game-thrones-season-4-premiere

The War of the Five Kings may be over, but conflict still thrives in Westeros. This week’s episode focuses on resolving some of the tensions that have been building for in regards to purpose and intention. By resolve, I mean make things ten times worse. These resolutions come with very real consequences, which our most beloved and most hated characters will not doubt reap. With a child-king on the throne, dragons growing larger by the year, brothers choosing sides and fighters moving forward, Westeros is no closer to a long-term king than in season one. Did you notice we heard 3 would-be rulers introducing themselves as rightful ruler of Westeros? Yeesh. These are the Seven Kingdoms, friends.

Braavos

image property of HBO; edit courtesy of stuckinthedaydream.tumblr
image property of HBO; edit courtesy of stuckinthedaydream.tumblr

Stannis and Davos sail to Braavos from Dragonstone to meet with the leaders of the Iron Bank. And then I’m all ermergerd Mark Gatiss!! Finally, we find out that Mark Gatiss’ role is as Tycho Nestoris, the gate keeper of funds for the Iron Bank. While Stannis is his usually, unfriendly self, Davos continues to be the champion for his king even as the bankers refuse to hand over gold to fund a war that is considered over. While the pragmatic banker declines to give Stannis funds initially, it seems he may have been swayed. In the scene directly following, Davos finds his pirate friend, Sallhador Saan, and asks for his help. When Sallhador jokingly laments that his friend Davos is no friend at all but an enemy who wants him dead and poor, Davos throws down an impressive amount of gold, which I’m assuming means the Iron Bank is now backing Stannis instead of the Lannisters. It is nice to see Davos working to unify these dueling parts of his personality represented by Stannis his just King and Sallhador, Davos’ smuggler friend. Audiences may have forgotten how Davos came to be so true to Stannis, but Davos has not. Stannis is just and honest and Davos does not question Stannis’ intentions (except with the Red Woman) because he trusts his King’s judgement and is quick to say when he does not. I do appreciate Stannis’ claim to the throne and Davos’ arguments for his right, but Stannis is such a surly man, will the funds of the Iron Bank be enough to buy him loyalty?

game-thrones-season-4-premiere

This week’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones explored the power and weaknesses in the women of Westeros. After quite a disheartening representations of women in the books as well as the show, it is refreshing to see the ladies of the Seven Kingdoms exhibiting courage and depth of character, even when faced with immeasurable odds and even when it’s off canon. From King’s Landing to the Eyrie, women such as Cersei Lannister and Lysa Arryn continue to hold precarious positions of power based in the male heirs they have sired; while Craster’s wives and Sansa Stark seem to hold no power and continue to be manipulated and abused. Still, each female character has within her the strength to accomplish what needs to be done for her own well being, and has learned how to maneuver through the patriarchal dominance of Westeros for the sake of her own survival. Let’s visit the Seven Kingdoms, shall we? (Spoilers ahead!)

King’s Landing

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At the Red Keep, Tommen is crowned King of Westeros, with his mother Cersei and grandfather Tywin by his side while the rest of the kingdom, including Margaery Tyrell, looks on. So far, Cersei has only expressed disdain for Joffrey’s widow, whom she has called a “wicked little bitch from Highgarden” but in this episode, the Queen Regent lets down her guard with the younger woman. Cersei admits, while not much shocks her (she was married to Robert Baratheon and had a long-term incestuous relationship with her brother), her son Joffrey had an appetite for violence that she could not understand. Still, she loved King Shithead unconditionally and, because she loves Tommen is why she can see that a marriage between her second son and the Tyrell house will be beneficial for both. Margaery, who knows of her family’s involvement with Joffrey’s murder, is slow to use any sort of treasonous language with Cersei regarding the Lannister house, but both women admit that Tommen is gentler and perhaps even a better fit as king. Both women also defer to their fathers’ wisdom in terms of marital discussion, understanding that, while they may be creating an alliance now, it is up to the men to fortify the relationship. Cersei, who is perhaps the most cunning and politically savvy player in all of Westeros (while Littlefinger is away) realizes that her gender lessens her in they eyes of her father and ultimately eliminates her chances at holding any true power in the Lannister household. Cersei must resort to skilled manipulation in order to gain access to her own destiny. When she goes to speak with Prince Oberon of Dorne, she does so to not only place in his ear a familiar story of vengeance in regards to her brother the murderer and his sister the murdered, but also to mourn the absence of Myrcella. The child is tucked away, for her own safety in Dorne and when Cersei asks Oberon to deliver a ship to the daughter whom Cersei hasn’t seen in two years, the man assures Myrcella’s safety, promises to give the gift and deliver a message of love. Oberon shows Cersei a mercy that her family has never given him, one that Cersei surely doesn’t deserve.

Oberon: We don’t hurt little girls in Dorne.

Cersei: Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls.

Although I am the first one to admit to hating Cersei, the character is at times startling and I find myself sympathetic to her even in the throes of my deep hatred for the woman. Kudos to Lena Headey for creating such a complex character sketch of Cersei.

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When I began the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, it was with trepidation. I don’t like to watch a TV show or film based on a novel (or multiples thereof) unless I’ve read the books. Seriously though? These books are so damn long! But this is a THING I have, and so I read the first book and started the second the summer before season 2 started. As I watched the seasons unfold, it became clear that the television show will not always coincide with the textual version, but it will always be a roller coaster ride. This episode was a prime example of that. After last week’s non-canon rape scene between Jamie and Cersei, I was not sure how the series might redeem the character, at least in my eyes. Still, it became clear in this episode that things are not always what the audience sees, in fact, we are given multiple points of view for a reason–so that we might understand the War of the Five Kings from disparate and diverse narratives and develop and understanding of all sides involved, with loyalties to none. Let’s head to Westeros, shall we? (Spoilers ahead!)

Across the Narrow Sea

edit cr: stannisbaratheon.tumblr.com
edit cr: stannisbaratheon.tumblr.com

In Camp Daenerys, handmaiden Missandei teaches the Unsullied captain Grey Worm to speak the Common Tongue and we learn a bit about the Unsullied’s work ethic. “Kill the Master” is a theme in this episode–which begins with the Meereen slaves, who rise up to murder those who have kept them captive for so long. With help from the weapons the Unsullied sneak into the slave quarters, the captives revolt, raise the Targaryen flag above the castle and pledge their allegiance to the Khaleesi by killing the masters and taking over the city.

While Ser Barristan councils Daenrys that is is better to answer injustice with mercy, the Khaleesi answers injustice with justice and puts up on nails 163 masters for the 163 children they saw nailed to mile markers on the path to Meereen. Another city is hers and another thousand or so freed people stand behind her, ready to storm King’s Landing or do whatever their queen bids of them.

HBO released “Vengeance”, a new trailer for the hit series, Game of Thrones, this week, and it is INTENSE.

If you’ve read the books, you know that book 4, A Feast for Crows, because of it’s sheer size, was split into two parts by the man himself, George R.R. Martin. This split resulted in two novels taking place at the same time, focusing on two different POVs. In book 4, we read the stories of the 7 Kingdoms, focusing on the Lannisters, Starks, Greyjoys and the kingdom of Dorne.