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Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 5

Season 1, Episode 5

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  • Courtesy of HBO
  • DO THESE KINGDOMS MAKE ME LOOK FAT? Mark Addy as King Robert

"Restraint" may not be the ideal word to describe "Game of Thrones" first four episodes, given their liberal inclusion of nudity, decapitations and harsh c-words. The show's fifth episode, "The Wolf and the Lion," makes its predecessors look as stately as "Masterpiece Theatre," however. This week offers to big, bloody fight scenes in the first 12 minutes, along with duels, horse mutilations, overheard conversations, topless hos, big dragon skulls, gay shaving and the line "We accommodate all inclinations." Compared to the dense, stately previous chapters, "The Wolf and the Lion" feels fun and just a little sleazy.

We begin with Ned Stark, Medieval Detective, considering the body of Ser Hugh, a la “CSI: King’s Landing.” “How could he afford a new suit of armor?” wonders Ned, harking to the classic means of unraveling conspiracies: follow the money. Later, Ned gets a visit from Lord Varys, the Small Council’s spymaster, who suggests that Jon Arryn had been poisoned with a concoction called “The Tears of Lys.” The bald eunuch either knows everyone's secrets, or gives the impression he does, which is close to the same thing, and looks like the type who can curry favor with everyone while remaining loyal to none. Varys swaps insults and gossip with Littlefinger almost immediately thereafter in a scene that doesn't seem to advance the story or characters much.