Game of Thrones: Ned’s Gambit

GAME OF THRONES: 1.07 “You Win or You Die”

Two major characters killed off in back to back weeks. If that hasn’t proven to you that no one is safe on this show, I don’t know what is. King Robert, who is unceremoniously killed by a wild boar, doesn’t get quite the same epic sendoff as Viserys and his golden crown from last week. His death is sort of pathetic; a fat, drunken king, whose glory days are long behind him, slashed open from neck to belly because of his own gluttony. Equally pathetic is Ned’s attempt at asserting his power as Regent against Cersei and bratty little Joffrey. Not only does Ned reveal to Cersei his intention of exposing her incestuous little secret, he refuses Renly’s offer of assistance and ignores Littlefinger’s advice; when he does finally attempt a little underhanded dealing to get the upper hand (relying on Littlefinger to bribe the city guards) it’s sort of an obvious and lame attempt. Come on, Ned; you don’t think Cersei already thought to get the guards on her side? She didn’t bat an eye when Ned told her what he knew, so she must have had some kind of backup plan waiting. In Westeros, the noble act gets you screwed. Now Ned’s been arrested for treason, and his two daughters are in even more danger than they were before. I love the Starks, but holy crap; both momma and poppa Stark have made some major mistakes. The disaster that will presumably befall them in the upcoming three episodes of the season is almost entirely of their making.

A couple more thoughts:

  • Tywin Lannister, patriarch of the golden-haired clan, was just awesome in his one scene in this episode. The cold shows Jaime at the beginning of the scene was intense; he immediately places the most arrogant character in the series in his place with just a few words. Tywin’s clearly the biggest lion in the pride.
  • We see Jon Snow again, taking his vows at the heart-tree with Sam. Everything seems fine, until Ghost trots up with a severed hand in his mouth. I’m guessing we’ll see a lot more of the Wall and the Night’s Watch in the next few episodes.
  • It turns out that Ned was right all along about Dany and her husband’s horselord army. Drogo had no intention of invading Westeros, and Dany looked like she was almost about ready to give up and go completely native… until the botched assassination attempt pissed off Drogo, who will now spare no effort to invade the seven kingdoms and do quite a bit of pillaging and raping.
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4 thoughts on “Game of Thrones: Ned’s Gambit

  1. Dany’s expression when he mentioned the raping and pillaging was very interesting. It’s like, she got what she wanted, but she didn’t realize what that really meant.

    It’s funny, at first, I was a bit miffed at Robert’s death. Such a huge character to the story, and such a lame death? How does that match up? But you say it perfectly: His death is sort of pathetic; a fat, drunken king, whose glory days are long behind him, slashed open from neck to belly because of his own gluttony. Very symbolic.

    I have to say, Ned gets on my nerves. He’s this guy that seems very aware of what’s around him — including the dangers — but at the same time, he’s completely blind. How could he not realize what was right in front of his nose if he was seeing everything so clearly?

    I must admit, though, that I missed what Robert’s brother and Littlefinger were offering. Perhaps I should have been paying attention a little more during those parts. To me, of course, you’d go with the traditional route of things. Why would you go against the king’s wishes or even just sit idly by and let things go? Maybe I missed the larger scale discussion there as to why Ned would go along with something that could align with treason?

  2. I also think that Robert’s death is something of a warning to viewers; it’s telling us that characters can die in less than heroic ways. Disease, accidents, mistakes, anything is possible.

    I love Ned, though I agree with you about his blindness. I think it’s sort of a self-imposed, willful blindness. He’s so honorable that he’s almost self-righteous. Even though he knows that not everyone else can live up to his code of honor, he’s unwilling to adjust his code with a little dose of pragmatism.

    Renly offered to help Ned if he supported Renly’s claim to the throne. Ned turned it down, though, because by law the throne should go to the next eldest brother, who we know is called Stannis. However, both Renly and Littlefinger seem to think Stannis would be an awful king, so even though Renly’s offer is dishonorable, it may make more practical sense. Littlefinger, on the other hand, suggests that Ned use whatever power he has to pull Joffrey away from Cersei so that he can influence the young king. Ned can’t do that either, though, because he knows Joffrey is not Robert’s true heir. So instead, he takes the weakest of all the available options, and relies on Littlefinger, a guy who flat out said not to trust him and totally disagrees with Ned’s course of action, to come through for him in the throne room. The fact that Littlefinger betrays Ned suggests that he realizes he would have more success remaining as an adviser and manipulator under Cersei/Joffrey rather than Stannis.

  3. I will say something else about the episode. The guards turning on Ned was certainly a shock, but Littlefinger’s knife to Ned’s throat less so. I almost felt like it was a little cheesy with his, “I told you not to trust me.”

  4. Pingback: A Newbie’s Response to Ned Stark « Raked

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