Earlier this month, in honor of October and the imminent holiday of Halloween, I had a post rating a handful of notable deceptions and surprises in Game of Thrones. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to do another round, but focus on some of the less-amputation oriented pranks (no beheadings in this bunch.)
Oh, Spoilers for the first three seasons of Game of Thrones. Seriously.
I provided more details in that last post, but basically, I rated events based on three parameters: Planning, Patience, and Payoff. All on a scale of 1 to 10, and completely subjectively scored. Here we go…
All the Wrong Places, Theon. All the Wrong Places.
In Season Two, Theon Greyjoy was dispatched as an ambassador from Robb Stark, King of the North, to Balon Greyjoy (the ex-King of the Iron Isles.) What could go wrong?
- After sending a note home, (which probably read “Good news, dad! Robb Stark is sending me home with a great opportunity for the family! Make sure there’s lot of princely celebrations planned! I’m looking forward to sampling Iron Island hookers and beer, yo!“) Theon was expecting quite a homecoming.
- There wasn’t much waiting for him at the docks. But he did get an offer of a ride up to the castle by this young woman.
- Because Theon’s a big horndog, and can’t refrain from hitting on anything female, he took the opportunity while riding behind his guide to act like he’s on the New York Subway. A little groping, a little grinding… Theon expected that after he saw Daddy Greyjoy, he’d get to carry on in his usual bohemian fashion.
- Balon literally took exception to Theon’s fashion, gave him a dressing down, and piled on some contempt and disappointment. Then Theon’s companion showed up, to reveal herself as Yara Greyjoy, his sister.
D’oh. And we thought Jaime and Cersei were our textbook siblings with an inappropriate relationship!
Yara’s reveal was the second part of the one-two punch on Theon and his homecoming, and established his position in the Greyjoy pecking order.
Theon: Dad! Yara totally led me on earlier today!
Balon: There, there, Theon. I’ll not have my two daughters squabbling.
Let’s rate this:
- Planning: 4/10 It didn’t strike me as impulsive as Joffrey’s decision to cut off Ned’s head. Yara *might* have decided on the spot not to reveal herself, but one gets the sense that she went to the docks with a purpose, to suss out Theon’s character. It still didn’t require a ton of planning. I mean, it doesn’t take much to flirt with Theon. But I think Yara had thought this through.
- Patience: 5/10 Certainly it took a certain amount of playing along and commitment to the act, having Grabby-as-the-Kraken Theon putting his tentacles on her as she rode on up to the castle at Pyke. I’m not suggesting she should have gone any further with Theon, but it certainly would have earned more points. But I think getting more points would be diminishing returns on this deception.
- Payoff: 7/10 This had it all: humorous humiliation of Theon and served as a nice power play in front of Dad. It’s a gag that paid off.
So, Yara scores 16 out of 30. Not bad (when compared to the scores of my previously covered jokers.)
Dismissed and disrespected by his father Balon and his sister Yara, Theon’s ambition and bruised pride spurred him into taking Winterfell. It’s a smooth tactical move, he took the castle easily. It’s not a good strategic move, since Balon had no interest in investing in northern inland property. Reinforcements from Yara turned out to be merely sentimental words of advice. Theon’s luck turned pretty sour.
- Robb Stark offered a blanket amnesty for the Ironborn in the North, provided they rethink their invasion and got the hell out. But not for Theon. Robb wanted Theon’s head.
- Winterfell was surrounded by Northern troops, and Theon’s crew wasn’t likely to successfully repel a siege. (We’d eventually discover that these are the disreputable Bolton forces, led by the treacherous Ramsay Snow.) Theon was urged by Maester Luwin to flee Winterfell, and either return home in disgrace or seek redemption through service at the Wall.
- Theon opted to go down fighting.
- He gathered his men and gave a rallying speech. Pretty dramatic and impressive. His men responded heartily. Then his second-in-command Dagmer knocked Theon out. Boom.
- Theon’s men then turned their prince over to the Boltons in exchange for the good-faith amnesty. (They ended up being flayed alive, but that’s not my concern here.)
So, prior to Theon’s speech, his men had come to the conclusion that Theon’s days were numbered, and that they should take the offered amnesty. But rather than march up to Theon, put him in shackles, and frog-march him out of the castle, they kind of chilled out and let Theon psych himself up to give a rousing Braveheart-style YOLO speech, which they charmingly responded to positively, before knocking him out.
My assumption is that Dagmer had cooked up the idea and had given the word to the guys.
Dagmer: Ironbros, my money is on Theon calling an assembly and trying to raise our morale.
Baldy McIronborn: Och, as if!
Dagmer: Too right. So, whatever Prince Peon says, really act like he’s Henry the Fifth or something.
Poxy McPoxborn: Who?
Dagmer: He’s like Tyrion, giving that speech in the last episode.
Dagmer: At the appropriate moment, I’ll sap him and we’ll walk.
Planning: 5/10 Clearly all of the Ironborn were in on the plan to turn Theon over to the northerners. It wasn’t a super complicated plan, so it’s not worth a ton of points, but extra consideration for the number of people involved. There was always the chance that someone might talk, and spill the legumes.
Patience: 4/10 It’s not like the guys had to do anything out of the ordinary. Dagmer was probably the only one needing to have contact with Theon on the run-up to mutiny after the plan was made.
Payoff: 3/10 What? Why so low? Well, these kind of things are subjective, and I work with my own rules on this. It was a good bit, to string Theon along. But from a practical joke point of view, it wasn’t unexpected (I mean, should we really expect the Z-list Vikings Theon was assigned to respond to a heroic call?) and there isn’t the great payoff that you get when the victim realizes what’s happened. Theon might not even know the full details of what happened. (Although some might argue that’s what makes it the best deception of all. Like in The Sting.)
So Dagmer and the pirates get a 12 out of 30. (Still, that’s better than I scored Joffrey.)
Does the Bride Come with Potatoes?
I did mention that the series of pranks in this post wouldn’t be as violent as the last article, but knocking Theon unconscious is kind of violent. So it’s time to talk about a trick that was totally injury free. Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey’s wedding.
WHAT? THE RED WEDDING? TOTALLY INJURY FREE???
Yeah, I hear you, no need to shout. But I’m talking about the Wedding, and not the Reception.
Time to walk down the aisle of this event.
- Robb Stark needed men, and felt that his uncle Edmure Tully (the new Lord of the Riverlands) would be a suitable replacement groom for one of Walder Frey’s daughters. (We all remember that Catelyn had arranged a bridge crossing at the Twins by promising Robb, not a king at the time, not even a lord at the time, to an unnamed Frey girl? Yes?)
- Robb hoped that the new arrangement would bring Frey forces back into his army.
- The date was set; Lord Edmure Tully prepared to do his probably-unpleasant-duty. Everyone knew that all of Frey’s daughters were probably hideous. I mean, just look at Walder Frey.
- Robb and his retinue showed up and Frey paraded his daughters in front of the Young Wolf and Edmure.
- To quote Catelyn, “one of them was…” — ??? — Not hideous? Sort of average? Free of warts? We just don’t know what Catelyn meant to say back in Season One, reporting to Robb how Frey’s daughters looked. (To me, they all just looked kind of frumpy, but all the Freys cultivated a kind of drab aspect in their attire and appearance. Balon Greyjoy would have approved.)
- Robb made his apologies for getting married to a hot nurse rather than to one of Frey’s ladies, and the wedding proceedings kicked in.
- Family, friends, bannermen, etc. filled the area, Walder Frey escorted the veiled bride down the aisle to the reluctant but stiff-upper-lipped Edmure Tully, who wondered how much wine he’d need to drink to perform his husbandly duty (and not so much as to make it impossible to perform his duty.)
- Then off came the veil, and Roslin was revealed to be beautiful. Compared to her sisters, she was like an angel.
- Robb looked over at Walder Frey, who gave the king a look that said “You could have been tapping that, me lad.” (Which is totally the kind of thing that rude Walder Frey would say.)
There are probably still viewers wondering if Roslin Frey was even a Frey at all, or just an extra layer of deception. Let’s assume she’s legit and her mom’s DNA just fended off the otherwise persistent Frey-Unappealing DNA when deciding Roslin’s genetics.
Had Roslin been in the room when Catelyn first made the arranged marriage in exchange for passage, I’m sure a lot of problems would have been short-circuited.
Catelyn: Robb, you’ll have to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters.
Theon: LOL! Too bad, brah! I hear they’re all hidjuss!
Robb: Shut it! Mom, is that true?
Catelyn: It’s not true. Lord Frey, beyond all belief, has a daughter who might very well be the Maiden of the Seven themselves.
Robb: Right on!
Talisa: Hey there, maybe I can offer you a free medical exam, your Grace?
Robb: No thanks! I’m engaged to a woman of Seven Heavensly beauty! But maybe you can take this note up to Castle Black for me, to my incredibly good looking half-brother, Jon Snow.
Robb: Show him a good time. See if you can get him to break any oaths.
Frey Soldier: Your grace, Casterly Rock is yours! The Lannisters are routed and in disarray!
Robb: Right on! Time to get back to Riverrun and see how Roslin is doing. She wrote me and said she wanted to name our child Eddard, after my dad.
Frey Soldier: Oh my gods, that’s adorable, your grace! Black Walder and Dim Walder had bet me that she was going to name your son “Walder.”
Robb: Maybe the next one, my friend!
Starks and Freys: HUZZAH!!!
But, I shouldn’t let myself get carried away.
So, let’s score Walder and his “all my daughters will end up old maids, *cackle-cackle*” deception, capped off with the reveal of Roslin.
- Planning 6/10 Clearly, Frey had this planned out in advance. He purposefully selected the most lovely of his daughters to marry off, but had withheld her from the parade of spinsters in front of Robb. You might say that this was also all about deflecting attention from the upcoming reception and the planned assassination, but even if that never happened, this was a nicely set up scheme.
- Patience 6/10 Frey practically put on a show called “FUD: the Fugly Ugly Daughters (or Frey-Unappealing DNA)” His children might not have known that Dad was planning on killing everyone off, but they certainly would have known that Roslin wasn’t with them, and had been fitted out with a wedding dress. Everyone played their part, for an extended time, so this was an above average commitment to the bit.
- Payoff 6/10 Why not higher than six? I don’t know. Since I consider Walder Frey the Devil, giving him three sixes seems thematically right. It was a short payoff to tweak Robb, but a great one. Totally above average prank.
Walder Frey, leading this particular series, has 18 out of 30 points. Better than Locke (from the previous article), but not quite the devilish con-man that Ramsay Bolton is.
Hey, I hoped everyone enjoyed this second examination of pranksters in Game of Thrones. I hadn’t planned on making two posts out of the topic, but I found some notes from my first brainstorming on what to write during the GoT hiatus, and I had specifically thought about these three events. So it seemed worthwhile.
I have one more October post planned, and it’ll be more thematic in regards to the spooky nature of Halloween, and less about Tricks and Hooliganism.
Most images from HBO’s Game of Thrones, obviously.
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.
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