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Spoiler Alert Thursday

Basically there was just two shows with new episodes this week (at least that are worth mentioning): “The Killing” and “Game of Thrones.”

With respect to “The Killing,” it was more of the same: what we thought was a major clue at the end of the previous episode turned out to be absolutely nothing. But, don’t worry, by the end of the episode there is another major clue and it too will likely result in nothing. This strikes me as particularly excellent writing: need a new episode? Invent a new clue or a new character. Strangely, Metacritic says that the series has received “universal acclaim” by professional television writers and has a normalized score of 84 out of 100. I find this highly improbable: the show is poorly written and poorly conceived, its plot is preposterous, and, frankly, I can’t see how anyone could possibly care who Rosie’s killer is except in the minimal sense of, “Well, I’ve watched ten hours of this piece of shit, so it better be worthwhile.” At least the new homicide/former narc cop is occasionally funny.

As for “Game of Thrones,” I was rather disappointed: not in the episode, but with my cable company–the audio kept cutting out. Fortunately the scenes among the Dothraki are in subtitles, so I didn’t miss much there, but I missed the majority of Tywin and Jaime’s scene and the majority of Ned’s arrest. This was an especially good Drogo episode. Not because of his acting or anything (although his speech was fantastically manic and psychotic), but because of the limitations of the Dothraki language: apparently there is no word for “throne” or “boat” in Dothraki. As a result, they come up with the neologism “iron chair” to refer to the Iron Throne of Westeros and “wooden horse” to refer to boats. I also liked how he called the ocean “the black salty water” and promised to “tear down their stone houses.”

The episode opens rather ominously: having fled King’s Landing after his fight with Ned who has been restored as King’s Hand, Jaime arrives at some Lannister camp. Evidently, rather than hanging out in the castles all day long, Tywin Lannister maintains a uniformed standing army that is always ready to mobilize and he has a special tent in this camp where he symbolically skins a stag (the sigil of the Baratheon family–none of the major episode recaps seemed to have noticed this). For once Jaime isn’t the most arrogant person in the room as his father ceaselessly berates him for not living up to his potential. (Heard that, Jaime.) It would seem killing the previous king is not something particularly remarkable, at least insofar as the Lannisters are concerned. Although in Tywin’s scheme of things, stabbing a king in the back is more notable than not killing your enemy because it isn’t the honorable thing to do. (Tywin isn’t persuaded by Jaime’s argument that killing Ned after he had been impaled in the leg with a spear wasn’t “clean.”) In order to help Jaime make something of himself in this world, Tywin has given him half of the Lannister forces and it is up to Jaime to get his brother, Tyrion, back from those nasty Starks.

Robert is finally dead under shady circumstances involving a failed boar hunt, a bunch of booze, and suspicions about his Lannister squire getting him hammered. This means that the “game of thrones” (or iron chairs) has begun. Quickly we see Renly suggesting to Ned that the Lannister children must be seized so as to prevent them from taking over. And, just as quickly, Ned refuses to take part in such a plot. With this, Renly flees King’s Landing. Ned then decides to proclaim the other Baratheon brother, Stannis, the rightful heir to the throne. This goes predictably well with all of Ned’s soldiers getting killed–again–when Carcetti betrays him. Apparently Carcetti is still bitter that Ned’s brother didn’t kill him in a duel for Catelyn’s hand in marriage many years ago and Carcetti is willing to extend that bitterness to Ned, largely by ensuring that Ned will be executed as a traitor or some-such. Meanwhile, Joffrey demonstrates that he is as completely batshit crazy as we expected him to be.

Given Carcetti’s apparent betrayal, it is worth considering if it was him who was behind the plot to kill John Arryn. After all, Carcetti presented Ned with most of the clues. Another thing to consider is that there are potentially multiple plots afoot: Varys is clearly up to no good and it is his job to be up to no good, but it isn’t clear where his sympathies lie. We should note that Jorah just received a message from Varys when he ran to Danerys’s rescue at the wine merchant’s. Carcetti’s seem pretty evident: he hates the Starks and will join with the Lannisters if it means that the Starks will suffer.

In other news, hipster Jon Snow is kind of an idiot (he didn’t notice that he had been assigned as the personal assistant of the Lord Commander of the Black Watch; i.e., given an apprenticeship to prepare him to take over the Black Watch) and angry Theon Greyjoy is a giant penis-head  (as he lectures the Wildling prisoner on the finer details of social hierarchy in Westeros: “You will call me Lord” “Why?” “Because I’m a Lord” “Why?” “I have lands and a castle” “Are these your lands and castle?” “No” “Where are they?” “Far away” “Who has those lands and castle?” “My father” “So he’s Lord”–on the other hand, the barbarian girl is apparently as smart as a six year old.)

One thing an episode recap noticed that I did not was that two different Mormonts–Jorah the disgraced knight in the service of Danerys and Jeor, father of Jorah and Lord Commander of the Black Watch–have put their fates in two different young rulers-to-be: Danerys and Jon Snow respectively. Getting back to my theory that Jon Snow is a Stark-Targaryen, we are confronted with the possibility of two different semi-legitimate Targaryen claimants to the throne.

Oh, and Ghost finds a severed hand in the woods beyond The Wall, thus ruining Jon and Sam’s oath ceremony.


June 2, 2011 - Posted by | Spoiler Alert Thursdays


  1. I’m not much convinced that all Littlefinger wants is to fuck over the Starks. Clearly he enjoys that, yes, but surely he’s getting something out of playing kingmaker for the Lannisters… and could get even more out of someone else (Stannis? Renly? Daenerys? Someone we haven’t even met yet?) by fucking over the Lannisters down the road.

    It remains to be seen what Varys is up to. Was he honestly trying to have Dany killed, or was the wine merchant/assassin being set up as a patsy in order to aggravate Drogo into invading? And what would he gain from either outcome? For that matter, it remains to be seen what Jorah is up to. Did he rush in to save Dany because he’s gotten soft on her, or because part of his job was to foil an assassination attempt? And where does Illyrio fit into all this?

    At this point I’m past wondering whether Ned’s going to die, and am now wondering how many of his kids will die before the season is up.

    Comment by stras | June 3, 2011

  2. Littlefinger is clearly not so stupid as to think that Joffrey would be a good king–or Joffrey’s younger brother. Surely he must know that Cersei will make most of the decisions for Joffrey. The immediate advantage is that what appears to be the two most powerful families–the Lannisters and the Starks–will be put into a position of war: surely Robb will lead the North into battle against the Lannisters once Ned is executed. However, given Theon’s increasingly intemperate behavior, it seems increasingly unlikely that the naturally opposed to the Iron Throne Greyjoy’s will join in. Littlefinger must be looking past this conflict to what comes after.

    This seems to suggest that Littlefinger is either objectively pro-Targeryan and supporting the Dothraki invasion or he doesn’t actually believe such a thing will happen for surely Westeros would need the combined armies of the Starks and Lannisters to effectively resist an invasion. This brings us to Varys, we is likely operating independently of Littlefinger and the Lannisters to bring the Targaryans back. My impression is that Varys sent orders to both kill Danerys and to protect Danerys–the first to the wine merchant and the second to Jorah. Illyrio’s role in this would be arming Danerys with three dragon eggs. The question is what Illyrio has to gain from the Drogo’s horde going over seas.

    Ned is obviously going to die. If my earlier assessment of the story is that it is about succession (or Bob’s view as sins of the father), this implies that the children have to survive for at least a little while. An upcoming episode (the next?) is called “The Pointy End.” I have to assume it is a reference to Arya who will finally have to use her sword.

    If memory serves from the book, a number of important people are holdovers from the Mad King’s court–Selmy the head of the bodyguards, the old religious guy, and Varys at the very least. (Jaime as well.) If Selmy is as honorable as Ned believes, we should expect Selmy to sit out the war. I doubt he has the stomach to be the personal bodyguard of three shitty kings in a row.

    Comment by Craig McFarlane | June 3, 2011

  3. I believe that all of “The Killing”‘s great reviews are based on the first two or three episodes. That seems to be how TV criticism works outside the realm of the obsesssive chronicler.

    Comment by Junius Ponds | June 5, 2011

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