Thursday, November 20, 2014

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 54

Thursday is court day!
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, 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, The World of Ice and Fire (new!) 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 54 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Dan (aka witlesschum), who posts on the Podcast of Ice and Fire forums and occasionally appears on VOK episodes, where he played a Frey on a full castle recording and got to say “Nuncle.” In real life, he lives in Kalamazoo, The North, where he works as a journalist and knows way too much about college football, along with A Song of Ice and Fire.

Assuming R+L=J, how do you think Catelyn would react if she figured out? You have the Tully words (Family, Duty, Honor) fighting against her own tunnel vision about threats to her /own/ kids? One of Ned's biggest fears about Jon's secret has to be about choosing between two loves and loyalties (ie. quieting down when Robert goes ranting about dragonspawn)?

Main Opinion: Amin
With the use of the name Catelyn rather than Lady Stoneheart, I assume this question is focussed on whether Catelyn found out while she was alive, rather than now. I think that Ned was correct in not telling the secret to Catelyn when initially returning with Jon, as he didn’t know how much he could trust her at that point. I do think that telling her a few years later may have worked out for the better, as Catelyn could be trusted with the knowledge, and their marriage would have benefitted from that honesty. More importantly, she would understand Ned’s loyalty to his sister (duty to family), and she may have been more amenable in her treatment of Jon.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I think if Catelyn knew the truth, she would have looked kindlier to Jon and loved Ned even more than she already did because that “stain” wouldn’t have been there. But I don’t know how she’d ever find out. Ned promised Lyanna never to tell anyone, and he keeps his promises.

Dissenting Opinion: Dan
I think I’ll dissent from Justice Amin and say Catelyn might not have reacted well at all. As the question points out, Catelyn’s very focused on her children and their rights. She might be happy that Ned didn’t father a bastard and didn’t put her children’s succession at risk, but by taking in his sister’s child who could mean death for them all if Robert Baratheon finds out, Ned put them all at risk. It could go either way, so I think Ned did the right thing by only telling it to the heart tree.

Final verdict: It would have improved the relationships that Catelyn had with Eddard and Jon, but betrayed Eddard's vow to Lyanna and potentially put them all at risk. 

What do you think of the "Dornish master plan" theory? 
See here for more details.

Main Opinion: Amin
Having watched the entirety of the youtube video (all 4 videos), there is too much to cover in a single ruling. We could have dozens of rulings on different theories or ideas presented in the video. As an overview, there are some interesting theories in the video, with some overlap with ideas we have favoured ourselves, like Tywin being poisoned by Oberyn. However, there are three main problems with the Dornish master plan. One is that a lot of contrary testimony in the books (e.g. Bolton explaining why Jaime’s hand was cut off) were not covered, many examples that I could list if necessary but beyond the scope of what a question at the Court requires. You can reject this type of evidence or counter-explanation after analyzing it, but many times there were questions posed with answers given by the Dornish master plan theory, when there actually alternative answers already available in the text that require far less of a stretch and make more sense. Second, he often draws strong connections between characters and groups and Dorne when only tenuous connections, if any, exist (Brave Companions being one example who were definitely not employed by Dorne). This rolls into the third problem of trying to fit everything into the Dornish master plan, or plans directly competing with the Dornish master plan, where a lot of times ‘shit happens’ and it has nothing to do with anyone’s plan. He admits that there were things unexpected by all sides, but too many things are drawn upon into a single umbrella theory. The theorist admits at the end that he is “probably wrong about half of this”; if numbers are preferred, it is probably closer to 80% wrong.The motivation ultimately stems back to his view that Doran must really be this master player, to counter his initial disappointment with him after a first read of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. Frankly, Doran is somewhere in the middle between the failed player people label him as and the grand genius this theory paints him as. There is something more to Doran than some (Justice Stefan possibly) give him, but nothing close to this theory.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I don’t think Doran is a weak player. I think he puts too much faith in real long-term planning, which makes him unflexible short-term. But he’s also pretty good at PR, having his cards close to his chest and using the assets he has. Therefore, I’d put him in the upper echelons of the players. He’d probably not make the championship bracket, though. Regarding the theory itself, I share your sentiment. The all-covering theories suffer from the same problems that real-world conspiracy theories do: they have a claim of omni-explanation that can only fail, because things are too complicated and too many moving parts prevent winning. Doran and Littlefinger are the opposite ends of the player spectrum, and both fail or will fail ultimately because they can’t keep all the balls in the air indefinitely. Those who wisely constrain themselves to what they can manage will win out in the end. One could even try and read Doran as the representation of those readers that are into these types of conspiracies, because the main thing about Doran seems to have been lost on the creator: he ultimately loses, and he loses big.

Concurring opinion: Dan
I concur with Justice Amin. I disagree with almost all the video’s conclusions, beginning with the initial dismissal of Doran’s stated plans, because Doran’s two plans actually do make sense if you understand the context. It mainly misses the greatness of Doran, which is that he schemes and plots fire and blood, but also watches those children in the Water Gardens. He tries to scheme and plot the downfall of the Lannisters, but he doesn’t risk Dorne without a good chance of winning. His plans are conservative because he’s not willing to risk his country unless he’s good and ready. Doran for President 2016.

Final Verdict: We don't put much faith in omni-theories, and Doran is a upper-class player. 

How did the Tyrells intend to get Sansa out of King’s Landing after the Purple Wedding?

Main Opinion: Amin
The Tyrells were focused on Sansa prior to her marriage to Tyrion, with that forced march defeating their marriage plans. I am not certain they planned to smuggle Sansa out at all after the Purple Wedding. With the suspicion falling on Sansa with her immediate disappearance after Joffrey’s murder, they couldn’t openly marry Willas to Sansa, and a secret marriage would do little good for hopes of claiming the North. The Tyrells hadn’t given up on the Lannisters at that point, they just wanted a safer and more malleable match for Margaery than Joffrey, with Sansa as a useful scapegoat. Although it would have been safer for Sansa to disappear after the wedding to cement her guiltiness without the risk of it flowing back to the Tyrells, if there were plans to deal with Sansa, they were left to Littlefinger to handle as his side of the bargain.

Concurring Opinion: Stefan
I’m also unsure as to where the idea comes from that they planned to get her out at all. Sansa wasn’t an active part of their plans since the wedding to Tyrion, and she was useful only as the carrier of the hair net. Whether or not she went down after it is naught to the Tyrells. Even if they find her and she says she knew nothing about it, who’s going to believe her? Just look at the end of “A Storm of Swords” and the beginning of “A Feast for Crows” at how everyone jumps at her as the likely co-culprit. Had she been in sight (and named as Tyrion’s chief witness, no less!) then she would have gone down beside the dwarf.

Concurring opinion: Dan
I concur with Justice Amin that the Tyrells had given up on Sansa and I’ll add that I think control of Sansa was probably demanded by Littlefinger as a condition of participating.

Final Verdict: They didn't care about Sansa at that point. 


  1. I think you need to edit the correct name in in Dan's third answer. ;)
    Otherwise, great Theory hour, as always!

  2. Pretty solid arguments there, I agree with you guys too. I have a question and I think you are the right people to analyze or to give me some reasons to understand the subject. I'm totally against the theory of Dany and Aegon being buddy buddy both mounted on their dragons and hanging around, so I think the three heads of the dragons aren't Dany/Aegon/Jon. To explain my reasons I would like to start with Varys, It is said (I'm sure I also had read it in some of your posts before) that Varys had been always working for the good of the realm and the sake of the Targ's dinasty. However, if we assume Aegon is fake, then we are not talking about Targs anymore, and that's the point of my question.
    We also know that Varys was feeding Aerys's paranoia in order to confront him with his own son, that doesn't sound as a good practice for a prevalent Targ dinasty to me.
    So the master plan on Varys/Illyrio & Associates would be to put a Blackfyre (even possibly being Illyrio's son) on the throne. Eventually, and because the events happened in ways not predicted for any of them (dragons being awakened, Daenerys building a strong army, etc.) they have tried to make an alliance with Dany in order to get dragons on their side. But I'm sure at 100% they don't care a bit about Dany, but the dragons. If the alliance eventually comes into fruition they would arrange a way to take out Dany off the equation as soon as they would be able to effectively control Dany's army.
    so, this is my question/theory: Dany and Aegon could not be in the same team, it doesn't matters if they both becomes dragonriders, neither if Aegon truly thinks he could make it with his aunt, the mummers wouldn't let this happens for two main reasons: one, They have prepared an ideal prince to rule, not a couple. Second, AND the most important, they are pro Blackfyres from the very beginning so admitting a marriage to a real Targ would be going directly opposite to their primary (dreamed) goal.
    Do you think something of this question/theory could be real? or are just my inner attempts to reject Aegon just because I don't like him?
    Anyway, best regards to all of you, I have been reading all your blogs since 2011, matching my theories and being convinced by your strong arguments in the ones I didn't get at first sight (or the second... or a third one...).

    1. Consensus seems to be that Aegon is the false dragon and not a real Targ, therefore, no, he won't ride any dragon soon.

  3. Hello, solid analysis as usual.

    I have a question for the Supreme Court:

    Whatever other skills Qyburn has, his record as Cersei's master of whisperers is far from stellar - most damningly, he takes over Varys' spy network without questioning its loyalty, does not remark in Cersei's presence on Varys' "little birds", and does not seem to work on establishing agents that would be loyal directly to him (unless Robert Strong counts). Do you think that these are honest oversights on his part, or that he knows and does more than he lets on to Cersei?

    1. I guess this is a misconception: Qyburn doesn't take over the "little birds". He doesn't even know they exist and that they were the reason for Varys' power. He simply bribes people with a lot of royal money. Cersei, ironically, is spot on: everyone could do that.

    2. Sure, but I can't imagine Varys only had little birds. He'd have a network of regular agents, too, who report for pay. Presumably that's whom Qyburn is making use of. I'd wonder if the little birds were much used outside of King's Landing except for very special missions, you'd think Varys would want to keep very close tabs on them. So Qyburn might be doing fine with long range intelligence, but not so good with Kings Landing. He certainly didn't warn Cersei about the High Sparrow.

    3. Not that Varys would've warned her about the High Sparrow, but he'd known ;)

      Ok, seriously, you're right of course. There will be other spies. But what Cersei alludes to is the eerie ability of Varys to know stuff. And Qyburn didn't take that over. That shows through the whole of AFFC, he's essentially blind to major developments, especially in the east.