Here at The Fandomentals, we are rather staunch Game of Thrones (GoT)…er…detractors. We know this might come as a shock.
However, this isn’t because we’re disinterested in the genre or have forgotten our inner child. That’s pretty much all we remember. We also are not the types of people who object to the depiction of upsetting material on principle, because there’s times that such things can be done well and have a valuable takeaway for the reader/watcher. Case in point, we are huge, huge fans of A Song of Ice and Fire (aSoIaF), the books this show is supposedly “based on.”
Sadly for us, the showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D) seem to be bigger fans of their own, Bold™ ideas than the ones George R.R. Martin put on paper, to the point where we came to realize how the show has absolutely nothing to do with the books, so #StopTheConflation.
There’s many ways you can join in on this totally official campaign, such as yelling incoherently at social gatherings when GoT inevitably comes up, or wearing a t-shirt with the text of Septon Meribald’s “broken man speech” printed on the front in size 6 font (or try this one on for size). But we have another way to set the right tone for fandom dialogue—that is, a tone where aSoIaF could absolutely never be confused with its farblunget adaptation—and that’s by creating a new system of terms and character names.
“Jaime Lannister isn’t on the show,” you’ll tell your third cousins at your grandmother’s birthday party. “Jaime Lannister is a nuanced character whose plotline revolves around his struggle with identity and conception of internal vs. external honor as he adjusts to his new disability while subsequently realizing just how damaging his relationship with his sister has been.” (You speak very fast, of course.) “It’s Larry Lannister who’s on the show: the charmingly befuddled knight who doesn’t blink twice at the demolition of an entire religious organization, but a simple lie to a political enemy is just too far!”
See? It’s fool-proof. Or at least it will prevent us from crying onto our copies of A Dance with Dragons as we’re forced to call that creature Indira Varma played, “Ellaria Sand.” So without further ado, Julia and Kylie give you the Book Snob Glossary and all the ironic trademarks money can buy.
D&D Logic: There are just so many twists and turns in GoT. And don’t forget the shocks! However, where many a viewer may spend time actually, you know, trying to “figure everything out,” we’re here to explain to you that D&D Logic doesn’t exactly conform to Earth Logic. Suggest a truce to your political adversaries when they pose no threat to you and you have nothing to offer them! Appease your murderous sister with judicial murder! Command your army of the dead to forge giants chains! All D&D Logic requires is the opening thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if…” It’s best just to embrace this.
Dramatic Satisfaction: Dramatic Satisfaction is the feeling we get when we
look to the west watch GoT. Our spirits are certainly crying. D&D and their writers Bryan Cogman and Dave Hill work overtime to make sure of it, and boy do they know what the audience loves: gothic horrors! And memes. Thanks!
Plausible Impossibilities: It’s what you, as a storyteller, try to achieve once you realize that you are working on a show that’s doing pretty well, so therefore there’s no incentive to actually put effort into it. People only hate it because they care, and it’s totally better than the horrid impossible plausibilities.
The Off-Screen Zone: A magical plane of existence where everything necessary to drive the plot and/or character development occurs. We promise you it happened, it totally made sense for it to happen, and we don’t understand why you have to be spoon fed everything and insist on seeing it. The Off-Screen Zone is where Sansa, Bran, and Arya bonded and plotted together, and where Deadpan and Jonny fell in love. Cheryl and Eur-off also hang out here a lot as they lay their intense political strategy.
Honeypotting/The Honeypot Phenomenon: As we noted, D&D Logic doesn’t adhere to normal logic, and the Off-Screen Zone is a happening place. That can make watching the show itself quite confusing. Luckily for D&D, their fans are far more intelligent and creative than they are, and willing to think up well thought-out theories in an attempt to make sense of everything. In other words…they’re doing the writers’ jobs.
The most famous example of this, and the titular example for that reason, was that of the “Lannister Honeypot Theory,” where everyone figured that Talisa was such a stupid invention on the part of D&D that there had to be more to her than met the eye. Once she began writing letters in Volantine to her mommy, the theory was that she was really a Lannister spy sent to seduce Robb into breaking his vows; a honeypot trap set by Tywin to enable the Red Wedding to occur.
But no. Like Talisa, the Lannister Honeypot Theory was stabbed repeatedly in 03×09. She was exactly what she appeared: a noblewoman from Volantis who was such an awesome feminist that she would walk around battlefields without a chaperone, sass-talking a king.
It may be tempting to honeypot things along the way such as, “Sansa and Arya are totally playing Littlefinger with this animosity.” Nope. Arya wanted to cut her face off and wear it. “It would make way more sense if a week had passed North of the Wall for the raven to fly to Dragonstone.” Yes, it would makes more sense. And yet it was totally just one night. Would that we had honeypotters actually writing the scripts instead, because then we’d probably have a coherent show.
Weisseroff’s Razor: Weisseroff’s razor is how we know that honeypots are never accurate — they’re far too clever by a half. On GoT, it’s always the most idiotic and straight-forward answer possible. Trust us. Weisseroff’s Razor demands it.
Reverse Honeypotting: Honeypots can sort of be thought of as very intelligent stories or plot-points that D&D didn’t tell. However, a reverse honeypot is when there’s a story that is told, usually due to Unfortunate Implications, that D&D had no fucking clue was on our screens (else maybe some of these implications would have actually had follow-ups). Our favorite example of a Reverse Honeypot is the noble tale of Hizdahr zo Sansa (may he rest in peace), and his completely awesome, Sansa-in-A Clash of Kings-esque, resistance narrative. Our least favorite example of a Reverse Honeypot is where Tommen was a rape victim of Margaery Tyrell, and his suicide was a horrific exploration of why we have statutory laws. There’s many stories in between, too.
The Checklist Effect: Who cares about context, themes, or characterizations? The stuff that happens in a story can be viewed as a discrete set of plot-points to tick off. And those who do successfully tick them off are therefore great adaptors living at the spirit of the original author! We can point to things in the past like Jon’s death or the existence of Arthur Dayne, but now that we’re beyond the books (in many ways) it becomes hard to to parse out what is a checkbox in the first place. Jonny’s parents are Rhaegar and Lyanna? Well let’s tick that one off by having an expo-dump over a sex scene. We can’t wait to get our copies of The Winds of Winter and see just how well these masters of drama adapted some discrete plot points.
Plot Theory of Relativity: In any frame of reference, time will progress exactly as fast as plot demands. No more, no less. This includes the flying speed of ravens and the running speed of Gendrys.
Empowered™ Women: In Weisseroff, women are strong in the D&D way. They can, for example, become a Total Badass™, who is either an awesome warrior or just a chick getting high off of violence. There’s nothing more empowering, and reasonable, than slaying all those awful dudes. That’s what feminism is. Bonus points for mocking the “feminine” traits of others. Who needs to knit socks? The other way is to be a super sexy manipulator. Even more bonus points if you use your wiles to manipulate a child. There are no other options, unless you are a very rare-breed of time-traveling feminist field nurse.
Real Men™: In Weisseroff, men are Strong™. They kill men. They have sex. They win over a boat-full of their countrymen for stupid missions by beating people to death. They never show weakness, or fear. It’s almost as though all they do is fuck and fight, fight and fuck. Oh wait…
Hot Potato: D&D’s favorite game! Let’s set up plotlines and forget about them! Or at least for a few seasons, until they run out of things to do and want to pick them back up again! What happened to half of Stannis’s army that just fucked off at the end of autumn in the heart of the North? Wait, what’s Gendry doing here? Who’s ruling Porne now? Where do Edmures go?
Subtle Pie: D&D don’t care much for humble pie, but boy are they skilled at the art of subtlety. Could there possibly be DRAGONGLASS on DRAGONSTONE? However can we gently clue the audience in on Jonny’s parentage? However can we gently clue the audience in on Jonny’s parentage…AGAIN? Where are Walder Frey’s missing sons? *wink*
Shocking™ Moments: Even though subtlety is great, sometimes D&D don’t want the sneaky audience to see their big moments coming. Therefore, they keep everyone guessing by having characters pull random 180°’s that make us gasp. We did not see that coming! Because we could not see that coming. Because you literally presented the opposite situation to us and then just randomly flipped it. Wow. Give them all the Emmys.
The Key Jingling Effect: Hey guys, wouldn’t it be awesome if we had an ICE DRAGON made of CGI? What a stunning shot of Larry charging towards a dragon? A bonus to all this SUPER AWESOMENESS is that just like jingling keys in front of a baby, it will make the audience forget about all of the offensive or illogical bullshit you’ve pulled on them, and they will decide that you are the best writers ever. Well…usually, at least.
The 600 Masks Effect/Shiny Shiny: News flash, GoT has a ginormous budget. Great things can be done with the amount of money they have at their disposal. Like the famous 600 unique masks in the Hall of Faces in Season 5. Unfortunately, some of the budget allocation decisions made are… questionable. For instance, as awe-inspiring as that Beauty and the Beast library was for Sam, why did it even exist when his plotline was somehow less significant than a beer fart? We can question the value of an ice dragon at the cost of all logic as well, but hey. That might just be D&D Logic at its fullest effect.
Outside the Episodes: Because of all the characters who “earned it off-screen,” there are times that D&D must provide interviews that help explain what they just wrote. These “Outside the Episode” specials are particularly insightful. Did you know Arya saying “that’s not you” to Nymeria (and making half the fandom think it, in fact, wasn’t her) was just a fun season 1 callback? Or that the Plot Convenience Pond during the wight trip was a result of them writing the plotline backwards? Or that Deadpan burning people alive is her being a rational actor? Neither did we, but thank the Seven we have the Outside the Episodes to tell us.
Steve the Intern: Poor Steve. After finding out that his doctorate in Comparative Literature with an emphasis on Folklore and Mythology was worth little to employers, he was thrilled to get an unpaid internship in the Game of Thrones writers’ room, because such is the state of our world. But things quickly went south for poor Steve. He was told to produce a three page summary of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, which he managed by using size 8 font, but he’s quite sure D&D didn’t even read that. He spends most of this time trying to explain to Dave Hill what a literary theme is, but he just gets blank looks in return.
Weisseroff: A magical place with size and population fluctuations according to the needs of the episode. Patriarchy doesn’t exist in Weisseroff, except when it does for a woman to be raped, or when Walder Frey needs a new child bride. Sometimes Weisseroff is a loose collection of feudal holdings, and sometimes it’s a Nation State that people can be citizens of and feel loyalty towards. There’s also a bullet train system or something that runs off the power of the Plot Relatively Field. Also everyone is terrible to each other and everything sucks.
Winterhell: Winterhell is a castle that once resembled Winterfell, the castle where the Stark family happily lived and ruled. However in Winterhell, all the Starks randomly hate each other (except when they don’t) and will gleefully bring up each other’s traumas to freak their siblings out (except if they’ve worked through everything off-screen). The Northern Lords get incredibly confused at Winterhell from all the Stark fighting and agree with whoever speaks last and loudest. But hey, at least they got the castle back from those jerk Boltons!
The Riverblands: Oh look, these exist again. Wait…no. No they don’t. The riverblands are in a pocket dimension of Weisseroff that can be warped in and out of from anywhere at will. Apparently, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Shire was situated in one small area of the riverblands, where winter is far away, and Hot Pie and Ed Sheeran were quite content. But now that every single Frey has been murdered, this geographical region may as well not exist. Again.
Riverroundabout: The ancestral home of the Tullys where Edmure may or may not be hanging out alive in, and which may or may not ever be mentioned again.
Carol’s Landing: Carol’s Landing is where Carol lives.
Cheryl’s Landing: Cheryl’s Landing is where Cheryl lives. And rules.
Casterly Castle: Casterly Castle is the ancestral home of the Lannisters, which didn’t have a sewage system until Tyrion created one fifteen years ago. Tywin built this stronghold from the ground up, probably from a Build A Generic Castle Lego set 6085-1. Though that silly forgot to put a moat in! What an impregnable fortress.
The Abandoned Isle of Sexual Tension: This island, just east of Cheryl’s Landing, is so unimportant that no one bothered to guard it. Or live there. However, when Deadpan returned to claim this ancestral seat of her house, the doors had luckily been left unlocked. Now she’s able to have her boyfriend over for some sexy eye-fucking as she sits atop her geologically significant throne. At some point, Children of the Forest doodled some stick figures in the mines full of DRAGONGLASS. These are very scary stick figures that can convince political rulers to shift their entire plans, so proceed with caution.
The Plot Convenience Pond: North of the Wall strange things can happen. Like little dinky islands willing themselves into existence in the middle of little dinky ponds. At the Plot Convenience Pond, time passes based on emotion experience, so that a group can experience just one night, while the rest of the continent experiences what must be weeks. The Plot Convenience Pond also has a very specific freezing temperature based entirely on narrative requirements. When main characters fall in, it conveniently heats up to prevent hypothermia. We suppose.
Olenna’s Cottage: Our Dowager Sasstress has the finest house in all of Weisseroff, but an army who can’t fight because they like flowers, making it the worst defensive stronghold. If only they grew grapes instead maybe those Lannister forces would have slipped on the steps. At least the cottage has the right ambiance for heart-to-hearts.
Oldtown State: Give us a C! Give us an I! Give us a T! Give us ADEL! The fightin’ white ravens offer the best in higher education. Their Maester College is particularly renowned, with its aspiring scholars sharpening their most important skills: emptying chamber pots, sloping soup, and cleaning up after other people’s science experiments. The professors at Oldtown State are second-to-none. These old skeptics are so genre-savvy that they know exactly what plot-relevant books to hide in the restricted section of the library, right next to their copy of Moste Potente Potions.
Horn Faire: The Horn Faire is such fun to attend! It’s where empowered women assert their Empowerment™. Like Tiffany Tarly, who is probably now ruling The Reach with her imaginary sisters and extra bedrooms.
Porne: Porne is a small area shaped like the birthmark on a man’s ass that consists of the Water Gardens and some desert. It was conceived when someone involved in the production asked their racist grandmother from 1880 what “the orient” was like. There are three things the Pornish do: have sex, kill and/or mutilate people with little or no reason (bonus points for family members), and talk with a goofy accent. We’re actually not sure who’s running Porne right now, since their maybe-Princess Faullaria…Sand? Uller? is mostly dead. But she had ten thousand brothers and sisters, so we shouldn’t be too worried.
Simplified Bay of Dragons: Remember that entire region that Deadpan Cardborn invaded and ruled, and then fucked off from, leaving it in the hands of her unqualified sellsword boyfriend? We’re sure Faabio Naharis is keeping things running well! Also, somewhere in the area are the now-super empowered Dosh Khaleen, who had their patriarchy burned to the ground. Wait…why are they still stuck in Vaes Dothrak?
GoT is rather known for its sprawling cast, so as a result, we have subdivided this section by character locations in Season 7. More or less. There was a lot of teleporting, but we did what we could.
Very Northern Theater
Shogun: The Lord of the White Walkers. This guy can raise the dead, is great with babies, and looks damn stylin’ in his samurai armor. He’s also able to train wights how to swim and forge metal. He got himself a sweet Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher to ride, so take his loot seriously, please.
Skyr: Skyr is an industrious troop leader who even lets lost boy scouts follow him. He’s a father of about fifteen.
Benjen Coldhands: OMG it’s Benjen! We’ve seen him before, you guys! He can kill skeletons and tell stories about himself! Why D&D opted to adapt the one fan-theory that Martin has staunchly rejected is beyond us, but I guess they just know about Dramatically Satisfying media more. Aaaand he’s gone.
Beardy: We don’t know who this Icelandic fellow with an impressive beard is, or why people are calling him “Tormund.” As far as we can tell, he has no personality traits whatsoever, with the exception of intense homophobia. It’s okay Beardy, we get it. You’re not gay. You don’t have to beat anyone to death or creep on any women that are clearly disinterested in you to prove it. Calm it down. It’s pussy for you.
The Brotherhood with Vague Continuity: Formerly the “Brotherhood Without Continuity,” these merry men finally managed to be in two seasons in a row, and with same motivation: going north. Horray! They’re great for rounding out any RPG group with their priest and paladin.
The Canine: This jolly companion of the Brotherhood without Continuity is good at digging graves and seeing incredibly detailed preview footage of Episode 6 in a fire. We’re sure there’s significance to this because of his scar, and because we were told there was. Unfortunately, whatever this significance is hasn’t manifested in any sort of character development, since he still fixates on killing his brother, just like in Season 1. Bad doggie!
Vincent Expendable: Poor guy, you barely beamed up North before you were cruelly taken from this world. If only you had been given one line of dialogue.
BranBot 1000: This cyborg is basically a sitting CCTV department who will let anyone watch his screens if they ask nicely. However, robots cannot love, and it’s very sad for all of us, especially Meera. Robots also cannot understand human trauma and will accidentally freak out their siblings by recounting their histories at inappropriate times.
The Three Eyed Raven: It’s difficult to explain.
Brittany Stark: Sansa fans rejoice! D&D have finally settled on a character for Sophie Turner to play, and it’s Brittany, bitch! She is awesome and the only one who knows how to do literally anything. From making breastplates to screening visitors to making all the socks that Lyanna Mormont is too empowered to sew, Brittany proves herself as the only person who should be trusted to make the slightest decision. That includes her dumbass half-brother, who was such a present King in the North that he’s not even in this section of the glossary.
Sadly, the world isn’t ready for Brittany’s empowerment, and she still gets blamed for shit she did years ago while under duress. This also makes her disloyal and exactly like Cheryl.
Arya Todd: Attend the tale of Arya Todd. She learned to assail from abroad. She stole the faces of noblemen, who never thereafter were heard from again. She trod a path that few have trod…did Arya Todd. The Empowered™ assassin of the Starks.
She made her home in Winterhell. She kept skins in bags to hide their smell. And what if Sansa displayed competency? She’d expose her “crimes” for all Lords to see. For family warmth she deserves a nod…does Arya Todd. The Empowered™ assassin of the Starks.
Swing your Needle wide, Arya! Swing it to the skies! Freely flows the blood of foes, except Ed Sheeran!
Lyanna, the Littlest Feminist: Lyanna Mormont knows what’s dumb! Sewing! Also anything vaguely feminine and/or pragmatic. This awesome training-bra-burner understands how everyone should be soldiers consuming resources, and nobody should produce anything because that’s for stupid girls. This makes her very feminist. Every time she speaks, everyone agrees with her right away, because of the girth of her empowerment.
The Wind-Vane Lords: You might think the Northern Lords have convictions, since the Northern Lords are super duper loyal, and at one point we were told “the North Remembers.” But nope. These wind-vane lords just agree with whoever spoke last. When their king has left for more than 24 hours, they want to support whoever is there instead.
Batfinger: Batfinger is a mysterious man. He has a voice like the Marlboro Man and an accent that…morphs on a sliding scale between Lucky the Leprechaun and Captain Barbosa. As of Season 7, his teleporter was stolen, which means that he gets stuck against his Wall Spot of Sneaking. He creates chaos because chaos is a ladder, but he also has a vision board of marrying Brittany and sitting the Iron Throne. The best way to do this is to make her not like her sister, for reasons. In the end though, Batfinger felt what it was to be a GoT viewer, when a random bait-and-switch was his undoing. Let’s hope he found that shock dramatically satisfying.
Brienne the Brute: She added so much. Also she’s not overly concerned with honor. That sounds right!
Pod the Rod: It’s very important that all viewers of GoT understand that Pod has a magical cock. Everyone wants to suck it, and we need to have this crucial point come up at least once a season. Do your part and spread awareness of Pod. And his penis. Which is magical.
Jonny, King in the North: See entry in Abandoned Isle of Sexual Tension section, as he only spent a weekend here.
Abandoned Isle of Sexual Tension
Deadpan Card-born: Technically, her full name is “Deadpan Card-born, the Unemotional, Queen of Simplified Bay, Queen of the Anachronisms and the Clichéd, Khaleesi of Faux-Empowerment, Breaker of Suspended Disbelief, and part-time Mother of Dragons.” And boy is she Empowered™! Look how dignified and confident she is! Watch as she talks about breaking the wheel for the umpteenth time without once changing her expression! Watch her stand in the background and nod as men explain her plans to her! Now, Deadpan might be a bit crazy—those darn women, amirite?—but she’s not like, Cheryl crazy. You see, she has the redeeming quality of listening to Saint Tyrion. Now that’s what we call empowerment!
Jonny Cardboard: Jonny Cardboard is a king now! And only kings can talk to Khaleesis. Except everyone else who does. So that totally justifies why this unproblematic action hero abandoned his kingdom two days after getting the gig, so he could march his face into yet another trap that he was warned about by his much smarter sister. Don’t worry though: this mouth-breather extraordinaire never tells lies ever. He’s like George Washington! Or maybe the cherry tree with that wooden acting. Either way, his staunch commitment to idiocy and always revealing his hand (apparently) makes us totally understand why people follow him, and why we should be excited that he’s secretly the RIGHTFUL HEIR OF WEISSEROFF. Here’s hoping no one’s trying to break the wheel or claiming that throne could get awkward.
Oh yeah, he was also dead for half a second, though since he doesn’t seem to care about it, we’re not sure why we should either.
#BoatSex: The official shipname of Jonny and Deadpan. When has your auntie/nephew combo ever? These two have such crackling sexual chemistry that everyone around them ships this, just in case the audience missed it. We have a sneaking suspicion that it’s so well-written, D&D actually got help from their buddy George Lucas.
Saint Tyrion: Saint Tyrion is the unproblematic fave who can do no wrong, even when he does wrong and it’s there for all to see on the screen. He totally respects the personhood of sex workers and the contribution they make to the economy! Because #notallmen! He’s also mad sorry that he killed his father. He had no choice! However, Saint Tyrion lately has been in a bind. You see, there’s an out-of-control woman, and only he can save the day by explaining how to use her dragons more. It’s so stressful for him to be the emotional core of this administration. Let’s not even touch his unrequited love for her, that was 100% in evidence.
Varys Marx: Smallfolk of the World Unite! Varys Marx is some random eunuch from Lys who is REALLY into fiscal responsibility and kissing Saint Tyrion’s ass. He’s so committed to good governance that, after meeting Illyrio Mopatis in a “Robert Totes Sucks Club” meeting, he and his “colleague” decided that Viserys Targaryen was the way to go and that a plan to invade Westeros with an army of rapists who are afraid of water would totally work. And now Deadpan is the way to go, because she’s so good at listening to Saint Tyrion. You see, it’s always been about the good of realm for him, and she can respect that, just like we’re sure Viserys would have. Varys Marx is really glad he doesn’t have “debts of affection,” or a backstory or anything like that to complicate matters.
MissWorm: The ship name for Missandei and Grey Worm, a touching and genuine romance that we suspect was written by Ronald D. Moore.
Meli-sans-bra: This red priestess once had a great time flashing her boobs every chance she got, but ever since the reveal that she’s OLD, they’re staying firmly in her robes. Instead, her hobbies now include shipping Deadpan, staring sadly off into the middle-distance, and fucking off when the writers can’t come up with anything for her to do. Fear not though: she will die in Weisseroff, so we’re sure to see her again. That’s some pretty deft foreshadowing.
Ironboor: The inhabitants of the Iron Islands have a deep and rich culture, which includes tending their lush forests and following the men who speak about their genitals. In fact, genitalia figures very prominently into their leadership selection process, so long as what’s between their legs can be turned into a fighting strength.
Yara, the Swashbuckling
Lesibian Bisexual: Finally, the positive representation we’ve been waiting for.
Princess Faullaria Sand (or maybe Uller?): Showberyn’s beloved paramour, Faullaria Sand hates timid sex and loves the torturing of small children in the name of revenge. In fact, her defining feature may be her love of revenge. She loves it so much that she will murder Showberyn’s whole family and name herself the Princess of Porne (maybe?), because that’s what he would have wanted. It worked out so well for her. We’d say that this was intricate commentary on the futility of revenge, except her downfall was someone else’s revenge. It’s clearly too deep for us to comprehend.
The Sand Fakes: Who are these three women? And which one is which? Whatever, they’ve been meditating about it a lot and decided that for a change of pace, they want revenge. FOR SHOWBERYN! The Fakes have quirky, individualized weapons and the inability to be nice to one another. They’re very useful at being an object lesson of “hoisted by your own petard.” So significant.
Snake-Fu: A unique style of fighting practiced only in Porne that includes futile spinning, futile spinning of weapons, and futile mincing steps. All weapons must be dipped with boner-activated poisons. Snake-Fu is dizzying, yet deadly, and can drop a dude twice your size with a single small blade to the back. If you reach an especially high level, then you get to learn the ultimate skill: double sword spinning! However, it is a Snake-Fu rule that eventually, you will fall to your own weapon. #poetry
Carol Lannister: Carol is a relatable, struggling super-mom. She is a devoted mother to her kids Chase, Madison, and TomTom. And a victim. She lost a baby and sympathizes with Cat Stark about it. But then she also lives her life believing a prophecy that her first baby should have negated. She almost had to poison her son to prevent him from being harmed more. And now… she tried to protect her kids and rule wisely and well, but the patriarchy was just too much for her. But being slut-shamed by fanatics won’t stop our Unproblematic Fave from trying her best to do her job. Even if the cool kids all leave the table when she sits down, or her uncle banishes her to the gallery, or her son changes the law to screw her over. Poor Carol!
Cheryl Lannister: When you push a super-mom too far… She randomly morphs into a mass murderer in metal shoulder pads. Cheryl likes wine, blowing things up, torturing enemies, and she knows a cardigan is a great alternative to a blazer in a business casual environment. She’s an entirely reasonable actor given the political nightmare she’s found herself in, but everyone around her believes that she’s horrible and insane, which we’re sure has nothing to do with that thing that starts with “s” and ends in “exism.” Luckily for Cheryl, the smallfolk are okay with her, since she’s freed them from superstition. What a classic!
Larry Lannister: Larry Lannister is a charmingly befuddled knight. The second-oldest Lannister deserves our pity, because he seems to operate in a continual state of confusion. He’s lucky that he has his long-term girlfriend, Cheryl, to patiently explain everything for him. Larry loves Cheryl, but he’s beginning to think she’s a little bit problematic. Not because she blew up the entire religious institution of Cheryl’s Landing, or that she gets sexually turned on by violence…those are normal bumps in the road. But one time Cheryl lied to Jonny Cardboard, her political adversary. Unforgivable.
The Cherry Bomb: This fetus from the OTP (Cheryl+Larry=Cherry) added so much to the show! Such as…granting its mother anachronistic knowledge of fetal alcohol syndrome. We await the Cherry Bomb with baited breath, and hope for a future where they can marry the #BoatSex spawn.
The Bro-nns: Larry goes nowhere without his best bud, Bronn, and together, they bro it up all over Weisseroff. Bronn, however, is hopelessly in love with Larry. He tries to put on the face of a hardened mercenary, but he just can’t seem to quit him! Maybe penis jokes will throw Larry off the scent.
Dickon Tarly Redux: Dickon? Dick-on. Hee hee hee.
Dowager Sasstress: Poor Carol may have to deal with the patriarchy, but if you’re sassy, like our beloved Dowager Sasstress, then you get to suddenly be the head of the House you married into, as well as the Lord Paramount of the Reach. (Or something.) The Dowager Sasstress is dead now, but her sassy ways will live on and empower us all. #BeADragon
Eurovision: This big bad, who totally makes Ramsay Sue look like a little kid, is running late for a My Chemical Romance concert. However, he has the power of ~illusions~ on his side, and an armada that can magically teleport wherever the plot needs it to. He may have a different personality every episode, but that’s because “All of the psychopaths I’ve met in my lifetime have multiple personalities”. We’re not sure why he does anything at all, but that’s just part of the ~mystery~. Except for potentially having anal sex with Cheryl, which would totally compel anyone to attack Unsullied at Casterly Castle. We’d go on, but he spent the night dancing and is drunk, we suppose. If it looks like he’s laughing, he’s really just asking to leave.
Showboating Sam: Showboating Sam was so happy to finally achieve his dream of arriving at the improbably giant library in Oldtown State, but college life isn’t all that he expected it to be. First he has to clean up poop, then those stodgy old maesters won’t let him into the restricted section! But after curing Greyscale Jorah of an incurable disease, (re)discovering how to save the world from Ice Demons, and having his girlfriend stumble upon a political bombshell about his best bud, he decides that this is lame and he should take his father’s advice, drop out, and go be the Real Man™ we all know he is.
Gilly in a Corner: Gilly’s still here, we guess. This once-assertive dame still likes to read. We guess that’s what she does all day while her boyfriend is in class. They belong together, after all, so there’s no way she only exists for him to vent his own frustrations at.
The Amazing Expandable Baby: While originally it seemed like good ol’ Sam-Sam Parr had been shrinking given his perpetual infanthood while Madison Lannister wasted away for years in Porne, it’s now clear that there was no problem at all! Gilly’s son simply has the magical ability to grow and shrink at will. Watch him be suddenly big enough to laugh at Sam’s emotional breakdown. Don’t worry though, he’ll never get too old to actually need characterization or lines. That’d be really inconvenient.
Ser Hilariously Friend-zoned/Greyscale Jorah: We had concerns that Jorah would no longer be hilariously friend-zoned ever since he became infected with the plague. However, as everyone who reads secret Maester books knows, the key to curing yourself of a disease so deadly that the nobility sent their infected family members off to a colony to die is simply proper exfoliation. Once Showboating Sam had him all sparkling new, Jorah was ready to once again be hilariously friend-zoned. Though he seems oddly fine with it now. Yes. It is his lot in life and this is very romantic.
Maester Slughorn: Maester Slughorn doesn’t know anything about White Walkers, and he wouldn’t tell you even if he did! His pedagogical practices could use a bit of honing, but damn if he can’t spot an alcoholic’s liver.
Prince Ragger: Ragger’s favorite A Song of Ice and Fire character is Viserys Targaryen, and he makes sure to always cosplay as Harry Lloyd’s interpretation of him, even during his wedding. Ragger is very by-the-book, making sure to legally annul his marriage to the mother of two of his children/future heirs to the Iron Throne in a procedure that only one person knew about. That totally covers his ass so that he can marry Liability Stark for love in the middle of a civil war while his family slaughters hers. It’s LOVE.
Lady Liability Stark: We know oh-so-much about Lady Liability. She rides horses and was nice to a young Hodor. She’s totally developed and not at all just a pretty vehicle for Jonny’s Pop Secret Audience Surprise! Who wouldn’t fuck over their wife and the entire line of succession for her?
A Jon: Ragger’s favorite name in the whole wide world is Jon, so much so that he’s tried to have not one, but two sons named this. However, every time he suggests it to his baby mama(s), he phrases it as, “he’s a Jon to me!”, which hilariously keeps being misheard as “Aegon.” Why else would this name be repeated? In a twist of dramatic irony, Ned, by trying to distance Liability’s baby from his ~secret Targaryen identity~, ended up giving Jon the name Ragger always intended.
There you have it, the official Book Snob Glossary. May you be strong like our patron saint Book Snob Shireen, and never cease to evoke these terms in your quest to stop the conflation of A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones. If you’re lucky, you might even get to explain to someone what a literary theme is.
Images courtesy of HBO
The Unattainable Beauties of BioWare
Happy week after Valentine’s Day! For those of you in a relationship, I hope you were able to spend time with your loved ones and maybe have a little romance. For those of you who are single, I hope that it wasn’t a terribly bitter or frustrating day. In honor of both these states, I’m going to be writing about Bioware characters. But not romanceable characters, oh no. Enough ink has been spilled about them. No, today, we are going to be talking about the ones who for whatever reason are non-romanceable. In fact, it’s going to be a list of who I consider to be the best non-romanceable characters in Bioware games.
A few ground rules first though. First, this list is completely and totally subjective. If you feel like I’ve missed a character, let me know in the comments. Most of these characters are either from the Mass Effect Series or the Dragon Age series. Those are the games I know the best have have played the most. Finally, I’m only going to list five male and five female characters. I could go on all day if allowed.
So, with that out of the way, let’s start with the guys. And first on that list is…
Right off the bat we get a character who seems to contraindicate my first two points. He’s from Jade Empire and isn’t normally the type of character I’d enjoy. But let me justify his place on my list. First off, he’s just a fun character. Pretty much his entire character is dedicated to fighting things with his axes, drinking, and drinking while fighting with his axes. Second of all, given what we do see of his backstory, he’s fairly sympathetic. He was abused by his father until he was finally to defend himself and killed his father, and then was tossed out by his mother. He fought in the arena until he thought he killed his brother. And finally, his voice. Victor Brandt voices him in the game, and that man could read from the stock exchange and make it sound like he was trying to seduce you.
I can understand why they chose not to have any love interests in Awakening. A lot of the companions are missable and even if they aren’t, there’s better than 50-50 odds that they would die at the end of the expansion. That doesn’t excuse them from making Nathaniel Howe though. He has a compelling and sympathetic backstory, an interesting perspective on the location and events, and a sardonic sense of humor that lets him either play the straight man or the funny man in conversations. And! He got an easter egg quest in Dragon Age 2. I just wish they had followed through and included him in Dragon Age Inquisition (and gave us the chance to smooch him.)
Bann Teagan gets a bit of a bad rap now, particularly after Trespasser. Time (and the switch to a new engine) were not kind to him, but I remember a different Teagan. A Teagan that stood up to Loghain. A Teagan that risked his life to defend Redcliffe, and then walked straight into a demon’s clutches to buy your party sometime. From a story perspective, having a female human warden marry (or at least be involved with) an up and coming Bann would make just as much sense politically as marrying her to the new king. And from a purely personal standpoint, I would have loved for him to respond to the “Who is dis women Tegan?” quote by saying “My future wife.”
Jeff ‘Joker’ Moreau
Ever since Mass Effect 1, Joker’s presence at the front of the Normandy has been very welcome. Snarky, quick with a quip and a comment about any of your companions, the only fault I have with him was that he was far too quick to abandon the Alliance and hook up with a bunch of racist, human supremacist terrorists in Mass Effect 2. But the fact that he’s loyal specifically to Shepard always melts my heart. I was hoping that in Mass Effect 3 he finally would be a romance option, but alas he was infatuated with EDI. It took a great deal of self control not to sabotage that relationship.
And here we come to my favorite non-romanceable male character: Ser Derin Barris of the Templar Order. Dude has it all. Good voice and one of the few male PoCs in the series. In addition, he’s everything that a Templar is supposed to be: brave, intelligent, loyal, and willing to defend the weak and the innocent. And yet, after the quest to recruit the Templars, you only see ever see him one more time. The cutscene where he is promoted to Knight-Commander. (A promotion he deserves.) I can only hope that he reappears in Dragon Age 4 as a full romanceable companion.
That covers my five favorite non-romanceable male characters. But what about the ladies? Let’s start with…
Gianna Parasini was one of those characters I didn’t expect to find myself liking as much as I did. When you first meet her in Mass Effect 1, she’s working (undercover) for Novaria’s Internal Affairs. She quickly shows herself not to be completely amoral. Just overworked, overstressed, and tired of being a Yes-Woman to a corrupt executive. When you see her again in Mass Effect 2, she’s much less stressed, and much more willing to joke with Shepard. She leaves far too soon, leaving a male Shepard with a kiss and a promise to see him around. A promise, unfortunately, left unfulfilled.
Dr. Karin Chakwas
Dr. Chakwas is an interesting addition to this list. She is much older then Shepard. She seems at first to be a poor match. But much like Joker, she offers Shepard a sense of continuity aboard the Normandy. She even mentions that as one of the reasons why she stays aboard the Normandy in all its various incarnations. And, unlike some returning squadmates or even Joker himself at times, her presence aboard the ship never seems forced. Of course Dr. Chakwas will be in the medical bay. Of course she’ll be happy to see you. And of course she’ll be waiting to share a drink with you.
Dr. Lexi T’Perro
Unlike Dr. Chakwas, Dr. Lexi doesn’t really provide much in the way of continuity between different versions of the ship. Instead, she almost provides a mirror for Ryder to see himself and his actions. When she’s first brought aboard as your team’s doctor, she’s nervous. And she channels this nervous energy into annoying practically everyone else on the ship. But as she gets more comfortable with the ship and how things work, she starts to relax a little. Not much, but a little. Add to that her backstory in addition to the fact that she seems to care for the team’s mental health as much as their physical health and you get a character who would be perfect to romance. Shame she’s not an option.
Emily Wong is one of the most frustrating examples on this list. In Mass Effect 1, she filled the ‘plucky reporter’ archetype so well that I missed being able to speak with her or give her an interview in Mass Effect 2. As the release date for Mass Effect 3 drew closer and rumors of a romanceable reporter on board the Normandy began to swirl, I had hope that it would be Emily. I was bitterly disappointed. The reporter character on the Normandy was quite weak compared to the strong impression Emily gave in Mass Effect 1. And Emily Wong herself? Unceremoniously killed off in a marketing ploy before the game was released. She deserved better.
Vivienne is a ‘love her or hate her’ type of character. As you can tell by her inclusion on this list, I am in the former camp. Aside from being one of the few women of color companions in the game, Vivienne brings to the table a unique perspective: A mage who fully supports a return to the Circles. Not only that, but she has clear, eloquent arguments to back her up. In addition to that, she has a very striking character design and a wonderful voice actress. Most important of all though is that if her approval of the Inquisitor is high, she seems to genuinely care about them and their well being. I just wish that she didn’t politely shoot you down every time you flirted with her.
So there you have it. My five favorite male and female non-romanceable NPCs from Bioware games. However, there is one person that I have thus far neglected to mention. Or rather, one group of people. That’s right, I’m talking about…
EVERY SINGLE DWARF FROM DRAGON AGE
In Dragon Age: Origins, it was just a bit of trivia. “Hey, did you know that you can’t romance Qunari and dwarf characters?” When Dragon Age 2 came out and we were introduced to Varric, it became a joke. But at least the dwarf fans could still console themselves by remembering that there hadn’t been any Qunari romanceable companions either. By the time of Dragon Age Inquisition and the introduction of Iron Bull and Lead Scout Lace Harding, it’s become one of my main problems with the series.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. Why wouldn’t Bioware let us romance Scout Harding, or any other dwarf for that matter? Is it because the animation would look awkward? Too much work? In the end, I can only repeat the refrain so many others have, pining after characters who they couldn’t romance: “Maybe next game.”
Images courtesy of Bioware
Kingdom Come, Representation, And Layers Of Privilege
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a brand new Czech video game that just came out last week. And ever since its development started, there has been one big controversy connected to it: its almost complete lack of characters of colour.
It isn’t exactly helped by the fact that the chief mind behind the game, Dan Vávra, is right-leaning, and also a bit of an asshole when it comes to responding to these complaints. He doesn’t go far for an insult and refuses to listen to any kind of criticism. Not exactly the kind of person that makes one want to defend him.
So…this is where this article should end, right? A jerk makes a racist game, news at seven.
Well. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
Vávra isn’t the only person working in the development. And the most important thing to know about the game in this context is that it’s not a generalized medieval setting. Instead, it takes place in a particular set of villages and towns and the surrounding forests, villages, and towns that exist until today and that aren’t and never have been big or cosmopolitan in any way. A number of events in the game are based on historical events. It isn’t just a story, it the story of Česká Skalice just before the Hussite wars.
In this context, the usual arguments of “there were plenty of people of colour in Europe in the Middle Ages” fall kind of flat. The usual argument of historicity that is pulled for this is frequently false because Western history is whitewashed and contained markedly more people of colour that we like to pretend. But it’s not always false. There actually were parts of the world where only white people lived. And not only are there no particular historical marks of black, brown or Asian people being present in the particular time and place where Kingdom Come takes place, it would also be very unlikely.
Honestly, the most likely place to find a person of colour in the time period would be Sigismund’s armies, and since those play more the role of the antagonist in the game, that’s not exactly ideal. So this is not, in fact, a case of ignoring the real historical presence of black and Middle-Eastern people.
Instead, the first question to ask here is: is it ever legitimate to create all-white media? If we’re depicting a situation where there realistically wouldn’t be any people of colour – not just history, there are still plenty of towns in the world a non-white person has never set foot in – is it all right to make it whiter than new house paint?
On the face of it, the answer should be yes. As long as we’re depicting an actual situation, we’re depicting. And yet. It may be “accurate,” but it might at the same time be unwise in the current climate, where every all-white piece of media contributes to a narrative that is far from inclusive to people of colour.
So the second question: does it even matter? That is, is historical realism such an important goal to achieve?
Most media that supposedly take place in the past play hard and fast with history to make things more convenient for the narrative, so why should the amount of diversity, of all things, be what is kept realistic? It shouldn’t, that is the answer. As long as other things are changed freely, the argument of historicity is irrelevant one way or another.
Kingdom Come, however, is a game that takes great care to be as realistic as possible. The most frequent complaint from players at the moment is the insane difficulty of lockpicking because that isn’t easy in real life either. So does this change anything? Is the argument of historicity valid in such a case? In other words, even in those media that do their best to stay historically faithful, is such an ambition a worthy goal? Is it more important to have something fit history perfectly than to provide representation?
Accusations of rewriting history would naturally follow a negative answer. First, it’s important to point out that it’s no more rewriting than the constant whitewashing, and with a much better intention. But it is true that with a game that boasts of its realism, it presents a problem. It would discredit their claims of historicity if they simply ignored these kinds of facts. You cannot painstakingly reconstruct medieval Skalice and then add random representation from all over the world without becoming a laughing stock. Not the least because this sort of rewriting of history would play down the racism of the past, and that is not an excuse we should be making for ourselves.
Unless we say that media has to abandon goals of high historical realism, then, we have to admit that in certain setting an all-white cast is appropriate. So that brings forth another question: is it legitimate to choose such settings?
And this brings us to the more complicated power dynamics at play when it comes to Kingdom Come.
As I’ve said, Kingdom Come is a Czech game, dealing with events from Czech history. My history. We, as a country, have always played the lovely game of being both oppressors (towards Slovaks, the Jewish and the Romani people, and even Germans after WWII) and oppressed (by the Austrian empire, Nazi Germany, USSR). In the global world of today, we’re far from being the ones in the most desperate situation, but we’re also hardly the top dogs. On the global scale, we’re a minority.
And both our history and our present are mostly white.
Just to be perfectly clear, this is not a good thing. I’m not saying it as a good thing. It massively contributes to the widespread xenophobia in the Czech Republic. But it is what it is. The fact remains that our by far biggest minority are the Romani people, who form about 3% of the population. So every time you tell a Czech story, it is going to be overwhelmingly white.
So should we be allowed to tell our own stories?
Kingdom Come, of course, is not made for the Czech market. It’s distributed globally, and it means it has a global effect, on people who know nothing of our particular context. As an all-white medieval game – which is all most people will take out of it – it perpetuates exactly the image of whitewashed history that we need to rid ourselves of. It becomes part of the problem.
So does this mean, then, that when we want global money, we have to change the image of our own history to avoid exacerbating the global problem of racism? That is problematic as well, especially as making the game for Czech audience only is not a real option. Our ten million people total don’t make for a big enough audience to pay for a game with this kind of budget. It’s another kind of disadvantage global minorities have. It shouldn’t be necessary to pay for it by adjusting our stories.
And even disregarding that, what if we want to show our stories and our world to the rest of the planet? What if we want to share ourselves? We should be able to do that.
Yet…what if what we want to share turns into a white fantasy in others’ hands?
It seems it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Who cares if we change the skin colour of some characters in the story? It’s still going to be a Czech story. But the problem is, it doesn’t quite work that way. After all, that is the “I don’t see colour” argument, only in reverse.
What I’m about to say will sound insanely racist to anyone from a more cosmopolitan country, but when I was little, I didn’t like watching Sesame Street because the multi-ethnic children there were making it so very foreign to me. I saw them and instantly knew it wasn’t my world. Outside of my travel abroad, I spoke to one non-white person total before adulthood. And I live in the capital, the most multicultural part of the country. Whatever it says about us, the truth is that if we populate historical Czech stories with black people, most Czechs will not regard it as their story.
But there is a reason I was specific in this last sentence. There are truly very few black people living in this country even now. You know who is living here, though? The aforementioned Romani. The presence of Romani people in the game would not make any Czech person feel like it was not our story. It would make them angry — because the racism the Romani face in the Czech Republic is something incredibly ugly — but it would not make the game feel foreign. The Romani minority has been here since the Middle Ages, and there are definitely historical records of them being here in large numbers shortly after Kingdom Come takes place. In fact, there are even complaints of there being “more and more” Romani people in our records because of course our racism would be traditional.
We don’t know, of course, if there were any Romani around Skalice, but it was a way to include people of colour that wouldn’t break with general Czech history. It wouldn’t have gone against our own understanding of who has lived here for a long time. And yet they were never mentioned in any of the diversity complaints I have seen. There are also Cumans included in the game, and no one seems to care much either. And that brings me to my last point.
Demanding diversity in Kingdom Come with a particular idea of diversity in mind, the idea that is based on the ethnic composition of the US, is not only American-centric but also offensive to the oppressed minorities of the Czech Republic. And complaining about such lack of diversity truly does not come across in a way that would endear the author of the complaint to anyone Czech. Especially if the person complaining is white. If a person of colour is offended by so much mayo in their game and would like to feel represented, I can understand that.
But when a white privileged American talks about what sorts of representation a Czech game should contain – particularly with arguments like that Czechia is “just north of Italy” and Italy is by the sea so obviously there’d be plenty of people of colour in here, which is an actual argument someone presented – it suddenly gains whole another tone. Because whiteness is not the only privilege in the world, and while we certainly benefit from it, we do not benefit from the privilege of being American, and anyone from the US telling us how to tell our own stories without knowing anything about us is always, always going to ring a very uncomfortable bell with us.
So yes, making all-white games should be avoided when possible, because it reinforces an uncomfortable narrative. And representation is a good thing, especially representation of those who hardly ever find themselves on screen. Whenever at least a little possible, diversity should be supported. Warhorse Studios really should have included Romani people in their game, just as Czech filmmakers should try casting some in their films. But not all representation fits one muster and demanding medieval Skalice should look like medieval London only makes stories more identical to each other and less interesting. There is more than one kind of diversity.
Images courtesy of Warhorse Studios
Barbara Kean From Housewife to Mobster
Gotham had a tall order ahead of it at its inception. It had to take some the most iconic characters from the comic page and meld them in a story that takes place before they were iconic. Any prequel adaptation has to grapple with this in one way or another. But Gotham had the unique challenge with Batman’s famous rouges. The origins of so many of his opponents are intertwined with his. Gotham would have to reinvent these characters and their origins. The series has made these characters its own by allowing their development to move away from their comic book counterparts. There is no character with which this is more prevalent in than Barbara Kean.
In the comics, she’s anything but a rival to Batman. She’s the wife of one of Bruce’s closest allies and the mother of one of his sidekicks. Yet she herself plays but a small role in the narrative. Gotham’s Barbara Kean has made herself a part of the narrative in ways that have seem to have completely change the character we first meet. Gotham has taken a woman destined to be the mother and wife of heroes and made her one of the most prolific members of the Gotham City’s underworld.
We meet Barbara in the pilot engaged to James Gordon, the perfect place to lead to her becoming her comic book counterpart: married to James Gordon and the mother of his children. They’re in a good place in their relationship. As James finds himself confronted with the corruption of Gotham, Barbara becomes a pillar of support for him. She reaffirms his values when he doubts himself. But this can only last for so long. With James fighting against so much of the darkness in Gotham, it was only a matter of time before it got back to Barbara.
Even with the first bit of tension seeping into their relationship, Barbara’s still willing to stand by James. When she learns James’s life is at stake she goes to Carmine Falcone, the king of Gotham’s underground, to beg for his life. But after she’s terrorized by Falcone’s men, her own faith in James is shaken. She’s seen the true dangers in the mission he’s tasked himself with. She can’t share the burden he’s willing to take on.
At first, she falls back into old habits for the comfort and familiarity, drugs, and her ex-girlfriend, Renee Montoya. It doesn’t last with Montoya, and Barbara finds herself in a state of flux. During this time she meets Selina Kyle, who later becomes a close companion. She also meets Jason Skolimski. He becomes an inciting figure of change for her. A serial killer and psychopath, he takes Barbara captive and she almost doesn’t make it out alive.
Her time with him drives her to edge of sanity. Under his influence she kills her parents. She almost kills Lee Thompkins, James’s new girlfriend. The love she has for James becomes an obsession. It doesn’t end well for her with James stopping her. She’s arrested and sentenced to Arkham Asylum. But it ends up putting her in the perfect position for the next wave of her development.
Her stay in the Asylum is short lived. She’s broken out by Theo and Tabitha Galvan, the latter of whom she enters into a romantic relationship with. It’s through them she’s truly indoctrinated to Gotham’s underground. Barbara’s sanity at this point is shaky at best. Having a girlfriend willing to kidnap her ex-boyfriend and his current girlfriend doesn’t help the situation either. Though even when the last remains of her sanity seem all but gone, the compassion she held for James still comes through. Her kidnapping attempt unravels and her escape ends with her falling out a second story window. Before that happens she helps James, giving him the information he needs to take down Theo.
After some time in a coma, she’s released back onto Gotham streets. Though her love for James still borders on unhealthy obsession her pursuits become more personally motivated. She opens a nightclub with Tabitha. It’s successful but she’s gunning for more, namely to get out from under Oswald Cobblepot’s thumb. She’s openly contentious of the Penguin when he all but runs Gotham at this point. Only a few people could have gotten away with this without fatal consequences.
She gathers some powerful allies with the intention of overthrowing Penguin. And it works. She becomes the queen of Gotham, taking over the city’s underground. Unfortunately, it’s a short-lived reign when conflict brews among the very allies who helped her take down Penguin, and she ends up dead.
In the true fashion of comic books and their adaptations, Barbara doesn’t say dead for long. After she’s brought back to life she returns ready to take on the city again. Reaching out to Selina and Tabitha, they work together running a weapons racket to rebuild their status. Death seems to have tamed Barbara, she’s more rational with her return. She’s even willing to work under Penguin. If only for a short time until a better opportunity presents itself for her, Tabitha and Selina.
At this point, I think it’s important to note Barbara could have easily fallen into the old stereotypes of the ‘crazy bisexual ex-lover’ or even the ‘villainous queer’. But similar to the way the Carmilla series defies its negative tropes, Gotham’s exploration of these narrative tropes doesn’t feel like it steers into the negative aspects. Gotham also avoids these tropes in a way few other series could. The villains make up a huge portion of series. They are the lungs that breathe life into the series. As much as this series is about Bruce and James growing into the heroes we know they’ll become, it’s also about watching the other characters grow into the villains we know they’ll become.
Barbara earns her place among the villainous elite in Gotham. She’s gone from a mild-mannered Gotham socialite to one of its most conniving criminals.
She’s still a woman capable of deeply caring for someone. But now her way of showing she cares for someone involves fewer words of empathy and more shooting their enemies in the head. She learnt to thrive in a city where so few can even survive. She adapted in ways that not even James has been able to. Her place in the story going forward is still uncertain. The possibility of her and James come back to each other is small but stranger things have happened in this city. Though at this point it seems more likely one of the many colourful adversaries Bruce will face when he truly dons the cowl.
Regardless of where she’s going, watching her get where she is has been a wild and entertaining ride.