Game of Thrones Ladies—Season finale
There’s not a lot to analyze about the women of Game of Thrones in this episode. The finale is about a world that has been wracked by war, that has been filled with blood and death for a long time, and which is now beginning to right itself. That righting comes with the re-establishment of patriarchy, with Sansa and Margery being openly traded in the throne room, and with a general passivity among all King’s Landing’s women. But there are glimmers of irrevocable change, of women who do not care what the world thinks of them and are determined to be themselves.
Sansa, Shay, and Cersei
These three, who had such fantastic roles in last week’s episode, have one scene each in this episode. All of them accept that their lives are controlled by men, from Shay’s decision to stand by Tyrion, to Sansa’s developing relationship with Petyr, to Cersei’s continuing subordination to her father and son. In the south, the patriarchial system has regained stability.
Talisha and Catelyn
I hope I’ve spelled her name right! Talisha actually has no lines of her own in this episode, but she quietly becomes the queen in the North. Talisha has repeatedly shown her determination to be an actor in her own story, and her courage has made Robb want the same thing. Neither of them accepted the paths others laid out for them, and they will shoulder the cost of their choices together. A stroke of hope, of the system of trading women being called into question. Catelyn, in contrast, is a member of the old power structure, and tries to convince her son that arranged marriages, that relationships begun without love, are stronger than the egalitarian passion he and Talisha are wrapped up in. These two women’s generational conflict is perhaps the best contrast the show has ever written.
There’s not much to talk about with Osha in this episode. She’s awesome, she’s cool with killing whoever gets in her way, and she’s chosen where her loyalties lie. Also, I’m really glad she’s not getting the boot like in the book.
Also cool, also capable of great things, but still more worried about getting back to her family. Arya’s just a kid who’s had to deal with way more than she should. And her power, like Dany’s is growing.
I always found Brienne rather boring in the books, but damn is she cool here. Brienne smashes every single idea of femininity, refuses to conform to any of the roles her world has laid out for her. The best defense against this kind of subversion is mockery, and Jamie and the Stark men give her loads of it. And Brienne defense is to ignore the taunts, and channel her anger into astonishingly cool violence. Brienne’s awareness of her own challenge to male authority is constant, but unlike Cersei she does not hate and resent her sex. She shows repeated solidarity with women, pledging loyalty only to Catelyn Stark and determinedly giving the tavern girl’s a proper burial. She moves fluidly through masculine power structures without ever letting herself forget her own womanhood, and she doesn’t let anyone else forget her sex either. Her power allows her to turn the tables, to give the third Stark man the kind of slow death he gave the tavern wench.
I’m not even going to try to spell Dany’s full name. Unknown to the Westerosians, Dany is the greatest power player of them all. No one quite believes her power; Xaro uses her for his own ends, Dorothea betrays her, and even Jorah tries to get her to flee rather than rescue her dragons. The warlocks of Qarth try to tempt her with empty promises, with the domestic happiness she lost when Khal Drogo dies, with the illusion of her Iron Throne, underestimating her strength of character, her ability to keep from succumbing to these illusions. They think they can chain her and her dragons, literally tie her and her power to them for their own ends. And Dany exacts a price for those who try to use her, brutally killing the Warlock, Dorothea, and Xaro.
The Westerosians don’t know it, but Dany is going to do to King’s Landing what her ancestor did to Harrenhal. No one sees dragons coming, and Dany has three under her control. Magic is being used by the show as a metaphor for feminine power, and Dany’s dragon have brought women’s power back into the world to rain fire down on the country that thought they were dead forever.