THIS IS ANOTHER SPOILER POST…
MEANING IT WILL DEAL WITH GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS..AGAIN
SO LEAVE IF YOU ARE BEHIND ON GAME OF THRONES
I’M GIVING YOU TIL THE COUNT OF 3..
I MEAN IT…..
SERIOUSLY IF YOU ARE BEHIND, I’M ABOUT TO RUIN SOME SHIT FOR YOU…
YOU ARE LEGALLY NOT ALLOW TO HATE ME FOR SPOILING IT IF YOU KEEP READING….
IT’S YOUR FAULT AFTER THIS….
TRIGGER WARNING….I THINK…WHATEVER THAT STUPID TUMBLR THING IS….
THIS IS IT…
So I think it’s pretty safe to say a number of people are no longer down for Stannis Baratheon as the one true ruler of Westeros.
This is defiantly a show built on the pillar of pitch black, soul-crushing moments (pregnant women have been stabbed in the stomach, children being stabbed in the throat, the head crushing, the baby murder, the rape…oh the rape…), but during the scene in which Shireen is sacrificed to the Lord of Light, I could only think back to an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In the scene the gang holds a fake funeral for a baby, during which one member in a moment of clarity asks if this is the darkest thing they’ve ever done. The answer is, “Yes.” (I only hope that there were some Baratheon soldiers in the crowd that were have the same conversation.) Now it’s completely debatable if this Sunday was indeed the darkest territory Game of Thrones has dived into. For me, it was hands down the most upsetting. This show has made me feel many things, but never sick. I actually went home after watching this and had to watch some Futurama in order to cheer myself up.
This particular GoT post (and most likely the last one I will be able to do for this season) is in response to the claims that this is a “betrayal” to Stannis as a character and that scene in question was for pure shock value.
Let me preface: I. AM. NOT. FOR. CHILD. BURNING. This is not a justification of the actions that took place, but a justification for a character acting true to the character beforehand. To be honest, this was a really great scene. It is utterly effective in just how devastating it was and didn’t feel ham-fisted in for some sort of cheap shock. This is an event that has been building for the better part of the past 4 seasons since Stannis was introduced. This season in particular has highlighted Stannis’ quest to achieve the goal he believes, and has been told, is his and his alone.
If anything it gives this (very rare) heartwarming scene all the more tragic bite.
It informs Shireen’s willingness to help her father in any way that she can although how she ultimately does help was definitely not what she had in mind. In the moment she see’s here father’s selfless resolve and hopes to emulate it. Once again, I don’t think she wanted to be burned at the state AT ALL.
There have been allusions drawn between Stannis and the Mad King. Stannis may be cold (no pun intended) but he is far from mad. Desperate yes, but not mad. Once again, this is not in support of what he did, but an explanation. Let’s look at all the facts that support why the burning scene happened last night:
1) Stannis is (was) perhaps the most steadfast character on this show. When he makes a choice, he will not be swayed. It’s both his biggest strength and his biggest flaw. That isn’t to say he isn’t a morally grey character. He isn’t as black-and-white as some critics have described him. He will negotiate when necessary, but once he has formed a steady opinion about something there will be no swaying him. He has committed to the Lord of Light, and AS HE HAS PROVED TIME AND TIME AGAIN, he is a guy who stands by his commitments.
Least we forget these eerily relevant words he shared with Davos back in the third season.
So it would have rung false to me had he stepped in last minute to save his daughter. Sure, I would have preferred that but it would have been completely out of place.
2) Melisandre has given him nothing but results. Let’s not forget: the very first scene we see Stannis in, he is in the process of burning his own brother-in-law for not believing in the Red God. These aren’t the only close relationships Stannis has sacrificed at the behest of the Red Priestess. And you can’t even classify it as religious fanaticism. For ever terrible thing the two have done together, it has brought them one step closer to Stannis achieving his ultimate victory. Sure, some instances can be attributed to blind luck. Others, such as the shadow demon baby Melisandre pooped out offed Renly, was something real and something frightening. Ever since his introduction, Stannis’ soul has been fought over by Ser Davos and Melisandre. Ser Davos representing his humanity and Melisandre representing his ambition. Ser Davos has saved Stannis’ humanity on more than one occasion now but in this episode, he finally sent the Onion Knight away. As previously mentioned, once Stannis has made up his mind it remains made. There is a method to her madness and with as desperate as Stannis is after Ramsay’s attack, he is finally willing to give up the only thing that tied him to his humanity for the betterment of the realm. Which leads me to my final point…
3) He really, REALLY believes he is what is best for the realm. As it stands, his campaign to reclaim the North isn’t going so swell. His men are starving. Winter has set in and he can’t move forwards or backwards. By sacrificing his daughter, he hopes to serve the greater good.
Least we forget, there is an entire horde of ice zombies on the way. It may take someone with grit, a lack of heart and who can make the toughest choices in order to fight them back. There is no more room for compromise in a world where the dead rise.
Stannis, at least from his view, is left without sane options. His men are starving and freezing to death AND he still has the Boltons to face. The only one choice left is the sacrifice proposed by the woman in red (AS IT HAS WORKED EVERY TIME UP TO THIS POINT). He must chose his daughter or the realm. Whether he chose right remains to be seen. (Update: the snow went away but his men weren’t really down for child burning for whatever reason so they largely up and left…so I’d say it worked but not as prescribed.)
It’s important to note that this is all just speculation on my part. I am completely in the dark at this point as to what fate has in store for Stannis and his army in the next episode. His siege on Winterfell could end in disaster. (Least we forget Brienne is still out and about and has made how she feels about Stannis very clear.)
But ruling DOES require sacrifice and on Sunday, he made the ultimate sacrifice. He not only lost his one and only heir, but he also sacrificed his last tie to his humanity. I’m very interested to see if it pays off with Lord of Light, but I think in many ways, Stannis has already he lost. I loved the dichotomy between Daenery and Stannis this week as well. One ruler (literally) soaring to her highest of highs and the other falling to the lowest of lows.
With all of this evidence pointing to the conclusion we got last night, it comes as a shock to me that people are so surprised that he would even entertain the thought of burning his own daughter. As if he was some sort of Ned Stark-like character and this was a complete 180 for him. A lot of the feedback I’ve read sounds like either this…
This was the show with a pilot that ended with a child getting pushed out of a tower window after witnessing a brother/sister incestuous relationship being consummated after all. I assumed that anything is pretty much game after that. So what seems like masses of people getting butthurt season after season is perplexing to me. I’ve read people comments from people who were waiving “Stannis the Mannis” banners high a week ago already switch sides in favor of the Boltons….the FUCKING Boltons.
Stannis is still one of my favorite characters in this series. Is he my choice for ruler? Like Shireen so poignantly put, I don’t think it’s about choosing sides any more, but he is one of the most interesting characters inhabiting the world.
Do I agree with everything he does? Of course not. People (i.e. idiots) often make the mistake liking a character for condoning the actions of a character. I love Walter White. I love Tony Soprano. I love Don Draper. All three of those characters are total and complete cunts at more than one point in their series but show in more than instance that there is some moral grey there signifying that they may just be able to find it within themselves to do the right thing. A good character is someone who engages us in the full emotional spectrum, not service one or bore us completely. I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE Stannis for what he did in “A Dance with Dragons” but it also highlighted why I love him so much as a character.
This scene, as a whole, was rougher than the Red Wedding for me. The Red Wedding highlighted something we already knew; that the honorable stand little chance against those who “ignore” those ever important honorable rules. Shireen’s burning at the pyre highlighted something much more upsetting to me; it showcased the levels the “good” and “just” will go to protect what they deem worth protecting. In his eyes, Stannis was killing one innocent for the safety of countless more and that is profoundly troubling if only because I may be willing to do the same given the circumstances. What’s one body against foundations of them?
That (probably) is a wrap on my GoT-themed posts for Season 5. (Presuming I don’t have something to ramble about in the finale, but I have a busy two weeks ahead so I will most likely regulate my stupid/useless opinions to Twitter.) Thanks to the two of you that like reading these and never forget: Valar morghullis.
So in the face of Stannis meeting his end in the season finale (it wasn’t EXPLICITLY shown but c’mon of course he is dead) my speculation about him being the one person fit to lead the fucking up land that is Westeros against the White Walkers is now invalid but I stand by just about everything else I said here. Much like his “devoted” fanbase, his army largely abandoned him for doing exactly what he said he would do to be king. Instead he found himself at the wrong end of Brienne’s sword. His death and final line only strengthens my love of the character and proves that he was one of the most interesting (and at times frustrating) characters this show had to offer and I’m sad to see him go.
R.I.P. Stannis Baratheon
You died as you lived.