Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

The Bear

Varys, Littlefinger and climbing the ladder (book spoilers)

Recommended Posts

I pleasantly surprised that they included a conversation between Littlefinger. We learned some interesting things that we didn't know from the books, perhaps most importantly that Varys knows about Cat, Lysa and LF's weakness.

I've been reading the Littlefinger/Varys comparison threads on the site lately so this topic has been in the front of my mind even before the episode aired. In contrast to many of the other episode scenes that strongly diving the show version of the characters from their novel counterparts (Cersei fretting and commiserating with Tyrion, QoT openly admitting Loras is gay, Loras' sudden knowledge of fabric and dressmaking and weddings and so forth), in this scene we get confirmation that the characters' motives - at least on the surface - are similar or identical to the book:

- LF tells Sansa in the novels to basically make moves that make no sense and cause chaos

- Varys again insists he's doing what he does for the good of the realm

We also find out that the prostitute that was on LF's payroll was given to Joff to kill.

Is there anything else we learned from that scene that either confirms character motivation or teaches us something knew? I wonder if the show writers tipped us off on Littlefinger's downfall by having Varys openly admit he knows LF's weakness. We certainly didn't learn of Varys having one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you should also consider the line from an earlier episode, that Varys said to QoT, that Littlefinger would burn the realm if he could be the king of the ashes.

At the moment I'd say it seems that his plan seems to be coming into fruition, if he receives the backing of the Vale lords, he wields the strongest army in all of Westeros excluding the Tyrells, whose main force is provided by their vassals of questionable loyalties (I for one like to think Randyll Tarly will turn his cloak just for a chance to crap on Mace Tyrell at some point).

But yeah, I think the TV show is turning Littlefinger into a more human character, and we all know that to err is human. He seems much more prone to base desires, like taking revenge on Starks who "robbed" Cat from him...

EDIT: Of course I'm talking about the situation at the end of aDwD, with some of my own added speculation drawn from the scenes from the TV show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

perhaps most importantly that Varys knows about Cat, Lysa and LF's weakness.

I don't think this was something new in the show. In the books, LF talks rather openly about his relationships with the Tully sisters, even if we readers know what he says is a lie. Varys was there when Cat arrived in KL and met with Baelish. Tyrion also later told Cat that LF has told of having bedded her and Lysa. It would be rather surprising if Varys didn't know about any of this.

I rather enjoyed that scene. I don't think there was anything all that revealing from LF. What was surprising and somewhat confusing is that it's now the second time show Varys has been thwarted by LF. Both times, revelation of LF getting one over on Varys occurred in the throne room. I'm still unsure if we are meant to see Varys as being not as powerful as he seems to be in the books or if it will later be revealed that Varys was just playing with LF and knew he was being watched. In the books, it's set up more to where Varys watches all and no one watches Varys. Still, Arya was able to spy on him quite easily, even if unknowingly, so maybe that's the book clue we need to show that Varys isn't all that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I missed one whole episode (3) and parts of a couple of others because my Foxtel (cable provider) blowing up this season so I have missed some stuff. If Varys had previously demonstrated knowledge of the Cat/LF/Lysa situation I hadn't seen it (or didn't remember).

It's true that he has been fairly open about Cat, certainly around Sansa and Cat herself. I just didn't remember it ever having been explicitly stated that Varys was aware of it, even if it's precisely the sort of thing Varys would make it his business to know.

Dr. Pepper, you're absolutely right about it being the second time Varys has been thwarted by LF and I can't help but wonder if it's quite significant and points to LF's position being stronger than it seems, or like you said, Varys being more fallible than we realised. I have always been of the opinion that Varys was the stronger player (more mystery, we don't know his weaknesses or even his backstory, no proof of what he ultimately wants other than his words which as they say are wind), but the fact that he has been bested twice by LF is very intriguing.

I like the idea that Varys isn't quite as secure as he seems, and that he can actually be spied on without realising.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They obviously wanted to get a sort of closure on the rather weird Varys-Littlefinger rivalry they established in the show. No such thing is actually happening in the books, and it makes little sense to have Varys put the Sansa plot into Olenna's head in the first place. And I don't see how this plan could have helped Varys' cause (i.e. the Aegon/Daenerys plan), or how Sansa's wellbeing could have affected 'the good of the Realm'. Making the Tyrell plot a sort of background for the Littlefinger-Varys rivalry actually diminishes the characters of Varys and Olenna. Olenna looks now somewhat dumber (since she did not come up with the Sansa idea all by herself!), and Varys appears much more clumsier (since he could neither protect Ros, nor keep his involvement in the Tyrell a secret from Littlefinger).

I guess it makes sense that Littlefinger leaves the capital as the (apparent) victor in his little sparring games with Varys. The show has still time to establish the depths of Varys' game, and that game is much deeper than anything Littlefinger could cook up. In fact, Littlefinger did pretty much nothing to prevent Varys' own plans. He has no clue about Aegon, after all!

The one remarkable thing is that Littlefinger's feeling of triumph is yet again not only uncharacteristic (I don't see Varys dropping his facade in front of Varys, even if he knows that Varys knows what he is really up to - a man like Littlefinger lives and believes the lie himself, he does drop his guard and lets anyone see his true face or emotions), but also quite dull in show terms since Littlefinger was actually not the one to thwart Varys' plan but Cersei who commanded him to investigate the intentions of the Tyrells. Nothing in the show indicates that Littlefinger would have uncovered the Tyrell plot on his own!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i can't understand why Varys continues to say that he cares about the realm! we clearly see from books 4,5 that he cares for one thing only, not the realm

What? He cares about putting on Aegon on the throne because he's raised Aegon to be a proper king.

I'm...interested to see how they manage to include Aegon. If they do at all

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What? He cares about putting on Aegon on the throne because he's raised Aegon to be a proper king.

I'm...interested to see how they manage to include Aegon. If they do at all

fAegon you mean? I don't think fAegon would be a good king, but that's me I guess.

What do you mean by the bolded part?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

fAegon you mean? I don't think fAegon would be a good king, but that's me I guess.

What do you mean by the bolded part?

Well, that's Varys's reasoning isn't it?

I'm hoping the show don't just have him turn up all of a sudden like in the books. I'd like them to be able to segue him in nicely. And there's a possibility though perhaps remote that they might just not bother with him at all and cut that entire plotline.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In this scene, I loved the way, how littlefinger was staring at the Iron Throne, when Varys came in. He really dreams of sitting on it one day.

It's also cool that every time he has a scene with Varys and the throne, he is closer to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i can't understand why Varys continues to say that he cares about the realm! we clearly see from books 4,5 that he cares for one thing only, not the realm

What Varys does in the future has no bearing on what he did for the twenty years that he was Master of Whispers on the small council.

If you really think that his goal has always been the same then you haven't been paying attention.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Varys is helping to lay waste to realm to pave the way to Aegon. That's definitely not doing what's best for the realm - hundreds of thousands of smallfolk claim so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was a great scene and I felt my breath catch when we saw Ros. It just felt very well put together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, that's Varys's reasoning isn't it?

I'm hoping the show don't just have him turn up all of a sudden like in the books. I'd like them to be able to segue him in nicely. And there's a possibility though perhaps remote that they might just not bother with him at all and cut that entire plotline.

Just like Baelish's reasoning is that he's the most qualified person to sit on the throne, so he is trying to make that happen. Littlefinger has a point too; clearly he is as politically savvy as anyone else in the story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i can't understand why Varys continues to say that he cares about the realm! we clearly see from books 4,5 that he cares for one thing only, not the realm

Well going off of the show, if they go the same way with Varys, I would say that he does care for the realm. He does not care for the realm's immediate well-being. He cares about the long game, just like Littlefinger. Just look at his speech to Tyrion about patience. A parent recognizes that sometimes children have to experience pain but it will make them a better person down the line. He wants temporary disorder so that the when the Targaryens come back, they can pick up the pieces more easily. That is my view of it. I think LF for all his talk of chaos is the same way. Sure he wants chaos because it's a ladder...now. He has had nowhere to go but up for his whole life. But what will happen when he gets to the top? He surely isn't going to keep that ladder there. If he's smart he'd kick it out from under him. If LF is ever king, he will promote order. It would be stupid of him not to.

Bit of an unorganized paragraph, but basically I think Varys acts for the good of the realm in the long term. Delayed gratification and whatnot. But on his way to that long term goal, sometimes chaos and questionable acts are a necessary evil to him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that Varys' constantly saying "for the good of the realm" is actually him saying "for the good of the Targaryean house or what he believes is the proper rightful ruled realm. But he can't openly say that amongst the other Houses in rule, or their loyalists.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's been a while since I finished the last book and so my memory of the series may be a little shakey...

But does anybody else feel littlefinger is being made out to be too evil in this series? I only recall him directly having a part in two deaths- that of Ser Dontos and of Lysa. Seeing Ros butchered more or less by him in this last episode I think might be overdoing it (or is that to replace him killing Ser Dontos who presumably won't make a reappearance?)

By the end of the last book I was coming around to admire littlefinger's cunning. His devotion to Sansa and before her Caitlyn indicates someone who if he was a friend would be a very powerful ally. But in the series they're really painting him out to be something of a villain!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that Varys' constantly saying "for the good of the realm" is actually him saying "for the good of the Targaryean house or what he believes is the proper rightful ruled realm. But he can't openly say that amongst the other Houses in rule, or their loyalists.

This. The best part about this speech is it also shines a light on how Varys v.s LF sees "the realm." You can tell what his definition of the realm is behind the metaphor of the throne. Varys considers the conservative order of things to have kept the peace for years (Targareans in control over the 7 kingdoms) and after Robert's Rebellion this lopsided into a chaos. The "story" of Targ's being "rightful" rulers is important for peace. LF on the other hand sees "the realm" for what it really is, a heirarchy of power for which you climb or fall and the Targs are only "the rightful rulers" bc they played the game right early on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked that scene and I had the impression that Varys set everything up to happen this way, or rather that he wasn't bothered in the slightest by this development. Conleth Hill seemed to play the "surprised face" a lot too strong for my opinion. And that is okay, they seem to go a lot more with the open 'evil' thing by Littlefinger and that is okay.

@hamsterminator. You can also put on Littlefinger's Death List: Jon Arryn (convinced Lysa to poison him), Jon Arryn's squire (via Cersei and the mountain), Eddard Stark (someone convinced Joffrey to ask for the head). Littlefinger is very good at making others do the deed and keeping his hands clean. He doesn't create the chaos as the show suggests, but he thrives on it and is quick to get the best of every situation. However that "long-term" no-plan will bite him sometimes. Once it will just not work out for him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×