Warning: There are spoilers ahead if you have not watched the “Game of Thrones” season 5 premiere.
The fifth season of “Game of Thrones” kicked off in a huge way.
Viewers were introduced to many scenes that avid book readers have been anxious to see played out on screen. However, one of the most significant occurred in the episode’s first five minutes.
Last chance to head back before spoilers.
Season 5 opens with a bold young Cersei seeking out a fortune teller. While she’s not mentioned by name in the episode, fans of the series by George. R.R. Martin recognise the mysterious prophet as Maggy the Frog.
In the books and show, Cersei is told she can ask three questions. For fans of the novels, this seemed like a pretty clean cut scene to adapt. However, there was a big omission from the scene seen on screen Sunday evening.
The first question and answer were almost word for word from a scene of the books, found in chapter 12 of the fourth instalment, “A Feast For Crows.”
Here’s how it occurs in the television series:
Cersei: I’m promised to the prince. When will we marry?
Maggy: Never. You will wed the king.
Cersei: But I will be queen?
Maggy: Oh yes. You will be queen, for a time… until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.
Many fans of the books have analysed the last line from Maggy over and over again.
For a long time, the standing theory was that the “younger, more beautiful” person was another queen. Margaery Tyrell was a clear candidate and the most obvious choice. She is about to marry Tommen and become Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, and this means bad news for Cersei. The two have a simmering tension in both the books and the show, and it’s sure to boil over.
Another option to take down Cersei is Sansa Stark, whose schemes with Littlefinger seem to be quite ambitious and may have queenly intentions. But the wording from Maggy is tricky, and it’s never specified that this other figure is another queen or even in fact a woman.
Back in the show’s opening scene, Cersei moves on from this disconcerting answer, and asks her second question: “Will the king and I have children?” Maggy responds with: “The king will have twenty, you will have three.” Cersei tried to interrupt, clearly confused.
Readers and viewers alike now understand that her and the former king, Robert Baratheon, never conceived together; all of his children were bastards and all of hers were born from the incestual relationship she has with her brother, Jamie Lannister. Maggy continues, stating “Gold will be their crowns, and gold their shrouds,” before devolving into hysterical laughter.
This line can be interpreted in a few different ways. The gold crowns could be literal crowns, since Joffrey and Tommen were both crowned king. Perhaps Myrcella will also be Queen soon. But, it could simply refer to their hair colour: blonde, like their parents. “Gold their shrouds” is more direct: all of Cersei’s children will die.
In this moment of the show, book fans knew exactly what Maggy was going to say next. Or so they thought.
Instead, the scene quickly ended, cutting to present-day Cersei on her way to her father’s funeral. She’s clearly musing over how recent events seem to be playing out along Maggy’s predictions. And here is where many book readers were left dismayed. The book text has a third, and crucial, line in Maggy’s answer.
“And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
This is huge in the realm of Cersei-centric theories. Not only does the text make it clear that her children are going to die before her, but it also predicts her murder at the hands of “the valonqar.”
What is a valonqar?
In the High Valyrian language of the east, it means “little brother.” Knowing that, all minds may jump to Tyrion, the youngest of the Lannister children. He’s currently in hiding after being persecuted unfairly by Cersei for the death of her son Joffrey. But, just as with Maggy’s first prediction, there are alternate interpretations to this line.
Jaime, Cersei’s twin, lover, and father of her children, was born just after her. He is technically another of her “little brothers.” Could he turn on Cersei in the future, and strangle her to death? We’ve seen how tense their relationship has become since Jaime’s return to King’s Landing. Cersei loathed the loss of his hand, and therefore fighting skills, and now he blundered with releasing Tyrion and consequentially allowing his father to be murdered. Jaime is also becoming impatient with Cersei’s insistence on terrorizing Tyrion and her increasing paranoia. We have seen Jaime grow from the narcissistic “kingslayer” to a more compassionate and nuanced man.
The dramatic end to the fortune in the episode will make fans wonder why show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss left out such a seemingly important scene?Are they planning on re-visiting the flashback and finishing out the scene at some point? Or is it not as important as book readers thought, and not worth mentioning?
If it wasn’t worth mentioning, perhaps that’s because it sounded redundant and was already addressed in the first answer, where Cersei learns of “another, younger and more beautiful” who will cast her down. Could that individual be the same as the “valonqar”? As noted earlier, there is no gender associated with this younger and more beautiful enemy. Jaime Lannister, born moments after Cersei, is known for his devilish good looks across the kingdom. Jaime Lannister, whose character arc is leading him further and further away from the hateful and paranoid Cersei, could be her undoing.
Book readers will have to decide: is the show’s canon changing so much from it’s source material that Cersei’s fate is different, or was a huge fan theory just confirmed through deliberate manipulation of the text?
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