Seriously, do not read this if you have not seen episode 9, it will completely ruin Game of Thrones for you and then you will hate me.
Last chance, I’m going all in the next time!!!
Ok, there is nothing else to talk about except the ending of Baelor, everything else in the episode just doesn’t compare. I’ll get to it, but come on, this was it the big moment there is no way that the last episode will feel like anything but a coda to this season. Oh there will be a few more twists and turns, but this was the money shot. It was the second of two moments that I was waiting to see what my wife’s reaction would be. As I, and pretty much anybody could have guessed, her first question was, “did they really just kill Ned?” The answer sadly is yes, Ned Stark is dead, head on a spike thanks to the rashness of a twelve-year-old king. In some ways, it wasn’t that big of a surprise. In George RR Martin’s world, honor is not rewarded, integrity is not respected and honesty and truth are not virtues one should keep for power, or in some cases, for staying alive. Ned Stark had all of these traits and in their own way, all led him to being on the wrong side of an executioner’s sword. Yet, it’s still amazing that Ned is dead, not only because HBO let it happen, but the fact that Martin went against convention in the first place and the solid choice of protagonist is killed off about 3/4 of the way through the first novel of a supposed seven novel series. I recently saw a great review of the Phantom Menace that illustrates how unconventional this move is by Martin.* The reviewer discusses how one of the major flaws of the movie is that there is no easily identifiable protagonist and that in the science fiction/fantasy genre using the story structure of hero on a quest, overcoming the odds and winning is a pretty good way to go. He further goes on to state that unless you are really gifted (like Kubrick, or Scoresese or a bunch of other directors) straying from that structure is a bit of a gamble. So this was a big chance Martin took with his story and I have to say it really pays off not only as a surprise twist, but it ratchets the tension leading into the next book, and for HBO into the next season.
*The review of the Phantom Menace can be seen here. Yes, the guy’s voice is annoying and the attempts at humor are pretty lame and at times just plain weird. That doesn’t discount what he has to say, however, and I strongly urge you to check it out.
The other key storyline that moves along is with the best character of the series by far, Tyrion Lannister. We get a much greater insight into his motivations and, much more importantly, his relationship with his father. As one might guess a dwarf isn’t viewed as a strong son in a quasi-medieval world. The cruelty of Tywin Lannister is still shocking and revenge is never too far from the hearts of those in Westeros, so we can only speculate as to how Tyrion will eventually deal with his father.
It was fun to see Peter Dinklage give the rousing pre-battle speech. Like the way he has played the character throughout the series, he takes up the entire scene, almost a boastful attempt to make up for his lack of size. It not only works in the television show, but after seeing it, it only made me more curious about his turn on Broadway (I think it was Broadway) as Richard III. Let’s face it, the guy can bring it. I was ready to go fight some northern raiders. It’s even better that, ultimately he can’t escape who he is, a dwarf. In the mad rush that he inspired, Tyrion is so small that he gets lost in the shuffle, almost gets trampled and ultimately gets knocked out by a freely swinging mace before the battle even starts.
When Tyrion comes to, another key moment in the first season materializes. The Lannisters were caught unawares by Robb Stark. The scene in the previous episode where Robb allows the Lannister scout go free, makes sense now. He was feeding them false information and instead of attacking Tywin in force, it is a feint and Robb slams into Jamie Lannister and has a convincing defeat. Even better, Jamie Lannister is captured. I must admit, I had a bit of blood lust with this one. Obviously, (well in Martin’s world, I guess not so obvious 🙂 ) Jamie can’t get killed off, but I thought for sure there would be some ass kicking going on; no such luck. Jamie is as pretty as ever.
Across the sea, things are not going well for Dany. Her husband the Khal is pretty much about to die, another nice twist I must admit. In an effort to save him, Dany employs the witch she spared in the previous episode. The witch gives the ominous warning that only “death can pay for life” so when Dany is taken into the same tent as the dying Drogo to deliver her baby, well things can’t go well, can they? All things considered the important points of the various storylines were all wrapped up, save Dany’s so the season finale will not feel nearly as climatic as this episode did.