Westrosi Theater: Truths, Lies, and Consequences

9:38 PM

I am particularly fond of the Game of Thrones episodes in which we are treated to parody pieces of theater that depict recent Westrosi history. This episode is particularly interesting in that it serves as a twisted source of information for Arya Stark.


Arya is finally afforded another chance to serve the Many Faced God when Jaqen H'ghar sends her on a mission to assassinate a theater actress, Lady Crane. Of course, this assignment, the audience quickly realizes is more of a test. The play that is currently showing is one that portrays Arya's deceased father as an imbecile and presents Sansa as nothing more than an object that the Lannister ilk use for their own political (and personal) games. Arya's emotional reactions to these portrayls leave the TV audience begging the question, "Has Arya actually transcended? Is she really NO ONE?" Methinks there may be a bit more Arya Stark frolicking about in that brain of hers.


This street theater performance is clearly a narrative device to shock Arya's system, to remind her of her old values, the person she once was, and from where she comes. However, Arya has been decidedly absent from being "in the know" regarding political activities and scandals for the past several years. Past the experience of re-living her father's decapitation via parodic performance, the following information she receives from the play is essentially new to her (e.g. Sansa and Tyrion).


Although Arya seems to be incredibly understanding of the "fun" of the parody at the beginning of the scene, the falsehoods begin to affect her as they clearly cause dissonance when portraying her father as less of an honorable man and more of an idiot. Although historical plays are often both exaggerations of events and means of flattery towards those in power - in this case, the Lannisters, we as audience members of the show must understand how this skewed portrayal of events might affect Arya. Arya is often beholden to her reactions to events and this scene seems to suggest that she has not completely allowed herself to see the scenario with complexity. She clearly understands the falsehood of the beginning of the play but has no frame of reference for the rest. As a result she may take more truth from the scene than she should.

So the question becomes, how will this all play out? If Arya, as I suggest above, views the play as containing more truth than is warranted, there is a possibility that she now has a considerable bone to pick with Tyrion. Arya is obviously not predisposed toward erring on the side of trust - nor does history indicate that she should - when it comes to the Lannisters. However, in a bit of dramatic irony, we the audience know just how kind Tyrion was to Sansa, a truth that Arya will be unlikely to seek out on her own. Arya may end up with an unwarranted sense of anger towards Tyrion. We also know that Arya's anger tends to result in death (or at least the promise of it). Will Tyrion be a name that Arya secretly adds to her list?


I have been under the impression for some time that Arya's time in Bravvos will come to an end at some point. Either she will be released by Jaqen H'gar or she will go MIA upon completing her training so that she can pursue her own interests. If this comes to be, Tyrion is not really all that far from her as they are both currently in Essos. Geography suggests a showdown between these characters is definitely possible.

Here's to hoping that Arya's seemingly negative reaction to the play will not result in the death of the only likable Lannister and that we as viewers learn a lesson not to take historical plays (or other pieces of historical extertainment) at face value. Even Shakespeare was known to elaborate a bit when it came to portraying certain historical figures in ways that would appease the powers that be. Clearly truths and lies can comfortably co-exist and if we do not do our due diligence to seek truth from several angles, someone may suffer the consequences.
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3 comments

  1. I stated over on Chownskeep that I did not like this scene, but your analysis of it made it more interesting. I do hope that since everything in the play about Ned was exaggerated or incorrect, Arya will see through the other characterizations as well and not be quick to make judgments about Tyrion.

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  2. That's a more interesting way to look at the play--as prefiguring a confrontation with Tyrion, but I am not so sure that's what's on the table at the moment. I was struck by the fact that Cersei was always on Arya's kill list. So now she's being sent to kill a representation of Cersei rather than the real thing? What is Jacqen up to? He was very cryptic about why this person was to be killed. I sense some existential lesson he has cooked up for her on the horizon. I am still wondering why the Joffrey actor had to wave his penis in our screen space.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's a more interesting way to look at the play--as prefiguring a confrontation with Tyrion, but I am not so sure that's what's on the table at the moment. I was struck by the fact that Cersei was always on Arya's kill list. So now she's being sent to kill a representation of Cersei rather than the real thing? What is Jacqen up to? He was very cryptic about why this person was to be killed. I sense some existential lesson he has cooked up for her on the horizon. I am still wondering why the Joffrey actor had to wave his penis in our screen space.

    ReplyDelete

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