If you’re trying to avoid spoilers for last nights Game of Thrones series finale, I guess stop reading. Though, I can only imagine that you made it to my dank, little WordPress blog by actively searching for this, so read on.
At the Battle of the Blackwater, I’m convinced that Tyrion Lannister suffered a wound that resulted in more than just a facial scare. Surely, he was the victim of an injury that resulted in severe cognitive decline. Far from the intelligent man that we saw in the early seasons of the show, the last two seasons have shown him making poor choice after poor choice. Last night’s monologue proposing Brandon Stark as the next king is just the last in a series of terrible decisions that others trusted because of his prior reputation as the cleverest man in Westeros.
On its face, “Bran the Broken” is a great choice! A philosopher king who has experienced hardship and will end his line with himself, leading to the next king being chosen by a quorum of the high lords of the now-six kingdoms (more on this later) rather than a dynastic line that is, admittedly, a roll of the dice in Westeros as in the real world.
Why Bran is a Terrible Choice
Bran hasn’t done shit.
But will Bran be able to help the people? It isn’t clear since Bran hasn’t done much of anything except say cryptic platitudes that people already knew or weren’t really very helpful. Oh, was that the way it was always supposed to be, Bran? Good thing since that’s the way it is. Is it a good idea to have a king that is a fatalist? I don’t feel like you want that quality in a leader since it doesn’t really lead to trying to administer change and, let’s face it, after your city is burned down by a dragon, that’s a real opportunity for making some useful changes.
Bran has no administrative experience, no desire for leadership (I know, the very fact that he DOESN’T want the crown is a reason to give it to him. Shut up, you Cincinnatus-loving blowhard), no real skill at anything at all except for warging. I mean, that’s cool, but not very helpful in a regal dimension. All Bran really does well is stare into the middle distance and look peaceful. One would hope that maybe he’ll just be a figurehead and his Small Council would pick up the slack, but they couldn’t even decide whether to rebuild the brothels. And should brothels be top of the docket?
I’ll say it. Jon should have been the king. He’s a proven leader with compassion that would have served the realm well. He has both administrative skill and military accomplishment. The Northmen would have stood behind him and the other lords would have at least feared his reputation as a hands-on general. But the Unsullied wouldn’t have it since he kind of stabbed the queen that set them free.
Bran doesn’t have any of these peoples trust or loyalty.
The Unsullied are headed to Naarth, wherever the hell that is, presumably to… what? These are castrated slave soldiers. They haven’t known anything but thrusting pointy sticks at people their entire lives. You think that they’re going to settle down and start farming? Raise a family? No. It’s winter. They have no houses and no way to make a living. How long before the Iron Bank realizes that there’s a group of 7000 unhappy soldiers who are disciplined and ready to fight for pay? The Unsullied is the new Golden Company, the bank’s mercenary army that was just incinerated in the bay. Grey Worm’s gotta eat too. It would have been better for Bran to sacrifice his brother and keep the Unsullied on as a standing army until at least the walls are secured and defenses are back up to snuff. Now, he has to worry that someone else will hire this ruthless mercenary army to invade a defenseless King’s Landing.
Why is it defenseless? Because the Unsullied went around and slaughtered all the Lannister knights and guards. Did I mention that they were ruthless?
And what happened to the Dothraki? I hope like hell that Bran put them on boats and shipped them across the sea back to the plains of their homeland. But aside from the leverage that it is getting cold and can’t be comfortable for them or have much pastureland for their horses to graze, I don’t know what leverage Westeros could have used to get them to go quietly. Let’s remember that they lost most of their number fighting in the last three episodes. They are probably going to want their reward. You going to pay them off, Master of Coin? With what? You can’t give them land in Westeros. Theirs is a culture of raiding and you’d never have peace with their neighbors. You’d need an army to hem them in, which you don’t have anymore. They came to tear down stone houses, not build them. They won their queen a war and they’re going to want to be compensated for their expenses.
Furthermore, a Khal who can’t ride is no Khal. The Dothraki will have no respect for a wheelchair-bound sovereign. Tribal horse nomads aren’t sensitive to disabilities. I have a hard time believing that Bran will be able to command them to do anything at all that isn’t at the end of a sword.
Are you going to use the Northmen to stand guard? I doubt it since you just agreed to give them their own kingdom outside of your jurisdiction. Bran cannot command the North to send troops; he has to ask his sister nicely. Queen Sansa’s not going to want to risk her fledgling monarchy by giving up her countrymen to rebuild the walls of her brother’s burned down city. She has her own security issues after the Battle of Winterfell. Those men are going to want to go home to their families and care for them over the long winter.
Oh yeah, Drogon
Did anyone account for there still being a goddam dragon on the loose? That can’t be great for peasants! They’re probably going to want something done about that nuisance that drops out of the sky, eats their livestock and possibly burns down their home. Can’t imagine that it won’t come up at a city council meeting! And you just sent away one of two people who the dragon didn’t eat or burn alive when it was alone with them. Good luck getting the hand of the king to take care of that for you, Bran. What’s that? You said you’ll take care of it? Through warging? You can warg a dragon? Maybe that would have been a useful thing to do when tens of thousands of people were burning in the streets of King’s Landing. Just throwing out ideas here. Oh, it had to be that way? Graduate to sophomore philosophy, Bran! One of three causes that you didn’t stop that massacre if you can warg a dragon. One, you don’t care about people, in which case, you shouldn’t be king. Two, you can’t actually warg a dragon, so you’re a liar. Three, you didn’t want to stop the massacre because you could foresee that it would lead to Jon killing Dany and you being king, in which case you’re a power-hungry asshole and shouldn’t be king.
This is One Term
Nothing has changed. This form of government will last one, maybe two heads of state. You’ve swapped out a Lannister over seven kingdoms for two Starks over the same. Even in this universe, the number 7 holds significant meaning and the stories told for generations are going to continue. Sansa will have children, assumedly, and one of those is going to want to rejoin the kingdoms. It is an easier transition than one would think. This form of government, choosing your leaders, is new and probably not trusted by all the lords; particularly if Bran’s reign goes as well as I assume it will. Why wouldn’t it make sense to condense the number of Starks down to one and have a single king or queen? And if not a child of Sansa, there’s no reason to believe that another chosen regent won’t want to continue power consolidation along their blood line. It happens all the time in history.
The episode was satisfying from a viewer’s standpoint. I enjoyed it more than most of the rest of the season. But the choice of Bran, for practical reasons, was simply awful.