In the game of thrones, you compromise or you die. However, that doesn’t seem to be happening with Sansa Stark and Daenerys Targaryen in the season eight premiere of Game of Thrones. The two are clearly on opposite sides of a big ideological divide, and it might be hard for them to find common ground. Is this clever…
In the game of thrones, you compromise or you die. However, that doesn’t seem to be happening with Sansa Stark and Daenerys Targaryen in the season eight premiere of Game of Thrones. The two are clearly on opposite sides of a big ideological divide, and it might be hard for them to find common ground. Is this clever character work, or bad writing? io9’s Beth Elderkin and James Whitbrook chat about the biggest battle in the season eight premiere, “Winterfell,” and how to resolve it.
Beth Elderkin: Welcome to Battle of Thrones, or whatever we’re calling it. Every week, we’re going to be chatting about the biggest battle from each episode of Game of Thrones. Now, of course we’re all looking toward that upcoming Battle of Winterfell–the zombiepocalypse awaits. But there are plenty of other battles on the show. Mental, emotional, even moral. And with all the reunions and “looks” we saw this episode, lots of wars were brewing. This week, it’s me and James. Hey James!
James Whitbrook: Hello!
Beth: This week the one that really stood out to me was the battle between Sansa Stark and Daenerys Targaryen. Not just because it’s clear these two are on opposite sides, and it’s going to be a big deal down the road, but also because it came with a bit of controversy.
In the first episode, “Winterfell,” Daenerys has arrived at Winterfell with her army, her boyfriend, and her dragons. In her mind, she’s the Queen of Westeros, but she hasn’t really bothered checking if the North is cool with that. She kind of doesn’t care. She’s greeted rather coldly by Sansa, who makes it clear she sees practical flaws in Daenerys and Jon Snow’s plan, and doesn’t seem to respect her rule. I wanted to start by asking you about your first impressions. Who’s in the right here, if anyone?
James: Well, I think it’s not really a matter of who’s necessarily right between Sansa and Daenerys, although the latter’s general attitude to the discontent is not entirely a favorable thing. They have different priorities that have been born from the respective roads both Sansa and Dany have gone down across the past seven seasons, roads that have forged them into very different people.
Daenerys just expects to show up with titles and dragons, fight, and get her kingdom as she’s wanted from the beginning. Sansa’s quest for survival is…more practical. She has spent her life having around enough people to give anyone trust issues, but at the same time, as Lady of Winterfell, she already has a taste of the practicality of rule–how to feed people, how to marshal forces, the day-to-day management of running a kingdom. Maybe not to the scale Daenerys did in her travails across Essos, but Dany had advisors and legions to deal with that. Sansa has learned these skills from the ground up herself.
Beth: My personal opinion is that Daenerys isn’t handling herself well here. Granted, she’s brought a bunch of soldiers with her to fight for the North, but her arrogance is catching up with her. Sansa sees right through Daenerys’ claims and games and has well grown past being tolerant. For example, there was that moment the two of them first met, where Daenerys commented on how pretty Sansa is. Reminds you of another queen, yes?
James: There are so many parallels to that first episode here, but absolutely–and it’s a great thematic connection, given we got to see Daenerys and Cersei dance around each other last season. Daenerys is just baffled by the idea of someone not immediately accepting her grandeur in a way that is both obviously very dangerous–and something Sansa can see through–but at the same time…she did bring dragons. Like, are there issues brewing here that Sansa is right to be skeptical about? Yes, and as we get to see her allege later on to Tyrion, we know she’s going to be proved right about that practical skepticism. But dragons! That’s gotta count for something, right?