- May 16th, 2019- Entertainment
Game of throne said goodbye to the Master of Whispers in Episode 5 (read our review of “The Bells”) when Daenerys “Mad Queen” Targaryen commanded Drogon to flambé Varys for his betrayal. Varys was trying to poison the queen, as evidenced by his chat with his “little bird,” so it’s not like he didn’t have it coming. But what has people talking is what Varys was up to moments before his death, specifically the curious way he removed his rings before being taken prisoner by the Unsullied.
Varys is a bona fide mastermind and one of the most intelligent characters in Game of Thrones, so he likely knew that his attempts to assassinate or otherwise usurp Daenerys would end in his demise. After all, in Season 7 Daenerys literally told him she’d burn him alive if he ever betrayed her.
That’s why we saw him penning letters revealing Jon’s claim to the Iron Throne — he must have been sending that critical information to various parties around Westeros so even if he perished, others would use that information to deny Daenerys the throne and ensure Jon takes it instead. That’s right: Varys is so good at the game of thrones, he’s still playing it from beyond the grave.
With that in mind, let’s run through the reasons Varys might have removed his jewelry.
Don’t forget to watch the preview for the final episode of Game of Thrones!
As obsessive fans of Game of Thrones, we love reading into every last detail to derive some secret meaning that will have a huge effect on the plot, but sometimes a thing is simply exactly what it appears to be. When Varys heard a door open and the footsteps of soldiers approaching, that was the sign that his time had come to an end, so he decided to burn the letter he was writing to destroy the evidence of his plan and then prepare himself for death by removing his finery.
Removing one’s valuables before imminent demise is a gesture we’ve seen in other stories before. It’s sort of a ritual of accepting one’s death, a way to prepare for what’s to come. In the movie Donnie Brasco, Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero (played by Al Pacino) knows he’s been marked for death, and we watch as he removes his valuables — a ring, watch, gold lighter, necklace and other effects — and place them in a drawer, all while a sad violin plays.
For such a simple gesture, it’s an incredibly sad and moving scene, watching this man rid himself of his earthly possessions as he prepares to meet his end. That may very well be what we saw Varys do. Varys grew up with nothing, and though he accumulated power and wealth over his lifetime, he may have felt most comfortable ending his life with nothing, too.
Now, we’d be remiss if we didn’t toss out at least one conspiracy theory. Given Varys’ penchant for secret plans, it’d be insulting to him not to!
There are those who think Varys removed his rings because one secretly contains poison pellets. You’ll remember the Queen of Thorns, Olenna Tyrell, was able to poison Joffrey with poison pellets disguised as jewels on Sansa Stark’s necklace with the help of Littlefinger, so this type of stealth poison dispersal device may be commonly known to the spymasters of Westeros and beyond. Varys was indeed trying to poison Daenerys, so he may have shed his rings for the same reason he burnt that letter — to hide the evidence.
But what if there’s more to it than that? What if Varys left his poison ring for Tyrion? Think about it: Varys and Tyrion were good friends, so Varys knew that Tyrion would likely be the one to inherit his possessions. Varys also predicted that Daenerys would go full Mad Queen and need to be stopped. So what if Varys took off his ring knowing that Tyrion would find it, recognize it as poison, and then use it to quietly assassinate Daenerys? Tyrion certainly has the motivation.
Tyrion tried his hardest to quell Daenerys’ rage, but the Mother of Dragons still chose to incinerate the citizens and soldiers of King’s Landing and lay fiery waste to the city, resulting in the deaths of Tyrion’s brother and sister. Yes, Tyrion had a truly messed up relationship with his siblings, but he still loved them and was rooting for them to escape together. It’s hard to imagine the events of “The Bells” won’t be a turning point for Tyrion where he decides that Daenerys needs to be put down, and Varys may have given him the sneaky way to do it.
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