Last night, Viserys finally got his promised reward, on Game of Thrones. Yay Viserys! He's shown the kind of leadership we can get behind. And now that his qualities have finally been recognized, he can clean up this whole mess.
Here's our recap of "A Golden Crown," focusing especially on why Viserys has the makings of a great monarch – and speculating on just how Viserys would deal with some of those tricky political situations, back home in Westeros. Vote Viserys in 2012: You know it makes sense.
Not only is Viserys the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, he's also a man who knows how to rule. As he tells Ser Jorah Mormont, you can't rule without wealth, fear or love. Luckily, Viserys knows how to get all three for himself.
First, Viserys gets the love of all of the Dothraki people, through his great display of warmth and spirit. He's already been doing a lot to win over the Dothraki in previous episodes, through acts of valor like bullying his sister and various serving girls. And by refusing to wear Dothraki garb or go to dinner with them, while calling them savages and insisting that they should all go die for him. He's done an excellent job of playing hard to get, which anyone will tell you is the best way to win people's love.
But in the latest episode, his charm offensive escalates, during his pregnant sister's ritual devouring of a raw horse heart. Viserys, recognizing that this is an important ceremonial occasion, keeps up a running commentary explaining how his sister will never be able to keep from puking up the heart and ruining her son's chances of leadership. And when Daenerys does keep the heart down, he stalks off in envy and disgust as the Dothraki pronounce her son the Khal of Khals and the "stallion who mounts the world."
A lesser man might think that it's pretty awesome that his sister is doing so well at assimilating into Dothraki culture and becoming such a powerful figure in their ruling elite. A lesser man might even see some advantage for himself in the fact that his nephew is believed to be the future world leader – since people will fight like hell for a boy who's been prophesized to be the Khal of Khals, and this could prove very useful. But Viserys is no lesser man – he is a man of vision.
As for wealth – Viserys holds it in his hands. He's got hold of the three dragon eggs which his sister received as a wedding present. Not only are those eggs rare and immensely valuable, they appear to have some magical properties still, since Daenerys put one of them in the fire and it did not burn her. (Although her sister wasn't so lucky.) With those eggs, Viserys could have enough wealth to buy the Iron Throne for himself. Unfortunately, he's done such a great job with his charm offensive, winning over everyone's love, that nobody wants to see him leave. (At least, not with those eggs.)
Finally, Viserys has his chance to use fear to gain power. He gets out his sword – even though swords and bloodshed are forbidden in the Khalasar – and grabs his own pregnant sister at swordpoint, threatening to cut her baby out of her. That's putting the fear of Viserys into them! And this strategy totally works – Viserys gets the crown he's been waiting for all this time. In fact, every episode of Game of Thrones from here on out is going to be about the awesome rule of King Viserys, and his noble pronouncements. Next week, for example, King Viserys is going to be rationalizing taxation of the Dornish Marshes, and improving the management of trade in Lannisport. It'll be awesome!
But of course, despite Viserys' great victory, there are still a few other characters we have to worry about in Game of Thrones. Let's run through their stories one by one, while asking: What would Viserys do?
There's Tyrion Lannister, who starts out the episode where he left off last week: trapped in a sky cell where every time he falls asleep, he almost rolls off the edge to his death. He's the prisoner of the merciless Lady Lysa Arryn and her psychotic son Lord Robert, who keeps screaming "Make the bad man fly." And his jailer, the demented Mord, keeps beating him and resisting all efforts to bribe him. (Tyrion trying to explain to Mord that the concept of ownership is sometimes abstract is one of the greatest things I've seen in ages, although not as great as what follows.)
Finally, Tyrion convinces Mord to let him see Lady Lysa and her sister, Catelyn Stark, on the pretext that he's going to confess his crimes. What would Viserys do in this situation? Bear in mind that Viserys is a formidable strategist, but also a proud man. Seeing two women and a little boy, he would probably attempt to drive the fear into them, with a healthy show of bluster. Show them what a real man is like. They'd have been so impressed, they'd probably send Viserys on his way by the quickest route possible.
Tyrion, not being as brilliant as Viserys, just uses his wits instead. First, he catches Lysa and Robert off guard by "confessing" to a series of petty crimes, including stealing a serving girl's clothes, putting goat shit in his uncle's boots, and wanking into his sister's turtle stew. "I made the bald man cry." (He also made me cry. With laughter.) Oh, and it's worth noting that Tyrion's speech is about one-millionth as funny in the book, where it goes:
Where to begin? I am a vile little man, I confess it. My crimes and sins are beyond counting, my lords and ladies. I have lain with whores, not once but hundreds of times. I have wished my own lord father dead, and my sister, our own gracious queen, as well. I have not always treated my servants with kindness. I have gambled. I have cheated. I blush to admit. I have said many cruel and malicious things about the lords and ladies of the court. Once, I –
Compare that to "I milked the one-eyed snake," speaking about a turtle stew that he hopes his sister ate. Television Tyrion is just more fun, it must be said.
After Lady Lysa gets pissed and tries to send Tyrion back to the luxurious sky cells, he demands a trial — and not by the sagacious mind of Lord Robert, but by combat. Tyrion tries to name his brother Jaime as his champion, but Lysa's not willing to wait that long to settle this. So Tyrion has to ask for a volunteer — and it turns out Tyrion's own "hearts and minds" campaign has paid off, because he's made a friend: Bronn, a sword for hire. Bronn takes on Lysa's heavily armored champion, wearing no armor himself, and cuts the knight to shreds in front of the horrified court of the Eyrie. (Speaking of which, here's some amazing Eyrie concept art we found over at Fanpop.)
Once Bronn has vanquished Lysa's champion, he and Tyrion are free to go — out onto the incredibly dangerous, nasty road from the Eyrie. They probably won't make it back to the Kingsroad in one piece, what with all those horrible hill tribes out there — which just goes to show that Tyrion should be more like Viserys, who probably would have browbeat everyone into submission in no time.
Meanwhile, there are the Starks, who continue to blunder deeper into trouble, both in King's Landing and in Winterfell. Ned Stark kind of, sort of, wakes up from the delirium after his horrible leg wound to see the King and Queen standing over his bedside, pissed at him for his wife's actions in seizing Tyrion. The King points out what Ned should already know: he's up to his royal eyeballs in debt to the Lannisters, and can't pick a fight with them. The King browbeats Ned into resuming his duties as Hand of the King, before going off on a hunt, because "Killing things clears my head."
Now that he's Hand of the King again, Ned takes the King's "don't piss off the Lannisters" injunction to heart — for about five minutes. When he hears of a poor village being pillaged and destroyed by a knight who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ser Gregor Clegane — the poor loser at the jousting last week — Ned decides that the Lannisters must be behind this outrage, and sends Ser Beric Dondarrion to deal with Ser Gregor. He also orders the head of the Lannister family, Tywin Lannister, to come to court and answer for his crimes.
And then Ned finally figures out the secret that cost the previous Hand of the King his life, and cost his son Bran the use of his legs — the heir apparent, Joffrey, and the other royal kids have blond hair, when every other member of the Baratheon line, going back centuries, has had black hair. And the King's bastards all have black hair. It's a dominant trait — or, as the previous Hand put it, "the seed is strong." Ned also, way too late in the game, decides to get his daughters Arya and Sansa out of King's Landing before the hostilities heat up any more.
What would Viserys do in this situation? Probably behead everybody involved, until he's sure there are no more potentially troublesome heads still attached. Because Viserys doesn't do subtle.
The Stark kids, meanwhile, are finding more and more reasons to want to stay in King's Landing. Arya is learning more than just swordplay from her tutor, Syrio Forel — she's learning philosophy, and a way of putting her troubles out of her mind so she can be the ultimate swordswoman. Sansa — in an absolutely brilliant scene — acts bratty towards her poor Septa Mordane, until Joffrey Bieber shows up and apologizes for being such a total shitbag since the whole "wolf bite" incident on the road. And gives her a nice necklace, because she'll be queen one day.
Back in Winterfell, meanwhile, the eldest Stark child, Robb, tries to figure out what to do about the Lannisters maiming his dad and killing his father's men. And Theon Greyjoy suggests taking up arms and fighting back — but Robb reminds Theon that this isn't really his house, the umpteenth time someone has rubbed Theon's nose in that fact lately. Poor Theon can't even convince his favorite sex worker, Ros, to stick around. (She does flash him one last time, though.)
Bran finally has his fancy saddle, allowing him to ride his horse despite his injury — and the first thing he does is to ride off into the deep woods on his own, where a group of marauding wildlings nearly captures him. Robb and Theon take care of these raiders, but leave one of them, a woman, alive in exchange for her promises of fealty.
But since we're on the subject of "What would Viserys do?" — and it's sadly our last chance to imagine how Viserys would handle the many tricky situations that these characters face — it's important to compare Viserys to the man whose throne he wants: King Robert. Who makes some very dodgy choices this time around. King Robert puts the man whose wife arrested his wife's brother back in charge, and tells him to sit on the throne while he's off slaying beasts. And then he traipses off into the forest with his youngest brother Renly, Ser Barristan Selmy and his squire, Lancel Lannister — two out of three of whom would happily spit on his corpse. Then he proceeds to make himself as obnoxious as possible, reminiscing about the women he's fucked and the people he's killed, while staggering around the forest with an enormous spear.
King Robert, at least, understand that governing means compromises — and that you have to pick who to trust. Ned, the brother Robert chose, is the only person Robert can leave to govern in his stead. And yet, Robert can't take Ned's side in his burgeoning feud against the Lannisters. He knows that if the Starks and Lannisters come to blows, the realm will be torn apart, and his only answer is to put Ned in a position of authority, where he may have to behave with restraint. Of course, it doesn't really turn out that way.
So what would Viserys do, in Robert's place? I'm guessing there would be a lot of meaningless threats and specious arguments — that's apparently what you get when you wake the dragon.
Poor Viserys. At least he'll always be king in our hearts.