Tag Archives: Game of Thrones

Jon Snow Lives (and how he would do it)



Those watching Game of Thrones on TV just got the last of George R. R. Martin’s big whammies. Book readers have known about this since around 2011. They also have had almost four years to come up with rescue plans for one of their favorite characters. Here are a few that have been worked out over the years. For a series that is famous for killing characters off, there are a surprising number of ways to bring people back in Westeros. Remember, in the game of thrones, you win or you die or you somehow get resurrected. People always forget that last part.

1. Julius Ceasar Jon — dead is dead. Got to throw this out there even though no one really believes it.
2. Jesus Christ Jon — As the Azor Ahai Jon somehow resurrects himself. The best scenario I saw is that they attempt to burn his body but he rises from the ashes.

3. UnJon — Melisandre does some blood magic to bring Jon back like Thoros brings back Beric Dondarrion. Mel and Thoros worship the same god and use similar magic.
4. Sherlock Holmes Jon — Jon fakes his own death in order to leave the wall.
5. J.R. Ewing Jon — the antecedents are Arya at the twins and Theon’s fake out with Bran’s and Rickon’s bodies at Winterfell — Jon isn’t dead at all and survives his cuts. The narrative and screen cuts just makes us think he’s dead.
6. General Hospital Jon — in a coma.
7. Jon Cleese — just a flesh wound.

8. Do Over Jon — Mel or Wildling medicine restores Jon with no lasting effects. No better or worse than before.
9. Cold Hands Jon — there are good wights, too, after all. In the books, there is a character referred to as Cold Hands who has all the characteristics of a white walker but is helpful.

10. Other Jon (aka Darth Jon) — and then again, there are bad wights (most of them, in fact). This would be the graying of Jon Snow’s character if he goes over to the dark side, per prophecy and fan theory.
11. Alter-Jon — like the Mace/Rattleshirt switcheroo in the books, someone else has been glamored to look like Jon. The faceless men have this magic, so we know it exists.

12. Targ Warg Jon — warging runs in the Stark blood. This opens up additional variations:

12a. Ghost Jon — Jon lives out the next season in his wolf Ghost.
12b. Ice Jon — He goes to Ghost but comes back into his own body which is preserved in a frozen state under the Wall.
12c. Wun Wun Jon — From Ghost to a nice new strong body with a simple mind (a book specific theory).
12d. Stannis Jon — From Ghost to Stannis — if Stannis is dead, he won’t be needing his body. Plus this would allow Jon to prosecute his war against the Lannisters, taking up from his brother Rob.
12e. Dragon Jon — Jon goes to Ghost and then into one of Dany’s dragons (or maybe another dragon under the Wall or under Winterfell). Makes him literally the third head of the dragon (you followers of ancient Westeros prophecies know what I’m talkin’ about – yeah you do).

13. Kentucky Fried Jon — like Victarion’s arm (old book history), a healing magic to sustain life through burning.


14. Frankenstein’s Monster Jon – Qyburn, we discover in the season finally, has basically brought Gregor Clegane back to life (Gregorstein) through some kind of laboratory science. If Jon is put on ice, Qyburn may eventually do the same for Jon. Or mix and match the two, who knows.

Who Killed Joffrey?


Who poisoned Joffrey Baratheon at the Purple Wedding in the latest episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones?

Tyrion gets blamed for it – which in the logic of television makes him the only person we can absolutely rule out.  The question, then, is who else has a motive for killing Joffrey?


It could have been Varys, who has loyalties to the previous two regimes and who, in addition, seems sometimes like a fairly decent person – unlike Joffrey.


Oberyn Martell is another possibility.  He holds a long standing hatred for the House Lannister going back to the murder of his sister Elia, wife of Rhaegar Targaryen, by Gregore Clagane on Tywin’s orders.


Bronn and Pod, friends of Tyrion, might have done it to help out their BFF.  Joffrey, after all, tried to have Tyrion murdered at the Battle of the Blackwater.  The problem here is that Tyrion was implicated in the end, which would seem to rule out any of his friends being involved.


Shae offered to take on all of the other Lannisters for Tyrion and would certainly have the nerve to do something like this.  Despite being spurned by Tyrion, however, it still seems unlikely that she would want to create a situation that would get him into further trouble, no matter how angry she is.


Maester Pycelle is clearly a person who encourages others to underestimate him.  He has no love for Tyrion, who threw him in the dungeons of the Red Keep while acting as the Hand.  He also knows a lot about poisons and was the person who gave out poison to Queen Cersei during the Battle of the Blackwater.


And of course there’s Melisandre who used the blood of kings – and some leeches — to perform a ceremony she promised Stannis Baratheon would eliminate his enemies: Rob Stark, Joffrey Baratheon and Balon Greyjoy (Balon, father of Theon/Reek, is the only one currently still alive on the show).


The truth is, however, that far too many people have motives for wanting Joffrey dead.  In CSI Westeros fashion, it may be time to check the forensics and find out who had opportunity as well as motive.  In order to poison Joffrey, the poison would have to get into his golden drinking cup somehow.   The poison couldn’t have been in the carafe of wine since no one else became ill.   So who had access to the cup?


Additionally, how do you smuggle the poison into a royal wedding?  There must be people checking for such things.  Where would you hide it?


To get the poison to the wedding and then into the cup, we’re going to work backwards.  As Joffrey is gasping his last, this weird fellow shows up next to Sansa “Stark” Lannister and tells her to come with him if she wants to live.  Who is he?


Dontos Hollard first showed up at the start of season two in an episode called The North Remembers.  He is a drunk knight whom Joffrey is about to have killed when Sansa uses a ruse to save Dontos’ life.  Joffrey then has him made into the court fool.  (By the way, note the Captain America theme of Dontos’ armor.  There are references to comic book characters throughout Game of Thrones as George R. R. Martin is a big fan of the genre.)


In the first episode of season four, he shows up in the Godswood where Sansa is spending some quiet time.  He says he wants to thank her for saving his life by giving her an old family heirloom.


Sansa promises to always wear the necklace.  She in fact wears it to the royal wedding.  Unbeknown to Sansa, this is how the poison is smuggled into the wedding.


Now lets follow the golden wine cup which, in this scenario, is our smoking gun.  After making an infelicitous joke, Tyrion has wine poured on his head from it and is told that he should come be the king’s cupbearer.  He is, so far, the only person other than Joffrey who has had access to the cup.


Not willing to let it go, Joffrey then ratchets up the tension by telling Tyrion to kneel.  Tyrion isn’t about to do that.


Fortunately Margaery Tyrell, Joffrey’s bride, distracts everyone by yelling “Pie!”


Joffrey drinks up a last sip of pre-poisoned wine.


Joffrey hands the cup to Margaery.


Margaery turns around and places it …


next …


to the Tyrells – her father and her grandmother, the Queen of Thorns.


At this point, we know that Margaery can’t poison the wine because she is standing right behind Joffrey as he cuts the slightly undercooked pigeon pie.


Having chomped down on some of the pie, Joffrey complains that it is dry and once again goes back to his game of having Tyrion play at being his wine bearer.


Tyrion picks up the now poisoned cup …


with the Queen of Thorns, Lady Olenna, looking very interested …


while Tyrion looks very put out …


and hands it off …


to the king …


and things don’t work out well for Joffrey.


So now that we know when the poison is put in the cup, how did it get there?  You’ll notice in this picture that Sansa, as promised, is wearing the necklace that Dontos gave her.


Lady Olenna comes by to express her condolences to Sansa.


If you watch her hands, she plays with Sansa’s hair and then her necklace.  The Queen of Thornes then seems to palm something in her right hand and bring it to the thick folds of her skirt.


She distracts Sansa from what’s really going on with some simple patter:  “I haven’t had the opportunity to tell you how sorry I was to hear about your brother.  War is war but … killing a man at a wedding — horrid — what sort of monster would do such a thing? As if men need more reasons to fear marriage.”


Now if you look closely at Sansa’s necklace, you may notice that something is missing.


Enhance …


Enhance …


Enhance …

And just in case you still aren’t completely clear about who killed Joffrey, it was this lady:


It is also noteworthy that this episode, written by George R. R. Martin himself, marks a turning point in the relationship between the books and the television series.  This is the first time that something only hinted at in the books and still a matter of debate among fans is spelled out explicitly, albeit subtly, in the HBO series.  From now on, readers of the books can no longer be certain of knowing more than tv viewers from week to week.

What Game of Thrones Can Teach Us About Terrorism


"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror …”

Last night’s airing of Game of Thrones season 3 episode 9, The Rains of Castamere, was in many ways the culmination of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” experience.  In the books by G.R.R. Martin, the Red Wedding occurs half way through the third book (there are currently five).  The RW is the primary reason people get their friends to read the book.  According to the producers of the HBO series, it is the episode they felt they had to get to.

In going through the social media related to the Red Wedding, there seemed to be mainly two reactions.  One was the sense of shock, grief and eventually numbness from people who didn’t know it was coming. I well recognize this mental state from the time I read the RW scene almost ten years ago.  The second was the strange elation of people who had already read the books in response to the reaction of the people who hadn’t.


I wish I could find a word for this second, reflective emotion.  It isn’t exactly schadenfreude, that amazing German word for the the pleasure we take in other people’s misfortune.  Schadenfreude always has an element of ressentiment in it and seems generally directed to people who are better off than us.  The object of our schadenfreude thinks he is an innocent while in our minds, the misfortune is in some way deserved — though perhaps excessive.  Schadenfreude is the emotion Walder Frey feels as he watches the Starks and their bannermen being cut down.

In my bedroom wall, there is a hole made by a very heavy paperback tome. It marks the place where my wife threw her copy of A Storm of Swords against the wall after the Red Wedding scene – and for those more in the know, specifically the scene involving Arya and the Hound’s axe. I hadn’t read it yet and it was at that point my wife made me start with the first book, A Game of Thrones, so I could catch up and find out why there was a hole in our bedroom wall.


There was a serious angst (‘nother awesome German word but still not the one we want) to her mood and it wouldn’t go away until I’d gotten to the emotional place she wanted me. I wanted to throw the book at the wall, too, but it seemed pointless by then.  The important thing though was she would finally talk to me again and we were on the same page, so to speak.  Oddly enough, we talked about what a great movie these books would make. 

The reflective emotion online was partly a weird glee but also a solicitousness towards those who were experiencing the RW psychic shock for the first time.  It’s as if for those who had already gone through this trauma, the trauma itself presented a barrier between themselves and everyone who was going about their lives in ignorance of the fact that a horrible thing happens in the middle of the third book of this series of books they probably are never going to read because adults don’t read Proust-length fantasy novels.  And then, thanks to the HBO series, now that trauma has been shared with the rest of the world.


I think the emotional word I’m looking for might be terrorism.  Isn’t this what terrorists do to people who don’t understand or sympathize with their plight?  They find a way to share their trauma with others in order to externalize their angst?

With terrorism, though, we never get to the point where people say, hey, thanks for the bombing, now I see where you’re coming from and everything’s going to be okay.


Following the airing of The Rains of Castamere, on the other hand, all of us are now on the same page emotionally, are ready for healing, and can move on to the next thing, whether that next thing is the new season of True Blood or possibly a new Gene Wolfe novel.  On the other hand, if you are just interested in connecting with more people who have gone through what you just went through, you can try the online Song of Ice and Fire community at http://asoiaf.westeros.org/

It can be thought of as the largest and longest lasting group therapy session ever created. While I haven’t been back for a while, my wife and I joined it shortly after we created that hole in our bedroom wall and it was the source of much comfort and consolation to us.  It was the place, strangely enough, where some of the casting for the HBO series occurred as well as the best place to learn how to decipher one of the great hidden secret of the series: R+L=J.