‘Game of Thrones’ Precap: The Trial of the Century
Superfan Crazyperson Power Rankings of the Week: Jurisprudence Fails!
The Not-Top Five
They will answer injustice with … injustice!
Season 1’s penultimate episode taught us two painful but important lessons about the world George R. R. Martin has crafted: (1) No character is safe, and (2) the legal system is a heaping pile of horseshit. Game of Thrones doesn’t have an Original Sin, but Ned Stark’s execution was one of the biggest and bloodiest early dominoes to fall, and all because in Westeros it’s apparently OK for the Protector of the Realm to wipe his ass with a plea bargain. Ned agreed to confess his treason and take the black, and Joffrey repaid that sacrifice with a lame speech about “the soft hearts of women” and a swift sword stroke to the back of the neck. “The Gods are just,” Grand Maester Pycelle says moments before Ned’s death, “but beloved Baelor taught us that they can also be merciful.” And, apparently, tricked by an inbred monster into becoming murderous assholes.
It’s hard to decide what’s a bigger indictment of the Westerosi justice system: the fact that Tyrion twice goes on trial for crimes he definitely did not commit, or the fact that he twice escapes imminent death by demanding a trial by combat. We don’t know who will serve as Tyrion’s champion the second time around or what fate ultimately awaits our beleaguered hero, but we do know that he’s living in a world in which criminal proceedings are really just high-stakes games of Would You Rather? Shockingly, Tyrion would rather put his life in the hands of a motivated and skilled warrior than “judges” who clearly want him dead, and the loophole-riddled system allows him to do just that. In his case, it’s a blessing; in general, it’s a joke. This is a world full of weapons and men who wield them, and bringing gods and greatswords into the courtroom makes the entire thing a farce.
HOW CAN THE KING AND QUEEN ORDER AN ANIMAL’S DEATH AND CALL IT JUSTICE? HOW CAN A MAN LIVE IN A LAND WHERE HE MIGHT BE FORCED TO EXECUTE HIS CHILD’S PET? HOW CAN ANYONE THINK KILLING A KIND, SWEET WOLF WHO DID NOTHING WRONG IS AN ACCEPTABLE SUBSTITUTE FOR ACTUALLY FIGURING OUT THE TRUTH? AND HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WRITE THE NEXT TWO ITEMS WHEN I CAN BARELY SEE THROUGH MY TEARS?
We didn’t actually get to see Stannis cleave off the top joints of the fingers on Davos’s hand, because that little bit of bro bonding took place before our story started, but we know the key details: Davos, a smuggler by trade, saved Stannis and his starving people by sneaking onions into Storm’s End, and Stannis repaid that life-preserving act by assigning Davos the same punishment he’d have given to any thief. This is, of course, insane in almost every respect. If Davos had rescued Robert Baratheon instead, it’s safe to assume he would have received comeuppance that elongated certain body parts rather than shrinking them. The laws of gods and men change based on which man rules and which gods rank in a given part of the Seven Kingdoms, though, and Davos happened to save the one dude with a giant law book shoved up his ass. Stranger still, Davos is now Stannis’s Hand, because justice in Westeros means punishing the guy who helped you and appointing a convicted criminal to the second-highest office in the land.
Remember that totally badass moment in Season 1 when Ned, sitting on the Iron Throne in Robert’s stead, was all: “I charge you to bring the King’s justice to the false knight Gregor Clegane and all those who shared in his crimes. I denounce him, and attaint him. I strip him of all ranks and titles, of all lands and holdings, and sentence him to death … Inform Tywin Lannister that he has been summoned to court to answer for the crimes of his bannerman. He will arrive within the fortnight or be branded an enemy of the crown and a traitor to the realm.” Well. Things didn’t exactly go according to plan. In a real society with real rules, Ned’s word would have truly been law. Three seasons later, however, Ned is still dead, Tywin is still the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms, and the Mountain is still roaming free, raping and pillaging at will. The Hand of the King spoke, and Westeros basically sent him a bold “LOL” in return.
BONUS! Borderline Weird Mallory Rubin Game of Thrones Memorabilia of the Week:
The Emmy Reel
From the Checkout Aisle at the King’s Landing Vons
The Amazing Adventures of Salladhor Saan and Ser Pounce
Andy Greenwald: One of the hallmarks of George R.R. Martin’s Westeros stories, be they told on the page or on the screen, is that fans very rarely get what they want. (From what I gather, this extends to their desire for the publication of a sixth book.) Whether you spend your time ’shipping Jon Snow and Ygritte, dreaming of Daenerys sailing westward, or just pining for more screen time for a certain royal feline, you’re likely out of luck. Forget gold, disappointment is the true currency of the Seven Kingdoms. And there’s never a need to hit up the Iron Bank for more of it.
But there’s a potential problem with this, especially as Game of Thrones levels up from niche hit to cultural supernova. How to hook the next generation of Thronies, especially those still too young to understand that a series about wedding massacres and large-scale revenge crucifixions is meant to be enjoyable? My solution: a fully licensed, noncanonical series of illustrated children’s adventure stories. The stars? The swashbuckling Salladhor Saan and his trusty first mate, Ser Pounce! Together aboard Saan’s boat, The Brown Pants, they’ll sail the Narrow Seas telling jokes, sharing fish, and learning all about the wonders of the world in the moments just before they transform into blood-soaked horror. Here’s a sneak preview of the first five titles in the series:
When Life Gives You Lemons …
It’s Sansa Stark’s birthday! Salladhor and Ser Pounce are eager to celebrate. Only one problem: There are no lemons in the Eyrie for the cake! Never fear, the brave pirate and his best friend, the purr-rate, are only too happy to sail north with three boxes of the bright yellow fruit. When they arrive, Sansa seems happy to see them, though it’s hard to tell with the way Mr. Baelish keeps rubbing her shoulders. And why is Mrs. Arryn touching Salladhor that way? This adventure ends on a cliffhanger as new friend Robin shows Ser Pounce the exciting moon door. Here’s hoping cats really do land on their feet!
Reek’s Magical Box
Ramsay has always been a mischievous friend, but he’s really outdone himself this time! He asks Salladhor to please carry a very special box all the way to the Iron Islands — but that’s on the other side of Westeros! When Salladhor asks what’s in the box, Ramsay says that it’s a toy — and then he laughs and laughs and shoots a crossbow bolt into a whore. Ser Pounce sniffs at the box. It doesn’t smell like any toy he’s ever played with!
Arya Stark is having a party! Only her invite list is very long. She asks Salladhor and Ser Pounce to help round up all of her best friends, including Walder Frey, Ilyn Pane, Thoros of Myr, and even Cersei and Tywin Lannister! Arya certainly has friends in high places! In fact, King Joffrey was on the list, too, which struck Ser Pounce as a little silly — kings don’t go to other people’s parties! Salladhor told Arya that Joffrey couldn’t come to the party anyway on account of being dead. Instead of crying, which is the way humans usually react when people die (people who aren’t mice, anyway), Arya smiled and started doing somersaults with her sword. Later, Ser Pounce eats one of the Hound’s chickens, which makes the Hound so mad he punches nine farmers in the face. While the Hound is busy punching farmers, Ser Pounce eats another chicken.
Sometimes People Have No Daddies
When Lady Melisandre asks Salladhor and Ser Pounce for a favor, they’re a little nervous. She’s never talked to them before and they’ve never even been invited to one of her parties on the beach. (Davos says they’re “no place” for little kitties, especially for ones who still think beaches are just giant sandboxes.) But Melisandre explains she needs them for a very special job: She needs to find a certain kind of boy, one who doesn’t have a daddy. (There was a word for this kind of boy but Ser Pounce didn’t quite hear it. It sounded a little like “custard.” Yum!) Ser Pounce thinks this is awfully nice of Melisandre: Boys without daddies need all the snuggling they can get! Melisandre also asks Salladhor for three dozen leeches and buckets big enough to hold “quite a lot” of blood. But he decides to tell Ser Pounce about that part later.
Mixup on the High Seas
When Brandon Stark comes aboard The Brown Pants with his pet dog Summer and his pet human Hodor, Ser Pounce is excited to play. But everything goes topsy-turvy in a hurry! First Summer makes it clear he doesn’t want to play with Ser Pounce. What he wants to do is eat him. This isn’t very fun at all! Then, late at night, Bran accidentally drinks some of Salladhor’s special grape juice and his eyes roll back in his head. Before Ser Pounce can say “stop it, Summer, I’m bleeding,” everyone is warging everyone else! Salladhor is talking like Bran, Bran is barking like Summer and Ser Pounce is Hodor Hodor Hodor. When they wake up on the shores of Meereen, they all have a good laugh and decide never to tell anyone about what happened last night. Ser Pounce sees a bunch of children watching them from the tops of two sticks tied together, but Salladhor says not to worry about them. Essos seems fun!
Law & Order: Game of Thrones
The End of the Line
Mark Lisanti: A weary Daenerys sits atop her throne. Missandei and Jorah are at her side. It’s been a long day of hearing the pleas of Meereen’s supplicants. A very long day.
“Supplicant Number 212!”
“My Queen, we have Kezza of the Red Plain. He is a mud farmer.”
[Sighs.] “Very well.”
[Bows.] “Most powerful queen of infinite mercy, She Who Strolled Through the Fire Unburnt, my brother has the stomach rumblings brought on by the wheat shortage—”
“Oh my Old Gods, will someone give this guy 10 loaves of bread?”
“Ten loaves of bread!”
“Make it a hundred! I don’t want to see him back here in an hour.”
“One hundred loaves of bread!”
“Thank you, my—”
“Supplicant Number 213!”
“My Queen, we have Qal Doraq, shopkeep in Skahazadhan Square.”
“Most generous mother of killer lizards in the darkening sky, breaker of collars—”
“Ugh, get to the point!”
“Some children are stealing my penny sweets. I can’t take it anymore, the little curs—”
“Ser Jorah, find these children and bring me their severed hands!”
“My Queen, remember the thing with the kids on the crucifixes … ”
[Rubs temples.] “Right. Of course. Uh … stop selling sweets. Stock fruits and vegetables.”
“It’s a candy store, my queen—”
“Assign a knight to watch the fucking candy store! Whatever! Next!”
“Supplicant Number 214!”
“The final supplicant of the day!”
“My Queen, we have Bezmak Carrmaron, unemployed.”
“Speak. What is your request for the Queen?”
“Are we supposed to ask for something?”
“You don’t have a request?”
“I just saw a line outside and got in it. “
“I can’t believe this.”
“Shall I run him through with my sword for wasting Your Majesty’s precious time?”
“How about a hug?”
“A hug? Meereen can be a lonely place. Especially now, with all the upheaval.”
“Ser Jorah! Hug this man!”
“Oh! How about some goats? I saw that first guy come out with a bag full of goat—”
“Run him through!”
[Jorah runs him through.]
“That was almost a really touching end to the day.”
“The world is a cruel place, my Queen. There’s only so much you can do.”
“The infinite mercy thing is more of a guideline, my Queen.”
“Don’t I know it.”
Braavos: Watch What Happens
Listings for the 16th sundown of the fifth moon turn, 299 AC.
8h: MILLION DRAGON LISTING: QARTH
The mega-successful Westerosi franchise Million Dragon Listing expands to the sunny, beautiful, forbidden city of Qarth and its unparallelled housing market. Can you say “council-adjacent pyramid with all-original unnavigable maze”? What happens when the most successful Realtors of the Seven Kingdoms take on the Greatest City That Was or Ever Will Be? Find out!
9h: SLAVER WIVES
Slaver Wives follows the lives of four women whose husbands have been crucified on the road to Meereen by Queen Daenerys for their part in the slave trade. Their reputations may be damaged, and their goat herds may be dwindling, but they still know how to fight for their honor — especially with each other!
10h: KHALS OF THE KINGSROAD
In this controversial reality hit, a group of second-generation Dothraki live the high life amid the buzzing, nonstop action of the Crownlands. Through the high drama and epic dinner table fights, at the end of the day, they’re all still family. And this family knows how to PARTY!
11h: WATCH WHAT GETS FUNDED LIVE With Tycho Nestoris
This one’s pretty much just like Shark Tank.
Daenerys’s To-Do List
John Lopez: A Queen’s day is never done …
- Mother the dragons.
- Take down Master corpses before smell becomes public nuisance.
- Create social safety net for newly liberated slaves.
- Invent concept of “social safety net” that doesn’t involve collecting the poor in nets.
- Have girls’ night out with Ser Jorah — he seems so sad lately!
- Look into consequences of suddenly abandoning economy based on forced labor.
- Send Grey Worm to Astapor to talk smack about Cleon the Butcher. (He can practice his Common Tongue!)
- Political fundraiser with powerful goatherd lobby.
- Set up fair, stable government that can maintain order while busy with (17).
- Justice (???).
- Establish small claims court; total time saver.
- Donate broken slave collars to Essos Salvation Army.
- Re-conquer Yunkai (sigh).
- Balance the budget (haha, jk!).
- Schedule sitdown with Iron Bank.
- Me time.
- Invade Westeros.