The union of the cynical, shrewd, wine-sipping dwarf and the passionate, regal dragon queen, in last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones” finally joined all the parts of Westeros together. Tyrion is their Kevin Bacon—pretty much everyone is just a couple degrees of separation away.
It should make for the most unbeatable political alliance since Alexander the Great got his spelling lessons from Aristotle. Or perhaps the show was going more for Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.
For starters, Tyrion tries to teach his blonde acolyte that “killing and politics aren’t the same thing”: she can’t just be a military leader if she hopes to rule someday. But the normally benevolent and inspiring Daenerys, responded with an uncharacteristic bit of revolutionary zeal, when she threatened to not just stop but crush the revolving wheel of kings in Westeros. (Perhaps the title “Wheel of Kings” evoked too much Vanna White for serious George R. R. Martin consideration.)
Dany said that she knew her father’s shortcomings, but we’ve seen what happens when a child ruler tries to finish what father started. Indeed the show was brimming with allusions to our not-so-distance military past, as Samwell Tarly told young Ollie in the night’s watch that sometimes leaders have to do things that look wrong in the moment but will eventually be seen to be right. And if “history will ultimately judge” sounds familiar. It’s because it is.
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So it isn’t a surprise that the mostly distant threat of the White Walkers finally gave Westeros – i.e. The West – its 9/11 moment, tearing apart the savage wildling fighters in a rout and turning them into zombies. Well, skinny, bony zombies. Most of them look actually look ashen or dark, rather than white, except for its leaders.
For the first time we got a glimpse that this seemingly, rogue, insatiable mass of winter terror has some sort of human-like hierarchy that is organizing its savagery. Perhaps they’re more Al Qeda than ISIS. What seems like a suicide mission, of throwing themselves off of a cliff, actually turns out to be a great strategy, not only destroying the enemy, but also gaining them a whole new crop of walking-dead converts.
The only way to fight off the white terror, it seems, is politics not killing. The wildlings and the Night’s Watch had to overcome their past animosities to fight this new, more savage threat from the north. (Or if that doesn’t work maybe they can build a giant moat — the white walkers apparently are not white swimmers: they barely even dangled a bony ankle in the sea.)
Jon Snow anticipated that the real terrorist threat was unprecedented, telling the wildings that these are not “normal times” and that they had to work together for “survival” not “friendship,” to defeat the rogue actors from the undead. And as every great piece of rhetoric needs to end: “Think about the children.”
The best line of the whole rhetorical spasm came from the red-bearded Tormund Giantsbane, who managed to state what we’d all been thinking – that “Jon Snow is prettier than both my daughters” – to convince the wildlings that he wasn’t a threat.
In the meantime, the likable but villainous Queen Searcy is having her Saddam Hussein moment in prison. It’s not just that her normally regal wig has been besmudged, she has to sip water from the floor. Even as much as you hate their evil deeds, there is still something unsettling about seeing the powerful fall so fast.