Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stannis Baratheon: The Truly Just King

We return to our look at the potential rulers of Westeros, shining a light on the eldest and dourest Baratheon, Stannis.  Stannis is no one’s favorite or least favorite contender for the throne, and we’re easily bored, so we decided to spice up this debate with a little more profanity and a bit less in the way of actual points. In the words of Donal Noye, “Stannis is pure iron, black and hard and strong, yes, but brittle, the way iron gets. He’ll break before he bends.” Don’t we know it. So enjoy our take on this crusty old piece of work:

As Stannis himself can’t stop saying, he is the lawful heir to the throne. He feels that it is his duty to take the throne since his brother’s death, despite the fact that he doesn’t seem particularly excited about ruling and nor does anyone else. Be that as it may, he is the oldest Baratheon brother, and since Robert has no legal and legitimate heirs, he’s next in line. Not impressed with the Baratheon claim to the throne? We’re not really either, but if you’re into following the law and such, technically Stannis is your man (and no one loves and respects technicality more than he). I mean he chopped the goddamn Onion Knight’s fingers off after he saved his goddamn life. What a dick. A rock hard dick. I really hope someone googles that phrase and ends up here, what a disappointment that would be for them. Moving on!

Almost as obsessed with duty as Ned, Stannis is definitely a proponent of justice rather than mercy, which might not be such a bad thing with a heavily foreshadowed harsh winter about to descend onto Westeros. Not one of the knights of summer, Stannis isn’t fun or charming, or even a little bit charismatic, but none of those things are really necessary to get a suffering people through a season during which many of them will likely starve to death. He’s definitely not going to be throwing fun parties to arouse the resentment of the peasantry, and you can forget about wenching or splurging. His Master of Coin is going to have it pretty fuckin easy street, and the smallfolk wouldn’t be too jealous seeing his dinner table.

Sure, that makes him pretty boring, but the man is rational to a fault, and he could definitely RATION the shit out of the food that may or may not be left after the war (suck it, I love puns). His wife and daughter aren’t going to win any hearts between them, but apparently Melisandre is quite a looker (if a terrifying bitch from the heart of hell). Hopefully she will stop burning people alive once Stannis is king, although honestly they’re probably going to run out of fuel and it’s not the worst alternative to start burning criminals to heat the castle. I’m not terribly worried about the fact that she’s into the batshit Lord of Light religion, because there are always going to be fanatics and I’m pretty indifferent about which religion they’re focusing their fanaticism on.

At the end of the day, while nobody in their right mind likes Stannis, he’s not the worst option, by far. The dude is stern as fuck, for better or for worse, but mostly for better with these serious snow storms about to settle on the country. My best support for Stannis is basically that of a Jewish mother whose thirty year old son is finally marrying “eh, why  not? Could be worse, we just need to get this deal sealed.” He doesn’t really light a fire under me, ha. ha. ha.



Here’s the thing, I know that we’re dealing with a monarchy here and that the will of the people has little to no value here, but Stannis Baratheon is just about the last person anybody wants to see sit upon the Iron Throne.  Even loose-screw tween Joffrey and his family have more backers than perma-grumpus Stannis.  During the initial War of the Five Kings, Stannis couldn’t even get his own bannerman to back his admittedly lawful claim.  The majority of them (along with the house of his wife and queen) supported the affable Renly.  Of course, Renly’s supporters were later forced to choose between Stannis and Joffrey, after Stannis HAD HIS OWN BROTHER KILLED BY A MOTHERFUCKING SHADOW ASSASSIN BABY (in case you had forgotten that truly horrifying experience).

Stannis has exactly two supporters.  The first being the Red Priestess, Melisandre (whom I’ll get to in a moment) and the second being Davos Seaworth, who is one hundred percent loyal to Stannis and his cause.  This is fueled by his firm belief in Stannis being a completely just man, which I can only attribute to Davos being either a masochistic submissive bottom or a tragic victim of battered person syndrome.  A reminder of the justice of Stannis: Davos smuggles food into Storm’s End while it was under siege during Robert’s Rebellion, arguably saving the lives of Stannis and its other inhabitants.  Stannis thanks him by knighting him... and cutting off the tips of four fingers for his years of work as a smuggler.  

This twisted sense of compensation is a perfect example of one of his most severe and damning attributes: his refusal to accept, acknowledge, or even see the numerous shades of gray between the unforgiving black and white categories of his world.  There is no overlap, negotiations, or compromises for Stannis.  Stannis is always keeping score, but it is on an action by action basis.  You do not have a total points tally, and no amount of good in the present or future can erase the punishment you have coming for your past wrongdoings.  Stannis Baratheon would give you a reward for killing Joffrey, but would then promptly behead for committing regicide.  You know what kind of logic would be completely fucking terrible for ruling the entire realm?  That.

Finally, I shall return to his primary patron, the actual source of the rest of his allies: the Red Menace (not to be confused with the international communist conspiracy [save it for Dating Freedom Lovers]), Melisandre.  Deranged religious zealot Melisandre is convinced that Stannis is the reborn hero Azor Ahai (he’s not) and burning anybody foolish enough to get in her path, including, but not limited to, babies.  After convincing Selyse that she’s the real deal, she wiggles her way into Stannis’s extremely small inner circle and becomes the puppetmistress plotting out almost all of Stannis’s future moves, based mostly upon what she sees in her “prophetic” fire visions (we later learn that they are not as solid as she would have us believe).  

Is this the absolute worst possibility for future king?  No.  However, as a lasting solution for everything besides surviving the upcoming winter and attack from the Others?

Keep it.



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