The countdown continues. My brother has already derided all of my choices but I’m staying firm in my resolutions. No book spoilers here so read on and rest easy.
5. My name is Jaime
‘There it is. There’s the look. I’ve seen it for 17 years on face after face. You all despise me. Kingslayer. Oathbreaker. A man without honor… Tell me, if your precious Renly commanded you to kill your own father and stand by while thousands of men, women, and children burned alive, would you have done it? Would you have kept your oath then? First, I killed the pyromancer. And then when the king turned to flee, I drove my sword into his back. “Burn them all,” he kept saying. “Burn them all.” I don’t think he expected to die. He- he meant to… burn with the rest of us and rise again, reborn as a dragon to turn his enemies to ash. I slit his throat to make sure that didn’t happen. That’s where Ned Stark found me…You think the honorable Ned Stark wanted to hear my side? He judged me guilty the moment he set eyes on me. By what right does the wolf judge the lion? By what right?’
The moment in which Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) reveals to Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) the truth behind his nickname ‘Kingslayer’ is really a culmination of his season-long redemptive arc. Introduced as the incestuous child-maiming back-stabbing king-slaying twin of the unsympathetic Cersei, Jaime has gradually morphed from antagonist to anti-hero to straight-up fan favourite. The amputation of his sword hand (and with it, his martial prowess and subsequent identity) and the mutual respect and friendship he comes to share with the inherently loyal and virtuous Brienne all mean layer after layer of his character is peeled away to reveal depths we didn’t know the villain possessed. The best moment in this arc is hard to pin down: Jaime’s many wonderful scenes of verbal sparring with Brienne and the horribly shocking moment in which his hand is cut off and ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’ jarringly blares over the credits have claims for the top spot. The moment Jaime selflessly risks his life to save Brienne from a bear and finally acts like the knight he is supposed to be is also hugely satisfying. Yet the very top Jaime moment, for me, is his revelation that the very act he is most reviled for is in fact his most heroic moment. Jaime is a wonderfully complex character and his relationship with Brienne (a supposed purposeful inversion of “Beauty and the Beast”) is one of the show’s most poignant and intriguing developments. It will be interesting to see whether his newly discovered penchant for knightly virtue will stick once Jaime is reunited with Cersei and Tywin in King’s Landing.
4. The Red Wedding
‘The Lannisters send their regards.’
Unequivocally the most dismal scene of “Game of Thrones” yet (and there’s a lot of competition for that label), the infamous ‘Red Wedding’ provoked such strong emotions that many viewers even filmed their reactions and posted them online (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78juOpTM3tE&feature=player_embedded). If you don’t feel like watching the compilation, this gif pretty much sums up most peoples’ thoughts on the scene:
While book fans had been anticipating this moment since the very first episode, many poor casual television viewers were caught completely off guard at the sudden and brutal murder of two of their favourite protagonists, Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). The moment in which the Lannister anthem, The Rains of Castamere, starts to eerily play couldn’t prepare anyone for the brutal massacre that suddenly went down. Even smug book fans were left reeling after the pregnant Talisa was stabbed in the stomach in a rare deviation from the source material (Robb’s wife, Jeyne Westerling, isn’t present at the wedding in the book). The reason this whole scene is so disturbing and shocking is not only because it’s so unexpected to the viewer, but because the characters themselves are caught unawares – to kill men on the battlefield is one thing, but to butcher unarmed men while they’re guests in your home is a big medieval no-no. It’s a horrific and macabre scene and once again proves that, in Westeros, the more honest, trusting, and heroic you are, the higher your chances are of being horribly betrayed and slaughtered. It’s tough to watch this huge blow for House Stark but you have to respect George R.R. Martin’s balls in thinning out his cast of characters so considerably. It’s like reading “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and having half of the Weasley family killed off in gruesome fashion while there are still four books to go.
‘The northerners will never forget.’
The entire episode “Blackwater” is amazing and rivals the battle at Helm’s Deep in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” for most epic depiction of a battle. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is the most popular “Game of Thrones” character and for good reason: his simultaneous acerbic wit and vulnerability mean he’s able to evoke amusement, admiration, and pity from the viewer all in one fell swoop. He’s generally got an answer for everything, shirks responsibility, and can’t help even mocking those who have the power to destroy him. As fun as all that is to watch, it was somehow even better to see him rise to the occasion, stand up, and rally the troops to defend his city and his family.
‘Don’t fight for a king. Don’t fight for his kingdoms. Don’t fight for honor, don’t fight for glory, don’t fight for riches, because you won’t get any. This is your city Stannis means to sack. That’s your gate he’s ramming. If he gets in it will be your house that burns. Your gold he steals, your women he rapes. Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!’
This scene ranks higher than the Red Wedding mainly because instead of making me want to sob my heart out and eat a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream, it made me want to do this:
2. Ned loses his head
If the Red Wedding corresponds with the Weasleys being prematurely murdered in the third book of the “Harry Potter” series, Ned Stark’s execution can only be compared with Voldemort vanquishing Harry Potter in “The Philosopher’s Stone” or Darth Vader offing Luke Skywalker in “A New Hope”. Ned (Sean Bean) was the presumed hero and protagonist in the first season of “Game of Thrones”. Sean Bean was the show’s biggest name and he was marketed as the main character. I thought at first that his beheading in episode nine of season one had to be a dream sequence or a joke or a trick of some kind. Alas, it was not. Killing off Ned, the steadfast and upright patriarch of House Stark whom everyone was rooting for, was Martin’s way of sending his readership a harsh message – no one is safe. That Ned’s death came at the cowardly command of Joffrey (the aforementioned little shit), who as an ineffectual and conniving prince previously represented only a mild threat to the characters, made the pill even harder to swallow. As if Ned losing his head wasn’t bad enough, it occurs after he falsely confesses to treason (at the pleading of Sansa, his daughter). Ned, the beloved warden of the North and lord of Winterfell (so beloved that his execution sparks a civil war), is killed as a traitor. The viewer is permitted to see Ned’s final vision of the world through his eyes – a mob of jeering and screaming strangers. The fact that this humiliating death occurs in front of his two young daughters is the hideous cherry on the depressing cake. Arya is forced to look away, totally broken, while Sansa screams and is restrained, a witness to the entire grisly show. Having now made this mistake with both Boromir and Ned, from now on if Sean Bean receives one of the top billings, DO NOT get attached to his character.
No explanation necessary.
Robb is named King in the North, Ned Stark v Jaime Lannister, Jon Snow meets Samwell Tarly, Tyrion’s trial by combat, Tyrion and Jon bonding, Arya and Tywin bonding, Arya’s first kill, the birth of Daenerys’ dragons, Melisandre gives birth to a creepy murderer shadow baby, Viserys’ death by crown, Jaime pushes Bran out of the window.
“Game of Thrones” returns on April 6. Disclaimer: don a thick skin/remove heart before watching…