Contributor: Gregg Wright
The brewing tension between House Lannister and House Stark finally reaches a tipping point, and the results are significantly bloody. In fact, this is probably the bloodiest episode yet. One gets the sense that they wanted to just generally amp things up at this point. The last two episodes were great, but this is the perfect point to begin delivering on all the build-up.
As suspected, Catelyn’s arrest of Tyrion results in devastating consequences. Jory Cassel would probably be classified as a minor character in the show, but his death at the hands of Jaime still came as a shock (though not to fans of the books, I see). His death might have felt like less of a waste if Tyrion were actually guilty. Still, Ned couldn’t really have handled the situation any better than he did. Taking responsibility for Tyrion’s arrest diverts Jaime’s anger away from Catelyn.
Robert and Ned aren’t on very good terms at the moment, but I don’t think that this is the end of their friendship. I suspect that Robert will still be angry about the attack on Ned. It does seem pretty inevitable, though, that Ned and Robert will end up opposed to each other once again. Ned isn’t going to stop until he gets to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Jon Arryn’s death, especially not now that he knows that Jon was murdered for asking too many questions. King Robert doesn’t seem to make any effort to hide the fact that he sleeps around with whoever he pleases. Would his bastard sons be considered royalty if anyone knew who they were? Jon was obviously well aware of these bastard children, as Ned is now. Obviously there is some darker secret behind all this that’s worth killing over, but I’m coming up empty.
One of the most exceedingly enjoyable parts of the episode for me was the amazing verbal sparring match between Varys (Mast of Whispers) and Littlefinger. There are getting to be too many awesome characters on this show, rendering my efforts to pick out a favorite utterly useless. Petyr and Varys are both morally questionable individuals. Petyr himself has advised Ned not to trust him. But thanks to Petyr’s interest in Catelyn, he’s been aiding the Starks, at least for now, which makes him someone that you kind of want to root for in spite of what you know he is. There are these little moments where Petyr’s facade weakens a little and seems to show a more human side, like at the end of his exchange with Varys, or when Jaime shows up and threatens Ned. He let Varys get the last word, and Ned had to hold him back to stop him from getting in Jaime’s way. Petyr didn’t seem quite as “in-control” in those moments as he usually does.
The real question now, I think, is just how exactly Tyrion’s dagger ended up being used by the assassin? Cersei and Jaime would have sent the assassin themselves, but why with Tyrion’s dagger? Unless they wanted to purposefully frame Tyrion, thereby creating a valid reason to strike out against the Starks. Another possibility is that Petyr lied about losing the dagger to Tyrion. I don’t think Petyr played any part in the attempted assassination, but I could see him wanting to take advantage of the situation for some unknown reason. If this is the case, Petyr would likely be one to see things several moves in advance, predicting that this would cause violence to erupt between House Stark and House Lannister. But to what end? It’s just a lot of speculation at this point. But that’s all part of the fun, of course.
Things have kicked into high gear on “Game of Thrones”, and we’re only halfway through the first season. I like this pace, but considering that they have to cover the events of an entire book from the “Ice and Fire” series, I could see how readers might feel like things are rushing along a bit too quickly. Personally, I’m still enjoying the show to roughly the same degree as I have since the premiere. There’s been no significant drop in quality thus far, which is both impressive and unexpected.