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rustythesmith

Hearts in Conflict with Themselves

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Tyrion

Tyrion still believes that Cersei can be saved. Cersei absolutely cannot be saved. She has lost everyone who ever loved or cared about her EXCEPT Tyrion. She's full of hatred, revenge, spite, bitterness, loneliness, misery, and the most painful thing about all of it is that she knows that it's all her fault. The only person who still cares about her is the person she hates the most. I think she knows that too, because Tyrion challenged Cersei to kill him and she couldn't do it.

So Tyrion's conflict this season I think will be a choice between Targaryen or Lannister. This Targaryen or Lannister tension in Tyrion has already been teased at Jaime's reception.

When the chips are on the table, Tyrion will choose Lannister. His choice will be made easier by the fact that Daenerys is becoming three shades greyer by the episode. Tyrion's choice of Lannister over Targaryen will add fuel to Daenerys's descent into a madness that resemble's her father's. Traitors everywhere, indeed.

 

Jorah

Jorah and Daenerys have been partners in untruth since the beginning. The source of Dany's gradual moral descent can be traced all the way back to the behaviors that Jorah taught her, by failing to admit his own mistakes.

Jorah confessed to Dany that selling slaves was wrong and that he only did it because he was desperate. But confessing doesn't mean anything if you continue committing the offense. Jorah continued to urge Dany to sacrifice her ideals and to partake in slavery whenever it is convenient. He continued to blame Ned for his problems, to trash Ned for his honorable worldview, and to urge Daenerys toward vengeance upon the usurper's dogs. This shows me that Jorah has cast Dany as the champion of his revenge and perhaps of his innocence too.

If Dany can use slaves and make it all work out, that will prove that what I did wasn't so bad after all. And if she can't make it all work out, at least it will prove that anybody would have done what I did, resorted to slavery, when placed under as much pressure as I was.

Over the seasons, Jorah's experiences in being a slave and spending time with Tyrion has rehabilitated him towards a more healthy relationship with the truth. In Episode 2 Jorah has made his first attempt to rehabilitate Daenerys from her addiction to comfortable lies too. Tyrion has had a run of bad decisions and bad luck, and Dany is looking for reasons to call him a traitor. Dany offers Jorah a comfortable lie that "Tyrion stole your position as Hand." Jorah rejects the lie and sings Tyrion's praises, despite not liking the imp. This shows me that Jorah's relationship with the truth is repaired. He is modeling the truthful way to be so that Dany can begin to imitate it. The first thing she does next is try to manipulate Sansa.

Dany has fully implemented the horrendous worldview that Jorah, in his bitterness, inflicted upon her early in the story. Jorah has grown out of his bitterness and been able to recover from untruth, because his crime is relatively small. But the atrocities Dany has committed along the way are of such a number and magnitude that she cannot bear to admit that they were wrong. Her most painful moments are the moments when she is forced by her circumstances to act in contradiction with her vengeful and self-righteous ways.

I must allow the Kingslayer to live... for now.

Jorah's conflict is that he has to bear the painful knowledge that he has corrupted the woman he loves and that he may not be able to save her. After Episode 2 I think Jorah is Azor Ahai, Heartsbane is Lightbringer, and Daenerys is Nissa Nissa.

 

Sansa

Sansa is a passionless, trustless marxist who needs to relearn the value of love and trust or else grow into a lonely bitter cat lady. The end of her story is thematically inconsistent with the beginning and middle. It reeks of cheap attempts to appeal to modern thirdwave audiences. If her heart is in conflict with itself on any matter, it's hard to tell what that matter is, exactly. She wants the North to be independent? Why? I thought she just wanted her home back. How does kneeling to Daenerys pose any threat to losing her home again? There's no reason to think that Dany will give Winterfell to some other house. The only way that Sansa and the Starks are in danger of losing Winterfell again is if they start an unnecessary war with their new queen who has dragons. Not to mention that that queen is in love with Jon, a Stark, and likely to marry him. I don't like what the show has done with Sansa so I don't really have much to say about her.

 

Arya

Arya's story is just as ruined as Sansa's story. As it stands right now, Arya's story is a complete betrayal of the anti-revenge themes that characterize the source material. The only way to fix Arya in the show now is if some person she has wronged in the past, perhaps Meryn Trant's daughter or son, comes along out of nowhere and demonstrates the cyclical nature of revenge by killing Arya or someone she loves. I can't think of any way that Arya's heart is in conflict with itself in the TV show currently. Maybe she'll develop an attachment to Gendry and that will conflict with her attachment to her family somehow.

 

Night's King

Here's how I understand his situation. He was forcefully tied to a weirwood on the Isle of Faces while the Children drove dragonglass through his heart. And that turned him into the blue creature he is now. The NK is clearly out of the Children's control now, because the NK attacked them. Leaf's comments to Bran suggests that the reason the Children created the Night's King was to fight the humans.

Now I'm supposed to believe that the NK, after centuries of peace, has suddenly decided to rebel against his "kill all humans" programming by... killing all humans? That isn't how you rebel against your creators! This makes no sense, as is, so I have to assume that the NK doesn't want to kill all humans. That's just a bad assumption that the characters have made. So he must want something else.

D&D said that the symbol on the wall at Last Hearth was a sort of profanity from the NK/WW. It seems like LML is onto something regarding this, because think about what the Umber spiral accomplished. The Umber boy in the middle with the white spike through his belly represents the weirwood tree where the NK was forcibly transformed. By placing the boy on a spike, the NK clearly did not intend for the Umber boy to kill any of the humans. He intended for the humans to set fire to him. He has successfully tricked the humans into setting fire to the thing in the middle of the spiral. It's saying "I'm going to make you burn down your weirwood."

 

Brienne

She seems happy. If her heart is in conflict with itself about anything, maybe it's her crush on Jaime? I don't get why we're still having this unrequited love between Jaime and Brienne lingering if the storytellers aren't going to do anything with it. Can they just have a conversation about it please and resolve it? Like "Hey Brienne, I respect you as a person but I'm never going to be attracted to you so please move on. The wildling guy seems to like you." It's just frustrating to still be dealing with this sexual tension for so many seasons now and making zero progress on it.

 

What do you guys think about any of this? Which characters do you want to talk about?

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23 hours ago, rustythesmith said:

The source of Dany's gradual moral descent can be traced all the way back to the behaviors that Jorah taught her,

Like what???

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21 minutes ago, SansaJonRule said:

Like what??? 

Not all of the things Jorah taught Dany were bad, but some of them are very bad. Dany begins the story with an intrinsic morality and a healthy conscience. She refused to sail to Astapor because the ships are loaded with Illyrio's goods and stealing is wrong. Dany also initially refused to sail to Astapor to buy an army of slaves because she felt that it was wrong too. Jorah convinced her to sacrifice her morals in order to do these things. The justification for stealing from a friend comes in multiple layers of individually weak arguments. Some of those are:

1. To a rich man like Illyrio, three shiploads of goods is nothing. You're only stealing a little bit.

2. You're entitled to your friend's generosity. A true friend would not deny you this request, should you have made it. Furthermore, a true friend would consider your cause and any decision made in service of it to be a good use of his resources.

3. This is a good opportunity to test the loyalty of your friends. Having been betrayed by a friend in the past (Xaro), you have a responsibility to test the loyalty of your friends.

 

The single most harmful thing that I think Jorah taught her is a commonality that can be abstracted from many of Jorah's lessons. They all boil down to: Sacrifice your ideals when it's convenient.

I'm working on an essay about Jorah's influence on Dany, but quickly some examples of other bad lessons Jorah teaches are:

Death is the worst thing that can happen to you. ("and Rhaegar died")

In your position of authority, you are justified to impose costs upon your friends without their consent. (Testing loyalty of Barristan)

Edited by rustythesmith

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Oh, you're talking about the books here. It has been so long since I read the books, I don't remember a lot. It would be much easier if you kept book and show separate.

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5 minutes ago, SansaJonRule said:

Oh, you're talking about the books here. It has been so long since I read the books, I don't remember a lot. It would be much easier if you kept book and show separate.

No, most of these scenes and conversations were in the show too.

Here's Jorah convincing Dany to buy a slave army. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR9rzXWK96A

Edited by rustythesmith

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Yes, I recall the discussion about buying the Unsullied, but I don't recall anything about the stealing of ships, being entitled to a friend's generosity, or to testing a friend's loyalty.

There's no question Jorah had a huge influence on Dany, but she chose him as her advisor, and chooses when to take his advice. Remember when Drogo's clan raided that village and Dany claimed several of the women for herself to prevent them being raped? Jorah advised Dany to stay out of it, that was the Dothraki way, but Dany ignored him.

You cannot blame Jorah for who and what Dany has become. She is her own person. and she is responsible for herself.

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13 minutes ago, SansaJonRule said:

Yes, I recall the discussion about buying the Unsullied, but I don't recall anything about the stealing of ships, being entitled to a friend's generosity, or to testing a friend's loyalty.

There's no question Jorah had a huge influence on Dany, but she chose him as her advisor, and chooses when to take his advice. Remember when Drogo's clan raided that village and Dany claimed several of the women for herself to prevent them being raped? Jorah advised Dany to stay out of it, that was the Dothraki way, but Dany ignored him.

You cannot blame Jorah for who and what Dany has become. She is her own person. and she is responsible for herself.

Then you're due for a rewatch. Jorah makes many if not all of these arguments to Dany throughout the show.

I'm not sure what you're suggesting with the comment that Dany chose Jorah. What difference does that make with regards to anything Jorah has taught her or the quality of any of his advice?

Jorah's advice not to rescue more slaves than the first one (Eroeh) was good advice. Dany overreached with her compassion and it ended up getting Eroeh gangraped and killed to spite Dany for offending Dothraki customs.

I can blame both Jorah and Dany for her actions because Dany's decisions are based on the lessons Jorah taught her. I think tracing Dany's corruption back to its roots is perhaps among the most important things we can do for finding the lessons that might show us how exactly this kind of corruption happens to a good person.

Edited by rustythesmith

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4 minutes ago, rustythesmith said:

I'm not sure what you're suggesting with the comment that Dany chose Jorah. What difference does that make with regards to anything Jorah has taught her or the quality of any of his advice?

She started out as a good person, but the fact that she was so easily corrupted does not speak well for her. Her goodness was not grounded deeply enough.

 

6 minutes ago, rustythesmith said:

Jorah's advice not to rescue more slaves than the first one (Eroeh) was good advice

. Dany overreached with her compassion and it ended up getting Eroeh gangraped and killed to spite Dany for offending Dothraki customs

Agreed. I was just pointing out that she was capable of ignoring his advice. She ignores it when it's good but follows it when it's bad. Smart woman.

8 minutes ago, rustythesmith said:

I think tracing Dany's corruption back to its roots

I believe it goes further back than Jorah. She grew up under the influence of Viserys, who was clearly NOT a good person, and she was able to see it and is not corrupted by it. I believe her corruption is contributable to two factors: her heritage, and her desire for power. She did not initially have her sights set on taking the IT, and it wasn't until she made that her goal that she became corruptable.

Going to back Jorah advising her to purchase the Unsullied Army, she did take his advice, but she did not go against her ethics. She offered them all their freedom afterward, and Missandei's as well.

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On 4/26/2019 at 10:59 PM, rustythesmith said:

Sansa

 She wants the North to be independent? Why? I thought she just wanted her home back. How does kneeling to Daenerys pose any threat to losing her home again? There's no reason to think that Dany will give Winterfell to some other house. The only way that Sansa and the Starks are in danger of losing Winterfell again is if they start an unnecessary war with their new queen who has dragons. Not to mention that that queen is in love with Jon, a Stark, and likely to marry him. I don't like what the show has done with Sansa so I don't really have much to say about her.

She does just want her home back and to be safe. The North was supposedly safe under King Aerys, but her aunt was kidnapped and raped by Rhaegar (in her view), her uncle and grandfather were tortured and killed for trying to get her back. The North was supposedly safe under King Robert - Ned's best friend who loved him like a brother - but that lasted only as long as the King did. His family betrayed the North and gave it to the Boltons. There is every reason for Sansa to believe that independence is safer than fealty to fickle kings over which they have no control. Not sure how this applies to her heart being in conflict, but from what she has personally experienced, an independent North is the only way to ascertain control and safety.

Quote

 

Arya

 I can't think of any way that Arya's heart is in conflict with itself in the TV show currently. Maybe she'll develop an attachment to Gendry and that will conflict with her attachment to her family somehow.

 

I think they are trying to portray her need for revenge/death/destruction and her love of home/self/family as her conflict. Not well, but I think that was (is?) her main conflict. It's always been under the surface and bubbled up as a main theme once she decided to keep Needle at the House of Black and White. She swung towards vengeance for a while, then meeting the Lannister soldiers softened her a little. Hotpie's news swung her some more and she decides to head North instead of South. I think it's still not completely resolved, but I hope that love crowds out hate. Keep her fierce, but not obsessed. I think the Gendry thing was supposed to show us that she is moving towards the love column, but honestly that scene was a bit chilling. She approached it robotically and nothing in her acting or dialogue made me believe it was a genuine connection rather than convenient. It's confusing.

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You bring up some good points about Jorah.  I always just viewed him as Dany's loyal advisor, which he is, but it's true that some of his advice could have put her on a dark path. 

As for other character's, it is easier to discuss character arc's and motivations with the books, though the show likely has some overlap (they are supposed to be the same character after all).

Tyrion's conflict always seems to stem from him wanting love and respect but then thinking that no one is capable of loving him and so he buys people's affection (not always with money).  Dany is probably the first woman (for a long time) that he felt like actually respected him based on his own merits and now she is slipping away.  Disappointed in his performance and in love with Jon, she doesn't seem to want anything to do with him.  I'm worried because book Tyrion is quite the misogynist, and while he doesn't appear to be the same in the show it could just be that we don't see his thought process like we do in the books.  He still kills Shae in the show after all.

Sansa's internal conflict I could see being her warming to Dany while knowing that she doesn't want to give up the North's independence.  I saw the scene in episode 2 of this season being that she and Dany genuinely grew closer, but that the independence of the North is going to be the conflict that will keep them apart.  (This is starting to sound like I think they're going to hook up in romantic sense, that is definitely not what I mean).

I'll be honest when it comes to Arya I have a hard enough time figuring out what her internal conflict would be in the books let alone the show.  She just seems to let things happen to her and uses the people she happens to come across.  The only goal she seemed to work towards was completing her list, but even then she mostly just killed the ones that fell in her lap.  All the while she didn't seem that distraught about it.  Sure she decided that she didn't want to be no one.  But since it always felt like she never committed to being a faceless man and was just using them for what she could learn, that doesn't come across as a conflict.

I feel like Brienne's heart is no longer in conflict (at least not for now).  It comes across better in the books, but her conflict seems to be her desire to be respected as a knight and her fear of being a laughing stock.  It seemed like every step closer to being a knight she was, the more the people around her considered her a freak.  Who's point was to either shun or make fun of.  Guys would only pretend to like her so that they could laugh about it with their friends later.  And ladies wouldn't even know what to do with.  But now she has the respect of her lady to the point where she will bury the hatchet with an enemy of her family based on Brienne's word alone.  Not only that she was finally knighted, not as some sick joke but because she had genuinely earned it.  As was proof by the fact that she was knighted by a man who had slowly grown to see her for how amazing she truly is.  And her being knighted wasn't met by derisive laughter, like she probably expected it would be, but by applause.

That's all I have for now, but I might come back to give my analysis of some of the other characters.

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Oh I see. I don't think Dany was overly easy to corrupt, considering her age and the age of the man misleading her. A set of individually weak arguments can be convincing even to an experienced adult, especially if they're helpful in justifying actions that you want to take anyway.

I don't think Viserys influenced her toward corruption very much either, except as her corruption relates to Viserys's execution. His cruel treatment of her I think is part of the reason that Dany took pleasure in his murder/execution/whatever that was supposed to be.  But taking pleasure in execution is a very bad and dangerous thing to do.

To be fair to Dany, it isn't remotely obvious when Jorah's advice is good or when it is bad, when something is right or something is wrong. Her mistakes are ones that I think anybody would have made if they were in her situation. And that, I think, is the point of her tragedy.

I'm in the middle of writing a Jorah essay that is on hold while I do TV show things, but to give Dany due credit, she doesn't adopt Jorah's lesson for a long time. Her conquest of Astapor was done in defiance of Jorah's lesson that she should sacrifice her anti-slavery ideal. Dany was faced with two options that she didn't like. Either buy an army of slaves or continue on without an army, as Viserys had done for so long. Neither option was acceptable to her, so she did what she did at the pyre, and what she always does when faced with an unwinnable situation. She redefines success. Using fire and blood, she invents a way to have her cake and eat it too. By "freeing" the Unsullied, she gets to have her army and avoid "partaking" in slavery at the same time. "If I'm freeing them, then I'm not using them."

This strategy of redefining success works for a long time, because the costs are incurred externally. But by the time she is in Meereen the external costs are so large that in order to maintain peace she has to internalize the costs. She buries her dragons, permits a little slavery, sacrifices her ideals.

Edited by rustythesmith

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2 hours ago, rustythesmith said:

Not all of the things Jorah taught Dany were bad, but some of them are very bad. Dany begins the story with an intrinsic morality and a healthy conscience. She refused to sail to Astapor because the ships are loaded with Illyrio's goods and stealing is wrong. Dany also initially refused to sail to Astapor to buy an army of slaves because she felt that it was wrong too. Jorah convinced her to sacrifice her morals in order to do these things. The justification for stealing from a friend comes in multiple layers of individually weak arguments. Some of those are:

1. To a rich man like Illyrio, three shiploads of goods is nothing. You're only stealing a little bit.

2. You're entitled to your friend's generosity. A true friend would not deny you this request, should you have made it. Furthermore, a true friend would consider your cause and any decision made in service of it to be a good use of his resources.

3. This is a good opportunity to test the loyalty of your friends. Having been betrayed by a friend in the past (Xaro), you have a responsibility to test the loyalty of your friends.

 

The single most harmful thing that I think Jorah taught her is a commonality that can be abstracted from many of Jorah's lessons. They all boil down to: Sacrifice your ideals when it's convenient.

I'm working on an essay about Jorah's influence on Dany, but quickly some examples of other bad lessons Jorah teaches are:

Death is the worst thing that can happen to you. ("and Rhaegar died")

In your position of authority, you are justified to impose costs upon your friends without their consent. (Testing loyalty of Barristan)

Not sacrificing when it's convenient, but when it's expedient. That's just something a ruler has to learn, and a conqueror absolutely can't do without. Basically, Danny in attempting to make any move beyond being the wife of Drogo is stepping into the world of expedience. 

I don't know what you're talking about with stealing. Illyrio gave her eggs as a gift, and Jorah said they could buy ships. That's not stealing. Later, they are given gifts which Jorah says could be melted down and sold for ships. That wasn't stealing either. 

As for the slave army, well, it was either that or she raises an army the old-fashioned way. The Second Sons she managed to sway by charm alone. Eventually Yara, Dorne, and the Tyrells came to her because of her record of conquest. But back at the beginning of season three she just had some random Dothraki, Jorah, and the dragons. Where else was she going to go? King's Landing?

By the way, it's no secret Jorah has suspect morals. That's his entire backstory. Plus we know he was a double-agent up until the assassination attempt with the wine. I think having Danny's early Westerosi mentor be a morally ambiguous man only makes sense. Because who else would be working with Targaryen children and Dothraki?

Edited by darmody

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30 minutes ago, darmody said:

Not sacrificing when it's convenient, but when it's expedient. That's just something a ruler has to learn, and a conqueror absolutely can't do without. Basically, Danny in attempting to make any move beyond being the wife of Drogo is stepping into the world of expedience. 

I don't know what you're talking about with stealing. Illyrio gave her eggs as a gift, and Jorah said they could buy ships. That's not stealing. Later, they are given gifts which Jorah says could be melted down and sold for ships. That wasn't stealing either. 

As for the slave army, well, it was either that or she raises an army the old-fashioned way. The Second Sons she managed to sway by charm alone. Eventually Yara, Dorne, and the Tyrells came to her because of her record of conquest. But back at the beginning of season three she just had some random Dothraki, Jorah, and the dragons. Where else was she going to go? King's Landing?

I think sacrificing your ideals is something a ruler has to learn to a degree. But at the same time I think there are ideals that a ruler must never sacrifice. The difficulty is figuring out which ones those are. Ned has gifted his children, namely Jon, with a few of those answers and, by doing so, he has saved Jon a lifetime of tragedy in figuring them out for himself. I think those ideals are, in no particular order and not exhaustively:

The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.
You must take no pleasure in the task. (Dany breaks this all the time.)
You must not look away. (Dany figured this one out herself, but it has a negative effect rather than a positive one because she is taking pleasure in the task of justice/revenge.)
Look into his eyes
Hear his final words
The lone wolf dies but the pack survives - Sort of a summary of what all the ideals accomplish. The ethics are meant to protect the group rather than the individual. It's the case for self-sacrifice. You should sacrifice yourself for the things you really believe in, rather than the reverse.

 

The stealing is about Illyrio's ships. Dany is en route from Qarth to Pentos, riding on Illyrio's ships that are loaded with many valuable trade goods. By redirecting toward Astapor and using the goods to buy slaves, they are effectively stealing Illyrio's ships and goods.

Edited by rustythesmith

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Jon (Power without Responsibility)

So let's start by saying that Jon is my least favorite character so I might be a bit biased on this.  But I see through most of his actions that he does crave power, when people give him more he doesn't outright reject it.  He may give a token protest, but always accepts the new role he is given.  However whenever he is called out for his bad decisions he immediately blames the people who put him in power in the first place.  Recently he was made King in the North, but instead of considering what that all entailed and how important it was that he was chosen for this, he ends up throwing it into the dirt.  Him bending the knee was his decision and Dany was likely to fight by his side without him needing to do so.  But once he gets to the North and they express their disappointment (to put it mildly) with his decision, he immediately blames Dany.  Making it look like she would only assist them if he bent the knee, which isn't true, and makes the northern lords think even less of Dany than they otherwise might.

Now he has to grapple with being the true heir to the throne.  But instead of renouncing his claim (which he would do if he truly didn't crave power), he is rather mum about what he intends to do.  When he tells Dany and sees her horrified expression (considering everything that she had worked for was based on a lie) he doesn't try to alleviate her concerns by telling her that he bent the knee to her and intends to honor that.  He doesn't say anything (I understand they were interrupted, but if he truly cared for her more than power, wouldn't he let her know that).

Daenerys (Mother or Dragon)

Dany always seems to be torn between her intense compassion and her destructive impulses.  At every turn her compassion leads to anger and she lashes out at those that have hurt the innocent.  But then she regrets her decision, but felt like in the moment it was the only thing she could do.  Ultimately I don't think she craves power as much as it appears, she thinks that it is her birthright and that she would make a better queen than the alternatives (both true).  And so she fights for the throne but it ends up just causing her to become more ruthless and destructive.  Now she is at the point where any who challenge her rule are threats that she needs to wipe out.  But I don't think this is in line with her more caring nature (though that just makes her start to act more unhinged).  Ultimately I think she will have to choose between doing what is best for the people she cares about and the iron throne, because as things are heading she can't have both.  I would predict that she would choose love over power, but that isn't the path she is currently on.

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