Friday, April 12, 2013

Joffrey Baratheon: The King on the Iron Throne

As you can probably tell by now, we’re pretty deep into some popular culture over here. We both have great taste in some areas, and we both have favorites we would label “guilty pleasures” if we were capable of feeling guilty (I’m looking at you, Bunheads/Real Housewives of Everything). Like the rest of the world, we have been sucked into Game of Thrones for the last year or so. Anya the voracious reader has read the first four books for the second time, and whipped through the fifth, which makes her supremely annoying in any discussion on the topic. Paul is about to join her, putting us two and a half books ahead of the HBO show.

Luckily for you, instead of publishing our long winded debates on Catelyn Stark vs. Cersei Lannister, Jon Snow’s true parentage, or How Bitchy Margaery Tyrell Really Is, we have decided on a five part series that will not ruin anything for those watching the show. It’s the War of Five Kings, people, and we’re getting into it. We did a draft style pick (we think? We know nothing of drafts) and each took a side on the five contenders for the Iron Throne. Read on for our nuanced opinions:


Okay, let’s give this a shot.  Since the death of Robert, Westeros has been enveloped in conflict.  The realm’s best chance at surviving the upcoming struggles, that will make the current wars pale in comparison, is for the rebelling kings and queen to leave Joffrey Baratheon alone (at least until next spring).  Regardless of his character flaws, Joffrey is currently ruling from the Iron Throne.  Even if we are to admit that there are others who have a superior claim to the throne or would be better suited to sit upon it, none of those options are possible without a bloody overthrow of the present monarch.

Westeros was just subjected to the overthrow if the previous ruling dynasty fifteen years ago.  Let’s give the realm a break, shall we?  Let’s pretend that Stannis comes back from his crippling defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater and takes control of the throne.  Is that going to end the fighting with the Starks, Greyjoys, unseated Lannisters, or prevent an invasion from the Targaryen mustering strength across the sea?  No.  How many more rebellions can Westeros withstand before any remaining sense of order is completely dissolved?  Not many, especially considering what’s to come.

Fighting between the Lannisters and Starks have caused the fertile Riverlands to have been torched.  As the Starks are always reminding us, “Winter is coming.”  Westeros is currently entering the autumn before a winter that could last for a decade.  Instead of making sure that every granary is well-stocked, entire towns are being ransacked by lions, wolves, krakens, and unaffiliated raiders.  Winterfell itself has fallen, leaving the Western Casterly Rock untouched along with the lush southern lands of the Tyrells, who are now allied with the Lannisters through the upcoming nuptials of Joffrey and Margaery.

Along with possible mass starvation, the Night’s Watch (well, if the rangers ever make it back to the Wall) is now aware of a unified army of Wildlings that are gathering to march south, to claim better lands and to flee the even more terrifying army of supernatural White Walkers, also headed south.  The numbers of the Night’s Watch continue to dwindle, and the “Warden of the North” is neither in the north nor in possession of his fallen castle, where the Starks historically sat to guard to realm..  Not looking so good.

So what everyone should really be doing right now is putting aside their own personal quests for revenge and glory and dealing with the enemies that threaten all of them.  Even if Robb, Stannis, some Greyjoy fuck, or Daenerys were to successfully gain control of King’s Landing, the cost would be much too high.  For Westeros to endure, Joffrey, with his food, numbers, money, and navy needs to rule a united land to victory.  

For those of you who refuse to move beyond Joffrey’s slight bouts of psychosis, let’s not ignore the fact that big papa lion Tywin is now back in the capital to return to his position as the King’s Hand.  Tywin scares the shit out of literally everyone he meets and if anyone is capable of keeping Joffrey in line and turning him into a somewhat decent king, it’s him.



Anyone who has read or watched Game of Thrones knows that Joffrey has exactly zero of the qualities requisite in a successful monarch. Even if his claim were legitimate, we’d be calling for another Kingslayer before a year was out, because this boy is fucking insane. Called “Aerys the Third” by his own uncle (his actual uncle, not his father who is also his uncle), Joffrey has proven time and time again that is he incapable of rational thought or foresight. But let’s take it from the top.

First of all, Joffrey isn’t even Robert Baratheon’s son. He can’t inherit the throne from his father, because his actual father has nothing a pretty damn soiled white cloak to hang on to (sorry, Jaime). Enough people know the truth about this for it to be dangerous to his hold on the throne, and once rumors reach the smallfolk, all bets are off. Commoners are never excited to be starving to death in order to pay for tournaments and celebrations for the monarchy, especially once they start hearing whisperings of illegitimacy and incest. Winter IS coming, and Joffrey is not the king that is going to get Westeros through it with his responsible policies and rationing. He’s known to be a loose cannon, which makes cooperation with other powerful houses challenging at best. He has none of Robert’s strength and charisma, and even if all the gold in Casterly Rock could pay for food to keep everyone from starving, he would be spending it on frivolous bullshit. Think he’s going to help the Night’s Watch? Think again.

His father only ruled for about fifteen years after stealing the throne, so even if Joffrey WAS The Usurper’s son, many would still question his claim. It’s not like they were able to establish a dynasty. Or prosperity. Or peace. If your claim to kingly fame is “I don’t burn people alive, so I suck less than the last guy”, I’m not sure you automatically deserve to determine succession. Even all of that might be forgiven if Joffrey weren’t such a downright terrible person.

From the very beginning Joffrey has been a monster. At first it was slightly amusing to watch him posture in front of Sansa and then get his ass kicked by Arya. “What a douche,” we all thought, “what a dumb, spoiled brat.” and we moved on. Then we watched him whine and lie and twist things until Lady was killed over it. Not so fucking funny anymore.  Think about every horrible, spoiled brat you’ve ever known. They’re annoying, they might drive you crazy, but at the end of the day you’re hoping they’ll get their comeuppance. That their parents money will run out, or the drugs with start fucking up their teeth, or their ‘friends’ will get tired of them and they will be all alone to think about what they did and reform or die.

Now imagine that brat with unlimited power, money, and people either fawning over them, or too terrified not to fawn over them. Picture them with mercenaries and yes men, and all of the trappings of this old school monarchy. Do you think they would mend their ways and become a capable leader of the county? And they probably don’t even have the vicious cruel streak the Joffrey is famous for!  You watched him directly disobey his mother, who is pretty terrifying herself. I’m not so sure Tywin can really lay the smackdown. We all saw him behead Ned, could Tywin have stopped that? I have my doubts.

So we have an illegitimate heir who has no redeeming qualities to lure us into ignoring his questionable everything. He beats his fiancee, he murdered a direwolf, and he hates books. Case motherfucking closed.



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