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Friday, 16 November 2012


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This scene seems to be working on a few different levels.

The stag is also on the Baratheon sigil, and this is the episode where Robert kicks off. How did Robert die? He was drunk and gored by a boar, in the gut, but his debilitated reflexes were aided by a Lannister fortifying his wine. So what we have here is also a visual representation of how a Lannister eviscerates, or helped to eviscerate, the stag Robert Baratheon. But they're talking about Ned, which in a way makes perfect sense -- as the Hand of the King, Ned Stark is a kind of stand-in for Robert Baratheon/the stag, which in a way negates some of his northern wolfishness.

The threat to Ned's neck is also important.

This is also the second time we've seen a stag with its stomach cut out: Recall the first episode, where the starks encountered the dead stag who caught the direwolf in the throat. The stag in that scene is well-dead, with its stomach gored out by the direwolf, yet the stag also managed to get an antler into the direwolf's neck -- see Littlefinger threatening Ned's neck, and that's also the physical location where Ned will later be killed. And if you want to get a little picky and point out how the dead direwolf was a female, well, spoiler alert, Catelyn's throat isn't all that safe either. However, in both cases the direwolf's pups survive.

So when the wolf engages the stag, the stag gets gored in the opening episode, when Robert gets gored, and when Tywin cleans this game; and the direwolf gets it in the throat in the opening episode, when Ned is named "Protector of the Realm," and in the later scene which I won't spoil here. It's as if that opening scene functions as a kind of symbolic overture for the overall narrative, and this moment with Tywin gutting the stag and later Ned needing to protect his neck recalls those symbols.


The stag is also on the Baratheon sigil

I taught this five times and punted that fact every single one of them. Forest and trees, I can't see one for the other sometimes.

And I hadn't even thought about necks, damn it, and that's obviously operative. Your last sentence may be the undoing of my night's sleep though, trying to sort that out.


I'm seeing a surprising parallel between how Tywin and Ned lead their houses: when they must kill something, they're willing to do it themselves. Tywin does it for pleasure, Ned does it for duty. Joffrey doesn't get the lesson that he must dirty his hands, but the Stark children do. That's one reason why, in the end, (some of?) the Stark children will be much more successful than Joffrey.

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