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The Veil Is Lifted on Game of Thrones’ Most Influential Character

As usual, some crazy stuff went down on Game of Thrones tonight, and we might as well get into it. It should go without saying that if you haven’t seen the episode, don’t click through, as there will be some massive spoilers.

The biggest plot reveal to date on Game of Thrones occurred 18 minutes into tonight’s episode, “First of His Name,” when Lysa Arryn reminds Petyr Baelish, in between flurries of slobbery kisses, that she’d poisoned her husband, Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, and then sent a misleading note of warning to her sister, Catelyn Stark, all because her childhood crush had asked her to. Those events, of course, set the show’s action in motion back in the very first episode: The former pushed King Robert Baratheon northward to Winterfell to ask his old buddy Eddard Stark to take over as the next Hand of the King, and the latter compelled Ned to accept the offer so that he could investigate his poisoned father figure’s untimely death in King’s Landing. We all know the mayhem that followed.

That the entire series, essentially, has sprung from the ambitious, crafty mind of Littlefinger is, I believe, a notable moment in the history of television. Having a supporting player, even one as nakedly devious as Lord Baelish has been since we first met him in the third episode of season one, turn out to be the show’s most important character would be like, say, Matthew Weiner revealing Harry Crane as the mastermind behind every misery Don Draper has suffered on Mad Men. Has a character on a major series ever done so much deviltry with so little screen time?

Sure, there were other important developments in tonight’s episode, too. Bran hopped into Hodor and made some bones break in Locke’s neck region. Daenerys made a decision not just to free the enslaved but to rule over them herself. Margaery and Cersei shared a moment that was almost entirely saracasm-free. The Hound smacked Arya, hard, thereby becoming the latest vile Game of Thrones character to head straight back to the top of viewers’ shit lists after starting to redeem himself. And of course, icky, crazy Lysa also revealed herself to be insanely suspicious of Sansa, squeezing her niece’s dainty hand violently until she’d drawn out the answer she wanted to hear, that Petyr hadn’t spoiled Sansa’s virtue en route to the Vale (and also delivering a nugget of ill tidings to Sansa suggesting that she would be forced to marry Lysa’s bonkers boy, Robin). But all of that stuff pales next to the Littlefinger reveal and the off-handed, Scooby Doo–ish way it was unloaded on us, with Lysa regurgitating it to Petyr in a private moment, as if it were her own, demented brand of bedroom talk.

Good stuff. Here are five other things that seem worth talking about:

1. Sansa’s new identity is Alayne Stone, which, I’ll argue would be a much better name for a rock singer.

2. Unbelievably, Jojen’s ridiculous query to Bran — “Do you want to find the three-eyed raven?” — was not a double entendre.

3. The Moon Door: Hello, old friend. Please make Robin fly through you.

4. Locke 2.0 — meaning everything about the dude’s reappearance at the Wall — seemed way too convenient. (Not to mention the fact that the entire skirmish at Craster's Keep is yet another divergence from the books.)

5. Bran warging into Hodor needs a Bennifer/Brangelina–style name. Brandor?

Photo: HELEN SLOAN