Spoiler warning: Swim into these spoiler-infested waters at your peril. This post discusses events on Game of Thrones through season 4 and in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.
Dear Lords Benioff and Weiss of House HBO, Kings of the Five Premium Cable Channel Realms:
It has come to our attention that there have been no ravens announcing the casting of a certain kingsmoot for the fifth season of your charming little program, Game of Thrones. And while people may bemoan the absence of the rapidly-aging Bran Stark—will he grow a full beard by the time season six production starts?—and his method of transport, Hodor, no one sings songs for squids.
What worth is an Iron Throne without an ironborn trying to claim it?
Could you really see fit to forget about one of the oldest, greatest houses in Westeros? We are descended from the Grey King himself; the blood of the Andals runs with the salt in our veins. We sacked Lannisport for fun, by the Drowned God! No other house can claim that. House Greyjoy will not stand for such insult lightly. Consider this missive a declaration of open war as we take what is owed—paid for not by gold nor iron, but by the value of modern marketing force.
We are coming to reave your Sunday night primetime hours with a spinoff.
While you are powerless to stop us, a Greyjoy spinoff doesn’t have to be a negative. House AMC is proving its own might on this battlefield with continued stories set in the worlds of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. There is no reason to doubt that Game of Thrones couldn’t support many, many more stories—some of which might also have been half-finished by Ser George R. R. Martin! Besides, how much of that viewing audience is sticking around post-Thrones for the weak-armed, slovenly children on offer from House Silicon Valley?
We even have a series name. And it’s a hell of a lot better than Fear the Walking Dead.
Are you ready?
I know what you’re thinking. Why give the third most-hated house in all of the Seven Kingdoms a drama of their own? But allow us to put the Greyjoy hate in some wider context. Yes, we are largely a humorless bunch of unrepentant assholes. We raid, rape, enslave. But seriously? We are fucking pirates. What do you expect? Lemon cakes and lies? Our house motto is at least as honest as House Stark’s. “We do not sow.” Says it right there on the banner. There is literally no place to farm when you live on a collection of rocky islands with no arable soil. Plundering is in our nature and conveniently justified by our religion. It’s not an excuse. It’s a reality.
Keep your clownish pirates for a bloated Disney franchise. The Greyjoy brothers are the compelling heroes of their own twisted stories.
Let’s start with Aeron “Damphair” Greyjoy, the youngest son of the late Lord Quellon. (What’s dead may never die.) He used to be a pirate like his brothers, but now he’s a priest. A priest that worships The Drowned God, also known as He Who Dwells Beneath the Waves, also known as a Deep One, whose reign was so powerful, the Andals could not supplant him with the Seven. The tentacle imagery surrounding House Greyjoy and the Seastone Chair is no mere accident. Neither is the ritual of holy drowning. Not only are the ironborn pirates, they are Cthulhu-worshiping pirates. You can’t really get more hardcore than a little Lovecraft in your lore.
We even have the perfect casting for Damphair: the wild-eyed, scruffy poet-actor known as Viggo Mortensen. What’s he been up to these days? Perhaps going method and weaving some seaweed into his beard in preparation?
If Damphair isn’t enough of a draw, perhaps the hijinks of Euron “Crow’s Eye” Greyjoy are twisted enough to fill the Al Swearengen-shaped hole in viewers’ hearts since the untimely cancellation of Deadwood. His ship is called Silence because the thralls aboard it have had their tongues ripped out. By Euron. Who is also known for being darkly handsome, a drug addict, and the meanest, most unpredictable man in Westeros. Even when King Joffrey was still alive. Why waste such a good lunatic? Did we mention he has an eyepatch? Because he does. Which lends him instant visual recognition of his authority to kick your ass.
Might we be point you towards the legions of Mads Mikkelsen fanart clamoring for him to portray a one-eyed mad man once more?
The only person possibly crazier and crueler than Euron is his brother Victarion. There really must be something sinister in the water at Pyke to produce such a family of maladjusted miscreants. Victarion, who was so foolishly given permission to sail to Meereen to propose to Daenerys Targareon on Euron’s behalf. (See? Unpredictable!) This is the man who beat his third wife to death because she was seduced (or possibly definitely not seduced) by Euron. This is the man who wears full plate armor on a ship because fuck drowning. But he’s a big fan of the act, drowning literal boatloads of innocent concubines and coming to worship both The Drowned God and R’hllor, because dedicating your service to only one death-demanding deity isn’t insane enough.
The Greyjoys are not victims of circumstance, at the very least.
Circumstances are created by a plot and while we’re being honest, the show Game of Thrones has zero plots to give us. Asha running away from some Northern bastard’s dogs is a climax? And the books? Probably even worse because there are chapters and chapters of Greyjoys doing admirably wicked things… for no foreseeable endgame. But at least Victarion does more than whine about his first wife over lavish meals with a fat Pentoshi cheese-monger, like a certain Imp.
House Greyjoy recognizes that Victarion sailing east to Daenerys to give her a magical MacGuffin dragonhorn is likely a total waste of time. Because, what, we already spent how much of A Dance with Dragons watching a pasty and plain Martell nerd get rejected by her? Perhaps that dragonhorn shall come to this Eastern queen by other hands on the television show, but in the book Daenerys also still needs a lot of ships to sail to King’s Landing. Who better to provide a fleet than a Greyjoy sailing into to Meereen?
And here lies the real reason so many hearts are cold on krakens.
The readers are still just that bitter about A Feast for Crows. But the Greyjoys are hardly responsible for the infamous Meerenese knot that facilitated such diversions from the main characters. The Greyjoys are hardly responsible for anything in A Song of Ice and Fire, or at least no acts worse than those perpetuated by the Lannisters or Freys. We were never sworn to the North and Theon was never authorized to sack Winterfell. We never even killed a real Stark!
The Greyjoy name still has a legacy, despite evidence to the contrary.
Perhaps the Greyjoy brothers’ bad reputation is because their very existence—and their conspicuous absence from Game of Thrones’ fifth season—confirms the nagging suspicion that fans of George R. R. Martin have been too uncomfortable to voice: George R. R. Martin doesn’t know what shore he’s sailing towards. By a twist of logic worthy of Crow’s Eye, shouldn’t a skeptical fan perhaps, then… love the Greyjoys for the validation they provide?
We’ll let you simmer on that for a bit. After all, Sers Benioff and Weiss, you are so simple, you cannot even be expected to keep Asha Greyjoy and Osha-the-Wildling names’ straight.
Either way, reavers are going to reave and leave the haters in their wake.
Balon “Not Dead Yet” Greyjoy, Lord Reaper of Pyke, King of the Iron Islands, Executive Producer of Damp Heirs
Game of Thrones returns to HBO Sunday, April 12th at 9PM E/PT.
Lady Theresa of House DeLucci (Sigil: Battle-Corgi on a field of purple; Motto: “Short of leg, big of mouth”) is excited to review the new season of Game of Thrones on Tor.com, with or without krakens. Her TV coverage has also appeared on Boing Boing. Send her a raven on Twitter.