In Westeros, as in real life, women’s thoughts are often drowned out by the musings of self-important men — which is especially disheartening, considering the women on Game of Thrones tend to have some pretty valuable insights to share.
Case in point: Gilly’s apparent uncovering of Jon Snow’s lineage during season seven’s “Eastwatch” episode, which aired Sunday — a discovery that gets buried under a frustrated outburst from her partner, Samwell Tarly.
Episode five finds Sam, a maester-in-training, combing through the citadel records of the very meticulous High Septon Maynard. Sam is quietly fuming, marinating in indignation after a table full of maesters laughed off a raven from Bran Stark, warning that the Army of the Dead was bearing down on the Seven Kingdoms.
Sam, having seen the White Walkers with his own eyes, is keenly aware of the danger they pose. His elders nonetheless dismiss both Bran’s vision and Sam’s protests, leaving Sam so butt-hurt and distracted that, when Gilly drops what should be a pretty astounding revelation, Sam doesn’t hear her at all.
The big reveal comes when Gilly, flipping curiously through the pages of a hefty old volume across the table from Sam, begins throwing out details from Maynard’s records: He counted every step and every window in the Citadel, along with his every bowel movement, she remarks, before asking Sam what the word “annulment” means.
“It’s when a man sets aside his lawful wife,” Sam explains, without giving any indication he’s actually listening.
“Maynard says here that he issued an annulment for Prince Raggar and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne,” Gilly continues, seeming quite clearly to mean Prince Rhaegar, as in Rhaegar Targaryen.
If the person Rhaegar secretly married was Lyanna Stark, Jon Snow’s real mother, then it would seem that the King in the North is actually the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, outranking even Daenerys, Rhaegar’s little sister.
The correct response here would have been, “Say more, Gilly.” Instead, Sam cuts her off in exasperation, launching into a tirade about the idiocy of people ignoring very important information that they’d probably find staring them right in the face, should they take the time to remove their heads from their own asses. Ironic, no?
“These maesters, they set me to the task of preserving that man’s window counting and annulments and bowel movements for all eternity, while the secret to defeating the Night King is probably sitting on some dusty shelf somewhere, completely ignored,” Sam rants. “But that’s all right, isn’t it? We can all become slathering murderous imbeciles enthralled to evil incarnate as long as we can have access to the full records of High Septon Maynard’s 15,782 shits.”
That number, 15,782, is actually the number of steps in the Citadel, another detail Sam might have noted had he actually been listening to what Gilly was saying.
Frustrating as Sam’s tiny tirade proved for viewers, it was also eminently relatable — remember that resounding “same here” offered up by women on the internet after not one but two men interrupted California Sen. Kamala Harris during her questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a June Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing? Whether they are senators, Supreme Court justices or just helpful partners pointing out crucial-yet-overlooked details, women are forever being silenced by men who believe their opinions are more worthwhile.
On Game of Thrones, the scene probably signals that a reveal of Jon Snow’s true royal status is imminent. More immediately, though, it offers yet another reminder that men should really start listening to the women of Westeros.