Game of Thrones: A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing – The Atlantic


David Sims: Ah, Spencer, you expected too much of poor Theon, or should I say, Reek. His goodbye to Yara was a bleak little mirror image of Arya’s little showdown with her former companion Nymeria. When Arya last left her direwolf, she was a girl playing with wooden swords, and Nymeria was a barely tamed beast biting at Prince Joffrey. Now, Arya is a cool-blooded assassin, and Nymeria is even more feral, far too wild and free to serve even as a threatening companion to a returning Stark warrior in Winterfell. The look between them said it all—our animal natures are hard to shed.

The same went for poor Theon as his nasty uncle Euron dared him to take up the sword and try and rescue Yara. Try as he might, Theon’s not about to play the noble warrior—his bravest action up until now had been taking Sansa’s hand and jumping with her off the ramparts at Winterfell. In the face of a familiar brand of chaos (Euron is a 1980s goth version of Ramsay Bolton), Theon jumped again, hoping to live to fight another day. Lord knows what the show has planned for him in the coming weeks, but given his history, it can’t be anything good.

Honestly, I figured Daenerys’s initial invasion force was doomed the second it launched its mission. For one, never throw in with the Dornish: They’re Westeros’s equivalent of the L.A. Clippers, a decent bet on paper that seemingly never pans out, always swerving stylishly into some unfortunate twist of fate. Yara, a far more exciting character, has also always felt doomed to play second fiddle, given how wrapped up she is in the internecine politics of those mollusk-pocked Iron Islanders. And Olenna Tyrell, masterful game-player that she is, has quickly been written off by men far stupider than her (namely Jaime and Randyll Tarly) as being too “emotional” in the face of, oh, you know, Cersei blowing up her entire family.

Game of Thrones has always simplified the precarious, shifting alliances of Westeros’s many houses. I’ve always forgiven it, because this is a TV show and there’s only so much backstory it can provide without sounding like someone’s reading a fake encyclopedia. But as the big bad war the show’s been building up to finally explodes onto the screen, I’ll admit I’m a tad disappointed at the intelligence level of the game-playing unfolding so far. Jaime’s continued allegiance to Cersei is baffling enough, but just about forgivable when you consider he’s got nowhere else to turn—it’s hard, even, to imagine Daenerys accepting the murderer of her father, no matter how big a team of rivals she’s trying to assemble.

But why in the name of the prince (or princess) that was promised would Randyll Tarly, Sam’s hardheaded dad and the chief military commander of House Tyrell, suddenly throw his lot in with the woman who murdered his liege lord? Mace Tyrell wasn’t exactly Alexander the Great, but he (and his two heirs) were incinerated in cold blood, and it’s hard to imagine a blinkered rule-follower like Randyll sullying their name just because he’s afraid of a few Dothraki. I appreciated Jaime’s opportunistic playing on the invading foreign horde—it’s just like our Kingslayer, who’s always been underrated as a politician. But I didn’t buy that Tarly would go for it.

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