"Edd, fetch me a block."
Those five words form one of the greatest sentences in "A Dance with Dragons," the fifth book in George R.R. Martin's series about the Starks, Lannisters, and various other great houses wheeling and dealing their way through Westeros. And while those exact words didn't appear on last night's "Game of Thrones," the sentiment very much remained, as Lord Commander Jon Snow used his Valyrian sword Longclaw to remove Janos Slynt's head from his shoulders — avenging his late father Eddard Stark in the process.
"Wait," you say. "What does Slynt's execution have to do with Ned Stark's death?" A lot, actually! You just might not remember Slynt's role in the season one shocker, since, well, it's been a while.
Back in season one, Janos Slynt was almost as far south from the Wall as south gets, commanding the City Watch in King's Landing. He and his soldiers were prepared to aid Ned Stark in his mission to dethrone Joffrey Baratheon, by outing him as the bastard son of Jaime Lannister. But when the time came for the City Watch to turn against the crown, Slynt instead commanded his men to turn on the Starks, declaring his loyalty to Cersei and Littlefinger.
For betraying Ned and outing himself as a horrible human being, Slynt was rewarded with a lordship, the proud new owner of the haunted Harrenhal. But jolly Janos didn't stay so jolly for long. Soon after Ned's public execution, Janos lost his lordship and gained a sentence to the Wall during a late night meeting with Tyrion Lannister, the new acting Hand of the King. Why? Because Tyrion simply could not trust the man who betrayed Ned Stark.
So, Janos Slynt comes to the Wall and acts like the sniveling coward we already know him to be, evidenced by his cowering during the Battle of Castle Black. In his last great mistake, he publicly challenges Jon Snow's orders, just days after Ned's bastard son was named Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Jon sentences Janos to death, but the former City Watch commander doesn't understand just how serious the sentence is until it's too late. Not even his teary-eyed calls for mercy are enough to stop Jon from doing the deed.
You can almost hear Ned's words echoing through Jon's head: "The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword." Just as Ned killed a deserter in his first scene of "Game of Thrones," Jon now kills a coward for abandoning his sacred vows.
How much did Jon know about Janos Slynt's involvement in his father's death? It doesn't really matter. What matters is, karma has a way of catching up with people — and in Janos' case, karma is bitter cold and sharp as Valyrian steel.