Samwell Tarly, the lovable, bumbling, bookish stand-in for author George R.R. Martin on HBO's "Game of Thrones," is a fan favorite, in part because the size of his heart matches the size of his frame. He's a kind, empathetic soul in a fictional universe where even the good guys are prone to heartless slaughter now and then, which is welcome amid all the carnage.
Thanks to last night's episode, however . . .
While looking for solutions for the impending doom of the entire world and getting through his daily work schedule at The Citadel, he enlisted the recently literate and always understanding Gilly — the love of his life — as a research assistant. Really, she was shoring up the gap so that Sam could work on his side project of helping prevent everything south of the Wall being overrun by ice zombies. It was nice of her, but it was also his work to do.
And, then, just like so many male bosses and coworkers, Sam totally ran her over at the exact moment she had something pertinent to say — something that could have broad, transformative import for the fate of Westeros.
Reading a dusty volume, Gilly interrupted Sam's considerable whinging to ask about the meaning of the word "annulment." Sam disinterestedly answered, "It’s when a man sets aside his lawful wife." Gilly then responds, noting that the author of the tome, "says here that he issued an annulment for Prince Raggar and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne . . . "
"Raggar," is most likely Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, son of the last Targaryen king of Westeros, the heir to the throne and, as the series has made increasingly clear, Jon Snow's father. The woman he married is most likely Lyanna Stark, portrayed giving birth to Jon at the end of last season in the Tower of Joy which is, yes, in Dorne. This suggests that not only is Jon a Targaryen, as we already knew, but Rhaegar's legitimate son and thus the rightful heir to the Iron Throne instead of Daenerys.
It's a bombshell. Had Sam allowed Gilly just a second more of time to speak, it might have fully exploded. But, no, Sam had some complaining to do.
Sam — who, to be fair, has no idea about Jon's lineage — brushes it off as just another of the many useless facts Gilly has been helping him compile and rather humorously and ironically drills into people who overlook important information, missing the forest for the trees.
"These maesters, they set me to the task of preserving that man’s window counting and annulments and bowel movements for all eternity, while the secret to defeating the Night King is probably sitting on some dusty shelf somewhere, completely ignored." He continues, "But that’s all right, isn’t it? We can all become slathering murderous imbeciles enthralled to evil incarnate as long as we can have access to the full records of High Septon Maynard’s 15,782 shits."
Now, there's no way Sam could have known Gilly was saying something so vital, so monumental. Still, his brusk treatment of Gilly — who was just doing as she was asked — struck a nerve. Many took to Twitter to slam Sam, some of them noting the strong, strong similarity between the exchange and how women are treated in and out of the workplace pretty much every goddamn day.
It's an interesting moment in a season that has seen the balance of power shift away from the men and towards the women. Already, "Game of Thrones" has given us lessons on what happens when men don't listen to the women around them. This was another particularly frustrating one.