SPOILERS AHOY, steer clear if you’re not up to date.
As I sit here writing this, the General Election has been called; the Conservatives reign supreme in the Kingdom and most traces of opposition leadership have been deposed. King David of House Cameron is now pulling the strings without the nuisance of his faithless ward Clegg. What a fitting opener to an article about the latest developments in Game of Thrones!
As an avid fan of the show who has never read the books, I can’t get into the nitty-gritty that lovers of the literature and lore have been delving into; but I can say that generally they seem to be pulling out the stops on a drama that keeps you hungry for more. Whilst the intrigue of earlier seasons has been prepped with new alliances being formed, we’re reminded that the series is really entering its ‘next phase’ – the era of Joffrey Baratheon has ended, and we’re at least somewhat given the glimmer of hope in the incumbent monarch; Tommen Baratheon, a purer, less Lannister and more Tyrell, ruler who is currently being manipulated by either his mother or his queen. This is pretty much the same old King’s Landing politics of previous seasons, however we’ll delve into that when political extremism suddenly occurs on both sides of the Narrow Sea.
Westeros is headed for a deep pit of despair as everyone we love gets axed, kidnapped or otherwise sectioned whilst those who persist to scheme and glug wine are at the forefront. “Where’s the justice?” I hear my comrades in viewing cry, “What about the Dragons? Khaleesi has gone sour!” They scream, with due purpose; Daenerys has been obsessed with her own little realm in Essos for far too long trying to train herself up for the Westeros big leagues. In short, she has been failing. Miserably. As some of my more politically astute fellow viewers have noted, she should spend less time trying to remove slavery from an entrenched system of feudal despair and more time actually, y’know, taking her throne back? As a former supporter of the Daenerys Liberation Front, I’m starting to get a little bit sick of her storyline and ruling from on-high in his tower. The Khaleesi has lost her bite, and hopefully the events of the previous episode will bring this old Daenerys back from the dead. We’ve been teased with brief shots of the dragons compared to previous seasons, hopefully we’ll see the mother of dragons return.
The Sons of the Harpy and the Sparrows have both been introduced this season; so just when you thought everything was going to be kind of okay for once, it isn’t. The Sparrows represent a form of extremist faith militants who have arisen in order to reform the Faith of the Seven, end the debauchery and greed in Westeros, and enact the gods’ justice. This has led to a lot of killing, and possibly a lot more to come. It’s interesting to see the situation becoming so out of control so close to the heartland of Game of Thrones, where everything normally looks peaceful and the rich seem to be constantly on the razz. Contrast this with the far North, where politics are taking a far more exciting turn; Stannis is poised to seize the North back from the Boltons, acting from his arctic base at Castle Black. Since the dramatic defeat of the Wildlings and the return of ‘the Mannis’ since his defeat at King’s Landing, we’ve seen a dramatic swing in opinion on who the best character is for the leadership of Westeros. A heartfelt scene between Stannis and his afflicted daughter proves that despite his cold and stoic exterior lies a noble and honourable father figure, who would gladly accept his daughter as a Baratheon, despite her appearance, unlike many other players in the series who would sooner sell off their daughters for political benefit.
This season, though not without its ooh’s and aah’s has seemed a lot like filler for something large looming on the horizon; I don’t know exactly what, but I know some people know. The show has taken on a new life, with the majority of our old favourites six-feet-under-or-otherwise, it’s time to take stock of who the new players are; refreshing characters from Dorne are being introduced, and new factions like the Sons of the Harpy are a welcome thorn in the side of Daenerys’ project of a desert utopia. Game of Thrones is as much a political thriller as House of Cards, and I would argue that the web-weaving we’re seeing inside the King’s Landing political sphere is becoming one of the hotter topics of the show. Cersei continues to look slighty off to the left and pout whilst she tries to maintain her grasp on things, I am surprised she’s lasted this long, but I’ve got a modicum of respect for someone who can stay so sodden with wine yet so involved in the game.
If you’re enjoying the new season and rooting for any particular underdogs, I’d advise keeping those allegiances under your breath, the darker and more adult (yes, really) feel of the show definitely lends itself to the feeling that we’re waiting for something much darker and far more sinister to come along and kill everyone we love.
But for now, enjoy the fantasy, the politics, and the feudal strife whilst you can; because in the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.