Trick or Treat; Tricks and Threats (in Game of Thrones)

Posted: October 7, 2014 by patricksponaugle in Game of Thrones, Opinion, TV
Tags: , , , ,

This post will be talking about details found in the first three seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones. If you’re not caught up on the show (at least to that point) you might trip and fall over some Spoilers in this post. You’ve been warned, my friends.


Happy Halloween! Or as the Dothraki Might Say: Happy Khalloween!

October is here, a solidly Autumn month. I know my daughter is looking forward for the month to fly by as fast as possible, to land on October 31st and the holiday of Halloween. Although this generation knows Halloween as mostly a costume-laden, candy-filled explosion, years and years ago the night of Halloween put just as much emphasis on the Trick part of the equation, as well as the Treat. Like I said, Autumn’s here, so Winter is Coming. A perfect time for a Game of Thrones post, and in honor of hooligans who are planning practical jokes for the upcoming Halloween, I thought I’d spotlight some of the greatest pranksters in the Seven Kingdoms. Westeros: where it’s all fun and games once someone loses a body part. Usually.

The Rules. (Rules? How Boring!)

Yes, rules. To keep things in perspective, I’ll rate the pranksters on three categories…

  • Planning – who doesn’t love an Ocean’s Eleven heist? The more moving pieces in play, the better.
  • Patience – How much time from the planning stage to the payoff, or how much effort in keeping the gag going? There’s a commitment required in pulling off a prank, especially one that will take time to come to fruition.
  • Payoff – The bigger, the better. Damage to the target, shock, collateral damage, personal risk of consequences, that all adds up.

I’ll be rating the following jokers from 1 to 10. Using my subjective judgment. (Maybe.)

Joffrey Pulls a Fast One with Ned Stark Ned Stark gets offered a deal: publicly declare that Joffrey is the rightful king and admit to treason. In exchange, Ned would get to live out his days at the Wall (no doubt kicking the frozen asses of Others and having heart to heart talks with Jon.) But instead, King Joffrey gets a wild hair up his butt and goes off-script.


Just a Little Off the Top…

Joffrey: Yes, I will show mercy and allow this traitor to live. JUST KIDDING! Hey, Ser Ilyn. Be a sport and cut off his head. Ned Stark: Typical.

  • Planning – 2/10 As far as I can tell, this was an impulsive move on Joffrey’s part. There’s always a chance that someone put him up to it, or he’d been planning on killing Ned for some time, but I’m making my call.
  • Patience – 2/10 Since I feel that this was a split-second decision, along the lines of “Wait a minute… I’m KING! I can chop off this dude’s head!” there really wasn’t the opportunity to exercise patience.
  • Payoff – 6/10 We’ll all admit that it was a pretty solid payoff, killing Ned Stark. No one was expecting it. So why so low? Why not 9 or 10? Payoff is a hard category to judge, and it’s super-subjective. Being killed by Joffrey was certainly a possibility, Ned’s older brother and father had been executed as capriciously by Mad King Aerys Targaryen. So it was a shocking payoff for we readers or show watchers who weren’t expecting Ned, the HERO, to die. But it wouldn’t be that shocking to people of Westeros.

So, Joker King Joffrey is holding on to 10 points out of 30. To have really made an excellent prank, Joffrey should have taken a page out of his uncle’s book. Send Ned to the Wall as advertised. Get the PR boost from being merciful and defuse the northern ire somewhat. But have a chained Ned tossed off the Wall-bound ship on the way. Joffrey has no finesse.

Unlocking Locke’s Hospitality In Season Three of the television show, Jaime Lannister, while being escorted by Brienne of Tarth as part of a prisoner exchange, is re-captured by northerners loyal to Roose Bolton, the Lord of the Dreadfort. Jaime is being reasonably treated, but there are threats aplenty in regards to Brienne’s virtue. For his own reasons, Jaime attempts to keep Brienne safe from harm by over-inflating her value as an unharmed hostage. The leader of the Bolton party, Locke, appears to be swayed by Jaime’s suggestion that keeping the Kingslayer in chains isn’t the best course of action, and that possibly a smart man like Locke could see other alternatives.


Jaime Has Overplayed His… Position.

Locke charitably offers Jaime to join in with dinner, relocates him to the food preparation area and has Jaime’s sword hand chopped off. Not quite the alternative that Jaime was expecting from Locke.

  • Planning: 2/10 I’m ruling this an impulse move as well.
  • Patience: 2/10 Again, not much patience was required, there was very little time spent keep Jaime in the dark that he was not about to enjoy pheasant dinner.
  • Payoff: 6/10 Locke gets positive points for the unexpectedness of it, and extra points for chopping off Jaime’s sword hand. If he had just beat Jaime up, or broken some fingers, it wouldn’t have been worth as much.

So, Locke maiming Jaime (the Jaiming, yo) on the prank scale is relatively the same as Joffrey and Ned, worth 10 points out of 30. Could Locke had upped his game on this? Sure. But he’s operating at a different level than Joffrey, for his next epic prank on Jaime.

Weakened by blood loss and infection, and I guess depression, Jaime’s having a hard time riding. He falls from his horse.


Jaime’s Hoping He Gets a Bath out of this. At Least.

The Boltons laugh at the dirty and beaten-down Kingslayer, who begs for water. Locke tells his men to pipe down and benevolently tosses Jaime a drinking-skin. Jaime starts chugging the liquid. Locke: Wow, look at him guzzle that horse-piss. Jaime: SPUTUUIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Planning: 6/10 Locke had a skin filled with horse-urine. Just in case. JUST IN CASE. He went to the trouble to collect piss from his horse (or other’s horses, I’m not worried about which horse) and filled up a perfectly good drinking vessel with that nasty stuff. Okay, it’s not like he was breaking into Fort Knox or whatever, but this required some forethinking. This wasn’t an impulse move.
  • Patience: 4/10 This didn’t require a ton of patience, but it showed some commitment to the gag to be carrying a canteen of urine around, hoping for the chance that it would be needed. And there was always the risk that the gag could go south if Locke got thirsty and wasn’t paying attention.
  • Payoff: 5/10 Points for the hilariousness of it, and the low-down meanness. It wasn’t a big grandiose payoff, but this was a practical joke done well.

15/30 for Locke, beating out Joffrey and setting a decent metric for further prank judgments. Because we’re coming up on a master.

Theon’s Bestest Buddy


Did We Win the Battle?

Theon Greyjoy started out Season Three rather in a pickle. Betrayed by his men and turned over to whomever was surrounding Winterfell, Prince Theon wakes up strapped to a cross, and gets the Marathon Man treatment. But a lowly servant give Theon hope.


It’s Very Important that the Dungeon Floors are Clean Enough to Eat Off of. It’s Best Not to Ask Why that’s Important.

“Don’t despair,” he says. “I’m from your sister, and I’m going to get you out.” That evening, Theon’s rescuer releases him, giving him a horse and directions to get to Yara Greyjoy’s keep of Deepwood Motte (captured from the North at the same time Theon was taking Winterfell.) Theon is pursued, is re-captured, and is about to suffer some serious abuse when the mysterious rescuer shows up and rescues Theon again, putting arrows in Theon’s captors. Theon is led to a castle, which he is told is Deepwood Motte. Theon’s traveling companion insists on them sneaking in, since he doesn’t trust all of Yara’s retainers. Once inside, Theon makes a few heartfelt and regretful confessions, but then really has a reason for regret.


Time to Fire Up Cerebro and Find Some Mutants!

He’s been led back to the prison he had just escaped from, and is being blamed for the deaths of his pursuers. D’oh. So, how did Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton’s bastard son, commander pro tem of the Dreadfort, and architect of these events do on the Pranking Scale?

  • Planning: 6/10 It clearly wasn’t an impulse move, some planning was involved: to not only keep Theon in the dark but also the men who were sent to retrieve Theon.
  • Patience: 6/10 As above. This was a trap that had a lot of moving parts and had to be extended, through the initial contact phase, making sure Theon wasn’t so badly injured that he couldn’t ride, that he’d be recaptured but the hunters could be put down.
  • Payoff: 8/10 Pretty much a slam dunk, especially because there was the extra benefit Ramsay pranking his own men, with Death! Whoa.

20 points out of 30. It would be hard to beat Ramsay at a con. But there’s someone who is the master of the long, long con. WHO? Someone who really committed to a deception, for his own mysterious reasons.



I’m talking the Andy Kaufman of Westeros. You want the truth? You might not be able handle the truth. In classic click-bait fashion, I have the answer as part of a post on my secret spoilery blog, rather than announcing here who I think is the greatest prankster in Westeros. I do this for a few reasons.

  • My main Game of Thrones blogs are pretty Television-Centric, and I try to be unspoilery.
  • My reveal will be influenced by the books, and…
  • *might* be spoilery.

But if you *must* know who I mean, I’ll shroud his name here –> Ned Stark <– (wrapped in inviso-text)

Shenanigans! I hear you say. What about all the other underhanded stuff?

  • Stannis ambushing Renly with magic?
  • Tyrion’s surprise nuking of Stannis’ fleet?
  • Daenerys and her Dragonball surprise in Astapor?
  • Joffrey’s death?
  • Cersei arranging a hunting accident for Robert?
  • The Red Wedding?

Everyone’s getting punked! Hey, I agree. There’s a lot of hooliganism going on in the Seven Kingdoms. I just don’t want to have to put a score on everything. (And I already talked about Stannis, Tyrion, and Daenerys’ deceptive stratagems, but from a war crime type of analysis. So I’ve kind of milked that cow.)

(UPDATE: I lied. Apparently a week after I posted the above article, I had a few more Game of Thrones practical jokes to evaluate.)

But I’m nothing but an inviting and gracious soul. Knock on my door (or rather, the comments section) and let’s discuss ideas. Will it be a treat (as in Pat, You’ve Done It Again) or a trick (as in Pat, You’ve Done It Again, Idiot) ? Just don’t egg my house, please. Or have me drink horse-stuff. Or cut my hand, head, or kraken off. Deal?

Most images from HBO’s Game of Thrones, obviously. (Other than the picture of Andy Kaufman.)

I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text. So there.

If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2014 Some Rights Reserved

  1. infinityreads says:

    A very clever post in the spirit the Halloween! I’m very curious to see whom you think is the prank king of Westeros but I must comment here first. About Locke chopping Jaime’s hand off I believe it wasn’t as impulsive, I mean I think he has a thing against little rich boys like Jaime who get everything and so to humiliate him he decided to chop his hand off, but then maybe I’m reading too much into it. As mentioned before great post!


    • Thank you so much for the feedback. A large part of why I blog about Game of Thrones is to hear from other people who are into the show, so I really appreciate you bringing up your observations on Locke.

      I totally agree that Locke feels the way you describe, but my feeling is that had Jaime not started talking to him with a “you’re a smart guy, you know I’m right” argument (which is really a “you’re not that bright, so let me explain it to you” argument) then probably he wouldn’t have lost a hand.

      My perspective is that Locke decided on the spot:

      1) I’m going to cut off his sword hand.
      2) I’m going to pretend that things are going his way, because that’s extra-humiliating.

      But I can’t pretend to know what’s on Locke’s mind. The fact that he was carrying around a drinking skin filled with urine (for comedy emergencies) might imply that he had been planning all kinds of abuses on Jaime, and was just waiting for the right time.

      So I respect your interpretation, certainly.

      (And thank you for visiting my backup blog and leaving a comment, I’ll be responding there too. Thanks again!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this post! So much fun and super timely!


  3. That Red Wedding was a shocker but only for its savagery. Especially with Rob’s wife’s death. Not that she died but how she died. Brutal. Honestly, I was more surprised that Lord Frey was being so forgiving in the beginning than that he pulled a fast one on them all.

    I looked at the invisible name though and I am TOTALLY shocked! My mind is racing wondering what it could mean. 😀


  4. kirksroom says:

    Hey, Patrick, Daniel just wrote those thoughts on A Storm of Swords that you were eager to read:

    I’m his only real commenter and I haven’t read the series, so I’m sure he’d like your input.


  5. I think I need to get more pumpkins so I can have one for every house … no, that sounds ambitious. I think I’ll get two and have one for house Lannister and another for house Stark.


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