Game of Thrones · NIU · Scholars of the Throne

Valar Dohaeris

This week’s blog covers:

S3 Ep 1: “Valar Dohaeris”

S3 Ep 2: “Dark Wings, Dark Words”

S4 Ep 3: “Walk of Punishment”

This Week’s Highlight(s):

Margaery Tyrell is quickly becoming a favorite and a major highlight for season 3. You can already tell she will be a real power player. It’s obvious that she has learned a lot from her grandmother, Olenna Tyrell. Having had a special relationship with my grandmother, I love this powerful dynamic. Margaery possesses traits that will make her a great queen. When Margaery and Joffrey are being toted in their palanquins through Flea Bottom, she hops out and visits an orphanage. She has her servants give the orphans bread and speaks with the children about their lost parents. She earns the love of the smallfolk and gives Joffrey and the kingdom great PR.

Schulzke examines how to play the game of thrones through the lessons from Machiavelli. A main lesson being that someone aspiring to power must find support from either the nobles or the commoners. Schulzke explains that getting support from the masses is much easier than the nobles, because “anyone who can promise them security and freedom will win their lasting support” (38). Margaery possesses the ability to wrangle the support of the smallfolk that was made impossible before due to their hatred for Joffrey. According to Machiavelli, fear is much stronger than love when concerning power, but the greatest downfall to fear is hatred. Margaery’s presence and actions are powerful in shifting public opinion.

While this was a powerful move, Cersei clearly admonishes Margaery’s bold kindness. Cersei reminds Margaery of the attack on the royal party after Myrcella’s departure, but Joffrey comes in to defend his betrothed and criticizes her mother. Cersei realizes that she is at risk of being outmaneuvered by Margaery. Cersei only knows how to rule out of fear, but this time it wasn’t strong enough to beat the power of love. It’s interesting to examine the power players and how they use fear and love to rule.

Jaime Lannister makes it to the top of the highlights this week as well. I find him to be a very interesting character. Like Cersei, they are multilayered and very hard to figure out. Jaime has a way of reading people and pushing all the right buttons with his sarcastic egotistical rants. This is shown when Jaime starts accusing Brienne of being in love with Renly.

The budding relationship between Jaime and Brienne is unexpected yet understandable. Shaham looks to this relationship in Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister: A Romantic Comedy Within HBO’s Game of Thrones. He looks to their differences, they are from rival armies and Brienne practices chivalry, which Jaime finds it annoying due to its impracticality. Shaham also notes their similarities, which include involvement in the wrong partners and their closeness to the political games played amongst the seven kingdoms. Jaime protects Brienne during the attempt of merciless rape from Locke’s men by alluring the men to halt in exchange for sapphires from her father. This was one of the first admirable things Jaime has done. Their relationship will be interesting to see played out now that Jaime is without his sword hand.

This Week’s Lowlife(s):

Tywin takes the lowlife of the week award, just when I was starting to really like him. In season 2, we see him build an unlikely bond with Arya. He shows intelligence and patience, but after his win against Stannis at Blackwater, he reverts to the scumbag that I always thought he was. With several low blows to his son Tyrion in S3 E1, including that he would rather be consumed by maggots before mocking the family name and making Tyrion the heir to Casterly Rock and blaming him for his mother’s death. Tywin’s complete lack of understanding what an important role Tyrion played in saving King’s Landing is infuriating. He definitely lost any respect that he had earned.

Thought Provoking Theme(s):

Once again torture is a thought provoking theme this week. We are entering some tumultuous times for Theon Greyjoy. While I have explored torture before, it is becoming more prevalent and gruesome. Torture is just one example of cruel, inhumane things that happen in Game of Thrones that are inspired by medieval practices and still seen today. In 2014, Amnesty International warned of a global crisis of torture, having been reported in 141 countries across the globe; the removal of nails (seen in “Dark Wings, Dark Words”) last documented in Nigeria. (Niestat). Amy Laura Hall examines the use of torture in television and Game of Thrones. She believes that “it may leave a generation of viewers less capable of both self-dignity and empathy toward the designated enemy” (268). It is important to recognize these horrors in our current world, if there is any hope to eradicate them.


Hall, Amy Laura. “Torture and Television in the United States.” The Muslim World 103.2 (2013): 267-286. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.

Schulzke, Marcus. “Playing the Game of Thrones: Some Lessons from Machiavelli.” Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper Than Words. Eds. William Irwin and Henry Jacoby. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012. 33-47. Print.

Shaham, Inbar. “Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister: A Romantic Comedy within HBO’s Game Of Thrones.” Mythlore 33.2 (2015): 49-72. Print.

Niestat, Anna. “Game of Thrones vs. Real Life: 5 Ways Fact Is Worse Than Fiction.” 09 April, 2015. Web.


One thought on “Valar Dohaeris

  1. I guess the usual question with the depiction of torture is: when is enough enough? For us to understand the horror of torture, we need to feel uncomfortable watching it. But at a certain point it goes beyond this and becomes a form of pornography–sensationalism that evokes response and attention from the audience but doesn’t really make us understand anything further. The continual cringe-induction from Ramsey Bolton and Theon Greyjoy goes over the top to my taste and doesn’t really serve a useful purpose.

    About Margaery, one of the problems with the presentation is we never really see a dramatic demonstration that popularity equals power–although you are correct that she certainly gets Cersei’s attention. I’d like a scene where the mob does something to improve Margaery’s position in the narrative.


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