The Eye of Newb: Game of Thrones (HBO) Episode 7:
\\You Win or You Die\\
By: Matt Lynch
\\What we don\\™t know is usually what gets us killed.” \\“ Petyr Baelish
Aloha, Friends! Whew\\¦ what an episode. Glad I\\™m converted now, or I would have kicked myself for not wasting an hour so productively. Enough blather, there\\™s a lot of meat in this one, so let\\™s get to it.
Alas, poor Ned. We hardly knew ye. I somehow knew it would come to this. He was just too good, too just and honorable, for life in the big city, much less life among such courtesan piranha as these. Admittedly, I knew the what, but did not see the how coming. And it came exquisitely and whisper-like, as a stiletto might cross one\\™s nape. How fitting it was that at the other end of that stiletto we\\˜d find Lord Baelish, in all his primal, vengeful glee.
It pained me nonetheless, given the wonderful execution of the betrayal, to watch Cersei and that effete waste of life, Joffrey, seemingly win. I can only hold out hope that Littlefinger will play them as he did Eddard Stark, and leave them at the wrong end of a blade someday soon.
Speaking of the wrong end of a blade, er, tusk\\¦ Robert. Again, I assumed that his lovable, porcine Mark Addy-ness was going to meet a fatal accident, and I guessed right about the wine-slinging page boy, but did not see him falling to another pig. The hunt was a wonderful swerve in the story. Leaves me a with a little more investment in Barristan, as well, especially given the blanch at the end, when Cersei so cavalierly shreds the words of the King passed in favor of her own law and her own \\king\\.
So that\\™s two nice twists Mr. Martin has treated the Newb to this week, and kudos to him. The third was head-smackingly obvious once it played out last week and was affirmed by Queen Cersei in this episode. All the little blonde-headed Baratheons scampering about were sired by their UnclePapa Jaime and thus had no clear claim to the throne! The Landlord (post-reveal, natch) shared that many avid readers of the books thought HBO was just hammering this plot point into blinding obviousness, but I missed it until they intended it to become plain as day. In order to understand this miss, literati, you must first be aware of some salient points about the Newb:
- I am pale-skinned, tall and blonde. I\\™d blend in well in, say, Dusseldorf or Oslo. Rome or Istanbul, not so much.
- My Lovely Missus is olive-skinned, dark brunette, lithe and wondrous to behold. (I may be biased, but I swear this is all true and may get me some tonight.)
- Our amazing little offspring (hereinafter referred to as The Newblings) are pale-skinned, tall and blonde.
Thus, while I can\\™t explain it beyond obtuse theories involving Viking and Celtic bloodlines, you can see how Genetics 101 \\“ a la Lannister and Baratheon \\“ as a basis for an obvious plot point really wouldn\\™t connect deep within the reaches of my cerebral mass. So, where does that leave us, Friends?
I find myself surprised and delighted by the deceit of Littlefinger, morose at the known fact that Ned Stark is a dead man, pleasantly shocked that wild fauna brought down one of their own in King Robert, and now thoroughly up-to-speed on the illegitimate claimant to the Iron Throne that is Joffrey Lannister\\¦ oh, and his sneering Mommy Dearest. In short, this is gettin\\™ good!
The best interlude, by far, however, in this week\\™s offering was the soul-baring monologue from Littlefinger himself, and not just because of the lovely couch-dressing behind him, although Ros is still a wonder to behold and my heart leapt at the thought of her continued presence. I now, as they say, get it. His motivation is simple, lethal and elegant, much like his dagger. He plans to screw over everyone who has power in order to claim true power for himself. He has no need for crowns or thrones. He craves only control of everything within and without the Seven Kingdoms, and will deploy every faculty of duplicity and underhanded scheming he has to secure it. That doesn\\™t just appear to be a deep, dark chasm of greedy desire in the place where his soul should reside \\“ it is one! And all because he was too weak and small to get the girl in the \\honorable\\ way. What a character. What a perfect antagonist. I think I love him.
But no, not really. In fact, the only real downside to this episode is that even this newfound connection with Baelish cannot make up for what was so sorely lacking. Where\\™s my Imp?! I\\™m not sure I can go as long as a whole broadcast \\“ even one packed with as much wonder and delight as this was \\“ without Tyrion\\™s whimsical badassery. Please, HBO, don\\™t let that happen again.
On to other thoughts\\¦
- It\\™s nice to finally meet Tywin Lannister (correction by editor, 😉 ), financier of the House Baratheon and arguably the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms. Yep, he\\™s an arrogant bit of excrement, although apparently a skilled cleaner and dresser of meat. Gutting and skinning a stag while on the topic of unseating and replacing the Baratheons with a thousand-year dynasty was a beautiful, sarcastic touch.
- Is it me, or did Jaime seem oddly cowed in the presence of his father. Clearly some \\˜daddy issues\\™ there, but it\\™s hard for me to extend any sympathy. Sympathy is not congruous with wanting his head on a spike. All this despite his defense of not killing Ned after the poor man was speared through the leg by a Lannister guard. Head on a spike, baby. Not changing my mind on that one any time soon.
- Lastly, 30,000 troops to get the Imp? The Imp\\™s just fine, and freed himself without your lousy 30,000 troops. Don\\™t patronize or underestimate the little man, Tywin. Think him the \\lowest\\ of the Lannisters at your own peril, old man. Still, it\\™s nice to know you care.
- Ned, Ned, Ned\\¦ Quit being so forthright and earnest. Cersei doesn\\™t care about doing the right thing or following appropriate rules of succession. Cersei only cares about Cersei and maybe her little pile of puke son.
- Interesting side note about Ned Stark not claiming the Iron Throne when he had the chance.
- The aforementioned Baelish monologue of greatness. And for double plus awesomeness, he tells Ros: \\Go ahead\\¦ ease into it.\\ Yummy.
- What is it with Theon and this obsession with status and title? It\\™s getting annoying whatever it is.
- And Nymphadora Tonks just had to bring up the long night coming, didn\\™t she? Blech. At least it wasn\\™t winter this time.
- BenJen\\™s dead? Wow. If whatever resides north of the Wall can whack a Very Serious Dude like that, what will they do to old Tub o\\™ Goo Tarley? Then again, if the horse is still alive, they didn\\™t kill for food, and there\\™s no body. Maybe BenJen\\™s just missing. Watch me now\\¦ after all the head-spinners in this episode, I\\™m adopting a wait and see posture.
- Well, Robert Baratheon occasionally calls one right \\“ he was never meant to be a father, or a king, really, for that matter.
- LOVE how Ned pauses and writes \\heir\\ instead of \\son\\ during the King\\™s dictation of succession. It says everything about Lord Eddard Stark. He can\\™t even bring himself to lie in a document that will only ever be read by a handful of people.
- Leave it to Varys to be the one to point out the obvious \\“ that the much-abused Lannister page boy might just have something to do with the King\\™s little tusking accident.
- And hang on a minute, I thought Varys showed himself to be a Targaryen loyalist after last week in the dungeons, but it appears he\\™s already arranged for Sweet Dany and her unborn Dothraki horde-leader to be capped. What gives?
- It appears that Khal Drogo don\\™t need no stinkin\\™ thrones, whatever \\˜dirts\\™ they might be in. Just a man and his horse\\¦
- Did anyone else see Jorah the Andal make an anguished choice when his royal pardon showed up? That was pretty cool, and tingly with foreboding.
- So, rather than a pardon, a poisoning and a trip home to possible glory, Jorah chooses a rescue and a furtherance of the quest to reinstall a Targaryen to the rule of Westeros. Interesting. Very interesting. Dany, herself appears to learn yet another valuable lesson in human duplicity and her own status as a permanent target.
- Okay, even I, of the continuous and contemptuous Bubba Ho-Tep references, must admit that I\\™m intrigued by the idea of Jon Snow as a steward instead of a ranger. Especially the steward of Mr. Renton\\¦ er, Mormont. (Sorry, I can\\™t quite fit my head around James Cosmo in this role \\“ he\\™s Mr. Renton from Trainspotting, fergawdssakes.)
- Oh, and for the record, Samwell didn\\™t entirely piss me off this week. Just mostly. Again, his character better be going somewhere. At least he\\™s clean and well-spoken.
- And Renly makes his move. It\\™s not a bad move, actually. But Ned won\\™t make it, because he\\™s just too Ned-ly. Wonder what happens when Stannis gets that letter?
- Wow, Baelish is a fantastic operator. And Ned is in a sorry position when he must trust Littlefinger to deliver a surreptitious and necessary requirement. Mo surprise now, given the intro to this screed, but Ned\\™s just planted the petard that on which he will be hoisted.
- Eesh. That crying tree was creepy. Less of that going forward, please. Or stronger drinks. Whichever.
- Now whose hand could that be? Does it even matter? One thing too many this week.
- Whoa\\¦ I bet Robert would be glad he\\™s dying now that his attempt on Danaerys has failed and a very impressive Khal Drogo is all bloodlusty and such. And for the record, you couldn\\™t pay me enough gold dragons to switch places with that wine merchant.
- The Landlord\\™s going to be upset about how they treated Renly again this week. What a weak-kneed chump. Propose a plot and then run off with your tail between your legs. To steal Robert Baratheon\\™s turn of phrase: That was not kingly.
- Oh, crap. Drogo was serious about that? He appears to be riding to the sea with a naked wine merchant jogging glumly behind his wife\\™s horse. Sweet! Not about the naked, glum wine merchant. About the possibility of large-scale cavalry warfare in the near future.
- Oh, poor honorable Ned. You were never a match for Littlefinger. The Newb is only sad to see Cersei benefit by it.
Ah, Friends. I\\™m all twisted out for one week, and lonesome for my beloved Imp. Til next time, I remain your faithful Newb…