This post will be talking about the fifth season of Game of Thrones (and therefore the four preceding years too.) Some crazy stuff happened during Season 5, so if you are not up to date, this post will be a wee bit spoilery.
I often come across Game of Thrones articles that are either keeping some kind of score in regards to how the noble houses are doing in the “game” or otherwise sorting all the characters into winners or losers. I’ve never really done that, but now that we’re into 2016 and just months away from Season 6, I thought it would be a reasonable topic to blog about.
There were many, many characters, major and minor, who I’d put in the loser category. Those who suffered a major loss of some kind or who were just generally dealt some reversal of fortune.
- Dany has found herself removed from her power base and surrounded by possibly hostile Dothraki.
- Barristan Selmy is dead.
- Ser Jorah has greyscale!
- Stannis Baratheon is a loser in many, many ways.
- Like, SO MANY ways.
- Is there even a Team Baratheon? Anyone, anyone? Gendry? Gendry?
- Jaime and Cersei might have just lost a daughter.
- Cersei definitely did not have a good season. Shame! Shame!
- Okay, Tyrion might be doing okay. But he’s stuck helping ruling a town that crazy hates foreigners, and there’s a price on his head.
- Jon Snow has been super-stabbed. Even by that little cherub, Olly!
- Arya has gone blind.
- Sansa… I’ll talk more about Sansa in a bit.
Tons of losers to throw rocks at and at whom to laugh. But let’s ignore them for the moment, and focus on my nominee for Grand Champion Winner of Season 5.
Yes, yes, non-book readers. This will be one of those smug posts where I flaunt my book-learning. I’ll explain who Jeyne is in a moment, but I let me admit that I am actually not awarding her the champion winnter status. She’s just one of the runner-ups.
The clear winner of Season 5 is Lollys Stokeworth.
WHO? Oh, her. What?
Before I continue, there’s going to be some disclaimers. Sorry about that. (I just had a disclaimer to the disclaimers?)
- Although I usually shy away from book details and just talk about the show, this is not going to be one of those times. I won’t be crazy spoilery for what’s already been published. I’ll leave some surprises, but I’ll be touching upon differences between the books and the show.
- I’ll be talking about Sansa’s storyline in Season 5, and I know that might be an uncomfortable topic. I’ll try to be respectful. (I think I have a decent track record on the topic, since my breakdown of Cersei, Jaime, and the Sept scene was well received…)
- I’ll also be talking about Sansa’s season 2 storyline. Which might also end up an uncomfortable topic.
Hmmm, that’s a lot of disclaimers. Oh well.
Time to talk about two young ladies who had a more significant presence in the books. Sansa more or less takes the place of both of them, to varying degrees, on the show.
Jeyne and Lollys (and Sansa)
Jeyne Poole is a young girl from Winterfell who grew up alongside Sansa. We actually see her hanging out with her high ranking companion in the first episode of the show.
In the books, she traveled with her father, Ned’s household steward, from her ye olde-fashioned home to metropolitan King’s Landing. Yay!
When the Lannisters staged their coup-de-main, Jeyne was briefly confined with Sansa, terrified. Cersei quickly had the girls separated and turned Jeyne over to Lord Baelish’s custody. Boo!
When I read that in the books, I did not have a warm and fuzzy feeling for Jeyne’s fate. But I didn’t imagine how bad it would turn out for her. We’ll return to Jeyne’s story in a moment.
Lollys Stokeworth, the youngest daughter of the Stokeworth family, resided in King’s Landing during this time, one among many minor noble ladies who lived at court.
She’s not mentioned much in the books, until she’s part of the royal procession coming back from the docks after seeing Myrcella off to Dorne. When the riot broke out.
Remember on the show how Sansa was nearly raped by unsavory rioters? But the Hound saved her. Remember? That’s exactly what happened to Lollys.
Except that no one saved her.
She does eventually make it back to the castle, where she’s more or less shunned by her peers.
Tyrion, not being someone to let an opportunity pass, managed to get Shae assigned to the traumatized Lollys as a handmaid. This was convenient for Tyrion so he could keep his mistress near him, and since so many members of the court were avoiding Lollys (because they’re all garbage people) Shae would be less likely to attract notice.
After Joffrey’s death, Cersei arranged a marriage between Bronn and Lollys as an incentive for the sellsword to abandon Tyrion during the trial.
Because Lollys was pregnant with the child of one of her attackers, the Stokeworth family was eager to marry her off. Even to the up-jumped knight, Ser Bronn.
Jeyne resurfaced about that time as well. With a somewhat grim fate in store.
A groom led a fine grey mare out the stable door. On her back was mounted a skinny hollow-eyed girl wrapped in a heavy cloak. Grey, it was, like the dress beneath it, and trimmed with white satin. The clasp that pinned it to her breast was wrought in the shape of a wolf ‘s head with slitted opal eyes. The girl’s long brown hair blew wild in the wind. She had a pretty face, he thought, but her eyes were sad and wary.
When she saw him, she inclined her head. “Ser Jaime,” she said in a thin anxious voice. “You are kind to see me off.”
Jaime studied her closely. “You know me, then?”
She bit her lip. “You may not recall, my lord, as I was littler then… but I had the honor to meet you at Winterfell when King Robert came to visit my father Lord Eddard.” She lowered her big brown eyes and mumbled, “I’m Arya Stark.”
Jaime had never paid much attention to Arya Stark, but it seemed to him that this girl was older. “I understand you’re to be married.”
“I am to wed Lord Bolton’s son, Ramsay. He used to be a Snow, but His Grace has made him a Bolton. They say he’s very brave. I am so happy.”
Then why do you sound so frightened? “I wish you joy, my lady.” Jaime turned back to Steelshanks. “You have the coin you were promised?”
“Aye, and we’ve shared it out. You have my thanks.” The northman grinned. “A Lannister always pays his debts.”
“Always,” said Jaime, with a last glance at the girl. He wondered if there was much resemblance. Not that it mattered. The real Arya Stark was buried in some unmarked grave in Flea Bottom in all likelihood. With her brothers dead, and both parents, who would dare name this one a fraud?
Everyone assumed Arya was dead, and the Lannisters needed their Bolton allies to legitimize their control of the North. With Jeyne, a northern girl raised in Winterfell, being passed off as Arya and married to Ramsay Bolton, the North might be more easily appeased.
Jeyne is taken to Winterfell, and married to Ramsay. And it’s very unpleasant for her.
Winning – and the Sansa Connection
Both Jeyne and Lollys only appear briefly on the show, and neither participate in the major beats of their book narrative. Sansa does the heavy lifting, being the sole show-focus of rapists during the riot, the lady for whom Shae waits upon, and most disturbingly being the unfortunate bride of the repellant Ramsay Bolton.
And that’s why I want to celebrate them. Rarely are there characters in the show who make out better than their book counterparts. Often, the reverse happens.
Just ask Rakharo, Irri, Xaro Xoan Daxos, Pyp, Grenn, Ser Barristan, Shireen Baratheon, Selyse Baratheon, or Jojen Reed.
(No one cares about you, Ser Meryn. Good riddance.)
I want to award Lollys her victory points for Season 5, because she actually appeared in the season. Since she hadn’t been in the show before, I’d assumed that we would not see her at all. When Bronn mentioned that he was to marry her (when talking to Tyrion in Season 4) I was happy to hear her name, but didn’t suspect we’d see her.
When we did see her in Season 5, I was overjoyed: it was clear that Lollys had not been to the capital, and therefore had not been raped during the disastrous procession from the docks in Season 2.
Lollys was a sweet and childlike character, and had always had my sympathies (since she seemed to have no one else’s in the books) so for her story to be tweaked to removed that dark event from her story made me very happy.
I almost awarded the victory to Jeyne, even though she did not appear in Season 5. Her story was so significant to the events in the North, that it remained an element.
The show-runners could have shoe-horned Jeyne in (in which case she would totally be in the category of people who had a horrible time in Season 5) but Sansa was used as a Jeyne-analogue instead.
Before the season started, the trailers showed Sansa at Winterfell, a sharp departure from her where she would otherwise be if the show was going to be adapting her story faithfully. Sansa’s remaining published storyline has her in the Vale, while Littlefinger secures his position and is hatching plots and being creepy.
Seeing that she’d be at Winterfell in Season 5, and knowing that the next book-event at Winterfell would be the Gray Wedding, everyone familiar with A Song of Ice and Fire got an uneasy feeling.
I first had thought that the show would still produce Jeyne Poole, pretending to be Arya, and marry her off to Ramsay? We’ve seen the show introduce characters later than in the books (Jojen and Meera) and replace actors (Beric, the Mountain, Tommen, Myrcella.)
I rationalized Sansa being there as some kind of risky gamble by Littlefinger, having Sansa remain in disguise as Alayne to help coach Jeyne in pretending to be Arya.
(Yes, let’s all agree now that my rationalization was laughable at best. Done laughing at me? Let’s continue.)
Apparently, the show runners dismissed trying to introduce Jeyne, and settled on pulling Sansa out of the Vale and up to the North where she could be the bride in this politically motivated marriage that tied the Boltons, the new rulers of the North, with the legacy and legitimate authority of the Starks.
So this was a big plus for Jeyne Poole. Her nightmarish story made it into Season 5, but she didn’t have to.
Pretty close to winning. Relatively speaking. In the context of Season 5, when everyone’s having a bad time.
This article was the result of me really wanting to talk about Sansa Stark’s storyline being lifted from the books and used as a replacement for Jeyne Poole, one of the many secondary characters that I had emotional investment in when reading the books.
(I have issues with people dismissing Jeyne as part of the Sansa rape discussions, but I really don’t want to get into that here.)
Having Sansa raped by Ramsay was very hard to handle, and I tried to prepare for it when it became clear that Littlefinger was taking Sansa to Winterfell to marry her off to the Boltons. I pretty much knew what was going to happen.
But when trying to write my Sansa article, no matter how I tried, it either sounded so relentlessly negative or so weirdly confusing when I was trying to talk about the meta-discussion that surrounded the episode with the Gray Wedding, I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to properly approach things.
I still don’t think I’m able to do a good job with that. I’ve rewritten the above paragraph a dozen times. Anyway…
So I opted to talk positively about two female characters who thankfully avoided being raped on Game of Thrones. That’s not really high praise for the show, which isn’t really my intent on the topic of Sansa.
And I don’t think anyone else has been lauding Jeyne or Lollys recently, so at least this post will be unique.
My next post will be about Theon, so I’ll get another chance to talk about Sansa, since she not only replaced Jeyne in Theon’s storyline, she sort of replaced other characters that the show omitted as well. (I won’t being go deeply into specifics, people should read the books.)
(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)
Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.)
I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text. So there.
If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved