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Why did Varys try to kill Daenerys in Game of Thrones season 1?


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Good answer:

If Varys has been part of the conspiracy to put the Targaryens back on the throne of Westeros, why did he send an assassin to kill Dany, on King Robert’s orders, way back in Season 1?

This question has come up a few times, and it’s a really good one. The important thing to realize about the Varys/Illyrio conspiracy is that its focus was originally on Dany’s brother Viserys. The whole idea behind marrying Dany off to Khal Drogo was to obtain an army of Dothraki on whose tanned, rippling backs Viserys would ride to Westeros, taking his place as its rightful ruler. The main obstacle to that plan, besides Viserys lacking the political skills to win Drogo’s respect and support, is that the Dothraki fear the open sea, referring to the water as “poison water,” and refuse to sail on ships. Varys probably didn’t want to send the assassin, but he may have figured that Dany’s death would enrage Drogo to the extent that he would take his khalasar across the Narrow Sea seeking revenge. 

Drogo killed Viserys unexpectedly, just one episode before the attempt on Dany’s life, by which time the wheels of Robert’s kill order were probably already in motion. 

Also, Daenerys needs a publicist:

Oh, Dany. Doing right is hard enough when it’s just you, a darkened antechamber, and both the Old Gods and the New; but doing right on the stage of public opinion — or in your case, the Executioner’s Platform — that’s a whole new level of statecraft. Watching Veep after, it hit me that someone needs to introduce Dany to Bill Ericsson, Selina Meyer’s new cold-blooded director of communications, because Dany’s got a real optics problem. I mean, how do you lift an entire nation out of servitude one day and then find yourself running from a granite hailstorm the next?

Sure, Drogon’s nightly catcalls over Meereen probably served to remind the restive populace there’s some serious dragon’s fire coming their way if they get too out of hand. But how long’ll that keep a lid on class warfare? Dany et al. are making the U.S. Army’s hearts-and-minds campaigns in Iraq look positively brilliant by comparison. I hate to say it, because hiring a publicist is only slightly less damning than hiring an attorney, but Dany needs some serious flack right now.

A couple of rules any publicist worth their weight will tell you: Do not lift a former slave into a high-profile position of authority on your inner council and then mete out highly visible cold justice to him when he goes a little overboard. That’s what endless tribunals are for: Bore the populace to tears so they forget this kid’s the living symbol of everything they love about you before you “do the right thing.”

Second, if you absolutely must execute him, try not to be onstage when the ax comes down. Go on a vacation; take the dragons out for a stroll. Let a subordinate handle it. Ser Barristan was all high on the Mad King’s arbitrary lawgiving. Let him take the credit for this one. At best, watch from the 110th-floor portico of your pyramid.

Worst of all, this was a lost opportunity. You need to punish Mossador, but he’s way too popular … Yunkai wants its beloved gladiatorial death matches reinstated? Kill two birds with one stone: Open the games and let Mossador fight it out with a Son of the Harpy. The masters get to cheer, the freed slaves get to jeer. You make a little money off admissions. It worked for Ridley Scott!See, the Romans knew the two things actually necessary to maintain a stable, multiethnic society and they weren’t objective justice or a uniform code of law: Panem et Circenses, Dany. And by circenses, we mean brutal bloodsport. Or hockey. Take your pick.

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