Game Of Thrones Has Balls, Son
(Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen last night’s episode of Game Of Thrones and plan to, you may want to bookmark this discussion for later as it concerns a major plot point from the episode. Consider yourself warned.)
Damn. DAMN. Game Of Thrones ain’t screwing around as last night’s ninth and penultimate episode of the first season, “Baelor,” culminated with the brutal death by beheading of Sean Bean’s Ned Stark, the closest thing that the series has to a main character. Unfortunately, in the Twitter age, spoilers are like a virus that spreads at a pandemic rate and, as I was watching Dirk Nowitski and the Dallas Mavericks finally vanquish the Evil Empire er… Miami Heat, my TweetDeck blew up with mentions soon after 10PM with what had just gone down on GoT . Thinking that this kind of reaction could only concern the dispatching of a major character, I made sure to catch HBO’s 11PM encore showing instead of waiting for On Demand viewing with the wife later in the week , steeling myself for the likely death of either Ned or Tyrion Lannister (the brilliant Peter Dinklage). As “Baelor” unfolded, we saw Tyrion prepare himself for impending battle with Stark forces in the company of possibly the 581st whore we’ve seen in the series thus far  while making constant references to his own mortality throughout the hour. When he finally enters the fray (after oversleeping – natch), he’s almost immediately clubbed in the head by an overzealous compatriot making me think, “Was that it? Was that the death?” I should have known that GoT is much, much too smart to take the easy way out and telegraph such a major turning point. As Tyrion’s foray into war was unfolding, back in King’s Landing as far as we were aware Ned’s daughter Sansa (Sophie Turner) had made a deal with the bitchy new king, Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), to spare her father’s life with the provision that Ned admit to the treason he’d been accused of by the Lannister family and swear his undying loyalty to Joffrey’s reign. Everything we’d learned about Ned in the series thus far suggested that he’d die for his principles and, as he was brought to face the public, it would have been easy to believe he’d refuse to capitulate to the Lannisters’ demands. When he actually does admit his “treason” and swear his loyalty, we’re lead to believe that it’s over and that Ned’s going to be spared , that is, until Joffrey gives in to the bloodlust of the crowd and decides to make an example of Ned by ordering his death anyway . We wait and wait for something – anything – to save Ned… right until the moment that the sword drops and his head is separated from the rest of his body . It’s not just any show that will brazenly off its most recognizable face and lead character (in memorable fashion, no less) but damned if GoT didn’t do just that. Granted, it’s staying true to its source material (from what I understand, anyway )  but it would have been easy for a lesser series to take the easy way out and deviate in order to keep an actor of Bean’s caliber around . Instead, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (GoT’s showrunners)  chose the ruthless route of showing that literally NO ONE is safe on the show, which is a choice that will only serve the series well going forward. The worst thing in a show like this is when the audience feels like the status quo will always be the status quo. That is most definitely not the case after “Baelor.” The ante has been upped exponentially as Ned’s death is only going to fire the Stark/Lannister hostilities to new and bloody heights, and, ultimately the viewers are the winners in this war. Last night was the night that GoT took a giant step toward greatness and I, for one, can’t wait to see the fallout .
 Special mention goes out to James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly for his breathless series of tweets concerning a “shocking death” on GoT then trumpeting a “special interview with Sean Bean concerning tonight’s episode.” Like I couldn’t tell what that meant, you dick. Also, Michael K. Williams (better known as The Wire’s Omar)? Why you gotta do me like this, Omar?
 She had long since passed out on the couch so the hell with her (don’t tell her I said that). I’m not waiting to watch something like this and surely wouldn’t mind watching it twice once she finally gets around to seeing it.
 Whoring is one of Tyrion’s specialties, you see.
 And kudos to the writers (showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss) and director (Alan Taylor) of “Baelor” for ratcheting the tension in the final scene up as high as it could possibly go.
 It also nicely sets the audience up to anticipate and salivate for Joffrey’s eventual bloodily satisfying death (I’m assuming, since no one who sits on the Iron Throne seems to meet a natural end).
 Which in itself is a nice callback to the series’ pilot, “Winter Is Coming,” which sees Ned himself mete out the same punishment to an actual traitor.
 I’ve been trying to stay spoiler-free as I’m a newbie to the world of Westeros and want to be as surprised as possible as the series progresses.
 For example, it’s been known for years that the intention of Lost’s producers was to kill off the Jack character in the series pilot but they decided that they liked Matthew Fox’s work too much to go through with it.
 Along with obvious credit to George R.R. Martin, GoT’s godfather and creator.
 Or my wife’s reaction when she finally sees this episode.