There are no books to work from on Game of Thrones this season — even George R.R. Martin might be surprised with what’s happening on the HBO series — and things could get confusing. To help you out, after every new episode, two resident Thrones experts will answer your five most pressing questions.
1. Has Cersei lost the plot, or is she winning a game no one else is playing?
Ryan: Cersei has a bad rap for being impulsive and psychotic, but I appreciated the way she handled the truce negotiations in “The Dragon and the Wolf.” As far as the Targaryen alliance is concerned, she reluctantly accepted the situation and is on board with the fight against the Night King. But in reality, she’s taking the opportunity to send for reinforcements that will help her retake the territory she’s lost and strengthen her power.
And why would she do anything else?
There’s not enough room for two queens in Westeros, so it’s Daenerys’ head or hers. An army of dragon-killing undead appearing in the North is just the kind of wild card Cersei needed to pull this latest round of the game of thrones out of the fire. Sure, that same army could end up being an even worse problem than Daenerys in the end. But in the zero sum game Cersei is playing, what’s the difference between getting killed by a Targaryen or the White Walkers? Better to let them “take care of” each other first and hope whatever’s left over is weak enough to stomp out afterwards.
Cersei is in survival mode, plain and simple. Let others try to save the world. She’ll try to protect herself and her unborn baby. In that context, even pushing Jaime away (and into the Zombie Mountain) makes a lot of sense. While surrendering in the face of insurmountable odds may be the smart play when it comes to minimizing troop and civilian casualties, it doesn’t change the fact that it almost certainly ends with Cersei’s head on a spike. Jaime went from being a man who pushed a child out a window to protect Cersei to… whatever the heck he is now. Personally, I love the character growth.
But it’s no wonder Cersei considers it pure betrayal.
Josh: First off: I, for one, am glad that the whole Jaime/Cersei prophecy thing hasn’t come true, because a) prophecies are boring (they’re like a “three weeks earlier” title card after a movie opens en media res) and b) Jaime leaving Cersei is a far more interesting character choice. He, not some crazy, old forest witch named after an amphibian, is dictating (Dickon-ing?) his fate.
Anyway, I’d be pissed, too, if I found out my sister-lover lied to a literal mother of dragons about forming an alliance to help her defeat ice-zombies only to be, like, nah. Cersei’s scheme — she sent Euron, who pretended to beat a cowardly retreat to the Iron Islands, to Essos to pick up her Golden Company super soldiers; he’s the Obi-Wan of Game of Thrones — isn’t terrible for her, but it’s awful for the one million people living in King’s Landing, and the rest of humanity, too. She’s yelling at the sun for revolving around the Earth when everyone else is curbing climate change. There’s one potentially major flaw in her plan, though: what if Daario Naharis is leading the Golden Company?