SO MANY SPOILERS if you are not caught up with the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Don’t even bother, cuz.
If the last three episodes of Game of Thrones have contained coded messages and allegories to black America it is fair to say that there have been a series of dire warnings for the nation’s white women. Woke and not.
Daenerys Targaryen has long been a fan favorite–she and Jon have been my choices for game winners since episode two. The firey Mother of Dragons, The Unburnt, Queen of About Six Hundred Titles and Best Eyebrows in Westeros most definitely started from the bottom. She was sold to Khal Drogo (may he forever ride through the nightlands like a boss), raped, chased, scorned and now she’s here, in her own throne room looking fly as hell. With three enormous fire breathing dragons flying a Combat Air Patrol (CAP), thousands of Unsullied, like, all the Dothraki Hordes and the
Tyrell, Martell armies and the Ironborn fleet she’s basically a lock to take King’s Landing. Daenerys, once the best bargaining chip of her despicable brother Viserys is now a Queen without a Kingdom.
The central question of most of her time in power has been: what sort of Queen will she be? Yes, she freed all the slaves in Slaver’s Bay (catchy title) but she also crucified hundreds of people (not that anyone cried for them), burned her enemies alive and perhaps more importantly, let Slaver’s Bay fall into total chaos. I hear you: “learning curve, man.” Sure, but it’s still a valid question.
There’s a telling line in last week’s episode, “Game of Thrones,” that I nearly missed on first viewing. Dany is in her throne room at her ancestral home of Dragonstone, finally speaking with Jon Snow, the King in the North, the Risen, the um … Brooding. Anyway, Dany is running down the list of terrible things she’s overcome and she says, “I was sold like a brood mare,” in reference to her brother Viserys’ deal with Khal Drogo that would have given him an army in exchange for his sister.
This is a direct callback to dialogue uttered by Cersei Lannister (in like all of seasons one, two and three) now Queen of the Andals, Protector of the Realm and all that jazz. Cersei, the queen who had her royal husband murdered, fucks her twin brother, pushed a child through a window because he caught them getting down, killed hundreds with an explosion in the middle of her city and now murders her enemies without hesitation. Cersei’s moral compass is permanently in a black hole. She is hated from Dorne to the Wall and she now wields absolute power with the visciousness of Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King, but without the competence of Jon Arryn, the former Hand of the King to her husband, Robert Baratheon.
To the people on the ground the question is always: Is she really any better than what came before?
The answer of course is, no, not even a little bit.
While all that is going down in King’s Landing, Dany orders Jon to bend the knee and serve as her Warden of the North, as his ancestor did for her ancestor centuries ago. Jon Snow, the Bastard of Winterfell, is like, nah, I started at the bottom too, homegirl, and now I’m here because the hardest dudes in Westeros named me ruler. I don’t owe you shit. Dany is nothing if not belligerent but she’s also not a monster, at least on paper. Jon for the moment is her “guest” while she sorts out what to do about a kingdom “in open rebellion” to her crown.
If you went through all of the last six seasons I wouldn’t be surprised if most of Dany’s dialogue from this scene was first said by one of her male forebears on their thrones. It’s fitting that she and Cersei see the world through the same lens: obedience and rule. After all their instructors have all been men of a certain economic and social status. This is the way the world works to them. But for all her talk of rule, Dany is also interested in the idea of freedom.
Whereas Cersei is still surrounded entirely by men who thrive on rule and obedience, Dany is surrounded only by people from the gutter, the ruled. In episode two of this season she tries to hold Vary’s feet to the fire about his role in King Robert’s (RIP to Westeros’ Greatest Beard) court and the fact that he turned his cloak post haste:
Why, she asks, should she trust a man who served one king, then another, then conspired against that king and now serves her. Loyalty from subjects this is not.
To which Vary replies that “incompetence and cruelty should not be rewarded with blind loyalty.” He’s from the bottom of the barrel too, just like Grey Worm and Messandei (easily the Hottest Woman in Westeros the second she stepped foot on Draongstone), and Dario Noharis–all of them former slaves. (Even Jorah Mormont was in exile when they met.) Dany has a coterie of men and women who know what it is like to live under rule and to live with its consequences. Dany is impressed by Varys’ answers because he’s right of course. No one should remain in power simply because they are already in power. No one is a hero or just just because they are in certain position. A man or woman’s actions make him or her a hero or a villain, not their position or their uniform or their titles.
So why is Dany starting to sound so much like Cersei? She was ready to give up the Iron Islands to her fellow lady-warrior Yara Greyjoy. Why the old-school domination games with Jon Snow?
What will Dany replace this world with?
Viserys was a venal, petty, insecure weakling. He was also entirely too blonde. He was prone to believing lies and repeating them without a moment’s thought. He preened, demanded respect on the basis of his name alone, stepped to people who were far more serious than him with a laughably false confidence and got killed for it.
Any of that sound familiar?
Much is yet to be seen but consider the position Daenerys, first of her name, now finds herself in. Leader of a vast legion of gutter snipes of all different creeds and colors. Morally righteous enough (for now) to sleep at night and offer the people of a huge and fractured nation an attractive alternative to their current leadership, which has proven cruel, incompetent and callous. She also wants to see herself as a kind, open-minded and benevolent ruler. She’s a liberal at heart, just one with three fire-breathing dragons.
What will she do with this seemingly ripe opportunity? Will she replace the known world with something new? Will she “break the wheel” as she promises Tyrion in season 5?
Or will she simply replace male rulers, as Cersei has, with female versions of themselves? Will we see a different way of life or simply another rich white leader who demands that everyone “bend the knee” and live as their subjects?
As the #Resistance grows and we contemplate a new world, America’s white ladies are playing a huge part in that change. But what will they replace this world of white male rule with? Will we see more subjects, saviors and self-important governors, or will they do something unexpected?
Will we all break the wheel?