GAME OF THRONES Season 7, Episode 6 Mailbag: “Beyond the Wall”

Each week, Fawkes’ resident Maester, Matt Atwell, will be taking all of your Game of Thrones’ questions and answering them in a weekly mailbag. You can ask your questions in the comments section below, at our Facebook page, via email at FawkesDotCom@gmail.com or through twitter @FawkesCulture & @MatwellsaysYou could also catch up with all of Fawkes’ GAME OF THRONES coverage here.

Helloooo and welcome back to another week of Fawkesculture.com’s coverage of television’s hit show Game of Thrones. Monday is typically when I would write and post my recap for the most recent episode of Thrones, which in this case is the penultimate episode of Season Seven, “Beyond the Wall.”

That being said, there will be no recap this week.  I’m sorry to do this fam, but I’ve tried my best to keep an open mind about the show’s continued departure from the books. I’ve gladly embraced the show blatantly ignoring Westeros geography and the laws of physics in regards to travel. Yet, I’m starting to find it more and more difficult to ignore the show’s continued plot holes and horribly inconsistent characterizations.

Suffice it to say, I did not enjoy Sunday’s episode. I do not enjoy writing the recaps after episode’s I don’t like. And when I don’t enjoy writing the recaps, my writing suffers. And when my writing suffers, I spend a lot of time on poorly written recaps, which you probably don’t like because of their poor writing, and no one wins.

With that being said, I still love the television show Game of Thrones and the massive world of A Song of Ice and Fire. Those are just two things that I think are becoming increasingly important to differentiate. Still, I’ll answer some questions people have sent me recently about both those worlds and some questions I’ve even asked myself (I acknowledge this may be nothing more than an elaborate form of talking to one’s self, but isn’t all writing?). If my opinion changes in the next few days on the episode, maybe I’ll even write a recap.

Before we begin, let’s pour some out for the homie Viserion. RIP.

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Dragon Down P/C HBO

 

What does Sansa think she gained by dismissing Brienne?

Great question. Unfortunately, there might not be a good answer to it.

Now, I don’t think that Sansa actually dismissed Brienne. I’m sure she wants her to return after hearing what Cersei has to say in King’s Landing. Nonetheless, it is an extremely poor decision on the part of Sansa.

Brienne is one of the few people in Winterfell who is undisputedly loyal to Sansa. Early in the season, Sansa wisely kept Littlefinger at a distant, knowing that he could not be trusted even if he had for House Stark. Now, as it appears that her own sister may turn on her, she sends off one person who can seemingly be helpful in that situation and cozies up to Littlefinger? Bad move.

Perhaps, Sansa is sending away Brienne because she’s afraid that Brienne would take the side of Arya in the aftermath of Arya potentially “outing” Sansa to the other Northern Lords. Regarless, it seem an ill-conceived notion.

I do believe that Sansa is genuinely curious about what Cersei has to say and why she is summoning Sansa to King’s Landing. That still does not necessarily explain why Sansa would send Brienne to King’s Landing. If you want to send emissary of your house, why not send someone who would be advantageous to get some space from? Also, Brienne is a knight, not a Lord or Lady. She holds no political power or holdings. Why not send one of the Northern Lords? Why not send Littlefinger?

Better yet, if you are set on sending Brienne, why not send Arya along with her? Sansa could’ve told Arya that you trust her to better represent the interests of Jon and House Stark. Apparently, Arya is not as good at “the game of faces” as we previously thought, or she would have sussed out Littlefinger’s deception and that Sansa was speaking truthfully about being forced to write the letter, so maybe Sansa could play up Arya and Jon being close to remove whatever danger Arya poses South. She knows that Arya almost went that way to kill Cersei too. Tell her this is her chance!

Why did Arya give the dagger to Sansa? Is this another Stark child refusing the Valyrian blade?

This was another confusing scene in Winterfell from this week. I did not, however, take it as symbolizing Arya “giving” the dagger to Sansa and refusing the gift. I saw it more as a symbolic gesture to say “the ball is in your court” about what happens next between the two sisters. It was certainly meant to be a threat to Sansa to say “if I wanted to kill you, I can and would.” Perhaps, it meant more. Perhaps, it was Arya telling Sansa to step up and kill Littlefinger. Honestly, nothing in Winterfell really adds up at this point, so who knows.

How has the team of Arya, Bran, and Sansa not figured out what Littlefinger is up to yet?

Between the three Stark’s at Winterfell, is a trained assassin with the ability to read faces, one has the ability to “see everything that ever was and will be,” and one has been trained in how to expertly play the Game of Thrones by some of Westeros’ most prominent power players. Yet, somehow, none of them can figure out that notoriously-shady-dude Littlefinger is up to his usual tricks and playing them all. This is baffling to me.

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The Stark Children P/C HBO

Arya should know that Littlefinger is being truthful that she had no choice to write the letter, Bran should know that Littlefinger betrayed their father and led to Ned’s beheading. Sansa should know not to trust Littlefinger’s advice. Put it together, kids.

Was Ned at the Battle of the Trident? Why wasn’t Robert with Ned at the Tower of Joy?

To put it simply, yes, Ned was at the Battle of the Trident.

At the Battle of the Trident, Robert was injured pretty badly during combat. Following the Battle, word got out that Tywin Lannister and his army were heading towards King’s Landing. No one really knew what side Tywin would be on when he arrived. So, Ned led “Robert’s” Army to King’s Landing in an attempt to reach the Capital before Tywin.

When they arrived, however, they found Lannister forces sacking the city. When Ned entered the Throne room he found Jaime on the Throne with the Mad King dead. Ned thought Jaime had claimed the Throne for his father, however, Jaime cede the Throne saying he doesn’t care who claims it. Ned claimed the Throne in Robert’s name. Around this time, Ned somehow learned where Lyanna was and rushed for the Tower of Joy.

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A Young Ned Stark arrives at the Tower of Joy P/C HBO

This is all a long way of saying, Robert was recovering from injuries sustained at the Battle of the Trident while Ned and company were at the Tower of Joy.

Where would you rank Jon in terms of swordsmen in the show? Would you rank him as one of the greatest in Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire lore?

While this question asks me to rank “swordsmen”, let’s expand it out a bit to take into account some great fighters, whose typical weapon included something other than a sword. So, my rank of the living fighters in Westeros based on their current ability would probably look something like this:

  1. Undead Gregor Clegane
  2. Brienne of Tarth
  3. Jon Snow
  4. Sandor Clegane
  5. Arya Stark

A younger, pre-rock-stuck-through-his-leg Sandor Clegane would rank ahead of Jon, as would a two-handed Jaime Lannister. Arya makes the list after showing that she could hold her own against Brienne, who had defeated The Hound in single combat. No one can really match the strength of Gregor at this point. A younger Jorah would also have an argument to be included in this list.

My all-time list would look a little different and is pretty hard to tell. I’m going to rank them based on tiers.

Tier 1

1) Arthur Dayne

2) Barristan Selmy

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The Sword of the Morning, Ser Arthur Dayne (R) P/C HBO

I would say unquestionably, these are the two greatest fighters in the known-history of Westeros. They are both legends in their own right, both for success in various tourneys and their feats on the battleground. The Sword of the Morning, Arthur Dayne is known most prominently for killing the Smiling Knight in single combat and thus defeating the Kingswood Brotherhood. Barristan the Bold earned his nickname and acclaim when he slew King Maelys I Blackfyre in single combat during the War of the Ninepenny Kings, after he had cut a bloody path through the Golden Company just to reach him. The only reason I give the slight edge to Dayne is because several characters in the story, namely Catelyn and Ned Stark, believed The Sword of the Morning to be the deadliest member of Aerys II’s Kingsguard, which also included Barristan the Bold.

Tier 2

3 Robert Baratheon

4) Duncan the Tall

Two men who relied a great deal on their brute strength. There are not too many men who could have defeated the Robert who marched on the Trident or fought at the Battle of the Bells. His combination of strength and bravery was tough to overcome, as another legendary fighter, Rhaegar Targaryen would learn.

Duncan was a mix between Robert’s brute strength and and The Mountain-that-Rides enormous size. Ser Duncan would serve as Lord Commander of the King’s Guard during Aegon V’s brief reign, as the two were close friends, as chronicled in the Tales of Dunk and Egg. He won many-a-tournament in his day, although a 16-year-old Barristan Selmy bested him in a winter tourney held at King’s Landing. Coincidentally, he slew Robert’s great-grandfather in single combat.

Tier 3

5) Rhaegar Targaryen

Rhaegar is one of the tougher people to rank. By all accounts, he was never a willing combatant, preferring the sound of his hard to the song of swords. Yet, there is no doubt that he was among the most skilled fighters in Westeros. He even defeated Ser Arthur Dayne at the Tourney at Storm’s End, although Dayne had bested Rhaegar at the Tourney at Lannisport a few years earlier.

Tier 4

6) Oberyn Martell

7) Gregor Clegane

8) Brienne of Tarth

9) Sandor Clegane

10) Jaime Lannister

This group is all pretty close to me, and a lot of my rankings have to do with how they’ve matched up in head-to-head combat.

Jaime remarks at one point that Barristan Selmy is one of three fighters who he would struggle to defeat. The other two are believed to be the Clegane Brothers, so I put Jaime slightly below Sandor. As I mentioned above, Brienne defeated Sandor in single combat. She also fought Jaime evenly-at-worst, although Jaime had been a prisoner for months beforehand, and therefore probably wasn’t in his best fighting-condition. Nonetheless, she goes ahead of Sandor. I believe Gregor to be too strong for her, however. Oberyn then ranks above him, as we saw the Red Viper of Dorne easily defeat the Mountain, before getting arrogant in the trial-by-combat for Tyrion’s regicide trial.

Honorable mention would include Loras Tyrell, Sylvio Forel, the Smiling Knight, Jorah Mormount, and John Snow.

I may be missing some other, older legendary fighters, though. Apologies if this list suffers from a bit of recency bias.

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