Bob’s Pick: A Review of the Game of Thrones TV Finale – The Coup
As the world of Westeros has often operated on the principles of Machiavelli, it would be worth examining what actually happened in the GOT finale. To summarize the outcome, the Old Guard hereditary leaders of Westeros, referred to by Daenerys as the spokes in the wheel, were not destroyed as she had planned. Even though many of these leaders were also allies of Daenrys in her war against Circe, they had good reason to be alarmed by Daenerys speech to her army after the destruction of King’s Landing that their job was not finished and other parts of Westeros needed to be “liberated”. It had been Danaerys plan all along to break the spokes of the wheel and of this she had made no secret. What was a secret up to this speech was what she had actually meant by that statement.
Before her conquest of Westeros, Danaerys had an uneasy alliance with some of the noble houses of Westeros. She needed them to complete her conquest. However, there was resistance from some of the rulers, most notably Sansa Stark, referred to by her sister, Arya, as the smartest person she knew. Sansa Stark had also been a pupil of the greatest schemer in the kingdom, Littlefinger. I believe she and her ex-husband, Tyrion Lanister, also a master manipulator, were the leaders of the coup that ultimately deposed Queen Daenerys. Drawn into their scheme of things were Bran Stark and John Snow.
The coup started when Sansa broke her vow of secrecy and revealed Jon Snow’s secret identity to Tyrion. Tyrion advised her that following the war, she should be the power in the north. Tyrion was also aware that Daenyrs planned to destroy the spokes in the wheel and could have shared this information with Sansa. In addition, Tyrion knew that Varys, the queen’s other advisor, was a staunch defender of the realm and therefore needed to be eliminated for their plot to be successful. To deflect any suspicion from himself in the queen’s eyes, he betrayed Varys as the plotter to caste suspicion in another direction and remove him as a possible threat to their plan.
Tyrion’s main job was to convince Jon Snow that for the good of society, his sister and the kingdom of Westeros, as the person closest to the queen, he needed to be the one to assassinate her. What Jon Snow didn’t realize (you know nothing Jon Snow) was that primarily the good of society was actually the good of its principal leaders, the spokes of the wheel. The main beneficiaries of the assassination were the members of the Stark family and the Lanister family. History is rife with examples of noble families rising up to protect their interests against a despotic leader or king. An assassination would prevent the need for a continuation of a bloody war where the civilian population was also greatly at risk.
John Snow, who ultimately rejected Daenyrs as a romantic partner, apparently did not care for power and the Targaryan tradition of intermarriage with family. He was raised as a Stark and looked to protect the Starks as much as possible. He was also tired of the bloodshed and protracted war that Daenyrs continued reign offered for the future.
It was somewhat amazing how Tyrion, who just recently was a prisoner convicted of treason, took charge at the council of nobles and set forth the future of Westeros. Sansa would be Queen of the North, Bran would be King of Westeros and Tyrion would be Hand to the King. As Bran had no interest in things other than his duties as the three eyed raven, Tyrion was effectively the new king. John Snow would be pardoned and would become King of the Wildings. The other noble houses (Spokes in the Wheel) maintained their status quo. This outcome appears to make more sense if looked at in the context of having been prearranged to follow the demise of Daenyrs.
At the short end of the stick was Daenyrs. Was she really a despot like her father or was she a revolutionary, looking to tear down the iron throne and the old regime. Would she have been a tyrant, a benevolent ruler or be both the mother of dragons and democracy in Westeros? This we will never know as her time in power was unfortunately cut short by the old regime.
Postscript: Most fans, myself included, of the TV version of the Game of Thrones were dissatisfied with the way the saga and the season ended. It is my opinion that this story needed more time to mature and more episodes to complete. More background should have been given to the relationship between Daenyrs and John Snow. Maybe a compromise and happier ending could have been found for them. The battle with Queen Circe should have preceded the battle with the Winter King. Afterall, “winter is coming” was the underlying theme throughout the whole series. Daenyrs and John Snow could have had a child, the future king, and both had died in battle with the Winter king, a more noble and bittersweet ending for both of them. But that is the romantic in me; In the cold and calculating world of Westeros, Machiavelli rules!