Tywin Lannister asked his cupbearer, a girl he didn’t know was Ayra Stark, what killed her stonemason father. She answered succinctly and with finality, “Loyalty.” Tywin understood, calling her a sharp little thing. We the fans understand, too--loyalty is a cause and a manner of death in GAME OF THRONES.

The following is my list of characters whom I desperately wish to survive, but I have no illusions they shall. Their loyalties will get them killed. So, if they must, at least may their deaths serve a purpose.

Ser Jorah Mormont hasn’t a hope in all the Seven Hells. Yes, greyscale can be cured. Shireen was proof of that, but Jorah’s not telling anybody he’s suffering from it. So, die he will. Will it be redemption or mere failure? He deserves better than becoming a stone man.

Jorah’s had a hard road--a wife for whom he’d do anything and did by devoling into a slaver, one of the most despicable creatures in Westerosi society. Exiled for that, he became a spy who fell in love with his assignment, giving full meaning to “the spy who loved me”. He earned Daenerys’s trust and respect, but he was afraid to trust her with the truth. That truth--his spying--destroyed their relationship. Exiled again, he became a slave to come back to her--twice in fact.

He earns the respect of Daario Nahaaris when he shows up in the fighting pits of Mereen, then earns Daario’s regard when he killed the son of a harpy who would’ve killed Daenerys if Jorah hadn’t speared him. Now, he’s off on his buddy adventure with Daario to rescue Daenerys from the Dothraki. Or is that going to be rescue the Dothraki from Drogon? To prove his love and loyalty, Jorah will die for Daenerys. It would make him a tragic hero, but give him an honorable death.

It might teach her a few lessons about love, devotion, and forgiveness. She might learn why people will follow her. That would be the best possible outcome to Jorah’s death.

There is no way Daenerys will not be moved by Jorah’s death. But Daario’s? He’s the bad boy with the good, private advice. He’s a charming rogue, but he can’t survive, either. He’ll buy it her service. So will he die with Jorah? or later? At whose hands? However he goes, it needs to be meaningful, if not noble. In the words of Salem cigarettes, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” 

I don’t want Grey Worm to die, but he’s a soldier, an Unsullied, so he probably will. Storming King’s Landing, anybody? Grey Worm’s relationship with Missandei is one of the best things about GoT. These two people prove that love goes far beyond sex. It’s about mutual concern and interests, respect, trust, and understanding. Missandei’s teaching Grey Worm the Common Tongue and his troubles communicating with it are metaphors for the joys and tears of communication between men and women. I want to see that survive.

By the way, what is it with GoT and the buddy adventure? There’ve been some damned odd ones in this series, none more so than Arya and the Hound. That was a demented Thelma and Louise subplot. But they aren’t the only odd couple. Tyrion and Bromn, then Varys, then Jorah. Jamie and Bronn. Jorah and Daario. The most straightforward, if gender-bent, is Brienne of Tarth and Pod. The knight-squire pairing is the most typical for medieval-style fantasy.

Brienne’s had a hard road, too, different from Ser Jorah’s, but just as painful. She has all the training of a knight, but none of the vows. All she wants to do is serve, but those whom she’s chosen have died. First, Renly, then Catelyn. She fails them, but not through much fault of her own. What can a KIngsguard do against blood magic? She almost loses Sansa because she learns what Ser Jamie Lannister pointed out—some things are more important than your vows, like killing Stannis.

(Jamie killed Aerys the Mad King. So what? What makes him different from Lady Olenna? One for the realm for very personal reasons. Jamie loved his father more than his king; Olenna, her granddaughter. They are case studies for the question--when is the immoral choice the right choice? Now, I don’t care if Ser Jamie dies to a purpose or not; he’s too tied to Cersei.)

Brienne’s a strict and honorable woman. She’s found Lady Sansa and become her sworn shield. Yay, she’s got someone decent to serve and has kept at least one part of her oath to Catelyn. Unfortunately, Brienne’s rather too much like Ned. I fear that she, too, will trip over her honor and die. If she must, then let it be for Sansa.

Podrick Payne’s a good egg. He’s thus far survived by association and conviviality, but he’s no real squire. He does want to be a knight, and Brienne’s a good one to teach him. Clearly, she’s done a few things because he sent a Bolton man to his death without falling off his horse. Brienne, however, gallops through where angels fear to tread, and Pod, loyal (oh, that word) squire will follow.

You’ve got good hearts, Brienne and Pod. They will get you killed.

Speaking of loyalty getting you killed, that’s probably going to be the fate of Tormund Giantsbane and Ser Kevan Lannister. Tormund will always fight for his people and that’s already taken him well outside his expectations and his comfort zone. As an outsider willing to risk all for the wildlings, Jon Snow also commands his loyalty. As for Ser Kevan, he will do his duty to House Lannister and to his brother’s children. It will get him killed.

Valar morghulis. A touch of two fingers to the head. Valar dohaeris—even if it achieves its fullest expression in death.

Copyright KG Whitehurst
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