Brow Beat

This Week’s Worst Person in Westeros: The Racist Girls of Winterfell

Two young white girls in Winterfell's courtyard look suspiciously at Missandei.
Microaggressions are coming.
HBO

After each episode in Game of Thrones Season 8 , we’ll be answering a crucial question: Who is currently the worst person in Westeros? This week, editorial assistant Rachelle Hampton is joined by Slate staff writer Inkoo Kang.

Rachelle Hampton: Hi Inkoo, and thanks for helping me decide who’s the worst person in Westeros in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” Last week was all about reunions and table-setting and honestly this week was more of the same, with some last-day-on-Earth vibes thrown in for good measure. Considering the existential crisis looming in the background, this episode was remarkably uneventful, featuring lots of battle prep and extremely weird conversations, such as Tormund’s un-asked-for explanation of his name. It felt too much like the filler episode it was, something to go in between the laying of the chessboard and the big battle.

But to rewind a little bit, the episode opens with Jaime in Winterfell, pleading his case to not be burned alive by Daenerys’ dragons. In a heel turn from last week, Sansa and Dany seem to be on the same side here and gunning for some extra crispy Lannister. But Brienne steps in, leading Sansa and Jon to agree that Jaime can stay alive. Dany is, as always, pissed. Her opening monologue about the sadistic plans she and her brother once laid for when they captured Jaime made me roll my eyes so hard I think I saw my brain. Since she and her dearly departed brother weren’t on great terms, it felt weird to me that she chose to evoke him now, but honestly that was the least of her transgressions this episode. Inkoo, is she, as I suggested last week, still the worst?

Inkoo Kang: Dany is a very good candidate for the Worst Person in Westeros this week, what with the tantrum she threw at Tyrion for giving his sister the benefit of the doubt about maybe having a heart, when she opened the episode by admitting that she used to fantasize with her brother Viserys about avenging their (by all accounts terrible) father’s death. Also, that “I see one man, with one hand” dig at Jaime—not cool.

This was a strange (and anticlimactic) episode indeed; the Last Night atmospherics seldom felt all that Last Night–y. Mostly, it was the Jaime Lannister Redemption Tour, which ironically set up Jaime as a prime WPiW contender. Yes, he was very sweet to Brienne, especially in that impromptu knighting ceremony, and yes, it was nice to see the Lannister brothers make up after letting Cersei come between them one too many times. But this episode was basically a laundry list of every bad thing Jaime has ever done, which is a lot! He effectively orphaned Dany, shoved Bran out a window, and enabled Cersei’s awfulness for decades, including to his own little brother. Even now, Jaime tried to claim that Cersei had him duped—thank the old and new gods that Tyrion called him out on that bit of self-delusion/reputation salvaging.

The only person who seems to have really gotten the Last Night memo was Arya. What did you think of her seduction (and seduction technique), Rachelle?

Hampton: My roommates can attest to the fact that I’ve yelled something along the lines of “get it, girl” anytime Arya and Gendry have been on screen together this season, so suffice to say I was extremely into this little tryst. I think it got to the heart of the impending doom more than any other Last Night shenanigans, their chemistry was better than most of the couples we’re left with, and her line “I’m no witch, take your pants off yourself” might’ve made the entire episode worth it. I will say that the entire time I was trying to figure out exactly how old both of them were and then quickly decided to give up and enjoy one of the only highlights of the episode.

Of the other Winterfell couples that we were theoretically supposed to be shipping, I think Jaime and Brienne are at the top. But like you said, tonight’s episode seemed more like a lowlights reel for Jaime, and his lack of chemistry with Brienne didn’t exactly help. Let them be friends! Tyrion’s call-out was more than well-deserved, but that was probably the apex of his witty banter this episode. I found myself repeatedly getting frustrated with Tyrion, because despite the many people who have vouched for how clever he is, he’s been very dumb of late. Trusting Cersei was an amateur-level mistake and he hasn’t exactly done much this season to prove himself the mastermind that’s going to help Dany woo Westeros. Were Tyrion’s repeated flubs enough to make him the worst?

Kang: I’m on the record saying that the show outgrew Tyrion shortly after Season 4, when he killed his father. I’m not sure why, but the writers have been going out of their way since to depict Tyrion as an incompetent bumbler. There truly was no reason why he should’ve trusted Cersei when they met at King’s Landing last season (or bothered to capture a wight to scare his sister straight, because she’s never been a long-term planner anyway).

Part of the Last Night shenanigans was wrenching apart people who seem like ideal partners. The last scene of the episode did that with Jon and Dany, when the Warden of the North Formerly Known as Jon Snow revealed his claim to the throne. Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington have approximately negative chemistry together, but the cleft between the Targaryen aunt and nephew at least has something at stake, story-wise. I’m not really sure why we’re supposed to care that the Khaleesi might ditch her current hand and promote Ser Friendzone instead.

While everyone willing to fight for Team Human gathered at Winterfell and tried to get over their individual, familial, and tribal resentments to work together at a group, there were two conspicuous exceptions to that project in this episode. What was up with the two little girls who wouldn’t talk to Missandei because of her skin color, and are you also hoping that they end up with a fate similar to Lord Umber’s as a fucked-up 3D Magic Eye art installation?

Hampton: The show’s writers have gone out of their way to spin the Northern resentment toward Dany and her army as justified fear of another Targaryen ruler, though Tyrion assures us that she’s not like other girls Targaryens. And still, despite the hedging that it’s really a dislike for Dany and not just garden-variety xenophobia, the racism leapt out, ruining what otherwise would’ve been a sweet scene between Grey Worm and Missandei.

Underlying the two’s entire conversation, from Grey Worm asking, “Do you really want to die in a place like this?” to Missandei saying she wanted to go back to the beaches of Naath, was that instantly recognizable vibe of these white people are crazy. Even in the face of an army of dead people, those two little girls—and by extension the North—still found time to be bigoted toward the people defending them. For that, I think that they deserve to be crowned this week’s worst people in Westeros.

Kang: No one deserves a vacation more than Grey Worm and Missandei. Grow old in the sun, you two.

Hampton: Even in a world of casual twincest and undead armies, it’s comforting to know that good old-fashioned racism still makes you the worst.