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In Season 8 episode 5 of Game of Thrones, when Varys hears the sound of the Unsullied coming to his chamber, he burns a letter and removes his rings.

Maybe he burns the letter so that they won't find any evidence against him.

Why remove the rings?

  • 3
    Because he knows there will never be a trial. – Faizan Rabbani May 14 at 5:30
  • 1
    He is a simple man, with simple goal. Somehow it feels too simple, but he may have wanted to die as a simple man without any jewelry and ornament. – xdtTransform May 14 at 12:26
  • Similar post on scifi SE – user1129682 May 14 at 12:50
  • 1
    Whatever the reason, to me it rather poignantly brought to mind Pacino's last scene in Donny Brasco. – Grimm The Opiner May 15 at 8:04
  • They already had enough evidence against him with just Tyrion's testimony. Burning the letter protects the co-conspirators to whom he revealed Jon's true identity. – R. McMillan May 15 at 13:05
48

Removing valuable item was a sign of him knowing his coming fate. He knows that he will be executed now or we can say burned alive.

From IGN

When Varys heard a door open and the footsteps of soldiers approaching, that was the sign that his time had come to an end, so he decided to burn the letter he was writing to destroy the evidence of his plan and then prepare himself for death by removing his finery.

Removing one’s valuables before imminent demise is a gesture we’ve seen in other stories before. It’s sort of a ritual of accepting one’s death, a way to prepare for what’s to come.

The same article also covers fan theories too, one of the popular ones is the poison ring left for Tyrion or someone else to finish the job.

Same poison theory is covered by gamespot too and go deeper:

Zooming in on Varys's rings and brightening up the image doesn't reveal any conspicuous blue crystals. In fact, the ring we get the best look at seems to have represented Varys's loyalty to the Targaryen queen--it appears to be this ring from jewelry retailer Mey's official partnership with the show. The retailer calls it an "allegiance ring," and their site claims that Varys, Tyrion, Jorah, and Grey Worm have all worn one since Season 7. It was designed to look like a dragon spine. In taking it off, Varys is symbolically shedding the symbol of his loyalty to Daenerys.

But Varys is still loyal to Jon, who he now knows is also a Targaryen. Even though we didn't see the obvious blue poison crystal as Varys removed all his rings, the show seemed to focus on their removal just long enough that it might be important in the finale.

After SO8E06:

poison ring theory has been debunked by the absence of that plot in later episodes so it seems it was only allegiance ring and he removed as he was going to die.

  • Very probably this, but after reading the other answers I'm curious to see if any of the other theories are correct. – Luciano May 15 at 10:07
  • "...to burn the letter he was writing to destroy the evidence..." I do believe this way he saved the message much better than by just leaving it lying around. – okutane May 15 at 13:00
  • 1
    Great answer! In the film Donnie Brasco, Al Pacino's character does the same thing when he knows he's been called for execution. (I seem to recall this symbolic act having been mirrored in other places since them.) – DukeZhou 2 days ago
22

Varys didn't very convincingly burn his letter. He put it in a jar, and then immediately put the lid on it. As we all know, that quells the fire.

Varys knows he cannot defend himself. He knows the accusations are true. This way, he hopes that someone might find what he wrote and realise the truth he died for.

The rings also come into play here. They identify him and his messages. He might have guessed that he would be executed by fire, which would melt the rings for sure. This way, they remain next to his messages.

Another theory goes even further, claiming that the rings contain the key to decrypt his messages. This makes the rings even more valuable. However, earlier in the episode we see him writing in just plain English.

  • Seemingly plain english. You can hide messages in seemingly innocent messages. Steganography. – mathreadler May 14 at 21:01
  • @mathreadler except that the writing we saw was pretty much the message he wanted to leave behind: "Dany bad, Jon good". – JAD May 15 at 6:26
  • Maybe wanted to leave several messages. He knew he was done for. So he could leave one obvious and other not so obvious messages? – mathreadler May 15 at 8:54
  • @mathreadler mayhaps, but it further and further enters the realm of speculation. – JAD May 15 at 9:03
  • come on he was a spymaster. That was no secret. It would be an obvious thing to do in his job. It's not as unreasonable speculation as to say... someones adoptive mother would do these shady things embedded in her job. – mathreadler May 15 at 9:10
4

My expectation was that this all was as a "dead man's switch". He's been writing lots and lots of letters describing who Jon really is, and the episode shows that in detail. The episode also shows his "little birds" visiting his room, and rewards are mentioned. Dany and Tyrion executed Varys, but they seem to have no direct influence over his spy network.

So my assumption is that Varys execution would naturally be followed by his "little birds" delivering the letters and disclosing the secret to the realm. The rings would be related to that - as a payment for the delivery, or possibly to assure authenticity of the message by including a notable token of Varys alongside.

  • 2
    Answers need to be concrete and factual, not speculation. – CGriffin May 14 at 14:12
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    Nobody knows, except the show writers, so how can anyone do anything but speculate? – Max Williams May 14 at 14:22
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    @MaxWilliams There is no rule that questions must be answered within a short timeframe. If there is no answer that can be given without fortune telling - it is perfectly fine for a question to be left unanswered until more information is eventually uncovered. (Not defending any other answers to this question - which right now feel equally speculative) – Bilkokuya May 14 at 15:01
-1

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.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • Please edit in the relevant information from that page instead of just posting a link - those rot – Jenayah May 16 at 9:36

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