Game of Thrones, Season 3

Petyr Baelish Is the Most Hateworthy Man in Westeros
Talking television.
May 8 2013 4:09 PM

Game of Thrones, Season 3

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Man, I hate Littlefinger. Don’t you?

The smug little smile with the laughing eyes. The weird coat dresses. The medieval porn ‘stache. The accent. Oh, and the penchant for bringing profound misery to the few decent people in Westeros. Is there anyone on Game of Thrones more despicable than Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish? Anyone else who makes you want to throw something at your screen when he smirks?

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is a Slate senior editor.

“The Climb” climaxed on Sunday night as Littlefinger gave a soaring speech on how chaos (an apt description of the current state of Westeros) is a ladder. An opportunity. But the way Littlefinger sees it, the climb is the thing. That’s all there is.  The sentiment is actually in line with what Varys told Lady Olenna not long ago, that Littlefinger would “would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.”

Littlefinger will do anything to increase his power. That’s not exactly uncommon among the powerful in Westeros. And yet we find something to like in almost everyone. Terrible people do things to charm us, and charming people are beloved despite doing terrible things.  Jaime Lannister is the Kingslayer, he sleeps with his sister, and throws little boys out of towers. And yet he and Brienne are everyone’s favorite odd couple. Everything Tyrion does is to keep his wretched family in power, and yet he’s one of the most beloved characters on the show. Theon Greyjoy betrayed Robb and burned Winterfell and pretended to kill Bran and Rickon, but we feel bad about his miserable childhood.

Advertisement

So what sets Littlefinger apart? His honesty about his thirst for power. Everyone else who’s hateful—and hateworthy—cloaks himself or herself with some excuse for their treachery.  The Lannisters see ruling as noblesse oblige. Jaime only killed the king because he had to. Theon was trying win over his father, Balon, when he sacked Winterfell. Not Littlefinger. If he were a modern man, his strip club, or his yacht—or both—would be called Naked Ambition.

He told Ned Stark not to trust him, and then he betrayed him. He told Cat that the dagger used in the attempt on Bran’s life was Tyrion’s, a claim that helped start the war. He gave Ros to Joffrey after he realized she was spying for Varys. He has absolutely zero redeeming qualities, and—even more despicably—he doesn’t believe he needs any.

And don’t talk about Joffrey. He’s a brat and a murderer, but he’s also a puppet to his elders. Sure, he had the horrible urge to kill. But who gladly fed that urge and gave him the whore to kill? Littlefinger. And now Ros is dead. But recall a conversation the two had in the first season:

Littlefinger: You know what I learned, losing that duel? I learned that I'll never win. Not that way. That's their game, their rules. I'm not going to fight them: I'm going to fuck them. That's what I know, that's what I am, and only by admitting what we are can we get what we want.

Ros: And what do you want? 

LittlefingerEverything, my dear. Everything there is. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 21 2014 11:27 AM There Is Now a Real-life Hoverboard You Can Preorder for $10,000
  Life
Quora
Oct. 21 2014 11:37 AM What Was It Like to Work at the Original Napster?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 11:34 AM Germans Really Are More Punctual. Just Ask Angela Merkel.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.