Five Essay Questions for Game of Thrones 3×8: ‘Second Sons’

Our guest essay answerer this week is none other than our GoT illustrator, Alex Bedder! Give him a hand! These

Illustration by Alex Bedder.
Illustration by Alex Bedder.

Our guest essay answerer this week is none other than our GoT illustrator, Alex Bedder! Give him a hand!

These questions regard last night’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Please answer the prompts with specific examples from LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE, though supplementary material will be accepted as a secondary source. Please write legibly. No. 2 pencils only. You have an hour to finish this test. See below for questions and sample responses.

1. We like to say “Seal it with a kiss” (or, at least, Britney Spears does), but the more appropriate term for our characters in this week’s episode might be “Seal it with some sex.” What special significance does tonight’s episode put on doing (or not doing) the nasty? Things to consider: Religious rituals that had seemingly nothing to do with sex and everything to do with kinky leeches, Tyrion’s dilemma of honor vs. self-preservation (strategically, he’d be much, much better off having sex with Sansa and getting her pregnant) and Dany’s renewed policy of giving it up to whichever dude kills the most jerks for her?

Sex on Game of Thrones can be overall be described as gratuitous in different ways, whether it’s Littlefinger instructing in the art of seduction, Podrick being “gifted” or Theon starring in the worst porno ever. This week was interesting because doing it, and the absence of doing it, had to do with conflicting desires that weren’t as straightforward. Melisandre uses sex to “hide the knife” from baby lamb Gondry, and the arousal in the ritual is less of a requirement then means to get a leech on to someone’s manhood. Tyrion does the good thing, but not necessarily the smart thing because of his word, to Shae that she will not be his whore, and in terms of the promise he made to Sansa that he would never hurt her. This situations in contrast with Mero of the Second Sons and his fairly uncomplicated relationship to the opposite sex seem to fit with the idea that unions in this episode had much more to do with big picture, as opposed to only personal desire.

As for Dany, she has not slept with her new comrade yet, but has seemingly had the hots for him since he called out her bluff. But seriously, Khal Drogo has been dead forever now. So, if you were Dany and an impossibly handsome and strategic knight comes along, kills the man who was calling you a common whore and asking to see your ladybits, and pledges his allegiance to you because he basically “loves beauty” wouldn’t you also get with him?

2. Beyond the wall, Sam Tarly makes the first big revelation about the White Walkers since Jon Snow learned to set them on fire: While the big and mighty Night’s Watch sword turns to powder when used against the undead, a tiny dagger dug up by a dog manages to do the trick. Could one read this as an allegory for Sam’s entire existence (i.e. “It’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it”; the whole “diamond in the rough” thing; that time Indiana Jones had to pick the cup of Jesus Christ to save his dad and it turned out to be the really plain one,) or is just another instance of fate intervening to keep this show’s version of Hurley alive for comic relief?

First, there’s been some contention about White Walkers and wights. White Walkers are the mysterious and ancient beings from the far north. They can control dead bodies to do their biding, or in and AMC viewer’s terms they can make zombies (also, can’t believe there’s not many Walker/ White Walker fan fiction or memes being cooked up by Walking Dead and GoT fans).

Wasn’t what Jon Snow set on fire a reanimated corpse? Is this one of those logical problems, are we supposed to assume that if wights can be felled with fire, then so an White Walkers? All squares are rectangles, but not all squares can be killed with flames or dragon glass?

Speaking of dragon glass, that’s the answer to the question of whether last night’s confrontation said something about Sam’s character, or was merely just fate saving our favorite Crow. At the end of season two, it was Sam who recognized what the little daggers were made of, and that it was the First Men left who them there. Had Sam not been there, the White Walker kryptonite would have probably mistaken for junk. Ever the underdog, he sticks to his whole whole “the meek shall inherit” bit by literally sticking it to one of the most feared and powerful beings we have seen on the show. He’ll go on being my favorite accidental hero.

3. It’s wedding season in Westeros! Tyrion marries Sansa, Joffrey is set to marry Margaery Tyrell and his mom is going to marry Margaery’s brother, Ser Loras. While Cersei might have The Rains of Castamere playing on repeat, Lady Olenna is taking a certain kind of glee in performing her own version of “I’m My Own Grandpa.” Chart out–if it’s humanely possible–the new extended Lannister family tree. Bonus points for when the branches don’t fork.


4. Melisandre is getting less impressive every episode. She starts out the series by being immune to poison and using her lady powers to destroy Stannis’ enemy by having their ghost baby to kill his brother. But when asked why they can’t just do that to all the usurpers now, the Red Priestess tells the would-be king that he’s “not strong enough.”

So she goes with plan B, which is essentially: “Let me have sex with your illegitimate nephew and then we’ll throw his dick-leech in the fire.”

We know the Lord of Light can do some awesome things like bring people back from the dead and set swords on fire, but is there a chance Melisandre is just a con artist nympho with a theatrical streak? Or do we still believe in her Theodoric of York-brand mysticism?
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With all the Lord of Light hysteria at camp Stannis, and utter devotion to the cause (remember, non-believers are usually burned at the stake), it seems this season we’ve seen Melisandre talk the witchy zealot talk more than we’ve seen her walk the birthing-a-smoke-monster-baby walk. What Stannis questioned Davos with in this episode rings true, if we have seen truly miraculous things from the Red Priestess (and now others involved with the LoL), can we question the existence of her god?

Melisandre repeats this before she beds Gondry, that you only need “eyes to see” to accept god as real. For some people (Stannis) only need faith, for some others (Davos) they need proof. In these terms, the ritual she performs has more than one goal. There’s definitely lots of “because the LoL has willed it and Stannis is the true king” rhetoric, but it’s also crafty hocus pocus to squash questioning from one of Stannis’ closest friends. Many will still be asking Melisandre to show them the receipts, but the way that blood exploded out of the Joffrey leech seems to foreshadow some awful fate approaching for everyone’s favorite child king/sociopath/serial killer. If that comes to fruition, let’s stick with this Lord of Light guy.

5. How are we feeling about Dany’s new buddy, the sellsword/lady killer (not literally), Daario Naharis? As sexy as it is to bring in your cohorts heads in a bag to prove your loyalty to a chick you just met because you “fight for beauty,” his profession alone makes his motives dubious. (Although sellswords seem to be incredibly loyal in Game of Thrones…just look at Bronn!)

What would be the modern day pick-up method equivalent to Naharis’ pledge of alliance to Dany? Is he more Mystery Method or “Hey Girl?” Discuss.


Five Essay Questions for Game of Thrones 3×8: ‘Second Sons’