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 A 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 email@example.com, leave a comment in the post, ask in the APOIAF-forum 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. We don't include the spoiler chapters from various sources in the discussion, with the notable exception of Theon I, which was supposed to be in "A Dance with Dragons" anyway.
And now, up to ruling 13 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Seth, a social worker and father of two daughters in Portland, Oregon. He first discovered the book series a year after ADWD was published. After a full read and a few re-reads of the series, he went looking for places to ponder the many subtexts to the series and speculate about what will come next. He discovered APOIAF, Boiled Leather, Nerdstream, BLAH, Meerenese Blot and others in search of more obsessed fans with which to discuss this amazing world. He recently began writing his own blog at blogthatwaspromised.wordpress.com to expound on a few of his theories that haven't been written elsewhere.
Why do Sansa and Sandor remember a kiss that wasn’t there?
Main Opinion: Amin
Sansa is young and has been through a lot of stress both at King’s Landing and at the vale. She has ambiguous feelings related to Sandor (and others). Sandor was both a rare source of comfort in a very harsh existence at King’s Landing, while at the same time both a dangerous person and a source of harsh “steel on stone” truth in a city of lies. It is not surprising that amidst this confusion of feelings for Sandor there might be a tendril of romantic or sexual thoughts that could have generated a false memory of a kiss; the fact that there is so much San-San art, writings, and other shipping support matches this. Petyr, another person who has both helped and threatened Sansa, used his position of power to steal a kiss from her, so that may have also affected the past memory of a similar abuse of power. That doesn’t necessarily mean that she equates the two situations, it is possible that the Sandor memory is meant as a contrast to her current situation or as a complicated coping mechanism. Add also to the list Tyrion’s marriage kiss, Dontos’ drunk attempts at kissing, Sweetrobin’s creepy “little boys kiss” and Marrilion’s attempted rape, and it is not surprising that Sansa’s memory might be a little bit off about that night at the Battle of the Blackwater. As for Sandor, I do not think he mentions such a kiss. Not sure where that is from, perhaps the other judges can clarify. What we do know is that this isn’t one of George’s mistakes, but rather an intentional discrepancy in the story, as is noted from past interviews with George.
Concurring Opinion: Stefan
To the best of my knowledge without searching the source text, Sandor mentions stealing “a song and a kiss” from Sansa to Arya in an attempt to frighten her. I guess he meant it in that moment. Given the situation in the tower in the night of the battle, you can see why, which adds to Amin’s interpretation on which I fully agree: Sandor is dead drunk, suffering from heavy PTSD and just destroyed his whole life. Sansa is a frightened child in a burning city that might just be being overrun by the soldiers of an enemy force. Her life has been threatened by Cersei should this situation concur, and Sandor is a tool of the Lannisters. So, there’s quite a bit of madness, drunkenness, fear and dark chaos going on in that scene. No wonder they remember it wrong; Sandor, who refrains from doing more to her after she sings that song and leaves without a word might remember his initial intentions but not how it transpired, while Sansa reacted exactly as Amin described.
Concurring Opinion: Seth
San San is one of the many themes I missed completely on my first read of the series but have enjoyed discovering in rereads. On the surface, they each represent what the other detests most. The Hound is vulgar, ugly, has complete disregard for the customs and roles of court. He drinks to excess and kills for fun. Sansa tries to be the stereotypical lady of court who values false courtesy and chivalry above all else. The Hound helped Sansa see through the charade of the court and see what real loyalty and chivalry are. The Hound saw how out of place and overmatched Sansa really was in KL and grew to have feelings for her precisely because she was so out of her league. GRRM wisely left their time together platonic in action while allowing the fantasy of a connection to develop in both of them. This was wise because a physical relationship at Sansa’s age and during those times would have been too controversial to actually be viewed as sweet. The memories that they, and we, share of their connection in the middle of the horrors that occurred to them in their time together in KL is incredibly tender. GRRM said in an interview that their memory of kissing, while not accurate, will mean something in the future of the story. The question at hand is whether it means their paths will cross again in the future or that their stories are each shaped by the fantasy of a deeper connection that wasn’t consummated. I am going to go with a middle answer. They will meet again and their past will have an impact on their future story arcs but I don’t’ see them falling in love because that is too much of a trope that wouldn’t interest GRRM and doesn’t improve the overall story.
Final Verdict: They only imagined the kiss due to the extraordinate circumstances.
Can GRRM finish the saga satisfactorily? All questions answered? Loose ends carefully knitted together? But with intriguing lingering mysteries to chew on in the future? Or has the plot exploded like one of those cans of springy worms and there's no way to put them into a cohesive order? And can it be done in only two books?
Main Opinion: Amin
I think that the series can be resolved satisfactorily, though it will be a struggle to the near end. Hopefully the last book will be easier than the last few books to finish off, but no one, even George, will truly know until we get there. I do think that not all questions will be answered, nor should they be. Some may be answered by supplementary works like the GRRMarillion or World of Ice and Fire, but some mysteries are best left open for continual debate after the series is complete, even if they could all be answered, which is unlikely. As for the side question on whether it will be completed in two books, this question is already under consideration for our next ruling and will be answered there.
Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I can’t imagine EVERYTHING being answered. Some stuff has to be left over, and the story will be better for it. Do we really want everything to be answered? Plot-wise, perhaps, but not exactly in the motivation of the characters. That would require a level of exposition that is exactly what the series has avoided so far and hopefully will avoid in the future, because it’s just bad, bad writing.
Concurring Opinion: Seth
GRRM has created a sizeable world. He styles himself as a gardener not an architect. The main story will conclude. We will find out what the Others really are and why they hate humans. The Starks will conclude their primary story arcs. I hope there isn’t even an iron throne at the end since that only represents a guarantee of future pain and suffering of smallfolk as it is battled over. While I am daunted at the thought of having to be the one to wrap up this much story in two books, I am confident that GRRM can do it. As Justice Amin stated, however, many questions and mysteries will be left open. Westeros and the remainder of the world will continue to exist and at least a few of the characters will actually survive. Their stories will continue past the final (Bran, I believe) chapter of A Dream of Spring but the main arcs will be completed. I only hope that GRRM retains the motivation to nip at the edges of the epic center of ASOIAF with more Dunk and Egg style prequels and perhaps some similarly sized sequels in addition to the encyclopedia he and Elio are writing. I wouldn’t want to live there but it’s a great world to visit.
Final Verdict: It will be satisfactorily, but not everything will be answered - those two we regard as mutually exclusive.
Is Penny Tysha’s daughter?
See here for more detail.
Main Opinion: Amin
This is a very interesting theory: I have to say well done to the theorist, because it could very well be true, or it may not be, but it is structured and argued quite well. It is a testament to the source material that we can all come up with such interesting theories, from crackpot to realistically possible, to likely, and finally to proven. This theory falls under realistically possible. I do agree with the theory that the Sailor’s Wife is likely a Red Herring in relation to Tysha, which leaves the door open for this theory. A big question is, even if it is true, will Tyrion find out about it? As the theorist portrays, the potential shock and emotional impact on Tyrion could be enormous. If the corresponding idea that Groat/Oppo was her twin and Tyrion’s son were true, then that would mean that Tyrion’s own son was murdered because he was mistaken for Tyrion. I think that if it is true, then Tyrion will find out about it. If it is not true, it may be one of those theories where if George is asked about it, it would be best for him to remain ambiguous about it than to give a clear-cut negative answer.
Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I totally agree with everything Amin said (boring, I know). I’m still a bit on the fence whether or not I actually LIKE the theory, though. I read it a while ago, when it first went live on Nobody Suspects the Butterfly, and I really liked it for the coherent argument and the kind of “makes sense” about the whole story. It surely fills a hole that I felt after reading “A Dance with Dragons” and thinking about what the hell Penny is all about. However, having read Adam Feldman’s great blog “The Meereenese Blot”, who gives a concise interpretation of Penny without the need of this “Oldboy”-turn, I’m not so sure whether or not there could be something to it.
Dissenting Opinion: Seth
I am going to call this a dissenting opinion because I argue that Penny is definitely not Tyrion’s child. For one, it’s just too much. Even if Tysha got pregnant, how do we know it was Tyrion, not one of the 100 other men who raped her that day? We have to then believe Tysha gave birth to two dwarves who ended up jousting at Joffrey’s wedding etc. That’s too much even for Littlefinger to pull off. Second, Tyrion’s experiences with Penny serve to give him a mirror into life as a dwarf who was not high born for him to examine. Tyrion’s Dwarfness (is that a word?) has been a major source of his inner conflict and Penny’s purpose in the story is to help move that along. Tyrion also has major conflict about Tysha and what became of her. I am a huge fan of “where do whores go” and Tyrion’s deep emotional turmoil about what happened with Tysha and I love that there are whores around the world who we can speculate might be Tysha. I just don’t see Penny as part of that conflict.
Final Verdict: There can be no definitive answer (yet), but in the eyes of the majority of judges, it is at least an interesting idea.