One of the few celebrities I follow on Instagram is Mayim Bialik, of Beaches and Blossom fame. Last year, she launched a website called GrokNation, which is a collection of essays about everything from parenting to feminism to Judaism to STEM. I like that the site promotes understanding and empathy. It’s like the opposite of Twitter.
When the sixth series of Game of Thrones debuted, Mayim (I call her Mayim because we are pretend friends) posted that she doesn’t watch the show because of the way it depicts women. I agree with most of what she says, but I think my pretend buddy Mayim isn’t watching the same show I am.
Let’s review the main female characters still alive as of the sixth season, third episode of Game of Thrones, taking into consideration that the series takes place in a time in which opportunities for women were extremely limited and their roles tightly controlled.
After being raised in Winterfell and steadfastly denying her grim future as a lady and eventual marriage for alliance purposes, the younger of the Stark sisters initially flees her home alone in pursuit of the Lannisters who imprisoned her sister and eventually survives the bloody Red Wedding, adding a whole list of characters to her Vengeance List. She lives on the streets of King’s Landing, travels with a handful of boys posing as a recruit for the Night Watch, and eventually becomes captive to the Hound and survives everything, leaving the Hound for dead. She ends up in Braavos, alone, training under the tutelage of the mysterious Jaqen H’ghar.
Sansa, who once embraced her role as future Lady of the North, instead has been betrothed to the sadistic Joffrey and immediately made prisoner when her brother rebelled against the prisoner; shipped off to the Eyrie, where she witnessed her savior and possible future husband, Littlefinger, kill her aunt. She ends up back at Winterfell as trophy to the truly insane Ramsay Bolton, before escaping with Theon Greyjoy and finally being saved by Lady Brienne.
Brienne of Tarth
Lady Brienne would like to save a Stark, any Stark at all. After being humiliated in her youth for her size and her ability to slay as a soldier, she won a jousting contest to serve on the King’s Court to her beloved King Renly (Robert Baratheon’s youngest brother), only to see him assassinated. She allied herself with Catelyn Stark and promised to save her daughters, imprisoning (and sort of befriending) the High and Mighty Jaime Lannister along the way. She just saved Sansa from Winterfell with her protegee, Rodrick Payne.
Daenerys Targaryen started off the series as payment for a Dothraki army so her brother, son of Westeros’ mad king, could reclaim the throne from Robert Baratheon. Daenerys dutifully became Khaleesi but what her brother did not count on was her husband actually falling in love with her. After a particularly brutal episode of physical and mental abuse, her husband killed her brother. The Khaleesi was beloved by her people but after her husband died, she faced an uncertain political future. Embracing her legacy as a Targaryen, she escaped death when dragon eggs, a wedding present, hatched. Aided by a former knight of Westeros, she went south with her children and proceeded to free slaves from several cities and buy an army for her own damn self. However, her advisor revealed his role in spying on her, the dragons got out of hand, the emancipation of the slaves have disrupted the careful social and political order of three cities and after escaping one of the city on her dragon’s back, now she’s been collected by the Dothraki to resume her rightful place as a widow to the great Khal Drogo in what can only kindly be described as a convent.
Cersei got the whole ball in Westeros rolling by poisoning her husband, Robert Baratheon, so her son, Joffrey, could take the throne. However, there was the slight problem of their children not actually being their children and it resulted in three different people vying for the crown. Cersei’s been the only child of House Lannister as conniving as her father. Her twin brother (and lover) Jaime Lannister was relegated to the King’s Guard, where he can’t marry. Their younger brother, Tyrion, is deformed and not taken seriously. So it was up to Cersei to manipulate herself into a position of power in a place where women cannot rule. Her machinations finally backfired and although she ended up taking the infamous walk of shame at the end of last season, she is all geared up for revenge this season.
So, despite all the strong women above, I strongly believe that Tyrion Lannister is the only one who can lead Westeros at this point.
Let’s look at his qualifications:
He’s been all over the kingdom: in glory as a Lannister, as a captive to the Eyrie, in an advisory capacity to the Khaleesi in the South. He’s developed a heck of a lot of empathy for all different clans and families in seeing where they live and getting a sense of alliances that hold the kingdom together.
He’s got administrative experience: he was Master of Coin and then eventually the Hand of the King. He knows what wheeling and dealing have to take place to raise armies, get food, and keep everyone else in line.
He’s wined and dined with the best of the manipulators: he’s outwitted his own father, his own sister, and council stalwarts Littlefinger and Lord Varys.
In the last episode, he’s unlocked the dragons. No one’s been able to get close to the dragons. He’s got to appease many, many unhappy people that the Khaleesi has left in her wake (I love the Khaleesi, but she did not exactly leave her kingdom in tip top shape).