Game of Thrones
“The Winds of Winter”
June 26, 2016
The season finale was filled with everything we expected: R+L = J; the North uniting; Arya giving Walder Frey exactly what he deserved; Sam going to the Citadel; Cersei having a final showdown with the Faith Militant; Tommen fulfilling Cersei’s prophecy; Daenerys on her way to Westeros to take it back once and for all; and winter has FINALLY come, amirite, Ned Stark? And something I don’t think anyone predicted — Cersei taking the Iron Throne for herself. Girl, I need one of those black leather dresses.
We’ll begin with the least interesting — but still necessary — plot thread: Samwell’s trip to the library. Sam and Gilly finally make it to Oldtown as the white ravens are being released from the Citadel. There Sam informs some random maester that he’s been sent to train to become the new maester at Castle Black, now that Maester Aemon has passed away. This is news to the Citadel, and Maester Random tells Sam that he’ll have to discuss it with the Archmaester. In the meantime, Sam can hang out in the library, but WHOA WHOA WHOA, NOT SO FAST, GILLY.
Beyond the Wall:
Uncle Zombie deposits Bran and Meera at a weirwood near the Wall — I think the same weirwood where the Night’s Watch take their oaths, but I can’t confirm that — and explains that this is as far as he goes: the Wall was built with spells carved into its foundation to prevent the dead from being able to go past it. Uncle Zombie reminds them that the Great War is coming, and promises to do what he can for as long as he can. And with that, Uncle Zombie rides off never to be heard from again. Bye, Uncle Zombie!
To kill some time until someone finds them, I guess — the plan for what happens next was never made clear — Bran decides to tap into the weirwood so he can FINALLY find out how that Tower of Joy story ended.
We pick up where Ned hears Bran’s voice, before running up into the tower. There he finds his sister hemorrhaging having just given birth. Lyanna whispers something to Ned before making him promise to keep the baby’s secret safe lest Robert kill him. A nurse hands the baby to Ned, and then we cut to Jon Snow, alluding to the worst kept secret in all of “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
At the Twins:
Over in the Twins, Walder Frey throws himself a party for having the good sense to bring Jaime and the Lannisters to repo Riverrun for him. All the serving girls give Jaime the sex me eyes, but Jaime is not interested, thanks, he’s got his hands full with one special sociopath back at home. Walder plops himself down next to Jaime and talks smack about the Blackfish being killed by footsoldiers, which is UNCOOL by Jaime who asks Frey if he’s ever done any fighting in his life. Frey is all, “whatever, I have Riverrun and I killed Robb Stark, so I guess I’m a part of your Kingslayer club now. BFFs!” But Jaime reminds Frey that he gave him Riverrun and FREY WILL NEVER BE IN JAIME’S CLUB, before leaving in a huff.
Later, a serving girl brings Walder a meat pie as he gets handsy with her and wonders where his worthless sons are. She informs him that they are there with him, as he peels back the crust to reveal an ear. The serving girl removes her face to reveal that she’s
No One Arya Stark, and she wants him to see her Stark face smiling down at him while he dies. Arya then slits his throat in a long overdue bit of revenge. WHO’S SENDING THEIR REGARDS NOW, WALDER? No R.I.P.s for you.
In the main dining hall at Winterfell, Jon Snow is having wee sorry for himself, telling Melisandre about how back in the day, his family would all sit together at the head table, while he was forced to sit in the back, but Melisandre is like, “CRY ME A RIVER, SNOW. AT LEAST YOU HAD A FAMILY.”
Davos comes stalking in, and is HELLA MAD about Shireen and ready to kill Melisandre. Melisandre is like, “OK, so maybe I advised Stannis and Mrs. Stannis to burn their daughter alive, but doesn’t everyone remember that part where I brought Jon Snow back to life? Can you even imagine how angry everyone would be right now if I hadn’t brought Jon Snow back to life? And as for you, Jon Snow, the Night’s King is coming and you know at least one thing: I could help you with that whole situation.” Instead, Jon orders Melisandre to ride south and never return lest he hang her for murder.
Later, Jon and Sansa discuss who should take their parents’ bedroom, and Sansa assures Jon that she considers him a Stark. He counters that she’s the Lady of Winterfell, and that they are only back in their home because she brought in the knights of the Vale. Sansa is all, “Yeah, I probably should have told you about that beforehand… sorry.” Jon reminds her that they have plenty of enemies and now need to trust one another. Sansa then tells Jon that a white raven arrived from the Citadel: Winter is officially here! Hooray! And they both smile and smile because no one loves winter like the Starks love winter.
In the Godswood, Littlefinger and Sansa have a chat where Littlefinger reveals that what he wants — and what he has always wanted — is the Iron Throne and Sansa as his bride. Littlefinger goes in for a kiss, but Sansa is like, “Uh, thanks but no thanks, Uncle Creepy.” As she walks away, Littlefinger gets all up in her head again, telling her that she needs to think about the future of the House of Stark: who should the North rally around, a legitimate heir like herself or some Southern-born bastard?
Later, Jon Snow and Sansa hold a North Convention, where the heads of the North are like, “We’re done here, right? Great, we’ll be going then ….” Jon warns that the White Walkers are on their way, and asks for their help with the Great War that is coming but they’re all, “Ummmm…. well… I mean… the thing is we’ve got these other plans that don’t involve ‘fighting’ and ‘war’ and ‘zombie monsters’ and ‘dying’…”
And that’s when Little Lady Badass stands up and starts calling the other Northern houses a bunch of little bitches. “Hey, Manderly, you’re a little bitch. Glover? You’re a little bitch. And you, Cerwyn, you’re a little bitch. As for me, I know no king but the King of the North and his name is Stark. So I don’t care if Jon is a bastard, Ned Stark’s blood runs through his veins and that’s good enough for me.” The other heads of the Northern houses agree that yes, they’ve been acting like little bitches, and from here on out they’ll stop acting like little bitches. With that, they declare Jon Snow to be KING OF THE NORTH! while Littlefinger gives Sansa a “toldja so” look.
In King’s Landing:
It’s a big day in King’s Landing! Cersei and Loras’ trial day is finally here, and everyone is putting their hair in their fanciest braids and putting on their most judicial crowns and putting on their fanciest potato sacks and in the case of Cersei, putting on her most amazing black leather gown from the Michael Jackson Villainess collection.
In the Great Sept of Baelor, Loras’ trial gets underway, and he confesses his crimes of being teh ghey and perjuring himself before the Seven Gods. Loras promises to give up his name and Lordship and to never have children. He also agrees to dedicate his life to the Seven Gods, and to that end the Faith Militant give him one of those cool forehead carvings.
Meanwhile, Margaery appears to be the only person who notices that neither Cersei nor King Tommen are there for Cersei’s trial, what’s up with that? In fact, the reason Cersei is not there is because Cersei has no intention of ever being there, and the reason King Tommen isn’t there is because FrankenMountain is preventing him from leaving his chambers. So the High Sparrow sends Lancel to go collect his cousin already.
Elsewhere, Qyburn has his little birds lead Maester Pycelle down to his mad scientist dungeon where the little birds stab the Grand Maester to death. STAB! STAB! STAB!
On his way to collect Cersei, Lancel notices one of the Little Birds run down a tunnel, and follows, only to discover a huge cache of wildfire directly underneath the Great Sept. And even worse — someone has placed a melting candle in a puddle of wildfire in the middle of the room. “EEP!” says Lancel, but before he can do anything about it, the Little Bird he was following reappears and stabs him in the back. STAB!
Upstairs, Margaery’s panic begins to grow and she demands that the High Sparrow allow her and Loras to leave, and when he refuses, she calls out to the crowd that they all need to go, NOW! However, the Faith Militant refuses to let anyone leave and that’s when the wildfire explodes and ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRYBODY dies.
R.I.P. Queen Margaery, Loras, Uncle Kevan, Mace Tyrell, the High Sparrow, countless red shirts and Lancel.
As for Tommen, he takes one look out his window, removes his crown and walks calmly out the window.
R.I.P. Dumb Baby King.
Cersei, in the meantime, busies herself by pouring wine down Septa Shamebell’s throat while confessing to drinking; having the sexytimes with her brother; lying about having the sexytimes with her brother; and killing her husband, the High Sparrow, all the other septons and septas, pretty much the entire Tyrell line, her own Uncle Kevan and half of King’s Landing. Septa Shamebell asks Cersei to kill her now pleaseandthankyou, but Cersei’s like, “NOPE, you’re to become Bride of FrankenMountain.” And with that, she leaves Septa Shamebell to her groom. And doom. Doomgroom.
Later, Cersei calmly regards the corpse of her last child before ordering his body burned and buried in the ashes where the Sept once stood.
Even later, Jaime and Bronn ride back into King’s Landing to find the still smoldering remains of the Sept. “The Hell?” says Jaime. He then walks into the throne room just as
Ser Pounce Cersei is being crowned the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. “THE HELL?” says Jaime.
In Dorne, our beloved Queen of Thorns meets with Ellaria and reads the Sand Snakes TO FILTH. Because the Martells and the Tyrells have some bad blood between them, the Queen of Thorns wonders what Ellaria could possibly want from her, and Ellaria explains that she’d like to offer the Queen of Thorns a chance for “survival.” Considering her entire family was killed by Cersei Lannister, the Queen of Thorns isn’t interested in survival, thanks, so Ellaria asks to rephrase: she’s offering the Queen of Thorns her “heart’s desire.” And that’s when Varys steps out from behind the curtain and is like, “HEEEEEEEEY, GIRL. How about I offer you some blood and fire?”
Speaking of blood and fire, Daenerys is planning her big cruise to Westeros, but first she has to attend to some city-sitting business. To that end, Daenerys asks Daario and the Second Sons to look after Meereen for her. She explains that he can’t tag along with her because she’s probably going to have to forge an alliance by marrying someone in Westeros, and having a sexy boyfriend tagging along might make that difficult. He’s like, “FINE, I GET IT,” before renaming Slaver’s Bay, “Dragon’s Bay” in her honor. Bye, Daario, bye! I’m so glad you didn’t have a stupid blue beard like in the books because it would have been really hard to take you seriously!
Waiting to hear how Daario took the breakup is Tyrion, who assures Daenerys she did the right thing. Daenerys confesses that on the eve of her great conquest, she finds herself afraid, and Tyrion tells her that’s good. She’s in the “great game” now, and the “great game” is terrifying, but Tyrion believes in her. He believes in her in a way that he has never before believed in anything. Daenerys presents him a Hand of the King pin she had made for him, declaring him her “Hand of the Queen.”
And with that, all that’s left is get on the boats and do this thing. WAIT, VARYS? HOW’D YOU GET HERE? OMG ARE YOU ACTUALLY A MERMAID LIKE ALL THOSE CRAZIES HAVE BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG?
Where to even begin with this episode?
I will start with my one small complaint so as to get it out of the way: while I have LOVED LOVED LOVED this season, and am pleased that the showrunners really seem to have taken Martin’s material and made it their own in really great and unexpected ways, I hate how condensed our timeline has become, creating problems like the one illustrated above. Freed from the novels for the first time, this season has moved along at a breakneck speed, which has been unquestionably fun to watch. However, I also feel like as a result, we’ve lost some of the dynamics, politics and mythos that make this series so engrossing. I felt it strongly in Arya’s storyline, which I complained about a couple of recaps ago; and in this episode, I was most disappointed that we didn’t explore Bran’s gift more. In their hurry to get to wrap this story in the next 15 episodes, the writers are shedding a lot of the story and the nuance and I feel like we are being rushed to the door. Oh well, I suppose that’s what I have to look forward to with the remaining unpublished novels. WRITE FASTER, GEORGE.
As for this episode, we should begin with the (partial) confirmation of the show’s most famous fan theory: R+L = J. As I’m sure you know, the theory posits that Jon Snow is not, in fact, Ned Stark’s bastard son, but the child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. As I discussed in earlier posts, the married Prince Rhaegar Targaryen “abducted” (or “ran off with with a willing”) Lyanna Stark, who was betrothed to Robert Baratheon. When the Starks demanded her return, Prince Rhaegar’s father, The Mad King, murdered Ned’s father and older brother, setting off Robert’s Rebellion. Robert killed Rhaegar on the battlefield, and Ned eventually found his sister bleeding to death in a tower in Dorne, protected by the Kingsguard. Ned then shows back up in Winterfell with a baby in tow, claiming it’s his son, and NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO EVER ASK HIM ABOUT HIS MOTHER. JUST … DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT.
Via Bran’s vision, we finally get a glimpse inside the Tower of Joy and the birth of one Jon Snow to Lyanna Stark. But she’s only part of the theory — the scene did not conclusively confirm that Rhaegar Targaryen is the father of Jon Snow. We don’t hear what Lyanna whispers to Ned, just the part where she makes him promise to never tell Robert, because “he will kill him.” Now, somehow, for reasons unclear to me, some people read this as meaning the “R” in R+L = J is “Robert,” I guess thinking that Robert would want to kill the bastard son he conceived with his fiancé? Which doesn’t make any sense for any number of reasons? Like, the fact that Robert had, when the series began, literally dozens of bastards running around with more claim to the Iron Throne than “his children” with Cersei who never felt compelled to kill? And the fact that the Tower was being protected by the Kingsguard? Who were loyal to the Targaryens?
Anyway, the point is, “R” definitely equals Rhaegar which HBO confirmed with this utterly baffling chart. More interesting, however, might be the confirmation that was actually buried in the episode according to some viewers. If you watch this clip closely, Lyanna begins whatever she says in her whisper, “His name is …” before it becomes inaudible. According to this redditor, she thinks what Lyanna says next is “Jaehaerys.”
So going pretty deep into Targaryen history here, but Jaehaerys II was the sixteenth Targaryen on the Iron Throne, and the grandfather of Daenerys, Rhaegar and Viserys, the great-grandfather of Jon Snow. Jaehaerys was the second born son, but he became king after his brother, Duncan, was forced by his father to abdicate the throne when he chose to marry Jenny of Oldstones, a mysterious commoner. What is particularly ironic about this is that Duncan and Jaehaerys’ father, Aegon V, had himself married for love before accidentally ending up on the throne (he was the fourth son and never anticipated becoming king). After Aegon became king, he recognized the value in making tactical alliances with other houses via marriage, only to have his own children decide that instead they would follow their father’s example and marry for love. Jaehaerys II fell in love and married his sister, Shaera, against his parents’ wishes, and after his father and his brother died in a failed scheme to hatch some dragon eggs, he became king.
Later, Jenny of Oldstones brought a woods witch to Jaehaerys’ court, and she is the one who predicted that the “Prince Who Was Promised” would come from Jaehaerys’ line. Because of this prophecy, Jaehaerys ironically forced his children, Aerys and Rhaella, to marry even though they did not love one another. They, in turn, become the parents of Daenerys, Rhaegar, and Viserys (along with a bunch of stillborn babies because incest is bad, y’all, and double incest is doubly bad).
Now, some think that one of the reasons that Rhaegar abducted Lyanna in the first place is that due to her weak health, Rhaegar’s wife, Elia Martell, was only able to have two children. If Rhaegar believed (as seen in Daenerys’ vision in the House of the Undying in the books, but not the show) that the “dragon has three heads,” he might have thought he needed to have a third child. It’s an interesting idea, that it wasn’t so much out of love that Rhaegar impregnated Lyanna, but because he was trying to fulfill the prophecy — and very well might have with Jon.
In any event, Jaehaerys was a good, but short-lived king who brought calm to Westeros during a tumultuous time. But perhaps more importantly for the purposes of Jaehaerys being Jon’s “real name,” it was from Jaehaerys’ line that the “Prince Who Was Promised” was promised. Interestingly enough, following this logic, the Prince Who Was Promised could be either Jon Snow or Daenerys.
Getting away from all the speculation, what I personally found interesting about the big R+L = J reveal was the writing choice to show Bran only that Jon is his cousin, not his half brother — that he still doesn’t know the whole Targaryen angle. So why not tell Bran the entire story? (And according to this interview with Isaac Hempstead Wright, the actor who plays Bran, his character does not know who the father is.) Granted, it must be pretty shocking for Bran to learn that his virtuous-to-a-fault father spent their entire lives lying to them about Jon’s parentage, but it’s even MORE shocking to learn that Jon’s a Targaryen with his own claim to the Iron Throne — or even potentially, even more importantly, the world’s savior in the coming war with the White Walkers. So what we have to ask is how is that going to play out in the seventh season? Why only provide Bran with partial information?
The shortest answer is that from a storytelling perspective, this allows the writers to continue to drag out the whole R+L = J thing, with some big reveal in the next season or the last. But I’m curious as to how this will all play into the bigger political drama happening in Winterfell.
Here’s one scenario I think could play out: Bran, maybe with the help of the Night’s Watch, manages to get back to Winterfell (destroying the Wall in the process) and is reunited with Jon and Sansa. There is a moment when people are like, “Wait, Bran’s technically the rightful heir, should we make him King of the North?” But Bran, knowing that he is now the Three-Eyed Raven, rejects this. He does, however, reveal to Jon and Sansa the information he gleaned from the vision: that Jon is not their half-brother, but their cousin. Sansa, already miffed at the North making Jon king — even though he very nearly lost Winterfell altogether, and even though she was the one to save the day through her political connections — is further alienated from Jon, opening up more room for Littlefinger to foster discontent, and manipulate Sansa towards his own purposes, whatever they are.
Where Sansa’s story goes from there?
But now that Sansa and Jon are together, Bran seems to be moving back towards the south and Arya’s back in Westeros, can we expect to see some sort of Stark family reunion? Maybe?
First, let’s talk about Arya killing Walder after serving him up some son pie. For my non-book reading friends, this is slightly based on the books, although Arya is not the one who fries up some Freys, and Walder isn’t the one who eats them. In the books, the Northern House Manderly is led by one Wyman Manderly (who Little Lady Badass calls out in this episode for his bitchitude), and his son is murdered at the Red Wedding by the Freys. Later, Davos shows up at White Harbor, the Manderly’s home, to try to talk the Manderlys in aligning with Stannis. While he’s there, some Freys show up and Wyman makes a big show of pledging his allegiance to Roose Bolton and saying he’s going to kill Davos. Instead, the Manderlys fake Davos’ death, and Wyman sends him on a mission to find Rickon Stark. Wyman also tells Davos that he gave the three Frey envoys “guest gifts” before they left White Harbor — which means they are no longer under the protection of guest rights once they accept them — and the envoys never seen or heard from again.
Wyman Manderly then attends Ramsay Bolton’s wedding to Fake Arya, and brings along as a wedding gift:
… three great wedding pies, as wide across as wagon wheels, onions, turnips, parsnips, mushrooms and chunks of seasoned pork swimming in a savory brown gravy. Ramsay hacked off slices with his falchion and Wyman Manderly himself served, presenting the first steaming portions to Roose Bolton and his fat Frey wife, the next to Ser Hosteen and Ser Aenys, the sons of Walder Frey. “The best put you have ever tasted, my lords,” the fat lord declared. “Wash it down with Arbor gold and savor every bite. I know I shall.”
Wyman then requests the singer at the wedding (who just happens to be Mance) to sing about the “Rat Cook.” The Rat Cook is a fable about a cook at the Nightfort who, out of revenge for something or another fed the King a pie made of the King’s son. The Rat Cook was then turned into a rat for slaying a guest underneath his roof. So, what Wyman is saying is, “I just fed all y’all Freys and Boltons some Frey pie. Eat up.”
(And for my book reading friends, what I think we are seeing here is Arya playing the role not only of Wyman Manderly, but Lady Stoneheart, too. If I had to venture a guess, in the books I bet Lady Stoneheart uses Jaime to get inside the notoriously fiercely guarded Twins where she murders Walder Frey herself.)
As for what happens to Arya now… what we know is that she still has a few names on her list, and she very well may head down to King’s Landing to try to cross Cersei off of it. After all, now with Tommen gone, Arya is one of three people who might be the feared “valonqar” who strangles Cersei according to prophecy. (But she won’t be. Jaime’s going to kill Cersei.)
Or, Arya might end up crossing paths with some other names on her list. So, Jon banishes Melisandre, sending her south. Meanwhile, headed north are the Brotherhood Without Banners who presumably have recruited the Hound to come kill some White Walkers with them. Seeing as Melisandre is a fellow follower of the Lord of Light, I’m guessing the Brotherhood takes her in before they intersect in some way with Arya. There, Arya will have a choice: she could kill Melisandre, Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr for abducting Gendry, or she could show them mercy in exchange for Melisandre reviving Jon, and to the Brothers …. because the Hound asks her to? If I had to guess, I think that the whole point of the House of Black and White story was to show that Arya has matured enough to understand that revenge isn’t the only way, and she will spare the three who will then play a role in the end game of the Great War in the North.
As for whether there will be some grand Stark reunion? I honestly don’t know. I’m not writing it off completely, but I would note that even if Jon, Sansa, Bran and Arya are reunited in some fashion, this show does not do happy endings, and the reunion we get may not be the reunion we want.
Hey, speaking of Gendry, whatever happened to that guy? Last we saw of Robert’s bastard and Arya’s buddy, he’d been seduced by Melisandre, sucked on by leeches and then thrown into a dungeon at Dragonstone. Davos then freed him and put him into a rowboat back to King’s Landing, while Gendry protested that he didn’t know how to swim and he’d never been in a rowboat before. And then we never saw him again, leaving us to wonder if he even survived the trip back to the big city.
My crackpot theory is that our buddy Samwell has just arrived at the Citadel with Gilly, a baby and a big ol’ Valyrian steel sword, and he’s been given access to the greatest library in the known world.
(Oh, and I have to point out that the chandeliers in the library are featured in the opening credits, and some are speculating that the entire story of Game of Thrones is being told by a maester, maybe Samwell himself.)
If I had to guess, sometime after Daenerys and her dragons have retaken King’s Landing (which will probably happen in this coming seventh season), I think Sam is going to find somewhere in those stacks and scrolls the long lost secret to making Valyrian steel. He will then take this secret to a blacksmith, who will turn out to be our long-missing friend Gendry. Using Sam’s family’s sword as a model, the two, with a little help from some newly available dragon’s fire, will crack the mystery in time to make a cache of Valyrian steel weapons for the fight in the North.
So, let’s talk about what’s next for Westeros. Thanks to the ongoing wars and Cersei’s rather literal interpretation of the need for separation of church and state, Westeros’s great houses are in shambles and the Seven Kingdoms are more in conflict than ever.
House Arryn: Ruled by Robin Arryn (but really Littlefinger); in rebellion against the Iron Throne
House Baratheon: Officially extinct at Tommen’s death (though it was already extinct after the death of Stannis)
House Frey: Ruled by Stevron Frey, Walder’s eldest son (presumably?)
House Greyjoy: Ruled by Euron, but Yara and Theon and some dragons might change all that; in rebellion against the Iron Throne
House Lannister: Technically they are the rulers of the Seven Kingdoms with Cersei placing herself on the Iron Throne
House Martell: Ruled by Ellaria Sand; working with the Targaryens to take back the Iron Throne
House Stark: Ruled by Jon Snow; in rebellion against the Iron Throne
House Tully: Technically extinct, taken over by the Freys; but Edmure, the lord, is imprisoned by the Lannisters and still alive
House Tyrell: Ruled by Olenna Tyrell, the only living member of the family; working with the Targaryens to take back the Iron Throne
House Targaryen: Former rulers of the Seven Kingdoms; coming home with some dragons
So, the only allies the Lannisters have left are the Freys, now that Cersei went and blew up the Tyrells, who were the second wealthiest family with the biggest army in Westeros, leaving behind a grandmother who is HELLA MAD and looking for some revenge already. With Westeros in complete chaos and with no real allies left, there is virtually no way for the Lannisters to hang on to the Iron Throne once Daenerys arrives with her army, navy, air force and Meereens.
And once Daenerys does arrive, it will be the fulfillment of the prophecy Young Cersei received all those years ago:
Queen you shall be… until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.
As Daenerys closes in on King’s Landing, Cersei will become Even Madder Queen, and, like the Mad King before her, decide to burn it all down so that Daenerys will be queen of nothing but ashes. And Jaime will have no choice but to kill her as he did the Mad King, I’m guessing sometime around the season finale of next season.
And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.
And because I think we might lose them as soon as next season, I just want to point out what interesting characters the Lannister twins are. As symbols, twins can represent either the positive concept of harmonic duality or the negative aspects of dualistic tension. Depending on the myth or the culture, twins represent balance or they represent conflict. (Castor and Pollux = harmony; Romulus and Remus = tension, for example.)
Interestingly, especially for our purposes here, is that in the Major Arcana, the tarot card “The Lovers” is also known as “The Twins,” and it represents this duality that exists within all of us. Jaime and Cersei embody this twin/lovers symbol. They represent the male/female dichotomy; they are light and dark; yin and yang; and in their own ways, they represent this tension between good and evil. They are drawn to one another in this wildly inappropriate way because together they are a whole and yet ultimately, they will end up being one another’s destruction. The evil that has finally consumed Cersei will be balanced by what good is within Jaime and they will both die as a result.
OH THE IRONY. (As seen here.)
But just as Arya predicted, instead of being sad, Cersei turned her grief and rage outward and took what she has always wanted: power. From a feminist perspective, there are some interesting parallels and contrasts that we are supposed to draw between Sansa and Cersei in this episode. Sansa does everything “correctly”: she is the rightful heir to Winterfell; she is the one who convinces Jon to fight for their home; she gives Jon sage advice as to what to expect in the battle — advice that he ignores; and she then uses her political alliances to win the battle and save the day. She is intelligent, she is savvy, she is a leader forged from hardship and experience. And yet … the North lifts Jon Snow up to King because he “won” the battle … oh and because he’s a man. Even a bastard trumps a woman in the entrenched patriarchy in this world.
In contrast, Cersei takes the Iron Throne for herself — she doesn’t wait for someone to make her Queen — and all she had to do was kill every single person standing in her way. Similarly, Daenerys plans to come to Westeros as a conqueror; she knows she can’t count on just being placed on the Iron Throne because she has a familial claim to it or because she, like Sansa, is the best leader for the job. Like Cersei, Daenerys knows as a woman she can only take the Throne with blood and fire.
Ultimately, however, what will make Daenerys a more suitable leader than either Cersei or Sansa is that she recognizes that she must both be a conqueror and play the political game. Daenerys is demonstrating wisdom in recognizing that while she may conquer Westeros with her dragons, she’ll never hold it without forging crucial alliances, and that as a woman, the best way to forge those alliances is through marriage. If you consult the list of Houses above, you’ll notice that Daenerys’ options are rather limited in that regard: House Arryn, House Frey, and House Stark are about the only houses Daenerys has to work with. So I suppose the only real question left for the series is: will Jon and Daenerys get married or will they kill one another?
Probably both: I can see them joining forces to fight the threat from the North, falling in love, maybe even marrying thereby unifying the Seven Kingdoms again, and then in the process of defeating the Night’s King and becoming Azor Ahai, Jon or Daenerys dies because we can’t have nice things or happy endings on this damn show.
And now we just have to wait another 10 months for the next season to find out.
Status of Jon Snow: STILL ALIVE! And now King of the North! Somehow!
Until next spring, my little sparrows!
Game of Thrones airs on HBO and will return in the summer of 2017.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site chron.com.