The Westeros Watch Part Four

Jimmy has seen many things, and now we can add two more episodes of Game of Thrones to that list.  Here he is back with Tom for a discussion of the season one episodes “You Win or You Die” and “The Pointy End”.

tomk:  Jimmy: let’s talk about Ned Stark.

jimmy:  For a smart guy, maybe he’s not so smart.

tomk:  Remember what I said about adapting. Ned didn’t adapt. His way probably works fine in the North where everyone is more straightforward and direct, but this is King’s Landing. He’s a good man but a terrible politician. He needed to be the latter.

jimmy:  I think that sums it up nicely. He is a man of honor and expected the same in return. Hence he was blind to Littlefinger’s betrayal. (Even though LF warned him not to trust him.). He also expected the court to honor the word of the King, and the Queen mocked him and tour his last words to shreds in front of him.

tomk:  That’s like a genetic problem for the Starks: they have various high personal ideals and are often blind to how few other people hold themselves to the same standard.

Though we should remember Ned altered the King’s actual wording to keep Joffrey off the throne.

jimmy:  This is true. But in the end, it was still about honor. Robert was as good as gone by that point and Ned was doing what he believed best to protect the throne and Robert’s legacy.

tomk:  And the nation and its laws. Joffrey doesn’t actually have the right to inherit, and Robert never knew that.

Ned even tried to do the decent thing and told Cersei she should leave town with the kids.

jimmy:  Ned’s a good man. Probably the only genuine one in the series, aside from his own children.

tomk:  Well, there may be some more in the room. Let’s look at who’s there…

Littlefinger is a weasel, and a bad one. He’s not the slightest bit trustworthy.

The Lannisters all work together and cover their bases.

Ser Barriston Selmy is someone Ned recognizes (correctly) as a man of honor, but he’s also head of the Kingsguard and does as he’s ordered.

Renly took off as soon as Ned mentioned calling for middle brother Stannis.

Varys…well, Varys actually seems to like Ned. He just also knows there wasn’t a damn thing he could do and wanted to keep his head on his shoulders.

And Pycelle is still coming across as a doddering old fool.

 

jimmy:  So there’s basically Ned and the Dance Instructor.

tomk:  Syrio Forel was not in the room when Ned tried to peacefully enforce the law.

jimmy:  No, but just trying to think of good men.

Pictured: Ned confronting someone who is not a good man.

tomk:  But Syrio was a better protector than Sansa’s Septa.

The Lannisters were very thorough when it came to Ned’s people.

jimmy:  Well, the Septa was no fighter, but smart enough to know what was going on and send Sansa to hide. Syrio was bad ass…though I’m not sure why he didn’t pick up one of the downed soldiers swords.

tomk:  He probably knew he wasn’t getting out of there alive, no matter what he told the god of death.

jimmy:  Perhaps. The guards weren’t in the taking prisoners business.

tomk:  He might have been allowed to leave given he was a foreigner, but he chose to protect Arya.

And Martin’s novel noted he did ok at first, but Arya noted he wasn’t going to win with a wooden practice sword against a fully armored, experienced knight like Ser Meryn Trant.

That being the name of the last man standing.

jimmy:  Exactly. Which was why I wondered why he didn’t pick up a real sword? If he figured he was dead either way, why fight at all?

tomk:  Maybe he wasn’t as good with a broadsword.

jimmy:  Maybe. At the very least he bought Arya time to flee.

tomk:  And Arya was clever enough to escape.

Sansa isn’t or wasn’t cut out for that.

jimmy:  While I have a feeling things will change, Sansa doesn’t seem to be cut out for much of anything besides whining to a sadistic young king who doesn’t really care about her.

tomk:  Sansa is…naive. I don’t want to say dumb. She’s a lot like her father in a way in how she sees other people.

jimmy:  I suppose. And she has the innocence/inexperience of youth on her side. How old is she supposed to be again? I know she probably looks older than she is (and older again that the books by the sounds of it).

tomk:  She said she was 13 in the pilot.

13 and probably rarely left Winterfell.

jimmy:  Geez. When I was 13, all I wanted to do was go see the Christmas classic Die Hard.

tomk:  Didn’t we all?

But Sansa wasn’t trained or interested in the sorts of skills she’d need to survive something like that and it never occurs to her Cersei and the others might be playing her. And why would they? They have the life she’s only dreamed about as far as she knows.

jimmy:  Yes, she has definitely fallen hard for the Disney Princess fairy tale lifestyle. Ok, maybe there is less blood and whoring in the Disney version.

tomk:  How much blood and especially whoring do you think Sansa has been exposed to?

jimmy:  Well, maybe the whoring is at a minimum or the goings on are over her head (though it seems like that’s pretty much the only way anyone in the show has sex outside of Cersei and Jaime and just eww) but I’d say she’s seen her share of blood. If a simple jousting match ends in a guy getting impaled, you know anything can happen!

tomk:  There was still a good deal of shock when that guy got impaled. It may be a fact of life, but it’s also supposed to be rare in a tournament.

jimmy:  Yes, I get that. But every time you turn around someone is getting sliced open accidentally or for treason or because they buttered Joffrey’s toast on the wrong side of the bread.

tomk:  But remember how upset Cat was when Ned insisted on taking Bran to see the execution.

jimmy:  True. Fine Tom, fine. Sansa is completely sheltered from all the evils of Westeros. :-p

tomk:  I get the impression all the Stark kids save Robb and Jon were.

Yes, even Arya.

jimmy:  Well, none of them are any more.

tomk:  Maybe Rickon. He finally got to speak!

jimmy:  And such a ray of sunshine too!

tomk:  Take what you can get, Jimmy. We can’t expect everything to keep coming up Hodor.

jimmy:  I’ve already seen way more of Hodor than I ever wanted to see.

Hodor!

tomk:  Oh sure, you say that now, but…

jimmy:  Butt I could live with…

tomk:  Ok, we’re in Watson territory now…

jimmy:  Watson wishes. He doesn’t have a bit of giant’s blood in him.

tomk:  That’s just a filthy rumor.

jimmy:  So, getting back on point, well, a point, Ms Impossible asked if we were watching Walking Dead when the Night of the Living Dead cosplay started to get out of hand at The Wall.

tomk:  Ah. That. Maybe…?

I would look at it this way: all this crazy political stuff is going on in the capital, but from the very first scene, we’ve known there’s a potentially huge threat above the Wall that only a handful of people seem to be even aware of.

jimmy:  Yes. It’s almost like The Wall is a divide between the simply medieval Westeros and the true fantasy elements of the story.

tomk:  Huh. Interesting observation, Ser Jimmy.

But remember: Maester Aemon of the Night’s Watch mentioned Wildlings massing. We’ve heard some talk of someone named Mance Rayder. There are frequent mentions of White Walkers (whatever they are). Those Wildlings that tried to grab Bran were fleeing something. All this is going on and all most people care about is the Iron Throne. Magic isn’t considered real because it’s been years since anything magical has been seen by anybody.

But what if magic suddenly came back?

jimmy:  Yes, it’s not like magic or white walkers or dragons or whatever never existed…everyone acknowledges that they did. But it’s been so long since any of these things have been seen that no one worries about them. Well, I guess there is some level of concern since they still maintain the watch at the Wall.

tomk:  Yes, but the Night’s Watch on the Wall seems to be more about watching Wildlings than legends these days.

Remember how much Tyrion was mocking the concept of anything other than Wildlings above the Wall? Whatever happened with the White Walkers before happened so far in the distant past that even people who believe it happened believe it was dealt with in a rather final way and that’s that.

jimmy:  So the Wildlings are just viewed as a savage bunch of people (because the people in the seven kingdoms clearly aren’t) who live beyond The Wall. How are they different from the hill tribe that Tyrion “befriends”?

tomk:  That…is a damn good question. Tyrion says the only real difference between Wildlings and the people of the Seven Kingdoms is their ancestors were living on the wrong side of the Wall when it went up.

Granted, Benjen Stark didn’t quite agree, but the Wildlings, who call themselves the Free Folk, are all over the place in terms of how civilized they are. There is one or two Wildling towns, but they don’t really act much as a cohesive unit most of the time.

jimmy:  And the tribes seem to be more organized.

tomk:  Yeah, there may not be much difference, but the Hill Folk just live south of the Wall.

jimmy:  That was my conclusion as well.

tomk:  The Wildlings may actually be smarter for what it’s worth. The Hill Folk seem less civilized than what Wildlings we’ve seen so far.

jimmy:  Yes. The one that has become a “slave” of the Starks seems bright enough.

tomk:  And that actress was in Harry Potter!

Tonks!

jimmy:  That’s Ron right?

tomk:  Um, the character’s name is Tonks.

She’s not the only Potter actor to appear in GoT for what it’s worth.

jimmy:  I kid. She’s the werewolf lover.

tomk:  Yes.

Crap werewolves not wanted.

jimmy:  I can honestly say I’ve never seen a Twilight film.

tomk:  I can sadly say I have.

Then again, I have also seen an odd episode here and there of the Aquaman prequel.

jimmy:  Ha…is that Mamoa on the end?

tomk:  Yes. Yes, it is.

jimmy:  Interesting. I never knew that. I was never a Stargate fan in any of it’s incarnations.

tomk:  To be honest, I didn’t care for it but often left it on when I wanted something to play in the background.

jimmy:  But a good segue to talk about Drogo going to great lengths for his woman, even straying from Dothraki traditions.

tomk:  And then ripping a man’s throat out with his bare hands.

jimmy:  All in a day’s work.

tomk:  But really, Robert sent an assassin to take out Dany and keep the Dothraki on their side of the Narrow Sea and it only made things worse. That is soooooooo GoT.

Plus, Dany seemed to be kinda hot for Drogo when he was promising rape and enslavement.

jimmy:  Seeing it first hand, and of innocents and not Lannisters had her singing a different tune.

tomk:  True enough.

Then again, Dany in both the books and the show often takes a hard line against stuff like treason, and in her mind Robert and his rebellion was just that.

There’s a scene from one book where someone tries to tell her Ned Stark was a good man and she basically refuses to believe it because he rebelled against her father and she is well aware of the whole “Mad King” thing by then.

jimmy:  Yeah, people don’t take too kindly to treason in those parts.

tomk:  It’s another strength of the story, though, to give you protagonists from multiple viewpoints. You mentioned liking Dany and Ned, but she probably wouldn’t care much for him at first.

And given the whole “Mad King” thing, a lot of people are outright wary of Targaryans in general.

That Ned essentially saw Dany as harmless and argued against her death, something Robert eventually came around to, says a lot.

jimmy:  Harmless or innocent? Especially since she was with child.

tomk:  For Ned, it’s probably a bit of both. A medieval king like Robert would want any potential rivals dead, but Ned knows under ordinary circumstances the Dothraki won’t cross an ocean so she’s fairly innocent and no real threat to anyone in Westeros.

jimmy:  But little does he know the Dothraki are adapting…well, Drogo anyway…

tomk:  He also has really underestimated the potential threat of Daenerys Targaryan.

I mean, Drogo adapts to please her.

And she’s really getting into the whole Khalessi thing.

jimmy:  Is she ever. Though the rest of the Dothraki have seemed to turn on her quick enough.

tomk:  The Dothraki have clear ideas on the proper roles of women.

jimmy:  Is she wasn’t an outsider would they treat her the same way? Though if she wasn’t an outsider, she probably wouldn’t be bucking tradition.

tomk:  A traditional Dothraki bride probably wouldn’t be bucking tradition as you noted, but you might want to file these thoughts away for later.

jimmy:  Filed. Anything we haven’t touched on? Robb heading to war?

That three-eyed crow?

tomk:  The three-eyed raven? Just a mysterious portent of things to come.

jimmy:  I just figured he was drinking the water by the power plant.

tomk:  And Robb only needed Grey Wind to mutilate one bannerman. That’s a good meeting.

jimmy:  If only it were that easy to get anything done around our office.

tomk:  Watson would be missing so many fingers…

jimmy:  Heh.

Was there a confirmation/mention of giants prior to Bran and Tonks convo at Hodor’s Bathing Hole?

tomk:  If there was, it was in passing like talk of something called a shadowcat or half the things above the Wall Tyrion mentioned.

George RR Martin loves tossing in large people who are really good in a fight. There’s the Mountain, the Hound, Robert was apparently a huge mass of muscle in his youth…

jimmy:  That even appealed to Cersei.

tomk:  Until he got drunk and cried out another woman’s name on their wedding night.

jimmy:  Yeah, that’s never a good start to a marriage.

tomk:  Even a political one.

jimmy:  Any more to add before we…head off to finish season one…man, this is going fast…

tomk:  Martin did write episode eight himself. He did one per season for the first four seasons.

Oh, and Arya killed someone.

jimmy:  He did and she did. How accidental do you think it was?

tomk:  Well, she wanted to be a fighter. Now she knows what the consequences of that is. She didn’t look pleased by it.

jimmy:  She didn’t. But I have a feeling she might want to get used to it.

tomk:  Yeah, but is that the sort of thing you want her getting used to?

I mean, she’s a tomboy, but she’s just as much an innocent as Sansa.

What did you think of Tywin Lannister? We’ve finally met the guy.

jimmy:  He skins a mean stag. And he honours family above all, even the members he’s maybe not so fond of.

tomk:  That was a real stag actor Charles Dance was cleaning. Probably shouldn’t tell the moose that.

And say, the Stag was the symbol of House Baratheon!

jimmy:  Symbolism!

And the moose wouldn’t care…but let’s not tell Ms Impossible.

tomk:  Obviously.

But Tywin probably wouldn’t know Bronn’s father.

jimmy:  Heh. Great line.

tomk:  One thing I have always noted about Tywin: each of his three biggest traits ended up in one of his children. Jaime got the military prowess. Cersei got the ambition. Tyrion got the brains.

jimmy:  That’s a good point. I guess even a Lannister can’t have it all.

tomk:  But they always pay their debts.

And Ned’s last check just bounced. Anything else to add, Jimmy?

jimmy:  I think that’s it from me.

tomk:  Then we should see about wrapping up the season.

jimmy:  Let’s do it. I got a feeling everything is going to work out fine for everyone.

tomk:  After all this build-up, how can it not?

And so our Watch continues soon with the end of season one.  Be here for a discussion of the episodes “Baelor” and “Fire and Blood”.

tomk74

Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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