Just a Game of Thrones #601: Riddles and (Red) Women
Welcome to Just a Game of Thrones, the column singing backup vocals on the Song of Ice and Fire.
Riddles and (Red) Women
In one of the sneaky best scenes of Season 2 (A Clash of Kings for you literati), Tyrion, having settled in nicely to his role as Hand of the King, and Varys, the closest thing he has to a confidant, are discussing the curious concept of power when the latter asks the former if he’s fond of riddles…
In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two.
‘Do it,’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler.’ ‘Do it,’ says the priest, ‘for I command you in the names of the gods.’ ‘Do it,’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours.’
So tell me – who lives and who dies?”
“Depends on the sellsword,” Tyrion replies, citing he has the sword, thus “the power of life or death.”
“But if it’s swordsmen who rule, why do we pretend kings hold all the power?” Varys counters. “Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick; a shadow on the wall.”
And in the sixth season’s premiere episode, “The Red Woman,” we were reminded just how nasty a trick it can be…
All across the Known World, royalty and rich men, leaders and believers have been forced to reckon with the unavoidable, unsuspecting fragility of their power.
As Doran Martell learned the hard way, a prince isn’t a prince without his people behind him; much like how a Lord Commander isn’t much of a Commander if he can’t command his troops, or how a liberating Mother of Dragons isn’t much of a liberator when she’s in chains herself. Roose Bolton reminds Ramsay a political marriage can’t be much of a political marriage if the wife has runaway in fear of her husband, like a mother lion can’t be much of a mother lion without any cubs left to protect…
The power priests and priestesses wield is infirm without belief as its backbone, and the kind of wealth that gives you a certain gait when walking on paving stones is nonetheless worthless when it can’t guarantee your safety in the city where you live.
To bring it back to Varys’ riddle, the ultimate problem for all those who seek to rule lies in the fact that not all those who wield swords are for sale.
Some have sworn themselves to a higher purpose…
…and nothing rivals that kind of power.
Break The Wheel of Hot Takes
This week, the Game of Thrones hot take to tweet was that it was like totally as if the women of GoT had gotten their hands on Beyonce’s new album Lemonade…
— lauren warren™️ (@iamlaurenp) April 25, 2016
So, to help bring this simmering take to a nice boil, I went ahead and figured out which Lemonade lyric went with each of our Queen Bey loyalists.
Ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks…
“Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay
Slay trick, or you get eliminated”
Self-explanatory, as I’m pretty sure this is word-for-word what Ellaria told her Sand Snakes on their way to see Prince Doran.
Who the fuck do you think I is?
You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy
Her and Jaime are the only couple in Game of Thrones who can simultaneously use “fuck anyone but us” to mean only their love matters in the end and as a rallying cry to mess some people up.
Middle fingers up, put them hands high
Wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye
Tell him, boy, bye, middle fingers up
The whole “light a candle in the window” plan didn’t quite work out as planned, but Sansa Stark finally escaped Ramsay Bolton with the help of Brienne (and a very capable Podrick!) and can now continue her journey to become a warrior-princess version of her mother.
Came into this world
Daddy’s little girl
And daddy made a soldier out of me
Arya was always going to grow up to be a warrior, but who knew she was also going to grow up to be the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen?
Something don’t feel right
Because it ain’t right
Especially comin’ up after midnight
Something don’t feel right because it ain’t right, indeed.
The HoF of GoT GIFs
Cersei’s reaction face:
Dany’s reaction face:
Sansa and Theon’s embrace:
Blind Arya’s beatdown:
Melisandre’s big reveal:
The Five Best Things in Life, according to Khal Moro et al.
- killing another Khal
- conquering a city and taking her people as slaves
- taking her idols back to Vaes Dothrak
- breaking a new horse, forcing it to submit to your will
- seeing a beautiful woman naked for the first time
Jon Snow Is ____
Dead, thus the blood and the eyes getting shut. But he’s obviously not really dead, otherwise the show wouldn’t go through such great lengths to show how dead he is. That being said, with Melisandre and her Room 237 magic seemingly in a funk, we’re now down to Team Cersei and the White Walkers as the only two groups with the power of resurrection at their disposal.
As Game of Thrones winds down, Jon’s glorious return is really the only mystery left for which an obvious resolution doesn’t present itself.
My money’s on Bran coming out of the weirwoodwork to save the day…
Sword to my Throat, I’d Bet _____ Wins the Game of Thrones
The Jon Snow parental lineage connection (R+L=J) enables both the Starks and Dorne to fall in line behind her; Tyrion (a Lannister, to close that loop) and Varys give her the political/diplomatic edge she needs to be more than just an invading liberator.
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