So we're mid-season through the show, and it was actually an pretty eventful episode, despite a relatively small amount of murder. Some of this has been explained through exposition and reveals, but I've noticed a lot of large-scale or pivotal developments have essentially established a new Status Quo. How long it will last is anybody's guess.
Tommen is King
Up until now Tommen was a complete background character. The two previous monarchs were the boisterous, forceful, Robert Baratheon and succeeding him was his lawful (if not biological,) son Joffrey, who did his best to bend King's Landing to his mad whims. Throughout the season, we've been seeing other claimants to the throne; Daenrys, the heir to the deposed and exiled Targaeryan dynasty. Stannis, Robert's younger brother, and the late Renly, Robert's even younger brother, who sought to uproot the traditions of primogeniture altogether. This entire time we've been invested in the battles of adult males, not noticing the shell game being played on us. For his part, Tommen seems like a gentle, temperate figure, if probably torn between his trust in his overbearing grandfather, Tywin Lanniser, and the hormone-ringing wiles of the seductive Margaery Tyrell. The muckety-mucks of King's Landing want to keep this as much business as usual as they can, but we've seen three monarchs in as many years. How much instability can the Seven Kingdoms endure?
The Lannisters Are Broke
Or at least, their gold mine veins are emptied out. This has surprised a lot of people. It isn't so mind-blowing to me--after all, gold is one of those most fleeting resources around, even for medieval infrastructure. I've been spending the entire length of the story wondering when the other shoe was going to drop as far as the mineral yielding was concerned. It basically means The Reach, which gains its wealth from its agricultural production, is now officially the most economically stable region with Westeros. This is an interesting philosophical statement about agriculture versus industry. The Lannisters are the mighty lion, and the Tyrells the dainty little flower, but when upheavals in nature happen, which is more likely to weather the storm and come back again?
Daenerys Has Put Her Conquest on Pause
For the last two seasons, Daenerys has been traveling the deserts of the western continent, Essos, in hopes of accumulating funds, and maybe manpower, for her conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. But along the way, she's sympathized with the plights of the slave-holding cities, and liberated them. As of last night, she's decided to put off her plans of pursuing what she feels is her birthright, due to the other free cities falling back into the trap of despotism or chaos. An interesting parallel of the 2003 Iraq War, even though the story was written some ten years ago. This might lead to a big collective "sigh" from people, but it's a very interesting deconstruction on how just because one achieves liberty, that isn't an automatic happy. The reason geographic regions become tyrannies in the first is because of subjective moralities, extenuating circumstances and visceral want. Applying good and evil in geopolitics is a gross misrepresentation.
Craster's Keep Is No More
Craster's Keep, the homestead between the wall and the northern frontier is now burned to ashes, and Craster's long-beleaguered daughter-wives have elected to seek their destinies on their own terms. The former Commander of the Night's watch has long turned a blind eye to Craster's egregiously sick behavior, and utter rudeness, because his lands served as an important pit stop when exploring Wildling lands. Like other aspects of the "Game of Thrones" world, Craster's Keep served as an interesting and worrying model applied to real world events. It is okay to prop up despots if they're "our" despots? Does maintaining our borders warrant the allowance (and sometimes aid) of outsiders who represent everything we stand against? And of course, we may soon be asking if the cold, hard pragmatism was the right call. Winter is coming, and there's no longer a buffer between the wall what lies beyond...
Littlefinger is Essentially Lord of the Vale
We have not seen the Vale, the isolated, mountainous region of Westeros in quite a few seasons. This week, viewers had a bombshell dropped on them. Remember that the events of the show started with the death of the previous Hand of the King, Jon Arryn. The Starks received a letter from Arryn's Widow, and Catelyn's Stark's sister, Lysa. For much of the first season, Ned Stark was pursuing Arryn's killer, largely suspecting the Lannisters. As it turns out, Jon Arryn was poisoned by Lysa (at Littlefinger's bidding)! This means that the events of the show--the musical chair monarchs, the near-obliteration of 1,000 year ruling families, the mutilation of Westeros's major figures...this was all so some crazy woman could have sex with the realm's slimiest pimp! From Lysa's screams, it sounds like she considered it worth the effort. But their marriage means that Littlefinger now has de facto regency of the vale. The only two people standing in his way are a sickly, insane child who is literally keeps to his mother's bosom, and that same mother who is very unstable and sure talks a lot...
There will be more GoT coverage as the season continues, from RA Bartlett and The Comic's Corner!
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