The Ghosts of Harrenhal

Game of Thrones: The Ladies

Cersei: The beginnings of Cersei’s descent into alcoholism this week. I love Cersei, because she’s so desperate for power and so bad at wielding it well. It makes for an interesting character piece. I love the symbolism of her loss of Myrcella—it’s an extremely painful recognition that, no matter how much power she thinks she has gained, she can’t stop something as simple as her daughter being sold off. The system that condemned her to a miserable life is going to take her daughter from her. Cersei’s need for control, after having had so little control, makes her incredibly bad the subtle manipulations that a ruler has to excel at. Without that knack, which Tyrion displays so brilliantly, Cersei is left trying to wield power through force, through things like wildfire, but she can’t even control her own children.

Brienne: I’ve never liked Brienne, maybe because she is utterly driven by her relationships with men. There is no desire in her for greatness or glory, nothing that drives a person to knighthood—only a slightly pathetic adoration of Renly. Without him, she pledges herself to Cat because she has no one else. Eventually, she will attempt to avenge Renly on Stannis. Brienne is a good character, in that she is both uniquely strong and uniquely weak, but I think she remains fundamentally essentialized in the worst possible way.

Catelyn: The ever-practical Catelyn put in a good showing this week, but not much to analyze. She allied with Brienne out of convenience, not out of a real connection. They had to flee together, and now they’ll stick together for the moment.

Margery: A glimpse into the motivations of this lovely lady this week, as she told Littlefinger “I don’t want to be a queen. I want to be the Queen.” She is driven by a desire for power just as much as any man, perhaps more. She doesn’t seem to want control—she just wants the throne. She’s always seemed to me to be a “might have been” for Cersei, and nothing yet has shown this false.

Dany: Dany was faced with some difficult choices this week, and she did wonderfully. She is learned how to wield the power she has, as she sends Dorothea out to find information with her feminine wiles. Her proposal from Xaro was suitably unromantic, and far less greedy-Oriental than in the books. Dany’s main conflict at this point in the story seems to be how to balance personal relationships with power relationships. She can suggest that her servant women do things, but she does not order them because she does not need to. Xaro proposes to her a political match, one of mutual beneficence, not of love. The match is tempting because it offers an easy way to her power, an easy way to the Westeros. It is also potentially fraught because of this implied ease—there’s no way it can be this easy, and if it is, would it be worth it? Would Dany rule, or would Xaro? Finally, the conflict between personal versus power in her relationship with Jorah is the most difficult for her to deal with. Pretty much everyone knows Jorah is in love with her, probably including her, but what Dany needs from Jorah is an advisor. She needs the power relationship, far more than she needs or is comfortable with the personal relationship. Neither she nor Jorah know what to do, and the actors perform amazingly as they try to find the line between personal and power.

Arya: Is my favorite character this week, staring down Tywin Lannister better than Tyrion or Jamie ever could. Arya has been offered the power of life and death, and she uses it to destroy something evil. Where this will end up going…

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