S01E09 And this is what makes Game of Thrones such a great show. George R.R. Martin is not afraid to kill off his main character and the show is not afraid to lose its top billed star. You have to respect a show that lobs off the head of its lead nine episodes into its first season.
So let’s start things off ahead with Ned (oh that just slays me). The eunuch comes to see him in the dungeon again and begs him to reconsider, simply saying he was a traitor and live his remaining years out on the wall. One of the biggest complaints against Ned as a whole is how remarkably stupid he is in the name of honor. But when he lists his reasons for not turning himself in, how he learned to die a long time ago, how he was raised by soldiers? I dig that. I still think he’s a moron and thinking a bit shortsighted but damn that was one honorable speech. If I ever find myself in need of a rousing half time speech, I might just cop that one. Ah but then the eunuch pulls a fast one on him when he reminds him that his daughter’s life is in his hands with his confession. Thus Ned’s honor is in doubt.
That parallels nicely with the going-ons at the wall. For defeating the evil white walkers last week Jon gets a shiny new sword from the Master Commander. Not a bad reward, if I do say so. Jon is feeling all happy about being at the wall but Sam has to go and ruin it by telling him about Robb’s war plans. This is one part where I thought the book did it a little better. In the books we’ve seen Jon’s inner thoughts a little better and how loyal he felt to the Starks even though he’s a bastard. It made more sense for him to want to run off to join Robb. But in the series so far? Not so much, I didn’t really get that motivation. Never mind that though, the blind doctor has a few words to tell him. Turns out that he was once in line for the throne but chose duty and honor over love and family. Methinks he’ll have to make the same choice soon (and for those that have read the books and can see what’s coming in next week’s season finale - seems like a cheap way to end the season, no?).
“Stark, Tully, Lannister, Baratheon, give me one good reason why I should waste one good thought on any of you?” - Lord Frey
Speaking of Robb - he had two big plot points for him this week. Aw, our boy is growing up and has two plot points. So sweet. Anyway, you don’t really get a sense of the vastness of the region on the show - fields and forest tend to run together, no? Turns out they need to cross this river and the only way to do in a timely manner is this bridge a lord has basically built his whole little empire around. Now this scene was one of the ones I had been most looking forward to most but if failed as most scenes have failed for me in this show: it didn’t go big enough. The Lord Frey was supposed to be this incredibly ancient cranky old dude who still liked to get freaky and be surrounded by his hundreds of kids who have nothing better to do than keep track of who is in line for his seat. Instead we got... FILCH? Oh snap! That’s Filch! Cat is able to weasel their way through the bridge by basically promising Robb to marry one of his many daughters. Well, the one cute one. Go Robb!
And go Robb for doing some good old fashioned war trickery! He commands two thousand of his men to basically go die while he takes the remaining eighteen thousand to a different battle where they win. Again, I know battles are really expensive to film but I thought it was kinda cheap for them just to cut to the end and show up with Jaime Lannister (more on this later). But then I remembered this is basically how they did it in the books. Cat stands on a hill and hears the battle raging below before Jaime is suddenly thrust at her feet. Sad Jaime. Despite only being a kid, Robb continues to kick all kinds of ass.
Speaking of kicking ass - Tyrion! Seriously, can Peter Dinklage not kick ass? Is it like in his contract that he always be winning? Because no one else is winning quite like him and this whole show is winning. Turns out daddy Lannister still doesn’t think to much of Tyrion and his wild men so he’s going to send them into the battle on the morrow. Tyrion doesn’t think too much of that because he’s a dwarf and all that so he goes off to do the one thing he does do very well: fuck girls. But then he finds Shae. Oh Shae, how lovely to meet you. We’ve been waiting a long time. Cue another exposition scene where we learn more about the characters through talking (drinking games! The screenwriter’s greatest tool for character development!) and Tyrion becomes a bit more sympathetic when we learn his first love was nothing but a whore and he had to watch her be raped at his father’s orders. Sad stuff.
“If I die - weep for me.” - Tyrion
“If you die, how will you know?” - Shae
But then the battle happens! And Tyrion is knocked out before it even gets started! What the hell? Another battle we don’t get to see? And through the oldest trick in the book - whoops, I’m knocked out, did we win? Look, Game of Thrones, I’ll give it to you this one time but Tyrion kicked all kinds of ass in the book and how dare you not give that to me. Again, I know battles are incredibly expensive and you still had a horse’s throat to slit.
Speaking of horses' throats getting slit (GREATEST TRANSITION EVER), we go out East. Remember that little cut Drogo got last week? Well turns out it's not such a minor cut after all and has become infected. Now the Khal that cannot ride cannot be a Khal so Drogo is about at the end of his reign. Again, Daenerys has only recently come into this position of power from being such a meek character only a handful of episodes ago. Due to the book’s length her fall is more poignant but the show manages to chronicle her downfall fairly well. And by fairly well I mean we get to see a horse’s throat slit and Daenery’s knight totally slay some dude. Oh yeah, she also goes into premature labor after falling on the baby. Terrible, terrible things are happening for her but Daenerys story is not over. She is getting knocked down but we still have one more episode for her.
You know who doesn’t have another episode? Ned (I am killing these transitions today). He comes to face trial in the public square for his treason. Arya has been living like a peasant and hears of the trail from some other peasant kids. She runs up to find them dragging her father out. They list of his crimes and Ned bellows out that they are all true. He looks at Sansa and then sees Arya out in the crowd, we can see that his daughter’s lives were more important to him than his honor and that’s the route he chose. Ah, but Joffrey has different plans. Despite the counsel of his evil bitch mother and the pleadings of his queen-to-be Sansa, he orders Ned’s head to be lobbed off. That little fucker.
With that moment right there, Game of Thrones shows its true colors. Like Lost, it’s not afraid to kill of main characters just to shake things up. Just because someone headlines doesn’t mean their characters are safe and that's what makes the show so excellent. Anything can happen. And the extremely crazy part is, this is only the beginning. We only have one episode left in this incredible season but there is plenty of magic to be discovered. And by magic, I mean gratuitous sex scenes.