Fire and Blood (Season 1, Episode 10, Game of Thrones)

2 Blood and Fire

Directed by Alan Taylor
Written by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

The final episode of Game of Thrones Season 1 picks up exactly where we left off last episode at the Sept of Baelor. The camera moves down the length of the sword to the dripping blood, leaving no question that Ned Stark is dead and limiting the options of the warring factions. Fortunately for Arya, Ned’s final act as a father was to draw Yoren’s attention to her – he will now help her escape the city, disguised as a boy among his new recruits for The Wall.

Ned Stark: War was easier than daughters

Of all of the fathers we’ve met in Game of Thrones, Ned Stark was the gold standard: his children, his household, and even Theon Greyjoy, hostage from the rebellion, loved him. Tywin Lannister is cold, cruel and aloof. Robert Baratheon was too busy drinking and debauching to have any positive influence on Joffrey (I wonder if Joffrey could have been scared straight spending time with his grandfather at Camp Casterly Rock?)

In listening to the DVD commentary, Benioff, Weiss and Martin have all said that there were two characters that they had mentally cast before the show started; Sean Bean as Ned Stark and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, both superb choices.

Sean Bean is perfect as Ned Stark. His performance shines brightest when Ned interacts with his children, especially Arya. In ‘Lord Snow” when Ned talks to Arya, my heart melted when he delivers the line “No, sweet girl, no, no. You didn’t kill the butcher’s boy.” (I wasn’t able to find the clip without an ad…sorry.)

Back at Winterfell, both Bran and Rickon have had dreams where they see Ned in the Crypt. Bran wants to go into the crypt, however Hodor refuses to take him there. Bran convinces Osha to take him, but notices her reluctance, “You’re afraid, just like Hodor.” And then incredulously adds (no doubt due to the stories old Nan told him), “You’ve lived beyond the Wall what are you scared of? I’m a crippled boy and I’m willing to go.”

1 Fire and BloodWalking through the crypt, Bran Stark gives Osha a very concise history of the the dead Starks: Lord Rickard (Ned Stark’s father) burned alive by the Mad King Aerys Targaryen and Lyanna Stark who was betrothed to Robert Baratheon but was kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen. Bran tells Osha, “Robert started a war to get her back. He killed Rhaegar, but she died anyway.”

They find little Rickon and his dire wolf, Shaggy Dog, down in the crypt looking for Ned. In spite of the fact that both boys have had the same dream, as they’re leaving the crypt, Osha tries to convince Bran that it doesn’t mean anything beyond the fact that they both miss their father. She barely finishes her sentence when Maester Luwin meets them and with a single word, “Bran,” his voice conveys that he is coming to share the news of Ned’s death.

“Nowhere near as murderous as the Lion in my bed”

Back at King’s Landing, the repulsive King Joffrey continues to spill blood. This time it’s the musician Marillion, who we met at the inn when Catelyn Stark and Ser Rodrik were travelling back to Winterfell and crossed paths with Tyrion Lannister.

Joffrey has commanded Marillion to perform his song, which takes shots at both Robert and Cersei with the following jovial lyrics:

The boar’s great tusks, they boded ill
for good King Robert’s health
and the beast was every bit as fat
as Robert was himself

But our brave King cried ‘Do your worst. I’ll have your ugly head.
Nowhere near as murderous as the Lion in my bed.’
King Robert lost his battle and he failed his final test.
The Lion ripped his balls off and the boar did all the rest.

Joffrey gives Marillion the choice of losing his tongue or losing his hands; and it is ‘the king’s justice’ Ser Ilyn Payne that cuts out poor Marillion’s tongue.

Taking a page out of Lord Walder Frey’s book of charm, Joffrey takes Sansa for a stroll, telling her, “As soon as you’ve had your blood, I’ll put a son in you.” This sweet talk is followed by a visit to the castle wall adorned with heads on spikes. Joffrey points out Ned and commands Sansa to look at it (as well as the head of poor Septa Mordane).

“There’s your peace”

In killing Ned Stark, Joffrey has made things very difficult for the Lannisters. Robb Stark, the young wolf, has captured Jaime Lannister. While Cersei understood the negotiating value of having three Starks in King’s Landing; Ned Stark is now dead, Arya has fled the city with Yoren, and only Sansa Stark remains under Lannister control. Tyrion Lannister breaks it down for Tywin’s war council:

“There are no men like me.”

Catelyn watches as the Northern bannermen proclaim Robb Stark, ‘King in the North’. She is devastated by Ned’s death, worried about Robb’s safety, panicked about the fate of her daughters, and has not seen Bran or Rickon for weeks. In fact, the last time she saw Bran, he was still unconscious.

She goes to speak to Jaime Lannister. The conversation shows her bewilderment at his actions regarding Bran, but serves to show us more about Jaime Lannister. He’s a complicated character. While he doesn’t share everything with Catelyn, we get to see his conflict and his pessimism regarding God, duty, motives. Being captured by the Starks must be the ultimate in humiliation for him, but he’s still salty enough to poke at Catelyn, even in her profound grief.

“What life is worth when all the rest is gone.”

Daenerys Targaryen wakes to find that her child was stillborn, Khal Drogo is a vegetable, the khalasar has left: she is now alone with Ser Jorah, her slaves and a handful of Dothraki.

She spends a day with Khal Drogo, begging him to be strong and show her a sign, but his condition remains the same. She tearfully smothers him and has a funeral pyre prepared. Promising Mirri that she will have her die screaming, Daenerys has Ser Jorah tie Mirri to the pyre and has the dragon eggs placed on the pyre as well.

Ser Jorah urges her to keep the dragon eggs, as she could sell them and travel to a place where she could live comfortable for the rest of her life. Slowly he realizes that it is her intention to enter the pyre.

When the blazing fire extinguishes itself amidst the ashes is Daenerys, alive and unharmed, with three dragon hatchlings. We have seen hints all season of Daenerys’s power over heat and fire, and surviving the flames of the pyre solidifies her otherworldly gift (much as Bran and Rickon with their dreams and connection to the dire wolves).

“Honor made you leave.  Honor brought you back.”

Game of Thrones Season 1 began with Rangers from the Night’s Watch going north of The Wall to scout on the Wildlings. In spite of his abandoned plan to flee the Watch and head south to join Robb, Jon Snow is asked by Lord Commander Jorah to join an expedition that will leave the Watch the following morning to investigate the Wildings, the White Walkers and see if they can locate Benjen Stark.

With tensions high, and next steps uncertain, all of the characters face new and more lethal threats as we approach Season 2.

Further Reading:

Baelor (Season 1, Episode 9, Game of Thrones)
The Pointy End (Season 1, Episode 8, Games of Thrones)
You Win Or You Die (Season 1, Episode 7, Game of Thrones)
A Golden Crown (Season 1, Episode 6, Game of Thrones)
The Wolf and The Lion (Season 1, Episode 5, Game of Thrones)
Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things (Season 1, Episode 4, Game of Thrones)
Lord Snow (Season 1, Episode 3, Game of Thrones)
The Kingsroad (Season 1, Episode 2, Game of Thrones)
Winter Is Coming (Season 1, Episode 1, Game of Thrones)
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Watch along with me: Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season