Welcome to the Supreme Court of Westeros! Every week, three pressing questions from the community will be answered by the esteemed judges Stefan (from your very own Nerdstream Era) and Amin (from the Podcast of Ice and Fire). The rules are simple: we take three questions, and one of us writes a measured analysis. The other one writes a shorter opinion, either concurring or dissenting. The catch is that every week a third judge from the fandom will join us and also write a dissenting or concurring opinion. So if you think you're up to the task - write us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment in the thread or contact Amin at his tumblr. Discussion is by no means limited to the court itself, though - feel free to discuss our rulings in the commentary section and ask your own questions through the channels above.
One word on spoilers: we assume that you read all the books, including the Hedge Knight short stories, and watched the current TV episodes.
And now, up to ruling 1 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Steven Attewell from "Race For The Iron Throne".
Is Gendry Robert's and Cersei's real son?
Main Opinion: Stefan
I really, really don't get where all these crackpot theories come from. Of course he's not. Why would he be? I guess the idea came up with the first season of "Game of Thrones", because Cersei admitted in the series that she had a child with Robert that dies quickly, a boy with black hair. While it might be possible that the child was somehow spirited away by Cersei or Varys or some other person, I don't exactly see how or, more to the point, why. Gendry had a totally normal childhood in Flea Bottom, which means that he was threatened with death on a daily basis, without anybody intervening. That only happened once Jon Arryn searched for Robert's bastards and casually cared for them (in Gendry's case, setting up the apprenticeship). Plus, the show is not the books, and in the books, Cersei is pretty adamant about not ever having carried a child of Robert's, even confessing to licking the semen of her hands and sex, enjoying the thought that she was "eating his children". Do you really believe the small detail that she once had a child, actually, would slip even her demented mind? I don't.
Concurring Opinion: Amin
This truly is a crackpot theory that probably would never have existed, if not for that line mentioned in the HBO show. In addition, the point of that line was not to inspire this kind of theory, but rather to build up Cersei’s backstory and show sympathy, with middling results. What’s amusing is that line has inspired other TV based crackpot theories like Jon being that (missing) black haired child of Robert and Cersei.
Concurring Opinion: Steven Attewell
Given that the black-haired child that died of a fever only existed in show canon, I think it’s pretty clear that Gendry isn’t Robert and Cersei’s child. It doesn’t even work in show canon, as Cersei describes in Episode 2 that the child “tried to beat the fever that took him...such a little thing.” The black-haired child died in infancy; Gendry has childhood memories of his mother that indicates she died when he was significantly older than infancy. Moreover, the motives for the child’s abduction and being raised as a Flea Bottom urchin don’t really make much sense - Robert wouldn’t do it because his first-born son would cement his dynasty, Cersei wouldn’t do it because in show-canon she hadn’t given up on her marriage at that point, Pycelle wouldn’t interfere with a legitimate Baratheon/Lannister heir, Varys wouldn’t do it because it’s not in his interest to preserve a legitimate Baratheon/Lannister heir, and Littlefinger wasn’t in King’s Landing at the time.
Final Verdict: This is a crackpot theory, nothing more.
Do you think Barristan Selmy will live to see Dany be crowned?
Main Opinion: Stefan
I'm not sure anyone is going to see Dany being crowned, because I'm not sure she will be. It might well be possible that the whole thing of fighting the Others and going about in Westeros with dragons will prove to be mortal, forever vanishing magic from the world - and her with it. But let's assume that doesn't happen, Dany will get crowned and rule happily ever after, like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, then I guess Barristan will be around, yes. Can't say why I think that, exactly, it's more like one of my many narrative hunches. Can't see him die, because it doesn't seem to me Dany needs a shock like this anymore. Instead, I'd rather think the personal drama of Barristan could add a new chapter when he realizes he serves yet another crazy Targaryen.
Dissenting Opinion: Amin:
I agree with Justice Stefan that there is no guarantee that Dany will live to be crowned or be otherwise crowned. Rephrasing the question as to whether Barristan will outlive Dany, I will disagree with my esteemed colleague. As he admitted, this is more in the realm of hunches than anything can be logically predicted one way or another. I have a feeling that Barristan will have the chance to go down fighting in Dany’s cause. Let’s hope it is that, rather than a dagger in the back from the Shavepate or another Ned-like fall.
Dissenting Opinion: Steven Attewell
I agree with Justice Amin that Ser Barristan’s fate is most likely a glorious death in Dany’s service. Consider the overarching theme of Ser Barristan’s life - here’s a perfect knight who, through no fault of his own, has failed in his duty to two kings and desperately wants to redeem himself before he dies. The archetypal Kingsguard was Aemon the Dragonknight, who died saving the king from assassins. What better death for Ser Barristan?
Final verdict: Ser Barristan will die valiantly in Dany's service, likely before she is crowned.
What is the significance of Bran's and Arya's story arc?
Main Opinion: Stefan
I guess when you say "significance", it means "why the fuck is this in there and not more battles and politics and stuff"? It's a question that is usually directed at Brienne's storyline, since Arya and Bran are more beloved characters. Let's start with Bran, since he's easiest to talk about in that respect. He's our eye into the magic of the north, its past and its future, and he is the guy who will play a pivotal role in the conflict of ice and fire. Arriving at Bloodraven and starting his training, he echoes journeys like the one Luke Skywalker took, only - typical Martin - with a far darker edge, because it seems unlikely he will ever return. The price for his powers is way higher than usually in these kinds of stories (also see an upcoming essay of mine on that topic). For Arya, the question is more difficult, because we can't really see what role she has to play, not currently. She's being trained as an assassin, and as with Bran, the price for it is really, really high. But I can't possibly say where the journey will go at the moment.
Concurring Opinion: Amin
I agree with the assessment of Bran’s arc, though I still hope that he will somehow escape becoming a permanent feature of Bloodraven’s tree-net. To add to Arya, she does give a consistent perspective into what is happening with the smallfolk in Westeros, before heading to Essos anyway. George is sometimes criticized for not having ‘lowborn POVs’, but Arya and others like Brienne do at least let us see what is happening to the lowborn, smallfolk, and others not seen much in the other POVs.
Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Steven Attewell
I agree that Bran Stark follows a mystic variant of the hero’s journey - complete with the opening of the third eye and a quest that takes him through various levels of truth similar to the mystery cults. He’s certainly something of a deconstruction of the same- his “magical birthright” comes with some serious immoral aspects like the warging into Hodor, his warging into his wolf is a dangerous and potentially addictive form of escapism, and he’s never going to walk again. Where it ends up, we simply don’t know. Relative lack of chapters means insufficient evidence. Arya’s plotline is even more clearly a deconstruction of the hero’s journey, given that her path is leading her to loss of self rather than acquisition of self-knowledge and self-control. If I were a betting man, I’d say the point in the narrative where Arya breaks with the league of assassins is coming up soon.
Final Verdict: Bran's and Arya's storylines serve the narrative function of deconstructing the "heroe's journey", a common fantasy trope.