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“Less and Fewer”: Game of Thrones, Spoils of War, Reviewed.

August 8, 2017

davos

The moment my heart leaped the most during the most recent episode of Game of Thrones?   Was it the chance to see dragons in a battlefield situation?  Was it the cave of epiphany?  Was it the reunion at Winterfell?

No, it was a moment when Davos quoted the late Stannis Baratheon and became a grammar pedant.

Stannis “Macbeth” Baratheon was a hard man to love, though Davos tried and tried and tried.  But there’s a delicious scene from way back when where he won my love by replying to an underling who reported that “we’ve got less men than them” with the grammatical correction – “Fewer.  We have fewer men.”  Someone who in a  moment of supreme crisis takes time out from life or death strategic decision-making to correct another person’s grammar can’t be all bad.  Such a man you could follow to the end.

And last night Davos corrected Jon Snow in exactly the same way.  How many men do we have in the North?  Ten thousand?  Less?  “FEWER!”

When we first met Davos he was illiterate.  And now’s he’s a grammar pedant.  It’s a wonderful ascent, and the whole less/fewer thing was the most wonderful thing that any of us saw last night.

For sure we saw Cersei actually repay a bank load – a magical moment for sure, and the supreme highlight of almost any other episode.

For sure we saw the reunion of the three surviving Stark children (although Bran’s not really with us any more and being the Three Eyed Raven doesn’t exactly make you the life of the party).

For sure we saw what air power can contribute to a medieval battle situation.   In fact, though, despite all the plaudits the battle scene has received, I still prefer the Battle of the Bastards in front of Winterfell – a battle which was totally absorbing by dint of its sheer plausibility.  The Battle of the Bastards made you feel you were at the Battle of Towton, that you were transported back to some authentic killing field.  When dragons are thrown into the mix, you are awestruck but alienated in the same measure. Especially as the ground to air missile system is so slow, unwieldy, and difficult to re-load.  This was not the kind of battle that has ever actually happened.

Our belief that Jamie Lannister lives is based on the assumption that Jamie can only die in the presence of Cersei and vice versa.  They might die at each other’s hands, but they can’t die apart.  This is not an assumption based on the rational chances of being plunged deep underwater and carrying the weight of a heavy metal hand, but an assumption based on certain deep rooted and fatalistic narrative conventions.

The best thing about last night battle of course, was not really feeling sure who to root for.  It has become clear that a Williamite “Glorious Revolution” whereby a populace acclaims Daenerys in a bloodless pageant is never going to happen.  Many Westerosi are still to die, in a war which diminishes the living at the expense of the dead.  As a consequence, it’s hard not to feel that the kind of incineration of Lannisters demonstrated last night that dragons would be better employed against white walkers.  I never heard that white walkers had a scorpion.  Why isn’t there one dragon at Eastwatch, another at Castle Black and another at  the Shadow Tower- each sallying forth to check the white walker advance on a daily basis?

But nobody listens to me.  Nobody listens to Davos, even though he was the first character to actually say what we’re all thinking and tries to imagine Dragons versus Zombies.

But perhaps people will listen to him now.  Now that he’s a grammar pedant.  And only an idiot would think fewer of him for that.

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