Krishtotter Posted April 17, 2019 Share Posted April 17, 2019 Is it just me, or was the contrast between these two characters not utterly striking in this episode? It cannot be by coincidence. In Episode 1, Season 1 we were introduced to a smarmy, backstabbing Jaime Lannister who pushes a boy out of a tower window to cover up his incestuous relations with his sister. At that point, a thoroughly unlikeable villain. And, we were introduced at the same time to a beautiful young woman, Daenerys, at the mercy of her abusive brother and married off to a Dothraki warlord. An unabashed heroine to root for if there ever was one, a real "fantasy" princess. But in the intervening seasons, Jaime has grown as a character and his complex motives have become apparent. He has shown signs of contrition and moral progress. By contrast, ever since she crucified the slave-masters of Meeren, the morally idealistic "slave-liberating" Daenerys has begun to exhibit some deeply worrisome traits - supreme arrogance, a willingness to respond callously to anyone who disobeys her trust and a lack of emotion, for instance when she watched her brother Viserys (admittedly a total jerk, but still her brother) die by having his face burned off with melted gold in season 1, episode 6 or when she dismissed her longstanding lover Daario with the remark, "I felt nothing for him, just impatient to get on with it". This descent into Robespierre-style idealistic tyranny, reached a nadir last season when Dany burned the Tarlys - a father and son - to death, without first giving them a trial or attempting to remonstrate with by means of reason and discussion. She also threatened to burn Varys alive. And yet, Dany has still exhibited selflessness - for instance by finally allying herself with Jon's cause and making 'peace' with the machiavellian Cersei to fight the Night King, thus putting her lifelong ambitions for the throne on hold for the greater good of the people she intends to rule. And yet, the moral regression - of a kind - is still unmissable. By contrast, Jaime has rescued Brienne and evidenced genuine ethical qualities as the show has gone on. He is becoming more and more honourable with every season. In the first episode of season 8, this 'trend' for both characters was solidified. Dany was completely lacking in remorse or a shred of apparent empathy when she informed her lover Jon Snow's best friend, Samwell, that she had burned his father and brother to death. The manner in which she flipped, suddenly, from "nice" friendly Dany - talking about rewarding Sam for saving Jorah's life - into a look of cold, expressionless absence of feeling, actually chilled me to the bone. It was one of the most disturbing scenes I've ever yet watched, made worse by Sam's evident emotional distress. Then, at the very end of the episode we come full-circle: just as season 1, episode 1 ended with "evil" Jaime chucking Bran out of a window, this episode ends with "contrite" Jaime looking at his former victim, now full-grown and disabled, with clear remorse for his sins. The contrast with Dany was stark. Is Jon Snow in love with a tyrannical sociopath-in-the-making, a person of originally pure motives and ideals who has lost her way? I am reminded of Graham Greene books The Quiet American and The Power and the Glory. The former is set during the Vietnam war and the eponymous namesake of the story is an idealistic young American soldier, Alden Pyle, who is very much on the side of ‘democracy’, purporting to support increased freedom and human rights for the Vietnamese people and he rabidly opposes what he sees as the colonialism of the French and the soul-destroying Communism of the Vietminh suggesting that an American ‘Third Force’ is needed. As the novel develops it becomes ever more apparent that ‘hero’ Pyle is not as heroic and charming as he started out, and our perception of him changes. Like the Americans he represents, Pyle’s obsession with democracy turns out to be an end in itself rather than a means to an end. The idea of freedom, to both Pyle and his country, becomes more important than guaranteeing freedom for the people themselves. In reference to a bomb which he himself personally set off in a crowded high street Pyle says: “… They were only war casualties…It was a pity… They died in the right cause…They died for democracy …” The word ‘only’ is pivotal. Pyle denigrates the Vietnamese people, innocents whom he murdered senselessly, as mere casualties of war, human fodder whose deaths are regrettable but wholly justified in the cause of democracy. He does not consider the fact that one of the women he killed could have been his mother, that a child he killed could have been his son, as Fowler, another character, explains to him: “… Would you have said the same if it had been your old nurse with the blueberry pie?..He ignored my facile point …” To Pyle, the idea of a free and democratic Vietnam is far more important than the human beings who are intended to enjoy this future of liberation, as is evidenced by the words, “they died for democracy”. Fowler on the other hand sees the brutal reality and ignorance of such an imperialist disregard for basic human rights. He understands the truth that people can never be viewed as subordinate to ideas. Fowler captures this dilemma when he states: “… How many dead colonels justify a child’s or a trishaw driver’s death when you are building a national democratic front? …” There is something of the horribly flawed idealist in Daenerys, like Alden Pyle, as she becomes more and more debased by her overwhelming lust for power. Is she losing sight entirely of the welfare of the subjects she’d originally sought to succour? She appears to have become obsessed with her own will and that one idea of ordering everything according to it. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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