The Westeros Watch Part Five

Season one of Game of Thrones ended with an event many causal viewers unfamiliar with the source material did not see coming.  Hey, maybe Jimmy and Tom have some thoughts on that after seeing the episodes “Baelor” and “Fire and Blood”.

jimmy:  So, let’s start with this:

tomk:  I’ll see your Austin Powers and raise you a How It Should Have Ended:

jimmy:  Both entirely fitting.

tomk:  Yes.

So, Jimmy, I got the impression from some of the things you said that you more or less knew Ned Stark was doomed. Did Ms. Impossible know that before you watched the episode?

jimmy:  One of the disadvantages I have of watching so long after the fact is knowing mostly who will eventually die. I just don’t know the where, when or how of it. But I knew that Ned had most likely died early on. And when you made a comment in an early conversation that the seasons built up to a major event in episode 9, and the ramifications dealt with in 10, I saw the writing on the wall.

Ms. Impossible, on the other had, was completely stunned. When it happened she turned to me and asked, “Is he dead?” And I said, “Well, he doesn’t have a head.”

I can see how watching this the first go round with no prior knowledge would make this so shocking. Bean was the biggest name actor with the biggest role in the series.

tomk:  He still got his name listed first in episode ten, and he isn’t even in it.

jimmy:  Well, part of him is.

tomk:  I knew when I watched it the first time because I read the novel first. My wife, on the other hand, had no idea at all. And she is a huge Lord of the Rings fan, so Bean’s presence was a major selling point to get her to watch the show at all. She almost quit after he was beheaded, but wanted to see the fallout and stuck around anyway and is still watching today for what it is worth.

jimmy:  To be honest, I think I was more surprised that Aquaman died so soon.

tomk:  You mean you did not expect an nearly unbeatable warrior king to die from a gangrene infection?

jimmy:  Well, it was a bit of a tame way for him to go out, but probably very fitting for the time period and their lack of medicine to stave off infections, etc.

I was wondering though, and maybe I missed this, did the witch cause his infection/make it worse when she was summoned to heal him? Her bringing him back later as an anorexic zombie was clearly malicious.

tomk:  She had a reason to be malicious. Violence rarely solves problems on GoT and often makes things worse. But he clearly got that infection and it was killing him long before the witch got involved.

jimmy:  Yes, but I didn’t known if her “healing” just made things worse from there. Likely, she had no desire to really help him. Who knows what it was she did.

tomk:  She somehow did some sort of healing magic but needed another life to pull it off and chose Dany’s unborn child as the life as some sort of “kill Hitler before he’s born” sort of plot. And even then Drogo had life but not much else.

jimmy:  Yes, but he was quite sick by that point.

Anyway, was a sin that Dany lost her child and her tribe (and another poor horse meets a gruesome end), but she’s reborn with a new family that seems to open up a huge portion of the story moving forward.

tomk:  Yeah, she gets to be a mother anyway.

Dragons are alive again.

jimmy:  And Dany has a lot of revenge to hand out with them.

tomk:  Yeah. People need to stop giving out reasons for revenge. But maybe Dany is more interested in justice than vengeance.

jimmy:  It’s a fine line.

tomk:  True. We’ll have to see if the potential rise of a queen in a world generally run by men is a good thing.

jimmy:  Well, given the actions of the Queen we’ve seen so far, it might not be good.

tomk:  Maybe. If you mean Cersei, she wanted Ned to live.

jimmy:  Yes. That surprised me a bit. She did seem rather distraught when Joffrey brought the order down. Perhaps she was simply trying to avoid the widespread continuance of the war with Robb that it would likely keep in motion.

tomk:  That would be it right there. Cersei already has Robert’s brothers stirring up problems. The last thing she needs is a war with the largest of the seven kingdoms. Ned disgraced and at the Wall can prevent that much.

jimmy:  Plus Sean Bean made the best coffee on set.

tomk:  Goes without saying.

Ned’s actions in a sense forced her hand. The only way that went down without a lot of death would be for Ned to live in disgrace at the Wall. True, he doesn’t care if he himself dies, but Sansa and Arya are another story. Varys (who may not be that bad a guy) explains as much. Even if Ned escaped it would only make things worse.

jimmy:  I was a bit surprised that he took a knee and agreed to confess his “sins”. But as you say, he likely did it for his family. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well for him. Or any of them really. Sansa is trapped and miserable. Arya is now a “boy” in hiding and on the run. Robb seems capable, but likely marching his army to an early death. Etc.

tomk:  Robb also seems to be a very capable strategist.

And at least Arya is headed in the right direction with a friendly escort that includes Gendry.

But Ned was decapitated by his own Valyrian steel sword, the symbol of Stark power for generations.

And he made the point to Bran back in episode one that the man who calls the sentence must also swing the blade.

He also promised Jon he’d tell the bastard boy about his mother when next they met.

jimmy:  I never noticed it was his own sword. And interesting call back to episode one. It helps to point out how inexperienced and unfit for rule that Joffrey is. Not that he could probably lift that sword.

And poor, poor Jon. Just can’t catch a break. At least he’s made some loyal friends at The Wall.

tomk:  He impressed Lord Commander Mormont enough to be given a Valyrian steel sword of his own. The Mormont family sword was left behind by Jorah when he disgraced the family and went into exile.

jimmy:  Saving a guy from a zombie will do that.

tomk:  Valyrian steel is a rare, strong metal, so it’s a good idea to keep track of where it is. So far, there’s the Stark family sword Ice, the Mormont sword Longclaw, and that dagger that assassin tried to use on Bran.

jimmy:  Which belonged to Tyrion.

tomk:  Or so Littlefinger said.

jimmy:  And we know you can’t trust that guy. He said so himself.

tomk:  Hey, we saw Pycelle is a lot more spry than he appears when he’s alone. Varys the eunuch is looking more and more like the only remotely trustworthy man on the Small Council.

jimmy:  That was a great scene with Pycelle. Stretching and bouncing around and then the switch to old man as he opens the door. Almost like a Christopher Reeve Superman to Clark Kent transformation.

tomk:  Yeah, but he also hired Roz, so who knows how spry he is for his, shall we say, massage therapy.

jimmy:  She definitely had no time for his supposed old man ramblings, but who knows how his performance was prior to that.

tomk:  I’d rather not think about that.

jimmy:  Agreed, moving on…

I’m interested to see if Dany goes after the Dothraki and be all like “Who’s your motherf*%king Khaleesi now?”

tomk:  She’ll need a few more blood riders and larger dragons first.

jimmy:  They grow up so fast.

tomk:  By the way, we learned Tyrion and Jaime do care for each other.

jimmy:  Luckily not the way Jaime and Cersei care for each other.

tomk:  Well, there was sex involved. Just, you know, not between the two of them.

jimmy:  Not that there’s anything wrong with…wait, yes, there would be something very wrong with that.

tomk:  Yeah, but had that happened, it might have been less wrong than what actually happened.

Might.

You said Tywin cares about the family. That’s only insofar as anything makes the family look weak.

jimmy:  Not surprising. These old guard guys are all about appearances and legacy.

tomk:  And even the embarrassing dwarf son is not to have his own private prostitute.

jimmy:  There’s more going on with her than meets the eye. Not that Tywin knows that. Nor does Tyrion listen.

tomk:  Tywin often knows more than he lets on.

jimmy:  I can imagine.

tomk:  He already knew Tyrion had a personal whore in his tent.

jimmy:  True enough. Hard to keep secrets when you’re living in tents.

tomk:  Especially when there’s a drinking game involved. Tywin’s a real bastard, and not the lovable Jon Snow type.

And speaking of unlovable bastards…Joffrey.

jimmy:  Ugh. I hate that guy. But I think that’s the point.

tomk:  Let’s see…blatantly disregards his mother’s generally wiser council, shows his fiancée the severed heads of her loved ones with the promise of more, has same fiancée beaten by his underlings, had a man’s tongue ripped out for mocking Robert…

jimmy:  What will he do for an encore?

tomk:  Joffrey was the only one moved to tears at Robert’s deathbed. But he’s like Watson. He’s The Worst.

jimmy:  Well, it was his “father”. And he’s still pretty young.

tomk:  It’s about his only redeeming quality.

The problem is now he’s in a position where he doesn’t think he has to answer to anyone.

And there really isn’t anyone in the capital that he listens to to tell him otherwise.

jimmy:  You’d have to think behind closed doors his mother would set him straight.

tomk:  She tried explaining why he couldn’t, for example, use Northern soldiers to attack the North. He didn’t seem to understand basic human empathy and only recognized his own royal power.

Tom adds a photo for no clear reason as there is no segue.

jimmy:  Nice. Must be hard for her to keep upright though.

tomk:  That one does have a tendency to fail over.

So, getting back to the actual episode, we have the Night’s Watch riding out in force to look into walking corpses.

And maybe deal with the Wildlings while they’re out there.

jimmy:  Well, that is why they’re out there to begin with.

tomk:  Yeah, but how do you kill a White Walker? If they are back, of course.

But the Night’s Watch will have to deal with them anyway.

jimmy:  So the “zombie” is more of an underling, or what happens to those attacked by Walkers? And we know fire works against those.

tomk:  There’s a lot the Watch doesn’t know. Are the wights, as they are called, the real threat or is something behind them?

jimmy:  A lot we (well, I, since you’ve seen ahead) don’t know. Everything over the wall has only been eluded to or talked about in passing as most don’t believe there is a threat like the White Walkers anymore. Even what the Walkers are, what they want or what they’re capable of.

tomk:  What they look like. How they were beaten. What they want.

jimmy:  Exactly. They’re gonna need one of those books like Ned found that kept track of everyones hair colour. “White Walkers For Dummies Or It’s Been 1000 Years And Now You’re Screwed”.

tomk:  Bob the White Walker…white of hair… Joe the White Walker…white of hair…Walter the White Walker, cooker of blue meth…white of hair…

Is it really a surprise someone combined these two things?  And I added this pic later, so Jimmy’s reaction is retroactively more appropriate than we thought.

jimmy:  Nice.

tomk:  We won’t see any White Walkers any time soon probably due to budget constraints. Like how Jaime was captured during a big battle somewhere off-screen.

jimmy:  I’m glad you brought that up as it was so glaringly obvious, and a complaint I had heard in the past. There is a large segment of the book dedicated to said battle?

tomk:  Ok, Tyrion does get knocked out early by an ally’s low-hanging warhammer, but he also proves himself somewhat handy with a battle axe first.

As for Jaime, what I remember is there’s an exciting scene of his riding a horse right at Robb and cutting a few guys down (including a Frey or two) before he’s subdued.

The show doesn’t really do that going forward. I think they learned to budget the show better.

jimmy:  And I would imagine as the show got bigger and bigger, so did the budgets.

tomk:  Well, probably. But we’ll see some big battles, but we’ll also see a lot of people on foot instead of horseback at times. I suspect the show cuts corners in small ways for early season episodes to do something huge and impressive later.

jimmy:  That makes sense too. And it so much easier to write endless warriors on endless horses in endless battle than it is to film it.

tomk:  We can still show endless Freys in a single room.

jimmy:  So the Starks get some resolution as to who attempted to kill Bran (but not why), which also clears Tyrion’s name? Though I guess Jaime’s confession only answers the first part of Bran’s ordeal, who pushed him out the window in the first place.

tomk:  Pretty much. I’m not sure they still believe Tyrion hired that assassin.

jimmy:  Probably not.

tomk:  And Jaime is still oh so punchable when Cat goes to see him. He may be the smuggest POW of all time.

jimmy:  There’s no one else like him.

tomk:  So, let’s see…we’ve got the Night’s Watch riding out to investigate something mysterious, war between the Starks and the Lannisters with the two Baratheon brothers on the sidelines doing who-knows-what for now, we’ve met Walden Frey, Tyrion is going to serve as Hand of the King in his father’s name, Joffrey is the king, and Ned Stark is dead. So, here’s a question for ya, Jimmy: when did all this mess start?

jimmy:  Probably episode one. 😛

tomk:  Well, smartass, consider this: the war came as a result of Ned’s arrest and execution, but that wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t investigating the death of his and Robert’s old mentor Jon Arryn.

But he wouldn’t have investigated anything if he wasn’t ordered south by his lifelong friend Robert.

Or if no one had tried twice to murder his son. Or if his crazy sister-in-law hadn’t sent a warning.

But, Jon Arryn wouldn’t have been investigating anything if Joffrey was Robert’s actual son.

But then there’s Dany who can say it started when Robert stole her father’s throne.

But Robert wouldn’t have if Rhaegar hadn’t kidnapped Lyanna Stark. Or if the Mad King had returned her. Or not been a mad sort of king.

Or if the Targaryans hadn’t conquered all seven kingdoms themselves a few centuries before.

jimmy:  So what you are trying to say is: episode one.

Seriously though, yes, you make a good point most things are connected and can be traced through cause and effect. And then you sprinkle the stuff at and beyond the Wall on there to “spice it up”, add a bit of unpredictability and eventually (I’m guessing) everything be having to put aside their petty squabbles or they’re all going to be forking dead.

tomk:  And not in The Good Place.

Or maybe it’s partially asking what a good form of government could be for these people and what violence actually accomplishes. Robb didn’t exactly ask to be King in the North.

I almost get the impression those Northern Lords were just looking for an excuse to tell the rest of the seven kingdoms to go fork themselves.

jimmy:  I don’t think any of the kingdoms really like each other.

tomk:  Well, they tolerate each other when there’s strong leadership at the top leaving them to do their own thing perhaps.

jimmy:  Then all hell is about to break loose with King Joffrey on the throne.

tomk:  Yeah, more or less. Even a generally apathetic drunk like Robert kept civil war from breaking out.

But now we do have a civil war with multiple factions. Any more thoughts on season one and poor, doomed Ned Stark, Jimmy?

jimmy:  I’m just glad to finally be watching. My never having seen it was never about a lack of interest. As we lead off with, I did start watching, but the dire wolf death turned off the Ms and things we don’t watch together, I often fall desperately behind on. As you know, I just finished Breaking Bad like 2 week’s ago, as a further illustration of this.

But, yeah, great characters. Great story. While we talked a bit about the budget not allowing particular things, what they did do never felt cheap.

Some of the shock value is lost on me because I knew Boromir and Aquaman were going to die, but given I’m watching 6 years after the fact, not unexpected. I’ll be in the same boat going forward, but at least for the most part I don’t know the when or how…at least I won’t have to go through a summer wondering/arguing about the fate of Jon Snow. 🙂

Really looking forward to Season 2 and beyond.

tomk:  Then maybe we shouldn’t hold you back any longer.

jimmy:  Winter is coming and so is Season 2.

And so our Watch continues.  Come back soon for the start of season two’s discussion with the episodes “The North Remembers” and “The Night Lands”.

tomk74

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

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