Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Can We Go Back to the Fanfiction Episode?

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So, the highly awaited battle episode of Game of Thrones just happened…to anticlimactic results that we could barely see half of the time due to horrendous lighting. I guess I’d be more angry about it, if I were truly invested in the first place. You see, before episode 3 even aired, I wasn’t too excited for its premiere: battle episodes, save for “Hardhome” and “Blackwater”, never held my attention the way character driven episodes have — be it from genuine enjoyment or book snob rage. “The Long Night” was no exception, and while watching the slow and boring scenes before that terrible ending reared its cringy, Phantom Menace/Avengers/Avengers: Age of Ultron-like head, I found myself reminiscing about a better time, a better place, in an episode that was way more fun to watch.

An episode that was taken straight from the depths of Archive of Our Own.

That’s right, folks. I’m talking about last week’s episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” … or, as I like to call it, “Game of Ships.”

Seriously, the entire episode was written and framed like the first chapter of a multiship slow burn fanfic, and, at this point in the torturous journey of a Book Snob’s Game of Thrones Watch, I haven’t the energy to really be upset about it, or even laugh at it. As a matter of fact, I quite enjoyed it — probably because I am a huge shipper, shamelessly so. The show has nothing to offer at this point in terms of good writing, storytelling, and characterization, really, so why not just be down for the shippy, fanficy ride? I know I am.

My fellow book snobs on this site weren’t too taken with the episode, finding it boring, and I think that’s because this episode has traits that would only really entertain someone who is invested in the romances of these characters (or, in my case as a Jaime/Brienne shipper, invested in the book version of the romances and projecting that onto the show characters, who, as has been stated more than once, are not like their book selves at all).

“Game of Ships,” consists of scenes featuring a plethora of shipping material (and honestly nothing else), each seeming to exist in an attempt at “character development.” Most people, including myself, thought that these scenes were also a goodbye of sorts, since a battle was coming up where a lot of important characters were expected to die, but hahaha, no.

There were plenty of ships that got scenes or moments:

  • Missandei/Grey Worm (MissWorm)
  • Jaime/Brienne (Lannistarth, JB, Braime)
  • Arya/Gendry (Gendrya)
  • Sansa/Theon (Theonsa)
  • Brienne/Tormund (Briemund)
  • The ship that’s probably just in my head, Dany/Sansa (because if two people dislike each other they obviously want to have hate sex with one another, right? Right.)
  • And of course, Jonerys (Jon/Dany). We even got a little Jonsa (Jon/Sansa) tease in my opinion, when Dany asked Sansa if she had a problem with Jon dating her.

Honestly, I’ve probably missed some ships, because there were so many. It’s a multishipper’s dream, really. I won’t talk about all of them here — just the ones I’m personally invested in — but each scene had good content for those who support those ships.

Especially if you ship Jaime and Brienne.


Jaime / Brienne

Oh, but weren’t we given a treat last week, JB fans? This was our episode, even if our faves weren’t the ones to oddly get it on by the end of it. So much happened between them, so much nothingness that is only something if you ship them. We start off with Brienne defending Jaime from Dany’s wrath, which is a scenario that has happened in so many JB fanfics over the years (and better written most of the time, too) I couldn’t help but laugh at seeing it actually happen in canon. Then, Jaime ignores Tyrion (who was talking about Cersei, Jaime’s ex) to literally gaze upon Brienne from afar. Subtle, right? He walks up to Brienne like a lost puppy and has an awkward semi-flirting conversation with her where he asks to serve at her command, and JB shippers everywhere squee into their Tumblr blogs — especially me.

At the drunken campfire scene — and that premise alone is straight out of a fanfic, for sure — Jaime literally scrambles to his feet at the sight of Brienne, a reference to the line in his only chapter in A Dance With Dragons, when he reunites with Brienne…or maybe that’s only a coincidence, and I’m projecting my book snobbery onto Larry again. This episode was written by Bryan Cogman, though, who is known for always trying to incorporate source material elements into this so-called “adaption,” and has given us Jaime/Brienne moments throughout the show, so I’ll let myself believe it was an intentional shout out.

After that, we get some ship-war teasing with JB vs. Briemund. There’s a quick shot of Tormund noticing JB sitting next to one another, and then he starts his breastmilk/giantess fetish spiel in an attempt to win over Brienne and one-up Jaime. Weird flex, but okay. Either way, it leads to us getting the die-from-book-projection-and-ignore-the-fact-that-it-makes-no-sense-and-is-kinda-random-in-show-context Knighting Scene, where Jaime gives Brienne what she’s always wanted — his metaphorical penis on her shoulders. (Rule of thumb for ASOIAF fans: accept that all swords are symbolic penises, always, regardless of the situation. Especially when it makes a situation shippier than it would be otherwise.)

Ironically, as shippy as this scene was trying to be (and it still was), the set up of it doesn’t look too good for Larry, or the Larry/Brienne ship in general. He literally only thought to knight Brienne because Tormund and Tyrion brought it up. If only it were truly his decision and thought, you know? It would have been way better if Jaime thought to do this himself, and it was done because of Brienne herself, not as a way to show up Tormund (at least, that’s how it seems to be framed), or because “hey, we’re at a drunken firepit party and I’m in a fun mood, why not do a little knighting?”

In isolation, though, the scene itself is just unbelievably beautiful and perfect. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie made it so much more amazing. Bless their hearts, they ship it almost as hard as George R.R. Martin himself, especially Nikolaj. For the show renditions of these characters, the scene might be random, but Gwen and Nik made it heartfelt. I guess they were projecting the books onto this too.

Anyway. Queue heart eyes after said knighting is done, along with the fact that there was obviously some marriage imagery going on, and honestly, all we need to complete this slow burn is a love confession and some sex. Or at least a kiss and some hand holding. Cuddling? Something. They survived the battle, so I have hope.

Point? The Jaime and Brienne scenes in this episode were so shippy I was wondering which Ao3 writer they hired to ghostwrite the script … or which fics Bryan Cogman borrowed from when he was browsing the JB tag during his vacation time (seriously, the line where Jaime asks Brienne to let him serve under his command was taken straight from a popular “Jaime goes to Winterfell and romances Brienne,” fic that’s still being updated). It was so in your face and constant that I still can’t believe it actually happened on screen.

Well, I suppose after D&D gave us Larry and Brienne the Brute, they owed us this.


Missandei / Grey Worm

Pure. Wholesome. Unproblematic. And still kind of random, in a way — I’ve been baffled as to why this romance was created and given its own subplot since we first saw the beginnings of it, but hey, it’s cute, and somehow well written despite nearly everything else that surrounds it. Whenever I see scenes of them together, I’m always confused as to why it exists, but happy with the niceness of it all the same. I like the premise of two abuse victims finding love and solace in each other, healing together, finding themselves along the way. On its own its a beautiful love story, and well acted to boot. So yeah, I’m rooting for MissWorm.

That’s why I was a little annoyed at the dialogue they had in this episode, because of what it seemed to be preparing us for. They state that they’re unhappy in Winterfell, understandably so — some of those Northerners have never seen a black person before in their entire lives, and it shows — and because of their unhappiness, they want to quit their jobs as prominent members of Dany’s crew to go on permanent vacation, because they’re so in love, and they’re happy together, and they’re just three days away from retirement, don’t cha know?

I thought this scene (and the one where they kiss each other goodbye) was just to emotionally manipulate us into being even more devastated when Grey Worm was killed in the battle, but, surprisingly, it seems like both of them survived. I’m hoping it stays that way, and that them surviving the easily-defeated Night’s King wasn’t just a fake out to make it even more shocking when they die later on.

No fake outs, please. They wanna run away together, to Naath, away from racist Northern children. Let them.


Theon / Sansa

Okay. So. I’m late to this ship, for a lot of reasons. One, I hate where the relationship stems from: one of the worst storylines in Game of Thrones history. It’s basically a fanfic AU (a poorly, poorly written one) where Sansa married Ramsay instead of Jeyne Poole, and, as such, formed a bond with Theon in place of Jeyne. So, what the show relationship of Theon/Sansa represents is a turn off, to be sure. Even still, I’m a sucker for characters bonding through shared trauma, and I was interested and emotionally invested in them forming a friendship, but nothing further than that, especially when Theon just left Sansa to hang out with the Ironborn for a bit.

But this episode showed them reuniting, and … oh, wow. Theon gives us this gem of a line:


“I want to fight for Winterfell, Lady Sansa. If you’ll have me.”


If Sansa has him. Theon is asking for Sansa’s acceptance. And she gives it with one of the best hugs this show has ever given us. Sophie Turner and Alfie Allen’s acting was just stellar, especially Sansa’s. I mean, look at her! Look at that emotional eye flutter! She missed him so much!

The hug was just beautiful. It stole my heart and made me want to see more of them. I was hoping for maybe a little hand holding, some meaningful looks. Or at least more content. And we did! We got soup! The perfect date dish!

I really thought this relationship was going to go somewhere. If not romantically, then platonically. Theon made it clear that he was there for Sansa, not out of an obligation to his Queen, which, honestly, is pretty shippy, and as fanfic-like in tone as you can get. It was nice. I truly enjoyed their dynamic unironically, was warmed in my heart by it, and was hoping the show would have Theon further show where he thinks his identity is: at Winterfell, serving someone he respects and will forever have a connection to due to their shared trauma. And, you know, be alive while doing it.

But this was the emotional manipulation I thought MissWorm was going to get, considering this beautiful reunion happened only for Theon to die uselessly afterward, because Redemption Equals Death, always. One of my least favorite tropes come into play. Yay. I hope we see Sansa mourn him, at least. But I’m not holding my breath, considering we never saw Dany mourn Viserion, or any of the Starks mourn Rickon.

Whatever. Theonsa died so that JB and MissWorm could live, I guess. Because if you thought this fanfic, I mean, show, was going to have a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention. 😀

Yeah. I wonder what new (and better written) Game of Thrones content Ao3 has added to its repertoire.

Images courtesy of HBO

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