We've missed Westeros
The agonising wait for Game Of Thrones season seven – hitting screens this weekend – means plenty of time to mull over the finer points. Here, Larry Bartleet shares 10 indisputable truths of the most massive – and misunderstood – show on TV. If you’re not caught up yet, be warned: here be spoilers.
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1. It’s not just t*ts and dragons
Last year, guest star Ian McShane said Thrones was “just t*ts and dragons”. It’s an epithet frequently levelled at the show, but it’s as reductive as saying Breaking Bad is a drama about chemistry. From its labyrinthine political machinations to its satisfying character development, Thrones is much more. Look at the tension in Arya Stark and Brienne’s first meeting, or Tyrion Lannister’s weirdly affecting six-minute beetle story and show us the t*ts or dragons propelling the action.
2. If Euron Greyjoy really is a bigger sadist than Ramsay Bolton, we’re in for a treat
Here’s some stuff Ramsay Bolton did before being fed to his own dogs: he flayed people; hunted women for sport; made Theon a eunuch; killed a child as a battle ploy; stabbed his dad while hugging him. It seems impossible that any villain could outdo him, but Pilou Asbæk has said that worse is to come from his character Euron: “Ramsay’s gonna look like a little kid.”
3. There’s a deeper significance to the Stark wolves
When the Stark children each adopted a direwolf puppy in season one, it was cute, nothing more – but the wolves’ deaths have been revealed to be omens of greater things. Robb’s was killed with him at the Red Wedding. Rickon’s was slain as a gesture, as his master was soon after. Bran’s wolf sacrificed itself to save others, just as Bran has given up his name to become the new ‘Three Eyed Raven’. When Sansa lost control of her life, her direwolf was executed, and now speculation is rife that her connection to the Stark name is wavering – she continues to work with the devious Littlefinger. Our two surviving direwolves are Jon’s and Arya’s, and in the books they share strong bonds with their wolves. Jon’s continues to help him to victory, while Arya’s, missing since season one, is running with a wolfpack in the Riverlands – so we can expect Arya to do the same this season.
4. Dorne should be renamed Yawn
Yes, the sunny, sandy, southern climes of Dorne: everyone groans when this place comes on screen because nothing interesting ever happens here. Stripped of the nuance, characters and tense plotting that made it such a vivid location in the books, the show’s one-note Dorne appears to consist only of a courtyard with a water fountain; and now it’s populated by four perpetual bores: Oberyn Martell’s three humourless warrior daughters, the Sand Snakes, and his vengeance-obsessed former flame Ellaria Sand. Holiday from hell, basically.
5. Jon Snow actually knows loads of things
“You know nothing, Jon Snow,” might be one of the show’s enduring catchphrases, but we have to give the guy a break. Jon knows what death feels like. He knows how to kill a White Walker. He knows how to command a massive direwolf. He can marshal troops and orchestrate battles with the best of them – but he also knows that wearing all black is cool as f**k and that you should only smile when you mean it. As for us, we know that Jon has a small penis, thanks to quips from his ally Tormund. Can’t have it all.
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6. The Wall will fall
As Jon left Castle Black in season six, leaving Dolorous Edd in charge, he said: “Don’t knock it down while I’m gone.” Edd replied: “I’ll do my best.” In other words, that sucker isrubble. And with the Wall gone, season seven will plunge everyone in Westeros into wintry jeopardy, offering thousands of potential victims to the Night King. It’s not really a question of ‘if’ so much as
7. Brienne + Tormund are Thrones’ funniest couple
Thrones’ unexpected pairings have provided many unlikely comedy double acts – Arya & The Hound, Brienne & Jaime, Tyrion & Varys – but the strange alchemy of Brienne & Tormund outshines them all. As soon as flame-haired wildling commander Tormund Giantsbane set his eyes on badass warrior Brienne of Tarth, his gruff exterior melted and now he can only gaze lustily at her. When Brienne noticed him doing so, she began looking at him as you might a dog turd. Tor-ienne 4eva <3.
8. The books don’t matter any more
Readers of George R.R. Martin’s original novels might not like it, but to show-watchers, the Thrones books are irrelevant now. The series first surpassed the books’ plotting in season five, when Tyrion met Daenerys in Meereen. Since then we’ve diverged hugely from the canonical story, with Sansa’s marriage to Ramsay, the removal of several Dornish plotlines and the deaths of Cersei Lannister’s two youngest. The two are now parallel entities and though the climax is likely to be the same in both, it’ll be years before book-readers get their ending: it’s been six years since the latest novel and notoriously slow writer Martin has suggested the penultimate book (The Winds Of Winter) might not arrive until the end of 2017.
9. Being noble is for losers
Check out this brief list of properly honourable Thrones characters: Ned, Robb and Catelyn Stark, Davos Seaworth, Brynden Tully, Ser Barristan Selmy, Jon Snow and Brienne of Tarth. You’ll notice that all but
two of them are dead, and one of those was stabbed by all his friends after trying to do the right thing. Nobility is all well and good but it doesn’t tend to get you very far in Thrones.
10. We’re all ‘hype’ for ‘Cleganebowl’
Cleganebowl is a gloriously ridiculous internet invention by fans, in which estranged brothers Sandor ‘the Hound’ and Gregor ‘the Mountain’ Clegane beat the s**t out of each other in a hypothetical fight. Each season, fans vie to “get hype” as they concoct new ways that the brothers’ gladiatorial match could take place. The last time it was a possibility was the end of season six, where it was suggested Cersei could face trial by combat for her crimes. Fans assumed she’d be represented by Franken-Mountain, who could have faced the recently revived Hound – but then her son, King Tommen, outlawed the practice of trial by combat and Cleganebowl was off. Still, the Hound and Franken-Mountain remain very much in play, so for all we know it could still happen in season seven. Get hype!