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The Bear

Varys, Littlefinger and climbing the ladder (book spoilers)

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Ultimately there is one thing that Varys has to care about more than the realm. His own life, if he dies, he cannot really serve the realm.

And really, that is all we can know for certain at this stage. Maybe he does really want to save the realm, maybe he doesn't, but he definitely wants to preserve his own life.

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My point exactly that, saying "Varys is trying to cause chaos in order to seat Aegon" is not true, it's true once Aegon is close to coming to Westeros and he's actively trying to keep the realm in chaos once Cersei comes to power but when Aegon is a baby he's not trying to throw the realm into chaos. When Aegon is ten years old he's not trying to throw the realm into chaos and all those years in between he's probably not trying to throw the realm into chaos.

But he plans to throw the realm into chaos once Aegon is ready

Varys actively before the War of Five Kings was trying to prevent war until the Darthaki were ready to invade, he was going against the tide of war,

Ultimately there is one thing that Varys has to care about more than the realm. His own life, if he dies, he cannot really serve the realm.

Yes, but until the Dokrathi were ready to invade. Assuming Khal Drogo doesn't die, how do you explain the smallfolk raped by the invading Dokrathi that their suffering is the best for the realm?

Ned trusted Catelyn's judgement of LF, LF himself told Ned not to trust him. Ned wouldn't have believed Varys. LF was helping Ned find out the truth about Jon Arryn's murder.

Varys didn't need to earn Ned's trust. He only needed to point him in the right direction, for instance, for Ned to find out about LF's lies about the dagger. Such as: "hey, why don't you show the dagger to Robert? He will probably recognize it". If Ned follows that advice, he'll soon learn the dagger isn't Tyrion. In turn, that relaxes the relationship between the Starks and the Lannisters and can help to prevent a war. An alliance between Starks and Lannisters, if possible, is definitely good for the realm.

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Show!Littlefinger is more openly evil than Book!Littlefinger. In the books, it feels like LF is definitely sneaky, but the whole "I thrive on chaos" thing doesn't show itself properly until he's just picked up Sansa and burned Dontos.

I guess they feel that they need to give people more clear motivations in the show, since we spend so much less time with each person.

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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!

I think Varys is running the "long con" on LF. Yep, LF's games to continue to destablize the status quo are proceeding as he plans...but Varys WANTS the status quo destabilized. so LF thinks he's doing something by ruining the Stark/Tyrell marriage, or by either rooting out Ros as a leak or having set up Ros as a patsy, but he is still serving Varys's ends. Down the line, LF thinks he's doing something by building enmity between Tyrion and Joff w/ the midget jousters...but again, weaking Lannister is just fine with Varys.

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Hrm, it has been awhile since I read that part of the series but I thought it was...

Cersei has Jon Aryn poisoned because he learns the truth about Cersei/Jaime. The Maester allows him to die because he knew Jon found out.

LF has Lysa send a note to Cat saying that the Lannisters killed Jon and were going to kill her and she was fleeing to the Eyrie*.

That leads to Ned accepting the Hand position even though he didn't want to take it and starts the ball of chaos rolling.

Lysa says different, I believe in her pre-chuteless jump rant.

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Hrm, it has been awhile since I read that part of the series but I thought it was...

Cersei has Jon Aryn poisoned because he learns the truth about Cersei/Jaime. The Maester allows him to die because he knew Jon found out.

LF has Lysa send a note to Cat saying that the Lannisters killed Jon and were going to kill her and she was fleeing to the Eyrie*.

That leads to Ned accepting the Hand position even though he didn't want to take it and starts the ball of chaos rolling.

LF has lyssa posion Jon, and then send a letter saying it was the lannisters. Littlefingers plan the whole time was to fabricate strife between the wolf and the lion, with the ultimate goal of kill off ned, while at the same time LF raises in lordship in order to win the hand of catelyn. That falls through Cat gets killed, and so LF switches up his game, he weds lysa to get the eyrie, kills lysa to become sole lord, and now has Sansa, heir to winterfel in his back pocket. This gives him the north and the vale, with Sansa's heiritage to the Tully holdings of Riverrun, you have 3 of the largest kingdoms with which to wage a war for the iron throne.

Ultimately the lannisters had nothing to do with Jon Arryns death, it was all misdirection on LF part to get ned to kings landing, hopefully killed.

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Littlefinger's motives are a little more complicated than 'destroy the Starks and win Catelyn's love and affection'. In the books, the man does not make a singular attempt to win Cat back after he has arranged Ned's death. It's not even investigated/hinted at whether he does no longer want Catelyn or whether he realized that such an attempt would be doomed from the start. But then, the books indicate as early as in AGoT that Littlefinger does want Sansa, not Catelyn.

As to the Jon Arryn and the letter thing: We should make the mistake to assume that Littlefinger did start this whole thing to ruin the Starks. He could not foresee the chance meeting between Tyrion and Catelyn on the road, nor could he predict that Catelyn would arrest Tyrion when he convinced Lysa to send the letter to Catelyn. The letter was both a much-needed device to cover his, Varys', and Lysa's tracks in the poisoning of Jon Arryn, and the perfect way to get in the head of the next Hand. Littlefinger did not need to be a genius to deduce that Robert Baratheon would name Eddard Stark his Hand after Jon Arryn's death. When Cat and later Ned arrived at court Littlefinger jumped on the chance to deepen the seed of mistrust about the Lannister he had planted into Ned and Cat's heads. But he never intended for them to actually make a move against the Lannisters. That's why he blamed Tyrion for the attempt on Bran's life, the one Lannister who was far away from court. They could not question him, even if they wanted to. Littlefinger's offer to help Ned along as Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm on the eve of Robert's death was sincere. All Littlefinger ever wanted was to rise higher, and if Ned had promised to make him a Great Lord in exchange for his help he would have helped him, not the Lannisters.

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Littlefinger's motives are a little more complicated than 'destroy the Starks and win Catelyn's love and affection'. In the books, the man does not make a singular attempt to win Cat back after he has arranged Ned's death. It's not even investigated/hinted at whether he does no longer want Catelyn or whether he realized that such an attempt would be doomed from the start. But then, the books indicate as early as in AGoT that Littlefinger does want Sansa, not Catelyn.

As to the Jon Arryn and the letter thing: We should make the mistake to assume that Littlefinger did start this whole thing to ruin the Starks. He could not foresee the chance meeting between Tyrion and Catelyn on the road, nor could he predict that Catelyn would arrest Tyrion when he convinced Lysa to send the letter to Catelyn. The letter was both a much-needed device to cover his, Varys', and Lysa's tracks in the poisoning of Jon Arryn, and the perfect way to get in the head of the next Hand. Littlefinger did not need to be a genius to deduce that Robert Baratheon would name Eddard Stark his Hand after Jon Arryn's death. When Cat and later Ned arrived at court Littlefinger jumped on the chance to deepen the seed of mistrust about the Lannister he had planted into Ned and Cat's heads. But he never intended for them to actually make a move against the Lannisters. That's why he blamed Tyrion for the attempt on Bran's life, the one Lannister who was far away from court. They could not question him, even if they wanted to. Littlefinger's offer to help Ned along as Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm on the eve of Robert's death was sincere. All Littlefinger ever wanted was to rise higher, and if Ned had promised to make him a Great Lord in exchange for his help he would have helped him, not the Lannisters.

I believe the initial goal was to wed Cat as that would put him in line to take Winterfel if the stark kids had all died, by the time Ned gets killed Theons gone back to the iron islands and its getting closer to 2 out of the 3 boys being taken out. Littlefinger is amassing armies via inheritance of lordships. when winterfel falls through, the vale is the runnerup. like i said, ultimately hes looking at the vale, the riverlands, and the north as being either his, or under his umbrella with Sansa on board.

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Littlefinger's motives are a little more complicated than 'destroy the Starks and win Catelyn's love and affection'. In the books, the man does not make a singular attempt to win Cat back after he has arranged Ned's death. It's not even investigated/hinted at whether he does no longer want Catelyn or whether he realized that such an attempt would be doomed from the start. But then, the books indicate as early as in AGoT that Littlefinger does want Sansa, not Catelyn.

Petyr: "My sweet silly jealous wife," he said, chuckling. "I've only loved one woman, I promise you."

Lysa smiled tremulously. "Only one? Oh, Petyr, do you swear it? Only one?"

Petyr: "Only Cat." He gave her a short, sharp shove.

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When he talks about Cat to Lysa he refers to the old Petyr, the one he was before he fought for Catelyn's hand against Brandon. Back in their youth, Littlefinger only loved Catelyn, never Lysa. And obviously he never loved the fat and annoying woman Lysa became later on. After the duel,, it's obvious that Littlefinger is still motivated by an ambition that he shared with innocent little Petyr, but the endgame is obviously no longer the hand of the girl. Sansa is in the books not only a better, more beautiful version of Catelyn, she does also remember Petyr of the boy he was in his youth. That's why Sansa is much more interesting and appealing to him than Catelyn ever was.

In the show, Littlefinger's interest in Catelyn remains until they meet again in Renly's camp. But that's not how things are in the books. In fact, both ACoK and ADwD revealed that Littlefinger's main actions are actually driven by coincidence. His decision to manipulate Joffrey into executing Ned came after Cersei refused to let him marry Sansa (Cersei remembers this in her second chapter in ADwD), and Littlefinger's plan to ge Sansa out of KL through Dontos was created when Tyrion offered to make Petyr Lord of Harrenhal if he could win the Vale for King Joffrey.

The one element of Littlefinger's 'long-term plan' that was fixed from the start was his pact with Lysa to marry her when they agreed to murder Jon Arryn. That's why Lysa did not agree to marry any of her suitors while Littlefinger was still serving as Master of Coin. He assured her that he would get his Lordship from whoever needed his help at court and then he would come and marry her. And he did. I don't see Littlefinger trying to take over the North through a widowed Catelyn. Ned Stark had plenty of male heirs - he could only hope to serve as Lord Protector of the North for a very short period of time - and he, Littlefinger, had no connections whatsoever in the North. Whereas it is evident by now that Littlefinger has plenty of friends in the Vale, both among the merchants and aristocracy. He planned to take over the Vale for quite a lot of time, it's only natural, it's the region where he came from, after all...

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When he talks about Cat to Lysa he refers to the old Petyr, the one he was before he fought for Catelyn's hand against Brandon. Back in their youth, Littlefinger only loved Catelyn, never Lysa. And obviously he never loved the fat and annoying woman Lysa became later on. After the duel,, it's obvious that Littlefinger is still motivated by an ambition that he shared with innocent little Petyr, but the endgame is obviously no longer the hand of the girl. Sansa is in the books not only a better, more beautiful version of Catelyn, she does also remember Petyr of the boy he was in his youth. That's why Sansa is much more interesting and appealing to him than Catelyn ever was.

In the show, Littlefinger's interest in Catelyn remains until they meet again in Renly's camp. But that's not how things are in the books. In fact, both ACoK and ADwD revealed that Littlefinger's main actions are actually driven by coincidence. His decision to manipulate Joffrey into executing Ned came after Cersei refused to let him marry Sansa (Cersei remembers this in her second chapter in ADwD), and Littlefinger's plan to ge Sansa out of KL through Dontos was created when Tyrion offered to make Petyr Lord of Harrenhal if he could win the Vale for King Joffrey.

The one element of Littlefinger's 'long-term plan' that was fixed from the start was his pact with Lysa to marry her when they agreed to murder Jon Arryn. That's why Lysa did not agree to marry any of her suitors while Littlefinger was still serving as Master of Coin. He assured her that he would get his Lordship from whoever needed his help at court and then he would come and marry her. And he did. I don't see Littlefinger trying to take over the North through a widowed Catelyn. Ned Stark had plenty of male heirs - he could only hope to serve as Lord Protector of the North for a very short period of time - and he, Littlefinger, had no connections whatsoever in the North. Whereas it is evident by now that Littlefinger has plenty of friends in the Vale, both among the merchants and aristocracy. He planned to take over the Vale for quite a lot of time, it's only natural, it's the region where he came from, after all...

Just in case, LF manipulating Joffrey to get Ned killed is speculation, it's not really backed by the text

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But the ADwD memory of Cersei added yet another hint that this what happened. The show actually added to that with Littlefinger's ominous glance at Varys during the GRRM-written episode 'The Pointy End' (when Varys was trying to convince Joff to pardon Ned). It makes little to no sense to assume that Joffrey did execute Ned on a whim, especially not since it is established that Cersei wanted him to pardon Ned, and that both Janos Slynt and Ilyn Payne as if they had known what was going to happen.

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Sure, there are reasons to be suspicious, but nothing clear. Joff, being a weak inexperienced monarch had a reason to execute Ned in the Sept, and that is to appear strong.

Of course, he might have thought about killing Ned for that reason on his own or LF might have subtly implied how a strong king executes traitors no matter what, or how that would help him subdue Renly or Stannis. Or let such gossips reach Joffrey's ears.

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Do you think his speech being about climbing and ending on the wildlings is a hint that he knows about the coming threat of the others/wildlings? Would it fit with his chaos motto to now about it and do nothing, or would that be too dangerous to his own well-being for him to try?

I have yet to read or see anything in the books or show that leads me to believe that any character besides Tyrion and Davos/Mel/Stannis care about what happens on the wall. Aside from of course the obvious members of the NW and Wildlings.

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I just re watched this episode. can someone explain to me why the Sansa-Loras marriage would have been good for the realm? how would it have stabilized things?

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