Spoilers below the cut, but first, this from last week:
The impressive young actress Sophie Turner plays Sansa with the thousand-yard stare and flat-affect voice of an abuse victim living from beating to beating. Sansa gets a lot of grief from fans of the show and the books alike – she’s stupid, she’s insipid, she’s prissy, she’s gutless. Bullshit. She’s doing what she needs to do to survive, as the episode’s opening scene demonstrates. She instinctively plays to Joffrey’s narcissism and cruelty, convincing him to spare a drunken knight’s life while dropping enough “Your Grace”s on him to make him think it was his idea. If she’d been less courteous, like the other Starks would have been, she’d be dead.
It’s easy to underestimate certain characters on this show whose arcs are more traditional. Arya is easy to cheer for, right? She’s kickass. She doesn’t want to sew. She wants to fight! She breaks down stereotypes of highborn ladies! She’s everybody’s favorite and don’t get me wrong: I love that angry, filthy little chicken-rat like she’s my own flesh and blood. Ask me who I most identify with, and I’d say Arya in a heartbeat. Sansa and I would not have been friends as children. Sansa would not have deigned to step over me in the street.
But there’s a problem with Arya fanclub (and to a lesser extent the Tyrion fanclub, which is a whole other post) where I’m not sure we all understand that being an underdog doesn’t make her virtuous. The same way Sansa being pretty and a capital-L lady doesn’t make her suck. They’re doing the same thing, trying to become who they are while staying safe enough to grow up. They’re just doing it differently.
When we start seeing these characters as roles instead of people, instead of actors in an ongoing power struggle, we lose what we’re meant to be looking at. There’s a reason the show starts with that rotation, with the sun, sweeping over the map: See it all, see how it turns, all at once.
Quick takes: First, I have to fess up to those who corrected me on Joffrey, the little freak, ordering Robert’s bastards killed instead of Cersei. It just seemed like such a Cersei thing to do. My bad.
Yara Greyjoy (called Asha in the books) is one of my favorites, in that she’s just one big ball of issues and I think she and Arya and Brienne who’s coming up next episode should form a support group called We Are Surrounded by Idiots Who Think With Their Dicks, and drink whiskey and play cards. The super-creepy incest vibe, the way it threw Theon off balance from the start, was just priceless.
GHOST! Giant direwolf Ghost! That wasn’t a wolf anymore, it was a frigging pony. Put a saddle on him and put him to work plowing a field. Speaking of people’s pets, where were my dragons? Did we blow the FX budget on Theon’s dad’s creepy throne room?
Cersei Lannister is arrogant to her core. It’s all fallen on me, she says, because Jaime’s pretty and trivial and her father doesn’t even see her and Tyrion acts like it’s all a big ironic joke. All martyrdom is arrogant: I’m the only one who gives a shit. I’m the only one who gets it. I’m the only real person here. It sucks, it really does, feeling like you’re the smartest person in the room. Feeling like you get some deep secret nobody else gets. You’d think it would be fun, but it’s not. It’s horrible.
Balon Greyjoy is a sick, nasty, bitter old motherfucker. I think probably if Ned Stark stabbed all my kids except one he took off and dressed up like Mini-Me, I’d be bitter too, but even so boyfriend has stuff going on. Pyke’s an inhospitable place, all rock and misery, nobody bowing and scraping there unless you’ve earned it. The Iron Price: How do you deserve the loyalty of those who follow you? Did you buy it or did you kill for it, reach wrist-deep in blood and rip it from their hearts?
Davos Seaworth needs no god, because Stannis Baratheon is his king. I loved Davos in the books, pitied him for things upcoming but never pitied him for himself until now. Davos is putting his faith in Stannis. He’s saying to Stannis, I would do anything for you. Which is only okay to say to someone you know will not put those words to the test. And Stannis, brittle angry righteous wronged Stannis, exacts the Iron Price from him. He makes Davos make it stick. Matthos was right: God, as big of a schmuck as He can be, is nowhere near as frightening in His requests of you as your best friend.
Most of us would have no trouble refusing God. Could we say no to the person we loved the most besides Him, if that person asked us to pay the Iron Price?