It’s so many little things that make me such a fan of this episode, and this series. I remember when I first saw the creepy teaser trailer for Game of Thrones. I’d heard of the books, of course, but never read them. I’ve been a David Benioff fan since he wrote a little book called The 25th Hour and then moved on to writing for films and later television. And I will watch Sean Bean in anything. I was hooked from the first episode and, for me, “Baelor” is the best episode of a fantastic 10 episode season. Oh, and I still watch every second of the opening credits instead of fast-forwarding through them. That should tell you how much I love everything about this show.
One of the best things about this show – for me – has been to see the villain trimumph. I say “best,” because I think that people without good intention often get away with whatever they want. I think the strong dominate the weak. I think people know what is right and choose to do what is wrong. So, in that sense, I think this is a show that portrays human weakness honestly. By the same token, I think loyalty and honor is also portrayed honestly. There are those who know what’s right and they live their lives by that code. If they are forced to die for their beliefs they do not waver and they do not complain. Lord Eddard Stark was such a man. He knows Joffrey is not Robert Baratheon’s true heir and, at first, he has no interested in confessing his “treason.”
Rob marches south to come to his father’s aid and must pay a heavy price for it. Not only must he choose a wife from one of Lord Frey’s men to cross the trident, but he sends two thousand of his men to their deaths to secure Jamie Lannister as his prisoner. Jon, sorely tested by news of his brother’s movements, gets a pep talk from a surprisingly unlikely source – master of the citadel, who is also a Targaryen. His vow was tested when he heard his brother, the Mad King, was murdered along with almost all of his family.
We get to know Tyrion Lannister a bit more after seeing the contempt with which is father treats him. Tyrion and his men are to be on the front lines of the effort. Since Tyrion thinks this may be his last night, he has Bronn find him a woman. That night, after some wine and some games, Tyrion tells them the story of his wife and the horrible trick played on him by his brother. Tyrion thought he was in love, but his wife was exposed as a whore grasping for silver.
Daenerys is also tested. Drogo is too sick to stay on his horse so she orders his men to camp for the night. Feeling that she has no other choice, she summons the witch to perform blood magic on her husband. But with that kind of magic come death.
And finally, Ned sees both his daughters in the square where his execution is set to take place and bows to the pressure to confess. When Goffrey decides to make an example out of him – much to the surprise and displeasure of his court – Ned, the ever faithful servant, exposes his neck for the executioner.
I can remember how I felt after I saw this episode the first time because I’m feeling it again now after re-watching the episode. I was so shocked when Ned was killed but I thought the moment was played so beautifully in so many ways. The turmoil on the dias and Arya’s distress was palpable. Ned’s reaction to the sentence and acceptance of it was noble. It was just incredibly moving and I don’t mind admitting that I bawled like a baby – again.
My favorite episodes are always the ones that make me think or make me react in some way. I’ve come to love the Starks and I’m outraged Ned is dead. I already hated Joffrey and now I want to see him killed horribly and painfully. I want to see Jamie, Cersei, and Tywin Lannister pay – but strangely not Tyrion. Part of me wants Jon to abandon the wall and come to his brother’s aid, but an even bigger part of me wants Jon to live as honorably as his father and stay true to his oath as a man of the night’s watch. But most of all I’m looking forward to what happens in Season 2. What new intrigues will emerge? What new enemies will declare themselves? Who will sit on the Iron Throne at the end of the season?
Here are some of my favorite lines from the episode:
“You’re mother would still be a milkmaid if I hadn’t squirted you into her belly.”
“We all do our duty when there’s no cost in it.”
“Surely there are ways to have me killed that are less detrimental to the war effort.”
“Only death pays for life.”
“If I die weep for me.” “You’ll be dead. How will you know?” “I’ll know.”
All photos courtesy of HBO. Season 2 of Game of Thrones premieres in April 2012.
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