The sixth episode of Game of Thrones could technically be called the climax of the first season, it's all falling action from here on out. For a summation of the plot without much spoiling, head over to Susan Arendt's recap , but if you're a fan of the books and want more in-depth, spoiler-rich discussion of what happens in "A Golden Crown," read on, my friends!
The cinematography of the sweeping vistas, the art direction that's created costumes and props that feel right at home in the Seven Kingdoms, the excellent performances from Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and Mark Addy, these are what people are going to talk about in regards to Game of Thrones for years to come. But for me, as a big fan of the books written by George R. R. Martin, what the HBO series absolutely nails are the little guys. The minor characters, even in the books, who just absolutely come to life when given a tiny bit of screen time are what sets Game of Thrones apart.
The plot of House Stark vs. House Lannister boils over even more, with NED STARK making the drastic (and ultimately fatal) move while occupying the IRON THRONE as his friend the King goes hunting. Across the Narrow Sea, VISERYS finally gets the respect he deserves from KHAL DROGO, and, in the North, ROBB STARK gets his first taste of battle defending BRAN from some WILDLINGS. Some heady goings on, sure, but to me the best part of "A Golden Crown" was the story of the lack-witted turnkey named MORD.
Last episode, we saw TYRION LANNISTER put into the "sky cells" of the EYRIE, the three-walled dungeon with the sloping floor that looks out into the nothingness of a several hundred foot drop. (I have to amend my previous observation: the floors are indeed sloped. Another victory for the show's creators.) Tyrion is put in jail by a fat ugly man with a terrible scar down his face, who cackles with delight at the Imp's plight and beats him with a small blackjack. Cruelly played by Ciaran Birmingham, the guard is a disgusting and brutal man who loves his job of tormenting the prisoners of his LADY ARRYN.
At the start of "A Golden Crown," we learn this jailor's name. Tyrion calls for Mord after nearly rolling off the edge of his cell in his sleep, and there follows an almost comical scene of the sly-witted Imp trying to bribe the simpleton. Mord only knows what's right in front of him, and the promise of gold in the future takes a few moments to sink in. After a few Lannister catch-phrases, and some beatings, Mord finally agrees to give a message to Lysa Arryn in exchange for all the gold Tyrion can muster. It seems a bit overmuch to pay for a mere message, but Tyrion is cleverly buying an ally in enemy territory. After the transaction, Mord will do whatever he can to keep Tyrion alive to get that gold, of which the Imp is very much aware.
(Seriously though, how many times are we going to hear "A Lannister always pays his debts" before we actually hear the official motto of the House? Maybe it's because "Hear me roar" is a pretty lame catch phrase given modern connotations. So fierce!)