GRRM reveals who’s to blame for so many ‘Thrones’ deaths, and Maisie Williams is taking home a souvenir

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Arguably the first, though certainly not the last, jaw-dropping moment on ‘Game of Thrones.’

So you thought George R.R. Martin kills off some of Game of Thrones‘ most favorite characters just to toy with emotions of his readers, did you? Well, that’s not exactly true, even though it feels like it at times. There’s a reason why he embraces shocking twists and sending favorite characters like Ned Stark to an early grave, and it’s pretty simple: because J.R.R. Tolkein did it to a young and impressionable Martin.

Gizmodo posted about a recent interview with Martin about the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series being added to PBS’ “The Great American Read” collection, in which Martin revealed that when reading Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings for the first time as a teenager, the stunning blow of Gandalf’s death in the Mines of Moria left a deep and lasting impression on him and his future writings.

“And then Gandalf dies! I can’t explain the impact that had on me at 13,” Martin told PBS. “You can’t kill Gandalf. I mean, Conan didn’t die in the Conan books, you know? Tolkien just broke that rule, and I’ll love him forever for it.

“The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is a thousand times greater, because now anybody could die,” Martin continued. “Of course, that’s had a profound impact on my own willingness to kill characters off at the drop of a hat.”

Interestingly — although perhaps not surprisingly — Martin is a much bigger fan of leaving a dead character, well, dead than he is finding a reason to bring them back (obvious exceptions like Lady Stoneheart and Beric Dondarrion aside). In a 2011 interview, Martin said that while he loved Tolkein’s choice to kill off Gandalf, he was less enthused that he returned as Gandalf the White later in the novel.

“What power that had, how that grabbed me. And then he comes back as Gandalf the White, and if anything he’s sort of improved,” Martin said. “I never liked Gandalf the White as much as Gandalf the Grey, and I never liked him coming back. I think it would have been an even stronger story if Tolkien had left him dead.”

Speaking of killing, Insider recently posted that Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) spoke with BBC Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw on Grimshaw’s Breakfast Show about Thrones coming to an end and what she’ll have to remember her time in Westeros: the brown leather jacket Arya wore in Season 7 (and will presumably wear in Season 8) that, in its remarkable similarity to something her father Ned would have worn, signified her return to her rightful home and the culmination of her long, hard journey back to Winterfell.

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Arya ‘Ned’ Stark in Season 7.

“I can imagine it being something that I’m like, ‘Oh, I was on this show once upon a time and this was the jacket I wore,’ ” Williams told Grimshaw. “And my grandkids being like, ‘Please stop.’ ”

But what of Needle, the sword Arya so cherished and never stopped trying to recover after it was taken from her by Lannister soldiers early in the series? Williams didn’t mention taking home the prop sword in the Grimshaw interview, but we can imagine it was discussed with the props department — especially if previous comments made by Kit Harington (Jon Snow) about how badly he wants to take home Longclaw are any indication. Harington told Entertainment Tonight in 2017, ahead of the Season 7 premiere, that the “only [prop]” he ever wanted was his sword.

“The first season they were like, ‘Yeah yeah yeah of course,’ and as the seasons went on and the show became more and more popular and that sword’s value went up, they became slowly quieter about it,” he said. “And that’s why I’m hinting more and more. I’m like ‘No seriously I want that sword.’ I’m just gonna steal it.”

It wouldn’t be the first thing Harington stole from the Thrones set — the first being the heart of his co-star, Rose Leslie (haha see what I did there?), whom he married earlier this year — but will he actually be able to spirit away his beloved Longclaw? We’ll have to wait and see, but now that Season 8 filming is finished for good and all, maybe we’ll know sooner rather than later.

 

112 responses

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    1. I gotta say the “Tolkien” interview, which isn’t really new and yet is resurfacing yet again, has always rubbed me the wrong way.
      Saying Gandalf should’ve stayed dead is missing the point of Gandalf the White. Not to mention that you can’t argue that LOTR would’ve been a better story without Gandalf’s “resurrection” and then go and revive some of your own characters.
      Catelyn’s revival did diminish some of the impact of the Red Wedding and turned a beloved character into a tormented monster, and we all know Jon’s resurrection is coming too, so it’s a contradictory statement to say the least. Coming from a writer as talented as Martin – it bugs me.
      It’s just my opinion of course.

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    2. Morgoth,

      It’s not actually a contradiction. Martin has specifically talked about Lady Stoneheart as a response, of sorts, to Gandalf’s return. Stoneheart isn’t really Catelyn, and she returns as a monstrous shadow of her former self. As quoted in the above article, he didn’t like that Gandalf came back basically improved. I don’t see that Stoneheart diminishes the Red Wedding — if anything, she exacerbates the horror of it.

      As for Jon, well, we’re still waiting to see how GRRM handles that (both in terms of the metaphysics and how it affects Jon’s character).

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    3. • Forget the jacket. Give Maisie Williams Needle and the VS dagger.

      Speaking only for myself, I’m more emotionally invested in Needle than most of the human characters.

      • Come to think of it, all of the actors deserve iconic objects or garments with which they’re identified to keep as souvenirs for posterity:
      – Sansa: Hoodie from S7e7
      – Sandor: S1e1 hound’s helm (because it looked so cool); disembowling axe from S6e7&e8; or S8 Lightbringer
      – Jon: Longclaw, obviously
      – Sam: Illustrated Citadel book(s)
      – Jaime: Golden hand
      – Brienne: Oathkeeper
      – Dany: Snow White Frozen Lake flight suit
      – Beric: Eye patch or flaming sword
      – Thoros: Rum flask
      – Hot Pie: Wolf bread 2.0
      – Cersei: Wine glass or carafe
      – Septa Unella: Shame Bell
      – Theon: His favorite toy 🍆
      – Davos: Shireen’s burnt wooden stag [too soon?]
      – Melisandre: Maroon robe
      – Lyanna Mormont: Note she sent to Stannis
      – Varys: ?
      – Ghost: Photocopy of FX budget
      – Walder: His face
      – Waif: Her face
      – Lady Crane: Cersei wig
      – Olly: F*ck Olly
      – Janos Slynt: Severed head prop
      – Tormund: ?
      – Edd: NW Lord Commander’s cloak
      – Meera: WW-killing spear
      – Bran: Sled?
      – Hodor: ?
      – Captured Wight: Head bag
      – Missandei: Any of her fabulous outfits
      – Margaery: Renly (attempted) seduction dress, or rose drawing slipped to Olenna
      – Olenna: Tywin’s snapped quill?
      – Tywin: ?
      – Tyrion: Shield used to pummel Hill Tribe attacker; Blackwater axe; Hand of the Queen badge; crossbow; or shipping crate
      – Ned: Ice
      – Lyanna Stark: Wedding gown or whatever that silver necklace thing was;
      – Jorah: Yellow shirt; or fighting pit spear
      – Ygritte: Bow (I think RL already got it)
      – Viserys: Solidified gold death head prop
      – Khal Drogo: Gold professional wrestling belt

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    4. Ten Bears,

      Varys: a pair of his nice slippers?
      Tormund: one of Brienne’s gloves?
      Hodor: a list of Hodors, that apperared as first comment on WotW?
      Tywin: the knife, that he used to section the stag?

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    5. Ten Bears,

      I think Rory has his sword from the first time he ‘died’, he said something about putting it above his door. It’s possible I just read that he wanted it back then though…I’d love him to have a pet chicken and go on sailing adventures with it, like that french man and his chicken Monique who sail the world. 😂🐔

      And I think Carice has her hexagonal choker.

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    6. Aryamad,

      i hope that kit has the brains to get his mate to make a replica of longclaw and leave the replica behind in its’ stead. seems to me to be the best way to appease all.

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    7. Maisie loves fashion, so it makes sense to me that she would want to keep the jacket even more than needle. I was surprised by what she kept when I first heard the report, but it makes more sense to me now that she would go with the fashion.

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    8. Ten Bears,

      I think Sophie should get either the hoodie or her Raven dress with necklace.
      Arya Needle, Bran the Dagger, Jon Longclaw. and they each get a direwolf broach.

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    9. I think I remember Maisie mentioning in another interview that she got the coin Jaqen gave her back in season 2, so I reckon she has at least a couple of souvenirs from the show.

      For all the fighters and warriors on the show, who wouldn’t want their sword? Though I can definitely see HBO wanting to hang on to them for a number of reasons, especially considering how valuable they must be.

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    10. Sean C.,

      Exactly. I remember Martin saying previously that one of the things he wanted to say with LS is that death changes a person. We can see that in Beric as well, though not nearly as drastic as that of LS. Essentially for Martin, if he’s going to resurrect someone, there will be a cost to it or some consequence so that the death still has a weight to it.

      It will be very interesting indeed to see how GRRM handles Jon’s resurrection. My feeling is that it won’t be quite as “neat” as the show version, but I don’t think it will be anything near as extreme as LS.

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    11. Tron79,

      Yes, Maisie loves fashion. However, the end-of-filming photograph she recently posted of her bloody sneakers made an appropriate fashion statement. 👸🏻

      Looking ahead to (what I hope is) the final scene of the final episode, somethings like this would be more appropriate than a drab jacket:

      https://i.imgur.com/Wk6lyQ7.jpg

      #LastWomanStanding
      #ASNAWQ

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    12. Enharmony1625:
      Sean C.,

      Exactly. I remember Martin saying previously that one of the things he wanted to say with LS is that death changes a person. We can see that in Beric as well, though not nearly as drastic as that of LS. Essentially for Martin, if he’s going to resurrect someone, there will be a cost to it or some consequence so that the death still has a weight to it.

      Re: Consequences…
      Though I have not read the books yet, on the show at least there’s the running theme that: “Only death can pay for life.”.

      I’m not sure how that calculus works; is the price of resurrection that someone has to die? It seems there should be no freebies, though we haven’t been shown any equalizing deaths to pay for Beric’s six new lives,

      I’m also unsure of the “rules” of resurrections – and apparently so are the characters: Beric admitted to Sandor in S7e1 that he doesn’t know why the Lord of Light keeps bringing him back; Melisandre’s resurrection of Jon Snow was essentially a “Hail Mary” that worked but she doesn’t really know why. And aside from Rickon being a dispensable tertiary character. it was perplexing to me that nobody even suggested trying to revivify him after Battle of the Bastards.

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    13. Fascinating interview with GRRM and a resounding pint glass* clink to Samantha for a most wonderful article.

      And Maisie’s leather jacket was indeed truly awe-inspiring in its badassery.

      *Brooklyn East IPA, in case you were wondering.

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    14. I wondered, that Rickon became a “dispensable tertiary character”, because he was the other one of the Starksiblings, who got the gift of visions. He was (as a child) built up little strange, his direwolf was differnet from his direwolfsiblings, both were little “wild”. I thought, they would do something with it. We don’t know, what has happend to him, since he and Osha were caught by*xyz*-Ramsey; meanwhile he grew up from a child to a young man (in Westerosian sight). And finally we saw Rickon awfully die and set free Jon’s hopeless will to fight. – was is that for?
      The whole time he seemed to me like a lost child.

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    15. cos alpha,

      Poor Rickon. He didn’t even have a single line of dialogue upon his return, did he?

      And first, Sansa implored Jon, “a monster has our brother! We have to save him!”… but then a couple of episodes later, she wrote him off, i.e., “F*ck it. Rickon’s as good as dead.”

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    16. Looking ahead to (what I hope is) the final scene of the final episode, somethings like this would be more appropriate than a drab jacket:

      https://i.imgur.com/Wk6lyQ7.jpg

      #LastWomanStanding
      #ASNAWQ

      Striking photo…alot more color than what the Stark’s wear! I could see Arya end up #LastWomanStanding with Gendry, but I could never see her sticking around a castle for very long. They both may end up rowing!! It would be on a large ship though heading east of Essos…that would be a cool ending foreshadowed by one of my favorite scenes of Arya at the end of “the children” season 4 finale as the music rises and she looks off in the distance heading to bravos… love that scene.

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    17. Tron79,

      “…. cool ending foreshadowed by one of my favorite scenes of Arya at the end of “the children” season 4 finale as the music rises and she looks off in the distance heading to bravos… love that scene.”
      ————
      I too love that scene.
      Though I’d be disappointed if Arya sails away at the end of S8, you’re certainly right as to foreshadowing.

      In addition to that scene of Arya on the deck of the Braavos-bound ship (the Titan’s Daughter) that concluded S4e10, there was the following exchange between Arya and Lady Crane in S6e8, “No One”, in which Arya talked about where she’d like to go…

      Lady Crane: “The company is moving on to Pentos soon. You should come with us.”
      Arya: “I can’t.”
      Lady Crane: “Why not? I’ve got a feeling you’d be good at this sort of work. And besides, we need a new actress.”
      Arya: “I don’t think I could remember all of the lines.”
      Lady Crane: “Come with us. What’s left for you here?”
      Arya: “You wouldn’t be safe. Not while she’s looking for me.”
      Lady Crane: “Who?”
      Arya. “She doesn’t have a name.”
      [Nor will she have a face by the end of the episode – Editor’s Note]
      Lady Crane: “Where will you go?”
      Arya: “Essos is east and Westeros is west. But what’s west of Westeros?”
      Lady Crane: “I don’t know.”
      Arya: “Nobody does. That’s where all the maps stop. The edge of the world, maybe. I’d like to see that.”

      BTW: Now that is a sequel I’d love to see someday. If 78 year-old Patrick Stewart can return as Captain Picard in an all-new Star Trek: The Next Generation spin-off series 25 years after the original show’s eight season run (1987 – 1994), then surely it’s only a matter of time before someone pitches a series based on the voyages of Arya Stark exploring the final frontier: “to boldly go where no woman has gone before.”

      I figure after Maisie Williams has a few years to decompress and tackle new stage, TV and film projects, some HBO producer would try to entice her to star in a spinoff by showing up at her door with a polished pilot script and two Brink’s trucks: one filled with $10 million cash for her, and the other with $10 million more earmarked for dolphin rescue and other charities she fervently supports.

      GoT has a built-in fan base. Maisie Williams as Arya is arguably the most popular character and has a huge following. As much as I’m looking forward to the Jane Goldman-scripted “Long Night” prequel, my inner fanboy would be totally on board with Maisie reprising her role as Arya as she seeks out new life and new civilizations in the great unknown beyond where “all the maps stop.”

      After a cold open paying homage to the final scene in S4e10e.g., panning the deck of the Titan’s Daughter and then zooming in to reveal “all grown up” Arya at the helm, the rest would be limited only by the scriptwriters’ imagination.

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    18. Ten Bears: Re: Consequences…
      Though I have not read the books yet, on the show at least there’s the running theme that: “Only death can pay for life.”.

      That is one theme, yes, but I’m not sure it’s widespread among all religions/cultures in the story. As far as I can remember, only two people in the show have said this: Mirri Maz Durr and Jaqen. So we could intuit that perhaps it’s different when it comes to the Lord of Light and the Red Priests/Priestesses.

      The consequence for Beric’s resurrections (which is briefly mentioned in the show in season 3) is that he loses a bit of himself each time he’s brought back. “Pieces of me get chipped away,” he says. No one died to bring Beric back, although he in turn did sacrifice himself to raise LS. That wasn’t the Lord of Light’s doing though. And no one died to bring Jon back, unless that happens somehow in the books. Or that we find out that Mel’s sacrifice of Shireen in the show enabled her to raise Jon (although I doubt it).

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    19. Sean C.:
      Morgoth,

      It’s not actually a contradiction.Martin has specifically talked about Lady Stoneheart as a response, of sorts, to Gandalf’s return.Stoneheart isn’t really Catelyn, and she returns as a monstrous shadow of her former self.As quoted in the above article, he didn’t like that Gandalf came back basically improved.I don’t see that Stoneheart diminishes the Red Wedding — if anything, she exacerbates the horror of it.

      Yeah, Stoneheart was sorta like Pet Sematary-Catelyn. >.>’ “Sometimes dead is better…”

      Kit deserves Longclaw! Sure hope everybody got to keep at least one item, whether it was a prop associated with their character (if they had one), or a piece of their now-iconic costume.
      Except Olly. Fvck Olly.

      Hunh, wonder whether there might be an auction of some stuff. They did two for the Hunger Games movies; I won the complete uniforms worn by Elizabeth Banks & Woody Harrelson as Effie Trinket & Haymitch Abernathy in District 13. How awesome would it be to be able to snag some wee thing off one of the sets…x-}

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    20. Ten Bears: And first, Sansa implored Jon, “a monster has our brother! We have to save him!”… but then a couple of episodes later, she wrote him off, i.e., “F*ck it. Rickon’s as good as dead.”

      This is another thing that keeps me from liking Sansa. It’s clear she’s been manipulating The Bastard Jon Snow® to get him to win Winterfell back for her. Sansa is, by then, no longer innocent or naive – but just as selfish, and with increasing skills in using people.

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    21. Ten Bears,

      – Davos: Shireen’s burnt wooden stag [too soon?]

      Ian Cunningham said in the season 6 The winds of winter dvd commentary that he already took Princess Shireen’s burnt wooden stag home and gave it to his daughter and she had it in her hand when Ian and his daughter watched the season 6 final episode The Winds of Winter.

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    22. Interesting about the Gandalf comparison especially as GRRM has pretty much done the same thing with Jon having him come back and become King of the North (yes I know Winds isn’t published yet but it’s a given to be in there).

      Anyone else hoping for a teaser sometime around now confirming the month S8 will premiere at least?

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    23. Ten Bears,

      I don’t think she wrote him off, I think her knowing Ramsey, her brother was already dead, or if they won, they find him in the WF courtyard on a X dead, or damn close to it.
      I had people in the house for that episode and all of them said the same in one form or another, they all were surprised when Ramsey dragged him out, me included.
      Sansa saw with shaggy’s head tossed the future, it just never occurred to her he use her brother as it.
      It would have been interesting if she was at the battle to see her reaction or suggestions to Jon, would she trade herself for Rickon??

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    24. Grail King,

      People always ignore what happened between Sansa saying that they need to rescue Rickon and the night before the battle where she points out that they’re unlikely to get him back.

      In 6×04 she tells Jon, “you’re the son of the last true Warden of the North. Northern families are loyal. They’ll fight for you if you ask”.

      In the following episode 6×05 she tells Ser Davos and the war council, “My father always said Northerners are different. More loyal” and “The North remembers. They remember the Stark name. People will still risk everything for it, from White Harbor to Ramsay’s own door”.

      It’s clear that when she implores Jon to save their brother she is filled with optimism that would be pretty brutally crushed over the next few episodes. The Mormonts begrudgingly agreed to fight, but could offer minimal assistance. The Glovers refused and declared House Stark “dead”. The Tullys could offer no assistance. She and Jon were left vastly outnumbered.

      Now this is the point where people bring up the fact that she didn’t tell Jon about the Knights of the Vale. Well, what can you say about that?

      It’s pretty clear now that the producers failed to convey a clear motivation for her actions. Her character was essentially sacrificed for the desired Rohirrim moment at the climax of the BotB.

      Obviously she was reluctant to get mixed up with Littlefinger again and intended to take back The North with Jon alone: “Go back to Moat Cailin. My brother and I will take back The North on our own. I never want to see you again”. It’s only once they have failed to raise a substantial enough army that her motives for not telling Jon become confused. And I think it’s pretty clear by now that there’s no conclusive answer.

      What we do know, however, is that when she tells Jon that they’re unlikely to free Rickon it is the night before the battle, she’s heard nothing from Littlefinger, they are vastly outnumbered and Jon is clearly underestimating Ramsay’s cunning and deviousness.

      What she says about Rickon is entirely sensible and realistic given their current circumstances. And realistically, even if the Vale suddenly appeared that evening or she convinced Jon to hold off until they (possibly) arrived, Rickon’s chances of survival wouldn’t improve.

      Knowing Ramsay as she does, she probably could’ve predicted Rickon’s slim chance of survival the moment they heard he was in Ramsay’s clutches. But at that point, they still had hope and the odds were not so definitively against them yet.

      By the night before the battle, however, they face a situation where unless the battle goes exactly as they plan and they manage to somehow defy the terrible odds, then they are lost. They all die.

      Prioritising Rickon’s survival at that point would be suicidally naive. And Jon goes ahead and proves that by ignoring her warning and sabotaging their battle plans to (understandably) try and save his little brother.

      It’s all about the context. The circumstances in which she first states that they have to try and save Rickon and those in which she abandons hope are vastly different.

      And bear in mind that Ramsay had threatened to slaughter all of the Wildlings and feed Rickon to his dogs if Sansa wasn’t returned to him. So it’s not like they didn’t have ample reason to try and defeat Ramsay anyway. The notion that Sansa was manipulating Jon by imploring him to try to save Rickon is more than a little far-fetched considering the ultimatum they had been given. What was the alternative?

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    25. Ten Bears:
      cos alpha,

      Poor Rickon. He didn’t even have a single line of dialogue upon his return, did he?

      And first, Sansa implored Jon,“a monster has our brother! We have to save him!”… but then a couple of episodes later,she wrote him off, i.e., “F*ck it. Rickon’s as good as dead.”

      But Rickon was as good as dead. So your problem with Sansa is that she was a realist, even though she spelled out the exact equation that led to her conclusion – that Rickon was a greater threat to Ramsay than either Jon or Sansa? Even if Sansa had offered to return to Ramsay in exchange for her brother’s life and well-being, do you really think for one minute that Ramsay would have made that exchange? So how was she wrong? Is it that you don’t like that she reflected on her initial impulse to save Rickon when she heard that Ramsay had him, that you’d have preferred that she continued to believe that saving Rickon was possible? I mean, yeah, it was a hard, cold conclusion to reach. But since Ramsay was a monster, it was also correct.

      The Blackfish made the same calculation when the Freys were threatening to hang Edmure. Brynden Tully cared enough about his home and family and people to gather Tully loyalists and retake Riverrun from the despicable Freys. Surely some of the Tully loyalists died when taking the castle. And yet everyone cheers BT for his bravery and honor, and savviness for recognizing that when the Freys paraded Edmure with a noose around his neck in front of Riverrun, it didn’t matter whether Edmure lived or died, because he’d been reduced to being a tool of the Freys and would be killed sooner or later. So the Blackfish declined to save his nephew from the threat of death by hanging.

      Hm. Two different people using the exact same logic. One is widely admired by the audience, the other condemned by many in the audience. It’s interesting.

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    26. Anyone ever catch that in Battle of Bastards when Ramsay is in cell and his hounds come out that Sansa says “you haven’t fed them for 7 days, you said so yourself”.
      BUT
      When Ramsay did say that line at the parlay before the actual battle, Sansa had already rode off before he said he hadn’t fed his dogs. She had already made her exit with her bold line “your gonna die tomorrow Lord Bolton…Sleep well”.
      I found this sloppy and it has always bothered me.

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    27. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      Great points all around. So many fans are just unable to get over their dislike of Sansa, a dislike that D&D have fostered and encouraged, for all that they might disclaim. If they didn’t want people to dislike and mistrust Sansa, why give us 2 seasons of her behaving in ways that are poorly explained and certainly raise questions about her motives and intentions? If they had to have her keep the Vale a secret so that they could have a Rohirrim-like charge at the end of BotB, why not have her explain herself to Jon afterwards?

      For a long time I’ve wondered why the show made a POV character so unlikable, and continued that trend even after learning later from GRRM that she’s got an important part to play through the end of the story (so they couldn’t just get rid of her )? They stopped making Sansa petulant and bratty, and instead made her conniving and untrustworthy. But she never actually does anything treacherous to Jon or Arya or the North, they’ve just taken pains to present her as someone the audience should mistrust. Why?

      In another recent thread here someone shared that they didn’t think Sansa was capable of true, deep love – I’d be astonished if this was someone who has read the books, because the notion that gentle, kind Sansa Stark is incapable of love is … just … not at all what her character is like in the books. But I feel like this view of Sansa isn’t entirely unreasonable if you’re just going on how the show has presented her.

      As we were discussing in another thread, that’s why I’ve found the possibility of Sansa + Jon post-parentage reveal to be unlikely, because why would D&D have the final romantic pairing for the widely loved hero be one that would be so unpalatable to a big portion of the audience? So many people would howl in protest. But as I’ve observed the tenacity of people’s default dislike of Show!Sansa, I can’t help but wonder if that’s exactly why D&D have gone out of their way to present this character as someone that so many people have misgivings about – misgivings that D&D brush off with feigned surprise as they point out that actually Sansa has been very loyal to Jon, etc. I’m starting to wonder if the enduring dislike that so many audience members have for Sansa is what exactly what D&D are banking on for a big surprise in Season 8. I guess we’ll see.

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    28. Theons Richard:
      Anyone ever catch that in Battle of Bastards when Ramsay is in cell and his hounds come out that Sansa says “you haven’t fed them for 7 days, you said so yourself”.
      BUT
      When Ramsay did say that line at the parlay before the actual battle, Sansa had already rode off before he said he hadn’t fed his dogs.She had already made her exit with her bold line “your gonna die tomorrow Lord Bolton…Sleep well”.
      I found this sloppy and it has always bothered me.

      It’s been brought up many times.

      Some say it’s sloppy writing, while some say it could’ve been communicated to her off-screen. It’s a debate that will probably never end.

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    29. Theons Richard: I found this sloppy and it has always bothered me.

      Yes, I noticed that too, and while it irked me you could imagine a scenario in which someone informed had Sansa of what Ramsay had said.

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    30. with all understanding for people who hate Olly, giving him at least what’s been left of his parents as a souvenir won’t be too much, right?

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    31. Gwidhiel,

      No. I just didn’t see the change in Sansa’s thought processes from “we gotta save Rickon!” to “forget Rickon; we can’t save him.”

      As you and Ramsey’s 20th Good Man point out, there are good reasons for Sansa’s change of heart. They just weren’t shown to us.

      The same can be said about Sansa’s concealment of the KotV. I’ve got my own “head canon” explanation for that – but like other fans” hypotheses, the motives behind Sansa’s silence were not even hinted at. So she came off as self-centered or shortsighted. Not fair to Sophie Turner the actress or Sansa Stark the character.

      (I felt especially bad for Sophie when she had to answer questions at interviews about Sansa’s motivations – and she was left to twist in the wind and conjure up explanations like “Jon’s a dummy” or “Sansa wanted the credit and glory.”)

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    32. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      “It’s pretty clear now that the producers failed to convey a clear motivation for her actions. Her character was essentially sacrificed for the desired Rohirrim moment at the climax of the BotB.”

      I had scribbled our a long-winded “in-universe” justification for Sansa’s concealment of the KotV a while back, but I think it got lost in the ether. *

      Yes, I agree with you that Sansa was reluctant to get involved with LF (again) after his stupid marriage plan and subsequent abandonment left her emotionally scarred and physically brutalized.

      * The gist of it was I thought the show could have portrayed Sansa’s decision in the context of arranged marriages, similar to Catelyn and Robb agreeing to marry off Arya to a Frey in their desperation to secure passage over a f*cking bridge in wartime.

      Sansa could have foreseen that if Jon himself or through an emissary went to coordinate a battle plan with the KotV, LF would condition their assistance on marriage to Sansa as soon as she became a widow (similar to Lysa’s assurance to Sansa that she’d be “free” to marry Robyn once Tyrion was executed for Joffrey’s assassination).

      Girls in the GoT universe were used as bargaining chips for political and military alliances. They had no say in the matter: Either get married to whomever your father or guardian selected (eg, Cersei to Robert; Sansa to Tyrion) or run away (eg Lyanna Stark).

      So I posited that Sansa knew full well not only that LF would request her hand in marriage, but that Jon would readily agree. After all, Jon’s outnumbered army was facing likely defeat. Sansa marrying WeaselFinger would be a small price to pay.

      However, Sansa also knew full well that LF would use that brokered marriage to take control of WF and the North – just as he married and killed Lysa to take control of the Vale. (Even Tyrion told Bronn – in S4e7 I think – that his marriage to Sansa would enable him to “rule the North in her name”).

      Sansa, knowing LF all too well, could’ve reasonably foreseen that an alliance with LF secured through an arranged marriage would put the King in the North at imminent risk of an “accidental” death orchestrated by LF – who would then effectively rule the North through Sansa or any heir he could produce with her. (No doubt at that point, Sansa herself would become dispensable, as my beloved Myranda reminded Sansa just before Theon tossed Myranda over the railing.)

      In a nutshell, Sansa could foresee that making a pact with an untrustworthy serial killer would endanger her family and the North. Moreover, knowing LF, despite any promises he made, Sansa could easily foresee LF waiting until both sides had decimated each other before showing up and becoming de facto king or warden (an outcome he proposed to Cersei when it looked like Stannis would attack the Boltons); or waiting to see which side was winning and choosing to aid the likely victor.

      Precluding even the possibility of a marriage alliance would’ve been justifiable. If LF showed up in response to her note, great. But telling Jon in advance would’ve meant a likely demand by LF for a promise of marriage – and all the power-grabbing murders that Sansa knew LF would commit based on his track record.

      That was sort of my tinfoil head canon..

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    33. Ten Bears,

      I love the Battle of the Bastards episode, but the withholding of the Vale forces thing just annoys the hell out of me every time I see it to the point where I don’t watch that episode very much on rewatch. It was conjured up for cheap drama so the Vale forces could ride in and save the day at the last second. Nothing more. Game of Thrones is good enough that cheap drama should be unnecessary. They did the same thing with Sansa and Arya in season 7. Drama for the sake of drama. I hope they use Sansa for a more legitimate and sensible storyline for season 8 instead of what they’ve done with her the last couple of seasons.

        Quote  Reply

    34. I supposed, that Sansa didn’t tsay a word to Jon about the KotV, because she wasn’t sure, whether they would come at all or respectively arrive in time, and wouldn’t cause hope, where there perhaps is no hope.
      Really, a bit like Gandalf, as he rode away without explanations in a very critical situation, to seek for the dispersed Rohirrim…

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    35. death by chickenfire:
      with all understanding for people who hate Olly, giving him at least what’s been left of his parents as a souvenir won’t be too much, right?

      Ummm…fertilizer? I thought the Thenns ate his parents.

      As a souvenir, I say they give Olly the noose around his neck from the hanging scene. Blue-faced dead Olly swinging from the rope has become so many fans’ screensaver [not mine!] that Olly’s actor should be able to auction off that souvenir for a big-time payday if he doesn’t want to keep it.

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    36. cos alpha:
      I supposed, that Sansa didn’t tsay a word to Jon about the KotV, because she wasn’t sure, whether they would come at all or respectively arrive in time, and wouldn’t cause hope, where there perhaps is no hope.
      Really, a bit like Gandalf, as he rode away without explanations in a very critical situation, to seek for the dispersed Rohirrim…

      Wasn’t that when Gandalf told Aragorn “Look to my coming, at first light, on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East.”?

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    37. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      Add to that, there is nothing showing LF even replied to her plea, and if he received it, where does he send the reply? There is nothing showing Sansa got a reply.
      She had no good info to tell Jon, to reassure him the Vale is coming; and Ramsey would force the issue as he had Rickon.
      It’s 350 miles from Deepwood Mote to Winterfell and they be going through the Wolfwoods to get there, ravens, go castle to castle, not to field camps.
      Jon’s plans depends on him staying put, Ramsey had a trump card and used it to pull Jon out of his plan.
      LF plan was to arrive late, Jon’s and his men are alive because Sansa decided to go looking for them .
      Trust is a big issue for 3 of the remaining Starks all from the years they suffered, it’s not coming back in a day, week maybe months.
      People can approve or disapprove of the way she did things, but her reasons were more valid then not.

        Quote  Reply

    38. Ten Bears: They just weren’t shown to us.

      But that was one time that Sansa actually did explain her thinking! She explained the hard truth to Jon the night before the battle, to get him to realize that Ramsay was not someone he’d encountered before, that a happy ending wasn’t possible for Rickon. Did we see the thought process through which Sansa made that realization herself? No, because the show has rarely if ever (never?) shown characters’ internal monologues. But her logic is laid out in plain view. And she was right.

      Jon: All right, tell me. What should we do, how do we get Rickon back?
      Sansa: We’ll never get him back. Rickon is Ned Stark’s true-born son, which makes him more of a threat than you or me. As long as he lives, Ramsay’s claim will be contested. He won’t live long.

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    39. Mr Derp: They did the same thing with Sansa and Arya in season 7. Drama for the sake of drama.

      Drama for dram sake?
      I don’t think so, the bread crumbs were dropped in S1 and S2, add LF into the mix, and it wasn’t drama for drama’s sake.
      GRRM himself stated the sisters have issues to get over.
      For the most part Sansa got past her issues with Arya, Arya on the other hand was still stuck in S1 & B1 mode, emotionally stunted, and anger and revenge having more control than maturity,and understanding.Now add the fact all her memories based on no facts, and rejecting what she saw and heard. WRG to Sansa, she was missing info she didn’t know about, hence it left a fulcrum that LF could use.
      Worse we can say it was rushed and could have befitted with 10 or 13 episodes to flesh it out.

        Quote  Reply

    40. Gwidhiel,

      I think that’s precisely the problem. If Sansa knew that a happy ending wasn’t possible for Rickon then she shouldn’t have used rescuing Rickon as a way to convince Jon to join the fight in the first place. i assume that’s what TB meant, but I could certainly be misinterpreting.

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    41. Ten Bears: I felt especially bad for Sophie when she had to answer questions at interviews about Sansa’s motivations – and she was left to twist in the wind and conjure up explanations like “Jon’s a dummy” or “Sansa wanted the credit and glory.”

      Ugh, yeah. Sometimes it seems like Sophie enjoys deliberately trolling viewers about her character, but she certainly has been stuck at various times having to explain things that really just don’t make much sense.

      I used to think that the show’s depiction of Sansa was just cluelessness or carelessness about a traditionally feminine character that D&D just didn’t really “get” and didn’t really care about because they couldn’t plausibly put her in action scenes or make her a sex siren ala Margaery Tyrell – and that mundane reason that could indeed be the case. But I’ve started to suspect that the S6 & S7 ambiguities in Sansa’s depiction have all been very deliberate, intended to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes. I could be completely wrong, of course.

        Quote  Reply

    42. Mr Derp: I think that’s precisely the problem. If Sansa knew that a happy ending wasn’t possible for Rickon then she shouldn’t have used rescuing Rickon as a way to convince Jon to join the fight in the first place

      Huh, so if I’m following you (and by extension TB), the problem isn’t that Sansa reflected on her initial impulse to save Rickon (Sansa was crying when they first got that letter, her concern wasn’t feigned), it’s that we weren’t privy to the moment when she changed her mind? I’m puzzled by this objection, because the show never shows us characters’ thoughts. It’s one of the format’s biggest drawbacks compared to the books, IMHO.

        Quote  Reply

    43. Gwidhiel,

      I was attempting to interpret what TB was saying. It’s not my objection, but if I’m speaking for myself, if she knew Ramsey as well as she said then she should’ve known from the start that Rickon was as good as dead. A 180 degree change in thinking shouldnt have taken place at all.

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    44. Grail King,

      I think you’re right. We could actually view S7 Arya in Winterfell as the audience’s proxy in being predisposed to suspect the worst of Sansa, while Littlefinger’s interactions with Arya can be viewed as a proxy for D&D, using pre-existing resentment/dislike of Sansa to misdirect [Arya/the audience] about her intentions. If Arya had just stopped for a moment to consider that LF would have burned the scroll upon receiving it if his goal was really to get rid of incriminating evidence of Sansa’s supposed loyalty to the Lannisters, Arya would have seen through LF’s machinations. But Arya fell for LF’s ploy because she was all too ready to believe that Sansa would betray her family. Her inaccurate understanding of Sansa led her to misconstrue what she saw. As D.B. Weiss explained in the post S7e5 commentary, “Arya is very used to being more clever and more stealthy, and smarter than any of the people she’s up against, but she hasn’t dealt with Littlefinger for a while. She gets roped into spying on somebody who’s actually leading her by the nose to something that he wants her to have.”

      Whether or not they intended to have Arya serve as a proxy for the section of the audience that still viewed Sansa with mistrust, they really did her character a disservice with the Winterfell subplot.

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    45. Mr Derp,

      Well even if the show is limited in its ability to show the development/change of a characters’ thoughts, I think this is one case where they did a reasonably good job. Sansa’s immediate response to the news that Ramsay had Rickon was horror and a wish to save Rickon. She knew Ramsay was a monster but that didn’t immediately translate into there being absolutely no way to save Rickon, not enough to quell her initial impulse. That only came with reflection.

      Theon had been so mutilated and warped by Ramsay that he would have known immediately that there was no hope for Rickon. Sansa got out before Ramsay could fully leave his mark on her.

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    46. Ten Bears: In a nutshell, Sansa could foresee that making a pact with an untrustworthy serial killer would endanger her family and the North. Moreover, knowing LF, despite any promises he made, Sansa could easily foresee LF waiting until both sides had decimated each other before showing up and becoming de facto king or warden (an outcome he proposed to Cersei when it looked like Stannis would attack the Boltons); or waiting to see which side was winning and choosing to aid the likely victor.

      That’s a very solid piece of tinfoil!

        Quote  Reply

    47. Mr Derp:
      Gwidhiel,

      I was attempting to interpret what TB was saying.It’s not my objection, but if I’m speaking for myself, if she knew Ramsey as well as she said then she should’ve known from the start that Rickon was as good as dead.A 180 degree change in thinking shouldnt have taken place at all.

      This. Exactly this. And the whole “If you won’t, I’ll do it myself!” Not particularly realistic. There was never any prospect of saving Rickon from the start. Ramsay would never have traded him, either.

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    48. Gwidhiel,

      • But for the site’s moderation policy (“Additionally, we ask that commenters choose one screenname and stay with it, as using multiple screennames often is connected to trolling activity“) and my respect for copyrights, I would’ve changed my screen name from Ten Bears to “Reynolds Wrap®️Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil ©️” a long time ago.

      ©️2012 Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc.

      • In all seriousness, it’s unfortunate that the show does so many things so well so consistently, that the infrequent misfires stick out like a sore thumb. It’s also unfortunate that Sophie Turner and her character Sansa Stark have borne the brunt of criticism emanating from show-only, books-deviations to Sansa’s story lines that do not provide logical explanations or motivations for her character’s (in-)actions. Maybe the objective was to manufacture “drama” from character conflicts; maybe the showrunners” attempts to fill the gap between where the source materials leaves off and where they know the characters are to be positioned when the endgame begins forced them to come up with “filler” subplots to keep some of the characters “busy.” However, the Sansa vs. Jon squabble followed by the Sansa vs. Arya vs. LF conflict left many viewers scratching their heads, and arguably did a disservice to Sophie Turner the actress and left many with a less than favorable impression of Sansa.

      • GoT is at its best when twists and turns are foreshadowed by previous, analogous events, and character motivations and actions are consistent with the culture of the fictional universe. (E.g., setting up “guest right” as an immutable law, the violation of which can’t be excused and warrants the harshest penalty). That’s why I was looking for some rationalization in my own mind, based on the in-universe mindset of a young girl, that would make sense of Sansa’s actions. Absent any portrayal of justifications in the show for Sansa’s concealment of the KotV, viewers were left to fill in the blanks or attribute her silence to selfishness, stupidity or even malice. (Vague allusions to “trust issues” by the showrunners after the fact didn’t help.)

      • Again, I have to stress that it couldn’t have been easy for the showrunners, after unexpectedly running out of source material, to fashion credible storylines of their own with so many moving parts and interconnected subplots. (I for one suspect that GRRM hadn’t mapped out Arya’s post-Braavos storyline, so the showrunners “borrowed” book! Manderly’s “Frey Pie” subplot and the Lady Stoneheart “Freyicide”, and grafted them into Arya’s story – but that only provided two episodes’ worth of material. After that, injecting Arya into the last act of the Sansa-LF storyline forced her to act out of character, made her seem like an extraneous secondary player for most of S7, and did not please many fans.) For Sansa, after the ambiguity of her S6-early S7 tensions with Jon, having her feud with Arya “Hannibal Lecter” Stark and running back to confide in LF after she’d already announced at the end of S6 that “only a fool would trust Littlefinger”, evoked the ire of fans (again).

      Sorry for rambling. I guess I would have preferred something – even a few lines of dialogue or unmistakable facial expressions – to show us what Sansa was thinking, rather than telling us afterwards.

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    49. Pigeon,

      So in your view Sansa was faking her horror while reading Ramsay’s threats to Rickon in the letter to Jon? Or is it that you think she ought to have approached Jon the night before the battle by saying something more humble, like, “I was stupid to not have realized this sooner but Rickon’s a goner”?

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    50. Ten Bears: But for the site’s moderation policy (“Additionally, we ask that commenters choose one screenname and stay with it, as using multiple screennames often is connected to trolling activity“) and my respect for copyrights, I would’ve changed my screen name from Ten Bears to “Reynolds Wrap®️Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil ©️” a long time ago.

      ©️2012 Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc.

      And the prize for best comment in this thread goes to: Ten Bears! 🤖
      🤖🤖

      Ten Bears: However, the Sansa vs. Jon squabble followed by the Sansa vs. Arya vs. LF conflict left many viewers scratching their heads, and arguably did a disservice to Sophie Turner the actress and left many with a less than favorable impression of Sansa

      Obviously I couldn’t agree more.

      Ten Bears: I for one suspect that GRRM hadn’t mapped out Arya’s post-Braavos storyline, so the showrunners “borrowed” book! Manderly’s “Frey Pie” subplot and the Lady Stoneheart “Freyicide”, and grafted them into Arya’s story – but that only provided two episodes’ worth of material. After that, injecting Arya into the last act of the Sansa-LF storyline forced her to act out of character, made her seem like an extraneous secondary player for most of S7, and did not please many fans.

      Agree, agree, agree!

      Ten Bears: Sorry for rambling. I guess I would have preferred something – even a few lines of dialogue or unmistakable facial expressions – to show us what Sansa was thinking, rather than telling us afterwards.

      Not a ramble at all – I agree with every word in your post, and certainly share your wish that they’d been more forthcoming about Sansa’s motives. I truly do agree with your view that the show has generally done a superb job in adapting the books, and to be honest I’ve appreciated some of the character changes they’ve made – notably the smarter, badder Cersei that we got.

      And while I observed the modifications to Sansa right from the start, it didn’t initially seem so very significant because it didn’t really affect Sansa’s story arc in the first few seasons, because she had so little agency in the first few seasons. I understood why they gave her Jeyne Poole’s storyline in S5, and I believe that the show has returned her to Winterfell because that’s where her book character will eventually go, too – if not by the same path. But their choice to depict Sansa as a cold, selfish, schemer is very disappointing and weird, to me.

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    51. Mr Derp,

      Yeah, that’s kind of what I was trying to convey. Whether Jon had 2,000 men or 200,000 men, according to Sansa’s reasoning Rickon was a dead man walking no matter what; Ramsay could not let Rickon live.

      As you aptly put it: “if she knew Ramsey as well as she said then she should’ve known from the start that Rickon was as good as dead. A 180 degree change in thinking shouldnt have taken place at all.”

      Her change in attitude didn’t seem to reflect evolved thinking based on changed circumstances. It just made it seem like she induced a reluctant, recently murdered
      Jon “I’m tired of fighting!” Snow to fight to re-take WF to rescue their brother – when she knew or should’ve known all along that Rickon was a lost cause.

      BTW: As illustrated in S6e7, I thought the premise for going into battle against the Boltons changed somewhat, from retaking the Stark ancestral home and trying to free Rickon, to the objective voiced by Davos: so long as the Boltons held WF the North would be divided and stood no chance against the NK; and then, enlisting the Wildlings to fight alongside them since the Boltons, Umbers and Karstarks would be coming after the Free Folk. Those were better sales pitches than expecting people to risk their lives so the Starks could reclaim their home and brother, ie, those Stark-centric objectives constituted “someone else’s war” from the perspective of reluctant allies. (Impressing on those prospective allies that their own survival was at stake had more resonance than “We want our castle! We want our brother! We know Robb screwed up and your family members died, but you swore your allegiance to House Stark!”)

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    52. Ten Bears,

      Oops – I wrote a long reply that’s stuck in moderation, probably either due to the number of quotes or the number of 🤖, but to sum it up in case it takes a while to appear: I agree with you entirely.

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    53. Ten Bears: Her change in attitude didn’t seem to reflect evolved thinking based on changed circumstances. It just made it seem like she induced a reluctant, recently murdered
      Jon “I’m tired of fighting!” Snow to fight to re-take WF to rescue their brother – when she knew or should’ve known all along that Rickon was a lost cause.

      I’ve already said my piece (many times) about my interpretation of where Sansa was coming from. Different question: if Sansa had just started to openly weep in response to Ramsay’s letter, or if she had said nothing at all, for how long do you think Jon would have remained unwilling to fight, knowing that Ramsay had Rickon? And knowing that Ramsay intended to march on the Wildlings? I for one don’t think he’d have carried on packing his bags to head for a warmer climate.

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    54. Ten Bears: Impressing on those prospective allies that their own survival was at stake had more resonance than “We want our castle! We want our brother! We know Robb screwed up and your family members died, but you swore your allegiance to House Stark!”

      Absolutely. And I agree with you that the rationale evolved, in part due to Davos’s influence I imagine, and also once Sansa’s naive belief that the North would just rise immediately for the Starks had been dampened by reality.

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    55. Ten Bears:
      (I for one suspect that GRRM hadn’t mapped out Arya’s post-Braavos storyline, so the showrunners “borrowed” book! Manderly’s “Frey Pie” subplot and the Lady Stoneheart “Freyicide”, and grafted them into Arya’s story – but that only provided two episodes’ worth of material. After that, injecting Arya into the last act of the Sansa-LF storyline forced her to act out of character, made her seem like an extraneous secondary player for most of S7, and did not please many fans.)

      GRRM has made various comments about Arya and/or connected characters that give a pretty strong indication of where her storyline in TWOW is headed post-Braavos.

      We know she reunites with Gendry at some point in the book, which most likely means she goes back to the Riverlands. That’s also where Nymeria is, and that reunion has been built up for some time. And encountering Gendry would logically mean learning of Lady Stoneheart’s existence, which likely means, in turn, that Arya will confront Stoneheart and probably be the one to return her to the grave (since Arya was the one who dragged her out of the river and enabled her to be “born” in the first place; symbolism!). Optional features would also include encounters with the Hound and/or Jaime and Brienne, who are also going to be in that general vicinity.

      So I’d say that it’s less that GRRM doesn’t know so much as D&D cut the key stuff and had to send her somewhere else. But reuniting with Sansa and working out their issues has also been very strongly set up as part of Arya’s storyline — even though the TV version didn’t actually do that.

      Gwidhiel: Huh, so if I’m following you (and by extension TB), the problem isn’t that Sansa reflected on her initial impulse to save Rickon (Sansa was crying when they first got that letter, her concern wasn’t feigned), it’s that we weren’t privy to the moment when she changed her mind? I’m puzzled by this objection, because the show never shows us characters’ thoughts. It’s one of the format’s biggest drawbacks compared to the books, IMHO.

      You don’t have to have a character literally narrate their thoughts to show a character’s evolving thinking.

      And this is an instance where I think the writers actually did have a throughline in mind (like some others have suggested, I think the scene with Shaggydog’s head is meant to be the turning point), but they don’t convey it properly at all.

      Like, if nothing else, having Jon ask why she’s so convinced Rickon is dead when she initially wanted to save him, and she can explain how things have changed.

      It’s like that scene in Season 7 where Jon says he thought Arya and Bran were dead, despite the fact that the Sansa/Jon scene in episode 604 rather strongly suggested they thought the two were still out there (Sansa, at least, and Jon made no argument). There’s any number of reasons Jon could plausibly have come to believe that they were dead, but the show didn’t do anything to show that transition, so it jarred a lot of people.

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    56. Sean C.,

      “But reuniting with Sansa and working out their issues has also been very strongly set up as part of Arya’s storyline — even though the TV version didn’t actually do that.”

      ——–
      I would not have minded – and I think I would have enjoyed – watching the sisters work out their lingering resentments. I absolutely loved their reconciliation scene on the battlements at the end of S7e7. It kind of made me wish we had seen how over the course of one episode they went from [paraphrasing]

      (S7e6)
      Sansa: “You never would’ve survived what I survived.”
      Arya: “I guess we’ll never know”

      to

      (S7e7)
      Arya: “I never would’ve survived what you survived”
      Sansa. “You would have. You’re the strongest person I know.”
      Arya: “I believe that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
      Sansa: “We’ll, don’t get used to it. You’re still very strange and annoying,”

      Somewhere along the way between Arya Lecter pointing a knife at Sansa and musing about cutting off her face and wearing her dress to see how it would feel to be Lady of WF, and RealArya accepting Sansa as Lady of Winterfell and accepting her own warrior princess identity, the sisters “worked out their issues.” But all of that happened off-screen.

      Personally, I would’ve preferred one bitchathon screaming match, followed by a heart to heart talks recounting what each had gone through – and straightforward answers to simple questions like “Where did you get that letter?” instead of evasive non-answers. (Why Little Miss Lie Detector couldn’t see through LF’s charade with Maester Wolkan in which he lied about Sansa asking him to retrieve that stupid letter is another matter. So much for two seasons of getting whacked with sticks in the Game of Faces to learn to lie and spot lies.)

      There had been so much that (I thought) had been set up in prior seasons for the sisters to hash out, including encounters with the same characters albeit at different times: The Hound (who even told Arya about saving Sansa from gang rape and murder during the KL riot, and challenged Arya: “Ask her, if you ever see her again. Ask her who came back for her….”); and Meryn F. Trant (who liked to beat and punch Sansa, and later beat and punched Arya – right before she aspirated his eyeballs and punctured his spleen, liver, lungs and kidneys).
      As shown in Sansa’s conversation with Tyrion when he tried to console her, Sansa was utterly distraught when she learned how her mother had her throat cut (by one of Walder Frey’s “damn moron” sons). and her body thrown on a river, and how Robb had been killed and his body mutilated by the Freys. Arya had her own encounters with the Freys (including devising an especially creative fate for his damn moron son) which surely would have interested Sansa.
      When they first reunited in the WF crypts, they each said their their experiences leading to their return to WF were “not very pleasant” ones, without going into detail at the time.

      So, they had lots to talk about – and lots to bond over. They concluded S7 by repeating their father’s words about looking after and protecting one another. There was so much material for what Thronetender described as “high thread count” scenes, and yet, it appeared the showrunners made the decision to forego portraying the sister’s reconciliation (and realization that LF was duping them) for the sake of one “Gotcha!” moment in LF’s so-called “trial,”

      It’s not for me to second-guess the showrunners” decision. I know lots of fans liked that “fist-pump” moment when Sansa said “You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges…Lord Baelish?”. I just felt it was somewhat manipulative (as one of the directors described it) to convey the impression that the sisters might really try to kill each other, all to set up one “dramatic” turnabout, instead of scripting real, believable interactions between the sisters resolving their differences and coming together as a team.

      PS. Though I’m no social justice warrior, too often I sense shows resorting to a “default setting” of two female characters at odds with each other instead of allying with each other. That’s not how I see sisters acting in real life. Is it just me? I’ve seen sisters argue, but they always circle the wagons and defend each other when someone else attacks either one of them.

      – End unintentionally lengthy pseudo-rant –

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    57. Sean C.:
      Morgoth,

      It’s not actually a contradiction.Martin has specifically talked about Lady Stoneheart as a response, of sorts, to Gandalf’s return.Stoneheart isn’t really Catelyn, and she returns as a monstrous shadow of her former self.As quoted in the above article, he didn’t like that Gandalf came back basically improved.I don’t see that Stoneheart diminishes the Red Wedding — if anything, she exacerbates the horror of it.

      As for Jon, well, we’re still waiting to see how GRRM handles that (both in terms of the metaphysics and how it affects Jon’s character).

      Good point, I had talked about this in a previous article but it seems like ASOIAF is GRRM’s response to the stuff he didn’t like in LoTR or at the very least the stuff he wanted to improve upon. He mentioned years ago that Dany ruling in Essos is a response to the presumption that Aragorn, the “good guy” equates to a just ruler. Also in another interview, he talked about how magic is different for Tolkien to his interpretation.

      “In Tolkien, Aragorn’s sword is magical because it just is; not because we regularly see it helping him win fights. In these books, magic is always dangerous and difficult, and has a price and risks. The whole point of the scene in A Game of Thrones where Daenerys hatches the dragons is that she makes the magic up as she goes along; she is someone who really might do anything,” GRRM from an interview he gave on Amazon.

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    58. Give Jon Snow whatever he wants, he’s been through enough already. I also concur that Maisie should be able to take needle home. I hope Lena gets to keep Cersei’s Winds of Winter outfit and her wine glass, also wine glass plus the hand of the queen pin for Peter Dinklage. One thing is for sure though, that iron throne ain’t going nowhere(if not melted by series end), HBO would want to keep that one.

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    59. Ten Bears: too often I sense shows resorting to a “default setting” of two female characters at odds with each other instead of allying with each other. That’s not how I see sisters acting in real life. Is it just me? I’ve seen sisters argue, but they always circle the wagons and defend each other when someone else attacks either one of them.

      I agree re how many sisters behave in real life – perhaps the majority in healthy families. There are always exceptions, of course. And I agree with you that frequently female characters get placed in one of a few different stereotyped boxes from which they’re rarely allowed to stray. I think male writers often believe that if they include some “gender atypical” female characters – e.g. a Rebellious Tomboy – they’ve fulfilled their duty towards inclusiveness.

      Finally I’m with you in wishing to have seen more genuine, meaningful rapprochement between Arya and Sansa in S7. It would have done much to rehabilitate their characters from the deviations D&D introduced (perhaps needfully, perhaps just carelessly). And it would have given time to a theme that is very much present in GRRM’s writing – the influence of siblings on each other and the importance of having peers that can call you on your shit when you veer too much in one direction. We all need that from time to time, and it doesn’t have to come from blood siblings – it can come from good friends. But it can only come from someone who’s an equal.

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    60. River: Good point, I had talked about this in a previous article but it seems like ASOIAF is GRRM’s response to the stuff he didn’t like in LoTR or at the very least the stuff he wanted to improve upon. He mentioned years ago that Dany ruling in Essos is a response to the presumption that Aragorn, the “good guy” equates to a just ruler.

      I think this oversimplifies the differences between Aragorn and Daenerys. It’s not merely that having good intentions isn’t enough, by itself, to be a just ruler (although that is obviously true). It’s also that having the right bloodline and name are insufficient, and are in fact just as likely to be irrelevant for the capacity to be a good ruler. Tolkien was a social conservative who grew up in the late Victorian period – he didn’t question England’s class structure and he believed that lineage was an important factor in an individual’s destiny. With Daenerys, GRRM is subjecting those assumptions to close scrutiny.

      1) Aragorn grew up in exile.
      2) His identity as Isildur’s heir was hidden.
      3) He was raised very carefully by a wise guardian.
      4) He was trained to his duty to his people.
      5) He spent his youth serving his country and people, not using his own illustrious name, but under assumed names like Strider.
      6) He worked hard to learn about his land and its people, and the threats they faced.
      7) He didn’t presume to use his true name and his heritage to pursue the throne that he believed was his right until he’d proven himself worthy by actually fighting the evil forces that threatened the existence of the kingdom he aspired to rule.

      Daenerys only has #1 in common with Aragorn. So far in the story Jon has #2-6 in common with Aragorn and one could make the case for him having #1 in common with him too, since both were raised hidden in the northern parts of the kingdoms to which they are heirs. I think Daenerys and Jon together are GRRM’s response to Tolkien’s Aragorn: the former as a cautionary tale about what you might get if you just rely on lineage and good intentions to decide who ought to rule, and the latter as the explicit break-down of why Aragorn might have been suited to be a good ruler – i.e. not because of his inherited privilege, but almost despite it.

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    61. mau:
      Martin’s argument about Gandalf was always pure BS.

      Right?

      When Martin comments on LOTR, he often expresses how he would have done it better had he written the series.

      “Hmmm,” Martin reflects having nearly finished writing the breakfast scene at Bilbo’s home. “What if … instead of washing and putting away the dishes, Thorin and the dwarves just fuck the hobbit? Yeah, that’s gold right there.”

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    62. Gwidhiel,

      I mean I can see how Daenerys would only tick one of those boxes if one were solely going by the show. But if one goes off the bookDany, she, at minimum, ticks 3 or 4 of those boxes. A lot also depends on if you’re comparing her to Tolkien’s Aragorn or Jackson’s Aragorn, whom is a fairly different character depending on the medium.

      Some of Aragorn’s theatrics and epithets would put Dany’s to shame. 😂 Just see when he first meets Eomer

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    63. Jay Targ: But if one goes off the bookDany, she, at minimum, ticks 3 or 4 of those boxes.

      Huh …I can’t think of which ones she’d hit, besides being raised in exile. She was not raised by a wise guardian who trained her to her duties to her people. She’s spent no time getting to know the people she claims a right to rule over (since in the books she’s still in Essos). What are the qualities that you see?

      Jay Targ: Some of Aragorn’s theatrics and epithets would put Dany’s to shame. 😂 Just see when he first meets Eomer

      Very true. So there’s something they do have in common!

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    64. Gwidhiel,

      Honestly, I think fAegon ticks off most of these boxes out of anyone… and fits the bill a bit more the Jon. GRRM probably did this on purpose too, since fAegon will most likely ultimately be a red herring.

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    65. Jaehaerys:
      Gwidhiel,

      Honestly, I think fAegon ticks off most of these boxes out of anyone… and fits the bill a bit more the Jon.GRRM probably did this on purpose too, since fAegon will most likely ultimately be a red herring.

      Oh totally agree. I think that the show has reduced the Aragorn comparison to two characters – Jon and Daenerys – so the contrast is binary. FAegon makes the examination much more interesting, because in him you have someone who has had the training that Daenerys lacks, has lived humbly, learning lots of everyday skills even while understanding that he’s destined for greater things. With fAegon you almost have Illyrio and Varys responding to Tolkien’s belief that lineage determines destiny to say “Nope, doesn’t matter. Just give us a plausible heir whose upbringing we can control and we’ll give you a worthy leader. The family name is window dressing for people who don’t know any better.”

      In the real world this idea was most famously put forward by the American founder of the behavioral movement in psychology, John Watson, “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors.”

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    66. Shelle: Nurture over nature—that’s a good point.

      It does seem to be a theme in the books. I think it’s a central part of Theon’s story, for example. As far as Jon goes, I can’t guess if in the books GRRM will have his status turn out to be legitimate son/heir, as it is in the show. I kind of hope that won’t happen. The 3-way comparison of Daenerys-fAegon-Jon to Aragorn would be more interesting if Jon remains a bastard (ie R+L=J but R&L never married), because I imagine that Tolkien’s general prudishness and strict, Catholic view of marriage are also things that GRRM finds irritating. If the final unifying leader to emerge is neither the legitimate but untrained daughter of the fallen ruling house, nor the well-trained imposter (both of whom display a brash sense of entitlement based on their beliefs about who they are), but instead proves to be the well-trained illegitimate offspring of the fallen ruling house, who never aspired to the throne, that seems like a nice response to some of Tolkien’s assumptions about the making of a great ruler.

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    67. ^ I definitely see your points there.
      I’ve actually been hoping that the books, if they’re ever published, are essentially the same conclusion as whatever the show’s will be (provided it’s good)…mostly because I’ve never really liked having more than one version of something, or multiple “canons.”
      I do like Dany as a ruler, although she needs a good deal of aid, counseling, and guidance. Jon could balance her nicely, but the odds of both surviving aren’t great!

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    68. Jay Targ:
      Gwidhiel,

      I mean I can see how Daenerys would only tick one of those boxes if one were solely going by the show.But if one goes off the bookDany, she, at minimum, ticks 3 or 4 of those boxes.A lot also depends on if you’re comparing her to Tolkien’s Aragorn or Jackson’s Aragorn, whom is a fairly different character depending on the medium.

      Some of Aragorn’s theatrics and epithets would put Dany’s to shame.Just see when he first meets Eomer

      Mine would be Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Aragorn, admittedly I’m not a huge LoTR book series fan. Gwidhiel, you might be referring to my older posts in another article comparing Dany to Aragorn but the intention of my post here was to illustrate how GRRM’s continued fascination with LoTR bleeds into his work on ASOIAF, particularly in Daenerys. As he in verbatim, pointed out the similarities in Dany and Aragorn i.e. quote about ruling and the magic the two characters possess.

      I do like the list you’ve made, especially #4 he was trained to his duty to his people. I did say like 5 articles back, that I believe if Dany truly wants to break the wheel, she should go back to Essos. She’s Mhysa back there, breaker of chains. The people in Essos understands who she is, what she stands for. The people of Westeros might not, that is why there is such a disconnect, they see her as a conqueror and/or a threat.

      Essos needs Daenerys more than Westeros, after you know she deals with the WW. I don’t for a second, buy that Daario and whoever are left in Essos would be able to maintain what Dany and her dragons had accomplished. Democracy is the only thing missing in Westeros while Essos remains vulnerable to slave masters. Anyway I’m off topic here haha but I care for Essos, we spent 6 seasons there and it would be a shame if there’d be no update on the goings-on in Essos.

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    69. River: As he in verbatim, pointed out the similarities in Dany and Aragorn i.e. quote about ruling and the magic the two characters possess.

      Oh yes, I see GRRM making a contrast between Aragorn and Daenerys vis a vis ruling and magic. I think that the differences between them are greater than the similarities, by design. And the things that they do have in common – e.g. the fondness for epithets that Jay Targ pointed out above, or the belief that their heritage is the basis of their right to rule – are not necessarily so admirable.

      River, in another thread I think you already spelled out the difference between magic in Tolkien’s world (more predictable although obviously the mechanics go unexplained because it’s magic) vs GRRM’s (chaotic, unpredictable even for those that wield it). So far it does seem that both tie the ability to use magic to genetic heritage, and I wonder if that will be (one of) fAegon’s ultimately fatal shortcomings. He thinks he’s a Targaryen, he might have Targaryen or at least Old Valyrian blood – will that be enough to ride a dragon? If not, he’ll likely go as Quentyn did

      River: I believe if Dany truly wants to break the wheel, she should go back to Essos. She’s Mhysa back there, breaker of chains. The people in Essos understands who she is, what she stands for.

      I’m on the fence about this idea. I do see what you mean, and I agree that she’s got a more meaningful connection to Meereen and the other slave cities than she has to Westeros. But her rule in Meereen hasn’t really been that successful – she can enforce a tense peace with her dragons, that’s it. She doesn’t have the patience or skill to build strong coalitions, she doesn’t have a vision that people can come together to work towards – “breaker of chains/the wheel” is a good revolutionary slogan, but what comes after? Some of her shortcomings could be tied to her general lack of training and understanding of what successful leadership looks like, some of it might be her own temperament. That a young, unschooled girl thinks she should rule over others just because her ancestors were rulers (and she’s got dragons) is kind of an abhorrent idea to modern readers, no? (I know, I know, many people think Daenerys could be a good ruler. I don’t think GRRM does).

      I do agree that if she’d settled permanently somewhere in Essos, she might have learned more about the people she ruled, and she might have slowly found her way to building a lasting peace that’s based on more than dragonfire. But as it is right now in the books (as it was in the show), she’s still very much an outsider in Meereen. She did a better job assimilating with the Dothraki, I think out of necessity: by going full Dothraki, bloody horse heart and all, she strengthened her bond with Khal Drogo and put distance between herself and her abusive brother. She really became one of the Dothraki, although after Khal Drogo’s death she did step away from that culture by not retreating to the Dosh Khaleen as their tradition dictated. But she didn’t really do much to assimilate into Meerenese society, despite the loveless and short-lived political marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq. Daenerys ruled in Meereen remotely, from on high, as an outsider. She understood some of the people’s wishes, but was very far from understanding the society, and its needs, holistically. Could she have become a worthy ruler, meeting more of the criteria that Aragorn fulfilled, had she stayed? Maybe. But the irony is that her sense of entitlement to rule Westeros will pull her away from a place where she’d at least started to make some inroads.

      Everyone loves “you know nothing Jon Snow.” You know who knows even less? Daenerys Targaryen. But no one dares to tell her that directly.

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    70. Gwidhiel:

      Everyone loves “you know nothing Jon Snow.” You know who knows even less? Daenerys Targaryen.But no one dares to tell her that directly.

      I don’t agree that Dany knows even less, but also just wanted to say that line does not define who Jon Snow is or has become. That line was Ygritte’s catchphrase and nothing more. Dany still has a lot of learning to do, she said it herself in S7E3, she never did receive any proper education and someone at Winterfell did. Sansa learned a great deal from some of the best in the game. With Sansa, Tyrion and Jon around her, Dany will learn and grow as a leader.

      Dany has shown that she was willing to compromise back in Meereen by marrying that dude, I can’t remember his name. I’ve said this before but what worries me about Dany is her answer injustice with justice rule which is basically an eye for an eye, and that is not how you get people to work with you. Again its all about picking the right counsel, Jon was fortunate to have had Ned as his father and a family that was there for him, mainly Robb, Arya, Benjen but still he had great influences growing up. All Dany had was this pervy brother who sold her to be raped just to get his army.

      Considering all the sh*t Daenerys has been through, sure she can do better and I trust that she can. But that would take a stable environment without people plotting against her, ever since her handmaid betrayed her in S2, she’s been paranoid. She needs honest people to remind her that there is a better way. So Varys better watch out, or he’ll have a very painful death.

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    71. River: Dany still has a lot of learning to do, she said it herself in S7E3, she never did receive any proper education

      She said it in that episode as a sneering aside while asserting her right to Jon’s allegiance by virtue of the fact that Torrhen Stark had bent the knee to Aegon Targaryen – i.e., in her mind it was so clearly the case that Jon was her vassal that even she, with no formal education, knew it. That was not someone humbling acknowledging that she had a lot to learn.

      River: Considering all the sh*t Daenerys has been through, sure she can do better and I trust that she can.

      I don’t share your optimism about Daenerys’s potential to do better. She doesn’t listen to her chosen advisors, she doesn’t listen to anyone she doesn’t want to listen to. It’s yet another way that she’s disadvantaged relative to Jon – she doesn’t have any friends or siblings to call her on her shit. She only has subordinates. She doesn’t really know how to relate to people as equals – she’s so sold on her uniqueness and superiority that the best she can muster is benevolence. But most often she is remotely imperious, expecting people to be in awe of her.

      And the thing is, once Jon’s parentage is revealed, Daenerys will no longer be the rightful claimant to the Iron Throne. She’s a girl with 2 dragons (and I suspect by the time of the parentage reveal she’ll be down to one dragon, having given Rhaegel to Jon), and 2 armies (for the time being – I suspect neither the Unsullied nor the Dothraki will last long in the Northern winter – ala Napoleon’s or Hitler’s troops in Russia. No matter how impressive your forces, if they’re not dressed for winter, they’re useless). So her ability to grow into being a good ruler will be irrelevant. That is the tragedy of her story. She certainly has been through a lot of sh*t and has accomplished some really impressive things. It’s too bad that she’s been so singularly focused on attaining the Iron Throne for herself, given that she’s so ill-qualified (again, Aragorn’s list). She could have made a lasting legacy for herself if she’d settled in Meereen and actually learned to rule, instead of just conquering. There’s a better candidate in Westeros, and in the show, at least, his claim to rule is better than hers.

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    72. Gwidhiel: It’s yet another way that she’s disadvantaged relative to Jon – she doesn’t have any friends or siblings to call her on her shit. She only has subordinates. But most often she is remotely imperious, expecting people to be in awe of her.

      She’s exactly that, she is at a disadvantage relative to Jon. Try as she might she had no control over stuff like how pervy the only brother she ever knew was or how unhealthy her relationship with Drogo started (Momoa likability aside), that was clearly rape. I view her rise to be necessary. She had to become this strong, this imperious if you will because she was used for most of her life. As a prop to her brother’s ambition. I hope that Jon will provide that personal connection she’s longed for, not physical but emotional. A Targaryen alone in the world is an awful thing right? finally she’s not alone.

      Gwidhiel: And the thing is, once Jon’s parentage is revealed, Daenerys will no longer be the rightful claimant to the Iron Throne. She’s a girl with 2 dragons (and I suspect by the time of the parentage reveal she’ll be down to one dragon, having given Rhaegel to Jon), and 2 armies (for the time being – I suspect neither the Unsullied nor the Dothraki will last long in the Northern winter – ala Napoleon’s or Hitler’s troops in Russia. No matter how impressive your forces, if they’re not dressed for winter, they’re useless). So her ability to grow into being a good ruler will be irrelevant. That is the tragedy of her story.

      Davos mentioned in S7E3 the Jon-Dany meeting that destiny has brought Daenerys Targaryen back to our shores. Picture this, if Dany hadn’t cross the narrow sea, still at Meereen going about her business. Westeros would be screwed, no dragons, no armies and busy infighting. If Dany ignored the raven and left Jon and his group to die in that frozen lake they’d have no wight to show to Cersei, again screwed. She’s more than just a girl with 2 dragons, also Jon bonding with Rhaegal in 6 short episodes won’t erase Dany’s connection/shared bond with him and that lasted for 7 seasons. Dany will always be Rhaegal’s mother no matter what. My point is Westeros without Dany and dragons = WW chow.

      Gwidhiel: She could have made a lasting legacy for herself if she’d settled in Meereen and actually learned to rule, instead of just conquering. There’s a better candidate in Westeros, and in the show, at least, his claim to rule is better than hers.

      I don’t agree that Jon is the better candidate to govern. Jon has mostly dealt with Northern rulers and they’re faithful to House Stark not Jon necessarily. As you’ve said Dany during her time in Meereen was an outsider but she was able to accomplish a great deal for an outsider. Dany had nobody in Essos again not her fault but a disadvantage compared to Jon who has Stark banner men willing to fight for House Stark.

      This reminder from Quaithe in the books “To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.” Essos before Westeros, before she went forward to sail to Westeros she had to go back to Vaes Dothrak(where it kind of started for her), then although dragonstone is not really south south but she’s heading north now. This is her journey, whichever it may lead her. Maybe it will end tragically for Dany but going North to fight for Jon is part of it.

      Also Dany’s always been a foreigner, either in Essos or Westeros but when she was walking on Westeros for the 1st time last season and then began to touch the sand. That to me was not coming home but finally finding home.

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    73. When Daenerys surprised Kraznys by answering in (High) Valyrian, saying it was her mother tongue, I thought actually Daenerys belongs here. I mean not literally in Astapor but in that region. It’s the region of her ancestors, the region of Valyria where the Targaryens used to live until the doom. She never lived in Westeros. The Targaryens invaded Westeros, but they never really assimilated in Westeros. They always remained something different.
      It’s different with Jon Snow who is really a northerner. Apart from maybe riding Rhaegal I see nothing Targaryen in him. He belongs to the north.
      But then who will sit on the Iron Throne or whatever remains of it? I have no idea: Tyrion, Sansa, … ?

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    74. She’s exactly that, she is at a disadvantage relative to Jon. Try as she might she had no control over stuff like how pervy the only brother she ever knew was or how unhealthy her relationship with Drogo started (Momoa likability aside), that was clearly rape. I view her rise to be necessary. She had to become this strong, this imperious if you will because she was used for most of her life. As a prop to her brother’s ambition. I hope that Jon will provide that personal connection she’s longed for, not physical but emotional. A Targaryen alone in the world is an awful thing right? finally she’s not alone.

      Davos mentioned in S7E3 the Jon-Dany meeting that destiny has brought Daenerys Targaryen back to our shores. Picture this, if Dany hadn’t cross the narrow sea, still at Meereen going about her business. Westeros would be screwed, no dragons, no armies and busy infighting. If Dany ignored the raven and left Jon and his group to die in that frozen lake they’d have no wight to show to Cersei, again screwed. She’s more than just a girl with 2 dragons, also Jon bonding with Rhaegal in 6 short episodes won’t erase Dany’s connection/shared bond with him and that lasted for 7 seasons. Dany will always be Rhaegal’s mother no matter what. My point is Westeros without Dany and dragons = WW chow.

      I don’t agree that Jon is the better candidate to govern. Jon has mostly dealt with Northern rulers and they’re faithful to House Stark not Jon necessarily. As you’ve said Dany during her time in Meereen was an outsider but she was able to accomplish a great deal for an outsider. Dany had nobody in Essos again not her fault but a disadvantage compared to Jon who has Stark banner men willing to fight for House Stark.

      This reminder from Quaithe in the books “To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.” Essos before Westeros, before she went forward to sail to Westeros she had to go back to Vaes Dothrak(where it kind of started for her), then although dragonstone is not really south south but she’s heading north now. This is her journey, whichever it may lead her. Maybe it will end tragically for Dany but going North to fight for Jon is part of it.

      Also Dany’s always been a foreigner, either in Essos or Westeros but when she was walking on Westeros for the 1st time last season and then began to touch the sand. That to me was not coming home but finally finding home.

      Hi moderators, been having some trouble with quoting and stuff could you please delete the one I posted prior to this one? Sorry for the double post if ever.

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    75. River: if Dany hadn’t cross the narrow sea, still at Meereen going about her business. Westeros would be screwed, no dragons, no armies and busy infighting. If Dany ignored the raven and left Jon and his group to die in that frozen lake they’d have no wight to show to Cersei, again screwed.

      But the NK & AotD would still be stuck north of the wall. Daenerys’s participation gave the NK the opening he needed – thanks for the dragon!

      River: Also Dany’s always been a foreigner, either in Essos or Westeros but when she was walking on Westeros for the 1st time last season and then began to touch the sand. That to me was not coming home but finally finding home.

      I understand your perspective and don’t think it’s unreasonable, but it’s not one I share.

      Note that I’m not for a moment suggesting that Daenerys’s shortcomings are her fault, at least not their roots. It’s not her fault that her eldest brother chose to conduct himself mysteriously and seemingly dishonorably by running off with a young highborn woman and abandoning his wife and young children, setting off a series of calamaties that led to death and exile for her family. It’s not her fault that her father was insane. It’s not her fault that her remaining brother was a megalomaniac who Illyrio and Varys didn’t deem worth investing in (and in the books they chose to invest in an imposter). It’s not her fault that she and Viserys had a peripatetic, impoverished childhood, knowing no home, receiving no education, and having no family but each other. That’s her background, beyond her control, and it sucks for her that those circumstances have so profoundly shaped her. She’s a very lonely figure.

      You think that Jon will be the family she’s never had. Do you think she could accept being the aunt of the king, a part of the family but not on the throne, with no opportunity to rule in Westeros? I think that’s the biggest challenge she’ll face in S8.

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    76. Chilli: When Daenerys surprised Kraznys by answering in (High) Valyrian, saying it was her mother tongue, I thought actually Daenerys belongs here. I mean not literally in Astapor but in that region. It’s the region of her ancestors, the region of Valyria where the Targaryens used to live until the doom. She never lived in Westeros. The Targaryens invaded Westeros, but they never really assimilated in Westeros. They always remained something different.

      This is such a good point. I agree.

      Chilli: But then who will sit on the Iron Throne or whatever remains of it? I have no idea: Tyrion, Sansa, … ?

      Perhaps there won’t be an Iron Throne when all is said and done? One thing I feel reasonably sure about is that it won’t be Sansa Stark. She’s as committed to the North as Jon is at this point.

      How about Ser Bronn of the Blackwater? Self-made man who won his first title in Kings Landing, has been promised castles by both Jaime and Tyrion.

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    77. I’m not sure the Iron Throne will exist anymore by the show’s end either. Especially if you take Dany’s vision in “Valar Morghulis” literally. The IT will be nothing more than ashes.

      How does it turn to ashes though? Is it from wildfire? Dragons? Another Doom scenario, but this time it’s in Westeros? They never really said what specifically caused the Doom of Valyria did they? I haven’t read the books. Perhaps there will be another Doom, but this time in Westeros and that’s what will prompt Arya to “see what’s West of Westeros”?

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    78. Mr Derp,

      But someone still has to rule Westeros, if not on the Iron Throne it will be on another Throne. But will that Throne be somewhere in Kingslanding, Dragonstone, Lannisport, Riverlands, The North, … ? Depending on who will rule in the end I guess?

      Or will they all become independent kingdoms like before Aegon the Conqueror? Will all what the Targaryens have done be unmade? Like a throwback in time? And will Daenerys raise a new family of Targaryens somewhere in Essos?

      I love it that there are still so many questions. Really looking forward how it all will be resolved.

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    79. Gwidhiel: But the NK & AotD would still be stuck north of the wall.Daenerys’s participation gave the NK the opening he needed – thanks for the dragon!

      You think that Jon will be the family she’s never had. Do you think she could accept being the aunt of the king, a part of the family but not on the throne, with no opportunity to rule in Westeros? I think that’s the biggest challenge she’ll face in S8.

      Meeting Jon, later saving Jon is part of her, as Mel would put it “role to play,” she had to save Jon, she didn’t have to. Tyrion was practically begging her to do nothing. She took the risk and lost Viserion. It shows a lot of character, Jon knew that. He gave Dany his word because she did the right thing.

      Jon as King would be strange, he never showed any interest in ruling in KL. The only way he becomes king is if Dany dies, or collectively they let people decide by way of voting and he wins. He is so humble and it comes to a point where he downplays the good he’s done for the realm.

      Dany on the other hand, has experience(Queen in Meereen), is interested in ruling, and not at all humble. For all her faults, Dany has years of experience in ruling, in GRRM’s own words “Seeing someone like Dany actually trying to deal with the vestments of being a queen and getting factions and guilds and [managing the] economy. They burnt all the fields in Meereen.” Jon is good at diplomacy and battles, but in other aspects like the economy, only Sansa has shown potential in S7. I’ve yet to see Jon tackle anything other than war-related matters.

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    80. Mr Derp:
      I’m not sure the Iron Throne will exist anymore by the show’s end either.Especially if you take Dany’s vision in “Valar Morghulis” literally.The IT will be nothing more than ashes.

      How does it turn to ashes though?Is it from wildfire?Dragons?Another Doom scenario, but this time it’s in Westeros?They never really said what specifically caused the Doom of Valyria did they?I haven’t read the books.Perhaps there will be another Doom, but this time in Westeros and that’s what will prompt Arya to “see what’s West of Westeros”?

      What will we find when we head to what’s west of Westeros? Arya and her quest, finding new places to explore and finding love with Gendry, its too good to be true 🙁 Someone would have to rule over Westeros, KL might be wrecked when all is over but I agree with Chili ^ you gotta have someone ruling somewhere, maybe the North is the new capital of Westeros? Time for wolves right? If so, then the northerners would definitely be on board with Jon ruling.

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    81. River: Jon as King would be strange, he never showed any interest in ruling in KL. The only way he becomes king is if Dany dies, or collectively they let people decide by way of voting and he wins. He is so humble and it comes to a point where he downplays the good he’s done for the realm.

      Dany on the other hand, has experience(Queen in Meereen), is interested in ruling, and not at all humble. For all her faults, Dany has years of experience in ruling, in GRRM’s own words “Seeing someone like Dany actually trying to deal with the vestments of being a queen and getting factions and guilds and [managing the] economy. They burnt all the fields in Meereen.”

      River, for what it’s worth, I think that you’ve again over-simplified the LotR/Aragorn contrast that Martin was making with Daenerys. Being interested in ruling and not humble are not traits predictive of being a good ruler. You acknowledge on the one hand that Daenerys isn’t well-trained or well-suited to being a just ruler but you believe that she really seems like a ruler and wants to be a ruler, so maybe it could work out. To me the fact that Jon is a reluctant ruler is what makes him an attractive candidate – he doesn’t think he’s entitled to it, and he has been chosen to lead, twice, because he inspired confidence in the people who chose him.

      I understand that you believe that Daenerys has Aragorn’s story arc of the return of the exiled king. I fundamentally disagree – I believe Daenerys is a cautionary tale of what you could end up with if you think that lineage, entitlement, and a wish to rule are the things that determine who should rule. But that’s just my view. I believe you and I both are sympathetic to Daenerys’s struggles, but we differ in what we think the point of her character in this story is.

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    82. Gwidhiel: I understand that you believe that Daenerys has Aragorn’s story arc of the return of the exiled king. I fundamentally disagree – I believe Daenerys is a cautionary tale of what you could end up with if you think that lineage, entitlement, and a wish to rule are the things that determine who should rule. But that’s just my view. I believe you and I both are sympathetic to Daenerys’s struggles, but we differ in what we think the point of her character in this story is.

      But if Daenerys is a cautionary tale if, as you’ve said we go by lineage alone, that’s also true for Jon. The whole point of the Jon is Aegon reveal is that now he has a stronger claim than Dany which means he’s entitled to the iron throne because of his lineage. Jon at least in the show has always been selfless, humble and true to his word, if he breaks his oath to Dany just because he has a stronger claim that would betray his portrayal throughout the show. Again, the only way he ends up ruling is if Dany dies or Dany decides she doesn’t want the throne anymore.

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    83. Mr Derp: That’s what the inevitable postquel will be for.

      Yes, I’d love more Maisie please. Arya’s my favorite, she can do no wrong. She better survive or there will be blood D&D lol haha

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    84. River,

      Hi River,

      I think we’re talking at cross purposes at this point, but I’ll sum up what I believe is the intended contrast between Jon and Daenerys (we’ll leave fAegon out since he’s irrelevant for the show).

      Repeating the list of aspects of Aragorn’s story arc, with one important addition

      1) Aragorn grew up in exile.
      2) His identity as Isildur’s heir was hidden.
      3) He was raised very carefully by a wise guardian.
      4) He was trained to his duty to his people.
      5) He spent his youth serving his country and people, not using his own illustrious name, but under assumed names like Strider.
      6) He worked hard to learn about his land and its people, and the threats they faced.
      7) He didn’t presume to use his true name and his heritage to pursue the throne that he believed was his right until he’d proven himself worthy by actually fighting the evil forces that threatened the existence of the kingdom he aspired to rule.
      8) He believed that the crown was his by right.

      Daenerys has #1 and #8 in common with Aragorn. So far in the show Jon has 1-6. Daenerys does have other things in common with Aragorn, e.g. a fondness for adopting many titles. I don’t think either GRRM or D&D view this characteristic as a positive thing – by S7 D&D had turned it into a bit of a joke.

      Do you really think that #8 is a trait that’s predictive of being a good ruler?

      The point that you seem to have missed in your last response to me is that Jon and Daenerys both have the right heritage to ride a dragon – to use the magic of GRRM’s world. But Jon has other qualities in addition to heritage, qualities that Aragorn possessed in addition to heritage and that Daenerys does not have, and it’s those qualities – knowing the people he would rule, believing that serving them and their best interests was his on-going duty, not a choice that he sometimes indulged in, if he felt like it – that allow us to hope/believe that Aragorn’s rule was just, that he did set reasonable tax policies, and administered the law fairly. Wanting to rule, believing that it’s your right, are no indication that you’re suited to rule. Heritage alone is no guarantee that you’re fit to rule (hello, Viserys!, hello, Aerys!). In a world where magic is connected to ruling and it’s also connected to genetic heritage, you do need the right heritage. But you need other things besides heritage in order to be fit to rule. That is the point.

      If you believe that Daenerys is a more likely, more worthy ruler than Jon that’s great! You could totally turn out to be right in thinking that she’s going to end the show on the Iron Throne one way or another. But Martin contrasting Daenerys’s unsuccessful attempt at effective ruling in Meereen with Aragorn’s post-LotR reunification of Arnor and Gondor and subsequent successful rule does not provide a basis for your view.

      A final, parting note from me on this topic: you can certainly prefer the Jackson/Mortensen version of Aragorn over the book version, in fact I think I share that preference. But GRRM was definitely using the book version when he started writing the series (AGoT pub date: 1996; The Fellowship of the Rings release date: 2001).

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    85. Tensor the Mage, Who Was Actually a Cartographer's Apprentice Until Assigned to Draw the East Coastline of Dorne says:

      Arya need not sail west of Westeros. Every map I’ve seen shows the continent trailing off into the northwest, in to the unknown past the Land of Always Winter. But after the NK’s defeat, the Lands Beyond the Wall should revert to having the same weather as the rest of Westeros. (Recall that when 3ER showed Bran the making of the NK, the spiral megalith was in a lush, green area. Every time we’ve seen it in modern times, it has been covered in snow and ice.) She should be able to walk “west of Westeros” and see just how far it really goes.

      I don’t believe there will be an Iron Throne (in the sense of a ruling office) at the end of the story. Almost the entire human population of Westeros will have been killed or forced to flee by the War of the Living Versus the Dead. With the Wall down and the lands beyond thawing nicely, there will be little incentive to re-create the feudal dystopia which was the Seven Kingdoms. An Age of Exploration may await adventuresome folks like Arya.

      I believe Bronn will get his pick of castles — only to find there is no population in “his” lands to sustain a Lord Bronn. (Maybe Dolorous Edd will have some comforting words of wisdom for him.)

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    86. Gwidhiel:
      River,

      ~snip

      The point that you seem to have missed in your last response to meis that Jon and Daenerys both have the right heritage to ride a dragon – to use the magic of GRRM’s world. But Jon has other qualities in addition to heritage, qualities that Aragorn possessed in addition to heritage and that Daenerys does not have, and it’s those qualities– knowing the people he would rule, believing that serving them and their best interests was his on-going duty, not a choice that he sometimes indulged in, if he felt like it – that allow us to hope/believe that Aragorn’s rule was just, that he did set reasonable tax policies, and administered the law fairly. Wanting to rule, believing that it’s your right, are no indication that you’re suited to rule. Heritage alone is no guarantee that you’re fit to rule (hello, Viserys!, hello, Aerys!). In a world where magic is connected to ruling and it’s also connected to genetic heritage, you do need the right heritage. But you need other things besides heritage in order to be fit to rule. That is the point.

      But there’s nothing that indicates that Daenerys believes heritage alone suggests that she’s fit to rule. The opposite really. And this applies to both the show and the books. It’s a large part of the reason she chose to stay in Meereen.

      From the show (4×05, Weiss also explains it in link)

      How can I rule seven kingdoms if I can’t control Slaver’s Bay? Why should anyone trust me? Why should anyone follow me?
      You’re a Targaryen. You’re the Mother of Dragons.
      I need to be more than that.

      She also wouldn’t have told Jon that she “hopes she deserves it”, when he pledged himself to her, if she believed that heritage alone was enough.

      Now I currently don’t how the time to add the book quotes which show this but perhaps later I will make a post. But I fear it may get stuck in moderation.

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    87. Jon/Aegon is every bit as worthy as Daenerys to rule Westeros, I prefer Dany a little bit more because she has experience albeit unsuccessful to some, still experience is experience. I brought up that quote from George because Jon has shown that he is effective in getting people to work together, much like a diplomat but I’ve yet to see him tackle anything relating to the northern economy. While Jon was away, Sansa had to take care of that and in that brief scene in S7 she was on point with everything that they’d be needing during the great war.

      Jon is good in battle but I’m not convinced he’s a better overall ruler, when factoring in economic knowledge, experience, Dany and Sansa are more reliable. The war would have to end sometime, the hard part is how you recover from the destruction caused by it? How would you recover economically? This is where GRRM’s point about the importance of having tax policies etc. come into play, for example Robert Baratheon was better suited for war than for ruling. Jon seems capable but I don’t recall him having a particular scene in the books or the show where he dealt with anything other than diplomacy or war-related matters.

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    88. Jay Targ: But there’s nothing that indicates that Daenerys believes heritage alone suggests that she’s fit to rule. The opposite really.

      Oh goodness, it’s not about what Daenerys believes about the importance of lineage in determining who should rule! You’re conflating what characters do/believe and what their creators do/believe/intend in having them do & believe things. GRRM was using Daenerys (and fAegon and Jon) as characters to examine and respond authorially to Tolkien’s apparent assumption that lineage is what made Aragorn a good ruler.

      You could argue – as many Tolkien scholars probably do – that GRRM doesn’t understand Tolkien, that Tolkien didn’t believe that lineage is destiny. One could argue that Feanor is a good example of having excellent lineage and very strong magic and belief in one’s right to lead and still mucking it all up, although that’s in the Silmarillion.

      But although what Daenerys believes about the philosophical question of inherited right to rule is very much beside the point of GRRM’s contrasting her with Tolkien’s Aragorn, she does, in fact, believe that her lineage gives her an exclusive claim to the Iron Throne. That, and dragons, are all she’s got. And before she had the dragons, she was perfectly content to have Khal Drogo’s promise to bring his hordes across to Westeros to take back the Iron Throne for her. Because she absolutely thinks it’s hers by right. If Khal Drogo had lived to fulfill his promise to her, and her dragons had therefore never been born, what kind of ruler would Daenerys have been (assuming she and Khal Drogo were successful)?

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    89. Just wanted to say I was in agreement with nearly everything you said, River (and some of what Gwidhiel did; I now see what the point was there!)

      I’m sure it’ll be very difficult for Daenerys to accept that the one most important thing of which she’s been so certain all this time, upon which she’s amassed all these accomplishments and come all this way…the idea that the throne is destined to be hers…wasn’t even true. And now she seems to be falling in love with the legitimate heir. Of course, he would likely not be interested in becoming king at this point anyway. I could see him simply handing it over to the next in line. ;p Often it is people with no interest in or chance at leading who seem like the most ideal leaders, but Jon’s been forced into such positions already. To actually be *king*? Might be a bit too much for the resurrected guy. You’ve got to have some change of mind and develop some desire/interest in ruling if you’re going to.
      If Westeros were a democracy already, I’d strongly consider giving Dany my vote. Yes, she belives the throne is rightfully hers and that in itself doesn’t mean you’d make a good monarch, but she genuinely wants to do good with it. She’s achieved a great deal already. People have thrown their support behind her and chosen to follow and serve her, because she has touched and inspired them. She’s definitely not perfect, but is capable of admitting mistakes, taking good advice, etc. Perhaps ultimately the wheel will truly be broken to the point where there’s no throne, and leaders are elected based on the kinds of people they are instead of given power due to who their parents were. Following the established laws, Dany has a good claim (until Jon’s identity is revealed, anyway)–but in both their cases it’s who they are as people, their ideas and virtues and goals rather than just ancestry, that actually make them decent choices. Jon unintentionally rose to power through his actions and others’ responses to them.
      Not to say that there aren’t other potentially even better picks within the cast or elsewhere on the continent, but I dunno that you should start taking totally open nominations and let give everybody a fair and equal shot at campaigning to be ruler. I’m sure they’ll continue placing some importance on birth/lineage and titles and ranks and whatnot. Maybe you could limit the qualified people to ones with a certain amount of education, even though you might need to have been privileged in the first place to have had that opportunity.

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    90. Shelle,

      Exactly, Daenerys is qualified to rule, experience is experience and so what if she’s ambitious. It all comes down to what she would do with all that power. As mentioned by Jay, that conversation between Dany and Jon with her saying “I hope I deserve it.” That to me shows humility but to be fair she was vulnerable during that conversation, having just lost Viserion. Dany is not as humble as Jon but she’s not power hungry either, she’s in the middle. Her temper though might need to be reeled in from time to time.

      That Targaryen/love connection that Dany feels for Jon, I wish it finally brings her a sense of security knowing that she’s not alone in the world. At first, the Jon Targaryen reveal would surprise her but eventually she will understand, Jon is the only family she has left. That has to mean something to Dany.

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    91. I agree 1000%. And while she may have been a bit cocky and overconfident at the start of S7, by the end she’s definitely quite humbled.

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    92. River: …and so what if she’s ambitious.

      Well, it matters if thousands have to die to fulfil her ambition.

      It all comes down to what she would do with all that power.

      And what would she do with that power? All we have are these vague notions of “breaking the wheel” and “building a better world”. When Tyrion tried to press her on how she intended to ensure a lasting legacy, she went into a paranoid funk.

      And bear in mind that if everybody just laid down their arms and bent the knee, life would probably be pretty peaceful under Cersei too. In fact, we see life carrying on as usual in the kingdoms that she rules during Season 7.

      Cersei is ambitious, paranoid, authoritarian, murderous, etc… but there’s no evidence that she would be particularly tyrannical toward a peaceful realm.

      But, guess what? Dany has exhibited all of those bad qualities too in her quest to rule and establish her authority. So why does the fact that Dany would rule the Seven Kingdoms peacefully, once everybody has been made to submit to her, negate her bad qualities but not Cersei’s?

      Remember Jaime in 7×03: “But after we’ve won and there’s no-one left to oppose us, when people are living peacefully in the world she built, do you really think they’ll wring their hands over the way she built it?”

      That line was quite clearly supposed to draw parallels between Cersei and Dany.

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    93. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      I’ve been thinking about this lately. What exactly is Dany going to do that’s so different from those who occupied the Iron Throne before her? How specifically does she plan on breaking the wheel? Why should the Westerosi want her in charge? I honestly don’t have any answers to those questions right now. I suppose we’ll find out in season 8, but I think Dany would’ve been wise to have those details ironed out before heading to Westeros.

      She’s obviously a better human being than Cersei, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to being a good ruler and it certainly doesn’t signify anything wheel-breaking.

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    94. Mr Derp: She’s obviously a better human being than Cersei, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to being a good ruler and it certainly doesn’t signify anything wheel-breaking.

      This.

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    95. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man: Remember Jaime in 7×03: “But after we’ve won and there’s no-one left to oppose us, when people are living peacefully in the world she built, do you really think they’ll wring their hands over the way she built it?”

      That line was quite clearly supposed to draw parallels between Cersei and Dany.

      I initially found Jaime’s S7 storyline to be frustrating and dull until the very end when he finally broke with Cersei. But on my recent re-watch I noticed that he offers a lot of food for thought. One particularly salient take-away was his anticipation of Tyrion/Dany’s move to hit Casterly Rock, and his explicit call-out to the lesson he’d learned from Robb Stark.

      Lessons are everywhere for the taking, but you do have to be able to recognize which are applicable in a given situation. (Another interesting thing I noticed on the re-watch, although I think this detail is book-only, is that the strategy Team Cersei used against Team Dany had Euron reprising the role he’d played 15-odd years earlier in the Ironborn uprising, by sailing into the bay at Casterly Rock and burning the anchored fleet).

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    96. Mr Derp,

      This is one of the major reasons I feel like Daenerys is doomed. Her own self-professed ending to her arc is a dead end, the details of which we are still none-the-wiser about with only 6 episodes remaining.

      And one of the biggest mistakes she made in Meereen was the failure to prepare for what comes after the conquest. For somebody who doesn’t believe they’re capable of producing children in order to continue their legacy (such a major theme in GoT), she really should have her plans for the future nailed down by now. So why doesn’t she?

      I get the feeling that rather than “break the wheel” herself, she will indirectly lead to the reformation of Westeros. Either by saving the realm from destruction, allowing it to be rebuilt. Or by destroying King’s Landing and the Iron Throne, thereby forcing change. But I don’t think she’ll be around to see it through.

      Her apparent ambivalence to the details of the new world she’s supposed to be creating and the prospect of a pregnancy on the horizon imply the possibility of her losing sight of her original aims.

      I’m not sure why the viewers are supposed to trust that she still intends to build this new world when she refuses to even address the details with her closest adviser and instead starts throwing paranoid accusations at him.

      I just can’t see it happening.

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    97. Gwidhiel,

      Actually, Jaime mentions Euron burning the Lannister fleet when they meet in 7×01.

      I really hope they do Jaime justice in Season 8 and don’t sacrifice him at the altar of the cult of Daenerys.

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