“Baelor” 1×9

I approve of this episode.  Spoilers ahead:

1. I think Varys can’t keep away from Ned because of his teeth!  Look how shiny they are in the darkness-it’s insane!

2. I don’t see how putting Tyrion in the vanguard is such a terrible thing.  You can’t have the savages who use their own fighting styles in the ranks with anyone else, you can’t hold them back anywhere because who knows if they’ll respond to your leadership-they really have to go first if you want to make good use of them, which of course Tywin does, as he is the sensible one.  Tyrion is only in the battle in the first place because the savages claim he needs to stay with them-ergo, he must be in the vanguard because that’s the only place the savages go.  Even if Tywin wanted to save Tyrion’s life because he thought of that son as a precious flower, there really wasn’t a way around it, if the Lannisters are to “pay their debts”.  Not that I’m saying there’s much love lost between the two, but still-it’s hardly this tyrannical act or anything.  I love Tywin.

3. Shae interests me.  I am really hoping she turns out to be, like, Jon Snow’s half-sister.  She told Tyrion exactly what he needed telling-he’s still young and stupid, a nearly-raped woman doesn’t invite another man into her bed that night, etc.  This show needs her!

4. Tyrion’s backstory is pretty awesome.  Also, it is interesting family dynamics-like those flashbacks of Bormoir, Faramir, and Denothor in Lord of the Rings.

5. GO, ROBB!  I kept wanting him to pull out a trick and HE SO DID.  I like this Stark leadership so much better!  He needs to learn that in order to keep his army’s morale up, he should just shut up and let them enjoy their victories for a little instead of immediately moving them on, but there is limited screentime.  Plus, he’s young and his sadness at the trick’s cost is worthy.  Carry on, you!

6. I don’t know why Dany is not more suspicious of this witch.  Also, I was expecting less supernatural goings-on and more earthly troubles.  They seemed to be heading that way until Jorah killed the antagonist, but then it just stopped.  I don’t know.  Perhaps they just couldn’t be bothered to pay other Dothraki actors to have the lines to keep up the earthly troubles.  In any case, Drogo is super gone to be just lying there not saying anything during the exchange between antagonist and Dany.  Sure sign not to believe in his survival.

7. Also, hello, Filch!  Glad to see you again!  I take it by your owl staff that you’re glad to fully fit in somewhere and have your own official magic pet.  The exchanges about your family life remind me deeply of Becky’s first employer in “Vanity Fair”, but you pull it off with more flair.  Also, engagement negotiations are the most fun, and funny, of this show.  I hope to see more of you.

On Ned’s Death: I’ve read some reviews that call it shocking.  I say that’s nonsense.  I knew he was a goner for several reasons: First, Arya was there and the clear connection between her and Ned through their eye contact and Ned’s immediate change of heart means that according to the Arya-is-cursed key to the series: Ned is about to die.  Have said that before.  Second, he didn’t just stick to “I am a traitor”, he admitted to plotting to murder the king.  With the angry crowd right there and the weight of laws, even if no one had wanted him to die, it would have been politically difficult to let him live without losing face.  Third, he’s played by Sean Bean.  Fourth, come on, what fun would it be if he lived?  He can get bundled off to the wall and cozy up with Jon Snow and Arya, or die less dramatically in a skirmish with bandits, or else get away and return the show to Winterfell and exactly where it started?  No.  He had to die and he had to die now, for the good of the show.  Besides, there’s a good thing going in Robb and I’m glad that he’ll get to carry on.

Moreover, I approve of Joffrey for having him killed.  As I said before, from that extensive confession Ned made Joffrey would have lost face if he’d given clemency.  For any new king that’s bad, but for a new, YOUNG king, that’s tantamount to declaring open season.  Sure, traitors and would-be murderers of me get to live, whatever-uh, no.  Also, you need the support of the crowd.  They are there to be angry at Ned, to like you, you give them what they want to see.  The popular opinion might be less valuable here than in other places, but Robert’s speech about the danger of common people proclaiming a Targaryen ruler if the Dothraki invade proves that the mob is still significant here.  Besides which, this was Joffrey’s big opportunity to show everyone, including his advisors, that he is not just his mother’s creature.  At this time Joffrey’s biggest political adversary is his mother-this declaration of her as not strong enough to be a ruler and public action against Cersei’s will proves that Joffrey is his own man.  This is a political move the boy absolutely needed to perform if he was going to truly rule as king, instead of being relegated to his mother’s puppet.  Tyrion’s quote “You mean my sister rules in King’s Landing” demonstrated how much Joffrey needed to step out from under her wing, and this was the perfect opportunity to do it.  The execution also sent a message to Sansa.  While this is less laudable, remember that Joffrey grew up with parents who were constantly fighting and wrangling over political matters.  To him, and indeed many others, it would seem far better to establish which person had dominance early on.  Then, Joffrey would think he’d be able to live out the rest of his life in relative peace with his wife, avoiding the pitfalls of his parents. People might compare his relationship strategy with others and find it wanting, but according to how Joffrey’s been raised and the relationships he’s seen, I cannot fault his thinking here.  In short, in this one brilliant coup, Joffrey showed the world he was a strong, independent king who values stability and the common people.  That is excellent.

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