Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Daenerys vs. Bran: a Game of Thrones rant

Monday morning water cooler talk is now about, by and large, Game of Thrones, the best selling series of books that has become the hugely popular made-for-HBO TV series. If you're not interested in GoT, or if you have only watched occasionally, never fear. You're not a bad person. And you're not living under a rock. As popular as GoT is, it's not Dancing with the Stars. Nor is it NCIS. Still, it has now snuck up on and surpassed The Sopranos as the most watched HBO series in a season. It has a large following, and much of this following is preoccupied with theories, with supposing what will happen next, figuring out prophecies, what symbolizes what, who is going to die, who is going to live, and who is ultimately going to end up on the Iron Throne. If you're starting to get a little lost, read no further. What follows is for people who know the show well (at the very least).

Okay, so it looks like Daenerys is headed to Westeros in the season finale, via the ships of the raping and pillaging Iron Islanders, taking with her the raping and pillaging Dothraki hordes. Oh, and also those three dragons, who enjoy picking up a random sheep or small child for the occasional snack. And why is she headed to Westeros? Why to reclaim her throne, of course. You know, the one her ancestors won with dragons and blood, then pissed away because it turned out they were incest-loving shits. Still, Daenerys is the rightful heir. Go team D!

Because it's not much of a stretch to say that Daenerys is one of the three most popular characters in the series, the other two being Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. Pretty much everyone seems to think these three will each ride a dragon and will, in fact, embody Daenerys' vision of the dragon that has three heads. It seems to me that this is the worst kept secret in the series; obviously both Tyrion and Jon are bastards and it's completely plausible that both carry Targaryen blood (though neither possess the immunity to fire that Daenerys possesses).

Being Team D thus means one can also be Team Tyrion and Team Snow (me, I'm Team Arya) without surrendering a thing.

The messageboards that I frequent have a number of threads devoted to Game of Thrones. The primary one—now centering on the series, since it's left the books behind—is peopled mostly by members of Team D. And frankly, the reactions to many of the things that Daenerys does are quite giddy, in a schoolgirl/fanboy sense (I've had some of these reactions too, by the way). And the talk about her is mostly of a lionizing sort, not only because she is the Mother of Dragons, but also because she is the Breaker of Chains. She is, after all, handing out a lot of just desserts.

In direct contrast to this is the general reaction to Bran Stark. You remember him, the Stark child crippled by Jamie Lannister, dragged around the North by people who keep telling him he's got to fulfill a prophecy, and forced to become one with a tree. People don't much care for Bran, to put it mildly. They especially don't care for him since he more or less caused the death of Hodor (many think Bran basically murdered Hodor, in fact). And I grok all of this; I don't much care for the Bran storyline, as it's rather boring (in the same way that Frodo and Sam's journey in The Lord of the Rings was boring as compared to Aragorn's). Still, Bran is a critical character. It's likely that he's actually Bran the Builder, in fact, that he was the founder of House Stark and the architect of The Wall (via his ability to enter the past and affect it in his visions).

While I don't like the Bran storyline so much, I don't really have it in for Bran, himself. And frankly, the criticism of Bran's actions, the blame that is being heaped on him, is really starting to piss me off, especially when it's compared to the love affair so many have with Daenerys. And as we all get ready for the season finale, wherein Daenerys is likely set to return to Westeros, let's put this all in perspective.

Daenerys has caused a lot of death and destruction. Some of it was in service to noble causes, no doubt, but some of it was just about ambition. And she personally executed all of the Dothraki Khals, not because they were bad leaders, but because she wanted the Dothraki to use in pursuit of her ambition. And again, that ambition is the naked pursuit of power, the reclamation of the Iron Throne, not because Westeros is being unjustly ruled, but because she want to rule it, plain and simple.

So she and her dragons are going to take the Dothraki to Westeros, with the help of Yara Greyjoy and her freebooters. And the crowd is going wild, because Team D! Nevermind the consequences from this move, it's all good; there's no moral or ethical issues to consider, at all. And yet, the death and destruction that Daenerys is bringing is, at the end of the day, not much different than what the White Walkers are bringing.

And against the looming threat of the Long Night and the White Walkers, there is mostly just Bran. The handful of people (and Children) who have been involved with him are getting killed off, one by one. Maybe some of that is Bran's fault. Maybe. But he's had a pretty shitty run so far on GoT. He's not had much in the way of fun, of pleasure, or even of rest. He's been crippled, he's been frozen like a popsicle, he's been assaulted by White Walkers and the walking dead, and he's been forced to commune with a tree.

Yet somehow, he's a shitball. Why? Well, I guess most of his critics will probably say that he whines too much, that he's made some mistakes, and of course that he caused the death of Hodor (that's really the big one). That's what they would say. But the truth is, I think, much simpler. And it's a truth that also explains why Daenerys can apparently do no wrong: Bran isn't cool, while Daenerys is way cool.

Daenerys is smoking hot (with her fine figure, her white hair, her semi-nude scenes, and her sex scenes), she rides dragons, and she keeps getting the best of big strong men, despite her sex, her slight stature, and her age.

Bran is a dirty, disheveled mess, a cripple, is barely avoiding death, and talks to trees.

No contest.

But none of this makes Daenerys a better person than Bran. If he is a murderer, she is a murderer a thousand times over. If he's put some others at risk to save his skin, she's done far worse to feed her ambition. And it's about to get worse. Far worse.

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