Once upon a time, Game of Thrones was my favorite television show. But in the aftermath of the […]
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!)
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.
King Shithead is dead, and now begin the repercussions of his untimely murder. Joffrey was a Lannister and Lannisters always pay their debts, and when lions are in pain, they lash out violently. This episode focuses on bondage, both newly formed bonds or breaking free from established captivity. Let’s travel the Seven Kingdoms, shall we? (Spoilers ahead!)
Immediately after the death of King Joffrey, Sansa is whisked away by her fool-knight Ser Dontos, who was apparently working for a man we see for the first time this season in this episode–Petyr Baelish or, “Littlefinger”. Littlefinger has been notably absent for the festivities at King’s Landing this season and it looks to be because he’s been setting up Sansa’s rescue. Littlefinger is a childhood “friend” to Catelyn Stark, and so Sansa believes him when Littlefinger tells her he means to rescue her from the wrath of the Lannisters, who most likely blame her, along with Tyrion, for the death of Joffrey. Littlefinger takes credit for killing Joffrey, giving Dontos the necklace that held the poison and for paying off a ship’s crew to take them away from King’s Landing. Unfortunately, Dontos doesn’t make it onto the boat. Baelish has his man put an arrow in the poor fool,
“Money buys a man’s silence for a time. A bolt in the heart buys it forever.” -Petyr Baelish
For all of his truths, LittleFinger also reminds Sansa that everyone at King’s Landing is a liar. Does this include him? I think it does and, although we don’t know where he is taking Sansa or what his end game is, we are certain to find out that his motives may be less than stellar.
In the meantime, Margaery Tyrell-Lannister wonders if, because her husband died before they consummated their marriage, she is actually queen. The short answer is, not really. No way Cersei is going to allow the young lady who stole Joffrey’s affections to sit on the Iron Throne. While the Queen Regent is currently busy grieving, I have no doubt that soon Cersei will be back to her evil antics, wrongfully accusing one brother of murder while asking the other to avenge their son’s death. Speaking of Jamie Lannister (trigger warning) this episode took a dark turn when Cersei and Jaime Lannister meet in the sept where Joffrey’s body lay. While Tywin steps away with his grandson, the new child-king, Tommin Lannister, to explain the birds and the bees, Jaime and Cersei have a moment alone with their son. As I’ve said, the GoT books and the show don’t always match up, but I felt this scene did a huge disservice to the character development of Jaime Lannister since the Kingslayer lost his hand and was forced to examine his own morality (and mortality) in his time with Brienne of Tarth. In the books (I’m currently reading book 5) and in the previous season, Jaime develops into a more sympathetic character as we delve deeper into his emotional state. Yes, he is in an incestious relationship with his sister and yes, he killed the Mad King, but he also saved Brienne and made a vow to Lady Stark to protect the Stark girls–a vow he seemed keen on keeping until Sansa disappeared from King’s Landing. He seems torn between loving his sister in a very inappropriate way and being an honorable man. Unfortunately, the character lost my sympathy vote when he forced himself onto his sister under the dead body of their son on the sept floor. While Cersei seemed to enjoy the kissing, she clearly asks her brother to stop, saying it isn’t right–whether she meant it was wrong to get physical on the floor of their son’s tomb or to continue the incestious relationship, viewers cannot be sure. This was a squick moment for me, and I wonder why the showrunners made this obvious deviation from the text when we were just starting to warm up to Jaime Lannister. If a rape scene was the only way that the director/producer/whoever felt able to get across the frustration that Jaime feels toward his sister, the anger that he needed to project to her–well, I call that laziness at its worst. The scene in the book, while disturbing and graphic, focuses more on the shared grief and loss the pair feel and less on Jaime’s need to force Cersei into a submissive role by having non consensual sex with her. I’m still going to watch, I’m just disappointed and a bit put off by the choices of the show’s creators, at this point.
It’s here, you guys.
Season 4 of Game of Thrones started last night and I am SUPER excited to pen these very spoiler-y recaps. I’m a huge fan of the books and the show has proved to be an excellent representation of the text in terms of detail and design, thanks to the involvement of GRRM in the script process. Without further ado, let’s explore Westeros, shall we?
In King’s Landing, Tywin Lannister has taken over the position of the King’s Hand from his son, Tyrion, and thus becomes the voice of reason for psychopathic and sadistic King Joffrey. While Jaime may be Tywin’s number one son, with only one hand, the knight of the Kingsguard has become a “glorified bodyguard” to his son/nephew, Joffrey. Tywin forges two swords out of what was once a sizeable Valyrian steel sword belonging to Ned Stark, gifting it to Jamie in the same breath as he asks his son to return to Casterly Rock and give up his place at court. For Jaime, this rejection, coupled with the spurning by his lover/sister Cersei, may cause him to gather up the remains of his own honor (of which he claims he has none left) and become a better man. So, when his 6-foot tall, bleached blonde conscious, Brienne of Tarth, reminds Jaime of the oath he made to Catelyn Stark to protect Sansa, the knight seems willing to use what is left of his power to defend the defenseless. Sansa Stark, former bride-to-be of shithead, jerk King Joffrey, is left in a dark place by all that has happened to her family (beheading, Red Wedding and other events that don’t rhyme) and could use a defender. She meets a man she saved from death on King Joffrey’s name day, Ser Dontos, who seems bent on getting in with Sansa in some way, seeing as he creeps around in the Godswood and tries very hard not to be seen. With both these knights on her side, Sansa might have a fighting chance, right? We hope??