Game of Thrones, Season 1, Ep 9 “Baelor”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Joffrey, Joffrey, Joffrey…

Well, we’ll get to that.

Across the Narrow Sea: Bacteria. Minute, invisible, bacteria! A dude with an exotic curved sword can’t fell Drogo, but the bacteria in his wound do – he falls off his horse while riding. Immediately some of his followers declare him unfit to be Khal, if he can’t stay on his horse. Daenerys shoos them away. Jorah warns her that the Dothraki don’t respect bloodlines – as soon as Drogo is too weak, or dead, someone else will claim the leadership through strength.

Daenerys realises she has to save Drogo and summons the witch woman again. Her diagnosis is not good. But she can perform a magic ritual, which requires the sacrifice of Drogo’s horse to transfer life into him. Daenerys orders it, and ends up covered with blood (again). As she leaves the tent the men outside are angry, and she collapses, declaring the baby is coming! Jorah carries her back into the tent in the hope the witch woman is also a midwife.

Well, Drogo might recover thanks to the spell, but he isn’t going to be happy about his horse being killed. Things have taken a turn quickly and Daenerys seems to be in trouble here. But she’s tough – I have no doubt she’ll come out of this somehow.

The Wall: A raven arrives to bring bad news. Jon Snow feels the pull to go south to help his half-brother Robb in his march against the Lannisters, but the elders in the Night’s Watch talk him out of it for now. A couple of them reveal intriguing ties to other characters: The commander is a Mormont, and he tells how his son Jorah disgraced him and fled Westeros – this is the Jorah serving as a translator/advisor for Daenerys!

Even more startling, the old blind guy who hangs around the fort tells Jon a story of being stuck here at The Wall, while things go awry for his family down south. When his family got into trouble, he was too old and blind to go help them. His family being… the Mad King Aerys Targaryan and his kin… Jon says, “You’re Aemon Targaryan!” So he’s Daenerys’s grandfather or uncle or something.

The Twins: A new location. This is a river crossing fortified by two towers. Robb has to lead his army across the river to intercept Jaime Lannister’s force, and this is the only spot to do it. The trouble is, The Twins are ruled by a cantankerous old man who is unlikely to let him cross without extracting a large toll. Cat says she will go talk to him, since she knows him. Cat seems to know everyone.

In the negotiations, we see just how cantankerous the old man is. He has lots of kids that the noble families don’t want to marry their sons and daughters to. Cat returns and tells Robb he can cross the river… if Arya marries one of his sons, and Robb himself marries one of his daughters. Robb declares that Arya won’t be happy, but agrees to the terms anyway.

Various battlefields: Tywin wants Tyrion and the wild men to be the vanguard of the force heading into battle on the morrow. Tyrion reckons this is as good as a death sentence, and spends his last evening drinking and carousing with a tall, dark-haired woman in his tent. This woman mysteriously appeared, doesn’t want to talk about her background, and seems to know a lot of stuff – it feels like she will turn into an important character later.

There’s a cut to post-battle, and Tyrion has managed to survive, being carried unconscious on a cart – whether from being hit or from all the wine is not clear. He expresses incredulity that he is still alive. His champion says there were only 2000 of Stark’s bannermen, rather than the 20,000 they expected. The other 18,000 must have gone elsewhere…

And we see that Robb planned this as a diversion for his real attack, on Jaime Lannister’s army. Jaime is dragged, beaten and bloody, in front of Robb. As Cat, Theon, and the generals look on, Robb declines to execute Jaime, saying he’s more valuable as a prisoner.

King’s Landing: Varys visits Ned in the dungeon again. He lays it out straight for Ned. Confess to treason and throw himself at the mercy of Cersei and Joffrey, who will banish him to the Night’s Watch to live out his days, and Sansa and Arya get to live. Ned has no fears for his own life, but the thought of his daughters convinces him.

We see Arya on the streets, trying to scrounge food, when a crowd assembles in a large square to hear Ned’s confession. Sansa, Cersei, and Joffrey are on a stone platform, with advisors and generals and stuff behind them, as Ned is dragged out. Arya climbs a statue in the middle of the square to get a view. Ned wretchedly confesses to treason and trying to claim the throne for his own. An old priest guy or something says that Baelor (one of the gods, presumably) is merciful and that Ned’s daughter Sansa and Queen Cersei have pleaded for Ned to be banished and sent to the Night’s Watch to live out his days in service to the Realm.

Then Joffrey steps up and says the women are weak and the only rightful punishment for treason is death. He orders, “Bring me his head!”

Sansa and Arya are horrified, Cersei realises there’s nothing she can do at this point, as Ned is pushed into kneeling, and an executioner appears and swings a huge sword…

Oh dear.

As this moment approached, I thought Arya might pull her sword out and cause a commotion in the crowd, but no, she is overwhelmed and disappears as they bay for blood.

Well, in one fell swoop Joffrey has turned from Draco Malfoy wannabe to full-on Emperor Commodus. Cersei might give him a tongue-lashing, but I can’t see much holding him back from now on. At least Sansa will probably see sense now and realise how horrible he really is, although I don’t imagine there’s much she can do about it in the near future, so her prospects look pretty miserable unless Arya can contrive to bust her out of the royal court somehow.

In hindsight, naming your “merciful god” Baelor, pronounced essentially identically to the mightiest race of demons from Dungeons & Dragons (or a destructively evil giant from Irish myth) maybe isn’t such a good idea.

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