The penultimate episode of the mega-hit HBO series Game of Thrones aired last night, and it was a heart-racing 78 minutes of unexpected twists and character deaths. In the midst of all the episode’s actions, some important details from the first few scenes might have been missed.
Beware of spoilers for season 8 episode 5 of Game of Thrones.
In the first few minutes of episode 5, the Master of Whispers, Varys, faced his end. After Tyrion revealed to Daenerys that Varys had betrayed her, she ordered his execution by dragon fire. It was an emotional scene both for the characters involved and for the viewers who have gotten to know Varys and respect his dedication to the realm since the first season of the show.
Before his death, however, Varys shared a confusing scene with a mysterious young character that popped up earlier this season. The girl, whom he addressed as Martha, entered Varys’s chambers while he was writing a note revealing Jon’s true parentage. The girl seemed distressed as she told Varys “She won’t eat.” In response, he said “We’ll try again at supper.” Martha then revealed that she suspected Daenerys’s soldiers were watching her, an assumption Varys was not surprised about.
To conclude their exchange, he asked “What have I told you, Martha?” Her response was “The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward,” and he instructed her to return back to the kitchen where she would be expected.
This scene is particularly interesting in light of Varys and Tyrion’s exchange last episode after Tyrion told him the truth about Jon’s parentage. Varys told Tyrion that he would do what he thought was right for the realm and turn his allegiance to seating Jon Snow on the throne, suggesting that Dany would have to die in the process.
On Twitter, user @iLEADFARMER referenced a season 1 scene between Ned Stark and Pycelle, in which Pycelle said that poison was a weapon not only for women, but for “cravens… and eunuchs.”
After the scene between Varys and Martha aired, fans began to wonder if their dialogue meant that Varys was trying to poison Dany and using Martha to do his bidding.
Once Tyrion told Dany of Varys’s motives and she made it clear that she would be sentencing him to death, he had a final scene in his chambers before being sentenced to die. As the footsteps of Unsullied soldiers grew louder, Varys burned the letter he was writing and removed his rings from his fingers.
Those rings caught the attention of viewers, some of whom believed maybe he was storing the poison in them. It wouldn’t be the first time lethal poison was hidden in jewelry, after all – the necklace gifted to Sansa in season 4 carried the poison that killed Joffrey during his wedding Margaery.
While he may have been simply removing the rings because he knew his fate and wanted to remove items of value from his body before it was burned or done it as a private gesture of surrender, it was a poignant moment that may well have held greater meaning. For example, perhaps he was leaving the rings behind for his little spies, or for someone else to find them and take over as Master of Whispers. The rings have not been featured in the series previously, so their significance can not be traced in earlier episodes of the show.
If the rings are significant, and Varys had set plans in motion to have Daenerys poisoned, fans will know in the next episode, as it is the final one in the series. And after Dany’s unexpected and violent actions last episode, she has made more enemies than allies and left herself more vulnerable than ever.