Game of Thrones Griping 9: The King in the North

By Bob Case Posted Friday Mar 31, 2017

Filed under: Game of Thrones 56 comments

This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

We’re finally here: the triumphant moment where your hero and mine, Jon Snow, is hailed as King in the North by a bunch of mostly anonymous, almost invariably bearded northern lords.

Ask yourself – if you were one of these northern lords (take a quick break to grow a three-month beard if you need to get into character), would you want Jon Snow as your King? More than that, would you upend social and political convention, and take a significant political risk, to make him your King? Let’s have a quick look at his qualifications:

No social or political status: Jon is essentially nothing. He’s not Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch anymore. He’s not a member of the Night’s Watch anymore. He’s not a Lord, or even a knight. He holds no lands or titles. He’s bastard-born. Depending on whether his new subjects believe the stories about his resurrection or notWe the viewers have no idea, since everyone on the show seems to have forgotten it happened., he could even be considered a deserter and an oathbreaker, which is punishable by death.

No leadership qualities: He made a disastrous tactical blunder in the only battle any of the northern Lords have seen him in. What’s more, up until this point his ability to inspire loyalty is most charitably described as “spotty.” Jon may have some gifts, but charisma is not one of them. He doesn’t make inspiring speeches or impassioned pleas. When trying to recruit the north to his side prior to the battle, he mostly just stood in the back and kept his mouth shut. Even the wildlings were reluctant to sign on, and according to Tormund they see Jon as some kind of god.Did they change their minds? Maybe Tormund told them about Jon’s insufficiently godlike penis, and they changed their minds.

This is another Sapochnik-directed episode, which means more painterly shots like this one. He's one of the show's bright spots in my opinion.
This is another Sapochnik-directed episode, which means more painterly shots like this one. He's one of the show's bright spots in my opinion.

No plan for succession: To put it mildly, the issue of succession is rather important in real-world feudalism, and has been shown to be quite important in the Westerosi version as well. Jon has no wife or children, and therefore no heir and no immediate way to make one. His children would not be Starks, and would have no legal claim to Winterfell or anywhere else. To top it all off, he swore an oath not to father any children. Is he still bound by that oath? Once again I have to wonder if the people cheering for him at Winterfell even know about his death and resurrection or not. If it were me, that’s the sort of ambiguity I would want cleared up before declaring someone my King.

Believes in kooky conspiracy theories: Of course we in the audience know that the White Walkers are real, but that’s not the prevailing opinion. No one in this scene brings up the army of the dead except Jon. Even Lord Umber, whose lands are the farthest north, was more worried about the Wildlings than the Walkers. That, and everything that every northern Lord has said and done throughout the season, suggests that your average northerner still considers them to be a fairy tale. And yet Jon keeps pushing the need to unite against them, and no one seems bothered.

No track record of success: His last gig was leading the Night’s Watch, where he was so popular that he was betrayed and killed by his own men. Then he suffered a catastrophic defeat in battle before being bailed out by an army he didn’t know was coming. Eisenhower on V-E Day he ain’t.

Represents an enormous political risk: The North does not have any urgent need of a King. There’s a perfectly serviceable Lady of Winterfell sitting literally right next to him. (In fact, as Ramsay’s widow and Ned Stark’s trueborn daughter, she can claim Winterfell in two different ways.) Declaring allegiance to King Jon means renouncing King TommenOr Queen Cersei, depending on how quickly news from the south reaches Winterfell. and inviting another war with the Iron Throne. It’s not the sort of provocation you want to make with winter just around the corner.

I could go on, but you get the idea. In the interests of fairness, we can take a look at the arguments for Jon Snow as King in the North, as presented at by his supporters:

“We know no King but the King in the North, whose name is Stark.”: This is the case made by Lady Mormont, the head of a very minor house who looks to be about ten years old. Not sure what there is to say about this. As a matter of plain fact, Jon’s name is not Stark. There is a surviving Stark sitting right next to him, though – and then there’s Bran, who everyone seems to have forgotten about, including his own siblings.

“He avenged the Red Wedding.”: This one comes from Lord Manderly, and is just confusing. The Red Wedding was orchestrated by Roose Bolton (killed by Ramsay), Tywin Lannister (killed by Tyrion), and Walder Frey (who, as far as anyone here knows, is still alive). For all Ramsay’s many crimes, he had nothing to do with the Red Wedding. I suppose he could be said to carry some hereditary guilt by way of his father, but that’s a pretty thin thread to hang a coronation on.

I like how the two of them are framed between the crenellations. I also like getting to use the word crenellation in a sentence.
I like how the two of them are framed between the crenellations. I also like getting to use the word crenellation in a sentence.

I’ve seen inconsitency of character before, and inconsistency of plot. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen inconsistency of setting on such a scale before. The various structures and norms that you would expect to underpin a medieval society seem to appear and disappear at random.

Sansa is the key to the North, according to Littlefinger, but no northern Lords show up to her wedding, and two declare for Ramsay after she escapes. “The Starks lost my house the day Robb cut off my father’s head,” says Lord Karstark, who watches Ramsay kill Roose moments later and doesn’t make a peep. “Fuck kneeling and fuck oaths” says Lord Umber, a member of a noble family who was born and raised in a feudal society. “We know no King but the King in the North, whose name is Stark,” says Lyanna Mormont, who is decidedly uninterested upon learning that Robb Stark’s brother is being held captive.

And then of course, there’s Bran, the legal heir to Winterfell, who the general public now has reason to believe is alive. But I don’t even know how to talk about Bran. Even though he’s the eldest son of Ned Stark in a world that runs on male primogeniture, no one in the political mix has acknowledged his existence all season. Do they think he’s dead now? Have they realized he was ever alive in the first place after his last supposed death? We have no idea.

If just one of these many things happened, it wouldn’t be so disruptive. But they happen constantly, systematically unmooring events from reasonable expectations to the point where it’s disorienting. I know I’m supposed to be thrilled that Jon has been hailed as King. I can hear the swelling music. I can see all the extras shouting and raising their swords in the air. But whenever I try to figure out why it happened, the only explanation that holds any water is “this is what the writers wanted.” That doesn’t help my belief in the setting or the events that take place in it.

The Nonversation

There are a few things that this show consistently does that are hard to talk about. Not because they don’t happen, but because they happen so much that they’re pervasive, and to call out every instance would get tiresome. One of these is the nonversation.

“Nonversation” is another term that arose from the murky depths of the internet. I’m sure that it predates Game of Thrones, but I can’t remember where I first heard itI think I first heard it used to describe some of the scenes in Star Trek: Voyager.. Shamus actually once described a classic nonversation that took place in the prologue of the latest Thief, though he didn’t use the word. In short, it’s a dialogue scene between two or more characters in which many words are said, but no meaningful communication occurs.

In scenes like these, Sapochnik's staging is spare but composed. Almost Kabuki-like.
In scenes like these, Sapochnik's staging is spare but composed. Almost Kabuki-like.

Though it’s not as bad as the one in Thief, the scene between Sansa and Littlefinger in episode ten is about as clear an example of a Game of Thrones vintage nonversation as you’ll ever hear. You would hope that a scene between two major characters would either advance the plot in some way, reveal something new about one or both of them, or basically do anything at all. But none of that happens.

Littlefinger shows that he’s ambitious and more than a little obsessed with Sansa, but we already knew that. Sansa shows that she finds Littlefinger untrustworthy and offputting, but we knew that too. She doesn’t convince him to do anything, or try to convince him to do anything. He seems like he’s trying to manipulate her into… distrusting Jon I guess? But it’s not clear why, or what his agenda is (this is especially bad because Littlefinger hasn’t had a coherent agenda in two seasons and counting).

If you’re wondering why the show sometimes gives the impression of both rushing and dragging at the same time, in my opinion it’s because so many of the scenes contain nonversations like this one. Should you ever feel the need to rewatch the show, take note of how many of the scenes contain nonversations. You can even make a game of it!

And Now I Go All Book Fanboy

I don’t like to bring up the Song of Ice and Fire novels in this series. The show is now its own entity, and both the usual challenges of adaptation plus the added wrinkle that the books are still unfinished means direct comparisons are usually unfair. But in this case I have to let my inner GRRM fanboy out a little bit. Folks, believe me, what happens in the books is so, so much better. It’s both layered and interesting, it doesn’t require you to suspend your understanding of the setting to believe in it (in fact, it reinforces and deepens your understanding of the setting), and it barely resembles what’s happening in the show at all.

One of the most frustrating things as a book reader is to see people assume that weaknesses in the show must be reflections of weaknesses in the source material. Don’t get me wrong, the source material is not perfect. But it’s way better than the show that’s supposedly adapting it.

Aaaaand It’s Finally Over

I promised long-form complaining about season six’s northern storyline, and now I’ve delivered.

This is the first time I’ve written something quite like this, and it may sound funny now, but I honestly thought it would be easier. Now, every week I look back and think “I should’ve explained that differently,” or “I should’ve expanded on that more,” or “I shouldn’t have even brought that up at all.” It’s not as much like writing for videos as I thought it would be.

A note about comments: I’m not psychologically equipped to deal with comments well. Not only do I take criticism personally, I get embarassed by praise, and even by agreement. But you should know that I do in fact read the comments even if I don’t respond. For my money, Twenty Sided has some of the best comment sections you’ll find anywhere. So thanks to everyone that’s responded, even those who were critical.

I’m done with Game of Thrones – for now, at least. If there’s going to be more in the future, you’ll be the first to know.



[1] We the viewers have no idea, since everyone on the show seems to have forgotten it happened.

[2] Did they change their minds? Maybe Tormund told them about Jon’s insufficiently godlike penis, and they changed their minds.

[3] Or Queen Cersei, depending on how quickly news from the south reaches Winterfell.

[4] I think I first heard it used to describe some of the scenes in Star Trek: Voyager.


From The Archives:

56 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Griping 9: The King in the North

  1. lucky7 says:

    Thank you for your writing, Mr The Tongue! I’m not exactly a big GoT guy, but more Mr BTongue is never a bad thing in my book!

  2. silver Harloe says:

    Teeeecchnically the books could still stupidly crown Jon King of the North because the last we saw of Jon in the books was when the Night Watch went all Ides of March on him. Though they at least seemed to have better motivation for doing so. And Sansa isn’t in the north yet.

    1. Sannom says:

      It could happen if Jon took Stannis on his offer, I guess. But right now, most of the Northern Lords seem to put their eggs in the Rickon basket, so he’s the most likely to be crowned if Davos manages to find him.

      1. Syal says:

        I’m pretty sure if it happens in the book, it will be because Jon has gained the power to light a sword on fire with his mind, and that will be the reasoning of the people joining him.

        1. djw says:

          Extra points if he shoves the fiery mindsword up Ramsay’s cornhole.

        2. Mr Compassionate says:

          My theory is that Jon is going to personally declare war on Walder, Cersea, Ramsey, the slavers of Slaver’s Bay, the Lord of Light and Joffery’s immortal soul. Then when he tells everybody this they’ll crown him King of Everything. Daenerys will marry him, he’ll discover that he can tame dragons and Littlefinger will commit suicide due to his own inadequacy in the face of such majesty. Finally Jon will WWE piledrive all the aforementioned villains directly into the nine hells. The End.

          1. 4th Dimension says:


    2. Grudgeal says:

      The Chekov’s Gun all the book fans are waiting on is exactly what was in Robb Stark’s letter that he sent north before going to The Twins. If Robb named Jon his legal heir in that letter (at that point, he believes both his brothers are dead, Arya is missing and Sansa is married to Tyrion Lannister), that would be the ‘king’s touch that erases bastardry’ and the North would probably accept the natural son of Eddard Stark, legitimized by the last King in the North, as Lord of Winterfell, especially if “Arya” vouched for him.

      Especially as, at that moment, there are no other Starks except Jon and Arya. The Karstarks was the closest cadet branch they had and the head of House Karstark is a hostage at Tommen’s court.

  3. Matt Downie says:

    I’d argue that the weaknesses in the show are reflections of weaknesses in the source material – and by that I mean in terms of weaknesses of the books as source material, not as books.

    Two examples of source material weakness:
    (1) On TV in particular, and in fiction in general, one thing people like is seeing characters they like interact. A Song of Ice and Fire has a tendency to separate characters and fail to bring them back together and introduce new characters instead. If the TV show copied the books in this regard there’d probably be a viewer mutiny. Instead, they invented new stuff like “Bronn and Jamie are buddies” and “Brienne actually finds someone she’s looking for”. Some of this worked. Some of it didn’t.
    (2) The source material has run out. Maybe Martin has a grand plan where the northern lords unite under Jon’s command and it all makes perfect sense, but until it’s in a published novel, it isn’t worth much.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      Well, it’s not just “the viewers like to see familiar characters together”. In the books, GRRM can add characters whenever he wants. Readers can read at their own pace and usually the surrounding context helps remind them who a character is if they’ve forgotten.

      Television shows have budgets, and additional characters cost money. Additional characters on a costume drama cost even more money. Additional characters who have lines cost even more money. (Do I remember correctly that GOT is the most expensive TV show ever made?) An episode of TV moves at a fixed pace, and introducing new characters all the time for minor things is going to kill your pacing. Much better to repurpose existing characters to fill those roles when you can.

      1. DivFord says:

        “In the books, GRRM can add characters whenever he wants.”

        Honestly, that was my main gripe with the later books. It felt like he was bored of writing the series, and just messing around with side characters. Technically he can introduce characters whenever he wants, but I don’t think he should.

        1. Baron Tanks says:


  4. Alarion says:

    That was a very interesting analysis. I read the books first, and the show never clicked in the way the books did for me. It was okay action and pretty scenes, but not really engrossing. Couldn’t put my finger on it why, though – maybe that was because I was watching it from week to week, as the episodes came out. Two or three sessions might have made the flaws more apparent.
    One personal observation on the format: I found the posts a little too short – a little longer and you could have gotten a better flow for the arguments, I think. Don’t know if that would have been possible, though, since you would have to write more or work further in advance.

    1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      Yeah, I also thought each post was too short, that the arguments were just presented, barely discussed, and left for people to comment on.

      Maybe I’m just too used to Shamus’s way of doing things.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    He's bastard-born

    Though he was fully accepted as neds son in every way except in name.

    Jon may have some gifts, but charisma is not one of them. He doesn't make inspiring speeches or impassioned pleas.

    He has to have some charisma,at least of the physical kind,because people keep throwing good things at him simply because he exists.Why else would they allow him to survive being captured by the wildlings,grant him some wildling pussy,give him the position of lord commander,let him remain at that position after his numerous blunders,try to bring him back from the dead and allow him to forgo his oaths with no repercussions.

    Also,you forgot that “he knows nothing”.Thats a pretty good argument against him.

    1. guy says:

      Though he was fully accepted as neds son in every way except in name.

      That’s a very, very important way, though. He’s not a Stark and not in line for succession until legitimized by royal edict.

    2. GloatingSwine says:

      Name mattered to feudal societies.

      A significant part of having power in feudal societies was convincing people to agree that you did, and that relied as much on personal relationships and connections as anything else. Bastard children were marked by social stigma and also didn’t have the advantage of being introduced to society by their parents (and occasionally fostered with other lords) so they had less of those connections.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    as presented at by his supporters:

    Jon snow has supporters?

  7. Tizzy says:

    Bob: I enjoy your work, so much so that I read this whole series even though I never watched the show nor read the books.

    I have to admit it felt like you weren’t quite as effective with the format as you are in your youtube essays. (With the disclaimer, again, that I don’t know anything about GoT — but then again I don’t know anything about the topic of some of your videos either, and I enjoyed every one of them.)

    I think because the videos are longer, the arguments have more room to breathe and release all of their flavor. But you’re a smart guy. You’ll figure out a way to make this format an appropriate vehicle for your critical works.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I'm done with Game of Thrones ““ for now, at least. If there's going to be more in the future, you'll be the first to know.

    Aww,come on,youve only started.Ive been amongst the hardest critics of this series,but I still enjoyed reading it.Even the entries I considered the weakest.You should definitely continue.Youve teased a bunch of other stuff youd do,and Im looking forward to you actually tackling daenerys,and dorn,and everything else.Sooner better than later.

    1. Vermander says:

      Agreed. I’d love to see you tackle the fiasco that is Dorne.

    2. Mr Compassionate says:

      Yeah I agree this series ended way too quickly. To fully explore all the amusing failings of the season it’d have to be at least twice the length.

      Certainly by his own admission his inexperience in structuring a multi-part analytical essay shows but the actual content of each post was great and I’d argue it’s work that needs to be done. Nobody else is putting in the time or effort to chronicle the ways in which the logical progression of the story eventually declined into a reactive and emotion-driven good vs evil mess. Some might say listing all the individual subplots that go nowhere or break the canon would be churlish but for a show so widely praised and scarcely criticised I think it’s healthy. This is coming from somebody who used to be a hardcore Game of Thrones fan.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    But whenever I try to figure out why it happened, the only explanation that holds any water is “this is what the writers wanted.”

    I think the main problem is that they did not adequately separate what the characters know and what the audience knows.We have learned that jon is part stark and part targaryen,which should legitimize him as the king of westeros.But the characters in the show still dont know this(and neither does jon),yet they all act practically like they do.I guess this was done due to rushing to finish the show next season.

  10. Jokerman says:

    Thanks for this Bob, even though my love for the show might have just taken a Mike Tyson uppercut of a knock, i still greatly enjoyed reading it :P

  11. Vermander says:

    Does Rob’s will exist on the show? It’s been several seasons, so I can’t honestly remember. In the books I believe he designated Jon as his legal heir after hearing that Bran and Rickon were dead (which is of course false). At least some of the lords who witnessed the signing of the will are still alive.

    Not that anyone will necessarily care about a hastily written document designating someone who had already take their oath as the heir to the North.

  12. boz says:

    I had some nitpickings throughout your series. Some of which were discussed by other commenters before. While I do agree with the general “writing is a bit off” message, I do think you are having some liberties constructing the narrative.

    There's a perfectly serviceable Lady of Winterfell sitting literally right next to him.
    You mean the woman who married into Lannister family who killed Ned and then married to Bolton family who killed Robb. Who is also a fugitive and wanted for poisoning her husband/ex king. And fed her last husband to dogs. I would not call that “servicable”.

    He avenged the Red Wedding.
    Yes he did. Robb broke a promise to Freys (Whose crime was not exclusively against Robb but law of the land [hospitability laws]) and was in war against Lannisters. Boltons broke their oaths, betrayed them and got the Winterfell for it.

    As for the DAKINGINDANORF business. This is a feudal society. Jon won a war. To an outsider Jon pulled a brilliant tactical gambit knowing Knight of the Vale arrive in time. Sure Jon’s inner circle knows that Jon fucked up but that inner circle also knows that Sansa knew about the knights and didn’t mention anything. So I highly doubt anyone gonna snitch on that.

    Freefolk: We didn’t invade, we were invited.
    Jon: “The Freefolk, the Northeners and Knights of the Vale fought together and we won. My father used to say you find your true friends on the battlefield”

    This is as straightforward as it could be. Those guys are my true friend you were not there.

    Then he went off a tangent warned people about the true enemy but people don’t care in fairy tales. Which switches us to the Lady Mormont.

    Lady Mormont got a massive ROI on her minimal investment in Jon. Now she can rub it in everyone’s faces that she called the winner while they sat on their asses. So it’s only natural doubling down on her investment to boost Jon. She said (paraphrasing) “I supported him because half a Stark is better than a Bolton and I was right.” That 10 year old girl now promoted to the best seats in Winterfell because she honored their oath (took a calculated bet) instead of sitting on her ass like every other lord did.

    Call it honor, call it pragmatism, call it opportunism. It’s in their best interest to unite behind Jon at that point.

    1. Vermander says:

      Regarding the “sitting on their asses” bit, one thing that I really miss on the show is the grim, fatalistic, but determined attitude that many of the Northern lords in books have. These people know that winter is coming, and that many of them won’t survive it. This is a culture where babies born in winter aren’t expected to survive and old men deliberately “go hunting” when the heavy snow starts and never back so that there will be one less mouth to feed.

      So we miss out on Crow’s Food Umber in his polar-bear skin hat digging trenches in the snow and Big Bucket Wull’s awesome speech about how “this will be my last winter, so let me bathe in Bolton Blood!”

      Instead, we get a North filled with indecisive, frightened lords. The Glovers and the Mormonts, who are among the most loyal Stark partisans, don’t even participate in the battle and only show up to apologize afterwards. The phrase “the North remembers,” is way less significant here.

      1. Vermander says:

        Sorry, I meant the Manderlys, not the Mormonts. Poor Wayman Manderly didn’t even get to bake his pie, Arya stole his idea.

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      You mean the woman who married into Lannister family who killed Ned

      No, she married into the royal house Baratheon, whose head was also Ned’s best friend. And everyone who was in the crowd at the Sept of Balor heard Joffrey say Sansa tried to plea for mercy for her father but he decided to ignore it.

      Anyway, who cares who she was married to in the past? Noble marriages are political, not personal. Sansa’s value is in her title as heir-apparent to Winterfell, not her character.

      As for the DAKINGINDANORF business. This is a feudal society. Jon won a war.

      You don’t become king in a feudal society just by winning a war. You need to have a claim to the throne first, however tenuous. And Jon sorta kinda has one, sure, but Sansa’s is much stronger, and Bran’s stronger still (and so was Rickon’s, which no one seems to have cared about).

      No one would expect Queen Sansa to be the actual power in Winterfell. They would instead immediately search around for someone with the right status and connections who would make a good king and marry them to Sansa, who would then get on with the important business of producing the next Stark heir. Unfortunately that takes Jon out of the running, since the non-Targaeryan houses of Westeros aren’t into that incest business, but surely there’s some important lord in the North who’d want his son marrying a Stark.

      1. boz says:

        No, she married into the royal house Baratheon, whose head was also Ned's best friend. And everyone who was in the crowd at the Sept of Balor heard Joffrey say Sansa tried to plea for mercy for her father but he decided to ignore it.

        You can’t accept legitimacy of Joffrey and dabble in DAKINGINDANORF business. That’s just contradictory. If Joffrey was the loyal heir. Ned Stark was a criminal, Robb was a rebel and Boltons were doing King’s bidding in red wedding.

        Ned’s execution was not televised so I doubt most people would know about Sansa’s plight. Though on second thought, I can buy a “Sansa only stayed with Joffrey and Ramsay to kill them” angle. But that’s hardly a quality you want on a ruler.

        As for Jon’s claim, in simplest form legitimization can be done by a monarch. Lannister claim is not accepted in north and legitimate Baratheon bloodline ended with Stannis. Which means Sansa can legitimize Jon or Jon can legitimize himself (like Robb did). As long as Sansa backs Jon and Bran is missing his claim is legit.

        1. Commonpleb says:

          Except the whole reason the DAKINGINDANORF business started was because at the time the northerns thought Joff was legit. It caused no end of confusion because the lords were split on what to actually do (If they had received Ned’s message on joff’s illegitimacy they would have united around stannis), the situation at the at time was that they either seize king’s landing and puppet joffrey, unite behind stannis who they viewed as a illegitimate power grabber, unite behind renly who they viewed as a even more powerful even more illegitimate power grabber. The northern lords where legitimately split on what to do, till greatjon says enough of this arguing on which southern king we serve, fuck all them. DAKINGINDANORF only became a thing because they thought was Joff was legit.

      2. houser2112 says:

        “No, she married into the royal house Baratheon”

        Tyrion Lannister is not a Baratheon. She was betrothed to Joffrey “Baratheon”, but never married him.

  13. Vermander says:

    I totally agree that Jon would make a bad candidate for king for lots of reasons and that Sansa is a better choice. Still, I can understand why she might be a tough candidate for some:

    1) Westeros has a very misogynistic culture. The Mormonts are the exception, not the rule. Even among Northern houses they're seen as extremely eccentric (the Mormont women are awesome though, it's too bad we only met one on the show). Some of these men will have a hard time accepting a female ruler, no matter how well qualified. For a lot of them a male claimant will always seem like the safer option, especially in a time of war.

    2) Related to my first point, this culture places great value on martial prowess and physical hardiness in their leaders. The prototypical Stark is a “warrior king” type. We know that Jon is a terrible battlefield commander, but the Northern Lords probably don't know this. They do know that he's brave, good with a sword, and now has a reputation as having “defeated Ramsey Bolton,” even if he doesn't deserve it. Sansa's never going to be the one “swinging the sword” so to speak. This would disqualify Bran as well.

    3) Sansa's already married into not one, but two of the families responsible for the Red Wedding. She obviously didn't do this willingly, but I can imagine some people might not believe this, or would view her as “compromised” or “tainted” in some way.

    4) She appears to be backed by Littlefinger, a known former Lannister collaborator, and he's brought a powerful foreign army with him. Some people are going to assume she's still his puppet or that choosing her as queen makes them even more beholden to the lords of the Vale.

    Just to be clear, I’m not endorsing any of these opinions, I’m just saying I can understand why some of the characters might have them.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      None of this matters, because Sansa’s value as heir has nothing to do with her character or her ability. It’s solely a matter of bloodline and law and tradition. Unless she’s very good at playing the game along the lines of Oleanna and Margaery, Queen Sansa is just going to be a figurehead to be married off so she can produce Stark heirs, while a bunch of men make all the important rulership and military decisions.

    2. guy says:

      The first point isn’t actually an issue. Northern Westeros runs on male-preference primogeniture, so Sansa inherits in the absence of any valid male heirs. While she wouldn’t be taken seriously as a military leader, she could just designate Jon as Hand Of The Queen and tell him to handle all that and no one would see a reason to object. While they place a great deal of stock in martial prowess, that’s not the basis of their inheritance laws and in practice there are plenty of nobles in the North who lack personal combat ability but are taken seriously as leaders.

  14. Xeorm says:

    I think you overestimate how eager they’re likely to be to follow the rules explicitly. The rules aren’t there to be followed to the letter, same as laws now aren’t followed to the letter. They’re more guidelines that allow for other actions. Just look at Stannis and Renly. Renly was far down the list in terms of succession, with Stannis being the more lawful choice. Yet, Renly was the more popular because everyone liked him. These people aren’t stupid; they want the best king they can get, rules be damned.

    Which is where Jon comes in as a very good choice. He’s a bastard, but that’s not the worst handicap. As long as he’s acknowledged to be Ned’s son, he qualifies, especially with no better heir. Sansa is technically the more lawful heir, but understandably few like her and she’s a woman. That matters far more in this time frame than bastard status. You can even technically lose the bastard status, but you can’t stop being a woman. Once he’s in control of Winterfell he can proclaim that he’s Jon Stark, and all that goes with it and as long as no one objects, he’s set. Or take a new name to establish a new branch. A legal problem for another day.

    Further, no wife and children is a bad thing? You’re crowning a new leader here. One who lacks a wife, making him a prime target for anyone with a daughter. To them it’s a positive. And to others, who cares? He can wed afterwards. It’s fighting time now.

    1. Vermander says:

      Actually, they may want to quickly establish marriage contracts with powerful supporters for both him and Sansa as soon as possible (the Manderlys are probably the best choice. I don’t know if there are any surviving Umbers or Karstarks on the show, but they would work too. The Glovers are relatively powerful, but maybe too low ranking). At the very least It’s a good way to secure their loyalty in a more tangible way.

      A similar situation occurred during Robert’s Rebellion when Ned Stark and Jon Arryn were hastily married to the Tully sisters in the middle of the war.

  15. Kerethos says:

    This was an interesting read and echoed some of my own “well, this doesn’t make sense but I guess the writers wanted this”-comments I made while watching it, while also making me aware of inconsistencies I’d glossed over in light of the major problems.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Mr. Case.
    I can now more confidently ruin the show for my friends, classmates and co-workers. Seriously though, they mostly cover their ears and scream whenever I try to talk GoT.

    Something about me guessing the Red Wedding long before it happened and the whole “Oh, Jon Snow’s going to come back to life in the first few episodes”, and calling out character deaths a few episodes before they happen makes them think I have some secret knowledge and will spoil everything. But I’ve actually never read the books and I’m terrible with names. I just see patterns in the writing and call them out. So now I’m not allowed to talk GoT with them anymore. :(

    Like it’s my fault characters who begin acting honorably, kind or fair tend to die a few episodes later? Or that I pick up the hints dropped all over of things yet to come? If it can be considered a good thing, my guessing game is getting more difficult now that the rules seem to change at the whims of the writers.

    I would not have guessed Jon would be the one they (the other lords) want on the northern throne. I thought he’d leave and fight for Sansa, because that would have made sense. But Melissandre is obviously at least a 9th level Light Cleric so she can cast Raise Dead and turn Jon into the writers chosen. :P

  16. Jonathan says:

    Wait, are there only 10 episodes in the season? Most TV shows have 18-24 episode seasons!

    10 episodes/season means all of GoT is only 60 hours, putting it just on the long side of a K-drama.

    1. guy says:

      It’s ten HBO episodes, which seems to be their standard. HBO is subscription based, so their episodes are about 33% longer than standard ad-supported TV episodes.

      1. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

        … which happens to be about 55 min per episode, leading to the 60 hours total runtime. Although I think a couple episodes were roughly an hour and a half? so that would increase it somewhat.

    2. ehlijen says:

      18-24 episodes is the American standard for TV seasons. In Britain it appears to be 8-13. And both regions also have exceptions using the other standard. The show Community even switched from long to short seasons half way through when it changed producer.

      In the end, all this means is that TV show seasons are 8 to 24 episodes. Ish.

  17. wswordsmen says:

    So its over, too bad this will be read by relatively few people. If only there was someone with an interest in the project who had a massive youtube following and an interest in advertising this series was here, who also happened to be a fan of Shamus and would probably want him to get more readers. But what are the odds of that.

    In all seriousness I can’t think of one reason Shamus hasn’t been trying to spread the word about this being here.

  18. Sharnuo says:

    Always good to see someone take the piss out of that overrated as hell TV show. Thanks Mr. B, now I know.

  19. SneakyBookshelf says:

    Thanks for the series Mr.B, I enjoyed reading it, looking forward to anything you do next in the commentary department

  20. Teddy says:

    If you’re embarrassed by praise, I won’t praise you, but I will say I would read another one of these. I’d be especially interested in one about an earlier season, when the show was still tighter to the books.

  21. Alex Broadhead says:

    On Bran – are we seriously to believe that Ramsay ‘Flay ’em For Fun’ Bolton has been in possession of both Rickon and Osha for some time, but hasn’t determined Bran’s plan and thus probable whereabouts? (Yes, he killed Osha. Oddly, he did that quickly, and without bothering, as far as we can tell, to try to get any information out of her.)

    Sure, there’s no way to really act on the information that he’s gone north of the Wall. And he has no motivation to publish information about Bran being alive, as it undercuts his own legitimacy. But still, it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t be interested in the information himself, even just as an excuse to torture someone.

  22. Christopher says:

    Are you going to start a new series? I’d hate for this to be the last of your posts here, I like your work. GOT is just a little too outside of my wheelhouse for me to have much to say about it.

    1. Syal says:

      Shamus has been dodging a proper Contra analysis for a while now, maybe Bob will take up the mantle.

      1. Christopher says:


  23. SPCTRE says:

    It’s over already? Aww man.

    Can’t wait for your next series!

  24. Nimas says:

    Probably won’t read this, but thanks for the series. As a non-consumer of Game of Thrones (just not my type of fiction thanks) it was really interesting to have this look into the world of GoT from an analytical standpoint.

    Good luck with future endeavours.

  25. Duoae says:

    A note about comments: I'm not psychologically equipped to deal with comments well. Not only do I take criticism personally, I get embarassed by praise, and even by agreement.

    I really did enjoy this series; not in any major way or form but neither in too negative a fashion. In fact I may or not have had no strong feelings about your writings on a show that I may or may not have found entertaining.

    Thanks (sort of) for the series.


  26. Mistwraithe says:

    I really enjoyed reading this series, possibly my favorite series on Shamus’s website in recent times. So, thanks!

  27. Nallenon says:

    I hope we’ll see more of you around these parts, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series.

  28. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    It was a good analysis, a bit light on details and the context of the episodes (I forgot most of what happened in season 6, oops!)

    It’d be great to see more long-form analysis from you around here though!

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