Game of Thrones is back with its usual sex and violence motifs. But along with all that, we’ve been re-introduced to a lot of the fantastically complex and interesting female characters, so let’s take a look at their first steps in season 4.
Khaleesi is the first of the major female characters that makes her appearance in season 4. Dany, as you all know, derives much of her power with her connection to the dragons, a connection that goes beyond human speech, and thus she is introduced, shushing and calming the dragons with noises and actions. Yet, we do see her struggle to subdue and control her dragons as they grow restless, leaving us wondering – will she be able to maintain this level of power for long?
Interestingly, Khaleesi’s inability to control her dragons is portrayed in direct contrast to her ability to control men. Gracefully walking through the thousands of rows of her Unsullied, Dany uses language is purposefully playful ways in order to swiftly reprimand two of her soldiers for being late.
In stark contrast to Khalessi’s powerful position, Sansa is introduced as her usual vulnerable and helpless self. Sansa is paralyzed by grief (and her entire situation) and allows herself to succumb to this weakness even more so by not eating or sleeping and by walking alone in secluded areas. Frustratingly, Sansa seems to not have grown much of a backbone since our last encounter with her.
We find Arya fighting for freedom, as usual. Captive to the second largest man in Westeros, the Hound, she still finds the courage to ask for her own horse, and to casually insult him. She doesn’t remain an inactive captive for long, as she forces the Hound’s hand by running towards a tavern where the man who stole her sword and killed her friend is. Then, while in the tavern, Arya watches without fear as the Hound cuts a handful of men down. At her first chance, Arya grabs a sword and very carefully and very slowly savours killing two men. Arya is terrifying and incredible all at once, and equally so is her first appearances of season 4.
We don’t see much of Cersei in the first episode of season 4, but what we do see is quite interesting. Cersei’s feelings for Jamie have already changed, and the reason appears to be his inability to effectively provide for her everything that she wants (and that includes having two hands). Cersei’s demands are clearly becoming irrational, and quite probably, is a sign of things to come.
Margery doesn’t feature as prominently in the Game of Thrones, but I have to say, I’m extremely intrigued by her. Both her grandmother and her admire strong women and know how to play the system so that they can gain power without portraying too much of a threat as to draw suspicions. The balancing act that they play is both dangerous and alluring, depicting quite cleverly the difficult line that women in society have to thread.
Shae is seen briefly in two scenes, showing her conflict between wanting to protect Sansa-as-child whilst also being envious of Sansa-as-wife. Brienne appears equally as briefly, popping in to tell Margery the untarnished truth behind her brother’s death and to “bother” Jamie. Another strong woman who only gets a peep in episode one, but enough of a hint to lead us to believe that she will become more central, is Ygritte, John Snow’s fling from North of the Wall. Ygritte is seen being accused of being weak, as her claims that she can’t be sure if her arrows killed her lover are dismissed as lies.
All in all, there are some female characters that remain frustratingly passive, others that toe the line, and then some that completely smash the line into teeny tiny little pieces. It’s a complex and diverse group of women if there ever were any! And with that, I say welcome back Game of Thrones!