If you play the Recreation of Thrones, you win or you die.
Yes, Cersei. We all know.
In the season seven finale of Recreation of Thrones, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” Cersei Lannister opted to take actions benefiting herself by not partaking with a recreation carrying extra critical stakes and extra critical dangers. In “The Long Night,” the North, that includes a coalition of Home Stark and Home Targaryen forces, squared off with out Lannister help towards a nightmare horde of wights to realize a Pyrrhic victory (look it up).
Though the North gained and ended the existential menace that promised doom to the whole continent, the Lannister queen is now positioned strongly for the endgame, together with her remaining Lannister common forces supplemented by Euron’s Iron Fleet and the 20,000 robust sellsword army, the Golden Firm. However no elephants.
Cersei: I needed these elephants.
Having the political momentum shift back in the direction of Cersei is not an atypical event. It happened at the end of season six when Cersei’s enemies in the Religion Militant (amongst others) have been destroyed by her fortuitous employment of wildfire, and her alliance with the King of the Iron Islands and his Iron Fleet stored Daenerys Targaryen from with the ability to stampede over Cersei when the Targaryen arrived in drive the following season.
But Queen Cersei shouldn’t get too cocky or be too snug about the North’s diminished troop power and relative weak spot in regards to her place on the digital cyvasse enjoying board.
As a result of issues won’t work out as she expects.
THE LONE WOLF DIES BUT THE PACK SURVIVES
There are lots of unknowns in regards to what number of troops survived the battle of Winterfell – beginning with how much of the preventing forces of the North have been physically at the fort’s location when the Long Night time battle was fought. Only the northernmost homes – Mormont, Umber, Karstark, and Glover – have been accounted for throughout the conlict. Mormonts, Karstarks, and Umbers fought in the battle (with the Umbers preventing for the other aspect) and the Glovers of Deepwood Motte have been absent – having sent a observe asserting that they had a scheduling conflict and perhaps they might make it subsequent time.
The opposite named houses – Cerwyn, Hornwood, and Manderly – didn’t seem to be present. In the season premiere, Sansa stated that, as soon as they’d heard about the Wall, she “called all [their] banners to retreat to Winterfell,” however it’d make sense to prioritize the populations most at risk, those nearest the Wall, which is exactly what we saw then with the Umbers and Karstarks (uh, with a 50% success fee.)
Subsequently the North may nonetheless have some preventing assets south of Winterfell to leverage if hostilities towards the south will proceed. In principle, this could embrace the Glovers, who could also be the target of some scorn by the survivors of the battle. Lord Robett must work arduous to redeem his popularity.
Walder Frey: Get used to being referred to as the “late” Robett Glover.
Robett Glover: Aren’t you lifeless?
Walder Frey: Perhaps Arya Stark killed my twin brother, Argus. Plot twist!
Alas, it doesn’t appear as if Tim McInnerny is back to play the part of Robett this season.
But even if the northmen can cobble collectively one thing like an army, the forces that Daenerys introduced together with her from Essos didn’t fare nicely throughout the battle.
The Dothraki have been primarily eliminated during the preliminary rush towards the wights. Have been they destroyed to a person? No. We saw a small number operating back on foot to Winterfell with Ser Jorah, and certain much more survived. However there’s no mighty horde anymore.
A much bigger question can be what number of Unsullied survived.
When the battle started in earnest, most of the Unsullied have been arrayed just past the yet-to-be-lit hearth trench. Their phalanxes coated the retreat of the much less disciplined, non-professional northern forces. By the time the trenches have been ablaze, the Unsullied had been overrun and wights had massed up along the flaming perimeter.
The Unsullied are hardy. Some might have been capable of retreat. Others may need shaped up small porcupine-like squares and just dug in, however that doesn’t appear proper, with Daenerys ending up outdoors the trench and on foot, with only Ser Jorah to defend her; the Unsullied wouldn’t have sat out their queen being in danger. So, speculation on any however a handful of Unsullied surviving the battle must be approached with skepticism.
With the loss of her private forces, elite mild cavalry and infantry, Daenerys took the brunt of the losses. Losses which extended beyond her army personnel.
Daenerys had already lost Viserion to the Night time King. Then, her trusted advisor and queensguard Ser Jorah Mormont perished defending her. And, with the revelation that her lover Jon Snow is also a Targaryen, her claim to the Iron Throne is in the air. The fact that Jon is, as Daenerys said, “the last male heir”, is only considerably related. Though Westerosi society had favored males over females with stronger claims in occasions past, Jon has a stronger declare without it being a gendered situation: as Rhaegar Targaryen’s son, Jon comes earlier than Rhaegar’s younger siblings in a standard line of succession.
Dany now finds herself unlikely to have the army forces to problem Cersei’s Golden Firm. Her dragons are large weapons of mass destruction, but they’re not invulnerable. And as the Targaryens found in making an attempt and failing to pacify Dorne – to regulate a region requires people and not just the menace of dragons.
To make her transfer, Dany’s going to wish the help of the war-weary North.
Ser Davos Seaworth: The northmen are loyal to Jon Snow. To not her. They don’t know her. The Free People don’t know her. I’ve been up right here awhile and I’m telling ya, they’re as cussed as goats. If you need their loyalty, you must earn it.
The day earlier than the battle, Sansa Stark requested Daenerys what would happen after the Military of the Lifeless have been defeated. Dany was targeted on retaking the Iron Throne, but Sansa’s position was targeted on sustaining northern independence. Unfortunately, these negotiations went unresolved as Theon Greyjoy’s arrival interrupted the two leaders, and the opportunity for the resumption of diplomacy never returned.
Now the question of northern independence seems slightly simple. Without her personal forces, Dany should be more open to compromise: it’s higher to surrender one thing to realize something somewhat than refuse to compromise and find yourself with nothing. She won’t even need to compromise much, since Dany should have earned some respect from the northerners by actually putting her forces on the line for them.
In search of compromise would set Daenerys aside from Cersei Lannister, who is enjoying a winner-take-all zero sum recreation.
GAME THEORY OF THRONES
Last season, Cersei was provided a truce largely so Daenerys might comfortably withdraw from her southern marketing campaign to deal with the drawback of one hundred thousand wights (at the very least one hundred thousand) bent on demise and destruction.
At the time, Cersei went past accepting a truce; she agreed to send troops to help the effort. She solely requested that she must be remembered for offering to assist without expecting any guarantees or assurances of goodwill afterwards.
As Ser Jaime reported to the Winterfell courtroom after defecting from Cersei’s service and volunteering as a one-man Brienne-knighting army, the Lannister host was not coming north. Queen Cersei was going to retake any areas that had sworn themselves to Daenerys, and she or he had strengthened management of the kingdoms with sellswords.
When it came to the supernatural menace rolling down from the lands beyond the Wall, Cersei was much less interested in the duty to protect and serve the public, however somewhat the opportunity it offered her. This is somewhat of an echo to season two, when Tyrion remarked that it was luck for the Lannisters that the two enemy Baratheons seemed to hate each other greater than their mutual foes in King’s Landing.
Cersei’s rationale to her subject marshall Ser Jaime said that whomever gained in the north, her Golden Company would have the ability to cope with.
Daenerys might have made an identical determination.
Jon: We northmen gained’t bow to you, but it might be awesome should you might come to the North together with your dragons and guys, and help battle a zillion zombies.
Dany: Tempting. But I’m busy now. And that seems an terrible lengthy approach to journey. How about I stay in the south and crush Cersei, whose army is sadly lacking in sellswords and elephants, and also you plucky lads take the first crack at the strolling lifeless? Should you lose, the zombies will come south to me and my dragons anyway. They will make that exhausting trip. And the climate will probably be warmer as nicely.
But Dany didn’t make that call.
Cersei appears to have fans observing the present and stating how sensible she is for opting out of the conflict towards the lifeless.
Her determination to remain out of the northern conflict does have a specific amount of rational thought to it. Dany and Cersei each weighing their options to participate or not brings to thoughts Recreation Concept economics and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
(I am not an economist, so I promise to not make this an extended, detailed part.)
Merely put, imagine two prisoners in separate cells. The police have some evidence towards every one for a lesser cost, and suspect without evidence that every of the prisoners is guilty of some more-serious crime. Every prisoner can independently take one in every of two actions: both keep silent and do not cooperate with the police; or cooperate with the police and inform on the other prisoner, in change for leniency.
If both stay silent, both spend a while in jail since the police have evidence of lesser fees and there is no leniency. If both inform on the other, each will get jail time for the critical charge, nevertheless it is lowered because of the cooperation. If just one cooperates and the different stays silent, the informant goes free and the uncooperative will get jail time for the critical cost and no leniency.
If we think about the prisoner’s dilemma train in Recreation of Thrones phrases, each Dany and Cersei can commit forces to the North or not. With Daenerys committing forces and Cersei not doing so, she enjoys something like the advantage of the prisoner who informs on the different prisoner, the silent prisoner. She receives no downside in the state of affairs and Daenerys takes the full penalty.
In the prisoner’s dilemma, if one prisoner knew that the other would remain silent (as Cersei knew that Dany was going to go North to struggle wights) the rational choice is to take no losses and maximize a win.
Which is why Cersei is thought-about the winner in this state of affairs.
Except that the state of affairs in Westeros is not analogous to the prisoner’s dilemma, with its clean actions and penalties. The results of neither Dany nor Cersei aiding the North is the high probability that Winterfell falls and Bran is killed by the Night time King, with Arya unable to make her move because she was overwhelmed with wights earlier than she could possibly be inspired by Melisandre to attempt for the Night time King.
Someone wanted to help the North. And had Dany and Jon’s forces failed in their try and sluggish the Night time King down so Arya might kill him, it wouldn’t be just the Army of the Lifeless heading south to overrun the elephantless Golden Firm: they’d be joined by the Military of the Northern Lifeless. Wight Lyanna Mormont can be formidable.
Cersei: High quality. However it worked out. Extra wine. Strickland, you’re positive you didn’t convey some elephants? Disappointing. You’ll be able to redeem yourself by bringing me the Targaryen woman’s head along with Ned Stark’s bastard’s once they come knocking.
However it’s one thing to occupy a robust place; it’s another thing to take care of it.
When Sansa and Tyrion have been ready out the battle down in the assumedly protected crypts, Sansa thought-about that her marriage to Tyrion would not have labored out in the current state of affairs, based mostly on his divided loyalties between her, the Woman of Winterfell, and Daenerys, the Dragon Queen. Tyrion could be concealing divided loyalties, not necessarily between Dany and Sansa, however in regards to Dany and Cersei, or at the very least the concept of his Lannister household embodied in Cersei and her unborn youngster.
We didn’t witness the full extent of his meeting with Cersei. Tyrion might have made a secret deal or merely taken pity on his pregnant sister and fallen for her lies; so he’s “either a traitor or a fool,” as Daenerys put it. His divided loyalties should complicate the northern coalition’s operations in terms of dealing with toppling his sister.
But there’s a extra apparent participant to think about with divided loyalties. Euron Greyjoy.
Although it’s unfair to say that he has divided loyalties at all. He’s loyal only to himself.
Euron is presently offering Cersei together with her army supremacy: his fleet and the Golden Company he ferried to Cersei from Westeros. The Golden Company famously doesn’t break their contracts, but did Cersei take a look at the positive print on the Golden Company contract when the negotiations have been finalized by Euron in Essos choosing up the sellswords? Are the Golden Company in Cersei’s employ? Or the Greyjoy king’s?
Euron advised Cersei that his life’s dream is to marry a lovely queen. Cersei assumed he meant her, but there’s another queen on the scene, younger and arguably more beautful.
Maggie the Frog: This sounds familiar… I’m calling my lawyer!
With Daenerys armyless and dealing with northern allies who may be uninterested in preventing, if Euron would supply Dany the Golden Firm and the Iron Throne as a wedding present, she’d should decide on how badly she needed that uncomfortable chair.
WHAT IS THIS SHOW ABOUT ANYWAY
With the defeat of the Night time King, there was some backlash about how the present had modified: it had once been a political drama with some mild magic, then with Hardhome it had unexpectedly (to some) became a zombie horror present; and now it had reversed course to turn into a political drama again, with Cersei as its “big bad.”
But the show hasn’t changed. The priorities in dealing with the points have.
In the very first episode of Recreation of Thrones, these parts stood out:
- Undead monsters north of the Wall.
- Exiled royals dreaming of reclaiming their rightful seat of power.
- The thriller of Ned Stark’s murdered mentor.
- A northern lord getting into into dangerous politics.
- Conflict between two nobles houses, as an incestuous knight defenestrates a toddler.
Though all of those parts won’t be equally essential, all of them have been essential.
Jon Arryn’s dying was avenged last season and the undead menace has been neutralized in the first half of this season, but the political storylines stay: Daenerys has returned to Westeros with a military to pursue her dream of sporting a crown; Jon Snow is a northern lord with a future that might be in opposition to Daenerys’s dream; and, although Jaime Lannister has acquired some sort of an absolution from the Starks, his sister has not.
The show has been about extra things than politics, but those parts have been handled. Just as Arya didn’t cease when she killed the first individual on her listing, the show isn’t going to stop resolving its issues. It’s time to maneuver on the ultimate gadgets on the show’s record.
The specter of the White Walkers was not a distraction, it was a Life-threatening complication that had to be addressed. It represented Winter in a really literal sense, but in addition in the sense laid out in Ned Stark’s speak with Arya all the means back in season one:
You have been born in the lengthy summer time; you’ve by no means recognized anything. However now winter is really coming. And in the winter, we should shield ourselves, take care of each other. —Ned Stark to Arya in Season 1 Episode three, “Lord Snow”
The squabbles represented by anyone’s want for the Throne have a time and a spot, but not throughout Winter. It was right for Dany to set her want apart so the Army of the Lifeless might be defeated. And mistaken for Cersei to not put aside her squabbling.
However Winter fell at Winterfell. And now there is a time for squabbles. And wolves.
For Cersei Lannister, Summer is coming.