Valentine’s Day fell earlier this week, so we’re devoting this Small Council to that rarest of Westerosi phenomena: romantic love. Which couples on the show, whether still together or torn apart (probably by death) have touched your heart? Is there anybody you’ll pulling to get together in the future?
To put it more simply, who, if anyone, do you ship? Welcome to what I suspect will be a kind of silly session of the Small Council.
RICHARD: There are several potential couples out there, and while I yearn for a hilarious yet bizarre Brienne-and-Tormund pairing, I’m most partial to a Meera and Bran pairing. She’s fought long and hard for him (and is going to keep fighting) and he’s essentially grown up with her at his side. The bond formed under this kind of duress has to be powerful, and it would take just one small push for it to turn intimate.
Yes, Bran’s below-the-waist gear may not work, but his physical situation doesn’t count out the possibility of romance. Meera doesn’t strike me as the kind of girl who, if she fell in love with Bran, would reject him based on those issues. And look at their situation: two youngsters in the wilderness, in danger, hearts pounding, biological urges clamoring…I mean, come on, man—I saw The Blue Lagoon.
Maybe they’ve been too busy trudging through snowbanks and running from White Walkers to notice, but once they get a chance to slow down a bit—a brief respite at Winterfell, perhaps—sparks might fly. Yes, they did spend the entirety of Season 5 locked up in the Three-eyed Raven’s cave together and apparently nothing occurred, even though Meera was bored out of her mind. I guess it’s no fun hitting on a guy while he’s zonked out in greensight trances.
But now, with the Three-Eyed Raven out of the picture (apparently), Bran and Meera are on their own. Meera doesn’t seem interested in romance, but Bran hasn’t sent her any signals so we really don’t know. Bran is awake, and maybe he’ll wake up and realize that he wants the girl at his side to stay there forever.
SARAH: I’m a big fan of happy endings for the Stark children, and I have to commend Richard for his excellent choice of a Meera/Bran (Breera? Merandon?) pairing. As for the rest of the Starks, it’s hard to choose between Sansa/Podrick (Podsa), Jon/an easy life (impossible) and Arya/Gendry (Gendya). But Arya’s happiness matters the most to me, so let’s be biased.
Arya loves Gendry. Gendry loves Arya. On this, we can all agree, even if our opinions differ on the nature of that love. When they first met, Arya was little more than a child. It would have been creepy to allow romance to blossom. Instead, a firm foundation of friendship and understanding was laid, which is better. Ned and Robert once planned to marry their children. With an Arya/Gendry pairing, the show could come full circle and see that dream realized, turning the pre-established idea of a married, settled Sansa and an unmarried, wild Arya on its head. I absolutely believe that Arya could find happiness in a marriage that allowed her to be free. That’s what she could find in Gendry.
As for Gendry, I’m of the opinion that when and if he returns to the show, he stands a good chance of being legitimized by Jon or Daenerys to give the Stormlands a Baratheon leader who can rally that kingdom. With a noble title comes the obligation to marry a highborn girl, but Gendry, being Gendry, is as stubborn as his father and not likely to feel comfortable with that arrangement. Can you see him with a more high maintenance girl like Dany or Sansa? He’d hate it. He’d be constantly reminded of his low beginnings, and the Gendry we know wouldn’t agree to it. But if a grown-up Arya came back into his life and an attraction grew between them? She is the only highborn girl that a guy like Gendry would feel comfortable with.
As couples go, these two couldn’t be more compatible. They have excellent banter. They trust one another. They’re both brave, practical and unwilling to take crap from people. They became close friends and remain bonded for life in spite of the fact that their social standings ought to have divided them, and in spite of the fact that Arya probably thinks he’s dead. That can be rectified. One of Arya’s best qualities is that she doesn’t care if a person is highborn because she judges people by their behavior. Not a lot of highborn people do that, and that’s what makes all of the difference to a man like Gendry. I’m behind these two, all the way.
COREY: This is harder than I thought it would be, probably because love is so hard to come by in Westeros. We get few examples of it on the show, and the ones we do get usually end very violently. Jon and Ygritte, Robb and Talisa, Ned and Cat…none of these relationships ended well.
I hate to be Debbie Downer, but I don’t think many of the ships proposed above will end up working. I don’t think that Jon and Daenerys, the last Targaryens, will settle down together. Yes, they will most likely team up to fight the White Walkers, and yes there might even be some physical attraction, but I doubt it will translate into a long-term relationship. I don’t see Jon and Sansa ending up together, either. I think Jon will likely want to lay his burdens down once the threat of the White Walkers is dealt with. Jon is already weary, and the war with the White Walkers isn’t like to help with that. I see Jon settling down somewhere by himself and becoming a farmer or fisherman.
Likewise, I don’t see Bran and Meera getting together, because I believe being the Three Eyed Raven will ultimately consume all of Bran’s time and focus. The way I see it, there are only two couples that stand a chance of actually making it. The first is Arya and Gendry. I can’t add anything to Sarah’s explanation — it makes perfect sense. The other relationship I can see happing is Brienne and Jaime.
What’s that old saying about opposites? Almost since the moment they met, there’s been chemistry between these two. Brienne has been a force for change in Jaime’s life unlike anyone before. Consider that despite growing up around people like Barristan Selmy, under whom Jaime served in the Kingsguard, no one could break the hold Cersei had on him until Brienne came along. It’s ironic — of all the knights Jaime hung around, it was the Brienne, a non-knight, who was finally able to teach Jaime honor and dignity.
Brienne is the complete opposite of Cersei in every way. Brienne is honorable, loyal and has fought adversity her entire life. Cersei is as dishonorable as they come, has grown up with every privilege and did not hesitate to sleep around on Jaime the second he went off to war. Cersei is vain and beautiful, traits no one would ever grant Brienne. Jaime has always been vain as well, so finally ending up with someone not considered classically beautiful would be another bit of irony.
If that wasn’t enough, consider that Jaime respects Brienne’s fighting abilities, something he could never say of Cersei. Jaime’s identity has always been intertwined with his skill as a warrior, so earning his respect in that area is a monumental compliment. After Jaime frees himself from his toxic relationship with Cersei and the war with the White Walkers is won (I hope), I can see Jaime and Brienne settling down together. Make it happen, Martin. Give us something to hope for.
KATIE: I’ve discussed my choice of ship before, and I’m still on board the Jon/Sansa steamboat of love. Since their reunion in season 6’s “Book of the Stranger,” I’ve imagined Jon’s problem to be similar to Shang’s in Mulan. While Shang was forced to question his sexuality in the face of Mulan’s misleading appearance as Ping, Jon’s consternation arises from wanting to make out with his half-sister (or cousin, as the case may be). But tomato, tomahto. The cousin thing is pretty much a non-factor, considering that Game of Thrones set that precedent with couples like Tywin and Joanna Lannister, as well as Ned Stark’s parents. Now that I’ve got that obligatory disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to the romance.
First of all, Jon has this classically romantic habit of looking at Sansa while she’s looking elsewhere. It’s like the showrunners were channeling the spirits of Walt Disney and Jane Austen just to add a much-needed dash of romance to the violent world of Thrones. Either that, or Benioff and Weiss were like, “Kit and Sophie have some solid chemistry. Huh. Let’s light the internet on fire.” Really, you should have seen the Jon x Sansa tags on Tumblr from episodes four to ten. Chaos isn’t a ladder, it’s just a bunch of people screaming over gifsets.
Whatever the behind-the-scenes situation may be, there remains some major untapped potential between Jon and Sansa. Ned told his eldest daughter back in season 1 that he would make her a match with “someone who’s brave, gentle, and strong.” Ding-ding-ding, let’s get that spotlight on Jon Snow, who incidentally needs those qualities in his partner, too. Then again, who doesn’t?
Indeed, Jon and Sansa have given each other precisely what they each need: she gave him a renewed sense of purpose, and he gave her a safe haven. Sansa tells Jon what he needs to hear, if only he would listen. Jon offers Sansa trust and security, if only she would let her guard down enough to accept it. Sansa protects Jon from his self-doubt, and he offers himself in a way that no man has to Sansa before: with no strings, no expectations, and no ulterior motive. There is an intense love between these two, whether you categorize it as romantic or otherwise.
And don’t even get me started on the tent scene from “Battle of the Bastards.” I mean, if the showrunners didn’t want me to ship it, then they wouldn’t have made Jon profess his ardent desire to protect Sansa while they were alone, illuminated by candlelight: “I won’t ever let him touch you again. I’ll protect you. I promise.” Okay, find your chill, Jonathan; as far as you know she’s still your sister. That brief exchange was the least familial thing I’ve seen on this show, and that includes all those times Cersei and Jaime dipped into their Marvin Gaye collection.
To cap this off, let me just say that while there’s a touch of tension brewing between Jon and Sansa, ten to one it’s mostly sexual and everyone owes me five dollars when this is over. If not, at least give me a compilation of Jon and Sansa’s scenes cut together with Frankie Valli’s “My Eyes Adored You” to help stave off my bitterness.
DAN: I’ve always enjoyed the relationship between Jaime and Brienne, but one of my favorite things about it is that it’s never struck me as romantic. I see it more as a deep and abiding kinship built on mutual respect.
I think that exploring the romantic dimensions of the Jaime-Brienne relationship would be taking the easy way out. I’ve always appreciated that Game of Thrones explores different kinds of romantic love, from the sturdy partnership between Ned and Catelyn to the doomed passion between Jon and Ygritte to even the twisted companionship between Ramsay and Myranda. And there lots of other kinds of love on display, too: parent-child, brother-sister, master-servant…I feel like too many movies and TV shows make romantic love the end goal, so it’s refreshing to watch characters who are driven by other things.
If I could wish for anybody on the show to find happiness, it would probably be Cersei. She definitely needs a healthier outlet for all that rage. But honestly, I don’t think a romance is the answer there. She’s got a LOT of work to do on herself before she’s ready for a functional relationship.
And of course I’d like to see the producers further explore Tormund’s attraction to Brienne, because I like to laugh.
ANI: I can’t believe no one picked the most obvious pairing, but that might be because they’re the couple who haven’t met yet. We already know that when Jon Snow met a woman who was kissed by fire, he fell head over heels. What happens when he meets one who’s walked through fire and survived?
Jon and Dany are the endgame couple of this series. You can’t tell me otherwise. I have hundreds of theories for how their relationship plays out, from Dany deciding he’s kinda cute to Jon going gaga over her. Will there be high-level flirting between two of the leaders of opposing factions? Will Tyrion have to play matchmaker as well as ambassador?
We have to remember that, although they never say it, this is a world where destiny makes it so the heroes appear at the right moment in time. Lyanna and Rhaegar were hopelessly attracted to each other and ran away because Jon needed to be born to save the world. This leads me to believe something similar will happen with Jon and Dany, that the curse Mirri Maz Duur placed on Dany in season 1 will be lifted, and that the Dream of Spring includes the next generation of Targaryen inbreds. But that might be venturing into fanfic territory…
Season 7 is coming! pic.twitter.com/zHI30CUxTB
— Game of Thrones Meme (@Thrones_Memes) January 24, 2017
RAZOR: Okay, so, I’m going to step outside the box here — the litter box, if you will — and choose a relationship that tragically ended way too early: Ser Pounce and Tommen. Never before has there been a young man and his furry friend more in love than these two. It didn’t matter that they weren’t of the same species, because, the relationship was strictly platonic.
On cold blustery nights, Ser Pounce would hop up into bed and keep the young prince’s feet warm by cuddling up under the blankets next to his human’s icy cold toes. When Tommen’s mother, Cersei, would force him to stay at the dinner table until he had eaten all his beets, Tommen would drop them on the floor where Ser Pounce would eat them all, leaving no evidence of the nasty vegetables, and then the two would run and play until bedtime, where they would fall asleep and dream of catnip and yarn.
When Tommen became King of all Westeros, it was Ser Pounce who guarded his room against any assassins who might seek to do him harm. One night, a particularly bothersome leaf blew in through the window and nearly woke Tommen, but thanks to Ser Pounce’s cat-like reflexes (because, you know, he’s a cat) the leaf was caught and dealt with accordingly, and Tommen slept through the night. A King needs his rest.
Sadly, one day, when Ser Pounce was out tracking down a nefarious spy network of mice near the Great Sept of Baelor, he was blown to bits along with Tommen’s wife, Queen Margaery, and half of the court. They say that when Tommen heard of this great tragedy he removed his crown and jumped out of his window, killing himself, for how could he ever live without his beloved cat, Ser Pounce?
There are two polls today! First, what’s your favorite couple we’ve actually seen on the show? Second, who, if anyone, are you pulling for?