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Game of Thrones - the TV show (Spoilers for the TV show)


In the last episode, Cersei seemed more of a mad ruler than before. At the same time, it’s not a matter of equivalents in the sense that Jon, Dany or Cersei have been equally evil, but it is a question of which of them will do what is necessary in any given situation to maintain power? George RR Martin is a Machiavelli fan, and often the show has made the point that a ruler like Jon or Ned is worse for the people than someone who is truly ruthless depending upon the situation. Like Jamie points out, the people are fickle and the same people who cheered when Ned Stark was beheaded are who Jon and Dany want to save and rule. If Cersei wins, they’ll be glad to cheer her victory and watch them die as well.

Cersei will do whatever she needs to for power, and that is as much due to the nature of Westeros and its people as it is to her personality.


They weren’t going to pillage. Mance was their leader, they’d have been under his control. He was asking for sanctuary. Jon forced the battle.

Cersi choose violence because that was the only choice the High Sparrow left her. Like you say, both have blood on their hands (innocent blood as well as hostile blood). The disparity though in how fans feel about Jon compared to Cersi is astonishing considering this story is built on showing that no stories are simple. That’s my real point. She’s not as evil as folks claim. Had some of the other characters been in her arc they’d have done much the same things.

I was trying to think where things went wrong, as I do think it’s lost a step from the highs of seasons 2, 3 & 4. And I think it was with Jon’s death. Looking back on it the whole sequence makes little sense. Out of the blue, after the fight is settled the members of the Watch conspire to murder him? Not before he lets all the Wildlings through? And Jon dies, is resurrected, and then it’s like it’s nothing. Jesus gets a 2,000 year franchise for rising and appearing a couple of times in the next month. Jon is all Conor McLeod and it’s like he simply had a dose of the flu for a week? I think GRR wrote that scene, released it, knew it didn’t work, and has had a bit of writers block ever since. Equally Cersi went wrong with the whole ill advised High Sparrow arc. I guess they needed Timmon to die so she could rule unquestioned, but it made her into a dummy when she’s really quite a scrappy calculating character. It diminished her. Dany went wrong when it became clear all the freeing slaving cities was just filler. None of it had consequence, it was just a way to fill the time while her dragons grew. And Arya’s ninja training was equally absurd - all that mystery and drama to simply level her up and have us all pretend that she can kill everyone with her magic powers and fighting skill? A year of training vs someone like Brienne who’s been fighting for over a decade?

Barn’s story makes sense I guess. Sansa’s too. And Tyrions, sort off. Not killing his father though, that seemed a bit much.

So yeah, along the way I think GRR lost the plot a bit, and the consequences of that are playing out now that the end is in sight. It’s a bit like BSG or Lost.


Robert was the best ruler but I don’t think many fans would agree with that.


Exactly - Jon and Dany are attempting to rule by a standard that is in no way supported by the culture. To achieve what they hope to, they will find that they need to be overwhelmingly powerful and totalitarian. This world has not set itself up for any long term happily ever after ending.


Cersei already had another child with Robert that was either stillborn or died shortly after birth, and that one didn’t seem to count for Maggie’s prophecy.

On the other hand, in Westeros they celebrate “name days” rather than “birthdays,” so it might be that the child isn’t official until its given a name.

For dramatic purposes, though, Cersei probably thinks the Valonquar is Tyrion, but it will likely be Jaime.

I’m reckoning that Cersei will either have a miscarriage or be killed before the pregnancy comes to term.


I wouldn’t be surprised if the slaughter of innocents was more on Cersei than Joffrey. He might have ordered it, but it seems more like Cersei wanting to get rid of evidence.

And the explosion at the sept also killed a lot of innocen people including Loras, Margaery, Kevan, and Mace.

True about Ned, though. I’m sure that she had no problem with him being killed in theory, but she knew that his execution would start a war with the North and their allies.


Aren’t these the people that had already pillaged, killing among others that little boy’s family (he who went on to kill Ygritte, and join in the Jon-hate)?

I don’t want to think about it too much but the sudden mass shift in the Wildlings’ behaviour is a bit off. Ain’t their culture one of savagery and brutality, living in the outdoors, etc.? They adjusted pretty smoothly to being indistinguishable from regular Northerners.

I can’t recall if it was in a promotional teaser or from a vision - where did the sight of the iron throne-room with its roof destroyed and snow pouring in come from? Is that still a sign of things to come, per the 7 seasons of dragon shadow over King’s Landing you mentioned.

Tyrion’s not in love with Dany in that way:


Dany’s vision in the House of the Undying from season 2. We don’t know if it’s a sign of things to come, or a possible future that she’ll prevent.

I just watched the scene where Tyrion asks about it in season 2. She clearly didn’t know it was happening and she clearly didn’t agree with it, though she defends Joffery like she defends all her kids.


Tyrion could have switched sides. No matter what people might think, there is no real reason to trust that Tyrion would remain faithful to Dany if he didn’t think she would act reasonably in her pursuit of the Iron Throne. On top of that, he may feel much more responsible for the safety of Cersei’s unborn child than anything else. He loved at least two of her children knowing they were also Jamie’s. This is the future of the Lannister line, and there is a lot of the story we didn’t get to see. After he realizes she’s pregnant, what more did they discuss? What got her to say what she did to Dany? What convinced her to let Tyrion live? Why hasn’t he told Dany that Cersei’s going to have an heir?

Deaths in GOT are not a surprise anymore, so betrayals are going to be the dramatic reversals going forward.


The thing about Cersei is that, like most characters in the show, she’s more complex than a straight up good or evil tag makes her out to be.

As @Jim notes, she has consistent justifications for her actions, not to mention that from her perspective, they are all justifiable and she defends her choices. The thing is, from our perspective her choices are selfish-they’re for her personal advancement or the primacy of he family - while the questionable actions of Jon or Stannis or Tyrion are in defence of a principle. Jon fights the Wildlings to defend the seven kingdoms from the perceived threat they pose, and then invites them into the north to defend them, and everyone else, from the dead. Tyrion makes radical and unilateral decisions when he’s Tywin’s plenipotentiary to defend the capital, and indeed the nation from Stannis, who he views as a usurper. And Stannis is rightly king if Joffrey isn’t Robert’s son, so he’s legally required to make war on the pretenders to the throne.

And this is a big part of why I still enjoy the show, even as it’s gone off the rails in other areas.


Jon doesn’t have that kind of justification for the Battle of the Bastards. That was his Cersi & the Sept moment - lots of death over what was really a personal vendetta. They packaged it as them needing Winterfell to defend the North, but there were other ways to get access to the castle (like a truce), and maybe other castles they could have used instead. The battle was mostly just Jon going after someone who wronged his family. Like Cersi. And thousands dying as a result.

I’m not saying she’s an angel. I’m saying they’re all pretty similar.


I think the show goes out of the way to draw distinctions between the main characters in terms of their personality traits and their ways of handling a situation. Compare the viciousness and cruelty of Cersei’s revenge on the Sand Snakes to Jon’s forgiveness of Theon. Can you imagine either Jon or Cersei doing the same if their positions were reversed?


But they aren’t… I mean, at the core of the issue, it’s rather simple… Jon doesn’t want power, he doesn’t want to rule, he doesnt like it… but others decided he should, so he does out of necessity.

Cersei ALWAYS coveted power, and now that she has it, she’ll do anyhting to hang on to it.

That’s a radical difference between those two… Now, as far as Cersei & Danny, sure, they’re similar-ish. But you can’t say everyone is similar when the whole point is that fortunately, there’s some “good” people left in Westeros.


Winterfell is called the Key to the North repeatedly, and it’s the northernmost point on the Kingsroad. Anyone who wants to travel easily into The North ends up there. Beyond that, I don’t recall any specific strategic value being noted aside from it being the ancestral seat of the King in/Warden of The North. And that symbolic value is powerful in and of itself.

That’s definitely part of why I enjoy the show. Ned was probably the only unequivocally good person on the show (and even then, he lied to his wife, and worse that lie was that he claimed to cheat on her and sire a bastard son when he didn’t) - and his virtue got him killed. I think Stannis is definitely the most shades of grey character on the show, he’s the one who has a virtuous reason to fight, but does the most reprehensible things in pursuit of that goal.


You can extend that (up to some point) to all the “main” Starks…

Rob was also good, his only sin was to break an oath in the name of true love. Jon is good. Bran is good. Rickon was good. Arya became an assassin to have her revenge but only on the people who deserved it, I don’t think she’s killed anyone outside her list and maybe self-defense. Even Sansa is mostly good: She only wanted to be a princess and then a queen, but it was a childish fantasy, not this evil compulsion to gain power.

None of them wanted power, or to rule over everyone else, they just happened to fall into that position and they did it because other people chose them to lead. Robert was pretty much in the same boat as well.



Still, it was his virtue in blindly upholding the same system of inherited power that put the mad king on the throne. The moment he agreed to join Robert’s rebellion, he decided that birthright was not good enough to give you the crown. He still should have asked what was best for the peace of the realm. It really wasn’t virtue but stupidity. He seemed to follow this code so he would never actually have to think about his decisions and their consequences or alternatives.


Whoops. Thought I posted the pics too.


Possibly, and it’s worth noting that Ned wasn’t raised to be lord of Winterfell - his older brother Brandon was And Brandon was originally arranged to marry Catelyn Tully.

But there’s other elements to keep in mind here. Robert’s Rebellion was in response to Rhaegar ‘abducting’ Lyanna Stark. Ned’s father Rickard and Brandon travelled to King’s landing to petition for Lyanna’s return - and were executed for their temerity. At that point Ned, Robert and Jon Arryn rebeled.

Of the three, Ned was Lord of Winterfell for hours when he decided to go to war (but would have been Castellan in Rickard and Brandon’s absence), Robert was lord of Storm’s End, but young and inexperienced, and Jon Arryn was a contemporary of Ricakrd and Robert’s father Steffon. If Jon was willing to back a rebellion, there was more to it than just the hotheaded youths.

Rambling aside, Ned definitely believed in the system as it stood in the Seven Kingdoms. That the best way to maintain stability was to have a strong line of succession for the throne (which is why Robert became king instead of Jon), and that the king’s authority traveled downward to the wardens, and from them to the bannermen. But one of the themes of the books and the show is that the system doesn’t work. Honour is all well and good, but if the other guy doesn’t believe in it, the only way you can take him to task if if you and your allies are stronger.

Joffrey was a malignant little shit, but he wasn’t wrong back in series 1 when he said there should be a standing army loyal to the crown rather than the local lords.


Another consideration is that Ned was essentially selfish and hiding behind his code. He was punished for it, but essentially had his stupid plan worked and he put Stannis in power, he could’ve gone back to Winterfell like before he was hand. The best thing for him, but not for the people.

Not even sure that fanatic Stannis would’ve been better than Joffrey.

Ned gets the award for worst hand ever.

Back to Tyrion, I do think it makes sense he could possibly be planning to betray Dany once the Night King is defeated or at least positioning himself if she’s killed. I think he may be doing that already by preventing her from going all out to conquer. He can wrap it up in the argument she wants to be the more humane ruler, but it also will help him negotiate with his family if she loses.