Game of Thrones: Everything That Can Go Wrong…

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Game of Thrones, but don’t take that as a sign of disinterest. Each successive episode has intrigued me more and more. George R.R. Martin has created one hell of a world, full of characters, creatures and locations on par with Tolkien and the early Marvel Universe. From Jon Snow to Khal Drogo, the characters of a Game of Thrones have, thus far, been extremely compelling. That’s no small feat considering that most characters on television are ciphers, acting mainly to further the plot. In the latest episode, aptly titled ‘You Win or You Die’, all of the major (and some minor) characters get their moment to shine. It seems that this episode was a mediation on Murphy’s Law. When everything that can go wrong does go wrong, what can be done? Well, if you go by this episode, not much. So let’s do the bad luck rundown.

The episode opens with one of the most interesting scenes of the entire series. Tywin Lannister, Patriarch of House Lannister, chastises his son, Jaime ‘Kingslayer’ Lannister for his stupidity. While he shouldn’t have attacked Ned Stark outright, he is chastised for not finishing him off when he had the opportunity. Jaime is humbled when his feather rips into him. “I need you to become the man you were always meant to be” barks Tywin. He further chastises Jaime for being a ‘glorified bodyguard’ to Robert Baratheon. It’s a clever scene that shows just what it takes to humble the supremely smarmy Kingslayer. All of this is done while Tywin skins some sort of deer or elk. And don’t think the symbolism was lost on me, as I noted that the sigil for the House Baratheon is none other than a Stag. The Lannister/Stark feud continues with a quiet showdown between Cersei and Eddard. The much implied secret of Cerseis offspring is finally spoken aloud. Joffrey and his siblings are not the children of King Robert, but the products of the incestuous relationship between twins Jaime and Cersei. It’s interesting that the Lannisters should hide this as Cersei openly speaks of the history of House Targaryen. It’s seems that they too turned to incest in order to assure a pure bloodline. It’s an interesting reveal considering that both houses are characterized by their fair skin and blonde hair, not to mention their scheming. She states that she and Jaime shared a womb. “We came into this world together. We belong together.” she flatly intoned to a stone-faced Eddard. Regardless, Ned Stark levels a weighty threat to Lady Lannister. Pack it up and vacate Kings Landing or else. Cersei will have none of that. She stands her ground, not letting Lord Stark see any fear in her eyes. It’s scary to see her unwavering devotion to her brother/lover. The most loving and devoted relationship of the series seems to be predicated on incest. That’s a frightening thought.

Littlefinger gets his chance to shine in a darkly Shakesperean monologue that would not be out of place being uttered by Iago or Thor’s dastardly brother, Loki. The mysterious Petyr Baelish ruminates on his relationship with Catelyn Stark and the humiliation he suffered at the hands of her then lover, Brandon Stark. He then speaks of how she then moved on to Eddard. All the while, she thought of him a just a boy. As the two whores in his employ ravish eachother, he smiles and declares.“I learned that I’ll never win, not that way. That’s their game, their rules.” As he seats himself, he turns to the camera and states “I’m not going to fight them, I’m going to fuck them.” Littlefinger says this with such a malevolent nonchalance that upon first viewing I was struck with how darkly charismatic he is. But his further proclamation sealed the deal of his status as a villain: “That’s what I know, that’s what I am. And only by admitting what we are can we get what we want.” The fact that we don’t really know what he wants is disconcerting, but by episodes end it’s obvious that he isn’t embarking upon a quest for revenge for any noble purpose.

Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark take center stage after the drunken king is gored by a boar. That’s right, a boar. As the king lies in bed, The Hand of the King enters to speak with his longtime friend. At the behest of the king, Ned transcribes the last will and testament of King Robert Baratheon. When Robert states that the throne should be given to his ‘son’ Geoffrey, Ned cleverly replaces his name with ‘rightful heir.’ It’s a change that goes unnoticed by the dying king and was a twist that probably made many viewers breath a heavy sigh of relief. Robert then rescinds his command to assassinate Danaeris Targaryen, but it’s a bit to late as the assassin has already been dispatched to Dothraki territory. It’s interesting that Robert would change his mind. To some it might seem like a noble gesture, but I don’t see it that way. It only serves to confirm that he was a supremely selfish king. He doesn’t have to worry about the Seven Kingdoms being conquered so what does it matter if he does the noble thing? This made me hold out hope that the drunken king would survive. Unfortunately, he succumbs to his injuries and Geoffrey ascends to the throne. Cue worried face. But we’ll get back to that later.

“The stallion who mounts the world has no need for iron chairs.” These are the first words hear out of the mouth of the mighty Khal Drogo during this episode. As his dutiful Kalisi Danaeris braids his hair, they go back and forth about why they should storm Westeros. He balks at her need to cross the ‘poison waters’ on ‘wooden horses.’ She counters with the need for a throne for a King or Queen to sit upon. The beast of a man smiles, kneels in front of her and states, “A king does not need a chair to sit upon. He only needs a horse.” This was a wonderful scene that illustrated the relationship that now exists between Drogo and Danaeris. What was once a relationship that was characterized solely by marital rape is now one of respect, dialogue and true love. Danaeris wants to go back to Westeros and her husband hears her out. Furthermore, it is a sign of the vast differences between the Dothraki and the civilization of Westeros. Despite their savagery, the Dorthraki want nothing more than to ride and be free. They are active and truly engage with the nature. They have no need to be cloistered in cold, dank castles and want nothing to do with a sedentary lifestyle spent on ‘an iron chair.’ This mindset changes when Danaeris goes to the market and meets a nervous wine salesman. As the Khalisi speaks with the flustered spirit peddler, he runs back to his reserve and provides her with a special cask of wine. As he provides Danaeris with a cask, Ser Jorah Mormont steps in and asks the salesman to take a sip. He grows nervous and tries to run. Quickly captured by the Dothraki bodyguards, the main is obviously the assassin sent to kill the Khalisi. A death via poisoned wine is notable if only because of the role that wine played in the death of Robert Baratheon in this episode.

As Drogo arrives, he sizes up the would-be murderer of his wife and proceeds to unleash his fury in a speech that can only be described as Winston Churchill as a Silverback. “To my son, the stallion who will mount the world, I will also pledge a gift,” begins Drogo, “I will give him the iron chair…that his mother’s father sat upon.” As he begins to circle the room, he gesticulates wildly. His muscles tighten and he declares,” I will kill the men in the iron suits and tear down their stone houses. I will rape their women, take their children as slaves and bring their broken gods back to Vaes Dothrak.” It seems that the trigger to Drogo’s baser instincts was tripped. For all the brutish behavior and the manner in which Viseryis Targaryen mocked the Dothraki people as savages, it seems that it takes quite a bit to push them towards murder and pillaging. I guess when you try to kill someone’s wife, you set yourself up to get your ass kicked.

At Castle Black, Jon Snow is on the observation point on the Wall when he sees his uncle’s horse riding back. Missing from the horse is his actual uncle, Benjen Stark. Whereabouts unknown, Jon is unable to do much as he will be inducted into the Night’s Watch in a matter of hours. Upon the address of the recruits by Lord Commander Mormont (relative of Ser Jorah Mormont?) the watchmen to be are told that they will be broken into three distinct groups: Stewards, Builders and Rangers. There is no doubt that Jon Snow, with his fighting ability and general rugged upbringing would make the perfect ranger. He knows it, his fellow recruits know it and even his superiors silently acknowledge it. But it’s not to be as he is chosen as a Steward for the Lord Commander himself. Why would they ignore his gifts and make him a glorified errand boy? Why would they make a member of a royal bloodline into a servant. Jon Snow displays some rather undignified behavior at this revelation. For all his nobility and fighting vigor, he is, for all intents and purposes, still a boy. But one of his friends sets his head straight and reminds him that what such a position will make him privy to all the goings on of the Watch. He is being put in a position to learn all about the Order and how to run it. Is Jon being groomed for command? Could the bastard become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch?

The episode ends with Ned Stark teaming with Littlefinger to wrest control of the Iron Throne from Joffrey, the Incest King. As Ned hands the Last Will and Testament of Robert Baratheon to the honorable Ser Barristan Selmy, the knight reads it aloud. Cersei Lannister scoffs and tears the paper in two. She orders Ned to bow and she will allow him to go home to Winterfell. Ned defies the queen and orders the forces under his command to take her and the royal family into custody. The soldiers stand at the ready and then kill what remains of Stark’s personal security detail. Hell breaks loose in the chamber and a limping Ned tries to draw his sword and turn towards the battle. Before he can engage, a blade is at his neck and Littlefinger is over his shoulder. “I did tell you not to trust me.” says the scheming eunuch. Cut to black.

More than anything this episode showed that, despite his honor and skill on the battlefield, Ned Stark is not very good at the Game of Thrones. Even with his enemy in front of him, he couldn’t see the others around him. It seems that the Lion has bested the Wolf, but the Dragon sails to engulf Westeros with it’s flame. But did anyone forget about the first episode? Do you remember the Starks constantly saying, “Winter is coming.”? Do you remember the White Walkers? Well, I do. While the people of Westeros fight amongst themselves, a greater threat moves their way. As I see it, the Dothraki are the least of their worries.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Posts by Date

    May 2011
    M T W T F S S
%d bloggers like this: