In Mailbag Of Thrones, A.V. Club contributor Michael Walsh answers your pressing questions about the Game Of Thrones universe. Wondering about the show, novels, theories, characters, past episodes, or Game Of Thrones/A Song Of Ice And Fire lore? Have questions about the current season? Forget using a raven, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We learned a lot from Game Of Thrones’ second episode, “Stormborn,” like how the maesters are terrible people, and that the safest place for a direwolf is far away from any Stark. But the episode raised plenty of questions, too, and in this week’s Mailbag Of Thrones we’re tackling your inquiries about ravens, Snakes, spin-offs, and whether or not the show gave us the worst sex scene of all time.
James emails: How do the ravens know where to go when they deliver any messages? Are they trained to fly to a certain place in Westeros? Or, do they just fly to the nearest nest and the messages just get passed on until they eventually reach their destination?
Lee emails: How fast are the ravens moving this season in Westeros? Or is the show just compressing time more?
Thurstonthe3rd comments: Did the Wall run out of ravens or something? Why has no one informed Winterfell that, I don’t know, another Stark is alive? I understand dramatic impact but come on people.
If you predicted “ravens” would be the hot topic of the week then congrats: You’re weird.
Ravens in Westeros are bigger, stronger, and smarter than our ravens, and they are trained to fly to one castle. Really talented ones can fly to multiple places, though. Maesters assigned to houses and holdfasts have their own, so for example the maester of Winterfell has a raven that can go to and from the Eyrie. There are probably some cases where messages must be moved from one raven to the next, but only when they are going to less important places. Ravens don’t run only through the Citadel, but only the Citadel has white ravens that announce the changing of the seasons.
But honestly, do yourself a favor and don’t worry about the timelines on this show. It’s too ambiguous to track, with events in certain episodes being nowhere near one another chronologically. That’s why we have no idea when ravens are really being sent or received, so we don’t know how fast they can get from place to place.
That being said, where the hell is the raven from the Wall about Bran? Wouldn’t Dolorous Edd have immediately sent one to Jon about his long-lost brother being alive? That’s not a long flight. If freaking Hot Pie heard about the Battle Of The Bastards, the Night’s Watch certainly knows Jon rules in Winterfell now. Maybe send him a raven about Bran? Maybe?
Crash Test Dumbass comments: Was that a Sand Snake hanging from the bow? Or was it Yara?
Jenna emails: Is Yara dead? Is she? How about Ellaria? I don’t think I can handle Cersei getting her hands on them.
The bodies seen at the end were the two Sand Snakes Euron killed during the raid. Obara was impaled with her own spear and Nymeria was hanging from her whip. (A hearty thank-you to that beautiful lunatic pirate for ridding the show of two terrible characters. One of them literally brought a whip to a sword fight.)
Euron’s gift to Cersei is Ellaria Sand, the woman who poisoned Myrcella. Ellaria’s alive, but not for long.
His other bonus gift is Ellaria’s daughter Tyene, the only Sand Snake still standing. Tyene’s immediate fate looks even bleaker, because Cersei won’t get her vengeance by torturing Ellaria, she’ll get it by making Ellaria watch her own daughter suffer. She’ll make Ellaria feel the pain she did when Myrcella died. Whatever horrible acts The Mountain has been torturing Septa Unella with could end up looking tame compared to what’s coming for Tyene. Don’t feel too badly for her though: She conspired with her mother and sisters to kill Myrcella, as well as her uncle and cousin.
As for Yara, I doubt she’s dead. Yet. Euron is set to return to King’s Landing like a conquering hero, and Yara will be his great prize.
Yara didn’t just turn against her uncle who wants her dead, she rebelled against the crown and threw in with Daenerys. She would make for a great prisoner/bargaining chip with the Mother Of Dragons, but I doubt Euron ever lets her go free. I would still rather be Yara right now than Tyene or Ellaria, though.
Wally emails: Although the lineage of Jon has long been suspected but not yet confirmed, what do you think the dragons’ reactions will be toward him?
Dragons are brilliant creatures. Some maesters think they are as smart as humans, just a different type of intelligence. Having Targaryen blood doesn’t guarantee they’ll treat him well, but I don’t think Jon has to worry. He’s Rhaegar’s son (HBO confirmed this, but even in context there’s no other person his father could be), so they’ll respond to Jon, at minimum, like he’s a friend—much like they did when Tyrion unchained Rhaegal and Viserion, and for the same reason.
I know this is not the most popular theory, but I believe Tyrion is half Targaryen too, and that his father is really the Mad King, who raped Joanna Lannister (please use the comments section to yell at me about “timelines”). If that turns out to be true, the dragons didn’t just recognize Tyrion as a friend, they recognized him as the blood of the dragon. They’ll respond to Jon the same way.
Dale Sams comments: Which was more cringey? The way-too-long sex scene or the pus flowing from Jorah’s chest?
Everything about Sam’s skin-care treatment was disgusting. First, the freaking maesters have a cure for one of the worst diseases in the world, but they’re just sitting on it because it’s too dangerous? Uh, maybe try fixing that instead of writing another book no one will ever read. The disgusting cutting away of Jorah’s blackened, pus-filled skin was the visual equivalent of the maesters’ amoral indifference toward human suffering.
But great call on the rum, Sam. You miraculously managed to find one obscure treatment out of hundreds of thousands of books, but locating just a little milk of the poppy, which would have spared Jorah unimaginable pain, was probably too much to ask.
Also, after last week’s never-ending poop montage ruined beans forever, good call by Game Of Thrones needlessly ruining potpies too. I definitely want to think about Jorah Mormont’s exploding skin when I sit down to dinner.
Anyway, the way-too-long sex scene was way worse.
Zack emails: Since it’s been heavily rumored that HBO will keep the Game Of Thrones cash cow going after this series, what are your top choices for a possible spin-off series? Do you want to explore a particular era in the Targaryen dynasty, or perhaps a direct prequel like Robert’s Rebellion?
Robert’s Rebellion is already out of the running, as it should be. George R.R. Martin has said by the end of the show/novels there won’t be any secrets left from that event, so there wouldn’t be anything new to explore.
There are plenty of other great options, but my top choice is the First Blackfyre Rebellion. It was the second major Targaryen civil war, and while it lacks the dragon fights of the first one, known as the Dance Of The Dragons, the story is more compelling. The Dance Of The Dragons is a story without a hero, where you just root for everyone to die. The Blackfyre Rebellion is more tragic because the two main forces both had legitimate claims to the throne, with infamous figures on both sides. The Blackfyre Rebellions also tie in better with the novels, so it would give more meaning and depth to them as well.
Claire emails: This has been bothering me since the end of last season, and it’s going to keep bothering me. Arya’s entire mission toward becoming a Faceless Man was a mission of forsaking her identity. So how has she retained her Faceless Man powers despite reclaiming her identity?
If you drop out of college after three years without getting your degree you don’t unlearn all the lessons from the classes you took. Arya learned how to use the magic, but couldn’t give herself over to the Many-Faced God. She’s like a med student who decided she couldn’t handle blood right before graduation.
It appears face-changing is a skill you develop, not one that is bestowed and taken away from you. That seems like a huge loophole though, because the anonymous assassins of the Faceless Men charge top dollar for their services. That’s why it is possible she still owes some kind of tuition to the Many-Faced God. It’s too bad she didn’t finish school though, because apparently “hear news out of Winterfell that literally everyone else knows about already” wasn’t offered until senior year.
Vorpal comments: What’s Bronn been up to lately?
No time for Bronn. Or Brienne. Or Ghost. Or to see the lords at Winterfell standing.
Missandei and Grey Worm need more sexy time. Maybe when we rejoin them the music supervisor can cue up “Hallelujah” and let Watchmen off the hook for the worst sex scene ever.