As we embark upon a new season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (Sundays, 9 p.m.), it is hard to erase the indelible imagery of the show’s shocking third season. While most viewers will think I am referring to the infamous “Red Wedding” in the penultimate episode in Season 3, there were other shocking moments dispersed throughout.
One such moment was provided by Daenerys Targaryen, the formidable young leader who, among her many distinctions, happens to have birthed three dragons. As a woman of power, poise and presence, it is easy to imagine her taking it all — including the coveted Iron Throne — from her male counterparts. To do so, Daenerys needs an army, and at the beginning of Season 3 she sets her sights on the Unsullied, the “greatest slave soldiers in the world.”
In this cutthroat world where ruthless men jostle mercilessly for power, Daenerys’ drive and ambition are often overlooked and her intelligence underestimated. She is living in a society where “intelligent women” are those who do “what they’re told” (according to King Joffrey). Instead of trumpeting and boasting her strengths, Daenerys is shrewd enough to “fall in line” with this thinking when necessary; but only temporarily and only as a means to an end.
The master of the army and the soldiers themselves speak High Valyrian, an older and increasingly antiquated tongue. Using an interpreter, Daenerys barters for control of the Unsullied.
Subtitles reveal the master to be misogynistic and cruel-hearted. The master calls Daenerys the c-word, the b-word and everything in between (although the interpreter is kind enough to omit these words in her translations to Daenerys). He has no respect for the young leader, and since she can’t understand him anyway, he spares her no insult.