Turns out Euron’s kidnapping last week of Ellaria and her daughter Tyene was the demented pirate equivalent of a trip to Tiffany’s. He presented his prize at the Red Keep and then Cersei subjected Ellaria to the same horror that she herself had suffered with the loss of Myrcella, fatally poisoning Tyene with a kiss.
It was an eye-for-an-eye with a twist: Ellaria will now be made to spend the rest of her days rotting in a cell, alongside her daughter, who presumably will do so in more literal fashion. The punishment called back to Cersei’s own dark terror, expressed last season after Myrcella’s murder, about imagining dead loved ones decomposing in the grave. You will “watch her beautiful face collapse to bone,” Cersei told Ellaria.
Which is to say that like many punishments, it said more about the inflicter than the victim. It was a sign that even though Cersei 1) achieved ultimate power in spite of her enemies and oppressors, and 2) effectively solidified it through some savvy moves, she is still haunted by loss and fear and focused on settling old scores. At the same time Jaime, her closest companion, seems ever more uncertain about the future, which could be a problem.
It suggests that, as I’ve said before, Cersei’s venom probably won’t succeed as a long-term strategy. “Game of Thrones” seems to be about the evolution from a bloody, top-down monarchy-by-force to a more democratic way forward as humanity bands together to confront the White Walker threat, standing in for catastrophic climate change or some other Global Crisis to Be Named Later. The classic race to rule the Seven Kingdoms will eventually amount to a contest, to paraphrase Davos, to be the skeleton that sits on the Iron Throne.
But for now, before this entrenched game of thrones gets flipped on its revenge-addled head? It’s working out pretty well!
Of course it helps that the other side is floundering. Team Targaryen finally made the triumphant crossing of the Narrow Sea last season, and the armada was something to behold. Hundreds of ships, manned by Unsullied and Dothraki warriors. The Greyjoys, the Dornish Sands and House Tyrell along for the ride, with air support from the first three dragons anyone has seen in centuries. It looked like…