GoT: War of the Five Queens (S7 E02)

GRRM always says that his A Song of Ice and Fire series, which was adapted to tv as Game of Thrones was largely inspired on history, more precisely on the Plantagenet dysnaty and the War of the Roses.

Facts are unyielding, some people say, but we only know them as witnesses, and them we are not privy to the universe of possible causes and conditions surrounding an event, and even that event, we know only a little bit, or we know them second hand, by the account of others, and then historians are nothing but fancy story tellers.

Take Tolstoy´s War and Peace: he does looks at war from the stand point of the foot soldier, cause that moment is the foot soldier´s whole world, regardless of what people might tell this guy later, when the battle is over.

Is Tolstoy´s common reader aware of that? Not all of us are Isaiah Berlin…

And neither are all writers Tolstoy to make conscious choices about the portrayal of historical events and thus to comment on power, social values, etc. I believe most writers warm up leftovers from better writers, or simply make a mish-mash of what they were taught at school, plus TV and other subliminar info, and then come up with their product, for masses equally less intellectually gifted.

Visual arts are not as kind as books when it comes to fracturing narrative to accomodate these musings.

Part of Game of Thrones success is that it brings old discussions about power on a very basic level, without the feel of reality that House of Cards, for instance, and with that abstract, almost naive mix of information that allow the readers and the viewers to accomodate their own views of what power is, or should be.

If in the books, the POVs, make it impossible for a character to give unity to the narrative and make it sound with one voice, on the show, the runners give it their own approach.  We know who the bad guys are, who the good guys are, the shades of grey are not so subtle and you can take sides very easily.

Episode 02 of season 7 pays homage to Littlefinger in one of the Sansa chapters: he talks about a war of the five queens. Book Sansa (14 -15) is younger that show Sansa (who should be 18 – 19), and fails to grasp the reach of his words. Book Littlefinger is more cunning and I doubt he has the same goal as show Littlefinger: too smart for that, cause the Iron Throne tends to kill its occupants.


So now, we have only strong women at war, whether or not they´re contending for the Iron Throne itself is a different matter: Dany, Ellaria, Yara (Asha in the books) and Olenna on one side and Cersei on the other. Jon does not care about the throne, not even about the title he holds, and Sansa, who would make a contender, is more interested in securing her survival and that of the North, so she is not one of the queens.

I don´t know if Cersei would sit on the IT as she is doing, considering that now woman has done it before. Blowing up the Sept of Baelor should have alienated her from other houses other than the Freys, so it is a big flop of the show.  A little bit of fear is good, too much, when you are alone, makes even the smallest dog turn against you.

Owing loyalty to a widow is one thing, you do it in honor of her husband (Olenna) and you understand that she is regent until another takes power. Cersei rules by herself, by rights of a Baratheon conquest. More illegitimate? Impossible.

But do the forms of validation of power follow strict rules?1

No, they change, as well as the nature of power changes.  But I am afraid that the showrunners, are unaware that they are playing with the competing notions of power playing within the socialist marxist spectrum, which is the paradigm of modern media:

As stated in what has come to known as The Prison Notebooks, Gramsci conceives of power as consisting of “two major superstructural ‘levels’: the one that can be called ‘civil society,’ that is , the ensemble of organisms called ‘private,’ that of ‘political society’ or ‘the State.’” What this means in practical terms is that society is not governed merely by the power of the state, which receives it power through the products of the means of production, but also has a cultural, social component, which justifies its existence. According to Gramsci, philosophers, political theorists, and other intellectuals “are the dominant group’s ‘deputies’ exercising the subaltern functions of social hegemony and political governance.” In other words, they create the values and ideology, which justify the existence of the regime. This cultural activity creates a state in which “the great masses” “consent” to the arrangement of society created by the dominant group.. While Gramsci attempts to ground his theory of power in a Marxist framework, it entirely contradicts the Marxian conception of power. Marx views ideas as merely the product of the economic conditions from which they spring. Civil society, law, and culture are determined by the economic conditions created by means of production that a society uses for commerce. By contrast, Gramsci believes that the two are interrelated, that culture is not irrelevant, rather it, along with economic activity, is a lever of power”

Whereas the queens fight on the marxist notions of power, Tyrion proposes a more Gramscian approach, which does not forego of strength and ownership of means of production, but which tends to bring the elites and then the people into the fold by creating an environment that reinforces the image of his Queen. Cersei used propaganda to rally allies against her enemies, but propaganda does not lead her far cause her skin is thin. From a mysoginist show to a feminist one? Nope, they changed the genders of the players, that´s all. The power play can be translated in the same language, from Tuciddides, Macchiavelli, through Marx, Gramsci and Nietzche.

The old feminine role of playing in the shadows is now taken by men, Tyrion, Varys  and Littlefinger, who understand Nietztche´s “The greatest events—they are not the loudest but the stillest hours. Not around the inventors of new noise, but around the inventors of new values does the world revolve.

The war for the throne has begun. Let´s see how D&D vision of power will unfold as opposite to that of GRRM.



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