Well now, it’s really hit the fan now, hasn’t it?
Lots of things strike me after this latest stellar episode of Game of Thrones. Not least of those is that poor Eddard Stark is a boy among men (and women) when it comes to the titular game. His frankness and integrity is almost quaint in this world of liars, ingrates and power-crazed fiends. Even when he tries to dabble in a bit of clever intrigue himself – changing Robert’s words on his final proclamation to “Rightful Heir” – it proves a mere amusement to the Queen. Poor Ned just never stood a chance. The dueling mercenary in the last episode showed what happens to men who fight with honor in this world.
The deaths just keep on coming – looks like last week was just the beginning. I’m both surprised and disappointed to see Robert go – Mark Addy was absolutely splendid in the role. And is Benjen dead now, too – was that his forearm Ghost the dire wolf brought back from the woods? It was nice to see old John Snow again – it’s been since episode four – but he appears to have been dealt yet another losing hand, being assigned to be the Lord Commander’s steward rather than a ranger. Fortunately
Samwise Samwell was there to talk him back off the ledge – but I have my doubts about whether his theory of John being “groomed for command” was more than just a bid to make John feel better.
A word has to be said for the first three scenes of the episode – two long dialogues and a monologue that did wonders to drive the story forward. But more, they proved that you don’t need action and violence to create tension and excitement – Martin’s dialogue as presented here can be stunning. The first – a conversation between Jaime and his father Tywin – took place while the elder man was ruthlessly gutting and skinning a buck, a superb image that ran the scene through with foreboding. That scene revealed so much about both men – as the following, a long chat between Ned and the Queen, revealed much about them. Finally, Littlefinger – arguably the most fascinating character on the show – was a veritable lava flow of venom as he talked about his love for Catelyn and how he lost her to the Starks. That scene certainly doesn’t bode well for Ned.
Back East, the first wave of Robert’s assassins has made an attempt on Danerys’ life. Too late Robert realized the folly of the decision to kill her – all this failed attempt managed to do was piss Drogo off enough to make him promise to claim the throne for his unborn son. Interestingly, though, it appears that Jorah was sent to Danerys to make sure the assassins are successful – based on the secret pardon he received. But he foiled the attempt to poison her – have his loyalties truly turned in her favor, or is he merely playing a waiting game? In this world, everyone wants to back a winner.
No Bran or Arya, or Tyrion or Catelyn – this series is remarkable in its stable of characters but it can be frustrating to have to wait weeks between visits by favorites. In the end, though, this one all came back to the events in King’s Landing. It’s strongly implied that Robert was not randomly gutted by the boar due to drunkenness, but had either been poisoned or drugged before the accident. While Drogo begins his plans thousands of miles to the East and the Whitewalkers arise to the North, the immediate battle is within the walls of the castle. I still believe Littlefinger has more tricks up his sleeve, and Robert’s brother Renly – power-hungry but seemingly more measured and wise than his brother – has fled the castle after Ned refused his entreaties to seize power. Indeed, Ned was given two good options – Renly’s plan, and Littlefinger’s suggestion that he use Joffrey as a figurehead while holding the secret of his parentage over him – and spurned both due to his sense of honor. Poor fool – he seems truly friendless in the capitol now. Littlefinger still holds the key though, it seems – he did promise Catelyn that he would protect Ned, after all – though on the other hand, having Ned out of the way might not be a bad option for him either considering how madly he loves her. He just has to make sure his hands look clean.
Human nature sure is ugly in these parts. Imagine what things will be like when the real trouble starts.
|Trust no one…|