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If you’ve ever read The Lord of the Rings, then you know that villains can take many shapes and forms. Now, I have to emphasize the word read because there’s a certain plot line that was done in J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy of novels that was not seen in the cinematic adaptation.
It’s called “The Scouring of the Shire” and it has to do with the final stretch of The Return of the King, which sees the hobbits returning to The Shire after defeating Sauron, only to find that Saruman and Grima Wormtongue have enslaved all of Hobbiton in their absence. It turns out that crushing Saruman’s grand ambitions turned him bitter, and, as such, he took revenge not to “win” so to speak, but out of pure spite.
So what does this have to do with Game of Thrones? Well, as you might know, literally all modern fantasy bears the fingerprints of Tolkien’s masterpiece, but also, we have an intriguing analog for Saruman in Cersei Lannister.
Both were reasonable people until they thought that they had to do what was necessary to preserve their own way of life, and their survival. Saruman looked into the Palantir and saw darkness and doom, while Cersei met with a fortune-teller who foretold her many triumphant successes and painful failures to come. Each reacted accordingly.
Saruman chose to ally himself with the enemy, regardless of the cost, while Cersei seems to be doing the same, if the recent season 7 finale of Game of Thrones is any indication. Though the worst ruler ever is just getting started, we’re already seeing how dangerous it can be to have a spiteful, delusional lunatic in power.
There have been a lot of memorable villains on HBO’s medieval fantasy drama, but few have been as steadfast as Cersei Lannister. While some characters like Joffrey Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, Ramsey Bolton, and Petyr Baelish have been killed off in glorious fashion, others like Theon Greyjoy, Jaime Lannister, Melisandre, and The Hound have instead revealed themselves to be more complex and likable than we ever imagined, in spite of their terrible misdeeds.
And then there’s Cersei. Yes, we’ve come to understand her, and even relate to her to a certain extent, yet we cannot forgive her for anything anymore. As if blowing up the Sept of Baelor wasn’t enough to extricate her from our empathy, she has now made a deliberately false agreement with Daenarys Targaryen to not only cease her side of the conflict, but to aid the army in their battle with the coming undead legions.
Turns out she’s sending everyone’s new favorite piece of Westerosi shit, Euron Greyjoy, to bring back a legion of Essos’ Golden Company, 20,000 strong. So what are we to make of this, aside from the declaration that Cersei is literally the fucking worst?
Well, with 6 episodes remaining, and the battle with the Night King about to kick into high gear, there’s actually another way this might go. Picture this for a moment, if you will: Jon and Dany throw everything they have at the coming legions, just barely scraping out a victory by the skin of their teeth. They then return home, exhausted, with their armies in shambles, to find Cersei’s Golden Company waiting for them.
Holy shit right? But it really could happen. I know we’ve been seeing a lot of wacky time mechanics on Game of Thrones lately, but it’s hard to imagine the Golden Company arriving any time before episode 3 of the final 6 remaining hours. Is it really so hard to imagine that the final conflict of the show could be between humans, as so much of the backstabbing and double-dealing has consistently been in George R. R. Martin’s saga?
Cersei truly is damned at this point, with even her brother/lover Jaime having abandoned her side. Will Cersei, pregnant, mad and in the only seat that matters truly stoop so low as to go to war with the only people who cared enough to save Westeros? I think we all know the answer to that question.
Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he’s still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there’s hope for him, there’s hope for everyone. He’s the managing Games editor for Goomba Stomp, and the host of the Fire Keepers podcast.
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