Reign of underdog in Game of Thrones

Copy of TO GOT arya stark 1_CITY_E1 HBO ALL MEN MUST DIE: Arya Stark has her own battles to fight in the fourth season of Game of Thrones.

The epic battles rage on in the Seven Kingdoms in the fourth instalment of the critically-acclaimed epic fantasy drama, Game of Thrones. Viewers can once again anticipate – amid the tongue-in-cheek humour buried in the taut script – a minefield of dramatic twists and sexual dalliances mixed with a soupçon of incestuous desires, ingenious tactics that leave a trail of dead bodies in their wake and treachery at every ambitious turn. Debashine Thangevelo found out where things stand with three of viewers’ favourite characters: Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Peter “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)…

FAMILY TIES

Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)

HIS prowess with a sword made Jaime Lannister a legend. But during his time in captivity in season three, his one hand was chopped off, rendering him less of a threat.

But now he is back in King’s Landing and reunited with his sister Cersei, with whom he has had an incestuous relationship.

The Danish actor, spotted in some Hollywood blockbusters (Black Hawk Down, Firewall), says: “He’s cleaned himself up and trying to kind of find his place. He is now the Lord Commander of the King’s Guard, so he has a lot of responsibility, too. I think he’s happy to be back. But he has also suddenly been dropped into that world of the whole Lannister family together – and they haven’t really been together the whole show.

“As we know, that family has issues,” Coster-Waldau continues. “And Jaime has issues with his sister, in particular. He has desperately wanted to get back to her, but now that he is, a lot of things have changed. When we meet him first they clearly haven’t really had ‘that talk’.”

That he does have redeeming qualities and a conscience has thrown viewers a bit.

He agrees: “Well, I always knew the truth behind why he killed the Mad King, the reasons behind him doing that, but viewers didn’t really get to understand him until that scene with Brienne in the bath tub.

“And also I understood why he pushed Bran out the window and attacked Ned Stark in the street. He is very loyal to his family and will do anything to protect the people he loves, but his life has been as a soldier and it’s a brutal, un-sentimental world that he lives in.

“I think it was all there when he was young, but clearly he’s lost his innocence over the years and has become very cynical.

“Meeting Brienne and encountering that kind of innocence, if you will, but also her extreme belief in doing the right thing and being honourable, that has reminded him of what he was and maybe what he still wants to be and what he believes in.”

And it is Jaime’s devotion to his family and the Lannister name that spurs him on in the fourth season.

On whether the loss of Jaime’s right hand has affected his character’s morale, the actor notes: “He’s now the Lord Commander. That demands some respect, that you are the strongest; you are the best.

And he isn’t. Clearly, it’s a big problem for him and it’s also something he can’t really talk to anyone about because if he says it out loud, it’s out, and he doesn’t trust anyone not to spill the beans, so to speak.

“I mean, people can see he hasn’t got his hand, but they don’t know how it will affect him. Can he fight with his left?”

In the fourth season, he is seen with an artificial limb, also referred to as “the golden hand”.

The actor says: “It’s a little annoying because my character keeps knocking it into things. He is right-handed, so it is a little bit like having to learn all over again.

“We (screenwriters and executive producers Dan Weiss and David Benioff) have talked a lot about that because you don’t want him to be a complete fool with a sword – he is a soldier. He’s been trained his whole life. Of course he can fight with his left. He just can’t fight as well so, yeah, it’s a challenge.”

But of all the battles he has fought, it doesn’t compare to the one he has brewing with Cersei.

“Jaime has only ever been with this woman. They haven’t been together for a long time. I think there’s a very strong physical attraction, just a basic physical need he has, that he carries. The thing is driving him a little crazy.

“Without giving anything away, the first scene he says: ‘Listen, I’ve been home for weeks, can we, you know…’ But, also, I think the whole emotional connection they have is so confusing and twisted. It’s not an equal relationship. I think he’s always been the one wanting her and not being able to get her. It’s kind of the same situation now.

“That’s one of the things I like about this season – that relationship is so complicated and it’s such a power thing as well.”

SMALL PAWN IN A BIGGER PLOT

Peter “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen)

PETER “Littlefinger” Baelish is like the villain in those Hollywood action movies – you just can’t seem to annihilate him.

Gillen laughs and points out: “He sailed off to the Eyrie in his ship towards the end of season three, but he didn’t really. He sailed around behind some rocks over there, dropped anchor and waited for events to unfold, as they do.

“So when we meet Littlefinger in season four he’s not as far away as we thought. He made a promise to Sansa (Stark) that he would take her away, because she isn’t happy there. And he might just keep it.”

The Irish actor, famed for his role in The Wire, also points out that Littlefinger develops a very nurturing side with Robin Arryn (played by Lino Facioli).

He shares: “He exercises his duties as a type of surrogate parent to Robin whom we know is fatherless and needs some guidance and structure in his life.”

Amid the ongoing mêlée for the throne, Littlefinger, being the opportunist he is, manages to throw in his oar as well.

Gillen explains: “What drives Littlefinger is rejection and humiliation. He is about getting himself to a position where no one can hurt him. Although some people do get hurt along the way and he is devious and does some harsh things, I also think there is a gentle side we may see a little more of. A more wistful side, if you will. But, always remembering, of course, that the world is brutal and being good doesn’t guarantee you are going to make it through.”

With death a persistent possibility in Game of Thrones, Littlefinger’s ambition is the only thing that keeps him alive. He enjoys the thrills and rides out his dares with such confidence that, sometimes, he could be deemed more of a fool than a worthy opponent.

INNOCENCE LOST

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)

ALWAYS a spirited little girl, Arya Stark’s first kill last season saw her cross a line from which there is no return.

She was incensed by the execution of her brother and mother in a bloodbath that saw fans of the series gasp in horror. Then again, there is that hovering question of whether Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) has a dark influence on her and is unearthing a rather violent streak.

Williams explains: “This is the thing about Game of Thrones – you can never say if a character is good or bad. I feel like Arya is fighting for the good, but the Frey guards (one of whom she killed) killed her brother and mother at the Red Wedding because he did not marry a Frey girl. So killing that Frey soldier was not necessarily the right thing to do…

“I do feel like Arya is slowly slipping into this almost more selfish side of killing people – it’s more for personal pleasure, at times, than for what is the right thing to do.

“A lot of the time she’s putting herself in danger just to go out of her way to actively murder someone, which is not what the Starks are about.

“I feel like she’s being heavily influenced by the Hound and his intense brutality. He just tends to get the job done rather than worry about emotions and what is the right and the wrong thing. He’s probably not the best influence when you’re 12 years old.”

In many ways, fans are going to be introduced to a very different Arya this time around.

She agrees: “For the first three seasons she had definite direction and that was to get home. But she feels like she’s always one step behind the game because whatever she tries to do is torn straight away from her.

“So I feel like she’s giving up on trying to control anything and instead is just hoping that one day she’ll turn a corner and fall into the right place.”

Arya has come a long way from the frightened little girl we first knew. While she always had that underlining chutzpah, we now see her as a warrior in the making. Also, she isn’t beneath manipulating the Hound at times – if it serves her needs.

And so the lost innocence has given birth to a force to be reckoned with as the power games continue to shift allegiances and lines of attack.

Ned Stark would be proud… in a way!

• Game of Thrones IV debuts on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Friday April 18 at 9.30pm.


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