Just a Game of Thrones #603: Are You There God? It’s Me, GRRM
Welcome to Just a Game of Thrones, the column singing backup vocals on the Song of Ice and Fire.
Are You There God? It’s Me, GRRM
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? …who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves?
What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?”
– Friedrich Nietzsche, The Science of Joy
Jon Snow is shivering, half-remembering and half-reliving Olly, the sweet cherub of Castle Black, plunging a knife into his heart when Melisandre appears in the doorway and, astonished then reignited, flings herself to her knees in front of him and asks inspiritedly, “Where did you go? What did you see?”
Jon, still shaking, looks at her apologetically and with a marked remoteness replies:
“Nothing. There was nothing at all.”
Game of Thrones has established that we are in an honor society – when Bran Stark greensights back to one of the most legendary sword fights of all time, his only remark is how shocked he was Howland Reed “stabbed [Ser Arthur Dayne] in the back” – where faith, in its various incarnations, is respected, even when not revered. But in “Oathbreaker,” the third episode of its sixth season, Game of Thrones has found itself confronting a looming existential crisis.
Like Roose Bolton crumbling onto the floor of Winterfell, the pillars of those traditional values have been irrevocably punctured by recent events in Known World history. And without a credible source of absolute moral principles, a vacuum gets created, leaving foresaken devotees to comfort themselves, as Nietzsche would put it, with “festivals of atonement”# and “sacred games”#.
And I’m not talking about the Meereenese version of Never Have I Ever, either…
Jon Snow, looking his most Messianic, implores the old white man with the beard looming above him, “I did what I thought was right, and I got murdered for it. And now I’m back. Why?” But Davos Seaworth, who seems more and more like the most underrated prophet in the game, can’t give him any kind of testament of faith or tablet of purpose – only the solacing answer moral agnostics have been using to shoo away nihilistic depression for a millennia:
“I don’t know. Maybe we’ll never know. What does it matter? You go on.
You fight for as long as you can, you clean up as much of the shit as you can.”
It might not be best pep talk of all time# – hell, it might be completely fucking mad – but it’s nevertheless all these characters have at this point in their respective Heroes’ Journeys. Jon Snow’s resurrection may be the most literal interpretation of the monomyth, but throughout the various Songs of Ice and Fire we seem to be making our way around the “Revelation, Transformation, Atonement, Return” curve.
Not without coincidence, and dripping in irony, Davos’ words are echoed in what the High Sparrow tells the lost soul of King Tommen the Loyal:
There’s so much good in all of us; the best we can do is to help each other bring it out.
The Golden Rule, sure. But it’s the objective game theory behind the morality that has kept it gilded since man first became a social animal: What’s good for you is also good for me, insofar as it helps me stave off death.
Because despite all the supernatural and otherworldly ‘miracles’ we have witnessed during the Game of Thrones story, we’re continually reminded this is ultimately a binary world in which there is a Newton-esque equal and opposite yin to the universal life-force’s yang. The Night’s King’s “possession resurrection” trick scares Jon, but nothing haunts him like experiencing the vast nothingness of death – putting all those festivals and games and wheels in a different kind of perspective.
There might be those who believe with the fire of a thousand gods there is a Lord of Light who does things for a greater reason, and there are those who will ascribe the benevolent actions of an atheist to a higher power because “the gods worked through him whether he knew it or not;” but in the end, all you can really hope for is if you had to do it all over again, knowing where you’d end up, you’d make the choices you made again. It’s how a man with a noose around his neck and blood on his hands can face death unflinching, and why a girl with a cup chooses to drink the foreboding water in it.
You fight. You lose; always, eventually. You rest.
You just try to clean up as much of the shit as you can along the way…
Break The Wheel of Hot Takes
“The true history of the world is the history of great conversations in elegant rooms.” – Tyrion Lannister
Last week I wrote about a little fan theory called R+L=J, along with a slew of other guns Game of Thrones has set on its various tables.
Call it a keen ability to deduce storytelling structure, call it lucky timing, but the sound you heard throughout tonight’s episode was the sound of many hammers across the Known World being cocked. Whether we’re talking Bran’s Tower of Joy flashback or the return of Rickon Stark, there are narrative threads getting tied together with every ensuing scene.
So, with that in mind, I’d like to get ahead of a theory the show has been less coy about hinting at than the books:
Tyrion is the Third Head of the Dragon.
Let me backtrack a bit…
One of the many prophecies guiding this story to its inevitable conclusion involves something Prince Rhaegar says during Dany’s vision in the House of the Undying: “The Dragon has three heads.”
Logic dictates that this means there are going to be three different dragon-riders – much like during Aegon Targaryen’s invasion when he and his two sisters rode their three dragons into battle – and while most people have figured out the recently resurrected Jon Snow is one of those Targaryens for the job, the big question is who the third is going to be?
In the book there is another red herring running around taking up chapters, and I do subscribe to the S+B=M theory#, but Tyrion Lannister is going to be that big reveal.
- King Aerys Targaryen (Dany’s dad) was obsessed with Tywin’s wife, Joanna Lannister
- “When she and Tywin wed, your father drank too much wine at the wedding feast and was heard to say that it was a great pity that the lord’s right to the first night had been abolished. A drunken jape, no more, but Tywin Lannister was not a man to forget such words, or the…the liberties your father took during the bedding.”# – Barristan Selmy
- The Anniversary Tournament of 272 AC
- Like our other “born of blood” dragons Dany and Jon, Tyrion’s mother died giving birth to him.
- In the books, Tyrion’s hair is described as more pale blonde (Targ) than yellow (Lannister) and he has two different colored eyes
- “I cannot prove you are not mine.” – Tywin Lannister
- Tyrion dreams of dragons, a definitively Targaryen trait
- “You’re no son of mine.”# – Tywin on his death
The HoF of GoT GIFs
Bringing Sexy Back
Iron Man v. Captain America and Bucky
The Stallions that Mount the World
Hot In Meereen
The Twin Pillars of the World
Which Name Would You Like a Girl to Speak?
Last Season’s Fashion
What Grey Worm and Missandei Would Be Talking About If Tyrion Weren’t There
- When Grey Worm is going on Patrol with The Unsullied
- What Grey Worm and The Unsullied see on Patrol
- Who Grey Worm and The Unsullied capture on Patrol
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; and she’s more than halfway through her Quaithe prophecy.
Like what you read? Share it.
(That helps us.)
Love what you read? Patronize Bryce Rudow.
That helps us and the writer.
What is Patronizing? Learn more here.