HBO game of Thrones It is a dense series with a great weight of history behind its history. So in pretty much every episode, something happens that might need a little explanation. Weekly, The edge We will dive into a scene or event from the last episode of the series and explain how we got here. If you are basically a game of Thrones If you need a reminder about past events, we will try to help you keep your history in order.
We are on the final stretch now for game of ThronesAnd this week’s episode underscored the point that has been clear throughout the last eight seasons: It really is about the throne. Or, more specifically, who sits on it.
Spoilers for game of Thronesin general, but especially season 8, episode 4, “The Last of the Starks”.
Who sits in the chair?
At one point in season 8 game of Thrones the episode “The Last of the Starks”, Tyrion Lannister, Varys Needles, the Master of Whispers, about how many masters Varys has served at King’s Landing. How many kings and queens have you served? Five? Six? I lost the count “. The gibe seems to suggest that Varys is disloyal at heart, and should honor his engagement to Daenerys Targaryen primarily to show that he can be honorable. But his changing position has much more to do with the tumultuous history of the Iron Throne. With the possession of that throne at stake once again, it is the right time to remember Varys’ years of service, and more importantly, the five rulers who have been counseled thus far.
The mad king
Any discussion of recent Westeros kings must begin and end with Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King. The Mad King, the father of Viserys, Rhaegal, and Daenerys (and the grandfather of Jon Snow, also known as Aegon VI Targaryen), is directly and indirectly responsible for almost all of modern Westerosi history, as we know it.
His excesses as king (and his instability due to Targaryen inbreeding) ultimately led him to murder Ned Stark’s father, Rickard Stark, and Ned’s older brother, Brandon. Those murders led to Robert’s Rebellion, which eventually saw the other Great Houses of Westeros rebel against Aerys. In time, the Targaryen dynasty was overthrown. Aerys was killed by one of his own member of the Royal Guard, Jaime Lannister (who received the permanent mark of “Kingslayer”), who was trying to prevent him from destroying King’s Landing with wild fire. Aegon’s surviving children, Viserys and Daenerys, were sent to Essos.
But even after Aerys’ death, the ramifications of his rule had serious consequences. Putting Dany within reach of the Dothraki changed the course of Westeros history, as her marriage for political purposes led to her gaining control of the mighty Dothraki army. Cersei later used the forest fire that spread throughout the city to destroy her political enemies. And the power vacuum caused by his death was filled by Robert, establishing the rest of game of Thrones moving.
As for Varys, he began his service working for Aerys. But typical of the spider, his loyalty soon changed to his successor, at least on the surface.
“Gods, I was strong then”
Robert Baratheon was excellent at being a hero: He defended the kingdom, led the armies to victory, and struck down Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen with a single stroke of his warhammer during the Battle of the Trident.
But he was terrible at being a king, as tough as Varys (and other members of his Little Council) tried to rectify that. Robert’s wife, Cersei Lannister, openly despised him, and their icy personal relationship led to no legitimate heirs, only Robert’s bastards (including Gendry, whom Daenerys legitimized as Robert’s son), and Cersei’s incest daughter. fathered by her brother, Jaime. When Robert Arryn, the Hand of the King of Baratheon and his longtime mentor, was assassinated, it marked the end of his reign, with a calamity that soon struck both the new Hand, Ned Stark, and the kingdom at large.
The young lion
Next to the Iron Throne was Joffrey Baratheon, Jaime and Cersei’s eldest son. Living proof that the Targaryen ideals of incest were a bad idea, Joffrey was sadistic, amoral, pampered, and power-hungry. By firing both the common people he was supposed to rule and the advisers he was supposed to listen to (including his own grandfather, Tywin), Joffrey had a brief and brutal reign. It was a mercy to many characters when it was killed as their wedding.
But Joffrey’s death revealed deeper machinations on the part of Varys, who, apparently, had not been serving the Baratheon dynasty at all. Instead, he was still loyal to his original masters – House Targaryen. One thing that resulted from this: Varys sending Tyrion to safety with Daenerys, to help him avoid being mistakenly punished for Joffrey’s death.
The king of being pounce
After Joffrey, the Iron Throne passed to Tommen Baratheon, Joffrey’s younger brother. Where Joffrey was cruel, Tommen was kind, but his youth and calm nature made him easy prey for manipulation by his wife, Margaery Tyrell; his mother, Cersei; and the tall sparrow.
With forces so conflicting, it is no wonder Tommen was an ineffective king. And when Cersei destroyed Great September and Margaery died, Tommen committed suicide, unable to live without his queen, or perhaps unable to live with the horrible acts of his mother.
The crazy queen?
At this point, Varys has had enough and has joined his true Queen, Daenyrys Targaryen, in supporting his bid for the Iron Throne. But, as shown in this episode, his loyalty to her may not be ironclad, not if he sees Jon as a better claimant to the throne and a better potential ruler. With Jon’s family open, Varys even knows that he can support Jon without betraying his attachment to House Targaryen. But he says there is a higher cause: “You know where my loyalty is,” he tells Tyrion. “You know that I will never betray the kingdom.”
But as Tyrion points out, serving “the kingdom” does not necessarily mean loyalty to any particular figure in that kingdom. With only two episodes remaining and a throne to claim, a lot can still happen. But if past history is anything to go on, whoever ends up on the Throne will likely have the Spider serving them, unless this latest piece of intrigue is the one that ultimately undoes it.