All hail king Bran The Broken, The First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Six Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm! May his reign be long and blessed. May he fix the country and right all the wrongs. May he gov- Oh screw it. What the hell is this? This has got to be one of the most ridiculous plot twists out there. Bran becoming the king, as they did it in the show, doesn’t make any sense! Let me tell you why…
Analyze and I repeatedly say something that has to be repeated here: show Westeros is a scizophrenic country that doesn’t know whether it wants to be a medieval patriarchy or an enlightened fantasy realm. It just doesn’t. There’s no consistency. Whether it’s a sexist, patriarchal society or a modern nation with medieval paint on it depends on what the plot demands. Does a female character need adversity? Sexism all the way! Does a female character need to show she’s badass? Sexism all the way so that she may put those nasty men in their place! Do we need plot in another direction? No sexism at all!
A similar thing happened to Bran Stark.
To Learn to Fly You Must First Jump… Off a Cliff…
As I’m sure all of you may have noticed by the tiny detail of the wheelchair, Bran the Broken is a cripple. His legs no longer work. Jaime pushed him out of the window of a tall tower in the very first episode. Yet this really doesn’t seem to be addressed at all. Aside from a comment about his wheelchair being similar to that of Daemon Targaryen’s new cousin nobody really seems to mind that the new king of the Six Kingdoms can’t walk on his own and needs to be pushed everywhere. And that’s just not how a medieval society functioned.
In fact, that’s not even how the book Westeros functions. Bran’s crippled state is kind of a big deal in the books. Bran spends a lot of time thinking of, and hating, the fact that he can’t walk anymore. Throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords and A Dance with Dragons he constantly laments the fact that he can’t be a knight anymore. He can’t walk, so how can he learn to wield a sword? His whole identity was based around that and in the first two books he keeps hoping that he may become a knight one way or another. One of the big reasons Bran is even lured beyond the wall to visit Brynden Rivers is because the Three-Eyed Raven constantly promises him the boy will learn “how to fly”, though it’s left rather vague what that means. Even in the show this is referenced, as in episode 10 of season 4 Brynden says that Bran “will never walk again, but you will fly.”
Of course it can be argued that Bran no longer cares about that in the show and is at peace as… Westerosi Google. And that’s true, he genuinely no longer cares. Or shows any emotion really. But Bran isn’t the only one to deal with the fact that he’s a cripple. Everyone around him does as well and in the books it’s arguably one of the first deconstructions that shows Northern culture isn’t all that noble and honourable as it’s cracked up to be.
Throughout A Game of Thrones and A Clash of King people show two kinds of reaction when they see Bran: they pity him or they think he’s a craven. A craven? Yes, because book Westeros has a very specific view of cripples. Eddard and Torrhen Karstark summarise it perfectly in Bran VI of Game of Thrones:
“Harrion Karstark, the oldest of Lord Richard’s sons, bowed, and his brothers after him, yet as they settled back in their places he heard the younger two talking in low voices, over the clatter of wine cups. “… sooner die than live like that,” muttered one, his father’s namesake Eddard, and his brother Torrhen said likely the boy was broken inside as well as out, too craven to take his own life.
Broken, Ben thought bitterly as he clutched his knife. Is that what he was now? Bran the Broken?”
When You Look Upon Me, Do You See a King?
And this isn’t the only instance of people having such views. Jaime says in Tyrion I, and in the show, that he would prefer a clean death over living like a cripple. Sure, he had an ulterior motives for saying that, but his own character arc revolving his arm being cut off gives credence to this being a genuine thought. Cersei says in a Feast for Crows (Jaime IX) that Robert in a drunken state said that “we kill our horses when they break a leg, and our dogs when they go blind, but we are too weak give the same mercy to crippled children.” Mance Rayder agrees with that assessment in A Clash of Kings. Little and Big Walder bully Bran and mock Hodor as a simple horse for carrying Bran. Over and over and over in this story we are reminded that cripples are despised or mocked in Westerosi culture.
So why in Seven Hells would a council of the few random remaining lords choose Bran as their king? Why would they choose someone who will always be considered craven and weak for being cripple? Why, if they would agree to this choice, wouldn’t they all descend upon Bran like vultures to use this weak boy-king as a puppet for their own ends? There is no way that Bran being crowned king would work the way it had. It once again flies against everything that medieval Westeros is supposed to stand for. What the themes of A Song of Ice and Fire are supposed to stand for. Even Isaac Hempstead thought it was a joke for fuck’s sake.
A Song of Spies and Sorcery
Now does this mean that this can’t be the A Song of Ice and Fire ending as well? No, but I do believe that if Bran becomes king in the novels it’ll be a deconstruction and exploration of what rulership is about. In Bran’s case it’ll probably be to explore whether a spymaster would make for a good king, as our little Stark warg is being tutored by the aforementioned Brynden Rivers. A man infamous for turning Westeros into a police state during his tenure as hand. A man feared for having a 1,001 eyes and controlling a spy network that rivals Varys’ network in the present story. Varys being another despised character because he’s a eunuch and having the dishonourable position as spymaster, btw.
So chances are that Bran may be taught how to use the Weirwood network to spy on people. Rule the realms by pre-emptively taking out threats before they can grow. In other words, it’s another way that magic is shown to be rather negative in the world of Westeros, not an improvement. So Bran becoming king under those circumstances would work. Bran becoming king by being chosen however does not and is nothing more than a laughably bad ending to a laughably bad season.
So to re-iterate: this was just shit. Bran becoming king had potential, but the way they did it in the show made no sense, even by their own lore established early on. In fact, the scene pretty much feels exactly the way it was written: a plot point that may indeed have been given by GRRM crammed in an incredibly boring and unrealistic way in order to try and reach a similar ending to the character arcs in the books. Only, in the books THE CHARACTERS ACTUALLY HAVE A FUCKING CHARACTER ARC THAT WILL PAY OFF! I need ice cream… Why…
- When Littlefinger Gets Littlefingered – Why the Baelish Death Scene Makes No Sense
- To Burn or Not to Burn – Why There is Power in King’s Blood
- What Character Arc? – Why Damon’s Transformation into a Human Was a Betrayal
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.