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Love ’em or hate ’em on “Game of Thrones.” April 16, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Let’s ignore the awful return of winter and turn to more entertaining pastimes. As a fan of “Game of Thrones'” Hodor, our friend Ben was highly amused to see a poster of Hodor yesterday that said, over a photograph of Hodor, “King Hodor of House Hodor,” then, in much larger letters at the bottom of the poster, “First of His Hodor,” “Long May He Hodor.” (Hodor, actually named Walder, is a benign, simpleminded giant whose only comment throughout the series is “Hodor.” When an interviewer asked the various actors what their character’s wittiest comment was, Kristian Nairn, the actor who plays Hodor, paused as if for thought, then replied deadpan, “I’d have to say, ‘Hodor’.”) Long may he Hodor!

This made me think about the death of Joffrey Lannister on last week’s “Purple Wedding” episode, for the simple reason that everyone online apparently reacted with joy, since they hated Joffrey more than any other character on “Game of Thrones.” While I wish Joffrey had choked to death on his way home from visiting Winterfell and removed his annoying self from the series early in Season 1, he always struck me as a spoiled, cowardly, sadistic brat who was allowed to grow into what he was by a rotten, corrupt, hate-filled mother (Cersei Lannister) and an indifferent “father” (King Robert Baratheon, who actually said “I was never meant to be a father”), while Joffrey’s true father, also his uncle, Ser Jaime Lannister, could do nothing to redeem him. To me, he was far from the most hateful character on the show.

Hmmm, I thought. Who are the most loved and hated characters on “Game of Thrones”? Turning to my good friend Google, I found answers that really surprised me, certainly not the answers I would have given in most cases. (Except one: series author George R.R. Martin, for killing off noble, beloved characters like Lord Eddard Stark and leaving the North defenseless without a second thought. You’d have thought that having the Mad King burn Eddard’s older brother Brandon and his father, and the Mad King’s son, Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, imprison and repeatedly rape Eddard’s sister Lyanna, ultimately resulting in her death, might have been enough. But oh, no: There was no end to Martin’s torture of the only truly noble family in Westeros, the Starks. I was genuinely surprised and gratified at the fan response to this, placing the blame squarely where it belonged.)

If you’re a fan of the books and/or the series, you’ll have your own favorites to love and hate. But here are mine:

LOVE

Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North, and reluctant Hand of the King: Like the man who raised him and his foster-brother Robert Baratheon, Jon Arryn, Ned values honor above common sense and fails to see that others value survival and power more than honor. Ned, Jon Arryn, and Robert Baratheon all die because of this basic failure of perception. But he remains my favorite character.

Tyrion Lannister, “The Imp:” Lord Tyrion has had to learn to use his brain and tongue as weapons, since he can’t compete with weapons of steel and hold his own. Despite his father’s and sister’s hatred and horrific acts against him, he manages to hold his place in Westeros and even prove himself a hero, as well as showing compassion whenever he can.

Stannis Baratheon: True heir to the Iron Throne, a brilliant general and honest man. Westeros under Lord Stannis’s rule would hardly be the cheerful, debauched place it was under his elder brother Robert, but Stannis would be a just ruler and a good, fair Winter king.

Mance Rayder: King North of the Wall, Mance has a great sense of perspective and a great sense of courage and daring. No man alive knows the threats this coming winter poses for all Westeros better than Mance, and no man knows how to truly rally extremely diverse peoples under his banner better than Mance (though Tyrion is underrated as usual in this regard).

CAN’T HELP BUT LOVE:

The Hound: Who wouldn’t love the Hound? Anyone who wouldn’t love the Hound is just a dog.

Lord Samwell Tarly (don’t forget he really is a lord and heir to a house)

Crown Prince Aemon Targaryen, Maester of the Wall; he’s seen it all.

Lord Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Wall; like Lord Eddard, an honorable man.

Hodor: Long may he Hodor!

Ramsay Snow: The single cheerful character in all of “Game of Thrones.” He truly loves what he does.

Maester Llewyn of Winterfell, the one wise man.

Lord Varys: Who would be too stupid to love Lord Varys?!

Littlefinger: Lord Petyr Baelish might be completely self-absorbed, but his rise to power is an object lesson.

Ros: As is the whore from the North, Ros, who leaves Winterfell to become both a spy for Lord Varys and a whoremaster for Lord Baelish. She is both the most beautiful actress on the series and the most impressive instance (in character) of a nobody rising through their own talents to a position of more prominence than they could ever have hoped to have achieved.

The Smartasses: Seasoned fighters who are always there with a quip when needed to remind the novices that life and death are only life and death, and it’s way better to meet them when they come than run off screaming. Ser Davos Seaworth, the Onion Knight, Stannis Baratheon’s Hand. Bronn of the Blackwater, Tyrion Lannister’s sellsword and protector. Syrio Forel, First Sword of Braavos, Arya Stark’s “dancing master.” Jaqen H’gar, the face-changer who saves Arya Stark from Tywin Lannister. There are plenty of others, like the recruiter from the Night’s Watch who tries to protect Arya and Gendry and dies at the hands of the hated Gold Cloaks with the immortal line (while killed by a crossbow) “Always hated crossbows; take too long to reload.” Watch for them, they’re all great.

Lord Tywin Lannister, head of House Lannister: He’s so horrible but so wonderful. Thank you, Charles Dance, for a superb performance. You’ve always been amazing, and now you have Ciaran Hinds as Mance Rayder and Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon (and Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon and Sean Bean as Eddard Stark, for that matter), to make sure you stay good and sharp.

Vicerys Targaryen. He too was cheerful, now that I think of it. Too bad he died so early on. I always enjoyed his on-screen time, and still miss him. Don’t want to wake the dragon!

Khal Drogo. Too bad about him.

Shae. Brave, good, fierce, loyal, beautiful, true to her “lion,” Lord Tyrion: What’s not to love?

Lady Brienne of Tarth. She is as honorable as Eddard, just not the brightest bulb on the string. I’d love to have Brienne on my side as long as I was giving her her marching orders, not assuming she could figure them out on her own or choose her alliances wisely.

OKAY I HATE THEM

The bitter old men. Balon Greyjoy squatting like a toad on his rock while he mutters “I was a king, I was a king” as he sends his children off to die. Walder Frey, host of the Red Wedding. Grandmaester Pycelle, the lecherous coward. Craster, the monstrous wildling lord who marries his daughters and gives all his incest-born sons to the White Walkers.

Theon Greyjoy. That filthy, weak, ungrateful traitor.

Cersei Lannister. In case you didn’t get that the first time. Cersei was the spoiled only daughter of the super-rich House Lannister, considered the most beautiful woman in all Westeros, married to the then-handsome hero Robert Baratheon and so Queen of Westeros. She had more reasons than anyone in the series to be happy, but instead was filled with more poison than the Red Viper and always ready to spew it out on anyone and everyone from her brother Tyrion to Sansa Stark. Speaking of whom…

Sansa Stark. Filthy, lying, self-serving little turncoat, she turns against Arya and her father Eddard and dooms her poor direwolf Lady to death. Too bad she didn’t break her neck in the first episode!

Catelyn Stark. Even worse is her mother Catelyn, whose mindless hatred makes poor Jon Snow’s life a living hell and whose terrible judgment dooms her son Robb, her husband Eddard, and many another innocent to death. Of all the characters, I probably hate her most.

Lord Janos Slynt. The head of the Gold Cloaks who betrays Lord Eddard to his death. At least Lord Tyrion manages to send him to the Wall.

Melisandre. The “Red Woman,” High Priestess of the Lord of Light, has corrupted Stannis Baratheon, an honorable man, and turned him into a fanatic. Shame on her!

The madwomen: Lysa Arryn of the Eyrie and Lord Stannis’s wife. The sooner they’re offed, the better.

Joffrey Lannister. All right, all right, of course I hate Joffrey and his revolting retainers. But not as much as many another on this list.

So which characters do you love, hate, and love to hate?

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