It’s not easy to be a woman in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Westeros is a brutal place dominated by terrible men, and although that may be changing rapidly as we charge into the show’s final two seasons, it’s still extremely rare to see two women forge a strong relationship as equals in this fictional world — at least as it’s portrayed on TV.
If you broaden your scope a little bit to include Telltale Games’ 2014 spinoff Game of Thrones video game, you’ll find a little-known feminist bright spot nestled within Westeros: the relationship between Mira Forester and Sera Durwell, two handmaidens serving soon-to-be Queen Margaery Tyrell.
The friendship between these two handmaidens develops during the game into one of intimacy and trust between two female characters — something unheard of in the larger GoT universe.
Telltale’s Game of Thrones, released episodically over about a year, focuses on the plight of a beat-up Northern House — much like that of the Starks in HBO’s show. Unlike the flagship series, the video game allows audience members to choose the actions of several characters within Westeros, including Mira. This power to dictate how characters act and react opens up some truly interesting relationships and alliances that shake up the status quo of Westeros.
The most groundbreaking of these is between Mira and Sera, which, with added player control, can blossom into a supportive bond. The uniqueness of this relationship within Westeros cannot be overstated, and neither can its impact on the world. Its existence proves that even in horrific Westeros, there’s still room for women to rely on one another.
A rare intimacy
Telltale’s Game of Thrones begins with the infamous Red Wedding —immediately establishing both its ties to the main series and the down-and-out status of its central family, the Forresters. Newly vulnerable to their longtime rival, House Whitehill, the Forresters attempt to regain their strength throughout the course of the game — and they’ve got a secret weapon in their eldest daughter, Mira.
Mira’s placement in King’s Landing as handmaiden to the ascendant Queen Margaery Tyrell makes her the perfect resource for her family, though it also means she’s putting herself at risk. As any fan of the show knows, the capital of Westeros is full of betrayal, deceit and broken alliances, which means Mira must be extra wary while trying to aid her family. The fact that Mira is able in these circumstances to build a bond with Sera, a young handmaiden from a minor House loyal to the Tyrells, is part of what makes their friendship special — even if its beginning is rocky.
During the first episode of the game, Mira is tasked with asking Margaery to help her family. Before she has this conversation, Mira can ask Sera to leave or stay in the room. If asked to leave, Sera gets upset; if asked to stay, she’ll caution Margaery against helping Mira. The very next time the two are together, however, Sera corrects course.
In this next meeting, which takes place in the royal gardens during the second episode of the game, Sera slowly relays her greatest secret, at first drinking wine for courage and talking around the subject. Eventually, she gathers her strength and reveals what she’s been hiding: She is actually a bastard — her true name is Sera Flowers, a reference to her place of birth. It’s a powerful moment and the game knows it, allowing the tension to build until the revelation.
In this world of court intrigue, Sera’s decided to entrust Mira with potentially life-ruining information. For the rest of the game, the player has the option of revealing this secret, but if they choose to keep it, the player will continually be rewarded with a helpful, courageous ally. Choosing to keep the secret also means the two handmaidens can remain friends until the bitter end. And, this being Westeros, it is undoubtedly bitter.
Why Mira and Sera’s friendship stands out
The stalwart relationship between these two handmaidens is so important because of its stark contrast to the rest of Westeros, where we almost only ever see hostile female relationships.
Think of the epic feud between Cersei and Margaery. What started with rough words devolves into a contest for control over the boy-king Tommen and ends with cold-blooded murder. When Arya looks for guidance in Braavos in season six, she finds only adversary in her female mentor, the Waif. Earlier in the series, Arya’s relationship with her older sister, Sansa, is also defined by conflict and bickering.
By contrast, the show gives us a fuller spectrum of male relationships. The bond between the Stark brothers, Jon Snow included, is particularly strong, and they regularly show their desire to protect one another at all costs — like when Robb takes on a band of wildlings to save Bran.
Of course, the show also features plenty of twisted male relationships. The difference is that we almost only ever see this type of female relationship.
That’s what makes Mira and Sera’s friendship so unique and powerful. Instead of following course, Telltale’s Game of Thrones took a risk — one that fundamentally changed what is possible in this world.
Is the show catching up?
The show’s treatment of female relationships is getting better, slowly.
Sansa and Brienne’s bond is still going strong, as is Daenerys and Missandei’s. At the same time, the Sand Snakes, Lady Olenna and Yara Greyjoy seem to be forming a matriarchal alliance with the Mother of Dragons. There’s even hope for a renewed relationship between the Stark Sisters — though there’s also speculation it might not be so friendly.
But the good news is you don’t have to wait to see if the show lives up to its potential. With a little help from Mira Forrester, you can make sure that there is at least one powerful female relationship to root for. In Westeros, that’s no little thing.
More gaming news and updates
Check out the latest from Mic, like this essay about the sinister, subtle evils lurking in rural America that Far Cry 5 shouldn’t ignore. Also, be sure to read our review of Tekken 7, an article about D.Va’s influence on one Overwatch player’s ideas about femininity and an analysis of gaming’s racist habit of darkening villains’ skin tones.