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When we see Varys writting letters for the second time in season 8 episode 5, he is picked up by Greyworm.

Varys hears them coming, half heartedly burns the letter and takes off some jewelry, where we get to see a thin ring in particular.

It quickly becomes apparent that Varys knows he will not live to see another sunrise and lives his last moments as planned and calm as if he had written the script himself.

I can see him burning the letter in order to not give up the recipient in the opening, but what about that ring? Why is it important enough for him to take it off? Why is it important enough to show us? Why does he prepare his last walk by taking off that ring?

  • 1
    I think it's foreshadowing, a Chekhov's ring if you will. I didn't clearly make out its shape, but perhaps it bears the Targaryen sigil, or something that indicates to someone else. – Möoz May 14 at 3:16
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    Note that he actually takes off all his rings, although only that one gets a close-up shot. – Paul D. Waite May 14 at 7:34
  • 3
    Similar post from movies.se Why Varys remove his rings? – Steve Harrington May 14 at 7:48
  • Of course, it's possible that Lord Varys was famous for his taste in jewellery, perhaps even being occasionally referred to as the Lord of the Rings. – Paul D. Waite May 15 at 8:57
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There was nothing special about the ring. The action, however, served two purposes.

In Universe it is a ritualistic thing. Varys has always seen three steps ahead and exudes an air of complete control. He knew the likely outcome of his actions, and he deemed them to be worth it.

Varys: You know where my loyalty stands. You know I will never betray the realm.

Tyrion: What is the realm? A vast continent, home to millions of people, most of whom don't care who sits on the Iron Throne.

Varys: Millions of people, many of whom will die if the wrong person sits on that throne. We don't know their names, but they're just as real as you and I. They deserve to live. They deserve food for their children. I will act in their interest, no matter the personal cost.
Game of Thrones - S08E04: Last of the Starks

When he hears the footsteps, he knows whats happening. As you touched on in your answer, "It quickly becomes apparent that Varys knows he will not live to see another sunrise and lives his last moments as planned and calm as if he had written the script himself." He has accepted his fate and so he prepares himself for death.

Out of Universe, it serves to give the viewer a glimpse inside Varys head. For us to know that Varys understand whats about happen, he has to take action. Think of the knock on the door earlier in the episode, we were worried, but he did nothing but hide the letter and look up. Based on our relationship with Varys, we knew he was still under control of the situation. This time, we all hear the boots, and then Varys burns the letter and starts removing rings. We know he is about to die, and now we know that he knows he is about to die.

So its mostly a cinematographic trick to give us, the audience, a window into the world and minds created by the show.

  • 13
    Yes, but what is the ring? – Möoz May 14 at 3:15
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    Maybe the action of taking the ring of shows he knows he will die (as this answer suggests). His thought process could be that a dead persons fingers swell, so if anyone wants to access the ring after he died they would have to cut his fingers off. Therefore, removing them beforehand prevents crippling of his dead body. – Lehue May 14 at 8:43
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    @Möoz The ring is a tool to show that he knows what's happening. – Carl Kevinson May 14 at 13:35
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    @Lehue He knows with certainty that his death will be by dragon fire for this. Dany told him as much herself, that if he betrayed her then her dragons would incinerate him. The only way to assuredly preserve the ring would be to remove it before he's taken to his death, the question is then why does he want to preserve the ring? Probably the answer is right and it's a trick of cinema, as there's not really enough time left to unwind a complicated plotline involving this ring. – zibadawa timmy May 14 at 14:13
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    @zibadawa right, forgot about the burning to death part. My comment was just my thought process during the episode and admitettly does not fit for Varys situation (though for other kinds of death it could be true anyway). That's the reason it's just a comment. – Lehue May 14 at 14:20
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Varys has few possessions beyond his clothes and his rings. He also still has at least one girl loyal to him, an heir to his belongings perhaps.

Given that he knows Dany is fond of incinerating her enemies and his rings would likely melt, he takes them off to preserve the only things he seems to own, perhaps to pass them on or perhaps just so that there is something of him left in the world.

5

Present facts

As it can be seen during the same S08E05, Varys talked with a girl, whom he addressed as Martha:

Martha, one of Varys' little birds.

Martha: "She won’t eat."

Varys: "We’ll try again at supper."

...

Varys: "What have I told you, Martha?"

Martha: "The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward."

Then, he instructed her to return back to the kitchen where she would be expected.

He looks interested in Daenerys to eat. Why?

Past facts

If we remember the Purple Wedding, a necklace was used to introduce the poison inside the feast.

Sansa wearing the necklace in Joffrey's wedding.

So, it could be possible that the ring in S08E05 were also manipulated to contain any poison. According to this, the previous dialog would have sense: Varys wanted Martha to poison the Queen.

As extra reasoning, we can find the next dialog in a scene between Ned Stark and Pycelle at season 1:

Ned: "Poison is a woman's weapon."

Pycelle: "Yes. Women, cravens... and eunuchs."

This conversation confirmed that Varys were the one behind the poisoning attemp to Daenerys, using the wineseller from S01E07.

The wineseller from season 1.

Maybe at the last episode, we will see if Varys movement, leaving the ring at the room, will have any consequences.

  • “Congratulations on your great and noble victory in Kings Landing your grace! Please accept this traditional Westerosi delicacy, the delicious Candied Silver Band Your loyal, only-slightly-ash-covered new subjects will shower you with the affection you deserve if you swallow it in one gulp.” – Paul D. Waite May 15 at 8:59

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