We’re in uncharted territory on Game of Thrones. There are no books to work from — 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, our Thrones experts will answer your six most pressing questions.
1. Who burned their rival better, the Queen of Thorns or the Blackfish?
Josh: In one corner, you have Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns, who was at her thorny best in this episode. I’m not sure which line was better: “I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met” (I say this at least four times a day), or “You lost, Cersei. It’s the only joy I can find in this misery.” She cuts Cersei to the core — her barbs slice deeper than any sharp object thrown at her during her Walk of Atonement. Cersei doesn’t respect the dirty commoners who linger outside her shelter, but she has a begrudging sense of appreciation for Olenna, whom she recognizes (and fears) as another powerful woman.
In the other corner, there’s Brynden Tully, the Blackfish, caretaker of Riverrun. Jaime and his army try to intimidate Cat’s uncle into abandoning his castle, but he and his men aren’t going anywhere. They have enough supplies for two years, and nothing but time. The only reason the Blackfish — who deserves a better rival than the blundering idiots Lothar Frey and Walder Rivers — decided to meet with the Kingslayer is because “sieges are dull.”
And the winner is… the Queen of Thorns, who not only had the better stinging witticisms, but she’s on her way to safety in Highgarden, semi-content in the knowledge that Margaery hasn’t been turned into a brainwashed slug by the High Sparrow. The Blackfish is a surly bastard, but his options right now are fight and die, or wait it out and eventually die. I don’t like those odds.
Ryan: As Tyrion once said, “Death is so terribly final, while life is full of possibilities.” It’s those possibilities the Blackfish is referencing when he asks Jaime if he’s got two years to sit around and starve him out of Riverrun. As we all know, Brienne is about to show up on the scene. The Brotherhood Without Banners may be vicious murderers now, but that’s not always a bad thing because they hate Freys and Lannisters.
All this is to say that the Blackfish’s frank assessment of his situation and direct crapping on Jaime’s honor was the Burn of the Week for me. Sure, Lady Olenna hurt Cersei’s feelings, but the Blackfish and Kingslayer are facing off for bigger stakes than that. This is the beginning of a struggle that will end with one or maybe even both of them dead. And the Blackfish just took round one via devastating mental warfare.
2. Will Yara’s tough love bring Theon back from the brink and earn him redemption?
Ryan: Theon better hope it does because Yara’s already getting sick of his mopey post-traumatic stress disorder. This week she reminded him that suicide is always an option. Next week she might put a dirk through his heart, reassurances of safety be damned. It didn’t take much for her to abandon Theon to Ramsay when he revealed himself to be Reek. I don’t think he’s got a generous amount of onscreen time to get his sh*t together.
But can he? Or is he too broken to ever come back? Given that he still follows commands like a whipped dog, I’m thinking this is just too big of a chasm for him to come back from. That doesn’t leave many positive outcomes for Theon on his journey through the east. I doubt he’ll end up taking a knife to his wrists, but the guy hates himself and wants to die. The first opportunity he gets to sacrifice himself for his sister or his house, and he’s liable to try and take it. The follow up question is… would Yara let him?
Josh: I think she would. And maybe that’s for the best. I get that Game of Thrones is setting Theon up for redemption, even though he probably doesn’t deserve it. Neither does the Hound (who we’ll get to soon), but he’s a more interesting character than Theon, and I’m a monster. Anyway, Theon will achieve his atonement by sacrificing himself to save Daenerys from Euron, or something, and if that’s the route the show’s going down, I have a suggestion: Make Theon the leader of the Unsullied. It’s a perfect fit. He’s been emasculated, they’ve been emasculated… I guess that’s the only thing they have in common, but at least it would give him something to do, other than look bug-eyed and drink beer, which, according to Yara, is the solution to all of life’s problems. Well, beer, and the kind of asses you don’t find on the Iron Islands. Maybe the Greyjoys are smarter than we give them credit for.