Women of Westeros: Feminism in Telltale’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ Episode 2

[Muffled rap music plays in the distance.]
[Muffled eurobeat plays in the distance.]
Another week, another “Women of Westeros” post, and another excruciating wait for the next Game of Thrones episode. To help tide myself over, I’ve been steadily (read: carefully) making my way through Telltale’s episodic interpretation of everyone’s favorite medieval soap opera. Verdict so far? I’m loving every trashy minute of it. Well, almost every minute. I could do without having to make a crucial decision in under fifteen seconds, but that seems to get easier to handle with wine. Sorry, I meant to type time.

While we saw a bit less of the women from episode one in order to make way for new faces, I’m still pleasantly surprised by the way Telltale is handling their impressive lineup of leading ladies. Every challenge is met with conviction and poise, while the men of the game all wear brooding expressions and stare off into the middle distance. If you’re looking for an engaging episodic game with compelling, fully-realized women, Telltale’s Game of Thrones should be on your short list.

Each week, I’ve been recapping all the lady power moments in this series, giving you a neat little feminist rundown of why this is so important. I’d suggest perusing my initial “Iron From Ice” article or the rest of this won’t make much sense. That said, it would be supremely cool if you kept any future in-game events out of the comments. Now let’s get to the women tearing it up in Westeros!

She's beauty, she's grace, she'll punch you in the face.
She’s beauty, she’s grace, she’ll punch you in the face.

If you know literally anything about me, you saw this one coming from a mile off. Herein you will find the reasons why I should really consider cosplay Beskha is the video game woman of my dreams:

  1. It’s alluded to that she may be bisexual, and certainly free with love—if her reminiscing about brothel visits is any indication. I send thanks to the old gods and the new.
  2. She’s an unapologetic sellsword who isn’t afraid to tell a high-born lord he’s an idiot when the need arises (and it always does).
  3. Even after fighting by Asher’s side for a presumably long time, they maintain a close, platonic friendship. No hint of shoehorned sexual tension.

Does all of this sound like simple trivialities? Oh, you beautiful cinnamon roll. Too pure for this world. In the reality of women written by men that we currently live in, these are flying leaps for equality. Beskha’s character isn’t new in terms of employment or motivation: she’s new for a woman to embody these traits, especially in a testosterone-riddled game taking place in a medieval setting. I wasn’t expecting Telltale to fashion us a Brienne of sorts, and true enough, Beskha is a far cry from the noble intentions of Tarth’s knight. But what I like most about her is that she lives in a delightfully gray area, that middle ground between the good characters who die and the bad characters who survive.

My only gripe was that Malcolm kept insisting Asher assume the role of a leader. Why does every man need to prove himself through leadership? Asher was all but exiled to Essos because he’s a hot mess. You’d think that would give his uncle pause, particularly with a capable and levelheaded warrior standing right there. Whatever. I’ll keep campaigning for Beskha’s ability to lead and see where it gets me.

Game of Thrones
The same thing we do every night. Try to take over the world.

We’re back in Ironrath again with Talia who, let’s be real here, just lost her father, twin brother, and younger brother to a rival family now stationed with a battalion of soldiers in her own home. It’s kind of been a rough time. Despite all of that, she’s firmly remained in Rodrik’s room, who only recently returned from the dead looking like he lost a fight with a giant bear. This girl? She’s got some spunk. In the face of so much tragedy, we see Talia rise to the occasion time and again if it means defending the Forrester name, and she’s barely of legal age to know what any of this could mean for her.

Much like when the player assumed the role of Ethan, your dialogue choices as Rodrik only more clearly reflect Talia’s inner strength. She is formidable because she sees what must be done and accepts the fact that although she may experience fear, she can only allow it to fuel the fire within her. I can’t fault anything Talia’s said or done so far, because all of it comes from a place of selflessness. She crosses the courtyard with her brother, now littered with enemy soldiers (either drunk or angry, and neither spell good times for the Forrester kids), and acts as an unflinching pillar of strength despite the very real threat leering at her from the sidelines.

I don’t know about you, but at that age, I’m not sure I could’ve handled standing up to the very people who took half my family from me. Talia will grow to be a lot like her mother—if any of them get that far, of course.

Game of Thrones
Swooping is bad.

Speaking of the glue that holds this entire family together! But seriously, if Elissa were to die, I have very strong doubts the Forrester men could keep Ironrath from being completely steamrolled by Whitehill soldiers. At every turn, she calls for mercy and justice, as if the two were concepts as easily married as Roderik to Elaena. (Not so simple a task, apparently. The stats post-game claim only 47.2% of players were able to secure that match.) Still, I don’t see that as a character flaw. Someone has to be levelheaded in this whole mess, balancing the scales in the midst of chaos. Whether her guidance is too idealistic doesn’t necessarily mean she’s wrong, just that she has an ironclad sense of moral judgment. At least someone does around this place.

While we see little of Elissa this time around, the impassioned speech she delivers to her eldest over the graves of her husband and son is something to be reckoned with. This woman has outlived being on the wrong side of the Targaryen defeat, and now she faces the fall of yet another house in the Starks. I’m a little relieved, honestly, that we finally got to see Elissa’s well-forged iron exterior crack just a bit. She may have superhuman strength, but she’s still a human being, and she’s as entitled to grieve for her family as anyone else who’s suffered the pain of loss.

All I hope for at this point is that Elissa continues to remain a permanent fixture in the House Forrester narrative, even after her sons have finally gotten their heads out of their asses. Fingers crossed.

Oh, no. She did the thing.
I did the thing.

Perhaps the most surprising character development was the way that Mira handled the assault from Ser Damien—right after forging an alliance with Tyrion Lannister, of all people! Damn, Mira. I can’t speculate as to how someone like Sansa would have handled a situation like that, but murdering a high-ranking soldier in the Kingsguard definitely wasn’t the first possibility I would’ve leapt to. True, you only get the option for murder if you choose to save Tom, but it ranks as one of the most powerful moments in Game of Thrones thus far. As cruel as it may sound, who would miss one of the coal boys that run around King’s Landing? It’s the Guard-Commander people will notice has mysteriously gone silent. For Mira to choose Tom is as courageous as it is spectacularly reckless.

Out of all the characters you’re set to play throughout “The Lost Lords,” alliances feel the most dire in Mira’s hands, and this episode proves it. Get too close to Tyrion and you’ve got a bounty on your head. Stray too far from Margaery and your family loses the military support they desperately need. And with the way everyone is asking for favors from her? You would’ve thought she was the one betrothed to the king. The stakes are high for all the major players in this game, but the way the cards are starting to fall, it feels like Mira is playing with an entirely different deck. One with knives and poison, probably.

That concludes my weekly lady-loving recap! Check in again next Saturday to read about my misadventures picking fights with randos in Castle Black. And since there wasn’t nearly enough room in this article for all the screenshots I snapped, I’ll regale you with some of my favorites that didn’t make the cut. Enjoy!


You're not the next Supreme.
You’re not the next Supreme.
Oh my God, Mira, you can't just ask someone why they're a bastard.
Oh my God, Mira, you can’t just ask someone why they’re a bastard.
And in that moment, we were all Sera.
And in that moment, we were all Sera.

8 thoughts on “Women of Westeros: Feminism in Telltale’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ Episode 2

Add yours

    1. Too true! I was worried Telltale might botch that up with some misguided assumption that ~only men~ would play their game, but that so isn’t the case. Just the fact that Mira is playable in King’s Landing is pretty huge.

      Liked by 1 person

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