Game of Thrones Season 1 Episode 9 – Baelor

We are still in shock from the end of the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, but we will gather our thoughts. Fair warning though, here be spoilers.

Daenerys and Khal Drogo are on the road to Westeros, and the wound the King suffered at the hands of one of his own men has got infected and he is dying. The Dolthraki turn against Daenerys as she attempts to save his life with blood magic. Ever since she has become queen, here have been conflicts between Daenerys and her people, but this is the biggest. Daenerys has been relying on her pregnancy and her husband to get along with the Dolthraki, but neither of these seem to matter any more as the Khal is dying. It remains to be seen whether the magic will save the King, but everything Daenerys has been fighting for relies on whether he survives.

The war between Wolf and Lion reaches a turning point when the Lannister army clashes with Robb Stark’s men. Robb outsmarts the Lannisters in battle and, in a small victory, manages to capture Jaime Lannister. The war, however, is having a strange effect on everyone. As he prepares to go into battle (and likely die), Tyrion Lannister tells Bronn and a prostitute the story of his doomed marriage at the age of 16. As Tyrion, Peter Dinklage handles the moment with grace and allows the audience to get a glimpse of what lies underneath Tyrion’s brash exterior. For the first time, we understand Tyrion’s relationship with his family and why he covers every emotion with bravado and sarcasm. As Tyrion walks to the battlefield, the audience is conflicted; of course Eddard Stark is innocent of treason, but do we really want Tyrion to be defeated?

The battle is the centre of the episode, but – due to budget, and presumably time, constraints – it is not shown, but this really does not matter. Yes, it would have been great to see everyone slogging it out in the mud, but the loss of this battle does not affect the episode. In fact, if it had been included, there may have been issues with pacing, so perhaps it was better to leave it out.

The most shocking thing about this episode of Game of Thrones is the death of Eddard Stark (Sean Bean). The head of the Stark household has been the central focus of the series to date, and even though Lord Stark’s demise was in keeping with the books, it would have been easy for the show to shy away from killing off their leading man. Bravo to the people behind Game of Thrones for sticking with the material that made the books such compelling reading.

Stark is hauled out to ‘confess his treason’, and Joffrey decides his fate. Cersei had been pushing for Stark to be forced to join the Night’s Watch and Sansa begged for mercy, but Joffrey decides to cement his place on the throne by having Lord Stark beheaded with his own sword, while his daughters watch. The most touching moment of the episode comes as Arya runs to try and save her father while brandishing her sword Needle. She is protected from seeing her father die, but it is Arya’s courage in her convictions that really brings home the fact that Lord Stark is about to die.

While all this is going on, John Snow makes a discovery at The Wall that will influence everyone, and is left to make the decision whether to fight with his family or stay true to his oath to the Night’s Watch.

Each episode of Game of Thrones has been an improvement on the one that went before it, but this has been the most jaw dropping one we have seen so far. Between Tyrion baring his soul, the Stark’s overcoming unlikely odds to win a victory and the Lord of Westeros meeting an untimely end, Game of Thrones is delivering on the promises made in the early episodes of the series. What remains to be seen however, is whether Khal Drogo will join Ned in the afterlife, what will happen to Daenerys and whether the gods will ultimately reward the Lannister family’s greed corruption and backstabbing. Whatever the outcome, however, the final episode in this series is bound to have us on the edge of our seats.

GS Reviewer: Brogen

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