This is another question that popped up as a search term to get to the site. I’m going to be picking some of these out and answering them to the best of my ability, the first time I did this, skipping the at the very least weird, and at worst, criminal search terms that somehow lead people here. Yes, some of the actions in Game of Thrones are actually PG in comparison to some of them, and some of the not so cleaner recent ones are about Natalie Portman’s character in Leon: The Professional, that I think got an uptick because it was recently made available on netflix. Enough preamble though, today I field:
What is the Queen’s Power in Game of Thrones?
I caught myself early because I realized I had skipped over figuring out what people were searching for specifically, as the answer would change due to the influx of queens in so far. My immediate response was thinking it had to be about Cersei, which was the most likely to me (this was queued up in and stuck this in draft two weeks ago, sorry) because of the fact that she seems to be wielding power without the necessary support or even “right”, even allowing for the malleable definition of the term in the series, where a well placed warhammer ends dynasties.
I picked this question because when I saw it as a search term in our stats I happened to be watching an episode of Entourage, another HBO show, one that everyone now says they hate and represents everything wrong with everything — yet they were all watching — at the exact moment when Vinnie Chase and the crew are buying a new house, “Brando’s House”, and they were talking about something related to “living like a king”, and they were going on about rather being the prince because everyone wants to kill the king, and a prince just chills and tells everyone he’s going to be king one day. Then a queen is brought up and her responsibilities were summed up by Turtle, “Queen’s got to fuck the king, Drama.”, to which Johnny Drama replied, “Yeah but she don’t gotta do nothin’ else.”
Which in Westeros isn’t exactly wrong. It’s not all they can do and certainly we have more nuanced examples on screen but in truth she doesn’t HAVE to do much more. Indeed, both Cersei Lannister and Margaery Tyrell have had difficulties in this regard, with Cersei purposely not delivering true heirs to Robert and due to Renly’s orientation — though Margaerey Tyrell seems to have had the good if Tommen’s reaction is any evidence — one of the rare instances of true enthusiastic joy put on screen in Game of Thrones.
Obviously, I’m not trying to be crass but the principle purpose of marriages in Westeros is to create and strengthen political and military alliances, and to produce heirs. It’s why while Robb Stark, who as I’ve mentioned was an undefeated military commander and kind of an all around good and uncomfortably good looking dude, really dropped the ball by turning his back on a strategic alliance that had already been payed for in blood (the Freys are assholes but Frey men died for Robb Stark in battle) and got unborn baby stabbed marrying for love. If nothing else it at least took one queen off the board. She might have been the best “person” of all of the Queens on the TV show but that doesn’t get you very far in Westeros. She was a loser hand in this game.
Natalie Dormer is lovely. But before we get back to big guns I want to make note of Queen Selyse Florent.
Yeah, Stannis’ wife who nobody thinks of when we mention “Queen”. She’s kind of a crazy person who is mean to her kid that we all kind of love now. Even with Selyse though, we see her mention that she should have given Stannis a son. She thinks she kind of failed him/them in this regard (though not all her fault), even if he wasn’t on a road that would have him claim being King. He’s, even pre-Robert’s death, a great Lord and member of the Small Council. Must have been especially brutal for him having an older brother who smashed his way to 20+ kids.
Back to Natalie. We see almost from jump that Margaery is up on the game, learning under her grandmother, the “Queen” of Thorns. She’s definitely much more ambitious and wants to exert influence more directly on Tommen, her family aiding to killing Joff specifically for that reason, beyond even that the Tyrells didn’t want to inflict Margaery with Joffrey. That said, her power, even sans in bed with Tommen, is what she brings in the alliance. The Tyrells are arguably the most powerful family in Westeros, and when it comes to the tv show Game of Thrones, most undoubtedly are.
The Lannisters in George R. R. Martin’s books rival them but on the show they are described as broke or going broke, so I think that slides the powers heavily back to the House Tyrell, who can also field the largest, most well supplied army, and is the richest in Westeros. You will recall that a couple of episodes ago Olenna Tyrell threatened Ceresi with stopping the grain flow.
The Reach is THE major food producer of Westeros. The reason why Margaery is valuable, even after being married several times, is she brings with her the best package, and that has nothing to with that Dormer body,that’s just a bonus. If she looked like Selyse she’d be just as valuable. You gotta love the upjumped Tyrells though because they seem to be the only power family in the show that we see playing to the people.
Margaery plays to the crowd, the Tyrells send food to the people, and in a world where the wealthy are never really going to care about the poor, them simply acting like they do is the best the people might get for generations. The Lannisters are pretty terrible at this, something that Tywin remarked on when Joff and Ceresi dismissed Ser Barristan from the Kingsguard — he meant something to the smallfolk and brought honor to any man he served.
As a show watcher Cersei has baffled me recently, ever since Tywin died, and as I mentioned before I think the original question probably was about Cersei because she not only was being so flagrant recently but even I, a reader of A Song of Ice and Fire since the ’90s, wasn’t really connecting with where her authority was coming from on the show. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Lena Headey’s portrayal and have from the beginning even though I recall being slightly surprised when she was cast, even though I loved her on Sarah Connor Chronicles (which quietly just might be the best Terminator related media, and I love the original at T2).
That she doesn’t have an Emmy is crazy to me. I just don’t understand where Ceresi’s power was coming from and I don’t even get the motivation for alienating the aforementioned BEST allies to have in Westeros in the Tyrells, and really, one of your only ones. Not only do the Tyrells bring everything I mentioned earlier, but they have everything to gain from remaining with the Lannisters and they represent a force that keeps Dorne in check, a country who has a lot of reasons to hate the Lannisters and have been untouched during the recent conflicts.
Cersei knows she is broke and doesn’t have the military power to hold the throne and she distanced herself from her uncle, the ever capable and steady Kevan Lannister. I understand that the season starting with Cersei’s flashback was supposed to instill in us that she was perhaps now being led by madness seeing, in her eyes, the prophecy coming true in the form of Margaery, but not so sure it’s as apparent on the show.
Clearly the show showed us the scene of Cersei behind the desk, writing like Tywin, to show us how silly she looked doing so in comparison, but I’m still somewhat confused why other people, namely Mace Tyrell among others on the Small Council, accept her authority. She has no power.
Unless, and perhaps I missed this, did Tommen name her regent? That would be the only way and I feel like there is no way any allied party would allow for that. Forget even the Lord Paramount in the city, even lesser Lords more fit to rule are available. I just have a hard time understanding where Cersei’s power and authority was coming from for much of the seasons, because it seems to me she has Qyburn and a couple of goons at her disposal, like Trant. I can’t fathom how people who are obviously as game as the Tyrells are haven’t removed her from any true influence. It’s almost as if Cersei has turned the game of thrones into her own drinking game.
I understand why she’d be safe and living lavishly, I just didn’t buy for a minute on the show being able to make policy and run the small council post-Tywin. Perhaps this is why the show makes Mace seem cartoonish in his doofusness.
It’s possible that the person was wondering/asking about Daenerys. The truth is with Dany, herself a character we first met being prepared as a tool to be wed by Viserys, it all goes out the window being a Targaryen with dragons. She essentially has an exclusive on nukes, perhaps one day potentially replicating the Field of Fire, though I don’t think Drogon is Balerion’s size, and the way Dany is treating her other two, they aren’t growing to their potential yet.
She seems well intentioned but not the most effective ruler, though Tyrion being there might change that, not to mention make it more interesting in boring Mereen. Even with Dany though she seemed to have proposed a fruitless new marriage. I don’t understand what she gains that she wouldn’t gain without a loss by just culling the nobility. Who cares about Mereen? Fighting Pits?
In truth I think Daario gave her the best advice in rounding them up and killing them during the event. Because of her dragons, her name, and what at least used to be her ambitions, Dany’s hand in marriage is the Ace in the deck currently being wasted on Hizdahr. She can exert and demand true power, not just be behind the scenes. To say she is really a queen in name diminishes the other queens who, more or less, are playing their roles. Daenerys is singular.
In a clash of queens, while being kind of boring on screen, even though Emilia Clarke is great, she’s the one that roles like a King. Like her line, earlier this season, she’s not a politician she’s a queen. The others are relegated to playing politics, and it’s something Dany has recently got mired in, forgetting herself. It’s time to unchain those dragons, and thus unchain herself. The Breaker of Chains has collared herself.
For the purposes of this topic I find myself wanting to dive into a character that I don’t think will be introduced in Game of Thrones, who is not even a queen, but will hold back on just in case she is and just say that scenes in Dorne this season have been a bit of a hot mess, though I actually thought the cell scene with Bronn was a step in the right direction after an incredibly lackluster fight scene and debut.
I was really looking forward to an Arianne Martell portrayal, but we haven’t even seen much of the already cast Doran Martell. I think her presence in this political climate in Westeros, and Dorne’s more liberal customs, would have given a face to Dorne we haven’t seen since Oberyn, and in a smaller sense to the sandsnake cause that I don’t think Ellaria’s portrayal really has. Maybe we will get some good Doran to close out the season. Some Darkstar. Okay… maybe not Darkstar.
Game of Thrones. I always have room for Arianne Martell in our lives.
I do think it’s telling that the two latest queens of the Seven Kingdoms are rotting away in dungeons, licking water off the floor, while the King who is a product of at least one of their crimes is apparently chill.