Brienne of Tarth Got What She Deserved

I know the title sounds pretty nefarious and vengeful. And upon first inspection, you may say, “What the hell? First, she didn’t do anything bad. Second, she never got punished in any way.” You’re right on all accounts. I want you to take that title at face value, and not at its idiomatic meaning. Now read it again once more, “Brienne of Tarth Got What She Deserved.”


The genius of “The Red Woman,” the season premiere of Game of Thrones, is in closing out character journeys that have spanned the last two to three seasons. One of them is a chapter in the development of Brienne of Tarth. Introduced as a character who wanted nothing more than to be a loyal knight, she became a fan-favorite due to her chivalry and bravery. On top of that, she was an underdog. An underdog at 6-foot-2? Hey, underdogs come in all sizes, and her height didn’t make her any less vulnerable. We saw her get taunted and teased because she wasn’t like the other more “attractive” and “proper” girls who were found in Westeros. But that didn’t dissuade her from fulfilling a dream of becoming a knight.


She first becomes involved with House Stark when she meets Catelyn Stark. Finding Catelyn to be a worthy leader, Brienne vows to protect her and her daughters. Brienne is soon tasked with escorting Jaime Lannister back to King’s Landing. On that journey, we see the two develop a sort of rapport and respect for each other. As a reward for protecting him numerous times, Brienne is given a sword — Oathkeeper — and a suit of arms from Jaime.

Learning that Arya is alive, Brienne journeys with Podrick Payne to find her. However, when Brienne does find Arya, she’s rejected by the young Stark — Arya had her own mission of revenge to fulfill.

Undeterred in carrying out her vows, Brienne sought out Sansa, and eventually follows her to Winterfell. Knowing that Sansa was being held against her will by House Bolton, Brienne had a maid smuggle a note to the Stark heir. Little did Brienne know, Ramsay Bolton intercepted the note. Then, when Sansa was finally able to get free to signal for help, Brienne had left her post to kill Stannis Baratheon.


This week, we saw how Sansa and Reek were saved from Bolton’s soldiers. Brienne and Podrick rode in at the last moment. Though outnumbered, the two were able to save Sansa and kill all the pursuing soldiers. The final scene was extremely heartfelt when Brienne knelt down and again offered her services. This time, Sansa accepted her and recited her own vows. The look on Brienne’s face was priceless. Above all else, when Sansa accepted Brienne, the audience felt as if we were accepted also.


Why is that? Well, this is where the magic of screenwriting comes in. And this is why I used the keyword “deserved” in the title. It’s because Brienne of Tarth deserved this outcome. Screenwriters are known to be sadists. We have to be. By putting our characters through a torturous journey, we make the ending satisfying. It’s like taking a drink of water after walking for miles in a desert. It could be tap water, but you’d swear it was the most delicious thing you’ve ever ingested.

Brienne of Tarth didn’t get accepted easily. Therefore, when it did happen, the feeling of elation was that much more meaningful. Theodore Roosevelt conveyed it best when he said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty …” And so, Game of Thrones has once again proven that there is magic in the world, and that magic is in its ability to tell a compelling story.

Join The Small Council: Ramon Govea, Madi Mae and Ginny McQueen every week, live and on-demand, for review and conversation about each new episode. Tweet in questions or comments to the hosts all week using the hashtag #GOTAS

Ramon Govea – @ramongovea
Ginny McQueen – @ginnymcqueen
Madi Mae – @rosepetalpalace





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