Game of Thrones – Hope Like Hell Your Captor is Evil

Game of Thrones – Hope Like Hell Your Captor is Evil

I’ve been running a deadpool at work for the current season of Game of Thrones. Basically, people pick one or more named characters, pay £1 per character into the pool, and if one of their picks is the first to die, they get the entire pool.

Surprisingly, episode three has just ended and no one has won yet.

It was a difficult decision with this episode, because…

Wait one moment. Spoiler warning. Stop reading if you’ve not seen the episode yet.

Really, if you’re still reading this post, you only have yourself to blame.

One of my players had whatserface as one of their picks.

You know, her. Thingy. Whatserface. Pretty, Dornish, mostly pointless as a character, not stuck on the front of a ship?

That’s it: Tyene, apparently. (Thanks, Google.)

Unfortunately, one of my players picked her after last week, having correctly predicted that Cersei would target her, rather than Ellaria Sand, as vengeance for Ellaria’s murder of Myrcella. This led to a tricky quandary. Tyene was poisoned, supposedly with the same substance that killed Myrcella. I personally think that we’ll not see her alive again. However, she didn’t die on screen.

I wrote a few rules for the Deadpool of Thrones when I started it: “Flashbacks, bodies found long after death, weird mystical crow visions count in the order they’re broadcast, not when they occurred in-setting! If your character later comes back from the dead, but was actually definitely dead as far as the audience of that episode is concerned, it still counts.”

Tyene is likely to fall into the ‘bodies found long after death’ category, presumably the next time we see (an extremely traumatised) Ellaria Sand, but she’s not there yet. Ergo, she didn’t count as a death for the purposes of the game.

No one picked Olenna Tyrell, but then, no one really expected her to snuff it, least of all Olenna Tyrell. I’m glad of this, because (perhaps controversially) I’d say her death would have counted, despite the scene in which she was poisoned also ending with her still breathing.

For me, it all comes down to the nature of the poisoner.

Game of Thrones is fond of drawing comparisons between characters within an episode. In this case, the Lannister twins each killed a prisoner using poison, but the way it happened was completely different. In his Discworld novel, Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett wrote:

If a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you’re going to die. So they’ll talk. They’ll gloat.

They’ll watch you squirm. They’ll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar.

So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.

Now, Jaime Lannister is not a conventionally good person, what with various murders and that time he pushed a child out of a window to cover up his incestuous affair with Cersei, but he’s still got a sense of honour and has been gradually developing a sort of decency since he hung out with that proper example of knightly chivalry, Brienne. He makes sure the poison he brings to Olenna Tyrell is painless and quick. When Olenna admitted to poisoning Joffrey in a very brutal fashion, I half-expected him to pull out his dagger and stab her to death out of anger, but he kept his word. He leaves the room to give her privacy to die, but Olenna, it is safe to say, is definitely dead.

Conversely, Cersei is evil. Her only redeeming features were her genuine love for her children, and the fact that she brought 67% of them up to become lovely human beings. As each of them has died off, and particularly since Tommen’s… uh… vertical abdication, she’s become soulless. Being evil, Cersei doesn’t even kill her actual enemy, instead promising to keep Ellaria alive, but murdering someone else instead. She poisons Tyene as vengeance for Ellaria doing the same to Myrcella. Cersei promises that the death could take a few hours, or it could be drawn out for weeks, and she’s going to leave the daughter to decompose in the cell occupied by her mother.

But she’s not dead yet, and Ellaria isn’t going to die for a very long time, because Cersei is evil.

What if Yara or someone else rescues Tyene and her mother? What if we see Tyene in a later episode, coughing up blood but still clinging onto life? What if there was never any poison and it was a cruel bluff by Cersei to torture both Dornishwomen?

Personally, I think Tyene’s had it. The Sand Snakes hardly served a narrative purpose in the show (and I barely remember them from the books, though the Dorne sequence completely failed to grab me when I read it) and it was obvious that the only reason she survived the battle at sea to be captured alongside Ellaria was for something more ghastly to happen to her later on.

My money is on Tyene being a corpse the next time we see her. So long as no one else croaks first, that would count as a win for the deadpool.

Ellaria though? As Cersei once said:

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

Olenna Tyrell lost. Fortunately for Ellaria Sand, Cersei is evil.




Game of Thrones: Thoughts on Thoros of Myr

Game of Thrones: Thoughts on Thoros of Myr
Game of Thrones Warning – if you haven’t seen the first episode of season seven, look away now…
“You’re not fooling anyone with that topknot.”
The relationship between Sandor Clegane and Thoros of Myr is interesting, to say the least. I’ve just encountered some criticism online that the Hound’s vision in the flames doesn’t feel like Game of Thrones.
But… but… the exact same situation occurred a few seasons ago with Stannis and Melisandre. She used her magic, or acted as a conduit for the Lord of Light, maybe, to show him a vision in the flames. It was a major part of the tragedy that was Stannis’ character arc.
The Red Priests do this thing where they latch onto someone they see as critical to the future and guide them. Kinvara is doing a similar thing, albeit more at an arm’s length, with Daenerys, by preaching about her across Essos. Of course, it was Melisandre’s guidance that led Stannis to his death, but she was trying it again with Jon Snow until Davos called her out for murdering Shireen. It’ll be interesting to see where she shows up next in the series – perhaps at Dragonstone to adopt Daenerys, or maybe at King’s Landing to adopt Queen Firestarter herself, who’s already made mortal enemies of anyone who follows the Seven?
Thoros is doing this ‘trusted advisor’ thing with the Hound, and has also been doing it with Beric Dondarrion as well. He may not be as cold and ruthless about it as Melisandre, and he may have developed a far more humane outlook on life since he wound up with the Brotherhood Without Banners, but he’s still a devout Red Priest of the Lord of Light and he’s still working towards the same goal as Melisandre – the eventual defeat of the ‘darkness’ (presumably The Night King).
Game of Thrones is well onto the closing arc of its story, and narrative tropes that seemed to be consistently averted in earlier seasons (if you judge each season as a standalone piece, rather than as chapters in a larger book) are coming back into play.
Narratively, Sandor Clegane/The Hound still has an important role in the story. No one has more narrative right to kill Gregor Clegane/The Mountain than he does, not least for Gregor being the one who held his little brother’s face into a fire. Sandor’s pyrophobia has been a constant part of the character (remember what prompted his desertion at Blackwater?), and was flagged up again during the scene in which he has his vision. To close that arc, he’ll have to kill Gregor.
And how will anyone (Jaime, for example) kill Cersei without the Mountain being out of the way?
Cersei needs removing before the Seven Kingdoms can defend themselves against the Night King, because she’s threatening war against the North, which is where the battle with the White Walkers is going to happen. Thus, it serves the Lord of Light for her to be defeated. (And if Melisandre gets another karmic comeuppance for siding with the wrong monarch and helping bring them to their doom by isolating them from any allies they might have, all the better.)