Imposter Syndrome and Leaps of Faith: Westros and Academia

9:37 PM

Proceed with caution. Major spoilers ahead!

I cannot speak on behalf of all academics but sometimes I feel like my scholarly career is a dubious combination of imposter syndrome and leaps of faith. I am sure that this paradigm is not exclusive to those in academia, however. In fact, I would almost put money on the idea that this experience affects many merely as a result of growing older and taking on more and far greater responsibilities. That being said, these leaps of faith are often the means by which people are able to understand their strengths and weaknesses; they raise you up or tear you down. At least that seems to be how it works for me.

I find that Season six, Episode two of Game of Thrones appears to be applying this idea of uncertainty and leaps of faith to the story arcs of several characters through "go big or go home" moments that will either move them forward in the game or ultimately cause their fall. I would like to chat about two of these instances from this week's episode as, I believe, they will have vast implications on the greater narrative as it moves forward.

Tyrion is often presented as confident in his political know-how. As he professes in this episode "That's what I do: I drink and I know things." I am sure many of my colleagues would reply, "Touche, Tyrion... tou-freaking-che."

However, with Daenerys still missing, the people of Meereen becoming increasingly more difficult to control (i.e. the masters have re-taken the city), and both Rhaegal and Viserion, Dany's captive Dragons, refusing to eat in their mother's absence, Tyrion is practically at his wit's end. Tyrion understands that both of these situations are dire. Through both the lack of control of the Meereenese people and the potential loss of her dragons, Dany's rule is placed in a particularly precarious situation. In Dany's absence, Tyrion must find a way to reassert control and although he has no reason to believe that he holds any sway over the behavior of Dany's dragons, he takes a leap of faith by unchaining them in the hopes that this action will assist in solving his biggest problems. Of course, we have no way of knowing at this point how this act will pay off for Tyrion,  but the potential pay-off is huge. The presence of the Dragons has the potential for inspiring a renewed sense of fear (and thus loyalty) among the people and will, hopefully, also ensure the health of the dragons (in that they will begin to feed again). Tyrion, of course, is completely aware of the danger he put himself in to appeal to the Dragons and unchain them, leading him to speak one of his most memorable lines of the night to Viserys:

As an additional small point to make regarding the chance that Tyrion takes with the dragons, they react to him in a similar way as they do Daenerys. There are fan theories that suggest Tyrion is actually a Targaryen. Are the Dragon's reactions a hint at Tyrion's true parentage?

This episode also presented a fairly large leap of faith on the part of Ser Davos. It is no secret to those who have been loyal viewers for the past several seasons (or those who have read the books) that Davos has been one of Melisandre's biggest skeptics. However, he has come around in the last season or so to at least recognize that Melisandre has some kind of power. I am unconvinced that he sees her power as rooted in "good" but he certainly has come to understand that she has abilities to make things happen. He asks her in this episode to try her hand at resurrecting Jon Snow. For Melisandre, this request comes in a time where she is clearly experiencing a crisis of faith (hello imposter syndrome!). She was incorrect in thinking that Stannis was Azor Ahai and was thrown off guard when Jon died, for she saw him in the flames fighting at the wall (clearly he would not be able to do that if he were dead). Melisandre, even though she admits she has never performed a resurrection, makes an attempt at the ritual. The end of the episode clearly demonstrates that her magic has served the purpose Davos was hoping it would, but we have yet to know how this leap of faith, on behalf of both Melisandre and Davos, will impact the remainder of the season.

I am quite interested in seeing how these leaps of faith play out in the future episodes. Will Tyrion's release of the Dragons allow him to retake power in Meereen? Will Jon Snow's return mean a return of "business as usual" at the wall?...or will all of these leaps of faith mean that death and/or destruction will befall those who took them? I suppose we loyal viewers will have to wait and see. In the meantime, however, I will just go ahead and convince myself that my life in academia is not so different from the lives of the Westrosi after all.

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  1. That's an intriguing perspective. I think that Davos does make a kind of leap of faith when he risks his life to try to get Melisandre to perform a black magic feat and revive Jon Snow. But where is his moment of self-doubt. We certainly see one with Melisandre, but at what moment did Davos pause and say: "I served this guy Stannis for years, he cut my fingers off, my sons died for him, what the hell was I thinking?" Instead he blithely jumps to the let's-revive-Jon-Snow camp. Maybe it was so exciting we weren't supposed to think about these things?

  2. Tyrion has really stepped up and shown us what he can do. He have been able to help the dragons as you pointed out. It shows Tyrion is willing to take the necessary leaps and deal with the consequences. I did like his little statement to Varys about punching him in the face if he tries that again. I am interested to see what he does with Meereen knowing that the rest of Slaver's Bay have returned to their masters. I am excited to see what goes on next week.

  3. I might argue that Tommen took a leap of faith asking for help from Cersei. With Margaery around he wasn't very keen on having her influence around because I think he had a very objective mind. All of this chaos has seemed to make him stubborn and vengeful like his mother.

  4. I thought it must have been hard for Davos to turn to Melisandre. He has seen her do some crazy things, but he did not like them. I imagine he had to suck it up a bit, put away his pride, and ask her for help. I'm more curious about how he will feel toward her afterward...


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