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Wealth, Fear, and Love: Game of Thrones Ep. 6

After focusing mainly on Westeros last week, this week’s focus is on Dany and Viserys – and the sibling relationships between many of the characters. Also, the first death of a major character… (Still no Jon Snow again, though. I’m feeling pretty deprived).
[trigger warning for gender-based violence]

 

Robb, Bran and Theon: Bran is dreaming of the three-eyed raven leading him into the crypt,  until he’s woken up to try out his new, Tyrion-designed saddle. His whoops of joy as he gets to be in charge of his own movement again were really delicious – until he wanders away from Robb and Theon and is followed by a group of wildlings, on their way south, and intent on stealing whatever he has to steal. Bran tries invoking the family name, but they are even more delighted by the thought of what Mance Ryder would pay for Benjen Stark’s nephew. Robb and Theon haven’t yet noticed, as they’re too busy fighting over whether a war is coming and what Robb’s duty really is: go and support his father, or stay at Winterfell with his brothers? Theon pushes for the first option, but Robb reminds Theon that the Starks aren’t Theon’s family, so it’s not his business – so Theon storms off. The boys2men foster-brothers who’ve been raised together for eight years don’t actually get on all that well…
Bran is held by a wildling with a knife to his throat
uh-oh
Robb finds Bran just in time to fight off the wildlings, and Theon likewise turns up just in time to shoot an arrow through the one that has a knife to Bran’s neck. The surviving wildling (who should be a familar face to Harry Potter fans) is spared by Robb and, presumably, brought back to the castle.
Later, Theon encounters Ros leaving the North on the back of a turnip cart. War is coming, she says, and so she’s heading for King’s Landing. Theon desperately doesn’t want her to go, and tries not to show it, but he can do nothing but pay her for a last, blurry glimpse at her crotch (this is faux-medieval Europe, friends, and underwear hasn’t been invented yet).

Catelyn and Lysa are at standstill, and in the Eyrie, Tyrion is the one who makes the first move. He’s getting sick of waking up on the edge of his cell, and tries various ways to bribe his gaoler, Mord  – but only succeeds in getting a message through to Lysa: that he is ready to confess. Summoned before a full council chamber, he starts his “˜confession’: gambling, drinking, whoring, and “milking the eel” into the family soup (a fine collector of euphemisms, is Tyrion). But he refuses to admit to Bran’s attempted murder or Jon Arryn’s actual murder, and demands a trial – for which the penalty is death, and in the Eyrie, that means an exit through the moon door – straight into the welcoming arms of nothing but air and gravity.

Tyrion, wrists bound, smiles as Bronn wins the fight for his life
One shit-eating grin, coming right up
Lysa wants Robin to try Tyrion, but he demands trial by combat. Lysa nominates her champion, and Tyrion, denied the right to summon Jaime, pleads for one: until Bronn, the greasy-looking mercenary, volunteers. Bronn fights nastily, but wins, and Tyrion walks out the door with Bronn – having paid Mord for taking the message to Lysa: because “a Lannister always pays his debts.”
 

Catelyn is left with no prisoner, barely any men, and an unhinged, pissed off sister.

Robert, Ned, and Renly: Last time we saw Ned Stark, he was unconscious and bleeding from a nasty wound to the thigh inflicted by Jaime Lannister’s guard. He wakes up to Cersei and Robert standing over him, which you’d think would be enough to scare him back into unconsciousness, but no. At his bedside, Cersei displays her excellent talent for spreading lies with just enough truth to be plausible; Ned demands justice for his dead guards, and Robert tries to keep the peace. Cersei goes for the low blow: “I should wear the armour, and you the gown,” and Robert hits her across the face. So much for their brief entente  last week.

Robert tries to enforce a deal: Catelyn is to let Tyrion go, Ned is not to chase Jaime (who has left the capital); Ned is the Hand again; and Cersei doesn’t get her family bank to call in Robert’s debts to them. Robert also lays on the emotional blackmail, telling Ned that he is his best and closest brother – the one he chose.
[pullquote]”Killing things clears my head”- King Robert[/pullquote]

 

Robert then goes out hunting with his actual brother Renly, who is finally sick of Robert’s bragging, ideals of manhood, and misplaced nostalgia for a time of war, whoring and destruction, and gives his brother a piece of his mind before storming off. Robert carries on, boar-spear in hand, with Barristan Selmy and squire Lancel, who knows that Robert likes a drink when he’s upset (or indeed, at any time).

Ned, though he’s been made Hand again by Robert, clearly hasn’t learned his lesson from last week’s exercise in political stupidity and makes another bold and public error. He hears reports of rape and slaughter in the Riverlands (part of Catelyn’s family’s lands) and when the witnesses describe the leader as the Mountain, Gregor Clegane, Ned promptly denounces him, strips him of his property, and sends Lord Beric Dondarrion after him with one hundred men and permission to kill. To add insult to injury, Ned also summons the Mountain’s liege lord and Lannister patriarch, Tywin Lannister, on pain of being declared a traitor. Good move, Ned, because if his children are anything to go by, Tywin’s sure to be a treat. Ned’s actions here are an interesting contrast from when we first met him: the one who who stuck by “the one who passes the sentence swings the sword.” Yet again, also, he misunderstands Littlefinger’s subtle warning: “Gold wins wars, not soldiers,” and ignores Pycelle’s advice too.  Ned may have commanded during the war and at Winterfell, but he is making a mess of being this king’s Hand in the big city. 

Sansa and Arya are enjoying King’s Landing in their own ways. Arya is making progress with Syrio, who teaches her to set her boring quotidian worries – such as her father possibly dying from an infected leg wound – aside to concentrate on her sword. [pullquote]”There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: not today” – Syrio[/pullquote]  Joffrey takes his mother’s advice and apologises to Sansa with a gold necklace, a kiss, and enough flowerly phrases to almost make us believe him, if we didn’t already know he’s such a dreadful little toad. Sansa’s being an excellently moody teenager here, which brings home to me just how young she is. 

Thus, when Ned tells the girls he’s sending them back to Winterfell, he gets vigorous protests, from Sansa most of all: she wants to be queen and have Joffrey’s babies, babies who’ll have “beautiful blond hair” like Joffrey, not like drunken King Robert. And finally the penny drops for Ned, and he goes to the book Jon Arryn died with, just to check… Did you see the penny falling?

 

And on to the arguably biggest showdown in this week’s episode: Daenarys and Viserys.

Drogo and Dany stare at each other: Dany's face is bloody. Text on the photo reads "Dothraki Foreplay: it's all in the eyes...and the heart"
The horse heart, that is.
Dany is at a fun Dothraki pregnancy ritual, where the mother-to-be has to eat a whole stallion’s heart while a shaman predicts the baby’s future (that baby shower doesn’t seem so much like torture now, huh?). Viserys doesn’t think she can do it without vomiting, and though she comes close, she swallows the whole thing as Drogo looks on. Dany names the baby-to-be “Rhaego” (a neat Renesméeification of Drogo and her dead brother Rhaegar, the eldest son and heir of Mad King Aerys, killed during Robert’s War of the Usurper). As she is triumphantly carried around afterwards by Drogo, Viserys realises that Dany is the one with the real power between them, because she has the love and loyalty of the Dothraki. He heads to Dany’s tent to steal the dragon eggs to buy himself the ships and army that he finally realises Drogo will never give him.
[pullquote]”Who can rule without wealth or fear or love?”    – Viserys, who has none[/pullquote]
Jorah succeeds in stopping him, but not before Viserys tries to bribe him by offering Dany as a sex object – again. Back in the party tent, Viserys arrives drunk, with a sword, which he knows is verboten in Vaes Dothrak: but he thinks he’s safe, as the shedding of blood is also taboo (human only, we must assume). Dany tells Jorah to take him away, but Viserys won’t leave. He threaten to take Dany away, and with his sword at her belly, says “he can keep the baby, I’ll cut it out and leave it for him”. Drogo has had enough. He orders a gold necklace to be melted down in the central fire, and Viserys is told he’ll get his crown: as two Dothraki hold him down, Drogo pours the gold over Viserys’s head. Drogo knows you don’t have to shed blood to kill a man.
Viserys lies dead on the ground, his head covered in molten gold
Not sure how that killed me so quickly, but hey, suspension of disbelief, right?
Dany is finally free of her brother – the only family she’s known.

 

This week’s episode leaned a little heavier on the mystical elements: Bran’s dream, and Dany’s apparent immunity to fire: her hands don’t burn when she takes the dragon’s eggs from the fire earlier in the episode, but her maid Doreah’s do. And when Viserys dies, Dany quietly declares: “He was no dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon.”

 

For all these siblings, the question of where their loyalties lie – the family, or themselves? – is pressing. Dany clearly made her choice, and Renly seems to have: but if Ned makes his discovery public, who will Robert choose? The two possible extremes are shown by the two significant sibling relationships not shown in this episode: Jaime and Cersei, whose foremost loyalties are to each other to the detriment of everyone else in their lives; and the Mountain and the Hound, who would happily kill each other (and came close last week).

Now that Ned knows the devastating secret that got Jon Arryn killed, what is he going to do about it? Is this the end of Tyrion’s troubles? Are you sad to see Viserys go, and what does his death mean for Dany? Do you miss Jon Snow as much as I do?

Fangirl with me in the comments.

29 replies on “Wealth, Fear, and Love: Game of Thrones Ep. 6”

***spoiler warning for Episode 7***
(added by QoB)

I think Dany was aware of how important assimilation would be to her future when she began to learn the language. In think her political talents far outweigh her brother’s and it didn’t take long for her to realize it.

I was a little surprised that Cersai had the power to tear up King Robert’s last wishes and was so disappointed that Ned was up shit creek in that final scene.

I never read any of the books so am wondering how the monsters will play into things and hope it doesn’t take away from all the palace intrigue! Also, not sure why they are dragging out Bran’s dreams if Ned already figured things out.

You mixed in some plot points from Ep. 7 in there so I added a spoiler warning. The Ep. 7 recap should be coming up later today.

Bran’s dreams actually relate to something else – not his amnesia – and I’m intrigued to see how they bring it up, although it may not be this season.

I have really fallen in love with this show. But then again, I love just about every HBO series in existence. So this will fall in line behind Six Feet Under, True Blood, Sex and the City and the rest.

Dany is probably my favorite character at the moment. So we’re just now finding out that SHE is the dragon, not her dastardly brother. What a heinous prick. The actor who played him sure was great, though. He had me seething every time he was on screen.

I also love Jon Snow, and Tyrion. Those three round out my favorite characters. Lena is fantastic as the Queen. I loathe her screentime too, but only just because she’s so an amazing actress and plays that fine line between evil and admirable so well.

I love the way the story is developing, things seem like they are just about to come to a head. I can’t wait to see more of those crazy iced up ghosties that are wandering around beyond the wall…

I read an interview with Harry Lloyd and his perspective on his character was great: that he saw himself as the victim and Dany as the spoiled child who never knew what hardship was. He made that really believable to me.

I think if I did a poll on favourite characters Dany, Jon and Tyrion would definitely come out on top!

Note: never read the books.

I really like how Dany’s story is playing out, though. At first I was a little worried that it would go down the rape = love road, but I think they’ve managed to inject a little more nuance into it. What I like is how they’ve shown Dany embracing her adopted family, the Dothraki, and drawing strength from their love for her. I think the heart scene was good in that sense, because it gave the impression that the Dothraki respect Dany herself, not just because she’s Drogo’s wife – and I sort of felt like this, in combination with the dragon stuff, was setting her up to be a future leader in her own right, though I don’t know.

I also LOVED the long look between Drogo and Dany before he killed Viserys. He wasn’t just leaping to her defence, but actively seeking her consent (albeit with a look rather than with spoken words). It didn’t feel at all like she was being rescued by Drogo (and by extension by the Dothraki), even though Drogo obviously was pretty keen to get rid of Viserys. Instead, I got the strong impression that Dany was ultimately the one to make the decision to kill her brother, which makes her a much more interesting character.

Yes, indeed. Actually I think we get a much better sense of Drogo from the show than the books. I’m liking him very much more now – and asking Dany’s permission is one of the reasons.
Dany’s been slowly coming to the realisation that Viserys would have been a terrible king (Jorah pushed her to admit that last week). I’m not sure if she would have ever actively had him killed, but she’s already protected him twice… and he never learned.

That’s a great point, about Dany realising that Viserys would be a terrible king. I thought that point was brought home by her final line about how Viserys wasn’t a dragon. Again, more exciting nuance. Viserys’ death didn’t feel simply like Dany getting revenge for years of abuse, which is the obvious way it could have played out. Sure, that element was there, but Dany also seemed to be thinking about leadership. It was as if she was finally realising what the show had made evident to the viewer all along: that her embrace of the Dothraki had given her real power, while Viserys’ condescension would get him nowhere. By extension, Viserys would never be able to bring her ‘home’ to Westeros.

Again, that makes Dany a far more interesting and nuanced character. It would have been easy to show the death of Viserys as pure revenge fantasy, but setting it in the context of Dany’s emergence as the real ‘dragon’ also gives her kind of an edge. Her agreement to kill him didn’t just reflect rage, but also cold-blooded calculation.

You know, I barely thought about the revenge aspect at all. That’s interesting.

ETA: as someone who hasn’t read the books, I’m curious: did you see the Ned’s realisation about Robert’s children coming?

Oh yeah. I’ve had a hunch since about the second episode. It felt quite heavily foreshadowed, especially when Cersei talked about her dead first child who ‘looked just like Robert’. Amazing how none of the other ones do, huh? I was just wondering when Ned was going to cop on, though I guess it’s not as obvious if you don’t already know about the twincest.

This illustrated something that I said to Mr.Pear after we watched the previous episode. Robert wants to kill Dany and the baby to keep Drogo and his army across the sea. That thinking boggled me because killing her and his child would the THE ONE THING that would guarantee a Dothraki invasion. I guess, though, Robert assumes Drogo cares as much for Dany as he does for Cersei.

I think what Robert is really afraid of is the legitimacy of his position. Yes, he’s a cousin of the Targaryens (the HBO site has the family trees), but he’s king by right of conquest, not blood. And if Dany, the Targaryen heir, were to return to Westeros with an army and a baby, Robert is not certain the population at large – not to mention some of the noble families – would support him.

Actually I have a question for you on that note, as a book reader. Why isn’t Jaime Lannister king instead of Robert? He’s the one who killed the mad Targaryen king, right? If we can safely assume that he and Cersei have always been close, and always sort of power-mad, why not place Jaime on the throne rather than go risk this elaborate scam with illegitimate Joffrey? Especially since the Lannisters seem to hold all the purse strings, and it’s only their money keeping Robert afloat. Or why not Tywin Lannister, the head of the family?

I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason, it’s just I think I must have missed it, if the show made it clear!

Jaime killed Aerys, right. However, the rebellion was led by Robert (precipitated by Lyanna Stark’s death in the custody of Aerys’ heir and Dany’s brother Rhaegar; and the murder of the Starks and other lords by Aerys): Robert was the leader, and until the very end of the war the Lannisters were on Aerys’s side. Also Jaime didn’t seem to want the throne – in the book flashbacks, Ned finds Jaime sitting on the Iron Throne after he killed Aerys, but Jaime hands the throne over to Ned and Robert without a fight. As for Tywin, he was Aerys’s Hand, and I’m guessing that he finds being the power behind the throne much more convenient than actually having to sit on it.

I don’t think, though, that any of that has been made very clear in the show yet (apart from, of course, Jaime having killed Aerys).

That was my point. I believe that Drogo and Dany would have been happy on their side of the water and left the Realms alone. An assassination attempt on Dany and the baby (successful or not) would be pretty much the only thing that would spur Drogo across the water and invade. And … well … I was right.
I was just surprised no one in Robert’s council thought about it in those terms and gave him that perspective to chew on.

Check out episode 7, if you haven’t already – it makes it a little clearer that Dany is ambitious on her own terms, without the assassination attempt. You’re not wrong, strategically, but it seems to be that the writers have stuck to the books for Dany.

I miss Jon Snow too, but not as much as I did when I was reading the books and couldn’t wait for a Jon POV chapter sometimes. I think getting Tyrion and Arya in every episode makes up for the lack of Jon Snow, for me at least.

Questions for other readers of the books: do you find Dany more interesting in the tv show than in the books? I couldn’t stand her storyline for most of the first book, and on subsequent rereads of the books I often skip her chapters. I find her to be a lot more compelling of a character on the tv show, though. On the other hand, I found Sansa more sympathetic in the books than she is in the show.

I thoroughly enjoyed every Dany chapter and her character in the book is in my top three favourites. I do find her very compelling on the tv show but for the same reasons as in the novels and also because we get to SEE the looks between her an Drogo. The actress playing Dany has great intensity!

It took me a LONG time to warm up to Sanse in the books; I never thought she was very sympathetic… The utter naive, foolish, and selfish behaviour and beliefs were very off-putting to me.

I think this was a great episode for the show and I almost believe now that they can pull off wrapping up the rest of the story-line from the novel in the last four episodes.

Yes, I prefer her in the show. Also –very minor spoilers — her storyline takes so long to connect to all the others that I got really impatient every time the plot goes back to her. Sansa… I actually like her more in the TV series than in the first book. You see how young and misguided she is – in the books it wasn’t until she went out of the frying pan into the fire that I started to get to like her.

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