More a review than previous posts, but I’m saving some space for the wild-eyed rants at the end.
Okay, a slower-paced episode than last week, which could be like saying a 747 is slower than an SR-71. Almost anything would feel slow after the Battle of the Loot Train, so it’s a relative thing.
At the same time, the narrative seemed, ironically, sort of rushed. Look how many high points the story hits– the aftermath of the battle, Randyll and Dickon Tarly are executed (more about that later), Jon gets to pet Drogon, Jorah returns, the plan to snatch a wight and bring it south is hatched (more about that later, too), Gendry is found (after what appears to be a fifteen minute search), Jaime and Tyrion meet, Gendry meets Jon, Jon and company head north to connect up with Tormund, Beric, Thoros, and the Hound join the party, and they all head out into the north. That’s leaving out Arya’s spying on Littlefinger (and his disinformation campaign against her) and the fact that bat-fuck crazy Cersei is going to be a mother again. If I left anything out it’s because it all went by really fast.
Oh, yeah, Samwell missing the secret of Jon’s birth because he wasn’t listening closely enough to Gilly. Listen, son, if you’re going to be in a long-term relationship with a woman, you need to work on your listening skills….
Basically, I have the sense that the writers felt they had to cram a lot of sausage into the casing of one episode, in order to set up the climax of this season, and to properly lay the groundwork for Season Eight, which will have to be about the Great War, lots of major characters going down for the count, and that bittersweet ending GRRM has been promising us. Because this particular kielbasa link is tightly packed, we spent mere minutes on reunions, plans, spying, dragon-petting (don’t try this at home, folks), executions, plotting and Avengers assembling that could have occupied two or three or even more episodes in previous seasons. It’s not nearly as satisfying presented in this warp-speed manner, but I can’t fault the writers too much. They are running out of time (to be precise, scheduled air-time), and I suspect that they felt it necessary to cover this much ground quickly so as to make sure the climax of the season, and the beginning of Season Eight, work the way their supposed to. Hopefully the remainder of the season, and the remainder of the show, will be better paced.
Re: the execution of Randyll and Dickon– I agree with Tyrion, Dany shouldn’t have done it. At the very least Cersei will use it against her. Serious political mistake. More than that, though, it reminds us that Dany does have a dark side, a willful insistence on her way that sometimes leads to unnecessary deaths. It doesn’t make her mad, it makes her a frail, fallible human being who sometimes does things out of frustration and spite. Also, as I feared, she has arrived at the point of demanding fealty she has not earned. “Bend the knee, or die” is a threat as heavy as chains. As Varys put it, someone indeed needs to make her listen.
And then there’s the plan to capture a wight and bring it south to convince Cersei the threat from the Night King is real. Leaving aside the fact that Cersei will use any truce to her advantage, and that she will see anything Dany and Jon come up with as some sort of trick, the whole thing just sounds cockamamie to me. Capturing a wight, transporting a wight, displaying a wight– I’d almost say its a waste of time, considering how oblivious Cersei is to anything but the agenda spooling out in her head. I love the idea of a desperate raid into the North, but couldn’t the writers have come up with a better mcguffin than this for its object– a wonderblatt horn of the First Men, perhaps, or a pool of magic volcanic fire that would make effective ammunition against the Night King’s army? I do wonder, but then, I’ve never had to write for TV show, nor have I ever been under the kind of pressure the writers for GoT are under. The whole world, and probably a significant portion of the heavenly host, are watching, so I hesitate to criticize them too much.
But, as much as I quibble, it was a pretty good episode, and got us, however imperfectly, to where we needed to go. Along the way, I should mention that I like how the writers are handling Dany and Jon’s growing affection for one another– again, a piece of business that would best have been developed over a whole season, but, again, the clock is ticking. Instead they are doing it by expressions and looks and a few words spoken in just the right way. If you have only so much time to work in, this is the way to do it.
I think I can refine a few of my first predictions now–
Jon and Dany will share one romantic kiss before Season Seven ends.
The real hanky-panky will start after about the five minute mark of Season Eight.
Then Jon’s true parentage will be revealed, and the two will break up with tears and heartbreak and disappointment.
Jon will then die heroically saving the world of men,
Just about the time Dany discovers she’s pregnant.
At some point Arya will slice Littlefinger open like a seven-layer red velvet cake.
And the Night King will end Season Seven by blowing up all three hundred miles of the Wall. Now that will be a season cliffhanger.
“He needs to grow up,” Jason’s step-father said, finishing off his eggs.
“It’s only been six months, William,” Jason’s mother said.
“And he keeps carrying that stupid toy around, Amanda,” William said.
“His father gave it to him,” Amanda said.
“Still, sooner or later he needs to man-up.” William said. He stood, draped his suit jacket over his arm and picked up his briefcase. “Shareholder briefing today, don’t wait dinner for me.”
Jason heard the front-door close behind William. Neither of them had seen him. He was getting good at not being seen.
He went upstairs. September sunshine shone in his room—school would start soon. He lay down on his bed.
He opened his hand and stared at the little blue TARDIS in his palm. He remembered—a crisply cold winter’s night, the Milky Way an arch of diamonds stretching across the sky above them.
“There, son, there’s Pleiades, and next to it is Taurus the Bull—see the two horns?—and there, see those three stars in a row? That’s the belt of Orion the Hunter. Find Orion’s belt and you can find your way around the whole sky.”
Okay, let’s tackle this puppy– Dany and Jon. Such a cute couple. I mean, these guys are obviously made for each other. Two dynamic leaders meeting after both have struggled and suffered and lost, and then triumphed, but who need each other. Two youngsters with oodles and gobs of chemistry and probably lots of compatible psychological profile stuff and major inter-fertility and all the jazz that Make Relationships Work.
By most modern standards, we have entered serious no-no, uh-huh, hands off the girl-or-boy territory. This is despite the fact that the Dany and Jon are about the same age, and have no idea, at least at this point in the show’s story arc, that they share anything other than leadership qualities and hormones. In 21st Century American society we have been conditioned to consider anything that smacks of incest to be taboo, to be universally rejected and and even criminalized. In my lifetime there has been a growing recognition of the terrible price incest and child-abuse exacts from its victims, and we rightly reject attempts to normalize it.
Well, here’s the deal. We’re talking about a television show. We’re talking about television show set in a fantasy world. We’re talking about a television show set in a fantasy world with distinctly different rules about sexuality, consent and what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. That has to alter the way we talk about this.
Allow me to digress for a moment to talk about the show’s source material– George R. R. Martin’s five (and counting– c’mon, George, Rome was built faster than this) books of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Admittedly the show long ago diverged from the precise story- line of the books, but the universe Martin created, and the general story arc, remain its guidance system. It is well known that Martin has drunk deeply from the well of history to inform his work, and particularly the history of Medieval Britain. And part of that historical understanding is that the rules about sexuality, consent and incest that nowadays we think are set in stone were often very, very different in ancient or medieval societies.
Take, for example, age of consent. In Martin’s universe, girls who have their first menses are immediately considered marriage material, which means thirteen year-olds are getting married. In the books, Dany is, in fact, thirteen when she marries Khal Drogo (this was changed in the show to sixteen, for obvious legal reasons). This attitude is distinctly at odds with modern sensibilities, but was actually common in previous eras, and is still prevalent in certain non-Western societies. And the shift in Western attitudes is actually a comparatively recent phenomenon– the age of consent in Texas was ten– ten— as recently as 1880, and that was not unusual among American states in that period.
Even what has been considered incest has varied from time to time and place to place. Before the American Civil War it was legal in every state for first cousins to wed. It still is in some states (e.g. California) while it is restricted in some and outright illegal in others (Texas– go figure).
Bear in mind, as well, the cross-cultural weirdness of how elites and nobles in different eras and cultures determined who could get hitched to who. It’s well-known that the rulers of Ancient Egypt and Pre-Conquest Peru both permitted brothers and sisters of royal lineages to marry, to keep bloodlines “royal”. Martin drew on this history directly when he created the Targaryens, whose kings often wed their own sisters.
And then there is the startling institution of “avunculate marriage“, which was a piece of history unknown to me before I started thinking about this subject. Apparently this custom had a heyday among European royals in the Middle Ages and afterwards, in which uncles and nieces, and occasionally aunts and nephews (ding!) were wed to one another, again in the interest of keep bloodlines pure, and wealth and power in the family. Unfortunately, it had the at least occasional effect of producing children with major mental and physical defects, such as Carlos II, the last Hapsburg king of Spain–
Rather more startling, avunculate marriage is actually legal, sometimes with restrictions, in several modern countries, including Russia, Argentina, and the Netherlands.
Give me just a second– gotta slow down my brain’s RPMs. Whew, that makes me dizzy….
Okay, so what does this all mean for Dany and Jon, two fictional characters in a fictional universe with way different rules about sex and marriage and such like? And how wound up should we get that these two probably related characters may– and it’s still just potential at this point, folks– be doing the mambo sometime in the near future?
In all of this the saving grace is that there is no hint or suggestion of abuse, which, aside from genetic risks, is the most destructive aspect of sex between close kinsfolk. Dany and Jon are consenting adults, even by American standards, and doubly so by Westerosi. They have met as equals, however much Dany wants Jon to bend the knee, and the story-line so far gives every indication that their mutual respect and attraction will grow. If Jon’s little secret never came out they would have nothing to cloud their budding relationship, aside, that is, from civil war, invasion, winter, the Night King and his hordes of White Walkers and undead. You know, the little things that every couple has to put up with.
I think, in the final analysis, fans of the show (including me), whether pro-Dany-Jon or anti, all need to take a big calm pill and chill out. This is fiction– moreover, it’s fiction about a time and place with its own rules. We need to trust Martin and the showrunners Benioff and Weiss to take us where the story needs to go.
Of course, given that this is Game of Thrones, where heartbreak and disappointment are daily meat and drink, this may all be a lot of worrying about a whole lot of not much. Westeros is not devoid of rules about incest– certainly Jaime and Cersei’s relationship is widely censured. It may be that Dany and Jon will get really close, only to pull back with the aforementioned heartbreak and disappointment when Jon’s true heritage is revealed. That’s one way this could go. Another way, and maybe more likely, is that they establish a relationship, and then one of them (I’m betting Jon) dies heroically/tragically/spectacularly in the show’s finale, or close to it. Either way, given the nature of this show and its willingness to impose suffering on its characters, the odds are way stacked against Dany and Jon walking hand-in-hand off into the sunset in the closing minutes of Season Eight, Episode Six.
And if, by chance, they do– well, I think I could deal with that.
So….everybody calm down (me, too). Let the story unfold. And brace yourself.
Episode Four was so epic that it just keeps on giving. I’ve already stated my opinion that this sequence is one of the greatest battles ever on TV, and probably one of the greatest in any sort of cinematic presentation, period. The editing and beats just keep you riveted to the screen, and our prior commitments to characters on both sides leave us in an ambiguous state of wanting everyone to win, or at least survive, simultaneously.
But online controversy about the sequence has sprung up like toxic weeds in a fair garden. Some people, it seems, accuse Dany of being the “Mad Queen”, as her father was the Mad King Aerys, whose hobby of burning people set off Robert’s Rebellion in the first place, for burning Lannister soldiers in the battle. Some of the criticism seems somehow tangled up with snarling diatribes against progressives, feminists, “SJWs”, and blab blah blah, as if Dany is somehow some man-hating feminist icon and anybody who roots for her is a limp-wristed, hypocritical “librul” who cheers when manly men are barbecued.
That kind of rant is too deep and convoluted for me to try to refute or even unpack here and now. I’m going to focus instead on what I think Dany, as a character in the show, was trying to do in the Loot Train Battle, and maybe guess what show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were up to by having her do it. And the best way I think I can do that is to compare Dany to the real mad Queen in the show, Cersei Lannister.
By now almost everyone hates Cersei. I mean, holy shit, this is a woman who’s one redeeming feature, often noted by other characters in the show, was her love for her children, and now they’re all dead. She blew up (with wildfire, note) the Sept of Baelor without batting an eyelash to settle the hash of her political foes, along with that of doubtless thousands of innocent bystanders. Her treatment of Ellaria Sand and Tyene is not only the action of someone who’s never heard of “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”, but who would have thought it silly clap-trap if she had. She has usurped a throne to which she has no right by terror and force, and now believes she can do what she wants precisely because she sits on the Iron Throne. Lastly, her one remaining emotional attachment to the world of human beings is her incestuous relationship with her brother, in which she plays the role of emotional vampire on Jaime’s genuine affection for her– a parasitism to which Jaime’s starting to get wise.
Dany, for her part, is not without sin. She has at times acted impulsively, even cruelly. She arbitrarily put to death leading masters of Meereen as an act of vengeance. She has at times been willing to engage in deception. She lately has been displaying a distinct tendency toward political theater and intimidation, as well as a rather unpleasant arrogance toward Jon Snow, et. al., and she appears to be on the verge of accepting the idea that the ends justify the means. Perhaps even more critically, her un-examined insistence that she is the rightful queen of the Seven Kingdoms based on her descent comes perilously close to demanding fealty she has not earned. To put it another way, she needs to rethink the whole ‘bend the knee’ business.
Despite this, there is a qualitative difference between the actions of Cersei and what Dany has done. Cersei has used terror, torture and outright murder as instruments of state policy. Most spectacularly of all, she blew up the Sept of Baelor without regard to the cost in lives, an act perpetrated on largely unarmed (if we disregard the Faith Militant bozos) civilians.
For a moment in Episode Four it looked as if Dany were about to embark on the same path, when she says she will take her dragons to King’s Landing and burn her enemies out of the Red Keep (in the process, note, she quite cruelly attacks Tyrion, virtually accusing him of going easy on his relatives). Critically, however, she does something Cersei has never done– she turns to an outsider, Jon Snow, for honest counsel. It’s Jon who convinces her not to attack the Red Keep– and, I am convinced, is instrumental in redirecting her frustration into another course of action.
Instead, Dany launches her Dothraki and Drogon against the Lannister army. Herein lies the qualitative difference– Cersei destroyed civilians in political vengeance, but Dany attacked soldiers as an act of war. The two actions are not the same at all. The online Dany haters who are trying to establish an equivalency need to rethink their premises, or perhaps, start thinking in the first place.
Cersei perpetrated a massacre. Dany attacked soldiers who were, however inadequately, armed and ready. The two situations are clean different.
Drogon’s attack is horrifying (it does bother me how some people in different reaction videos laugh and cheer when the Lannister soldiers burn. Death by fire is very bad way to go, even for soldiers in the service of an evil queen). It looks as terrible as it would be in real life, as terrible as I imagine getting hit by a pod of napalm would be. As bad as it is, however, it is justifiable. Because this is what you do in war.
War is the business of compelling your enemy to knuckle-under to your political will. The mechanism of war is killing the enemy until they can no longer sustain the will to fight. And killing, whether it’s done with a sword, or dragon-flame, or napalm, or a nuke, is always about turning another human being with feelings and hopes and loved ones into a mangled pile of meat, or, in this case, ashes. That process is always, and inherently, horrible.
To accomplish the crushing of the enemy’s will to fight you employ every implement you have. If you have a weapon to which the enemy has no effective reply, all the better. It could well mean the killing will end sooner. In effect, Dany ‘weaponized’ Drogon, and he’s a damned powerful weapon that probably sealed her victory at the start. This is not the cruelty of Cersei, but the act of a leader intent on victory against a powerful foe. It is not massacring innocents. That’s Cersei’s path. I think there’s a clear distinction between Cersei’s way and Dany’s. I know which one I would pick.
To bring this back to the show as a show, what I believe Benioff and Weiss are doing is, quite simply, being honest about what war is and does. If you try to pretty it up you’re lying about something that should not lied about. B&W are too good a pair of storytellers to make that mistake.
I don’t think Dany is going to be the Mad Queen, not because she is sinless, but because she wants to do right, and listens to those who are trying to keep her on that path. Hopefully Benioff and Weiss agree with me, and will keep on doing so right through the last episode of Season Eight. If they have any problems, they should call me. Really.
PS– I was also going to take on the subject of Dany and Jon, but I spent so much time on acquitting Dany of madness that I don’t think I have the energy to dive into such a fraught topic. On top of that, I’m trying to digest my discovery of the historical fact of avunculate marriage (it’s utterly amazing sometimes what you can learn from Wikipedia– or disturbing, depending on your point of view). I’ll leave D&J as a subject for another post, some other time.
This was probably one of the best episodes of the show ever. It might even beat out the Battle of the Bastards.
One thing I will own up to right now– four episodes in and many if not most of my previous speculations are totally trashed and revealed to be the off-the-beam ramblings of an unhinged mind. Oh, well, that’s the prophecy biz. Melisandre can tell you about that….
The episode started out slow with Jaime and Bronn on the road back from Highgarden, Their relationship is fraying, and despite being handed a large bag of gold Bronn still complains that Jaime and the Lannisters (what’s left of them) haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain. At the beginning of the episode, I would have said that Bronn would be looking for another situation soon, so to speak, but we have to take into account how this episode ended, which might throw all usual calculations out the window.
Did they have to make Bran quite this distant and weird? Some is understandable, but between when he and Meera left Benjen north of the Wall and when they reached the Wall, he turned into a total automaton. Not sure I’m buying it. Plus, he broke Meera’s heart. Boo, hiss.
Arya returns to Winterfell. Talk about being wrong– my shot not only missed the target, it went over the wall, through the window of an inn, shattered a beaker of ale in a patron’s hand, and nicked the left ear in a picture of Donald Trump pinned to a dart-board. The girl simply walks up and confronts Beavis and Butthead of Winterfell. I kinda hope we see more of those two tossers in future episodes.
Not only was the scene in the obsidian mine between Jon and Dany full of eerie reveries of the most ancient past, it was the stage for escalating heat between these two. I wish I wasn’t so damned ambivalent about the (apparent, probable?) fact that these two are related. I’d enjoy the growing sexual tension more.
It’s significant that Dany asks Jon directly for his advice about how to use her dragons. Not only does it show Dany’s growing respect for Jon, I believe it’s something of a hidden turning-point in the episode, and maybe the show. I suspect that, off-camera, Jon turns Dany’s attention to the fact that Lannister armies and fleets are completely fair game– this is war, and you use the weapons you have that are most likely to compel your enemy to quit the fight. In any event, that’s how I would have written it.
Speaking of sexual tension, I love the sequence where Davos and Jon are coming down the steps outside the castle at Dragonstone, Davos asks Jon what he thinks about Dany, Jon says, “I think she has a good heart” and Davos says, “I’ve noticed you staring at her good heart.” Brilliant.
And then Davos has the sand to go and get all pimply-seventeen-year-old-guy-who-just-had-a-cheerleader-smile-at-him-goofy over Missandei. She’s taken, you skeevy old fart. On the other hand, I can’t fault Davos’ taste.
Ah, Brienne has a little sister. A fast, deadly, face-changing sister. I meant no disrespect…..
And, finally, a battle sequence that, if it doesn’t leave you simultaneously on the edge of your seat and totally wrung-out, may mean that you’re a wight. It starts out almost like a classic (or cliched, but it worked) Western where the cavalry scouts go, “Wait– what’s that?” and suddenly it’s time to circle the wagons.
Except the Lannisters are caught flat-footed and don’t circle the wagons. The showrunners have generally done a fair-to-good job getting medieval military tactics right, and I knew the Lannister army was in trouble the moment I saw it drawn up in two thin lines, with shields and short spears. Infantry in Westeros have probably suffered from playing second-fiddle to armored knights for centuries, and have apparently never heard of twenty-foot pikes and block formations. They have never faced Dothraki before, either, and so the Lannisters brought inadequate weapons and bad tactics to this field. Bronn called it at once– “these fuckers are about to swamp us.”
In about a twelve-minute sequence the battle delivers horror, carnage, courage, confusion, more horror, and the crushing panic of infantry under air attack– as if an army of the Hundred Year’s War was on the receiving end of a pod of napalm from an A-10 Warthog. Except that the foot-soldiers are not wholly without a defense, a fact that ratchets up the tension to an almost unbearable point. In some reaction videos I’ve seen (yes, I watch those, it’s almost like having a social life) people actually cling to one another for support. The sequence is tightly edited, and yet there’s room for emotional moments, like when Tyrion is trying to telepathically get Jaime to flee and not charge the giant dragon that’s in a really foul mood at the moment, on the off-chance you might skewer its mother. Who is a tiny, delicate little white-haired girl, and how could you even think of doing that, Jaime Lannister…?
But perhaps the strangest aspect of the battle is how we find ourselves rooting for both sides. Despite his residual moral ambiguity, we don’t want Jaime to fry; we don’t want Bronn, the cynical sellsword, to be barbecued; and we sure as hell don’t want Dany skewered, despite the fact that she’s showing some moral ambiguity of her own. You don’t know who to root for, while you root for everybody. I’ve never quite seen a film sequence that so effectively captures, in an emotional sense, how, at the level of the individual, there’s usually not a lot of difference between the two sides of a war.
A final note about that moral ambiguity of Dany’s– she’s always been willing to do what is necessary, and she has been merciless with masters and slavers in the past. But now that she is in Westeros she seems to be heeding Oleana Tyrell’s counsel to “be the dragon” a little too completely– the whole ‘bend-the-knee’ business is getting out of hand. She seems to be on the verge of accepting the proposition that the ends justify the means– and that she is entitled to fealty she has not earned. Dangerous stuff, and I am on tenterhooks waiting to see how it turns out.
Whew. I don’t have the strength to launch any speculations at this point. At some point major characters are doomed to die, although I begin to think most of that is going to be pushed to Season 8. Jon’s expedition to the north is going to come a cropper, as is well known by now. He and Dany are almost certainly going to grow closer, but what kind of heartbreak will that entail when his parentage is revealed? Littlefinger is already surrounded by suspicious Starks; when will that suspicion turn into a Valyrian steel dagger in the dark?
And how the hell are they going to cram all this into just three more episodes?
Beats the crap out of me…..
A PS, a day later—
I hope I’m wrong. I really, really hope I’m wrong. But what if Jamie and Bronn are taken prisoner after the battle and Dany executes Bronn out of hand for hurting Drogon? It would be another brick in the blood-slick road Dany is traveling toward becoming the tyrant everyone fears she might become. In the previews for Episode 5 Tyrion looks pretty wrecked– I wonder if this is why? I really want to be wrong on this one.
Okay, Episode Three is in the bag, and I’m feeling maybe a little less wild-eyed and more thoughtful about the show at the moment. These are less predictions than they are reflections. Still, I now have a stronger foundation for my whacky ideas about what is to come for the rest of the show, so buckle up– here we go.
Again, tentatively, but I don’t want somebody hunting me down with a catspaw blade because I ruined the show for them.
One note about spoilage– there has been a great deal of it online around leak episodes and scripts, and so far some of it has been pretty accurate. At this point, for example, everyone knows Jon is going to lead an expedition north of the wall, probably in Episode Six, which apparently will get its ass kicked and cost Dany a dragon. That common knowledge helps feed my speculations.
(What, you didn’t know? Sorry about that. Please put the knife down.)
What is it with people online expecting Dany and Jon to get down to business (and I ain’t talking about accounting) in the next episode. Crap, she and Jon just met, and they are antagonists at the moment, people– their agendas are in direct conflict. You’ve waited more than six seasons for this encounter, give it a chance to simmer.
This, of course, ignores the fact that if Jon is, indeed, the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna, then Dany is his aunt. Face it, folks, that’s kinda problematic. How does this work, boo for incest if it’s between the bad guys, hurrah if the good guys are doing it? Ugh.
On the other hand, it may yet be just an assumption that R+L=J. People watched the Tower of Joy sequence, and because it cut from an unidentified infant to Jon Snow, they assumed the theory was confirmed. I think it is at least possible that the show runners may yet jerk that rug out from under us.
Of course, if so, then Dany and Jon are not related. In which case, Defcon One, Jon Snow….
The whole interplay between Jon and Dany at their first meeting was worthy of a stage play. No special effects, no epic battles, just two determined people with irreconcilable agendas confronting one another. Some people thought it was boring, but I’m not one of them. What were they supposed to do, get into a knife-fight? Story-wise, this is exactly what needed to happen, as Dany’s plans begin to run up hard against the reality of what’s actually going down in Westeros, and Jon risks being eaten by a dragon because he knows his war is the real deal, not this petty dynastic squabble with which everyone else has been obsessed for the last six seasons. A foundation had to be laid, and this was it.
Damn, that sounds good. They did it for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (a wretched film, btw– can’t speak to the book), why not for Shakespeare? Too bad Bill is dead, I think he’d love the concept.
Speaking of reality checks, Dany has come to rely entirely too much on political theater (which was what the dragon fly-by was about, of course, and the whole recitation of titles). I think she’s going to find that sort of thing doesn’t, well, fly as well in Westeros as it did in other parts of the world.
The whole sequence where Cersei poisons Tyene and leaves her and Ellaria in the dungeon, just out of reach of each other, was heartrending. Ellaria deserves to be punished, and Tyene has her own sins, but this is vengeance and cruelty, not justice. Of course, one of the points of the show is that this is a world short on justice and very long on cruelty and revenge. In that kind of world Cersei’s actions approach the status of logical consequences, which only tells you how depraved the moral order of Westeros is.
Contrast, then, Jon’s treatment of Alice Karstark and Ned Umber – where Cersei would have acted with petty cruelty, Jon shows mercy, even when his own sister is urging vengeance. It makes you want to pledge fealty right there.
In the realm of actual predictions, from here on out major characters are going to start dropping like whores’ knickers. Melisandre hinted at her own death and Varys’ in Episode Three, and I suspect they won’t die in bed sipping cocoa. Varys will probably get cross-ways of Dany somehow, because people who think in terms of “the realm” are sometimes awfully inconvenient to monarchs.
I suspect the showrunners have a much dramatic end in mind for Melisandre. Perhaps she’ll give her life in the fight against the Night King, and so atone in some degree for her crimes. In any event, I doubt she will suffer a straw-death.
Beric Dondarrion is going to get it (finally and for good) when he follows Jon north of the wall (oops, spoilers, remember?), but not before he gets to use Thoros’ flaming sword, which should rock hard as a scene.
Arya will make it back to Winterfell, but I predict she’s going to cautiously infiltrate the place to determine the lay of the land, and there may not be the sort of uber-joyful reunion we had with between Sansa and Jon.
In the process, Arya may kill Littlefinger. I’m just hoping.
If Littlefinger does make it past Arya’s return, at some point he’s going to spill the beans about Jon’s true parentage (if there be beans to spill). There have been plenty of hints he knows the secret. Who knows what will happen then; it could be someone will even silence him in a rather permanent fashion to keep the secret secret. From some points of view, Jon as a Targaryen would be an inconvenient truth– it would probably destroy the allegiance he has won from the northern lords, among other things. This could go any number of ways, though, and nobody who isn’t named Benioff, Weiss or Martin has a genuine clue as to the whole story.
Enough for now. With each episode the possibilities narrow and the dramatic tension becomes more focused. Anyway you cut it, we’re in for a ride.
I just wish there were more than four episodes left in the season.
“It is poorly preserved,” Dr. Angg said. “The slackness of the jaw, the orange tinge of the skin— you’d think even a hundred years ago the curators could have done better.”
I said nothing. Angg was the Imperium’s leading expert in xenobiology and off-world artifacts. We had found the alien head in among old displays in the museum’s archive. There were many relics of humanity’s early, freebooting days in interstellar space in the vaults. There were alien weapons, and strange religious artifacts, and more than a few trophies of the vicious wars of that era. Angg and I had already examined a collection of Te’measkini scalps, gathered by the members of the Fifth Punitive Expedition. It was gruesome stuff, and offensive to modern sensibilities. Inclusion of multitudinous species was now Imperial policy, and we had been charged with cleaning out the collection.
“How do you think it died?” I asked Angg.
“Probably a victim of the Rilhalan War,” Angg said. “The species looks correct. Huge beings, they were—doubtless the head was taken as a trophy, and the body left to rot.”
“A lot you know, buddy,” the head said, as it sprouted spidery legs and scuttled off.
So, we are two episodes into Season Seven of Game of Thrones, and I feel the urge to speculate on the ultimate endpoint of the series. Perhaps this is premature; it is almost certainly foolhardy, from a critical standpoint. It smacks of hubris; it reeks (no pun intended) of chutzpah.
Well, maybe. Speculations do sometimes turn out to be accurate. More than accurate, though, they are fun.
Dany is never going to be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. That would be a disappointingly straight-line narrative, and Benioff, Weiss and Martin are all too canny a set of writers to give us that. They are certain to monkey-wrench that story-line into oblivion. One way or another Dany will be turned aside from that path and that destiny, to find another. A better destiny? Hard to say, since Martin has already said that the end of the Song of Ice and Fire will be ‘bittersweet’.
The Night King is going to win– at least in Westeros, where Dany’s vision of a ruined Red Keep will come true. I suspect he’s going to destroy the Wall at some point, somehow overcoming the magical protections built into it. This will probably be the Season Seven cliffhanger. Winter will spread over Westeros and millions will die. Dorne may escape and maybe the Free Cities as well, but it will snow in Volantis and even Meereen.
Dany and Jon will hook up for a poignantly short time. Jon will die again, probably after giving Dany the son she wants, the true Stallion Who Mounts the World.
Jon may or may not learn of his heritage. It almost doesn’t matter at this point.
Thousands of Westerosi will flee to Meereen and the other cities on Slaver’s Bay, which will become a warm refuge against the winter. Changes in climate will bring abundant rainfall back to the region, and it will enjoy a rebirth.
Drogon alone will survive the Winter War, but since dragons are hermaphroditic, she/he will still be able to lay new eggs and hatch a new generation flying flame-throwers.
When Jon dies he may see Ygritte again. This could just be the sentimental slob in me.
Jaime will kill Cersei. Or Tyrion will do it. Or Dany. Or Drogon. Or the fifth Dothraki on the left. I don’t really care, so long as someone snuffs the bat-fuck bitch.
Jaime will probably kill himself after Cersei’s death.
Tyrion and Sansa may decide getting married to each other wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
Tyrion and Sansa, on the other hand, may die poignant deaths just as they realize they love each other.
Tormund and Brienne are probably going to die poignant deaths, too, although Brienne will probably spend the last few minutes of her life rolling her eyes at Tormund.
Grey Worm and Missandei, of course, are utterly doomed. They may have the poignant death market cornered.
Assuming she lives, Sansa will advise Queen Danerys in Meereen.
Arya will survive and defend Meereen with her stealthy powers. The showrunners don’t dare kill her. There’d be rioting in the streets.
Dany’s grandkids will reconquer Westeros with hordes of dragons, zeppelins, incendiary ammo, and fuel-air bombs. I’d pay HBO’s full price to see that series.
That’s enough wild-eyed speculation for now. Once we have a few more episodes for Season Seven in the bag I may refine these. Or add others. The sky’s the limit, actually.