The reaction to Sunday night’s “Game of Thrones” episode has been burning up the internet. People on GoT discussion boards and comment sections everywhere are swearing they will not watch anymore. By now, many of you may have seen the video reactions to the events of the episode (if you haven’t, here’s a compilation. Given that video and the myriad of comments appearing all over, I feel the whole thing needs to be addressed.
First off, it needs to be established that there are two types who follow GoT, those who have read the books and those who haven’t. Yes, for those of you who didn’t realize, “Game of Thrones” (the series) is based on a best-selling series of books by George R.R. Martin; the Song of Ice and Fire series, of which the first book is titled Game of Thrones. Just to establish credentials, I have read the books and followed the series. Now for those of you who may not follow GoT or the books, it should be noted that all of this outrage at Sunday’s episode is coming from those who are in the latter group. Those of us who have read the books were just waiting for the hammer to fall. We knew what was coming, and the results are not as bad as everyone thinks.
Now, before we continue, I should say that there will be minor spoilers below. If you have watched Sunday’s episode, there should be nothing new (I will try and avoid spoilers from the story past Sunday, but there might be hints). So if you recorded Sunday’s episode and have yet to watch it, consider yourself warned – SPOILERS ARE COMING.
Okay, let’s just say it – Robb and his wife, and most of his chief bannermen, are dead. Grey Wind is dead. Catelyn is dead. The idea of a separate kingdom in the north died with them, aside from Balon Greyjoy’s ambitions. Robb was a well-loved character whom those who have not read the books thought represented the side of good in this whole struggle. However, if you look at the larger picture, Robb’s death, while sad, prevented a lot of unrest and bloodshed. Imagine how much blood and death we would have seen if King Robb had made a move on Casterly Rock. In addition, if you look back, he was fighting a losing war. Not all of his bannermen were happy with how things were going. Roose Bolton, as seen Sunday, had already switched sides. The fact is that the death of King Robb and his court helps draw the realm closer together, albeit under the auspices of the Lannisters, who Robb would never have defeated. Overall, Robb’s actions in response to his father’s death and the Lannister moves on his Grandfather’s holdings (the Riverlands) tore the kingdom apart. He never had a chance for a complete victory, and it was the common folk who suffered. He should have held at Moat Cailin and not gone any further south. Unfortunatly, he was motivated by revenge and a bull-headed sense of justice (which is the same thing that got his father killed).
Okay, you say, fine. Then who should we be rooting for, the Lannisters? Absolutely not, at least not as a whole. I am going to give all of you who haven’t read the books a quick key as to who you should be rooting for and following. There are only 6 main characters that really have the best outcome for Westeros at heart. They are Jon, Bran, Arya, Tyrion, Daenerys, and Lord Varys (Yes, the spider). The books haven’t concluded yet, but so far, these 6 have the best interest of the Seven Kingdoms and its people at heart. And here’s why.
It is not that hard to see why Jon Snow is on this list. He has seen the true threat, the Others, and is dedicated to defending the realm, not a single house. Despite often brooding over the events that are affecting his family, he has chosen to remain true to his vows as a member of the Night’s Watch. Despite that, I think family is going to become very important to Jon during the climax of the entire series. There is a suggestion that has been going around the internet for some time that Jon is not Ned’s bastard, but the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, making him Daenerys’ nephew (and Maester Aemon’s Great Great Great Grandnephew). There are still questions as to whether Lyanna’s abduction, which helped fuel Robert’s Rebellion, was really an abduction after all. There is the possibility that Jon is the legitimate son of Lyanna and Rhaegar. Unfortunately, There is only one person left alive who knows the truth, Howland Reed. Isn’t it interesting that we have yet to see him. While he is a crannogman of the Neck, he also owes allegiance to Winterfell and was one of Ned Stark’s best friends. So why is it, when Robb called the banners, that Reed does not show. The only thing we have seen from the Reed’s are Meera and Jojen, who accompany Bran. When we finally meet Howland, there will be some interesting things reviled.
Bran is becoming one of the spiritual/magical anchors of the series. For a fantasy series, GoT is very light on the magical side of things. Fantasy has almost always been synonymous with Swords and Sorcery. Bran, thanks to his fall/attempted murder by Jamie Lannister, has become more in touch with the magical side of the old gods and the children of the forest. He represents the spiritual side of the fight against the Others (which are the true threat) and the beating heart that runs beneath Westeros. Bran is the balance to Melisandre’s red god R’hllor. As he progresses, all of his actions are working towards a better and safer Westeros, while Melisandre’s actions cause fear and unrest. Bran’s story is one that will be very important.
Arya is an interesting character. She is motivated by the same forces as Robb. However, as she is ‘just a girl’, she looks to resolve them in an entirely different way. Even if she could, I do not believe Arya would raise and army and bring the North into contention with the Lannisters. She wants specific people dead, and she will do it herself if she can. So far, her’s is a journey of personal growth. She never was much of a lady, and she is finally getting to use her non-ladylike qualities. For those who haven’t read the books, I will not spoil where her path will take her. That said, her enemies better be watching their backs. Just a small side note about Arya; in the books, she is the only character to have at least one POV chapter in all five books so far (every chapter in the books is written from a different characters POV). I say that is a good hint that she is important.
Tyrion Lannister has become a fan favorite, and not just because of the excellent job Peter Dinklage is doing in the HBO series. Tyrion is one of the best written characters in a series full of well-written characters. However, that is not why he is one of the six. Tyrion is well educated, shrewd, and extremely calculating. He is loyal to his family, but even that loyalty can be strained. In the end, Tyrion does what is best for Tyrion. And what is best for Tyrion is being on the winning side. As a disfigured dwarf, his only hope is to be rewarded whomever ends up winning the Game of Thrones. As shrewd and calculating as he is, he will be able to see where he should be and when. For now, it is to his advantage to be a loyal Lannister, but later on…?
Daenerys is another character that is hard not to like. But why is she on this list? Her focus on her goal and her disposition to the common people. The Iron Throne was her family’s before Robert, with Ned’s help, took it away. Yes, many of the Targaryens were vicious and crazy. Daenerys is not. She is gathering her strength, and how is she doing that. Not by pandering to the lords and ladies in power, but by elevating the lowest among the people. She wants to claim the Iron Throne as her birthright. Should she succeed, the people of Westeros will be in for a long peaceful winter. This is why Daenerys is such an interesting character and someone we all want to root for in some way. She would rule with an iron fist clad in the softest kids gloves. The people would love her and all the nobility would fall in line.
The final entry on this list might be surprising to some. Lord Varys, a.k.a. the Spider, the master of whispers, and the spymaster, has always been clear where his loyalties lie. As he always says, he serves the realm. Everything he has done has been with the safety and stability of the realm in mind. He knew that, on Robert’s death, anyone claiming the throne besides Joffrey would lead to war. He wanted everyone to bend the knee in order to keep peace and then work quietly to fix the realm. Only he knew Stannis would never accept Joffrey. He wanted as much of the realm behind Joffrey as possible to oppose Stannis, who, let’s face it, would be a worse King than Joffrey. Even so, should Stannis take the throne, Varys will still continue to serve the realm. Varys has dedicated himself to maintaining his adopted homeland as the best place in the world. That is why he is on this list. Of all the crown’s advisors, he is the most loyal to the realm itself.
Those six characters are the most important to the future of the Seven Kingdoms. Should the six of them ever get together and work as one, they would be unstoppable, and the Iron Throne would soon be in their control. And that would be all the better for the people of Westeros. So just because Robb and his men are dead, don’t stop watching. As it turns out, Robb wasn’t as important as you thought. Now, the one who died and will come back, that’s another story…