Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Where every decision you make is a shitty one and nobody thanks you for your efforts. I’ve learned a lot poking my way through “Women of Westeros” and three episodes of anxiety-inducing gameplay, which I will most graciously impart on all of you now, should you ever choose to play or watch this game unfold. Always remember these tricks when furthering your agenda in Westeros if you want to survive the week:
What’s going on and why wasn’t I invited to the party, you ask? For the past two weekends, I’ve been summarizing what I strongly feel are some defining feminist moments in Telltale’s interpretation of Game of Thrones. Episode one introduced a whole host of ass-kicking women, while episode two began to realize their full potential as characters in their own right. Caught up on both yet? Cool. Let’s tackle “The Sword in the Darkness” together and see where we’re at now that Telltale’s leading ladies have had enough time to settle into their daily war-torn reality worthy of a fandom shipping dispute.
For the record: Tuttle/Cotter and Mira/Beshka. Fight me.
We’re back in Essos again keeping up with the exiled lord and his merry band of passive aggressive warriors. Honestly, I can’t say I’m surprised Malcolm took offense to Asher “choosing” Beshka over him mid-fight. He certainly claims he’s not jealous of Asher’s friendship with her, but I’m starting to think the man doth protest too much. Speaking of fighting, let’s just get this out of the way: Beshka is one hardass daughter of a bastard. When the Lost Legion came barreling into the cave, who was the one facing down the dragon for the majority of the skirmish? Who traveled all the way to Meereen despite something in their past potentially getting drudged up and jeopardizing their life? And who handles Croft from the Second Sons while two boys sit on their asses complaining about petty infighting? Yeah. I thought so.
It’s interesting seeing the way Malcolm and Beshka play off each other—the hardened soldier with a duty to his family name and the sellsword with a good heart and something to prove. They’re both loyal to a fault, particularly when it comes to Asher, which could either make or break their working relationship when he needs them both most. I think the crucial difference is: Malcolm sees the Asher he wants, while Beshka sees the Asher who is. That’s a testament to how truly grounded and necessary her counsel will be. Would you rather someone with an obvious agenda at your side, or someone who understands who you are and what you value? No offense, Malcolm, but Beshka is better than you.
More ladies kicking ass! This time around, Talia goes through a delightful little transformation that was truly a pleasure to witness. In past episodes, the youngest Forrester girl has been steadily pushing her brothers to stand up to the Whitehills and assert their lordship. But much like Tyrion imparts this wisdom on Oberyn, “If you’re looking for justice, you’ve come to the wrong place,” the entire game is structured atop the concept of biding your time and letting shit go. It’s a hard lesson in Game of Thrones that, unless learned very quickly, usually gets you killed.
What I’m really excited about is the fact that we’re finally starting to see the bigger picture in terms of Talia’s character growth. She rises to challenge a Whitehill guard and even Gryff himself, but, like Ethan, Rodrik had to pay the price for it (assuming you stepped in to defend her, which … I’m just going to assume you did because why wouldn’t you, damn). In the past, Talia could get away with making small mistakes like these that just ended up snowballing, but making too many of them? Kind of gets people into trouble. She shares a heartfelt conversation with Rodrik at the end of the episode confessing that, although she doesn’t agree with letting Gryff steamroll them, she’ll learn to adapt and do what she must for the family. My heart swelled, folks. It really did. Talia may survive everyone yet!
While it seems as though Talia’s been pushed to the forefront of the action, Elissa has receded to the background, which was something I was afraid might happen. It’s no secret that the portrayal of motherhood in modern media is abysmal, but I’m giving the Telltale team here the benefit of the doubt in this particular case. Not much is really happening in Ironrath to begin with, considering the impasse the Forresters have now reached with the Whitehill soldiers. Moreover, it seems as though the small council at large is doing less to help than Elissa is—if that’s even possible.
With Gwyn’s big reveal that one of Rodrik’s own is actually spying on the family for the Whitehills, your perception of those close to you as the player navigating this pit of snakes only frames Elissa in a more favorable light. Her motives, at least, have always been clear and unchanging: to keep her family alive. But the motives of Duncan, Royland, and Ortengryn? Still questionable. Calling it now: the Maester is the rat in Forrester’s council. He’s like the butler cliché, only even more unassuming. The only way Elissa could be the rat is if Telltale pulls an Elementary (and I won’t elaborate on that for those of you who haven’t had the immense pleasure of watching the show). Either way, she’s still a formidable character and I’m keeping an open mind with what’s in store for her.
The worst part of this episode was, by far, the mad dash through King’s Landing to make it to Tyrion’s room before the guards catch you. (And by “worst,” I mean both exhilarating and terrifying.) I’m telling you, Mira lives a more dangerous life than even Asher does—and he’s a mercenary! The more alliances and deals she makes, the more entrenched she becomes in the politics that determine the rise and fall of everyone, noble or not. Mira’s been playing fast and loose with loaded dice when her own life and the survival of her entire family hangs in the balance. Rodrik and Asher have it rough, but jesus, this girl has been in over her head since “Iron From Ice.”
When the Whitehill merchant approaches Mira with a potential business deal, she considers his offer with a coolness that one might have over a tea and biscuits luncheon. Not, you know, during the most anticipated wedding of the last century just after a guard basically accused you of killing the Guard-Commander in broad daylight. Part of me worries that Mira will lose herself in the coming storm—that if she learns to play this game well enough, she’ll have to leave some of her humanity behind. It’s good Tom has stayed with her through all of this, since he’s been a far better friend and confidant to Mira than anyone else on that trash heap of a city. Sansa doesn’t even have that much, so maybe we’re in the clear.
And that concludes our little women in Westeros series for this week! Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the extra screenshots and corny captions that didn’t make the cut.