Goodbye, Lord Baelish

A goodbye to a villain, and a thank you to Aidan Gillen as he moves on from ‘Game of Thrones’

by Tanya Mardirossian

Phew, we can take a breath after that Game of Thrones season finale.

As we expect to wait until 2019 for the final season, let’s say goodbye to — me being biased here — the best villain in a while, and let’s use the term “villain” loosely.

Aidan Gillen has served as Petyr Baelish since the show’s start. His character has a happier ending in the book series, but there’s a GoT fan following who’s happy to see him through to Season 7, taking on more than the books hold. Although Gillen’s character isn’t featured in every episode per season, he has a presence that is never fading. Even now, with his character gone, we have Lord Baelish to thank for a lot of what’s happened.

That’s power, Lord Baelish.

And so, thank you, Mr. Gillen for your great acting, making viewers root for a bad guy. I haven’t done that since Dexter.

While I’ve gotten many side eyes for wanting this character to succeed, I agree with some of his last words of defense. He saved Sansa’s life from her crazy aunt who was going to throw her through the moon door, and he gave Sansa the best piece of advice to avenge her family from within her own home. No complaints from me.

After watching Gillen’s final scene, I had mixed emotions about the way we saw him go. I was at first devestated about the fact that the episode’s writing made Baelish appear weak and desperate when he has been a strong character all series long. But then I thought, how else are we going to see this intense and important character leave?

I was expecting Baelish to recover from his shock about Sansa referring to him as a traitor. I was expecting him to stand there in silence for a few moments, kind of keeping his cool, having no regrets about what he’s done in the past, for him to say something witty and great as per usual and for Arya to eventually sneak up behind him with the very publicized dagger to kill him. When this didn’t happen, I was temporarily dissatisfied. But then it hit me: the whole scene was perfect. We needed to see this character go out with more of a bang than I anticipated.

The idea of this character’s death has been on the surface, with plotline leaks and predictions out there. Let me say that I’m sad to see this character go. But if it had to be done, then I’m glad it played out the way it did, after much deliberation. So again, thank you, Mr. Gillen, for your performance on GoT.

The scene gave Gillen the screen time to show his handsome face on GoT one last time (assuming there are no bring backs in Season 8), and let us admire the best-dressed man in Westeros before finding him lying in a pool of blood. More importantly, the scene hit a lot of symbolic points from previous seasons that really show that his character has been lucky to have made it this far, all things considered.

  1. In Season 1, we saw Littlefinger reveal his reasons for revenge, regarding being rejected by Lady Stark. We see that humiliation as he’s on his knees in confusion, shock, fear, desparation and admittance. This is the most honest we’ve seen Baelish, as he’s in tears admitting his true love for Sansa — something audiences have questioned to be sincere or another lie.
  2. In Season 6, we see Sansa reprimand him for leaving her with the Boltons. He responds, “You want me to beg for my life? If that’s what you want, then I will.” Well, we saw that happen in his last scene.
  3. Arya slicing Baelish’s throat with his own dagger is poetic. We can recall Baelish creating havoc with his dagger, seeing Arya as a servant and keeping hush, and being the source of so much of the Stark family’s pain.
  4. Baelish’s death caused by his own sneaky teachings to Sansa is another poetic touch. She learned from the best manipulator there is. He did tell her that “Even the most dangerous men can be outmaneuvered” and that she’s “learned to maneuver from the best.” We saw this whole thing coming.
  5. On top of all the symbolism, we get to see Gillen perform wonderfully for one last time on the show, with cherry redness gushing from his throat in death — death Baelish has managed to avoid in Season 1 by Ned Stark, Season 2 by Cersei, Season 4 at the Vale, Season 6 by Sansa and Brienne, and early Season 7 by Jon Snow.

So goodbye, Aidan Gillen/Lord Baelish. As mentioned before, we’ll miss your alluring smarts. We were lucky to have one more witty, clever quote from you before you departed:

“Sometimes, when I try to understand a person’s motives, I play a little game. I assume the worst. What’s the worst reason they could possibly have for saying what they say, or doing what they do? Then I ask myself, ‘how well does that reason explain what they say and what they do?’”

P.S. from a bird admirer and Aidan Gillen fan, I’m very glad to know Gillen has two of his mockingbird pins from the show in his possession.

On to other great things!