The Dornish Effect

Ellaria Sand was a cool chick. Stylish, elegant, quick-witted and frank, everyone liked Ellaria. Well, everyone except Cersei. That was in Season 4, which by the way seems an awfully long time ago. Then she went back to Dorne, got a haircut and mutated into Super Bitch #1, possibly ousting Cersei from that dubious honour. Maybe it was the hair thing, or perhaps the whole Disaster-That-Was-Dorne should be blamed.

We Don’t Hurt Little Girls in Dorne.

Whatever the case, the new Ellaria is vindictive, sly and deliberately shortsighted. Revenge poisoning Myrcella for Oberyn’s death doesn’t compute with ‘the punishment should fit the crime’. Oberyn seeking justice for the slaughter of his sister Elia and her children does. It is safe to say that Oberyn would never have approved of Ellaria’s misguided loyalty and murderous treachery. Cersei was right, people hurt little girls everywhere.

Doran’s Way and Peace or My Way and War – Ellaria Sand

The Hair Thing.

An interesting equation could be drawn between Ellaria’s coupe and Cersei’s crop. Ellaria may have cut her hair in mourning, and as a declaration of war. Cersei’s blonde tresses were shorn to an inch of her scalp, courtesy of the implacable lady of the bell, Septa Unella. In both instances austerity, punishment and retribution are implied. Will Cersei plummet from awful to terrible? Probably. Jaime’s return with dead Myrcella is likely to trigger a complete Cersei meltdown culminating in a frenzy of madness and blood revenge.

Game of Thrones Season 6 - Jaime returns with the body of Myrcella

So What Happened On That Ship.

This has been on my mind since last year. Did Jaime do the right thing? Did he sail back and deliver Trystane Martell safely on the shores of Sunspear? The old Jaime would head on to King’s Landing. He would deposit young Trystane, dead or alive, at the feet of his irrational sister, thereby justifying his failure to return Myrcella safe and sound, a ‘look what I brought you’ tactic. Jaime’s arc has been profound. The transformation from over-privileged rich kid with a cruel streak is a very different image from the one we have today. Losing a hand (he didn’t actually lose it, it was dangling like a daisy chain around his neck), goes a long way to building character.

Game of Thrones Season 6 - Jaime & Cersei

Will It Be War Or Peace.

House Martell has a complicated relationship with House Lannister. Tywin Lannister slighted young Elia Martell when she and her brother travelled to Casterly Rock in search of potential marriage suitors. Tywin offered the dwarf baby Tyrion as future husband to Elia. A greater insult could not have been possible.

On the other side of the spectrum, Dorne was the only one of the seven kingdoms to withstand the Targaryen onslaught of Aegon the Conqueror. Eventually Houses Martell and Targaryen were united in marriage, the most recent being between Elia Martell and Rhaegar Targaryen. During Robert’s Rebellion and the Sack of King’s Landing, Tywin Lannister ordered the murder of Elia and her children by Gregor Clegane the Mountain and Amory Lorch. Rhaegar was killed by Robert Baratheon at the Battle of the Trident. Mad King Aerys Targaryen was slain by his own Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister, hence and forever known as “Kingslayer’.

With the death of Myrcella, all ties between House Martell and House Lannister are severed. This, along with war, was Ellaria Sand’s intention. If Jaime kills Trystane Martell or takes him to Cersei, Prince Doran’s hand would be forced. The question is this; when will Doran discover the truth. Will it be disdainfully revealed by Ellaria herself in a show of bravado or by a freed Prince Trystane? Or will it be weeks before the news leaks back to Sunspear?

Any one of these scenarios should result in the execution of Ellaria Sand.

As for war, House Lannister is in turmoil. The King is weak, the Queen Mother scorned, the High Sparrow and Faith Militant run amok in King’s Landing. The Iron Hand of the King, Tywin Lannister, is no longer. Rumours of troop deployment to the North and Riverrun are rife. The Lannister army can advance north or south. It cannot do both. And who would march as far south as south goes for a dead princess and a Dornishman?

From House Martell’s point of view, a successful defence of Dorne would require support from other Dornish houses. An attack on King’s Landing in the event of Trystane’s death seems ambitious, a fool’s errand. Prince Doran is a cautious man, not inclined to seek out war unless it is thrust upon him. Or until he forms an alliance with a new Targaryen Queen.

Photos Helen Sloan / HBO

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26 Comments Add yours

  1. GREAT analysis. If things were different between the crown and House Tyrell, then Highgarden could be called upon to put pressure on the Dornish while the Lannisters figure out what they’re doing closer to home. But Cersei didn’t really make things easy by getting the Faith Militant to incarcerate Loras and Margaery, as Lady Olenna clearly has surmised.

    1. joanna says:

      Thank you Patrick – that’s a big compliment coming from you. Even without Cersei’s malicious blunder, I’m not sure that Olenna could sway the Dornish in any way. Isn’t the relationship between House Martell and House Tyrell pretty bad?

      1. I probably needed to be clearer in what I was saying. I mean, had Cersei not burned the proverbial bridge between their houses, the Tyrells might have been willing to put pressure on Dorne militarily, because there is a bad relationship between the Martells and Tyrells.

        If hostilities were breaking out between Dorne and the crown, and the Lannister-supported regime was at a disadvantage because their troops are off “peacekeeping” in the Riverlands, it’s possible that the Tyrells could blockade some ports, get some troops on the border, stuff like that.

        But Highgarden has no reason to invest in a Lannister-Martell dispute now. (Unless Olenna decides to patch things up with Doran and join up…)

      2. joanna says:

        She may just do that (Olenna). She’s pretty ticked off with the Lannisters right now, namely Cersei, and there’s no-one to stop the madness. House Lannister is crumbling before our eyes. I think Dorne is a wild card this season. It’s out of the fold and unpredictable. Olenna may also be weighing up the pros and cons of the marriage alliance with the Lannisters.

      3. It’s so cool that you said “wild card.” I’m currently working on a Game of Thrones wild card post, to be published in April. (I have to work on these things weeks in advance.) I have a different group of people as my season wild cards. (I’m not saying who yet.)

      4. joanna says:

        Really? I would love to read that. When I blog about Game of Thrones, I think about what’s on my mind and start writing. No preparation or plan. And as I write, other ideas pop into my head, like the hair thing between Ellaria and Cersei. I am awful :)

      5. The hair thing was great! And you can read my wild card post in about a month and a half. Since you follow my blog, you’ll know about it a day before Twitter does, since I publish on Tuesdays, and promote it on Wednesdays.

      6. joanna says:

        God you’re organised. You have days when you blog? I blog ‘whenever’. There was a gap when I was mute for more than a year. What’s your twitter account?

      7. I release some random blog posts whenever, but I try to get my Game of Thrones posts out on Wednesday, for Westeros Wednesday. Which means I actually schedule them to be released on a Tuesday, since I can’t wait until Wednesday. My blog followers have a chance to see it early, then, sort of, and on Wednesday I tweet it out.

        My Twitter account is @patman23

      8. joanna says:

        I found you all by my lonesome. No reply waiting for me. What on earth is Westeros Wednesday?

      9. When I decided to blog Game of Thrones bi-monthly and weekly, I decided to do it on Wednesdays (but actually on Tuesdays…) so on Wednesday I’d tweet it out I’d also post them on Facebook, on various Facebook groups, like I Can’t Stop Watching Game of Thrones, and Red Viper’s Revenge, and other groups. And I’d say “Hey, It’s Wednesday, Game of Thrones Wednesday, and here’s a new post blah blah blah.”

        Then someone on one of the groups once responded “Yay! It’s Westeros Wednesday and time for another of Pat’s blog posts!” – and I was delighted with the alliteration, so I completely absconded with the phrase. So when I post now, I try to hashtag it as #WesterosWednesday.

        Probably a longer story than you needed.

      10. joanna says:

        It’s a great story – love it. And the phrase Westeros Wednesday is perfect. I thought it might be some important Westerosi anniversary of a massacre or whatever, being an ignorant non-book reader n’ all.

      11. No, it’s all about my publishing schedule. (Tuesdays are Secret Targaryen Tuesdays.)

        I’m glad you liked the story behind the phrase.

      12. joanna says:

        And there are secret Targaryen Tuesdays? This is getting better and better.

      13. Well, since I schedule the blog posts to be published on Tuesdays… that’s the secret part. So all my loyal blog followers get to be Secret Targaryens! Vie for the Iron Throne! Take what is yours with Fire and Blood! Joanna Targaryen!

      14. joanna says:

        Joanna Targaryen, Mother of Cats, Khaleesi of the Aegean Sea, I like it

      15. eagleeyes05 says:

        Wild card is definitely the right way to describe Dorne. With Cersei so caught up with her feud with Margaery, the Dornish problem has fallen to the wayside. The question that everyone in Sunspear keeps asking is when is Prince Doran going to finally do something about the injustices committed against his family. I think Doran is cautious, but not cowardly. Cersei’s reaction to Myrcella’s death (which I’m sure will be rash given her recent experiences) might be the thing that pushes him over the edge. He may not take up arms right away. He can’t even lead an army in his condition. But Dorne is a logical stopping point for a certain someone else, who will have to travel west from Essos. I can barely contain my excitement for what comes next. Do you have any thoughts on a logical stopping point for the show (numbers of seasons)?

      16. joanna says:

        I only know what I’ve read. Initially D.B. Weiss and David Benioff talked about 7 season to match 7 books, the complete projected book series. Now it seems HBO is loathe to relinquish the goose that lays the golden egg. Discussions for an 8th season are on the table, and I’m sure HBO is pressuring the showrunners for even more. But David and Daniel want to end the show on a high and not turn it into a soap opera. They said they’ll wrap it up when they feel the story has been told. It also depends on filtering a potentially massive amount information from unfinished book content. How much should be portrayed, condensed, altered or left behind. We know the show is now going its’ own way, but J.R.R. Martin has outlined main plot points. My best guess would be 8 seasons.

        Regarding Cersei, her influence has been seriously diminished. She will probably try to emotionally blackmail Jaime into going to war with Dorne. But I doubt something like that will happen. Kevan Lannister holds the keys to the Lannister army. And Kevan holds no stock in Cersei’s wants or needs. Doran may be outraged when he learns of Myrcella’s death, but not enough to make a move. Unless Jaime didn’t do the right thing and Prince Trystane is killed. I agree about a certain arrival from Essos. I think I mentioned something along those lines at the end of my post, but didn’t want to spell it out. Once these two land masses were joined. It seems a logical sea path.

        I can’t wait for Season 6. If someone wanted to find a way to torture me, this is it.

      17. eagleeyes05 says:

        Yeah. I saw that. I never know how much to spell out with these things. The plot of the books seem to lead to an obvious conclusion, but the show can be taking it in a completely different direction.

      18. joanna says:

        All our obvious conclusions won’t help us. Nothing is logical or as it seems on GOT and yet everything is – eventually.

  2. Thanks for following me on Twitter! My Social Media Presence grows by leaps and bounds!!!!

    1. joanna says:

      As does mine. Kinda.

  3. jennnanigans says:

    Hola! Loved this entry. Are you going to do an update on the Dornish Problem now that things are going down in season 6? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    1. joanna says:

      Hola chica! Well, I was way off about Ellaria gettin’ the chop :) I thought it would be the other way round – damn. Jaimie did the right thing by Trystane, although he didn’t leave him back in Dorne. But those pesky Sand Snakes would’ve still bumped him off either way. One of the rare occasions Cersei isn’t responsible for a King’s Landing murder. I wish they would change the S/S actresses or give them non-speaking parts.

      Myrcella’s death only seems to confirm Maggy the Frog’s prophesy to Cersei – she now knows only it’s a matter of time before Tommen dies.

      Right now I can’t imagine the role Dorne will play. Ok, they march off to King’s Landing and then what? Potential allying with another force outside the city walls? On the other hand, won’t Doran’s offspring want revenge?

      I thought of a scenario where Daenerys sails over the Narrow Sea and lands in Dorne (with Dothraki, Unsullied, Second Sons in tow), but that seems like something way into the future.

      1. jennnanigans says:

        Danaerys sailing to Dorne – I can see that. The Quentin Martell storyline was bumped but the showrunners might still try to connect the dots another way. Maybe Varys can get in touch with Dorne – I don’t recall what interacation he had with Oberyn or Ellaria, if any, but he must have connections down there and Ellaria might be interested in making friends with another enemy of Westeros.
        Agree on the S/S actresses. They were so cool in the book and in the show they’re sort of CW-level casting at best. Or maybe it’s the direction – they act like people trying to act like badasses instead of acting like people who KNOW they’re badasses.
        I’m not sure what the long game for Dorne is – I can see them allying with Danaerys if she goes there, which to me would be the smartest route for her, but yeah, that would be a loooot of set up and we’re halfway through the season already.

      2. joanna says:

        Well, Dorne is the closest route from Essos, and originally one land mass I think. About Danaerys with all the forces in tow, this is an idea I’ve supported for some years now. Not sure about a warm welcome from Dorne though.

        The only time in the show (that I can remember) when Ellaria was in the vicinity of Varys was at the Purple Wedding. But they never spoke.

        Re: the S/S, awful choice in casting and tragic dialogue. And shouldn’t Tyene be taller and more amazon like as both Oberyn and Ellaria are tall? Wannabe Ninjas let’s go into Mama’s closet and play dress up.

        I really don’t know, as you suggested, what I could write as a follow up right now. Dorne is one massive question mark and doesn’t seem to be a major player.

        Unless Ellaria turns up with an army in King’s Landing at the same time House Tyrell, Jaimie and co. besiege the Sept to free Margaery ..

        Whaddya think about that? :)

        Or maybe the Last Stand against the White Walkers will be staged in Dorne .. as far south as south goes

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