Friday, March 30, 2012

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 9: Baelor

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.

Ned is still in the dungeon being visited by Varys with water and news. Increasingly I’m liking Varys – he serves the realm and acts as the sly obsequious spy master as people expect. He wants peace – but of course, there is Robb marching south from the Northern kingdoms and Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s brother is also moving to war. Ned is outraged that Varys would consider asking him to confess to a crime he didn’t commit for peace. And Varys is, at last, furious at Ned as yet another noble who will not serve the Realm. But he will not, he won’t take the Black to extend his life, his honour is more important.

At the, Catelyn, Theon and Robb are intercepting messages from the Frey keep. Even though he is sworn to Catelyn’s father they have little faith in him. Catelyn goes forward to negotiate with Frey and see what his price is for crossing the river. I will give Catelyn her due, she doesn’t argue things, she can make silence speak for her when she wishes, it’s gracefully done. I just wish we’d seen more of her sense and grace before now. Lord Frey is as vile as just about any many we’ve seen on the show and doesn’t respect the oath he’s sworn especially since he has the excuse of their rebellion against the king to dodge out of it.

Ser Catelyn has negotiated crossing and his army – in exchange for taking on one of his sons as a squire. One of his sons will be married to Arya and one of his daughters to Robb, whichever he decides. Lord Frey has gained powerful alliances though it seems Robb is largely concerned with the daughters being ugly then anything else.

On the other side of the battle, Tywin, Tyrion and co are discussing the war – and putting Tyrion in the vanguard with his Hill Tribe warriors which Tyrion considers no more than a backhand way to have him killed. Tyrion leaves the dinner tabl;e to return to his tent where Bronn and, of course, a prostitute await. I thought after last episode the writers must be shaking by the sheer lack of prostitutes and bare breasts about.

We join them later with Tyrion playing guessing games about Bronn’s past and Shea, the prostitute’s life. He gets it nearly all right with Bronn, but not Shea – and Shea is very unwilling to tell anything about his past. We do learn about Tyrion’s past and his fake marriage to a prostitute arranged by his brother Jaime. And how Tywin embarrassed and humiliated him about it in front of his family and his guard. As Shea points out though – a girl who was almost raped does not invite a man into her bed 2 hours later (at last some acknowledgement on this show about rape).

And then the war begins, the northerners have snuck up during the night and surprised them  – Tyrion with his Hill Tribes is knocked unconscious almost instantly so we don’t see the battle – but the Lannisters won fighting against 2,000 men. Rob’s 18,000 other men are busy engaging Jaime Lannister’s army – and kidnapping Jaime himself. Jaime tries to challenge Robb to a duel but Robb isn’t such a fool, he also thinks of the 2,000 men he sent to their deaths. He also has one of the most depressing victory speeches ever. Wow, way to raise morale, Robb.

With the Dorthraki, Drogo falls from his horse, sickened by his wound from last episode that has become infected. Daenerys takes over and demands they camp so Drogo can rest. They protest a woman does not give orders. Daenerys most certainly does give orders and tells them to say that Drogo ordered it

Drogo is dying from his wounds while Daenerys isangry and grieving by his bed. Ser Jorah wants to flee with her – but she refuses to run and doesn’t see why she would. The Dorthraki have a different method of succession than the Westeros, they will take her child and kill him rather than have a rival. Daenerys still refuses to leave Drogo.

Drogo’s bloodriders blame the witch who Daenerys allowed to try and heal him for Drogo’s infection – and make it clear that after Drogo is dead she will have no rank or protection as Khaleesi.  Daenerys won’t tolerate that – as the blood of the dragon. She also asks the witch to use magic to heal Drogo – but something needs to die for the spell to work, for him to live. They use Drogo’s horse – killing him and using blood magic to help heal Drogo. Terrifying, unworldly sounds come from the tent that no-one is allowed to enter until she has finished.

Daenerys won’t allow anyone interfere – even if it is forbidden. Ser Jorah has to kill one of his bloodriders to keep him from interfering – and here we see why, despite the lack of elegance, Westeros armour makes up for lack of fighting style. But during the fighting, Daenerys goes into labour and none of the midwives will attend her – only the witch knows how to deliver the child and Ser Jorah takes Daenerys back into the tent.

Up on the Wall Lord Mormont gives Jon the Pouty a Bastard Sword of fine Valerian steel. He was going to give it to his son, Ser Jorah (who is now with Daenerys) but he was disgraced so he now gives it to Jon for saving his life. Lord Mormont sent Alistair Thrown to the king with the ripped off hand to try and get some attention for the issue of the walking dead from Kings Landing – and to get rid of Alistair Thorne for a while.

Many people congratulate him on the sword, almost getting  smile from his Poutiness. Of course any glee cannot last and Sam gives him more bad news – that Robb has ridden south to war. More Poutiness follows as Jon decides he should be there with him. Maester Aemon explains to Jon why the Nights Watch have no spouses or families – because love is the death of honour. People who love will choose love ahead of honour and ahead of duty – because it’s hard to be where Jon is with his father and his siblings in peril while his honour and duty demands he stay on the wall – he protests angrily (and poutily, of course) that Aemon has no idea how hard it is. Except Aemon knows all too well – as a member of the Targaryen family who saw his entire house destroyed except for Viserys and Daenerys.

Through all this, Arya Stark is living on the streets of Kings Landing. She goes to where Ned Stark is dragged before the crowd – dragged to confess his crimes falsely to save the life of his daughter Sansa – acknowledging Joffrey as the king. Cersei wants him to be able to go to the Nights Watch, but Joffrey refuses and surprises all of them – Ned, Sansa and Cersei – and orders Ned executed.

Robb’s pouting because Lord Frey’s daughters aren’t particularly attractive (despite never having met them) is worthy of an eye-roll. Apart from anything else, what did he expect? None of the nobles we’ve seen so far have actually chosen their nuptials – Catelyn was betrothed to Ned’s older brother, Lysa married to a much older man, while Robert and Cersei’s marriage is almost legendary for how mutually unwelcome it is. In the books I seem to recall Robb accepted with grace, albeit not enthusiasm, because political marriages are expected.

Unfortunately the Dorthraki yet again just continue to reinforce the whole “savage” idea.

And Ned has trusted the council again – albeit with reason since it was Joffrey who acted not Cersei, but still – why why why trust them?