Saturday, March 2, 2019

HBO Game of Thrones Final Season: Starks, Tullys, and Arryns

HBO's Game of Thrones series, adapted from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire starts its final season on April 14th. The Starks, Tullys, and Arryns all intermarried with one another. The Starks are the first family introduced and get the majority of the POV characters for much of the series in the books. They are even more the "good guys" in the TV series. They are clearly the people with whom the viewer and/or reader are meant to identify. And yet the Starks more than any other House, at least for much of the series, take it on the chin. They lose the War of the Five Kings. Their home is burned down. Later their home is under the control of monstrous rivals. Still there are a few Starks left alive. As Arya Stark pointed out "Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe." The Vale, under Littlefinger's influence, stayed out of the war. The Tullys also lost control of the Riverlands to the Freys (and Littlefinger). Which characters from these three Houses are still standing? Let's review:

  • Ned Stark: Dead. Murdered by Joffrey, most likely with Littlefinger's encouragement.
  • Robb Stark: Dead. Murdered by Roose Bolton and Walder Frey.
  • Catelyn Stark (Tully): Dead. Murdered by Walder Frey.
  • Talisa Stark: Dead. Murdered by Walder Frey.
  • (unborn baby) Ned Stark: Dead. Murdered by Walder Frey.
  • Rickon Stark: Dead. Murdered by Ramsay Snow.
  • Jon Snow: Alive then dead (murdered by the Night's Watch) then alive again-resurrected by Melisandre.
  • Bran Stark: Alive but crippled and moving swiftly beyond human concerns.
  • Sansa Stark: Alive and survivor of rapes, beatings and betrayals. Generally PO'd.
  • Arya Stark: Alive. See Sansa Stark x 10 for description of personality.
  • Brynden "The Blackfish " Tully: Dead. Died fighting in last stand for the memory of his grand-nephew and king, Robb Stark.
  • Edmure Tully: Alive. Last seen under Frey imprisonment.  Current status is unknown given that Arya eliminated most if not all male Freys. Many Tully soldiers were also murdered along with Stark soldiers at The Red Wedding.
  • Jon Arryn: Dead. Murdered by Lysa Arryn and Littlefinger.
  • Lysa Arryn (Tully): Dead. Murdered by Littlefinger.
  • Robin Arryn: Alive.
  • Summer: Dead.
  • ShaggyDog: Dead.
  • Lady: Dead.
  • Grey Wind: Dead.
  • Ghost: Alive.
  • Nymeria: Alive and staying far far far away from any Starks.
When last we left the surviving Starks, Bran, Sansa, and Arya had just compared notes, this being much easier given Bran's immediate recall abilities for anything that happened in the past, and realized that Littlefinger was the one who was behind much of their misfortune, right up until the present day when he was trying to set Sansa and Arya against each other and claim Sansa for himself. 
Well as Sansa snidely explained she might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but she was much sharper than she had been. After an almost perfunctory trial (there is no defense when someone can look into the past and dispassionately recite your words and deeds) Arya quickly and casually executed Littlefinger, with about as much emotion as you might show brushing your hair.
Meanwhile Jon Snow, who left the Night's Watch after his resurrection, got himself elected King of the North, just like his late "brother" Robb. For reasons, no one seems to care that Jon left the Night's Watch something that is of course punishable by immediate execution. 

It seems as if Jon's resurrection would have come up by now. Not only is it the proximate reason that Jon's not in violation of his vows but it is the sort of impossible occurrence that would make people follow him anywhere and treat him like a prophet. It would massively increase his authority in the North and beyond. People start religions over that sort of thing.

Jon went South to try to convince Cersei to delay hostilities because the White Walkers and Army of The Dead were on the move. Jon failed in that task but found himself making goo-goo eyes with Daenerys Targaryen. Daenerys saved Jon's life after an ill conceived mission North of the Wall went bad. Not only did Jon decide to hop into Daenerys' bed he also chose to call her queen, capriciously giving up the independence and Stark leadership that so many Northerners had believed in enough to fight and die for. Worse, unknown to Jon, Ned Stark was his maternal uncle, Robb Stark was his maternal cousin and Daenerys Targaryen is his paternal aunt. Icky. Jon is actually Aegon Targaryen, the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.

As Rhaegar's son, Jon's claim to the Iron Throne is superior to that of Daenerys. While Targaryens have never been bothered by close incest-Daenerys' parents and grandparents were siblings-no other House routinely does stuff like that. Most people think it's well, a little weird and sick. Jon was raised a Stark so he probably won't react well finding out that he just made his auntie call him "Daddy", no matter how hot she looked at the time. 

The other thing to watch out for is that the Stark wolfpack has no Stark males any longer. Bran is crippled, can't reproduce, and doesn't seem to care about such things anymore. That leaves Sansa and Arya. Arya never had much interest in settling down and being a lady. So if the Stark line is to survive it will likely be through Sansa. Who will the father be? If Jon is the prophesied last hero who will save humanity will he have to sacrifice someone he loves to do so? How many more Starks are going to get it in the neck? George R.R. Martin has said the ending will be bittersweet. We'll see.
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