The Eye of Newb: Game of Thrones (HBO) Episode 9: \\Baelor\\
By: Matt Lynch
\\Surely there are ways to get me killed that will be less detrimental to the war effort.\\\\“ Tyrion Lannister
So much meat, so little time, Good People. I was justified in hoping that last week was a middle stanza. This episode was outstanding. Just plain outstanding.
First off\\¦ no blame must be cast the way of the Landlord for this week\\™s delay. That is all upon me, your chastened Newb. I could offer rationales, alibis, excuses, the whole lot, but it would serve no purpose but to exacerbate my guilt. I missed my deadline, and can only draw comfort from the sage words of one Douglas Adams: \\I love deadlines. I love the sound they make as they fly by.\\
Secondly, dammit!! Not about the whole Ned losing his head in the Sept of Baelor thing. Dammit about being forced to watch Lord Stark make the hardest, most desperate choice of his life \\“ abandoning his deeply-cherished honor in pursuit of some illusory peace for his children \\“ all to have it come to the same end the Newb suspected it would at the beginning.
Joffrey now requires a bloody, writhing, interminable death. An epic death. One that will be used to dissuade arrogant, malicious young products of incest everywhere from stealing their fathers\\™ crowns. He doesn\\™t merely deserve statistic status, or even a footnote. I want him to have a full explanatory page in the text. Bastard.
Outstanding build and ending, though. Nicely played, HBO.
On the topic of Ned\\™s carefully discarding the one thing he held most dear, can we talk about Varys for a moment? O literati, I must inquire if Varys ever plays the first-person narrator in the books. I simply must get in this cat\\™s head and poke around a bit. He says earnestly that he wants peace for the realm while simultaneously plotting to invade it with a Dothraki army. He clearly enjoys sparring with Baelish, but to what end is unclear. He is adept, duplicitous, sincere and feared by nearly all. Fascinating.
And, lastly, in the topline at least, what of the horror show Truth or Drink round in the Imp\\™s tent? I mean, that was all 31 flavors of awesome. I must\\™ve rewound and viewed every wrinkle and crinkle of Peter Dinklage\\™s tortured and drunken visage at least six times as he relates the scarring, defining episode of his character\\™s young life. Someone give this man an Emmy. Now. Not figuratively. Literally. Emmy. Now.
What an astounding and awful tale of emotional abuse at his father\\™s hand! The young maid, his first love, who turns out to be a whore, bought and paid for by his father out of pity, and in the end who turns a tidy profit by servicing Tywin\\™s entire guard. All while Tyrion is forced to spectate. Guh.
I begin to see how deep Tyrion\\™s loathing of his father runs, and in turn how he can continue to hold a fire of love for his evil freak show of a brother, Jaime. As well, it becomes intensely clearer why the Imp is both a well-known pervert and lush, all while unable to ever truly sustain love for a woman. Truly a phenomenal scene.
And all that in just the header, Friends. Now, on to other thoughts, some less magnificent, some downright loony\\¦
- Varys. Need more data from behind this eunuch\\™s eyes. No doubt about it. Still creeping through the dungeons and offering water and difficult counsel to Ned. \\˜Swallow your pride\\™ is not a message Lord Stark hears well. Loved Ned\\™s line about the value of a life.
- I must admit a giggle at the raven being shot down while leaving the castle of Argus Filch\\¦ er , Walder Frey. Nice camera work.
- Speaking of Filch/Frey, yeek\\¦ what a piece of work. Perhaps, just perhaps, this lascivious old scumbag should stop procreating. At the very least, he should stop fondling the highly discomfited 15-year-old\\™s butt. Poor Robb, to have to marry into this vile band of backwoods bridge keepers. And worse, he must choose amongst bridal candidates that even his Mom can\\™t say a nice word about. Oh, well. Maybe he\\™ll die in battle.
- Bubba Snow-Tep is actually starting to get interesting\\¦ after EIGHT freakin\\™ weeks! Sorry. That was out loud again, wasn\\™t it? In this episode, he intimately entwined with no less than two very delectable reveals.
- Reveal the first \\“ Jorah the Andal, it turns out, is Lord Mormont\\™s forsaken son. Man, did he ever give up a sweet piece of Valyrian steel to go wander through horse country with some hot Targaryen waif. Why do I smell dragons\\™ flames holding back the comin\\™ winter as a theme for future stories, along with some sort of heart-warming reunion amongst bearded men of action?
- Reveal the second \\“ Speaking of Targaryens, it appears that Maester Aemon is the son of the Mad King. Not totally relevant to the story at present, beyond driving home the solemnity of Jon\\™s pledge to the Watch, but still a cool little factoid. The Wall holds all kinds of secrets.
- Wounds fester quickly across the Narrow Sea. I knew that cut would come to no good.
- Okay, this whole storyline is just turning bizarre. If a witch woman can\\™t heal a simple cut, why oh why, dear sweet Dany, would you entrust her to perform dark magic to bring your Khal back from the dead at stated cost of another life?! I mean WTF?
- Oh, and by the way, the Newb is supposed to just blindly accept that an entire tribe of horse people leaves their home on a march to the sea with not a single decent veterinarian in tow? Some single capable soul who can dress a wound or recognize and treat a fever? Really?!
- I recognize that this is all leading to a likely death for Khal Drogo and the liberation of Daenerys and her son from their roles as part of the Dothraki Horde, but seriously, how dumb do these writers and directors think I am? Can you say contrived? C\\™mon\\¦ say it with me.
- Oh, crap. There\\™s dark magic afoot in the Khal\\™s tent and someone has the bright idea to bring a pregnant woman in? Again, one halfway competent vet would solve all this. And not for nothing, but even the mighty Bruce Campbell would tell you that black magic and babies really don\\™t mix.
- I do enjoy these little talks between Tyrion and Tywin. Both the tension and the disdain are palpable. This volatile mix births some of the very best lines of the series. Evidenced by this column\\™s header quote. Priceless.
- One other thing I should\\™ve called out above, but failed to (again, way too much meat in this episode, Good People) was that the march to war scene was the perfect combination of the Imp and combat \\“ one errant hammer to the head before the fighting starts, a groggy sleep, and a \\Did we win?\\ Beautiful. Shame they didn\\™t have the budget for a full-scale battle, though. Battles are good.
- Once it\\™s established that the Lannisters did indeed win, and handily, further that Shagga son of Dolf earned those axes he likes so much, it quickly becomes clear that the Newb\\™s prediction of a tactical swerve by Robb Stark has come to pass.
- And Robb got Jaime! Alive! Sweet! Spike. Head. Now. Oh, no, wait, I guess the Kingslayer is more valuable alive after all. Crap. Maybe next week.
- Ahh. The brilliant and already revealed ending arrives. While I dealt with it in some detail above, a few closing notes of sympathy:
- Poor Ned \\“ all honor abandoned, and headless anyway.
- Poor Sansa \\“ It\\™s the first time I\\™ve felt any sympathy for her since they killed her wolf. But, if you gonna lay down with vipers, girlie, you gonna occasionally get bit.
- Poor, poor Arya \\“ She\\™s now in for a world of pain. It\\™s a damn good thing she had all those \\˜dancing lessons\\™. It is nice to see Yoren, BenJen\\™s other brother, rise to Ned\\™s plea of assistance and care for the youngest Stark daughter as best he can. Where she goes from here will be fascinating. I\\™d read that book by itself.
- Poor Cersei?! \\“ Yep. Poor Cersei just got sideswiped by her beloved, snot-nosed megalomaniac. She never saw it coming. Joffrey\\™s ridiculous and sadistic move has just devastated all hope of negotiations with the North. And all this before she even finds out about her dear BrotherLover\\™s capture. Cersei\\™s in for a few rough nights.
- F— Joffrey \\“ That\\™s right. Period. Amen. Someone needs to eviscerate this evil little twit, sharpish. Although, the one bright spot is this: based on the calculus in play so far in this series, again, by his selfish action, Joffrey has pretty much guaranteed woe to himself in the not-too-distant future. It just can\\™t come soon enough.
Oh, sweet tap-dancing jeebus, Friends, but did last week\\™s middle stanza deliver one hell of a payoff payload in this week\\™s show. With the exception of the Dothraki storyline, and of course Baelish\\™s woeful absence, a marvelous outing. You can officially mark me down in the \\˜Breathlessly Awaiting the Finale\\™ column. \\˜Til again we meet, the Newb abides, expectantly.