Yeah, you know me!
This post is dedicated to my best friend Faye. Thanks for haunting me until I watch all the good stuff.
I never thought it would come to this. Fantasy has not been my thang since pre-2002 – elves, dwarves, lords, rings, whatever. I mean, I’m the girl who fell asleep while watching the Battle of Helms Deep (seriously). But I recently finished up the entirety of GOT so far and it was MAGICKAL.
Right now the Gamers are catching their breath and awaiting season 3, so the show is in a bit of a gestational period. I really should have written something while in the throes of bingey obsession, but I wanted to save you from all the exclamation points!!!!
GOT is a massive character tapestry, and each episode bounces between five or six environments at a time to cover developments in all corners of Middle Earth. I mean, Westeros. Whatever. Insert made-up Pangaea-like mythical landscape here.
Anyway, so since the cast of characters is so large, we as viewers are keeping up with a lot of simultaneous stories – some more interesting than others, granted, but there are many psychologies to mine and many battles to wage. The more you watch, the hotter the thrill burns, since the stories begin to tangle and knot together into a chaotic complete picture. A political empire is being painted in deceptively tiny strokes.
This kind of viewing experience is meant to be slowly savored, but addictive personalities like mine need ACTION, JUICE, SEX, and MOTHAFUCKIN’ ANSWERS TO MY QUESTIONS right now. So I ate the entire cake in one sitting, Liz-Lemon-style, and didn’t have much time to process the minutae. Now it’s time to shine a spotlight on GOT‘s yummy subtleties with my trio of three favorites…
Tyrion Lannister, played with Emmy-slayin’ aplomb by Peter Dinklage, is the breakout star. Sometimes people say “arguably the breakout star” but I cannot tolerate a dissenting opinion here. Tyrion has had an absolutely fascinating journey so far.
He started out as a spoiled noble brat, hedonistic and vulgar, and has grown into a jaded war hero and defender of Justice with a capital J. I mean, we first saw him guzzling wine amongst muddy piglets, and now he’s the guy who completely held down King’s Landing! That in itself is a great story – the man who overcame the insecurity of dwarfism to save a kingdom.
But the beauty of Tyrion, and Dinklage’s fucking amazing performance, is that’s not even the story. Tyrion doesn’t have to overcome his dwarfism – everybody else does. He’s cool with being small, and so are his many lovers (they know he ain’t small where it counts, WHAT UP). What he’s not cool with is himself, on the inside. Tyrion is plagued with self-hatred; he has wealth and status he never earned, and he senses that life as a Lannister has robbed him of the ability to really live. He wants to wheel and deal with thieves! Save a damsel! Steer the common people towards something like…modern democracy!
And slowly, Tyrion discovers that he is indeed a man of honor. At one point, the sneaky Lord Varys declares him the most adept political player on the scene – and more importantly, the most deserving of the Iron Throne. His heart is good. And he still likes to drink and fuck and laugh, but he is no jester – he is a leader. Dinklage ends up stealing the show during the latter episodes of season 2 – his cheeky combination of tenacity, humor, and stunning intellect is, simply put, electrifying.
Arya Stark, the cutest baby butch you ever did see. Played by Maisie Williams, Arya’s another character who starts out as one thing and ends up somewhere completely unexpected, but somehow so right.
We first meet her when she’s a member of House Stark – everything’s normal, her family is upper-middle class and protected, she wears itchy dresses and secretly flails around with wooden swords because it’s cool. She scoffs at her feminine older sister Arya, whose legacy basically depends on her uterus. Arya’s a tomboy who, to our eyes, will probably end up surprising everyone with her scrappy combat skills and marrying some badass who’s got a fetish for ladies wielding sharp blades.
Fast-forward to Season 2, and Arya shocks us and herself by developing into a fledgling political player, quiet and observant. After the murder of her father, the smile vanishes from her eyes, to be replaced by a guarded, wounded gleam. She walks through the world as a young boy, determined not to fight, but to avenge her family by gleaning valuable information from squires, knights, and generals alike. Arya stepped back and evaluated her childish rebellion and found that the world was much bigger than what had been shown her before. She is not afraid to be bathed in blood and grime. And that independence is not what makes her special – it is now a survival skill.
Now Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger, isn’t much of a fan favorite, but hear me out. The Master of Coin is a hard man to appreciate – he basically occupies the same niche (mounting undetectable political machinations) as Lord Varys, the Master of Whispers, and Varys is much better at the job. Where Varys employs his peculiar eunuch wiles to lull royals and common folk alike into a sense of trust, Baelish’s only personal weapon is his rakish charm. He flirts relentlessly with the Queen, with soldiers, with his #1 Whore, but his manner of flirtation is too slick to be sexy. He’s more of a Bible salesman type, his buttons and little teeth always gleaming with impeccable shine. Too cool for school.
I’m interested in Baelish for three reasons. He has earned my love thricely. One is his very sweet backstory with Lady Stark. The good Lady was his childhood bestie and he was quite in love with her, but she was into another guy. To add insult to injury, that guy died and she married his brother instead, the upstanding and unimpeachably masculine Ned Stark. Baelish was wounded by the double rejection but still loves Lady Stark, always going out of his way to help her and her children. He has a way of melting in her presence and turning into a little boy, eyes raw and wanting.
Secondly, he can be a cruel asshole, and I loves me some moral gray area! He owns a brothel and was once seen threatening #1 Whore very strongly indeed, with child-killin’ and relentless beatin’. The way Baelish is inside, all a-coil with dark snaky plots, sometimes presents itself in ugly ways. He’s not a man to be pitied. He is a caged animal, albeit sartorially gifted and good with the words.
Lastly, Aiden Gillen plays Baelish with a very peculiar kind of energy. I’ll just lay it out for you: he’s sexually ambiguous. He’s clearly into women, but he has a foppish prissiness which also turns me on in unexpected ways. He’s almost like a Bret Easton Ellis character – he’s evil but delicious, a flawed human genius, who’d fuck anything that moved if it meant advancing his social station. Basically he keeps Westeros slutty. And I salute him.