SPOILERS: Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5
Loyalty, bravery, and fighting for what you deserve are all admirable characteristics of a person and a leader. When you take away the dragons, sex, feuds, war, and white walkers, these are the ideals that define The Seven Kingdoms, for better or for worse.
But if we’ve learned anything from Season 8, Episode 5, it’s that sometimes, one can be loyal to a fault, that bravery comes in many forms, and that fighting for what you deserve is not always so black and white.
We watched as Dany killed Varys because Varys was spreading the word about Jon Snow’s true identity. In that one action we saw bravery and loyalty interwoven as one — Varys is first and foremost loyal to what’s best for The Realm, even if it means he’ll get killed. He looks death square in the face and stands with his head held high, hoping he was wrong about Dany but knowing he was not.
We watched as Tyrion freed Jaime from Dany’s capture. Once again, he went against the wishes of those who trusted him for what he felt was the greater good. The loyalty of brotherhood is something that even the greatest queens cannot command, and for a moment, we saw that love and loyalty between Tyrion and Jaime. For a moment, Tyrion was able to live in the knowledge that he had a family member that loved him back. Tyrion deserved that moment.
We watched as Arya walked away from killing Cersei. The Hound urged her to go, reminded her that it would be inevitable that Cersei would die in the chaos and flames that were engulfing the city anyway. She didn’t need to be there; she could go home. For so long we watched as Arya plotted and schemed and counted down the days that she would get her revenge against Cersei, and yet, in the end, it seems that the best revenge for Arya was to live. She deserved to live.
We watched as Dany descended into madness. She did not hesitate to unleash fire onto the people of King’s Landing. She burned buildings and babies without a second thought, all to… make sure the throne would be hers. For so long I had thought of Dany as being loyal to something bigger than herself, things like loyalty and honor and justice. But this episode made it crystal clear that what she’s loyal to is power and gaining it, no matter what the cost.
Bravery. Loyalty. Fighting for what you deserve.
If there were ever to be a show that taught us about these concepts, it is Game of Thrones.
We have learned that just because you are loyal to someone or something doesn’t mean that you are in the right. History shows us that people can be loyal to awful humans and concepts. Game of Thrones teaches us this, too. Loyalty, when it is rooted in goodness and truth, is a beautiful thing. It is an important thing. But when loyalty is blind to faults and rooted in greed, chaos ensues and cities can crumble.
We know that to be brave means that you are ready to face and endure danger or pain and that you show courage. You can have the physique of Tyrion or Brienne or Jon Snow or Arya and be a brave person, for bravery is bigger than stature or physical strength. Game of Thrones teaches us, time and time again, that bravery has many faces.
Perhaps one of the greatest lessons that has come from Game of Thrones is that if fighting for your dreams means hurting innocent people, then you might want to reorganize your game plan. To fight for what you deserve is a beautiful, important, vibrant part of being a human. But if you hurt others in the process without a care, then what does that say about your dream? Or better yet, what does that say about you?
It is possible to fight for your dreams with loyalty, bravery, and compassion. If compassion isn’t part of that equation, you might as well join hands with Ramsey, Cersei, and Joffrey.