Monday, May 25, 2015

game of thrones ... powerful women

Many people disliked George R.R. Martin's fourth novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Feast for Crows, but I really liked it. The narrative voices were almost exclusively female, and it was very interesting to view the game of thrones through their eyes. Cersei Lannister had always been an interesting character, but in this book readers really got into her head — and what a jumbled mess of power hungry hubris it was.

In the series Game of Thrones this season Cersei has thought herself very clever, and positioned herself to run things in King's Landing while finding time to take down her supposed enemies the Tyrells — chiefly Margaery Tyrell, who she can't stand to think is not only usurping her position as a Queen, but replacing her in her son Tommen's affections. How Cersei doesn't see her own impending downfall is one of he most compelling parts of A Feast for Crows, and will surely play out as strongly in the show. Newbie religious fanatic Lancel Lannister, who has provided the High Sparrow with a list of Cersei's sins, is only the tip of her iceberg.

No matter her other failings, we do believe that Cersei loves her children.

But Cersei wasn't the only interesting woman in last night episode, "The Gift." Margaery, although incarcerated and in rags, was having none of Cersei's lip, while her grandmother Lady Olenna worked tirelessly to free her and her brother Loras — even if that meant striking another murderous deal with Littlefinger. And how fabulous was it to see Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna and Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow trading barbs and comparing ailments? Two masters at the top of their game, in character and as actors.

Sansa was still being brutalized by her husband Ramsay and trying by hook or by crook to get some help. Although things don't look too good for her at Winterfell at present, faithful Brienne is not too far away. And finally the Stark's "Winter is coming" mantra was more than just words — snow was falling fast and furiously from the Wall to Winterfell. Winter is here, Westeros, wake up!

Another strong woman, Gilly, proved to Sam she is a true friend and ... lover, in probably the episode's only sweet moment. In Dorne the sand snakes became (finally) interesting while they worked their wiles on their fellow prisoner Bronn. Hey, Game of Thrones, stop teasing us about killing off Bronn. Just don't do it.

In Meereen, Daenerys was being more girl than Queen, by taking advice from her overly ambitious lover Daario. Her desire later to run away from the fighting pits when things got a bit bloody was a little out of character for the Khaleesi. Is Daario, or being separated from her dragons and living in a giant pyramid making her soft? Her betrothed Hizdahr insisted she stay, as he keeps singing the tune that her acceptance of the fighting pits and customs of Meereen will finally help her make peace with the citizenry, both masters and former slaves. Whether we believe his motives or reasoning, it's good he got her to stay, as who does she finally get to meet? Why "the gift" of the episode's title, Tyrion Lannister, that's who. Let's just hope she doesn't kill off the giver, Jorah, or I'll have to sic her dragons on her.

Stannis Baratheon, my unexpected favorite character this season, was the only male who also had a real chance to shine in the episode. When the awful Red Woman seductively suggested he sacrifice his daughter Shireen to the cause of magic king-making because she had "king's blood," he kicked her to the curb. Stannis has shown before that he loves his daughter, but let's hope that he holds his resolve. A rift between him and the Red Woman would be interesting, too. She'd have to go searching for more king's blood elsewhere ...

It's hard to believe, but there are only three more episodes in this, the fifth season. The next few episode titles give us a clue where things might be going, Hardhome," and then "The Dance of Dragons," but we'll just have to wait and see where the final episode, as yet to be named takes us. With the show runners off book, it could be anywhere, and that's an exciting prospect.


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