Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

On 'Game of Thrones,' It's the Women Who Rule

By Bethany E. Larson | Indiewire April 30, 2012 at 12:40PM

During the penultimate episode of the first season of "Game of Thrones," something unexpected happened: Ned Stark, the character believed to be the hero of the story, was unceremoniously killed by a sadistic child-king. While this left some in awe of the writer’s bold choice, many, including Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times, criticized the series and claimed that there was nowhere for the story to go, since it no longer has a hero.
2
Game of Thrones 06

But it’s not only ambitious, steely women that are featured. In Gilly (Hannah Murray), the pregnant wildling woman whom Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) meet North of the Wall at Craster’s Keep, the audience is introduced to a woman who is so sexually and emotionally abused by her father/husband that she wants to escape with the Night’s Watch brothers in an effort to protect her unborn child from suffering, at best, her same fate.

Even though Gilly is a pathetic, blubbering little thing, the fact that she is bold enough to speak up about her situation at all effectively communicates the type of person she is. Though it’s a typically maternal role, Gilly’s strength, like Catelyn Stark’s (Michelle Fairley), lies in wanting what is best for her child.

Though some of these women are still very new to the show, they have already put the men to shame in regard to their sheer determination and willingness to do anything to reach their goals. Though strategists like Littlefinger and Tyrion don't discount the cunning of the women around them, they still regard them as bargaining chips to be used to whichever ends they, as men, deem necessary. Elsewhere in Westeros, both Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) underestimated the females around them.

Game of Thrones 05

In Davos’s case, he was shocked by Melisandre (Carice van Houten), the murderous Priestess of Light advising Stannis, and her alternative methods of warfare, and quickly reassessed her strength and influence. But when Theon was awkwardly reintroduced to his family in the Iron lands, including his sister, Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) -- whom he sexually assaulted -- he was truly appalled to find that she had become a more valued family member and naval captain than he, despite the fact that he had been living away from home for ten years, and has continued to be made a fool of while in her presence.

While it’s true that there's no clear-cut protagonist in season two, that fact is part of the intrigue of "Game of Thrones." The audience isn't told by the writers who to root for, and can't rely on the usual signposts to guess which characters are good, bad or safe from the sword. Instead, they're left to choose who they hope will ultimately win the war of Westeros. Though it’s the men who lead the battles, sign the documents and make the so-called final decisions, it’s the women who are working within the confines of a restrictive system by using their influence -- whether with their bodies, their cunning, or the power granted them by birth -- to manipulate the action, while at the same time doing all they can to eradicate the misogynistic customs of their world. Who needs a hero? The heroines of this show are going just fine.

This article is related to: Television, TV Features, HBO , HBO's Game of Thrones







SnagFilms

Watch Over 10,000 Free Movies!

We the Economy: Supply and Dance, Man!

Why is the law of supply and demand so powerful? In this whimsical tale, our friendly narrator guides bored students Jonathan and Kristin through a microeconomic musical extravaganza.

More