Equal and Opposite
They say that for every action, there is an equal an opposite reaction. They say that because Isaac Newton was one smart cookie and because centuries of science have proven it to be true. It’s also true for well made narratives, however, and after three weeks of reactions in Game of Thrones, we finally got an action.
In the last three weeks we saw our favorite characters simply reacting to the things around them. Davos and Jon Snow REACTED to the actions of Thorne, Daenerys REACTED to the actions of the Dothraki, Sansa REACTED to the actions Ramsay Bolton, etc. All season long we felt like our characters were passive participants in the story…their choices didn’t define the narrative, they reacted to the choices made by external forces. Our characters were powerless and, therefore, less interesting. Even fan favorites Daenerys and Arya seemed like they were taking their lumps, rather than dealing them (or whatever you do to be on the opposite side of a lump).
But, as Sir Isaac Newton said, the actions/reactions are equal and opposite, and we finally saw are characters take the first steps towards taking control of their narratives again…and boy was it rewarding.
Daenerys was, for the last season and a half, plagued with the burden of ruling. Her leadership abilities came into question and her qualifications for the Iron Throne wavered. Here, much like at the end of season one, we saw Daenerys’s rebirth through fire. If wasn’t for her title of “mother of dragons,” I’d go so far as to call her a Phoenix. She was reborn into a strong and fearless leader, now prepared to lead the Dothraki into battle against the Masters, against the Lannisters, and against anyone who she feels stand in her way. Now it’s quite obvious that Daenerys will stay on that side of the Narrow Sea for the rest of the season, as the pacing of the series naturally permeates our understanding of the story, but her ship is righting itself, so I expect to see some major progress in Essos on her front. Tyrion will likely play a big part in that, too. He’s got the diplomatic touch, and although Greyworm and Missandei found his methods a tough pill to swallow, he might be the difference between a unified Essos and an Essos is utter ruin.
Jon Snow and Sansa Stark, likewise, are formulating their game plan. This was the biggest payoff I didn’t know I wanted, and the catch up between Sansa and Jon reminded us just how far these characters have come. Gone are the days that Sansa wept over the possibility of not marrying Joffrey Baratheon. No, here we see Sansa encouraging Jon to start a war for Winterfell. This is a notion that Jon is entertaining, by the way. He’s checking his math with the wildlings and Sansa and Brienne are assuring him that the North will remain loyal to him, the eldest son of Eddard Stark. If I were a betting man, I’d say the resurrected Jon Snow will, in a bit more vengeful spirit, lead an army to Winterfell and leave Castle Black wide open to a White Walker attack. Just a hunch.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Cersei is colluding with Grandma Tyrell of all people! It’s nice to have the evil, manipulative Cersei back, but this is a whole new ballgame. Grandma Tyrell has proven that she isn’t one to be messed with, and so the two working together can only go so far before one of them turns on the other in a mad dash for power. I’m reminded of Stalin and Hitler before WWII was in full swing, and so I gotta wonder how far the alliance will go before one family gets thrown under the High Sparrow’s bus.
Said High Sparrow, meanwhile, was having quite the pow wow with Margaery Tyrell. Either this guy is a manipulator of Cersei-caliber, or he just really believes that parading naked women through the streets is the right thing to do. Regardless, his recounting of his checkered past only strengthened Margaery’s resolve. When speaking with Loras, Margaery encourages him to hold on, although Loras doesn’t share her spirit. It’s easy to see Margaery’s part in the story as non-progess, but her strengthened resolve is as much an action as anything else, so she’s one to watch as things move forward.
And, filed under the “not as interesting” header, we have Theon going home and submitting to his sister and Osha getting stabbed in the neck. The former was something that was entirely earned by the show, although a little unnecessary in grand scheme of things. The latter was entirely unearned and was a major letdown. At this point, there’s nothing else that can be done to make us hate Ramsay Bolton. He’s literally fed a baby to a wild dog. Sure, maybe Osha just didn’t have anything else to do or maybe the actress wanted out (after two seasons of not existing), but this felt like a lazy bit of clean up. I would have loved to see something more creative happen with the character who, for all she’s been through, really deserved a bit more.
All in all, this was the action that the show needed to take to get things back on track. Characters are making important decisions again, plot lines are being defined, and the stage is being set for the future. Maybe all we need in our shows is just a little more physics.
Odds and Ends
- Davos and Melissandre haven’t had the best relationship in the past, so bringing Brienne into the fold will certainly complicate things.
- Redbeard Wildling has the hots for Brienne? That should be a show unto itself.
- No appearance from Arya or Bran this week, and that’s probably for the better. It would have diluted the poignancy of the Jon-Sansa reunion.
- MY MAN LITTLEFINGER IS BACK, Y’ALL.
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.