Image credit: cosmo.ph
Winter is here and so is the need for a more feminist narrative in the media and content we consume. Gone are the days when we would gulp down misogyny on our TV screens chupchaap in the name of artistic expression. So, it’s only fair that modern day television’s most over watched and over analysed episodic series be reviewed from a feminist lens. It’s also equally important that the show, which, in the not-so-distant past, has been infamous for its blatant misogyny and unnecessary portrayal of sexual violence be held accountable for its content and any problematic aspects be called out. Yes, we’re talking about Game of Thrones of course, the popular HBO series – the much awaited seventh season of which just hit the stands earlier this week.
With that in mind, Spoilt Modern Indian Woman and the Social Justice Superheroes are excited to bring you weekly feminist reviews of every GoT episode this season – each done by one or more feminist writers, who are also GoT enthusiasts.
So, without further ado, here’s a review of the season premiere – Dragonstone.
For a Thrones fan, there are only two seasons in the year – GoT and waiting for GoT. After what seemed like a long night of waiting, full with enough fan theories to make one want to tear their arm off and feed it to a direwolf, Season 7 finally premiered two days ago. It was no doubt, a solid opening with more than just the odd feminist moment.
One of the most heartening story arcs of the show has been the character progression of its female leads. Most of them have started as tropey, one dimensional acts; such as damsel in distress, power-hungry-evil-schemster or, girl trying to dress-and-act-like-a-boy-to-fit-in. However, they have all morphed into fearless, independent, formidable and complex characters that are real. Sometimes too real (looking at you, Queen C).
After five hit-and-miss seasons, Season 6 finally showed consistent signs of this transformation and Season 7 picks it up immediately.
The new season premiere jumps right in to serve all starving fans the cold dish named Revenge. Arya’s reveal at the beginning of the episode leaves you marveling at how the little girl – who complained about having to thread and chose to dress like dudes – has turned into a full blown badass. Arya symbolises the growing population of women attempting to break free of stereotypes by fighting battles where odds are against them and where no one has given them a chance. At the same time, her quip about not wasting wine on girls and her monologue in front of soon-to-be-dead Frey men, where she casually brings up they murdering two defenceless mothers at the Red Wedding makes knowing references to the not-so-distant GoT past where women mostly played the role of innocent bystanders – most useful as pawns, props or bait.
In Stark (yes, pun) contrast, we move northward, where the benevolent knower of nothing is working hard to Make Winterfell Great Again. Lord can’t-remember-what-a-smile-is does hit the feminist note to start with when he points out that they need ALL northerners to fight the army of the dead and not just the men, which will obviously be only 50% of the human resource – and therefore, foolish (so glad everyone in the 21st century readily gets that). Although it does become clear that he has no chill when it comes to sending children into battle (anyone aged 10 and above? Seriously, Jon?).
Meanwhile, Lyanna Mormont continues to have a 100% awesomeness-per-appearance rate as she fiercely puts down older dude whatshisname with the following:
“I don’t need anyone’s permission to fight for my House!”
Also, she made sure to follow it up by a knowing girl-power nod to Brienne. BOOM!
But of course, how could we let the feminist winning streak continue? Jon Snow, clearly emasculated by how the women have taken his reference to equality too seriously, proceeds to shut down Sansa’s counsel publicly – undermining her role and displaying his higher position in the pecking order. Even though he obviously realises she is right when she suggests that he reward loyalty instead of legacy in assigning control of Houses Karstark and Umber. Instead, Jon decides to favour family lineage over loyalty and skill. Kinda ironic considering he himself was chosen King in the North DESPITE his lack of lineage. Had everyone who chose him applied the same rationale, it would be Sansa who would be the Queen in the North.
What’s worse, in their seemingly customary-post-parliamentary-meeting-stroll, Jon’s man-baby feels are majorly hurt when Sansa references her ex Joffery as an example of a King who didn’t listen to others’ advice. So much so, that Lady Stark immediately regrets making the comparison and spends the next two minutes massaging the possibly-promised-prince’s ego.
Speaking of Sansa, she is struggling to find her own and do her socially assigned ‘duty’ of standing by the male who leads her House, especially after the physical and emotional ordeal she has been through – an ordeal that’s been a fire which she’s emerged from strong and determined. But, in wake of Jon becoming King, her return as a Stark and as a daughter of the ruling family in the North becomes less important – something that’s bound to play on her mind more than usual – especially till Lord Baelish, ever present with the registered-sex-offender-uncle-who-whispers-slyly-in-your-ear vibe, is around. All this while, in her own words, she only seeks “peace and quiet”. Despite all the upheavals, she does retain the Sansa swag she discovered last year with a carefully timed flippin’ of the not-so-little-finger to Baelish when she says:
“No need to seize the last word Lord Baelish, I’ll assume it was something clever.”
On another note, can Sansa’s subtle admiration of Cersei during her exchange with Jon and her former-Cersei-like hairdo be a bit of foreshadowing? Hmmmm….
Which brings us to Cersei. The irony of a Queen in King’s Landing is not lost. The minor feminist dream that she will rename it Queen’s Landing is still alive though. By the way, anyone notice how Cersei and Daenerys are Queens because they are the last ones left at the end of the line of succession with no male alternatives?
Anyway, Queen C’s need for allies brings bad boy Euron to her door – who marches in wearing a rather slick jacket. Great to see that Zara finally has an outlet in Westeros. It was getting rather tired with all the old style clothing. Euron, with his mighty fleet, promises a ‘special gift’ to Cersei in exchange for her hand in marriage. Even as he knocks Jamie for missing a limb and implies that he may die by his lover’s hand. Jamie of course, does what he has done so well since Season 3 – sulk and stare half menacing, half hurt. It’s like… he just can’t even anymore.
Well, while we’re on the subject of men who continue to fall short of expectations, ol’ Samwise (wait, what do you mean it’s Samwell? Oh, yeah… Of course!) is still trying to be maester, even as he part-times as chamber pot cleaner and nearly gags himself a few times. Hey! Where’s Modi to tell him it’s a spiritual experience?
Anyway, Sam does manage to sneak in to the platinum-members-only section and steal a book that tells him there’s a big pot of dragon glass buried in Dragonstone. Wait, isn’t it exactly what Stannis told him in season 5? So he traveled all this way and waded through all that shit (yes, pun) to find out exactly what he knew two seasons ago, but forgot?
Way to go Tarly! Bet Gilly’s so proud of you now!
Meanwhile, Jorah Mormont – greyscale and all – is now confined to a 2 x 4 cell and still pining for Dany. Tell you what, there HAS to be an MRA bet going on right now about who has a better chance of ‘getting the girl’ because they didn’t ‘take no for an answer’ – Jorah with Dany or Tormund with Brienne the Boss.
Speaking of Tormund, he makes one final move on Brienne, even as he is commissioned by Jon to guard Eastwatch by the Sea – most probably to eventually die fighting the dead there. You can’t help wonder if this is effectively the end of any possibility of team #Torienne. Perhaps both Jorah and Tormund can take a cue out of Ed Sheeran’s book, who makes a surprise appearance in the episode as one of the soldiers Arya runs into and grabs a bite with.
Wait, what? Wow, that has GOT (no pun) to be nicest that a group of armed men have behaved around an alone woman passerby in the history of Game of Thrones! Or, you know, the real world. Will we see more of Sheeran in this season? Will #Sheerya become a thing? Will One Direction (minus Zayn, of course) sing at their wedding in season 11? Oh, the questions are endless!
Anyway, as the episode reaches its 50 minute mark, the patience is running thin. Despite a nice (sad) throwback to season four for the Hound, who typically refused to listen to a girl and abandoned a father-daughter family but now wishes he had saved and tries to compensate for by making fun of Thoros’ man-bun.
And then, just when you’re about to give up, it FINALLY HAPPENS!
Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, First of Her Name, Salt of the Earth, Gawd is Her Title Super Long, touches down at Westeros at long last!
With her full posse of Missendei, Tyrion, Grey Worm and THREE DRAGONS in tow, Khaleesi gives her fans the glorious moment they wanted – as she arrives at Dragonstone, drum beats and all, and walks into the Targaryen castle. Dany purposely moves through the throne room, which clearly someone has been dusting and keeping cobweb free all these years, like only she can, and ends the episode with an almost-fourth-wall-breaking question…
“Shall we begin?”
Episode Rating: Three and a half man-buns.
Episode Winners: #Sheerya, Sansa, Lyanna Mormont, Team Dany, Euron Greyjoy.
Episode Losers: Jon Snow, Samwell Tarly, Jamie Lannister, The Hound, Petyr Baelish.