This post contains spoilers through Season 7, Episode 7 of Game of Thrones. The actor was talking about the romantic tension between his character, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen—a tension that Game of Thronessometimes gracefully and sometimes awkwardly, has been meticulously building over the course of its seventh season.
Who was also the older brother of one Daenerys Targaryen. Which would make the consummation of their attraction, as one of the final scenes of the season … extremely complicated.
Aegon, rhaenys and visenya
Game of Thrones is a show that has depicted slaughtered children, and sexual violence, and martial violence, and torture both psychological and physical; it is a show that, often, looks at conventional notions of morality and scoffs at their quaintness. Cersei and Jaime represent one of the longest-standing romantic partnerships of the series.
Gilly is both the mother and the half-sister of baby Sam. Yara Greyjoy, having not seen Theon since they were children, initially flirted with him—an elaborate prank meant primarily to remind her brother of his diminished power on the Iron Islands.
Incest lurks everywhere in this world. And while it is sometimes treated as a moral failing Cersei and Jaime, together, have never been paragons of anything save for savvy accessorizingit is also, often, treated as a political one.
Incest, in Thronesis a situation that is also a metaphor—for what happens when people get too insular, too myopic, too unwilling to see beyond themselves. It is the Westermarck effectgone terribly wrong. It is a warning about what can befall the world when narcissism gets politically weaponized. Charles II, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, suffered from disabilities that came from 16 generations of inbreeding.
Whether Dany and Jon will have children—children who might in their own way fall victim to this sad irony—is an open question. Readers of the book have known that things were heading towards this destination for a while. Others gagged at it.
Others were simply confused by it. The reactions have been as mixed as they are in part for the simple reason that Jon and Dany are not Jaime and Cersei. They are good people, fundamentally. They grew up separately, in different places and different worlds. And, of course: They do not currently know that they are related. There are Luke-and-Leia vibes to the courtship between the last of the Targaryens; they are protected, in some sense, by their ignorance.
And their relationship, as such, seems primed to provoke, rather than outrage or disgust, something simpler: questions—about intimacy, and its expanses, and its limits. That puts the relationship between Dany and Jon in league with other such relationships in literature—which are often calibrated to be scandalous, yes, but which are just as often calibrated simply to be complicated.
They may induce judgment; they also, however, often demand sympathy. Chris and Cathy, in Flowers in the Atticare victims of abuse at the hands of an evil grandmother. Emmeline and Richard in The Blue Lagoon are victims of a shipwreck and its attendant isolation. Little Charles and Ivy in August: Osage County are the victims of ignorance: They sort of understand their relationship to each other.
And also they very much do not understand their relationship to each other.
There is often a cyclical inevitability to these stories: a sense of mistakes made in one generation, transmitted to another. A sense of destabilization at the most fundamental of levels.
A sense of doom. In the Harry Potter series, a family in which cousins regularly marry each othereventually, in … Voldemort. There are other portrayals, however—in American pop culture, in particular—that use relationships between siblings and pseudo-siblings as vehicles for the examination of broader anxieties: about intimacy, about otherness, about the state of the modern family.
Maeby and George-Michael in Arrested Development. Cher and Josh in Clueless.
Margot and Richie in The Royal Tenenbaums. Kathryn and Sebastian in Cruel Intentions.
Dexter and Debra in Dexter. The treatments of incest here range from the tragic to the taunting; what they have in common, though, is the same thing that makes the shipping of Dany and Jon so uniquely bizarre and, from a literary perspective, compelling: They blur lines. They occasionally poke fun.
Gaemon and daenys
They often poke holes. They suggest, overall, a world that is much more complicated than it might initially seem to be. They suggest the order in the world and, now, the threats against it. But their romance is also a slower-moving tragedy. They will very likely suffer—through no fault of their own, but because of the failings of their fathers. They, the next generation of Targaryens, will be punished for the attitudes of those who carried the blood of the dragon and decided, despite it all, to keep it in the family. Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword.