Review: HBO’s Game of Thrones, Episode 9 – ‘Baelor’

Well this is it boys and girls. This episode is either going to make you throw up, crap your pants, cry, or punch something. Whether it’s from hatred of King Joffrey, love of Ned Stark or the ravages of unpredictability. Whether or not you read the books, or you’re a first timer for Game of Thrones, you’ll still be impacted. I told Dr. Kronner I didn’t even want to watch the episode because of what happens in it. Even having read the book and knowing the outcome, it’s completely different watching it on-screen.

Keep reading to find out what could possibly have happened in the episode to make me open the review like this. In the last episode you have a couple major things happening. Ned is now a prisoner of the Lannisters as is Sansa just not in a dungeon in chains. Arya is missing and Robb has called all of the banners of the North to march on King’s Landing to free his father and now is running headlong into a clash with Tywin Lannister’s forces. On the Lannister side, Jaime is commanding his forces against the River Lords of Riverrun whom are the kin to Catelyn Tully Stark and Tyrion has found himself in the predicament of fighting alongside the Hill Tribesmen he enticed to guide him out of the Vale of Arryn with promises of steel.

SPOILERS AHEAD>>>>

The episode starts with Ned still in the dungeon with Varys all but pleading with Ned to make peace and keep Joffrey’s birth a secret and put the realm before his honor. Ned all but refuses and Varys leaves him in the dungeons.

The Twins

Robb and his forces are at an impasse: they need to cross the river using the bridge system at the two keeps known as the Twins. The Twins are held by the House of Frey, their Lord being Walder Frey who is an lecherous piss pot. I actually expected him to be a hell of a lot older looking but he was masterfully played by Harry Potter alum David Bradley, the second one on the show so far.

Lord Walder is met by Catelyn Stark to negotiate terms for crossing at the Twins and Walder makes it abundantly clear that he knows how Catelyn’s father Lord Hoster Tully has always disliked and avoided him, as have the other great houses. But Catelyn is able to convince him by offering to marry one of his sons to Arya and Robb to one of Lord Walder’s many daughters. Robb gives his consent to the arrangements and the Northmen move across the river unhindered.

For Tyrion, life just keeps getting better and better because now his dear old dad has ordered him to not only fight in the upcoming battle, but he will be in the vanguard of the force. The vanguard being the people to move in first for those of you who don’t know. So in preparation for what may be the end, Tyrion has Bronn find him a whore in the camp tp travel with him and we are introduced to Shae, who becomes something of an important character in the coming episodes.

In the scenes with Shae we get to learn more of Tyrion’s relationship with his father and the story of Tysha. Then it is off to battle for Tyrion and the Hill Tribes, but after a rousing speech to his men Tyrion gets knocked out and trampled by their excitement.

By the time he wakes up they have won, but it was only two thousand of Robbs men as he had divided his forces with the other 18 thousand riding off to stop Jaime Lannister in the Riverlands, and stop him they do with the sister-layer’s capture. Jaime tries to challenge Robb to a fight that would decide the war, but Robb isn’t stupid in knowing that he would lose. He refuses and sends the Kingslayer off to be put into a nice set of chains.

Way up North on the Wall, Jon is the talk of Castle Black, even receiving Lord Commander Mormont’s Valaryian steel blade known as Long Claw in lieu of his efforts in saving Mormont from the wight that attacked him. (A wight is a person who is reanimated after being killed by a White Walker.)

Not much else happens with Snow except the conversation with Maester Aemon at the rookery. It turns out that Aemon is the uncle to the Mad King Aerys and he tries to point out to Snow that even though his family was killed by the Lannisters and their bannermen, he stayed true to his oath as a Maester of the Citadel and Jon should do the same instead of rushing off to rescue Ned and fight alongside Robb.

Daenerys has some major problems going on across the Narrow Sea, as Drogo’s wound is becoming worse and he is literally falling out of the saddle. His blood riders are distrustful of Daenerys using Mirri Maz Duur to try and nurse Drogo back to health, one of them pointing out to her that once Drogo dies that she is nothing.

Jorah urges Daenerys to flee with him to Asshai before Drogo does pass but Daenerys refuses to lose her husband and authorizes Mirri to use ‘Blood Magic’ to heal Drogo, which many of the Dothraki are not too keen on. She leaves her husband, his sacrificed horse and Miri to complete a ritual which honestly sounds creepy as hell. We finally get to see Jorah in action as he fights one of Drogo’s blood riders to stop him from interrupting the ritual. The blood rider gets a joker smile from Jorah to end the fight. Daenerys is about ready to give birth as Jorah carries her into the tent where the ritual is still happening.

Now to the biggest part of the episode, where I’m sure many viewers might stop watching the show or realize what a fantastic writer George Martin is. As Arya is trying to survive in the streets of King’s Landing, some kids inform her that the Hand of the King is being brought to the Sept of Baelor. At the sept, Ned is brought before the masses and the King and his cohorts. He spots Arya and in passing tells the Night’s Watchman Yoren where she is and Sansa also stands at Cersei’s side to watch her father… as he confesses to attempting to murder Joffery and betraying the realm to take the throne for himself.

*Warming Glow

All lies of course, but Ned wanted to save his daughters and was content to serve on the Wall as Cersei planned. Joffrey however has other plans as he order Ser Ilyn Payne to behead Stark on the spot with his own sword ‘Ice’. The scene was beautifully shot, following the book pretty much exactly from what I can remember in reading the book. Like I said above though, seeing the scene on film even had an emotional impact on me knowing what was going to happen so I am curious as to what first timers of the series thought of the moment when Ned Stark met his tragic end. I know people say he made terrible and stupid decisions but Ned was truly doing the right thing and acting honorably as every knight and lord in the realm is supposed to, but unfortunately no one else out there is honorable enough. As Robert said, it’s all about backstabbing, money-grubbing and ass licking. No one cares about the good of the realm or honor. I’ll admit that the scene with Ned dying did cause me to tear up and it could not have been portrayed any better.

I give this episode a 4.5 out of 5 bears. It was a little slow but still managed to fit everything in without feeling bloated or rushed. The finale next week will have some great moments in it, though it might not be as memorable as this one. This episode should remind everyone who watches the show that no character is safe and that there aren’t always happy endings. George R.R. Martin is a genius and the show will only get better in the coming seasons, so get ready everyone! Season Finale next week!

28 thoughts on “Review: HBO’s Game of Thrones, Episode 9 – ‘Baelor’”

  1. when i reading the books, i couldn’t stand any of the starks.

    but watching the show has really made me lighten up to robb.

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  2. i havent read the books, ill admit i teared up as well, i kept thinking up until the final second that something would happen to make them stop but…. they didnt. lol this show is fucking amazing.

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    1. Regardless of whether you thought he was a main character or not, George R.R. Martin has plenty of characters still to come and the focus will shift to characters already on the show as well. Keep watching!

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  3. I was in complete shock when the episode ended. Even when Joffrey yelled to bring him Eddards head and they began arranging it, I was only thinking about who will end up rescuing him. I thought that guy who grabbed Arya will do it. It was freaky when the sword actually came down like that…poor Eddard. I saw him as the main character. Needless to say, I don’t like this ending, but oh well…I’m looking forward to seeing how Joffrey will die. I have a feeling that when this season ends, I will probably be too impatient to linger on for another year without finding out the whole story.. I’ll read the books..definitely.

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  4. I haven’t read the books, but I find the series fascinating. This episode left me speechless, I wasn’t expecting this. But I suppose this is how life is, good guys (almost) never win.
    No happy endings… this is the kind of series I like to watch. Thank you G.R.R. Martin for this story!

    Now I will go and cry for the rest of the day :(

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  5. I haven’t read the books and I was surprised at Ned’s fate. I was like ‘No they can’t kill him, no something is going to happen and then… it did’ I jumped out the chair and screamed NOOOOO! I hope Joffery only has terrible things in store for him in the future!

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  6. Can anyone tell me how the sword ended up in King’s Landing?
    Why would they take it with them if it is a Stark heirloom, shouldn’t it stay in Winterfell?

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    1. Ned was the type to deal out any execution that he handed down. He’d be doing a lot of that as Hand of the King, so I’m sure he packed good ole’ Ice with his socks and underwear.

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  7. I can´t watch this show anymore. All the good and honorable guys keep dying or getting screwed over and the idiots, clowns and cowards are having a blast. If i wanted to watch a show about real life politics I would watch the senate channel. Same stuff but without swords.

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    1. Seriously, keep watching. As much bad stuff that happens to the characters we like, the bad ones will all get their due soon enough. The Lannisters especially. Don’t stop watching until you see the finale, then make that call.

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  8. Will have to read the books now after watching that episode…..great plot though I thought Ned would get to see the season out =(

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  9. As a fan of the books I was a little dissappointed in this episode. It is the second last show of the season and missing are some of the best battle sequences from the book. First off we missed seeing the Imp in a full battle with 10,000 (not 2,000) Stark spearmen where he fights knights twice his size and WINS!! And second we miss seeing how the Starks capture the Kingslayer and destroy 30,000 Lannister troops!! I know I am probably sounding a little bitter but seriously I wanted to see some epic battle scences on the same scale as Braveheart or Gladiator!!! And not my Fav character face down in the mud getting stepped on!!!!! I deleted this episode from the PVR as soon as it was done. Lets hope they dont make us use our imaginations when it comes to the dragons.

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  10. I want to first start by saying, i didn’t read the books, as i had not heard of them until after i started watching game of thrones. The death of Ned Stark was a complete surprise and it honestly upset me a lot. Mostly as to how ridiculously stupid it was. You don’t just kill the only character in a series that Ive heard of outside of the series. This guy was Boromir for heavens sake. Who throws away an actor like that so early on? Now I can’t watch the rest of it out of spite.

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  11. ned starks death is the catalyst to everything to come.

    it made perfect sense for him to die, and how in the hell is it a suprise?

    the character completely ran its course, for him to keep living would make absolutely no sense.

    NOT to mention his entire character is completely insufferable.

    (i’n ned stark) HEY YOU know what’s a good idea? littlefinger! let’s keep littlefinger around, tell him everything, ask for his advice, then when he gives it to me, DO THE EXACT opposite. THAT won’t piss him off, no it won’t! now let’s tell him everything about everything!

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  12. @brent- yeah, it would be cool to see the battle scenes yeah.

    but then again the cost of something that large would be stupendous.

    not to mention rome, which is by far the best hbo series thus far, didn’t have any major battle scenes in it.

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  13. when the stories been told four million eight hundred and one times and they still somehow make it fucking awesome and full of intrigue then that’s just amazing storytelling.

    deadwood kinda fell off for me. i just stopped watching it.

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    1. What made Deadwood so interesting to me was its semi-historical basis. It also featured a good bit of exceptional acting (especially McShane) and dialogue. (I articularly like how Deadwood didn’t feel lik they had to over hype the sexual gratuity that was getting a bit over-the-top in Game of Thrones – it’s not True Blood afterall), But yeah, plot-wise, at times, Deadwood was kind of slow, or just not very interesting. This is one area where Game of Thrones has most (all?) other TV epic dramas beat hands-down.

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