King Robert’s bastard and the great puzzle that Jon Arryn left behind when he died. The minute Ned sees him, he knows he’s Robert’s son. I find it hard to believe that he hid in plain sight in King’s Landing and no one else made that connection before Jon Arryn.

Characters we met:

Samwell Tarly is the son of Randyll Tarly. Randyll is a bannerman for House Tyrell of the Reach. Samwell is meant to be the next Lord Tarly but due to him being fat, soft, and bookish, he is not the man his hard, militaristic, father would want to succeed him. He would prefer his second son to be his successor and needs to get Samwell out of the way to achieve his wishes. So he poses Sam with two options: an accidental-looking death on a hunt for his 18th name day, or for him to take the black and join the Nights Watch. Sam chooses to join the Watch.

Janos Slynt is the commander of the City Watch, otherwise known as the Gold Cloaks. We see him as he interrupts the Small Council meeting to inform them of the disturbances that have been created by people coming to Kings Landing for the tournament in Ned’s honor. He asks for more men and is rudely put off by Renly Baratheon until Ned offers 20 men from his personal guard.

Ser Hugh of The Vale was Jon Arryn’s squire who was named a knight after Jon’s death. Once he became a knight he became haughty and would only address fellow knights. This is something Jory learns when he tries to interrogate Ser Hugh on Ned’s behalf. Ser Hugh, however, comes to an early death when he was killed in a joust with the Mountain, Gregor Clegane.

Tobho Mott is the armorer on the Street of Steel. Ned speaks to him in order to find out why Jon Arryn showed so much interest in his apprentice.

Gendry is an apprentice to Tobho Mott. Once seeing Gendry, Ned quickly realizes that he must be the son of King Robert because Gendry looks like him. Ned asks to see Gendry’s bull helmet, which Gendry is proud to have made, and he, therefore, turns down any effort from Tobho Mott to offer it to Ned.

Gregor Clegane is the Mountain. A large man with a penchant for violence. He is the older brother of the Hound. Gregor is in service to the Lannisters and he does their bidding. It was also discovered in the episode that Gregor is responsible for the scars on Sandor’s face because as children Gregor shoved Sandor into the fire because Sandor was playing with his toy.

Marillion is a singer that was at the Inn of the Crossroads. He’ll end up with the party that seizes Tyrion on Lady Catelyn Stark’s behalf.

Bronn is a sellsword that was at the Inn of the Crossroads. He too will end up with the party that seizes Tyrion on Lady Catelyn Stark’s behalf.

Extended scene:


Earl: I’ll take the final scene of the episode at the Inn. Catelyn and Rodrik Cassel are trying to lay low but are discovered by Tyrion who enters the inn looking for a place to stay. Although there is no room, Tyrion comes in for a drink and offers some coins for anyone willing to give up their accommodations. In that moment is when he comes across Catelyn who calls for the men in the room who are loyal to her father Lord Holster Tully, the Lord of Riverrun, to seize him.

I love the scene because I think it’s one of the few scenes that really gives you the landscape that is Game of Thrones. Up to this point, we have really only seen Winterfell, The Wall, Kings Landing, Pentos, and Vaes Dothrak. However, at the inn, we learn about Catelyn’s place as the daughter of the Lord of Riverrun and get introduced to the sigils and houses of Riverrun. We hear names of Houses we have not heard at all up to this point and for someone interested in the world of Westeros and in place settings it is some interesting information.

I think we also get a glimpse of Catelyn’s power. So to speak. She was able to implore these men to do her bidding, solely off of who she is and who those men are in relation to her father.

It’s a damn good scene and foretelling of the episodes to come.

Shauna: I liked the scene between Arya and Ned. He comes across her practicing her balance, standing on one foot. She is incredibly determined to become a water dancer of Braavos. She asks if Bran will come and live with them in King’s Landing now that he is awake and she asks about his future, now that he can’t walk and his dream of being in the King’s Guard is dashed.

Arya Stark: Syrio says a water dancer can stand on one toe for hours.

Eddard Stark: It’s a hard fall down these steps.

Arya Stark: Syrio says every hurt is a lesson, and every lesson makes you better.

[Arya puts her foot down]

Arya Stark: Tomorrow I’m going to be chasing cats.

Eddard Stark: Cats? Syrio says…

Arya Stark: He says every swordsman should study cats. They’re as quiet as shadows and as light as feathers. You have to be quick to catch them.

Eddard Stark: He’s right about that.

Arya Stark: Now that Bran’s awake, will he come live with us?

Eddard Stark: Well, he needs to get his strength back first.

Arya Stark: He wants to be a knight of the Kingsguard. He can’t be one now, can he?

Eddard Stark: No, but someday he could be lord of a holdfast, or sit on the king’s council, or he might raise castles like Brandon the Builder.

Arya Stark: Can I be lord of a holdfast?

[Ned chuckles and kisses Arya’s forehead]

Eddard Stark: You will marry a high lord and rule his castle, and your sons shall be knights and princes and lords.

Arya Stark: No… that’s not me.

[Arya resumes standing on one leg]

No…she’ll become something better.

Lastly, the Greyjoy Rebellion:


Earl: I do have one question and that is why take the Kingsroad at all? Looking at a map of Westeros, wouldn’t it be easier to go by boat between the North and Kings Landing? Why I ask this question because I wonder why would Tyrion, and his Nights Watch companion even dare to take the Kingsroad? Why would Lady Catelyn? There have been mentions of how unsafe the journey could be, so why would a man or a woman of money and means even take it?

Shauna: How did no one recognize Gendry before? If it took Ned one glance to realize that he was Robert’s bastard, how did no one else make the connection?


Valar Morghulis, Valar Doharis.

S & E


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