Brave, strong, fearless, puts the assholes in their place and is loyal to the heroes. All of these words describe Lyanna Mormont. Officially introduced in season 5 and making her first on-screen appearance in season 6, ever since then she (and her 62 men, can’t forget about those) have been steadfast supporters of our beloved Starks, even coming to their rescue when no-one else would. A true paragon of virtue, quite impressive for one so young. What kind of inconsiderate nincompoop could possibly hate a character like that? Me, goddammit! And I’m about to tell you why too! And, in excruciating detail no less. So shut yer yaps and listen up!
Disclaimer: I want to make 100% clear, because I know among all of you lovely people there are some less lovely people who would suggest so, but I am absolutely not criticizing the actress who plays Lyanna Mormont. She does the best she can with what she is given and there’s nothing wrong with her performance. How a character is written is not an actor’s fault. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s begin.
I have to admit, when the letter she wrote was first read aloud by Stannis in season 5 of “Game of Thrones” I thought it was pretty awesome. That a 10-year-old girl (or possibly her Maester) would have the balls to stand up to the Mannis in that way was impressive and the loyalty shown to the Starks, especially after all they’d been through, was kind of heart-warming. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought this. With my eagle eye, I noticed, when I read the comments on a Youtube video of this scene, quite a few were about how “badass” she is and how they want more of her. But you know who else clearly noticed this? The writers.
Because the next time we see her, for the first time on-screen, we see her telling off Sandra, telling Jon to get on with it already and telling her old Maester to go fuck himself with his chain. But it doesn’t stop there. Later in season 6 she’s the one who stands up and makes the stirring speech which leads to the merry king-in-tha-northing that goes on afterwards. A scene where all the Northern lords declare Jon king over Sansa because of their rampant sexism. But hold on, if they’re so sexist why did they let themselves be pushed around by a little girl like that? The answer is simple: the writers think we’re a bunch of idiots who will mindlessly cheer and clap for anything that can be labelled “awesome” or “badass” and they’re willing to ignore any and all logic to get that reaction from their audience.
Awesome Kid of Awesomenessness
But hold on to yer yaps, there’s more. In episode 1 of season 8 she’s the only lord to openly dare to defy Jon and question his abdication and in episode 2 of that season she tells Jorah that she’s going to fight and he better fucking like it. In episode 3 this little girl even kills a fucking giant, because of course she does, while trained Northern soldiers get slaughtered around her by individual wights!
Sensing any pattern in these scenes? In the scenes from the previous seasons? Do they have anything at all in-common? Yes, they’re all “badass.” But that’s really the only thing they have going for them. Because that’s pretty much all this character’s about. Every line is just meant to get the audience to go “oh snap.” Her scenes are a tapestry of “awesome.”
Even the characters in the fucking show seem to be aware of this, with Davos telling her “If they’re half as ferocious as their lady the Boltons are doomed.” It’s like the writers are grabbing us by the collar and slapping us in the face yelling “JUST LOOK AT HOW AWESOME SHE IS!”
Now call me a crazy, pompous douchebag (nothing new there) but in the ol’ days of season 1 characters were a little more than that. Yes, they could be awesome (just remembering the scene where Arya shoots that arrow passed Bran and straight into the target gives me goosebumps) but that’s not all they were.
Arya shooting that bow wasn’t just about her being badass, it tied into a much larger character arc. One of her not fitting into her society and trying to rebel against that. It’s tied up with her dislike of Sansa, her love of Jon and tragically leads to her becoming the heartless killer she becomes. It’s complex characterization and it’s tied up with the nature of the world and its themes. None of that can be said for Lyanna Mormont’s scenes. Because Lyanna Mormont’s not a character, she’s a “Please clap” sign.
I Would Like One McFeminism, Please
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Analyze” you might say. “It’s all part of a larger feminist message. That women are no weak maidens to be rescued, they will not submit meekly to the dominance of men and Lyanna is a strong woman in a man’s world.” Except that if this is what they were going for, it’s done very poorly.
Because we don’t ever explore anything through this character. Yes, she’s tough and (tries to be) a warrior but we only ever just see her do “awesome stuff.” We never see the implications of what she does or who she is explored. We never see her internal conflicts about this or how her society’s traditions affect her. We never really see how difficult it is for her or how she’s being judged or “kept down.” And that might be the most important part of it. How can you explore “the adversity women face in a feudal society” when there’s no adversity to be found? Almost always people simply accept her authority and treat her like a leader. And it’s no surprise that this happens when the writers consistently ignore the implications of the setting they’ve chosen.
Feuderalism? Is That a Type of Fruit?
When there’s a discussion about girls serving in Jon’s new conscript army lord Glover is not a big fan. At the end of the day Westeros is a medieval society. A patriarchal society. He will not put a spear in his granddaughter’s hand. A shitty situation, but not one that’s unrealistic in this context. But then our glowing beacon of badassery, Lyanna Mormont, steps up to the plate.
She tells him that she’ll not be “knitting” while men are fighting for her and that she doesn’t need his “permission” to defend the North, then confidently proclaims that she’ll be training both women and men. And what happens? Does she get shouted down? Does Glover tell her she’s just a little girl with 62 men and she can go fuck herself? No, he basically grovels before her and she gets a rousing round of applause from all the lords.
Not only does this make the feminist themes fall flat, it’s completely and utterly unrealistic. Am I expected to believe these hardened men, who’ve lived their entire lives in a society that engrains in them the notion that men are warriors meant for the battlefield and women are ladies meant for hearth and home, will applaud a little girl for telling them their beliefs are all bullshit? It takes me out of the moment and reminds me that I’m watching a television show. Because I can feel the writers yelling at us from beyond the screen that “womenz are awesome!” Cramming in scenes like this whether or not they fit into the world.
The Real Reason Why I Hate Her
“Come on now, Analyze. You’ve filled more than a page already with your bleating but what’s the real reason you hate her?” Because I’m a sexist piece of shit who’s scared of strong female characters and who, as the cherry on top, also happens to hate children! Or, perhaps, it’s just that I think that she represents everything wrong with the last few seasons of “Game of Thrones.” Because everything that I’ve mentioned sadly isn’t exclusive to Lyanna Mormont, she just wraps it all up in a pint-sized package.
Fanservice has become rampant in “Game of Thrones.” Tyrion has become nothing but a machine churning out “witty” one-liners. Gone is his dark side, gone are his daddy-issues and I’m not even going to pretend he has any worthwhile strategies. And when Tyrion is trying to have a heartfelt conversation with Jaime about their impending deaths, instead of writing something deep and interesting, they just bring back the fan favourite line about Tyrion wanting to die with a cock around his mouth. Or was it the other way around? Jaime even finishes his fucking sentence! You could not get more blatant. Nearly the entire first ten minutes of episode 1 of season 8 is dedicated to call backs! The writers might as well write “We have nothing new or original to add here” on the screen.
On top of this awesomeness is also quite often chosen above substance and realism. When in the first episode of season 8 Sansa, quite understandably, worries about what the dragons eat Dany simply delivers a badass one-liner “Whatever they want.” Yes, very helpful Daenerys. Thank you. I guess when the meat runs out your dragons can feast on your infinite supply of awesome one-liners.
Nearly everything Arya does is meant to be badass. The highlight of this is her busting out her spiderman jumping and fighting Brienne to a standstill, despite us never seeing how she gained these borderline supernatural abilities. That stick fighting must’ve been by far the most boring part of her training.
And while in the early days of the show there were many moments and characters dedicated to showing how difficult women had it in the world of Westeros, nowadays all that seems to have been forgotten. Instead we get Lyanna shutting down her uncle with snark and Cersei taking over the kingdoms without a peep about her being female. All these events completely ignoring the realities of the world they’ve created.
It’s not even just in those moments that they do that. Forgetting about the world they’ve created is par for the course these days. The importance of succession? Nah, Olenna Tyrell rules Highgarden now. The taint of bastardy? Every Northern lord is just fine with Jon being king, not even a peep. The animosity between the Wildlings and Northerners? Poof, that’s gone. Consistent distances between places on the map? You wish, there’s a teleport button now. Logistics? Strategy? Gone. Oh, and also obsidian can kill wights now! Fucking hell…
It’s true, Lyanna Mormont has no depth. She’s a cardboard cutout on which the words “awesome” are painted. But that’s hardly surprising in a show that seems to have less depth every season. But I guess it’s all alright so long as there’s bewbs and dragons.
Author’s Note: This article was originally called “Kill Me If You Can” but I thought some people might actually take me up on that, so I demurred.
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Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the episodes of the show. We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. Game of Thrones is created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, belongs to HBO and was inspired by the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin.