Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.5: "Kissed By Fire"

Welcome to another week of Game of Thrones, where I recap and discuss the episode with my Brother Without Banners, Christopher Lockett, who is co-posting this on his blog here. But first, if you haven’t yet checked out the weekly recaps of Game of Thrones reimagined to have played out on Facebook, you must. They are HILARIOUS. Go here for last week’s episode and you can scroll back through the previous episodes this season.

And now, onto the discussion!

Nikki: This episode certainly didn’t have quite the shock and awe of last week’s episode, but it jumped all over the place and covered a hell of a lot of ground in an hour. One theme that linked many of the stories together was betrayal and trust. Robb Stark deals with a traitor, ignoring the suggestions from his advisors around him and letting emotion get in the way of a shrewd political move (which seems to be Robb’s modus operandi, to be honest). In Jaime’s brilliant story about why “Kingslayer” is a bit of an exaggeration, he talks about how the Mad King went mad because he believed he saw traitors everywhere, and could trust no one. Stannis tells his daughter that Davos is a traitor that she shouldn’t trust. Daenerys has clearly gained the trust of the Unsullied simply by freeing them. Loras beds a man who is betraying his secrets to Baelish. And as Cersei is still giggling over the consequences of having betrayed Sansa’s secret to Tywin, she finds out her daddy isn’t exactly someone she should have trusted with the information when she ends up on the butt end of his reprisals as well.

Let’s back up to the Jaime scene. I’ve said this to my husband a couple of times so far, but I think Nikolaj Coster-Waldau does an extraordinary job with Jaime Lannister, especially considering English is not the Danish actor’s first language. He pulls off the British accent impeccably (off the show, he speaks with something close to an American accent), and has somehow completely turned out sympathies to him, rather than against him as they’ve been for two full seasons. And for anyone still on the fence by this episode, his shocking confession to Brienne ought to have pushed you over.

I loved this scene, both for the confession, and for the fact that he bares all while… baring all, while his listener, Brienne, is also naked — vulnerable at first, before taking charge of the situation. (I need to mention once again how I also think Gwendoline Christie is fantastic in this role, and the chemistry between the two of them is marvelous.) The body language alone is worth noticing. She’s immersed in the water up to her neck, scrubbing so hard Jaime tells her she’ll scrape off her skin, and then he walks in, throws off his clothes, and she, horrified, looks away and tells him to go to the other hot tub. He doesn’t, and instead immerses himself in her tub while she cowers in the corner, curled up in a fetal ball while refusing to look at him. 

Then he continues taunting her the way he’s been taunting her the entire time, seeing her as a male rather than female, mocking the way she’s “protected” him thus far. She, infuriated, suddenly stands up, with her entire body from the thighs up exposed. He stops, stares, and for one moment you realize he’s seeing her as a woman for the very first time. 

The look of defiance on her face proves that wasn’t what she was going for, she was simply in a warrior position, but he’s humbled, recalling that for a woman, she’s done a hell of a job protecting him. Hell, for a man she’d have done a hell of a job protecting him. She sits back down in the water, but this time her face is one of interest and concern, and she no longer folds herself up in shame. She faces him in the water the same way he faces her, as an equal.

In his story, he sets the record straight on what really happened. Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King, was obsessed with Wildfire. Of course he was, being a “dragon.” He began hiding it with his treasures throughout the city, underneath every part of it, and when Robert Baratheon stormed King’s Landing, Tywin Lannister — who was supposed to be on the side of the king — switched sides, knowing that Aerys’s side was the losing one. Jaime betrayed his father by going to the king and begging him to surrender, telling him that he could stop the slaughter by doing so (it was his second attempt, and he says even Varys told Aerys to surrender, but Pycelle told him the Lannisters would never betray him… Pycelle being proven once again to be the worst advisor ever). Aerys instead told Jaime to bring him his father’s head, and that he’d burn everyone in the city. And so Jaime killed his pyromancer and then stabbed Aerys in the back as he ran away, and then slit his throat for good measure. Betrayal upon betrayal, showing the burden that Jaime has carried with him all these years, being given a name that he believes isn’t his. As he collapses in Brienne’s arms (another moment where both of them are exposed, though there’s nothing sexual about the scene at all except through our collective gaze), she shouts for help: “Help! The Kingslayer!” and before he passes out, he mutters, “Jaime… my name is Jaime.” It’s a mesmerizing scene.

It's only now looking at the still that I see the Virgin Mary/Christ pose.

How did it compare to the one in the book, Chris?

Christopher: Well, starting with Jaime and Brienne—their conversation in the baths squared up almost perfectly with the novel, and again, much of Jaime’s monologue is word-for-word. I agree with you emphatically: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was chilling in his delivery, in his sad, detached, almost monotone recounting of the series of events that changed his life forever and made him the man he is today. It made me wonder, as it did the first time I read it, how much of Jaime’s persona evolves from that act of regicide; is his amorality and arrogance hard-wired in him, or is a carefully wrought defense mechanism born of the Mad King’s blood? Did Jaime Lannister hear all that was said of him, all those voices hypocritically condemning his act while being silently relieved (voices like that of Ned Stark) and choose to own the title of Kingslayer and all it entailed? If so, his stubborn assertion that “My name is Jaime” as he faints in Brienne’s arms signals a shift in his character.

I also agree with you that this episode is very much about trust and betrayal. Trust is a precious commodity in Westeros, given that betrayal seems as ubiquitous as cruelty. Jaime and Brienne offer a useful little exchange. “Let’s call a truce,” he suggests, weary of their jousting. “You need trust to have a truce,” she retorts. Jaime’s answer, “I trust you,” is really one of the more extraordinary statements made in this episode, not just because it indicates how his conception of Brienne has changed, but for the simple fact that no one else seems inclined to utter such a dangerous sentiment. Indeed, given the multilayered plots on display in this episode, the simple act of trusting appears as the height of naiveté. Especially on the part of someone like Jaime: trust entails a certain submissiveness, the need to subsume oneself to another’s caprices, not something we expect of Jaime Lannister; it is obvious that Brienne does not herself trust Jaime, which makes his avowal doubly significant.

But where Jaime and Brienne are more or less peers, characters like Gendry have grown weary of having their trust betrayed by the people they serve. Responding to Arya’s distress that he plans to join the Brotherhood, he says “I’ve served men my entire life. I served Tobho Mott in King’s Landing and he sold me to the Night’s Watch. I served Lord Tywin at Harrenhal wondering every day if I’d get tortured or killed. I’m done serving.” As he points out, Beric may be the Brotherhood’s leader, but he’s a leader by the sufferance of the people he leads—after a lifetime in servitude, Gendry is understandably attracted to the Brotherhood’s egalitarian structure and mission. As Beric said last week, the Brotherhood fights on behalf of the common people who have been betrayed by their leaders.

And it is not as if their leaders seem to show any genuine interest in their plight: even our beloved Lady Olenna displays her cynical and self-interested streak when discussing finances with Tyrion. Treading water as best he can in his new position as Master of Coin, Tyrion searches for ways to see the realm through to financial stability, and in the short term that means mitigating the obscene costs of the Royal Wedding. Perhaps he hoped that Olenna’s hard-edged pragmatism and impatience with fripperies would win him an ally in trying to reduce the scale of the wedding, but she is having none of it. The wedding must be excessive, she states firmly—what otherwise is the point of it being “royal”? When he tries again to steer her toward the matter of expense, she points out that the wedding is about much, much more than just crowning a new king—it’s about giving the people a spectacle. However much the intervention of the Tyrells has salved the hunger in King’s Landing, “The people are hungry for more than just food. They crave distractions.” Bread and circuses: the symbolic value of the wedding far outstrips its monetary cost, for giving the people leisure to contemplate their leaders on an empty stomach is “likely to end with us being torn to pieces. A royal wedding is much cheaper, wouldn’t you agree?” And because she is a pragmatist, once she has tortured Tyrion enough, she agrees to cover half the wedding’s costs.

One of the things that consistently impresses me about this show is the way the writers frequently work in balanced themes and set-pieces. The overarching series of novels might be called “Ice and Fire,” but this episode was very much about fire and water. “Kissed by Fire,” the episode’s title, is a reference to Ygritte’s flaming red hair—children kissed by fire are considered lucky among the wildlings—but can also refer to the consummation of the attraction and affection that has developed between her and Jon Snow. Jon is, indeed, “kissed by fire” as Ygritte basically forces him to prove the truth of his betrayal by betraying his final oath, that of celibacy. Like the bathing scene between Jaime and Brienne, the post-coital bath taken by Jon and Ygritte signifies a cementing of trust—and is, it is worth noting, the first genuinely joyful and tender depiction of lovemaking since Robb and Talisa fell in love last season. It was, indeed, something of a relief after four episodes in which sex has been either violent and violative, or purely mercenary. Not that it isn’t emotionally ambivalent: we know Jon Snow is only pretending to turn his cloak, meaning that Ygritte’s trust is misplaced (and just like when I read this scene in the novel, I found myself wondering if her wistful desire to stay in the cave forever wasn’t her intuiting that on some level); but Jon’s desire for her and his growing love is genuine.

Fire is also depicted as an agent of justice (Beric Dondarrion’s vengeful flaming sword) and as restorative (Thoros bringing Beric back from the dead). But it is also destructive and wild, as in Jaime’s story about the Mad King’s plan to burn the city to the ground. In the same way, water—cleansing and restorative in the bathing scenes—has an ambivalent nature. Robb executes Rickard Karstark in the pouring rain; but even more striking is the creepy song sung by Stannis’ sweet but sadly disfigured daughter Shireen, a kind of trippy-horror version of “Under the Sea.” And when we finally meet Stannis’ erstwhile queen Selyse, we find her in a chamber where she has preserved her stillborn sons in some translucent liquid, like a mad scientist’s early experiments.

What did you think of the scenes on Dragonstone, Nikki?

Nikki: :::shudder::: The scenes on Dragonstone, much like the ones in the North with Mance Rayder, feel like something the readers are getting a lot more out of than the non-readers. (Perhaps one of the goals of season 3 is to make all of us read the books once and for all.) It certainly felt like we were missing out on some major backstory. It took a moment for me to realize the woman in the room was Stannis’s wife. And I couldn’t figure out why she and her daughter were locked up in a dungeon-type room. Can they get out? Are they trapped there?

What I could cull from the conversations is that she’s a follower of Melisandre and clearly an acolyte who puts her faith above her own well-being. She shows no judgement or jealousy about the fact her husband was unfaithful to her, because it was with the Red Lady. And yeah… her dead baby boys suspended in a green jelly-like liquid just adds further credence to the idea that anyone who follows the Lord of Light is batshit insane.  

That said, Beric appears to be one of those followers. We hear him say the prayer that Melisandre often chants (and that Selyse also says when we see her), “The night is dark and full of terrors.” He uses fire when he’s fighting, not only symbolic of the fire god but also, more pragmatically, it’s the one thing that makes the Hound pee himself in fear. I don’t know if he’s always been a follower or is a recent convert to the religion, but he definitely embraces it wholeheartedly. He tells the Hound, “The Lord of Light isn’t done with you yet” when the Hound walks away from the battle.

I’m thinking the religion of the show is more fleshed-out and important in the books, but from the show I get a sense that the Lord of Light is a monotheistic religion that stands in contrast to the more pantheistic religions on Westeros. I also get a sense that there aren’t a lot of followers of the Lord of Light in Westeros, but instead in the outlying areas. Would that be correct? Is much made of any major characters in Westeros worshipping any gods? Other than the occasional “by the gods” uttered by certain characters (most notably Catelyn) I don’t seem to sense any particular religious fervor among any other characters.

Stannis’s daughter is adorable, despite the one side of her face that’s been eaten away by disease. Despite her father telling her to stay away from Davos, she immediately goes back over to him, offers to teach him how to read and continues to talk to him the way she was before. Here’s hoping Davos can influence Stannis’s daughter in a way he was unable to influence his own son. I’m very intrigued by the friendship between the two, and am looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Is there anything more that could be filled in about Dragonstone from the books that would be non-spoilery?

Christopher: I think what we miss on the show is the bigger picture of Stannis: we get that he’s a hard man, unyielding, wedded first and foremost to his own rigid sense of justice, but the show doesn’t offer some of the nuance and insight into his character the books do. What we probably miss most of all is his simmering sense of resentment: he has always felt he has been denied his due, felt constantly slighted by his brother Robert, and above all else loathes the broader tendency among people to be lax in their morals and selective in the application of law and justice. He is Lord of Dragonstone because that was Robert’s “reward” for him for his service in the rebellion, while he gave Storm’s End (the Baratheon castle) to Renly. He is ill liked among the people, something about which he is painfully aware; and his marriage is cold and loveless. Casting Tara Fitzgerald might have been a misstep in this respect, as she is anything but homely and plain (as Selyse is described in the novels), but then again they did a good job of making her haggard and austere.

One thing we never quite get (at least not so far) is how Melissandre insinuated herself into Stannis’ councils. We know she saw him in her scrying and believes him to be Westeros’ saviour; but why someone as hardheaded as Stannis would throw over the religion of his birth in the name of her red god is never explained. One assumes she offered him what no one else ever did: passion, devotion, and recognition of his supposed greatness.

Selyse’s conversion, on the other hand, is easy to understand. Long neglected by her cold and taciturn husband (in the novels there is passing reference to the fact that Stannis does his “husbandly duties” once a year, and grudgingly at that), Melissandre must have offered something akin to a revelation. We get a hint of her near-fanaticism here; in the novels, she is the most vocal prosthelytizer for Melissandre and her god. Those among Stannis’ men who have converted enthusiastically to the worship of R’Hllor are called the “queen’s men,” whereas those who remain skeptical (like Davos, and like Stannis himself) are the king’s.

We don’t get, it is true, a very strong sense of the religions of Westeros and elsewhere in Martin’s world on the show—which isn’t entirely surprising, as there are limited opportunities for that kind of exposition. Basically, the “old gods” of the north represent a pantheistic form of worship, symbolized by the weirwoods; the “seven” of the rest of Westeros seem at first a polytheistic pantheon, but there is a lot of rhetoric here and there in the novels about how they are just seven faces of the one god. In this respect, they are not unlike Jungian archetypes, each representing different facets of human identity and behaviour (Father, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Smith, Warrior, Stranger).

Melissandre’s religion appears monotheistic, but is closer to an ancient religion like Zoroastrianism—a Manichaean faith built on the mythos of two deities locked in perennial battle. The “red god” R’Hllor is opposed to the Enemy (He Who Shall Not Be Named, if you like), the embodiment of cold, darkness, and death.

There is more I can say, but I don’t want to skirt too close to spoiler territory.

To return to the question of trust and betrayal—which, again, tends to get bound up in the question of service—the interchanges between Ser Jorah and Barristan were interesting, and nicely done. I like the way the two knights’ relationship is evolving, and the way in which each is coming to embody a certain kind of devotion and loyalty. Jorah, we know, is in love with Daenerys; his devotion to her cause is inextricable from his desire for her (what was lovely about the final scene of last week’s episode, as I mentioned, was that we saw admiration on his face when he suddenly realized just what kind of queen she is). But he also does believe in her … as he says in response to Barristan’s question, he believes in her with all his heart.

But we also know Jorah is a venal man, and that his downfall in Westeros was not so much in falling helplessly in love with a vain woman, but his unthinking willingness to do anything for her … culminating in selling slaves and earning himself exile. Barristan, by contrast, is one of the most famously virtuous knights of the seven kingdoms, and is driven by his sense of honour and duty. That sense of honour sends him to find Daenerys; he has no especial emotional investment, and as we see in his conversation with Jorah, that makes him somewhat more clear-eyed. He tries, tactfully, to suggest that someone with as speckled a past as Jorah might not be the best person to be seen with Daenerys when she returns to Westeros, at least not in the elevated position he now holds. Unsurprisingly, Jorah is having none of it.

The most interesting part of their discussion is when they talk about King Robert’s attempts to assassinate Daenerys—which, as we know, Jorah was initially complicit in, at least insofar as he was feeding Robert intelligence. Jorah has a worried moment, wondering if Barristan knows this … but the other knight blithely says that he didn’t bother attending Small Council meetings, meaning he wouldn’t know that. I need to go back to season one to see if Barristan was in fact present when Ned Stark protested Robert’s desire to kill her: I seem to think he was. And if he was, this part of the conversation was a subtle warning to Jorah.

What do you think, Nikki?

Nikki: I remember Barristan from season 1, when he was the head of the Kingsguard (do I remember that correctly?) and he was with Robert Baratheon when the king died, apologizing for not having been there for him. There was a scene early in the season where Barristan, Baratheon, and Jaime Lannister are sitting around talking about great battles they’d been in, and Barristan says that the Mad King had killed Ned’s father, and it’s a good thing he hadn’t faced him on the battlefield. And then Joffrey disgraces him by removing him from the Kingsguard and claiming incompetency.

He was fiercely loyal to Robert Baratheon, and to Ned Stark. And now, after saying he would have killed Daenerys’s father on the battlefield, he pledges his undying loyalty to the Targaryens. Should we be wary of him, or has he seen the way the Lannisters play the game, and since Ned is now gone he believes Daenerys is the true leader?

Speaking of the Lannisters, let’s look at that final scene again. Tywin, Cersei, and Tyrion are all around the table, and Tyrion is boasting of his early accomplishments as Master of Coin, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the royal wedding (I’d like to also mention as an aside that my favourite line of the episode is Olenna saying, “What good is the word ‘extravagant’ if it can’t be used to describe a royal wedding?!” Ha!). Cersei has just revealed to her father the plot to marry Sansa off to Loras, meaning the Tyrells would have the hold on Winterfell once the other Starks (inevitably, in their eyes) fall and make Sansa the sole heir. Tyrion makes a snide remark about Sansa missing certain parts that would make Loris happy, but his chuckles don’t last long before Tywin says he’s putting a kibosh on the plan and Tyrion will marry Sansa. (This suddenly changes the nature of the scene a couple of weeks ago between Tyrion and Shae, where he mentioned that Sansa was a lovely girl and Shae immediately became jealous and thought he meant more than just a passing comment on her beauty.) This news is devastating to Tyrion: First, he’s in love with Shae and not Sansa. Secondly, he actually feels compassion for Sansa, and doesn’t want to enslave her to a life with a mutilated dwarf. And thirdly, for his own sake, he doesn’t want to see the look of horror on her face when she learns her fate.

I'm sorry... I have to what with who?

But Tywin’s punishments are not all reserved for Tyrion, as he wipes the smirk of Cersei’s face by saying she will marry Loras, securing their hold over the Tyrells. Cersei is also missing those particular parts that Tyrion had mentioned, and there’s not just a look of shock on Cersei’s face, but a look of utter devastation. He’s already done this to her once, forcing her to marry the fat, drunk, disgusting Robert Baratheon and stand by while he took many lovers, humiliating her along the way while she kept her own lover a secret. Now he’s going to do it to her again, but this time everyone knows that Loras is gay and that she’s being chained to more shame and humiliation, and yet another man who doesn’t love her. It’s one of those rare moments of sympathy for Cersei.

Hahahahaha! Gotcha Tyrion, you... I'm sorry, what?

But it’s not the only sympathetic moment in the show. There’s a brief scene with Jaime early on, overshadowed by later scenes of Jaime in the hot tub or getting his stump lanced (and once again, shudder) where he first arrives at Bolton’s place and Bolton slowly describes the battle at King’s Landing, making Jaime think his sister was violated, mutilated, and destroyed. Only, of course, for Bolton to say, “And everyone is okay and lived happily ever after, amen, haha!” at the end of it. Jaime collapses to the ground in relief. After season 1, it’s hard to recall that there was actually a romance between Cersei and Jaime: apart, Jaime becomes more sympathetic with every episode, while Cersei continues to be vile with brief sympathetic moments, but where we see her asking after her beloved all the time, he doesn’t seem to ask about her. Now we see that she’s still in his head, and he still loves her very much. When a sympathetic character is in love with another, we can’t help but begin to see that second character through the eyes of the first. His love for her and his switch to becoming a hero of this show might just alter her in our eyes.

Any last thoughts, Chris?

Christopher: I was dreading—dreading—that scene where Tywin informs Tyrion he’s to marry Sansa. It was excruciating enough in the novel, and it was just as painful to watch. Poor Sansa … and poor Tyrion. She is really one of the few—perhaps the only—principal character who has absolutely no agency. She’s a lot more sympathetic than she was in season one, but she above all others has no power over her fate. I somehow don’t think I’m offering spoilers when I say she is less than enthused over her betrothal—besides finding Tyrion physically repulsive, she also cannot see him as anything other than a Lannister, and therefore complicit in her father’s murder. Which is unfortunate, as Tyrion displays genuine concern for her … a greedier and more selfish man would have rejoiced in the “gift” Tywin gave him, seeing only a comely wife and a great fortune and title, but Tyrion (besides being in love with Shae) displays the sort of empathy that seems otherwise absent in his family (though Jaime seems to be developing some).

We haven’t said much about Robb Stark’s quandary, and his decision to execute Rickard Karstark for murdering the Lannister boys … which is possibly just as well. I imagine it’s obvious to those who haven’t read the books that this storyline is slowly building to something, so I’ll let it alone for now.

Which, I think, brings us to the conclusion of yet another week. Once again, Nikki, a pleasure—it’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the season!


Gretchen M said...

Sansa is one character I think the show has failed with. Because at this point in the book series, she did have more agency and was making choices of her own and trying to manipulate the situation. The way they set up/changed the Tyrell marriage plot sort of makes it seem like Sansa is passing up an offer of freedom just because she thinks Loras is dreamy. Baelish never approaches Sansa in the book that I can recall with this offer.
I don't want to spoil anything since I don't know what they will take from the book in a later episode but at this point in the story Sansa had already impacted another person's life by using her own manipulations, and had started becoming more of her own person.

Blam said...

I think it's been a pretty strong season so far overall, but this was a really good episode.

@Christopher: One of the things that consistently impresses me about this show is the way the writers frequently work in balanced themes and set-pieces.

Agreed. Since the show is so heavily serialized, what happens in any given week can feel somewhat arbitrary in terms of story advancement, so — while the characters and narrative are compelling enough on their own — it's a cherry on top for a chapter come across as having a theme or themes within itself. Your insights (the both of you) make the parallels that are there to be drawn even more satisfying.

I'm with you on Nikolaj Coster-Waldau too. I was familiar with him from the 2008 Fox series New Amsterdam, doomed to imminent cancellation just based on the title — but only from that, and he's been quite impressive in Game of Thrones.

We've seen so many stories (never mind real life) involving a right-hand man chastised for just following orders and not making a moral decision to turn on his superior. Here in Jamie Lannister, Kingslayer, is someone who did, yet because he was a trusted advisor — and partly because few if any other people know the in-the-moment details — he's vilified for it despite Aerys Targaryen being known as "the Mad King". The fact that he's perceived as a silver-tongued golden boy from a privileged family (even though he apparently does have valid skills as a swordsman) and the whispers about him doing the Shasta McNasty with his sister don't help him any of course.

Now, mature commentary aside, I totally want Spinal Tap — who surely love this series — to remake one of their signature hits as "Brienne's Bottom".

Blam said...

Other thoughts:

My big frustration with Robb's ill-fated choice is that it didn't feel like he was "only" taking the honorable course. It wasn't just a matter of what his gut said needed to be done; it was a matter of him believing that he needed to kill this guy so that he didn't look weak in the eyes of his followers and opponents. A decision made on pure principle damn the cost would be one thing, but a decision that involved strategy not working out strategically is a serious blow to his leadership abilities all around.

Talk about your hot springs... I suspect that Jon and Ygritte's little frolick will prove to be one of the more replayed scenes on DVR (and later DVD). I'm skeptical that Ygritte had, um, never come across a, uh, cunning linguist before, however.

I'm not really sure what kind of crazy Stannis's wife is supposed to be. Did he lock her up because she's just nuts, or because she only bore him stillborn children and a scarred but otherwise apparently fine daughter? Did she go nuts because of that latter part? I don't know what's wrong with Stannis's daughter, either, but it's possible that she was locked away simply for being disfigured — which at the end of the day makes Stannis about as open-minded as Tywin Lannister or anyone else in this realm.

My first thought when we saw Stannis wife, by the way, was "A woman after the Governor's heart!" My second thought was "He locked her up in The Mütter Museum [perhaps a Philly-locals-only reference]?"

Of course, Stannis himself doesn't seem all that sane, given (in addition to paranoia) that he was hot for Melisandre last week not just to do the sex for fun but because he wanted her to bear him more sons. Unless Junior the Homicidal Smoke Creature returned home after killing Renly to play catch with Dad, I'm wondering just what kind of paternal feelings he could have for the thing.

Teebore mentioned on his blog that Stannis has the strongest claim to the throne and, especially before we got Daenerys's full measure, it felt that way — but I wonder. On the one hand, Robert apparently didn't have any natural children by Cersei — there was only Joffrey and his younger siblings, who are actually Jamie's kids, and then bastards of Robert's — which leaves Stannis the next Baratheon in line. On the other hand, Robert only came to power during a coup. On yet another hand, however, the Mad King was the Mad King, and I think I recall us being told that the Targaryens were brutal; besides which, they came to power through invasion as well. So is Stannis the one with the strongest claim? Is Daenerys the rightful heir? Or is the one who deserves to rule whomever can take the throne by force or by general acclamation of the populace?

Yet again Twyin has proved himself a pretty sharp guy. Once Cersei thinks about it, frankly, I wonder if she won't come to realize that it's a fine arrangement for her to marry Loras. She's of use to her family in one of the few ways a woman can be in this world, as a wife, by uniting the Lannisters further with the Tyrells, while wedding a man who has as much to gain from a superficial union as she does. Given that her son is also her nephew, after all, it shouldn't creep her out too much that he'll end up being her brother-in-law too.

Jeremy said...

A minor correction to Jaime's backstory is that Tywin betrayed Aerys before Robert's rebels reached the city, not during a rebel attack.

Here's some non-spoiler clarification. Robert was wounded fighting Rhaegar Targaryen during the Battle of the Trident in the Riverlands, so he sent Ned south while he recuperated.

Meanwhile, Tywin, who had been neutral, brought the Westerlands forces to King's Landing. After listening to various arguments from the small council, Aerys believed that the Lannisters were there to reinforce the Targaryens, as Tywin had previously been a Hand of the King to Aerys. Instead the Lannisters began sacking the city once inside the gates.

Aerys ordered Jaime to kill Tywin and ordered the then Hand of the King, the pyromancer Rossart, to destroy the city with wildfire. Jaime killed both of them instead.

During the sack Gregor Clegane (the Mountain) and Amory Lorch (who captured Arya last season and was later assassinated by Jaqen H'ghar) killed Crown Prince Rhaegar's family - wife Elia Martell of Dorne, daughter Rhaenys, and infant son Aegon. Queen Rhaella, pregnant with Daenerys, had escaped with young Viserys to Dragonstone (now Stannis's island home) prior to the Lannister army arriving.

Ned's rebel forces arrived shortly afterward (Jaime and Ned talk about that during the first season). Ned's forces then continued south to relieve Stannis Baratheon at Storm's End from the Tyrell siege (which Stannis spoke about in season 2 and Olenna mentioned in season 3).

Nikki Stafford said...

Blam: LOL on the Governor comment: I thought the same thing, hahaha!!! "Wow, first zombie heads and now this?!"

Nikki Stafford said...

Jeremy: thanks for the clarification! I could have sworn that he said he warned Aerys in advance, and they didn't listen to him, and then as Robert was storming the city and Tywin switched sides he ran back to him, begging him. But clearly your explanation makes perfect sense: that all of this happened before the storming began.

Another reason why I'm going to read those books. ;)

Colleen/redeem147 said...

All I could think about the news was, "Lucky Sansa."

The little girl looks like she has dragon skin. Is that just odd makeup?

I think I get Sersei and Jaimie now - he's the one man she could be close to without her husband suspecting something was going on.