Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 7: You Win or You Die

I will begin by again linking to HBO’s most excellent guide to the 10,000 characters on this show, to help people keep up with who is who.

We start today with a new character – Tywin Lannister, head of House Lannister, the father of Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion. He’s skinning a deer (a bit of a lowly task for a Lannister) and discussing Ned Stark’s summons with his son, Jaime. Tywin is not happy with Jaime for attacking Ned and has little patience for Jaime’s wit and less for Jaime’s honour or worry about other people’s opinions of him. As a Lannister he isn’t supposed to care about what other people thinks. In revenge for taking Tyrion, Tywin will send 30,000 men under the control of Jaime to ravage the Riverlands – the lands of House Tully, Catelyn the Spunky’s ancestral home in revenge for taking Tyrion and to remind everyone that the Lannisters are too powerful to be touched. For Tywin, it’s all about family power, the family name living on.

In Kings Landing Cersei has been called by Ned – Cersei trying to send Ned home and Ned revealing that he knows why John Arryn was killed. Because all of Cersei’s children are illegitimate – fathered by Jaime, her twin brother, none of them belong to Robert Baratheon. We’re again reminded how powerful Robert’s love for Leana was and how that poisoned his marriage to Cersei before it even had chance to start. To spare the children, Ned gives Cersei chance to flee Kings Landing before the king returns, then he will tell the king the truth. Yes, Ned is almost as foolish as his wife. I now dub Stark House Spunky.

Also in Kings Landing we see Lord Petyr Baelish in, of course, a brothel watching 2 female prostitutes (one of them Ros) simulate lesbian sex for the enjoyment of clients and how to simulate enjoyment for the male clients in the brothel. And to that backing we got to hear Petyr tell the story of his unrequited love for Catelyn the Spunky and how jealous he is of Ned Stark.

Then there is a hunting accident, Robert Baratheon, the king, has been mauled by a boar and is badly injured. He was too drunk to hunt boar. On his deathbed he commands Ned to be Lord Regent of the Seven Kingdoms until his son Joffrey comes of age. But Ned doesn’t transcribe it the same –he changes “my son Joffrey” to “my rightful heir” since he knows Joffrey is not his son. He also recants what he said about Daenerys, only Ned was good enough to stand up to his urge to kill her. But it is too late to stop the assassin. Varys is also quick to stick in his little stab, pointing out that the squire who kept the King’s cup full is a Lannister.

Renly approaches Ned and offers to give him 100 swords tonight to take Joffrey out of his mother’s hands – and into theirs. Ned protests the right of succession – but Renly challenges whether Stannis – the middle Baratheon brother – would be a good king. And does Ned really think good soldiers are good kings? Ned is, of course, too honourable for such common sense and refuses to have any part in kidnapping Joffrey. Ned intends to send message to Stannis Baratheon, presumably informing him that he is the rightful heir since Joffrey is not Robert’s child. He then confesses all of this to Petyr Baelish

Petyr Baelish has a better plan – raise Joffrey, control him, make him into a better king, make peace with the Lannisters and unite the kingdom. And if Joffrey doesn’t work out, reveal the truth and install Renly as king. Again, a plan that makes a lot of sense, but Ned’s honour refuses to allow it. He still pushes for Stannis – he just wants Petyr Baelish to ensure the city watch is on Ned’s side since he is the paymaster.

In the aftermath, Renly fled the city and Petyr in typical (and sensible) fashion has betrayed Ned and brought the city Watch to support the Lannisters instead – Ned is arrested, to be executed.

On to Daernerys who gets stronger and more powerful with every episode is talking to her husband about taking his army across the sea to take the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. But Drogo doesn’t understand why a throne is needed or what the point is or why he would want to cross the salt water.  In the market she tries to get Ser Jorah to convince Drogo – and Ser Jorah doesn’t see the point of “rightful heir” since the Targaryens conquered the kingdoms because he could not because of his rightful heir.

In the market, Ser Jorah receives a letter from Varys congratulating him and giving him a full pardon. Meanwhile a Westeros wine merchant is trying to give Daenerys wine, special wine just for her. Ser Jorah rushes in an insists the wine merchant try it first – he runs but can’t escape the Dorthraki.

Ser Jorah makes it clear to Daenerys that Robert would always hunt her, no matter where she goes and killing Viserys doesn’t change that. Drogo seems to have reached the same conclusion and pledges to send his soldiers across the sea in revenge. Yes, the poisoning attempt is what finally encouraged the Dorthraki to attack the Seven Kingdoms

In Winterfell the captured Wildling is working in the castle. Theon Greyjoy shows up to bully her and tell her how cruel and dangerous the Greyjoys are (he seems to becoming more and more insecure with every passing episode). She also easily pokes holes into how much “better” he is just because his father is a lord and the whole point of lordship in the first place. Maester Luwin arrives to push Theon off, reminding him that he’s a prisoner as well. And she tells him that the old monsters of legend are waking up north of the wall.

On the Wall at the Night Watch, Sam is reminiscing about girls and he and Jon see a horse returning from the north – a horse with no rider. Benjen Stark’s horse (Jon’s uncle) without a rider. He is missing in the Wilds, positively dead.

And the new recruits of the Night Watch, including Jon Snow, are inducted into full members of the Watch. Now is when they take their oaths before the gods (Jon and Sam take their vows before a Weyrwood, the old gods not the new Seven gods). Jon pouts and stomps around because he is made a Steward, not a Ranger as he expected to be, as his uncle would be. He is appointed to be the personal Steward of the Lord Commander of the Night Watch. I’m glad to see his spoiled whining is shot down by other members of the Night Watch who point out they’ve had to deal with far worse than the pampered little lordling. And Sam points out the obvious – he is working for the Lord Commander to be groomed as his successor.

 When they take their oaths north of the wall Jon’s Dire Wolf, Ghost, finds a severed hand.

I love how Daenerys has grown, how much stronger she is, how much more determined she is. I think she is my favourite character in this series. After Tyrion but, alas, he doesn’t play a major role this episode. As for least favourite, I do not even remotely understand the fan love for Jon Snow. He’s whiney, he has a sense of entitlement 10 miles wide, he pouts and sulks and constantly has this expression of angsty suffering on his face. The only good thing I find about him is everyone around him telling him what a whiney self-absorbed brat he is.

Ned Stark drives me to distraction. His rigid honour is bad enough – but his sheer naivety makes me want to scream. Did he really expect Cersei to run away when she threatened her, her lover, her brother and her children? Did he really think House Lannister would just sit back for that? He is given option after option to secure the throne, both with and without the Lannisters, but his honour leads him to an ever more short sighted path of destruction – I’d say it’s the worst decision in the books and he the most foolish character were it not for Catelyn Stark, Lady Spunky, who will forever take the prize in that regard