Game of Thrones: Disappointment

There are now two plotlines that I am very disappointed in at this point: Dorne and Margaery/Tommen. And Daeny’s plotline? We’ll go over that in a bit.

dorne2-1940x1291I’m not going to go over the plotline for Dorne much. I think the rest of the internet has gone over the complete cluster that is the Dorne subplot including the meager exit of the Martells and the eradication of the family of Oberyn (I seriously still cannot believe the showrunners thought this was a good idea, given how well Doran played the game in the books and how a woman who loved Oberyn so much should never want to kill his entire family line, but whatever). This was a plotline that unfortunately could have used a better steward than the showrunners, in my opinion. The bad accents. The stupid lines. The pettiness. Ugh.

got-margaery-arrestedAnyway, Margaery and Tommen. What a complete let down! Yeah, some of my angst about this plotline may be due to the fact that I had envisioned this sweeping gesture by the Tyrells (way before Cersei requested the gesture) resulting in the sad death of a strong Margaery and the ruining of Tommen and subsequently Cersei (you can read my poor prediction here). But don’t I have the right to feel a little let down here? How did you feel about the way this developed?

Margaery was one of the strongest female characters playing the game, and even if the showrunners would argue that she is still playing the game with the High Sparrow, I think they’ve completely missed the mark and made her into a much weaker character for no reason. Think about the history of the character. She and her family had put her into a queen position with Renly, then Joffrey, and now Tommen. Do you understand how ridiculously well the Tyrells had played the game to get her in all three of those positions? And she seemed to understand her position throughout–it wasn’t like she was the unwitting pawn of her grandmother.  Three separate candidates for Queendom, and an absolutely sharp intellect that was perfectly adept at playing the game. She played Joffrey’s personality against him to make him love her more. She played Tommen’s ignorance into complete devotion.

And what about her manipulation of the people? Do you remember how much she had played the population into not only loving her but also got them to even cheer Joffrey just by association with her? She played the population and made them love her, and yet not one person in the crowd of King’s Landing begged for her release? Not one riot? Not one whimper of protest? What kind of writing was it to even hint that the population could become so godstruck by this resurgence of religion that they would forget their allegiance to her? Does religion ever spread so quickly as it did in this season that entire populations forget everything they love and replace it with religion in a span of weeks?

There was NO sign that religion was this widely regarded by the people in King’s Landing up to this point. Look at the Battle on the Blackwater.

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When shit hit the fan and people lost hope, what did the people do? Did they all start praying? No, they looked for a person to step up. This turned out to be Tyrion but earlier, the soldiers and people had hoped it would be Joffrey. There were not mass shouts of “Please, Stranger, help us” or anything like that. This has felt absurd.

When her family’s army arrives at the steps in Episode 6, and she sees them, a strong character would have played this. She would have ordered the charge. Can you imagine how strong this would have played with her family? Even if she were to die, she would have been a martyr that the people SHOULD (given how they pined for her before her imprisonment) have gotten behind to overthrow the entire sect of religious nutjobs. The Tyrells could have just watched it unfold, maybe without Margaery, but even stronger than before because the people would have been completely behind them.

Margaery has to know that this religion is not the pillar of the throne. Even playing them and making them even stronger than Cersei did by accident is not going to make her safer or her rule more solidified. Her husband also knows this as one of the few pieces of advice that his grandfather Tywin gave him was that faith cannot be the basis of the throne. I mean watch this video and understand just how much Tywin would be rolling over in his grave about this development. Baelor the Blessed was a laughing stock of the kingdom and for a good reason. This religion is neither well-financed nor well-armed. What could they possibly do against a mounted cavalry? Nothing. They’re more likely to cause a stampede and get everyone around them killed than they are to do anything worth doing.

What the absolute hell is going on with the writing this season? Cersei is arrogant and overconfident, but she was never this stupid. Jaime’s defrocking as Kingsguard? His reaction to this was pretty much the only part of this episode that was in character for the Lannisters. And next week, we’re just going to have Jaime allowing the Blackfish at Riverrun to go, as he did in the books? That was probably the weakest Lannister moment in the book, and it showed how a major wedge had come between Cersei and Jaime, that he wouldn’t even come to save her because of how she had alienated him and overplayed her spite hand before her atonement. Now? Now, the action’s at her suggestion.

And Daeny? The vision of her burning the Khals alive was well done. I think everyone can agree with that.  The scene of her riding a dragon and giving an unnecessary speech that in no way drives the plot forward? I saw the after episode wrap up with the showrunners, and I get that they like this cyclical connection with Khal’s speech for Daeny. But everyone was bowing to her after she burned the Khals. Everyone was onboard. Theatricality is fine. Why not?! But this dragon scene literally has no purpose. What are the horsemen going to do? Build her 1,000 ships? I mean, maybe they think that mentioning this sets up the connection to the coming Greyjoy fleet and the marriage proposal. Maybe this would all work. But Daeny’s storyline, despite the dragons, feels a bit weaker than Sansa or Margaery’s up-to-this-point.

Sure, Daeny has overcome adversity, but she has not done it with her intellect. She has done it with her dragons and by letting people underestimate her. Think about it. When it comes to ruling people, she has never been very good at this, and she is not learning new things. She lost her husband and the first dothraki horde because of her overreliance on her poor judgement of character. She lost her dragons and got them back because of other people not quite understanding the “I control fire-breathing dragons” thing. She burned the slave masters with similar misogyny and men underestimating her. She burned the khals with similar misogyny and men underestimating her. She almost died due to not taking the Harpies seriously enough, and a dragon saved her. She didn’t do it. She has simply been a stock “saved-by-prophecy” character apparently constructed with boobs and white/blonde hair.

Does this not feel like lazy storywriting to you? I mean, don’t get me wrong. Maybe this series is exactly what Ian McShane joked that it was: “tits and dragons.” I can love a series like that. I’ve loved worse concepts. But there are only so many times that you should succeed because people underestimated you. You keep winning, and people should definitely stop underestimating you. You have three fire-breathing dragons bigger than any other creatures in Westeros, and no one, and I mean no one, should be underestimating you. We should be far beyond the point that Daeny is underestimated. If Daeny blazes across Westeros simply because men underestimate her, I’m going to get physically sick watching how this plays out. Maybe she’ll just be the incapable ruler with the infinite power of three dragons at her call. Maybe that’s the point of the character arc: that sometimes you are just born with so much power and righteous direction that you can bumble your way through almost anything and still win.

Contrast this story to Sansa or Margaery or even Arya. Adversity has been heaped on them, and they have used wits and some luck to get themselves into better positions. Granted, Margaery’s position seems undermined now, and Sansa is going to feel some repercussions for her time with the Lannisters during her visit to the Northern families in the next episode. But Sansa is still the strongest female position right now, in terms of strength of character. Daeny does not grow as a person, she relies on others to fix her problems and get her out of trouble. She’s a damsel in distress with dragons. Does that not sound ridiculous?

Arya? She has sliced her way through the world to avenge her family. She’s even drawn the wrath of a God’s followers, and I think she’s going to kill the Waif soon, despite the Waif being so much better than her at everything, really. Arya, if the writers are doing their job, is going to be almost killed but she is going to use the Waif’s confidence against her, and Needle will come as a surprise. Please, please, please, at least get that right. Please let the face that goes on the wall (the one Jaqen promised must happen) be the Waif’s.

Sansa? Raped. Beaten. Humiliated by Ramsay and Joffrey and countless others. Used and abused but not broken. Maybe even a bit stronger with each action. Growing. Becoming a player of the game despite the people around her. Finally in a position of power to see her justice come to pass. I think she’s going to survive the Game of Thrones, unless she makes more decisions like she did with Petyr and the rejection of an entire army. This certainly shows problems in her growth.

Margaery? She’s going to fall now, and it’s going to be sad. Not because the showrunners are going to kill a strong character that I’ve grown to like but because her downfall will now not be of a martyr but of a character that I just don’t like the plot of. That I don’t believe the people’s reaction to her incarceration or the rest of these events. The whole series requires a suspension of disbelief, and I’m willing to do that, but the interaction of people still has to make sense. And I don’t feel this story is making much sense right now.

Predictions are light in this post as I feel like the showrunners are relying on randomness more than useful foreshadowing at this point. Part of the reason for that is because Martin gave them so much foreshadowing in the books, and now they are obviously winging it. I’m sure I’ll watch this series to the end, but man, I’m certainly not as happy with the way this episode played out as I was with Hodor’s finale.

About Rex Jameson
Rex Jameson is the author of the three novels in the Primal Patterns series and half a dozen short stories. An avid history buff and an unabashed nerd with an appetite for science fiction and fantasy, he loves to create complex speculative fiction with layered characters. He earned a PhD in Computer Science at Vanderbilt University and researches distributed artificial intelligence in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. Rex and his wife Jenny live in Pittsburgh where they enjoy hosting family and friends.

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