Game of Thrones Asks the Important Question: What Is a Powerful Queen without Her Breasts on Display?

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***Spoiler Warning:  This post discusses Game of Thrones events through Season 6, Episode 4; if you’re not fully caught up, you may want to back out. Spoilers!***

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Bookended by commanding women, alike in their core self-discovered and fueled strength, this week’s “Book of the Stranger” was strung together with triumphant moments; the good outweighed the perceived bad. Let’s save addressing the elephant boobs in the room, and focus on that glorious and surprisingly emotional opening scene.

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There isn’t much better than a Brienne of Stark parade, unless of course there’s an open-mouthed, gingerbearded wildling watching agape and possibly — hopefully — lovestruck.  Kristofer Hivju’s perfectly astonished expression when he spied our favorite warrior was matched only by Gwendoline Christie’s disdainfully unsettled response.

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Later during a shared meal, savoring the scraps on a hearty bone, a gentleman easily earned his new moniker:  Tormund Lustybane. I’m not sure any of us can handle whatever was going through his mind, but I’m pretty sure the end result could be adorable gingerbabies.

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Not since a Snow-y cave encounter have we seen the instant magic between such a well-matched pair, so here’s hoping Brienne and Tormund get much more than the usual Tumblrumblings.

The Sansa and Jon reunion was one of Thrones‘ most unexpectedly moving scenes (I have to admit to actual tears). These two stranded Stark souls finally coming together after…who knows exactly how many years have passed, provided heart-stirrings aplenty. The luxury of a familial hug is not lost on either sibling.
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Sweet childhood reminiscing aside, Sansa takes charge of discussions with Jon, reminding him they’ll never be safe unless they take back the North and their home:  “I want you to help me, but I’ll do it myself if I have to.” What a difference a few years make; that little girl spurred by dreams and lemon cakes reminds an apologetic Edd there are “more important things” than good food. Like a jigsaw falling into place, the pieces and players for an epic battle begin to assemble. Littlfinger manipulates his own little bird, and how wonderful it was to see the returning Aidan Quinn’s Snidely Whiplash-ish machinations (less so, the object of his maneuvers — another young lord too powerful for his own good). The Vale army will also head to Winterfell, and as next week’s preview indicates, Sansa is well-equipped and ready to take on both Ramsay and Baelish.

The weekly quick check-ins provide little satisfaction, but at least we’re spared an all-too-short Arya scene. Because there are so many simultaneous Ice and Fire characters and stories, the showrunners seem to believe there’s a necessity to pop in for a look at each, but as we’ve come to see with this series, it’s much more gratifying to spend the hour moving forward with fewer characters. To wit, the Kings Landing and Iron Islands scenes are quickly executed to little effect, though Theon’s support of his sister was a short standout moment for Alfie Allen, and Dame Diana Rigg’s line delivery is always a spot-on joy.

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By his every move, Tyrion practically proves that other parenting theory; his gift of diplomacy comes from the same place as his theoretical brother and sister, but that’s a post for a different day. More enticing are the goings-on between Dany’s would-be rescuers (and dueling suitors), verbally sparring as they make their approach to Vaes Dothrak, and the temple where Jorah knows his queen will have been taken. There the Khals again share their displeasure at Daenerys’ assertion that she, and only she is fit to lead the Dothraki, so of course they threaten her the only way manly men truly can:  with sexual assault, explicitly laid out so she can appreciate the powerlessness of her situation. And it’s here that I must make a necessary aside —  a fruitless wish, perhaps — a plea for a bit more cleverness on the part of writers, a question about the effectiveness of this particular trope. Firstly, if a woman is to be truly portrayed as equal or superior to those around her (and I believe here, this was the goal), couldn’t she have been threatened and revealed the same way a male leader would be? When men are threatening men, rarely do you hear sexual assault thrown into the mix; more like “And I’ll rip out your entrails and feed them to you while your heart still beats…” But here (and in many television and film scenes) it is always about showing male dominance through rape. “I will f*ck you, and he will f*ck you and they will f*ck you, and as if that’s not enough, we’ll let the animals do it too.” Really? Is that the best you could come up with? Because truly, if Game of Thrones were to be the groundbreaking television it wants to be, and if Benioff and Weiss really wanted to show the powerful equal — superior — Khaleesi that Daenerys Targaryen is, Khal Moro could have responded to her “Oh, you think you can lead the Dothraki? We will rip out your…” and it would have been just as effective.

Likewise, it’s impossible to not take issue with Thrones’ by now gratuitous Daenerys boobage; it’s just not necessary, and more importantly, nearly undermines the hour’s most powerful moment. The look on Dany’s face when she told Moro he would die was what we needed to see. The expression Emilia Clarke used to command our attention as she toppled each brazier and set the room ablaze, is truly what held us rapt. The power was in her eyes, and we were putty in her hands; we already knew what the Dothraki people would see emerging from the flames:  The Unburnt, the Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea.

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And, it wasn’t her tits we needed to see as Dany emerged from the raging temple fire; everything was conveyed in that look on her face…

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and the sea of people bowing down to their queen.

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Notes:

I’d assumed that since Clarke previously said she was done with nudity, she’d had a body double — but I was wrong. The actress told EW she felt “proud and strong,” and reminded that she hasn’t taken off her clothes since Season 3. So, uh, cheers?

Brienne’s side eye at Melisandre during the entire conversation with Davos was a thing of pure beauty, as was pretty much every onscreen moment Gwendoline Christie had. Which begs the question:  Why do films and television keep wasting this amazing actress? She needs so much more story, and we’ll happily watch the BrienneBane spinoff hour.

Ditto the feelings about Natalie Dormer; I’m quite curious what Margaery’s plans — after she and Loras are presumably freed by the combined Tyrell/Lannister forces.

Am I the only one not terribly worried about Jorah’s greyscale? I feel like he’s going to be just fine. RIGHT? p.s. Thank you, Daario, for saving his life.

I also can’t be the only one who noticed Jorah holding Dany’s gaze. I feel forgiveness is on the way.

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Ramsay + Osha = Gratuitous, and a waste of both Osha, and stealing book Asha’s (Yara) name. p.s. to TPTB, yes we are smart enough to be able to tell Osha and Asha apart.

I was wrong thinking the Pink Letter would be dropped; indeed, Jon received Ramsay’s (altered) threat, and if Snow had still been wavering, the Rickon threat now sealed his travel plans.

So looking forward to Sansa and Littlefinger next week.

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over seven years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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  • Things I didn’t need:

    The Iron Islands – even in the books i was like “cool story WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE I CARE ABOUT” . But ya ok yay for Theon or something

    also boobs – seriously top half. you just shoot her top half. it’s so annoying. Also spoiler alert – I still don’t like Dany. she’s just…. all talk for the most part. Even in the books. like I AM THE BREAKER OF CHAINS – but i have no idea how infrastructure or food works so all my freed slaves will hate because i am a bad leader. And now it’s like I AM FIRESTARTER – but hey look more people to lead and feed, and i’m not actually good at that ever.

    Things i needed more of:
    Stark kiddos reunions. Guys i have been waiting for this since like book 2. That is a lot of years. I real cried. Real big ol’ tears. If/when we meet up with Bran or for all my hopes and dreams Arya (who sure will have no name but w/e) i will be a blubbery mess. Rickon? well him and shaggy dog are by far the most useless so….

    things that are weird to see :
    Lil’ lord arryn as a teen? Like that’s very very weird for me. That’s one of those things that actual passage of time make possible on tv whereas in the books i’m like “still a weird little 8 year old? cool”