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 season seven’s fifth episode, “Eastwatch,” like how world-changing revelations can be found next to a list of bowel movements, and that fermented crab is the Viagra of Westeros. But the episode raised plenty of questions, too, and in this week’s Mailbag Of Thrones we’re tackling your inquiries about Cersei’s dubious baby news, why the Night King is finally marching on the Wall, and whether Daenerys is going mad.
Adam emails: Cersei is claiming to be pregnant. We don’t know if she’s telling the truth to keep Jaime close, but we do know that the witch’s prophecy in season five made clear that she would only have three children. So far that witch has a pretty good track record. The witch also foretold Cersei’s eventual fall. Does Cersei think she can outmaneuver fate? Has she stopped believing the prophecy? Does she no longer care? What gives with the witch?
There’s no way Cersei is pregnant, but she is desperate.
Even if we knew nothing of the incredibly accurate prophecies of Maggy The Frog (a.k.a. the witch) about Cersei only having three kids and her eventual demise, the scenes between Jaime and Cersei screamed “she’s lying about being pregnant.” She’s trying to manipulate Jaime, whom she doesn’t fully trust right now, to keep him loyal and subservient to her, while she tries to beat the rest of the prophecy. She was furious at him because he convinced her to show Olenna mercy, only for her to make a deathbed (deathchair?) confession about poisoning Joffrey, plus she was disgusted at his suggestion that they surrender. Then Jaime’s right-hand man Bronn “betrayed” them by setting up a meeting with Tyrion. Also, announcing Jaime as the father of her child would be disastrous, since it would prove true every rumor about them, possibly calling into question her claim to the throne. She only told him that because there will never be any pregnancy to announce.
Their hug had a “Michael/Fredo on New Year’s Eve in Cuba” vibe, when her genteel tone turned to acid and she said, “Never betray me again.” What did he possibly do to warrant that? He has remained steadfast by her side, even after she did the very thing he killed the Mad King to prevent. Cersei is dead inside, she repeatedly said she’d have killed herself long ago if not for her children, and all she cares about now is vengeance and defeating the prophecy. Jaime is just a pawn for her to use against both.
Olenna Tyrell’s dying warning to him, about how she’ll destroy him too, will be impossible for him to ignore when he discovers Cersei is lying about this pregnancy. This will be what leads to her death, at Jaime’s golden hand.
The prophecy was so important it’s the only traditional flashback the show has ever used (Bran’s visions are different), and it has been right about everything so far. There’s no reason not to trust Maggy now, and it’s more evidence of Cersei’s lie.
Nick emails: Do we know the difference between Dragonglass and Valyrian steel when it comes to killing White Walkers? Both are said to kill them, but it seems like the Valyrian steel weapons should be better at it, beyond just the material strength.
Dragonglass kills them because it was used to make them. Valyrian steel seems to kill them for one (or both) of two reasons:
- It was forged in dragonflame,
- or dragonglass is used in the making of the steel.
Even though there’s no doubt dragonglass gets the job done, I would much rather have a Valyrian steel sword. It is sharper, lighter, and stronger than regular steel, and a far greater weapon than a dragonglass-tipped spear or arrow.
Cady emails: My friend and I had a small difference of opinion concerning the Night King’s motivation. I think the army of the dead is marching south because they want to take over Westeros. My friend thinks that the Night King is marching south because he wants Bran. What do you think?
You win, because even if your friend is right, getting Bran would be a part of the Night King’s grand plan to destroy the living. Maybe this White Walker march to the Wall, seven seasons in the making, is because he knows that Bran poses a huge risk to him and must be dealt with, or because he marked Bran when he touched him and the army of the dead can now pass the protective magic of the Wall, or he can use Bran’s powers. Any option would still be a step in the ultimate goal of global, icy domination.
Lonnie emails: Is Dany’s sudden (and out of character) demand that everyone “bend the knee” or die by dragon fire a foreshadowing that she’s going to go full Mad King on everyone like her father?
It wasn’t that out of character. She hasn’t been shy about being ruthless before, like when she crucified 163 of the great masters in Meereen and fed one of them to her dragons.
But the dragonflame bath she gave Randyll and Dickon Tarly did feel particularly heinous and “Mad King-y.” Why not just behead them, or listen to Tyrion and at least throw Dickon in a dungeon? She couldn’t recognize he was a loving son staying loyal to his father and show a little mercy? Especially in front of the men she wants to bend the knee? It would be better to have men swear loyalty out of respect than fear.
The Mad King wasn’t always mad. Aerys II was a charming and well-liked young man who only became a lunatic later in life. This episode was the first time I really considered the possibility Daenerys could also suffer from delayed madness.
Elisabeth emails: We saw seven of our heroes walk out beyond the Wall, so who else is in that circle formation we saw in the promos? Some redshirts, or someone we know?
They’re made up of Jon’s men who went with him to Dragonstone and/or the wildlings who went with Tormund to Eastwatch. After this week they’ll be the Night King’s men though, because them redshirts are dead. They are so dead.
Kodyack emails: Why would Jon care if Dany knew he had been resurrected? I can get not just randomly volunteering the information, but it seems a bit weird to actively steer people away from revealing it.
Saying it would make him sound like an even bigger lunatic than usual. We’ve seen the reaction he gets when he reports the White Walkers are back—there’s no way adding, “Oh yeah, also I was stabbed in the heart and brought back to life a few days later,” would help his credibility.
But I think there’s an even more important reason he wants to keep it hidden, and it also has to do with his news about the White Walkers. Imagine hearing the dead have risen and believing it. You’d probably be slightly worried. Now imagine the guy who brought you that news also announced that he had also risen from the dead. Would you trust him? Would you feel safe around him?
After Melisandre brought Jon back, Dolorous Edd said to him, “Your eyes are still brown, is that still you in there?” We’re pretty sure Jon is still Jon, but seeing as how we don’t totally know how this whole “raising the dead” thing works, Jon himself might be worried about who or what he really is. Best not to let that doubt creep into the minds of others, especially not the lady with dragons.
Ava emails: Sam mentioned to the archmaesters that Bran survived north of the Wall for years. Just how many years have passed on this show? Bran traveled north of the Wall in, what, season three or four? Does that mean each season has been about a year?
At the Citadel, figuring out the exact timeline of the show gets you a new link in your maester’s chain, but no one has ever earned it.
Bran was definitely north of the Wall for a couple of years. Sam brought him through in the season-three finale. He spent all of season four getting to the Three-Eyed Raven, arriving there in the season four finale. He then disappeared from the show for all of season five, before returning in season six, and he didn’t make it back to the Wall until this year. The general rule is that each season is roughly a year, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case the last couple of years. He was still gone for a long time though, so Sam was right.
Tim emails: Winter is here. Why doesn’t anyone in Westeros have a warm hat?
These are people who just marched north of the Wall to take part in Jon’s ludicrous plan to capture a dead wight, even though Jon and Tormund know exactly how big the White Walker’s army is thanks to Hardhome. And they decided to go on this suicide mission without horses or support. Jon needed boats to escape Hardhome, but now he just plans on running away?
Why don’t they wear hats? Honestly sometimes they are so stupid I’m amazed they think to wear pants.