Every week in the Game of Thrones TV Club, Rachael Larimore will IM with a different fan of the show about the goings-on in Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. This week she discusses the season premiere with Seth Stevenson.
Rachael Larimore: Hi, Seth! Is that you in my chat window? It’s hard to see through the stacked pizza boxes, the giant Thermos of coffee, and my pyramid of Red Bull cans. Prepping for a season of Game of Thrones requires as much effort as cramming for a college European History final. The houses! The sigils! The high lords and the smallfolk. Have you done your homework?
Seth Stevenson: Aye, I am well-prepared to be a bannerman for House Larimore. But would it be easier to do this in person instead of over Google chat? I've been practicing my warging, so if you have a pet cat or parrot or something I can just transmogrify over to your house and communicate via animal gestures.
Larimore: No pets, just some house plants. I suspect that would be less effective. Now, could you warg into a dragon or something else with a fire source? Like Samwise Gamgee, I mean Samwell Tarly, I've been cowering behind a rock trying to hide from the White Walkers. Are you like me? Were you surprised when it was Lord Commander Mormont who saved him and not Rick and Carl? I think HBO picked up those White Walkers at a Walking Dead surplus sale.
Stevenson: Yeah, I have never loved the White Walkers stuff. There are enough zombie narratives out there already. Keep your undead out of my medieval power-scheming/dragon-magic narrative! (I did think it was funny that when Mormont discovered Samwell had failed to send the ravens, his reaction was essentially: You Had One Job.) When it comes to the land beyond the Wall, I'm more interested in the travails of Jon Snow. He's gone undercover in Mance Rayder's gang. Do you think he's gotten in too deep, like Jason Patric in Rush?
Larimore: Actually, I suspect that his upbringing will prepare him well for this dual role he has to play. Thanks to the fantastically enlightened attitudes of this medieval world—particularly those of his stepmother—Jon never really felt entirely part of his family growing up, however much affection he felt for his siblings. And so he created a buffer between the Starks and himself. I think his ability to distance himself will help him put on a good face in front of Mance Rayder but allow him to keep his real motives to himself. On the other hand, Ygritte could totally undo him.
Stevenson: Excellent point about Jon. He's always been an outsider pretending to be an insider, and his current assignment is in many ways more of the same. I do love Ygritte (loved her almost as much when she played a fetching housemaid on Downton Abbey)—strong women are like catnip for Jon, I think.
Larimore: Continuing the theme of people who've never really felt part of their family, what did you think of Tyrion, the most tolerable of the Lannisters, in this episode? Surely he didn't think he'd get Casterly Rock.
Stevenson: Poor Tyrion always underestimates the cruelty of his own kin. What I don't understand is why the other Lannisters can't recognize Tyrion's strategic brilliance and knack for survival—those are gifts that could be put to good use if they'd let him.
Larimore: Well, the other Lannisters have always been able to get by on their wealth, their beauty, and their ability to inspire fear in just about everyone. Those are advantages (wealth excepted) that Tyrion does not enjoy, so he's had to be scrappy whereas they have not. What was most remarkable to me about the scene where Tywin smacks down Tyrion is that he goes on a rant about Tyrion being an "ill-made spiteful little creature," and even questions his parentage, and so he could just as easily have been describing Joffrey. Yet the morally stunted grandson sits on the throne, while the physically stunted son is practically locked away in a dingy cell.
Stevenson: I think they find Joffrey nearly as repugnant as Tyrion at this point. Even Cersei is losing patience with her son. But the little twit has a semi-legit claim to the throne, and—perhaps more important—is basically a puppet for his mom and grandpa, who pull the strings. So they find it useful to keep him in power. It does seem like Margaery Tyrell might soften Joffrey's image among the commonfolk. She's out doing charity work, talking to diasadvantaged kids—she's the Princess Di of Westeros. Just wait until she indulges in an affair with a rich merchant from the Free Cities, and then dies in a high-speed palanquin chase through the streets of King's Landing.
Larimore: I'm confident that her palanquin can outrun Joffrey's sissy-mobile anyday, but the paparazzi could be a different story. I'm glad you brought up Margaery—how can you not love her? I think she will do well in King's Landing, despite projecting an image that a family as cruel as the Lannisters could easily mistake as being too soft. Sure, she visits orphans and is warm and open and giving, but did you notice the subtle way she reminded Cersei and Joffrey at dinner that they needed her? When she remarked how wonderful it was that the Tyrells were able to provide so much food to the poor in King's Landing, you could feel the chill in the room. The woman wants to be queen—she blinked neither at Renly's affair with her brother nor his death—so i think she can handle whatever joffrey might try to throw at her.
Stevenson: She's smart, she understands the levers of power, she's got wheat and barley to spare, and she wears cute dresses. She's a catch! I'd like to see a face-off between Margaery and Daenerys. Two tough, aspiring queens with superfluous "e"s in their names. (I'm still betting on the girl with the dragon retinue.)
Larimore: Joffrey's nature is more that of the Mad King Targaryan whom King Robert took care of. And I think Margaery can handle him. But the Mad King had neither dragons nor the feistiness that Dany had to develop out there in the desert, which makes her perhaps a more dangerous foe. Margaery and Dany are both cunning, though in completely different ways. Can you just imagine the two of them having tea?
Stevenson: "This cup of Earl Grey is getting a bit tepid. DRACARYS!!"
Need to catch up on Seasons 1 and 2? Check out Slate V's nine-minute recap.
Please note: The comments are a no-spoiler zone. Do not give away what is to come based on the Song of Ice and Fire books. Violators will be brought before King Joffrey.