War between self-appointed kings and power-craving players continues to rage in the latest season of the fantasy-epic series “Game of Thrones,” HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s hit series of books.
While it started as a seemingly male-dominated conflict, some female characters were influential, or continue to wield power behind the scenes, ably guiding their prominently positioned allies.
The female equation figures considerably in the series, but more so in this third season. With the exception of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), a hostage formerly betrothed to the cruel boy-king Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), female characters plot for power, revenge or justice.
The villainous Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), Joffrey’s smug and power-tripping mother, is still around and so is the manipulative sorceress Melisandre of Asshai (Carice van Houten), who groomed her own would-be king.
But newer characters shine and prove themselves similarly intriguing and cunning. Joffrey’s new bride-to-be Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) is the young widow of a gay king. Now aiming to be the Seven Kingdoms’ new queen, she deftly maneuvers like a skilled politician, reaching out to the masses while becoming an invaluable presence to the current administration.
Her grandmother Olenna (Diana Rigg) is also well-versed in politics but is someone who doesn’t bother mincing words. Strategic and hard to perturb, she has the best interests of her clan in mind and makes no secret of her displeasure with their new allies, the Lannisters.
While young Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and the knight-woman Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) have been sidetracked from their main missions, they are still very much fierce and centered, further toughened by their new challenges. Both are seething at their separate ordeals.
The most impressive character of the third season, to date, is the exile Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), daughter of the deposed king and young widow of a nomadic ruler. Now with three growing dragons at her beck and call, she moves to reclaim the throne. But first she liberates an army of 8,000 soldiers from their abusive slave-masters, a fantastic feat that can be counted among the season’s—and the show’s—most memorable scenes. Daenerys, formerly a subservient wife, triumphantly leads a loyal army now!
Female characters often get openly mocked and threatened with violation on “Game of Thrones.” Apart from misogyny, there’s homophobia in the fantasy realm as well, making it reflective of real-life ills.
Thankfully, most of the females depicted are written as complex, self-aware individuals. The unappreciated strategist Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is the show’s main underdog but it’s full of women that are just easily dismissed and ridiculed, driven to fight harder and more relentlessly for equal treatment. They’re often underestimated in that brutal, braggadocio-filled world but girl power just might win the “game.”
(“Game of Thrones” season three airs on Saturdays, 8 p.m. on HBO.)