The Great Game of Thrones Debate: Who Should Rule Westeros?
For five seasons now, war has raged over which Game of Thrones character will ultimately sit on the Iron Throne and save the seven kingdoms from endless war and long walking journeys to find people.
While the folk of Westeros may be able to put up with this state of affairs, we here at Hifix have decided enough is enough. And so with the power vested in us by the untied Recappers Society of the Galaxy, we are taking matters into our own hands and turning the decision over to you. As contrary as it might be to the land of dragons, we’re bringing democracy to the Game of Thrones.
We have gathered nine of the most gifted orators in the known world to make statements defending the various claimants to the Iron Throne. Read their statements, and the rebuttals below, and then cast your ballot at the end of the arguments.
Champion: Daniel Feinberg
Statement: Winter is coming and in a divided Westeros, we need somebody who is capable of uniting people, not dividing. The Free Folk voting block is more important than ever. Although Gilly had a tragic upbringing as daughter and wife and baby mama to the repulsive Craster, she has proven her resiliency and the ability to elevate even the meekest of individuals. If she can turn Samwell Tarly into a badass zombie killer and bodyguard, imagine what she could do for Westeros. Few characters in "Game of Thrones" have Gilly's survivor's instinct, much less her maternal instinct. Protect Gilly and Gilly will protect us all.
Champion: Carrie Meathrell
Statement: Greetings, smallfolk! Thought I'd send my raven off a bit early.
I ask you to consider for election: Stannis Baratheon, Captain of Team Dragonstone, and the One True King.
Why does anybody want to claim the Iron Throne, anyway? Westeros is a filthy, brutish place, mired in a culture of violence and misogyny. History has proven that anyone who sits the throne will likely die a painful, untimely death. That being said, Stannis is the most reasonable choice for king. He has the benefit of legitimacy as King Robert Baratheon's younger brother, and he commands a large army of loyal bannermen. He is the only claimant who has recognized the true threat to the future of Westeros: the invasion of the White Walkers. He is taking real action to defend his people against the Walkers as he negotiates an alliance with Jon Snow and Mance Rayder at the Wall. He heeds the advice of his Hand, Davos Seaworth, who has been the beating moral heart of this show ever since Ned Stark's death. And while Melisandre may be a pyromaniac religious fundamentalist who deals in blood-sex-magic, if you're going to war against an army of demonic ice zombies, having a fire priestess on your side is probably an advantage! Stannis has the right, he has the strength, and unlike the other candidates, he has put the good of the realm above any desire for power, wealth, or gallons of Dornish red.
Stannis the Mannis! It is known!
For Daenarys Targaryn
Champion: Jon Davis
Statement: The Iron Throne belongs to Daenarys Targaryn, and if you believe otherwise, you are a piece of garbage. Let me tell you something about this special lady. She's a winner. You know who isn't? Everyone else. You like mister hunk, mister Jon Snow? He knows nothing! He doesn't even know how to love, so how's he going to lead? You think the Queen of Thornes has enough experience? Did she have the title, "First of her Name, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons" before she turned 17? I don't think so. Cersei is a follower, not a leader. She tried to copy the Targaryns special breeding techniques and the results were just terrible. Hodor is sexy but his interpersonal skills are woefully inadequate. How's he going to create treaties with Essos? What does he know about Essos politics? Not as much as Dany, I'll tell you that. Arya and Tyrion are exciting, complex figures but they can't inspire the love of a nation. Everyone loves Khaleesi. Everyone. Men, women and eunuchs. And what about Stannis? Best haircut in the seven kingdoms, granted, but this humorless mope lives in Dragonstone and doesn't have any dragons! Where are his dragons! We all know who has the enchanting dragons here. Our beloved Daenarys is the most clever, heroic, beautiful leader there ever was. She is so powerful that only she can move the plot of this story forward. Once she gets her dragons under control, you all better fall in line and support her or count yourself amongst the people who have been swept aside by history.
Champion: Alan Sepinwall
For Tyrion Lannister
Champion: Liana Maeby
Statement: Democracy has come to Westeros specifically so that a man like Tyrion Lannister might be elected. Gone are the days of taking the throne through brute force and bloodshed, here to stay is the era of sensible decision making. Ballots, quills, hanging chads, and all that other stuff that makes for a compelling fantasy story! And it's clear that the smart choice is the man who actually has the skillset to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion is clever, practical in matters that don't have to do with orgies, experienced, and an excellent negotiator when there isn't any wine around. He doesn't need to consult the High Priestess of Fetal Smoke Monsters or bring in a string of increasingly handsome and oiled advisers to make decisions, he just gets s--t done.
For Arya Stark
Champion: Katie Hasty
Statement: You will come to elect Arya Stark as the ruler over the Iron Throne because she has no real power.
Stick with me here.
Every inch of Arya's life, she's had to battle to keep. She's a survivor, who knows the stakes and can literally laugh at the face of death when yet another member of her family crest perishes. As a small Stark girl, she's literally started from the bottom, now she's here: a slayer, an avenger, a traveler, a pupil, a fragment of a noblewoman and yet this former cupbearer has patiently learned to reserve her fire for when she can dismember the world of men -- Valar Morghulis, in short. Were she to find allegiance of other warriors (oh, say, I dunno, Brienne of Tarth) plus the social mobility of (gosh, let me think, her sister Sansa) there is her bow. Armies can be trained, dragons have, erm, scale. Arya has her stealth and her single-minded path to lethally punish those who deserve it, and even tell them why as she twists the sword into them. Will she have the silk stocking touch of her father? No. Does she want or need the Throne. No. And that's why she'll get it. She can't help it, she has nowhere to go but up.
For Jon Snow
Champion: Donna Dickens
Statement: When it comes to ruling the disparate kingdoms that make up Westeros, you need a leader who can navigate clashing cultures. Someone who not only worships the Old Gods and the New, but can win the respect of nobility and smallfolk alike. Who else besides Jon Snow knows the inner workings of Westeros politics but has the harden edge of an outsider forced to win respect as a young but seasoned warrior? Where is half-brother Robb Stark died trying to break the North free from King’s Landing, Jon Snow has experience with compromise. Living amongst both the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings makes him uniquely suited to see all sides of an issue. A crucial skill for any leader. His place as the steward to the Old Bear was clearly an apprenticeship for ruling a diverse, volatile populace.
Plus, we all know he deserves it…
For Cersei Lannister
Champion: Richard Rushfield
Statement: It would be nice to think that we lived in a time and place when we could be ruled by cute little wan boys who look like the bassists for indie bands; or by children, or by preening fashionistas, or mopey island dwellers in the thrall of wiccan dance captains. But these are not such times.
A little reality check here: Westeros is not the Cobble Hill community theater district; these are the seven kingdoms, not the seven food co-ops. These are dangerous brutal times in which the decent are under constant siege from within and without. Relax the sword for a second and marauding brigands rise up and slaughter us all in our sleep. Or perhaps you’d prefer an army of the undead harrowing the souls of your family and friends and turning them all into zombies while your king mopes around about who wondering who his mother was?
Of all the sad lot standing before you as contestants to the Iron Throne, only one has the pure ruthlessness to stare down armies, dragons, conspirators and all who would touch a hair on these seven kingdoms’ heads. Only one ruler could with a single glance turn zombies to dust. And not only that, but do it with style and flair befitting the great people of Westeros.
You have a lot of simpering children before you; a lot of people working through their issues. Cersei Lannister knows the throne is not a vehicle to self-discovery - it is a sacred trust to bring to ruin, torment and pain all who dare oppose it. Even in her personal needs, by keeping it in the family, Cersei seals off herself from all schemers and potential threats. You’re not going to see any jilted ex of Cersei’s moping around claiming he was promised a kingdom.
A Lannister keeps his or her word. Vote against her at your own risk. You fools.
For Margaery Tyrell
Champion: Emily Yoshida
Statement:At last count, approximately 87% of fighting aged men in Westeros have been maimed, burned, or head-exploded. Can we just say what everyone else is too afraid to say? The people of the seven kingdoms are so over fighting. That does not mean, of course, that they're over warfare; it's just time to switch up the artillery. With Margaery Tyrell on the Iron Throne, and the experience her beloved grandmama Olenna will bring as Hand of the Queen, we can expect to see an increase of up to 40% of the use of weaponized sex and verbal sass — the solar and wind power to traditional battle's fossil fuel. A vote for the women of House Tyrell is also an investment in our future: our new queen promises to give every pubescent boy in King's Landing the formative sexual experience he needs to stave off years of pent-up aggression and resentment of the opposite sex.
Do you want a Westeros run with incandescent wit and great hair, a verdant, socially progressive Westeros where our men actually shower more than once a year? Vote Tyrell/Tyrell. They're from someplace called Highgarden, for god's sake. You know they're chill as f--k.
Champion: Carrie Meathrell
Rebuttal: Daenerys - Letting Dany handle dragons is like giving nuclear bombs to someone who failed high school physics. The girl has NO idea what she's doing. There is a clear historical precedent of one Targaryen dragon = one Targaryen rider, and three dragons have proved to be way too much for her to handle. While I don't doubt she has good intentions and strong leadership skills, she has zero familiarity with Westeros, and is now bogged down in the labyrinthine politicking and class warfare of Meereen. Dany needs to clean up the messes she's made in Slaver's Bay, train her dragon(s), and demonstrate success as queen before she can even think of conquering Westeros.
Jon Snow - Jon also has strong leadership skills, a cool sword, and a badass wolf. He also seems like a pretty good guy! So why in seven hells should he waste his time vying for the Iron Throne? Jon would take one look at the mess that is King's Landing and "nope" the f--- back up to the Wall, where enemies throw axes in your face, not stab you in the back. (Yes, I'm avoiding ADWD spoilers for the purposes of this exercise.) He's needed up north, not down south. (Unless, of course, you're Ygritte.)
Arya - Okay, she's sassy, and yeah, she's fierce -- but a monarch? Arya is too rash, too vengeful, and frankly, not that bright. (Remember when Jaqen gave her three deaths, and she wasted them all on minor characters, instead of, say, Joffrey or Tywin? Yeah. Good job, girl.) Give her the throne and I guarantee heads will continue to roll.
Tyrion - Despite his pragmatism and intellect, Tyrion does not command respect in Westeros and would fail as a figurehead. Tyrion makes a good Hand, because he enjoys the politics, he does his research, and he's adept at maneuvering behind the scenes. But smallfolk and great lords alike will regrettably never rally behind this "twisted demon monkey".
Margaery & Oleanna "The Queen of Thorns" Tyrell -- After Stannis, the Tyrells are the candidates most likely to rule Westeros well, thanks to their wealth, large army, and strong political connections. And their proto-feminist approach would certainly open the Seven Kingdoms up to some much-needed social change. But a move to King's Landing will leave their power base, Highgarden, vulnerable to attack from the Iron Islands and Casterly Rock. Margaery makes a great queen consort, not an independent ruler.
Cersei - A paranoid, alcoholic, brother-f-er who mistrusts and alienates everyone around her? King's Landing will burn to the ground before Cersei ever becomes ruler. She's as useless as nipples on a breastplate.
Gilly - Gilly is tough, I'll give you that. But I'd much rather see her the wealthy proprietress of some Northern brothel rather than suffer the hell that is Westerosi politics. Or maybe she can start an orphanage for Craster's remaining children!
Hodor - Ugh. No more Hodoring, Hodor.
Fill-in ballot: Hot Pie, First of his Name. Because he will never give up on the gravy!
Champion: Alan Sepinwall
For Daenarys Targaryn
Champion: Jon Davis
Rebuttal: Dany doesn't need to be familiar with Westeros. She's a Targaryn. They used to rule the Seven Kingdoms for as long as we can remember. Westeros leadership is in her blood. Also, Dany can't handle dragons? Nobody knows how to ride dragons anymore! All the dragon riding tutors are dead! Give her at least three more seasons to figure it out! Plus, she's not going to ride all three dragons. That was never her plan. She will ride one dragon, probably the one named after the beautiful Drogo, and assign the other dragons to Tyrion and Hodor for maximum sex appeal. Finally, she doesn't need to clean up Slaver's Bay. The place is piss pit, always and forever. Not a great place for tourism. Let it lie in its own filth. They're lucky to have her for as long as she's there. She just needs it as a base of operations before she conquers the whole world with the grace of a lady!
Jonathan L. Davis is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles with his wife, baby, two dogs and a television. If you need him, he’s on twitter @Jonathanldavis.
Carrie Meathrell; writer; yumwatch.tumblr.com
Emily Yoshida is Entertainment Editor of The Verge
Liana Maeby is author of the forthcoming fake memoir, South on Highland.
Daniel Feinberg, Donna Dickens, Katie Hasty, Alan Sepinwall and Richard Rushfield are writers for Hifix