Uday Mehta

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Westerosi What-Ifs

Welcome to Thrones month! In anticipation of the Season 7 finale on Sunday August 27, let’s explore the weirdness of Westeros with one piece (almost) every day! Spoilers through the episode "Beyond the Wall".

All Season 7 Coverage – Assume the Worst: A Catalog of Death | A Deviant Art: The Captain & The Spider | Drafting For Your Thrones Fantasy League | 66 Questions About Episode 6 | What Problem Can't Dragons Solve | Game of Thrones Has A Shock Value Problem | Thrones Theories: How Crazy Can We Get?

HBO / Courtesy

HBO / Courtesy

Under the umbrella of George R.R. Martin's sprawling universe, the plotlines and characters are so intricately woven that slicing one string strains every other strand some more. It's crucial that each arc holds a similar level of gravitas, since the show's strength is rooted in the nuance that each character has. So what if we changed some things? Just some teeny-weeny minor ones? Exactly how big of an effect would that really have?

What If: Pro-Gay Legislation Is Passed In Westeros

How we get here – If Ned Stark had told Robert the truth about his kids instead of confronting Cersei (read: if he hadn't been a dipshit), there would still have been a war. Robert would likely have made the expulsion of Cersei and the rest of the Lannisters his dying act, which probably pisses off Tywin Lannister enough to try and take the capital. Meanwhile, if it's revealed that Robert has passed, Stannis would probably want the throne too, and Ned could potentially call for backup from the north. It's possible that Margeary somehow ends up marrying Robb, but more likely, she marries the Stark kid already in the capital: Sansa! To get here, Ned as Lord Protector introduces the first pro-LGBT legislation in the country. Maybe this opens the door to Yara marrying Ellaria and forming a Martell-Greyjoy alliance. Maybe Ramsay and Theon have a more healthy relationship. Maybe Renly Baratheon's one vice is overlooked, and all of Stannis' men flock to him. Maybe Craster keeps all his sons and marries them to each other so we don't have White Walkers.

What If: Rickon Had Zig-Zagged

How we get here – Rickon Stark made a bad decision by choosing to run straight at Jon Snow, such that he gave Ramsay Bolton a clear line of sight to shoot him down. Had he made even the subtlest change in direction, he would have still been alive. As the male heir to Winterfell, he would likely have been left in charge instead of Sansa when Jon left to go make peace (and babies) with Dany. Sansa wouldn't have consequently undermined him, Littlefinger would be one move behind, and everyone would be happier. Yes, we're ignoring that Bran is alive and also a male Stark, because no one cares about Bran.

What If: Bronn Wanted A Good Girl

How we get here – Bronn was obviously weirded out (as we all were) by Tyene Sand's legendary "bad pussy" line. What if Tyene had stopped the line halfway? Bronn could have been persuaded to settle down with her in Dorne instead of coming back to King's Landing. He wouldn't have been there during the Loot Train Attack, so there would have been no one competent enough to use Qyburn's crossbow, and also no one around to save Jaime from being roasted / drowning. Cersei would be free to marry Euron and wouldn't have to make up a fake pregnancy. Maybe Randyll and Dickon Tarly, having seen Jaime's fate at the hands of Drogon, would choose to bend the knee.

What If: Doran Martell's Gout Wasn't So Bad

How we get here – Oberyn Martell had been chosen to go to King's Landing to celebrate Joffrey's wedding as a substitute for his older brother Doran (prince of Sunspear), since his gout had unexpectedly flared up. Tyrion would probably not have chosen such a sickly man to fight his battles, and would have been left without a champion to fight on his behalf. We would have at least gotten a Tyrion vs. Mountain spat, or maybe brother Jaime would have let him out of his cell a little bit earlier. This leads to two corollary what-ifs:

  • What if Tywin wasn't constipated during sex? That is, what if he didn't have to have a mid-coital dump, leaving himself vulnerable and Shae defenseless on his bed? Would Tyrion still have died? Maybe he'd have gotten the chance to take out one of them first, but which one would he prioritize?

  • What if Brienne, while transporting Jaime as prisoner to King's Landing, had chosen to take a boat instead of crossing on land? They would never have clashed with the Boltons and gotten captured, Jaime wouldn't have lost his hand, and would have been available to fight as Tyrion's champion. Would Tywin or Cersei call off the trial by combat because of their shared affection for Jaime? Or would they have chosen a different champion instead of the Mountain?

What If: Jon Snow Wasn't Sexist?

How we get here – The only reason that Jon hesitated to kill Ygritte after his ranging party had captured her was because she was a girl, considering that he had killed off a couple (presumably male wildlings) with little hesitation just moments before. If Jon had killed her, the Night's Watch may well never have found out about Mance Rayder's army of a hundred thousand men, and they might not have requested reinforcements from Stannis Baratheon. Stannis would still have an annoyed look on his face sitting in Dragonstone, the Night's Watch would have been destroyed, and Mance just might be sitting on the Iron Throne at this moment. Other instances where Jon has been sexist: not listening to Sansa's military plan but freely listening to Ser Davos and Tormund, and also not bending the knee to Daenerys. We'll never know if he asked her to bend two knees first.

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