TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones: Baelor’

Game Of Thrones
Season One, Episode Nine – Baelor
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Written by: David Beinoff and D.B. Weiss
Starring: Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Sean Bean, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Aidan Gillen, Jack Gleeson, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Issac Hempstead-Wright, Harry Lloyd, Richard Madden, Rory McCann, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Conleth Hill

Game of Thrones has been a slow burn.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I much prefer shows that have a tendency to draw things out and build on previous episodes. All the best television series (The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad) do this and when done properly, the results can be astonishing. The latest episode, “Baelor,” was no exception to this rule. The stakes have slowly been rising over the past couple of weeks and it was time for the dominoes to begin to fall.

And boy do they fall.

Let’s start with that ending. Since the beginning of the show, writers David Beinoff and D.B. Weiss (and George R.R. Martin as well, considering he’s the author of the books) have made it clear that no one character is safe, everyone is subject to the possibility of danger.


However, it’s incredibly rare and bold to see a show essentially kill off its main character. Sean Bean is a fantastic actor who really brought something to role of Ned Stark, but I had a feeling the former Hand of the King wasn’t much for this world when the light of Varys’ (Conleth Hill) torch flickered as he made his exit after talking to Ned.

The thing that gets me, more than anything else, is how tragic Ned’s end was. Not only was it unexpected, but both Stark girls had to bare witness to the end of their father (technically Arya [Maisie Williams] didn’t see the actual event, but she was there when it happened). There’s that quiet and calm moment where Ned realizes that Arya isn’t watching, he takes a breath and then he’s gone.


And it makes for fantastic, gripping, and emotional television.

While the events in King’s Landings will be talked about for years to come, “Baelor” had plenty of other events transpire in order to move all the pieces into play for the finale. Robb Stark (Richard Madden), more so than Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), has stepped up to the plate and become the man his father needed him to be. In a bold tactical move, Robb sends 2,000 men to battle Lannister troops, but at the cost of each of those lives. It really places the battle for the thrones into an even darker context.

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), who continues to be one of my favorite characters, gets some backstory detailing and providing context for why he is the way he is. It truly is a terrible thing, but explains perfectly how the Imp ended up where he is.

Across the sea, in one of the most intense and distributing scenes thus far, things take a turn for the dark as Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) deal with the Witch divides the Dothraki people as she works to save Drogo (Jason Momoa). Even with the steps she takes, it’s clear that her control is slipping quickly and if Drogo doesn’t make it through, not even Jorah (Iain Glen) will be able to protect her from the wrath of the Dothraki.

The stakes couldn’t be higher as this stage of the game draws to a close and I’m incredibly eager to see what comes next.

Quick Thoughts:

– I wish I hadn’t read Alan Sepinwall’s review of this week’s episode/I wish I was smart enough to come up with the near-perfect comparison he makes between the idea of The Wire being “a novel for television” and Game of Thrones following in that same tradition.
– Interesting revelation on the Wall this week, but I’ve got a feeling that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) won’t be going to help his family in the south.
– I can’t begin to stress how amazing of an actress the young Maisie Williams is. She constantly surprises me week after week and brings in another fantastic performance this week.
– I feel bad for Robb’s future arranged marriage, considering things have now gone south with Ned’s rescue plan.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. I know I wasn’t consistent in keeping up with my reviews throughout the season, but I’ll make sure I place some of my overall thoughts on the first season in next week’s season finale review. Until then, what did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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  1. Even though I had read the book just a few weeks ago and knew exactly what was going to happen Sunday night, my heart still broke when the sword fell. Ned Stark died with much more honor than Joffrey Baratheon will ever know.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 16, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

  2. I don’t know – as a book reader I audibly cheered when Ned bit it. 

    Comment by Kevin Ryno — June 17, 2011 @ 3:10 am

  3. I thought that Sean Bean (Ned Stark), was the actor that brought the show together. His son Rob, is amazing, and people may like Jamie, and Cerci Lanaster, or even Tyrien, however, incest is gross, and it really takes away from their character. Now that Ned is gone (which, btw I thought was a dream), I don’t see a lot of the characters with the actors strong enough to keep this show going. When you kill off the strongest actor of any film, it becomes weak, and uninteresting. It’s like watching a Spider Man movie after he’s killed, minus the good actors.

    Comment by Sheila — June 16, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

  4. I read the books years ago (first one the year it came out, and every single one subsequently) and knew full well what was coming. I was watching with a friend who has NOT read the books, and I have to say, we both still had the same feeling of horror and dread at seeing the demise of Eddard Stark. It’s amazing how good this show is that, even up to the moment the sword fell, I was praying it wouldn’t, even though I knew the outcome.

    Comment by Mathew Sewell — June 17, 2011 @ 5:40 am

  5. Love this show. I really find every episode enthralling. I’m so glad we have a story again where we actually care about the characters enough to want to see how things progress. The dwarf prince is one of the strongest characters in my opinion but it feeds us enough to kill the ‘Lost’itous that I feel has crept into most TV shows these days. I hope it goes to 5 seasons and keeps the formula the same. 9 out of 10, always room for improvement (let there be dragons).

    Comment by Lusky — June 17, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  6. Having not read George R.R. Martin’s books (shockingly awful of me, I know), I was still rooting for Ned right up until the end. I feel sorry for Tyrion, but even worse for Robb and I cannot wait to see the season finale this weekend.

    Comment by Jen D — June 17, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

  7. If you felt bad for Tyrion in that scene, know that in the book, he finishes his story about the men all paying with her with silver with “And I paid her with gold.”

    Comment by BCarbaugh — June 18, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  8. you shouldn’t have started watching the show if you did not realize it was an ensemble piece

    Comment by Durpadurp — June 18, 2011 @ 11:31 am

  9. I actually weeped when Eddard Stark was executed. I, too, to the bitter end, hoped that what was obvious impending doom would not come to fruition. I’m still reeling. However, I’m confused over all of the sadness for Robb Stark. The aversion of eyes for a philandering high-born male are far more generous than those for a high-born, and mature, woman. What of Catelyn Stark’s most dreary future? I suspect that Petyr Baelish will (hopefully) come to her aid, even though he has forsaken her through his most dishonorable word to her regarding Ned. (Petyr really pissed me off during the last two eps! Grrr.) Additionally, I’m feeling oh so trepidatious about Daenerys’ future. I believe that she has embraced the Dothrakis, her own unborn Stallion, her Kahl, and her own and ultimate succession to the Throne as the last Dragon. Just. Wow. This series never fails to impress me. I can hardly wait for tomorrow night’s ep! Alas, I have no choice but to do just that. :(

    Comment by Teejology — June 18, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

  10. There’s lots more killing of important characters to come.  I like it.  More realistic.  The whole point of these books is that everyone has their agenda.  like in real life.

    Comment by Sdolloff — June 18, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

  11. I completely disagree.  Yes, it was tragic to see Ned Stark killed, BUT the characters of John Snow, Arya and Rob Stark, the Lanisters (especially Tyrion), Deanarys and even Balish and that crazy sister of Catelyn Stark are certainly strong enough characters and great actors!  I CAN’T WAIT for the second season.  I’m especially looking forward to seeing Arya’s character rise up as it’s clear she will, as well as John Snow.  I have reservations about the longevity of the remaining Starks though.  Rob I have no doubt will be killed off in the next season, as will Catelyn.  It just seems so obvious to me this will happen.  And no, I haven’t read the books – yet – and won’t until all the seasons have played out.  Hopefully there’s more than just the next planned season.

    Comment by Arya fan — June 21, 2011 @ 11:59 am

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