Game of Thrones season 8 episode 1: Why can't Sansa Stark and Daenerys Targaryen be friends?

Swetha Ramakrishnan

Apr 16, 2019 08:07:24 IST

Why should boys have all the fun?

Needless to say, the first episode of Game Of Thrones season 8 dominated all trends through Monday morning, resulting in an overdrive of memes and opinions (at this point are we even surprised?). Among the many talking points, one that stood out what the cold vibes between Daenerys Targaryen aka Mother of Dragons, and Sansa Stark, Lady of Winterfell. When Jon introduces the two ladies in Winterfell, Dany tells Sansa, “the North is as beautiful as your brother claimed, as are you,” to which Sansa replies, cheekily (as if to tell Dany she doesn't have to needlessly compliment her), “Winterfell is yours, your Grace.” Dany's immediate reaction is that of someone who is exploding from the inside, but maintains an icy and fake smile nonetheless.

 Game of Thrones season 8 episode 1: Why cant Sansa Stark and Daenerys Targaryen be friends?

Daenerys Targaryen in Winterfell. Screen grab from Hotstar.

So, there is tension between the two ladies. And why wouldn't there be? When Sansa became Lady of Winterfell in the previous season, she expected Jon, the King of the North, to be by her side. But she was left behind in Winterfell to deal with all the demons (and incessant questioning by their allies) while Jon went to make more allies, in Daenerys and Cersei Lannister, against the Army of the Dead. What's worse, Jon bent the knee for Daenerys in King's Landing and even told Cersei that he can't side with two Queens, that his loyalty lies with Dany. Dany and Jon then sail back to Winterfell (with a promise from Cersei that her armies are following), but the people of the North are upset at her arrival. There is distrust because of the previous history with the Targaryen clan. Dany is antsy and insecure, while Sansa is wary of her and protective of her land and people.

Sansa gives Dany the elevator eyes. Screen grab from Hotstar.

This conflict seems to be a natural progression of the chain of events that happened in season 7. If Jon has bent his knee for Dany, then who is the real Queen — Sansa or her? This is a looming feeling in the scene when they meet, so one can understand why the writers of GOT milked this. And then the internet caught on, because everybody loves drama:

But, there's a part of me that wonders if this conflict is necessary. Rohini Nair previously wrote about the lack of bonding between female characters in Westeros post the 6th episode of season 7, where she mentions, “Even if we were to go back over the series itself as a whole, there are few female friendships that really stand out —  certainly not in the way the Bronn-Jaime, Bronn-Tyrion, Jon-Sam or other male friendships do. Margaery was Sansa's confidante for a short while (but had her own reasons for insinuating herself into the Stark girl's good books). Dany had a somewhat close equation with her handmaidens — Jhiqui, Irri and Doreah (until her betrayal in Qarth) and later, with Missandei.”

It seems like the makers didn't feel that having two women solidly get along in the series is a pre-requisite, even though there are many boast-worthy friendships between men. This has led us to desperately want one, even though it may not even make sense keeping the larger story and character arcs in mind.

Would it be completely far-fetched to hope that Sansa and Dany would get along? They're both powerful women, who have sacrificed so much to be where they are. They're both smart, young, ambitious and have great regard for loyalty. Sure, both their houses have a complicated history, but that hasn't stopped characters in Game of Thrones from being allies and respecting one another in the past (ahem, if Dany and Tyrion can be friends, I don't see why not). At one point in the last season, it did seem like Arya and Sansa also were falling apart, but they completely turned tables in their favour, putting family first and making sure Petyr Baelish got what he deserved, ie, a gruesome death.

It's no surprise that a show like Game of Thrones would put conflict and drama on priority. It is what made the show so popular (along with repeated shock value). But picture this alternate scenario: Dany pulls up in Winterfell and her eyes light up when she sees Sansa. She approaches her with empathy and they start talking about the past few months, Dany's dragons (and how they will source food for them and the armies), and what they need to do to win this war (with inputs from Jon, of course). Dany then invites Sansa to ride the dragons with her, and not Jon, post which they strike up a strong friendship, one that sustains during the war and much after.

Is that too much to ask for?

While you're here, check out our Game of Thrones season 8 coverage. From opinions to analysis, reviews and recaps, news and photos — we've got it all. Oh, and also our podcast — GoTCast

Updated Date: Apr 21, 2019 13:44:31 IST