What’s that faint call I hear? weeeoooooweeeeooooweeeooo.
Yes, that’s the sound of a nerd alert. It is echoing out long and mournful from the deep nooks in the bottom of the sea, pouring out the throat of a grinning, mocking dragon. Sorry dragon, you’ve no business here. Your jests wound me not.
After Elizabeth informed me that she was befuddled by the sequence of sword-clattering events just north of the Wall in Game of Thrones season 3 episode 3 or 4 or whatever it just was, I excitedly huddled into the corner of a PCC auditorium and furiously typed out this little fella on a teensy computer, squinting at the screen and pathetically grunting in frustration at the state of things in Westeros. However, since Elizabeth and I communicate through telepathy and intricate embroidery samplers, ( we somehow live in an inextricable mixture of past and future where electronic mail is non-existent)I noted that neither method was a decent vessel for the following. Why not tell everyone, then? whispered the dragons. She’s already begun, answered the wolves. There’s no exposition, though, whispered the Dragons. She’s putting a silly title on it as if it’s a sort of goofy essay that seems flip but is truly thoughtful at its heart, and draws its readers into a slow and contemplative place through the guise of laughter, but it’s not. She just starts manically frothing back the plot of an HBO fantasy show about 90% into an episode . . .
We thought we heard a faint voice on the wind call, so she does . . . so it is . . . so it is . . . but the wolves had slipped away with silent footfalls, galloping like wisps of pine scent and shadows miles away in the night. We won’t know what they said.
Indeed, my friends! Carry on.
“Craster’s Mirror: A Quick Coarse Glance at the Self-Conscious Warriors of Westeros”
“Why Did those Guys Start Fighting at the End Like That I thought They Were All on the Same Side”
Although no one in the night’s watch would claim to like Craster, or even to fail to be disgusted and horrified by his actions and lifestyle (I mean, he regularly rapes his daughters and feeds babies to zombies), most of them weren’t really prepared or planning on killing him. Most importantly, Lord Mormont (leader of the night’s watch) wasn’t advocating for waltzing up to the keep and turning old Craster into a white walker then and there. His motivations can only be speculated upon, but we can imagine a lot of them.
First of all there’s the practical matter: Craster and his stores of wine and food and hay lofts (stingy as he is) are a necessary boon every time the crows go ranging north of the wall. Once again, depraved, despicable, contemptible or not, he doesn’t threaten, assault or attack the men from the wall every time they come within his sights. That alone makes him the closest friend around. –The wall and the watch are not near as strong as they used to be and the wildlings were getting bolder than ever even before all this current madness that’s spreading about (a king beyond the wall?!). The wall is crumbling down in many places, wildlings climb over and raid along icy mile long stretches where there’s barely a hillock and a tunnel left and nary a man to guard it. Any friend on the other side, even a vile, vulgar, threatening and unpredictably violent half friend*, is a benefit. He has information, too – that he can give up at his will when it suits his fancy.
Perhaps we also might consider that Mormont has ethical or philosophical motivations to his decision to not stab Craster in his rummy guts for the sake of it. Craster doesn’t live in the seven kingdoms, so what right does Mormont have to impose the “law” of the land or his will on a free soul living in the woods?
The nights’ watch isn’t made up of bold and noble young men anymore (of course we know that that noble past is a bit myth-y itself – there have always been Jon Snows getting feisty because they don’t get to own a castle when they grow up like their NON bastard brothers) who are happy to die for love of country. Now pretty much everybody (except for you, lil’ Snow) was a social climbing rapist or pimp or your classic loaf-stealing starving chap. All of them have been living with the corroding acid of abject misogyny their whole lives, so they might be like, “hey incest is gross and wrong” but they still think of women as property just like Craster does. It’s not really “their business.” [But P.S. you can strike the Mormonts from THOSE weaselly assumptions because the women of BearIsland (where the family is from) are rumored to MATE WITH BEARS and wield broad swords].
Especially coming back from a truly harrowing journey like they just spent at the fist of the first men or wherever the fuck they were, where they were all assaulted by walking dead people and Qhorin Halfhand was killed and Jon Snow defected and half of them were killed by the walking bodies of their old friends, they aren’t really in a great position to just be like, hey, for the heck of it, on top of everything, lets just randomly storm this little hayloft keep and kill this dude and see what happens! Mormont just wants to get the fuck home without letting anybody else die off.
However, Janos Slint (who you may recall as the former captain of the city watch in Kings Landing, or the “gold coats” that was terrorizing Tyrion by threatening to out his prostitute honey and being a general dick and helping kill all of the supposed baratheon bastard babies) is at the wall now, riling things up. He’s pissed off and he wants power again so he starts instigating trouble. “Why’re we out in the cold blah blah blah!” And mormont is all, “DUDES SHUT UP I maybe have a STRATEGY or some THOUGHTS going on? Just please don’t draw your WEAPONS in this house for ONE NIGHT please??” And Janos is like guess what, the lord totally is not that powerful now, I don’t like being told what to do, fuck it – Mutiny!!!!! And then they mutiny but a bunch of other dudes are like, what…. Mormont has been our tough but pretty fair leader since we got sent here for being the youngest kid in a super poor family or stealing cakes or something, and he’s been keeping us pretty safe and alive with pretty scant resources and what the hell is going to happen if we suddenly kill him? Who will be in charge? Um . . . THAT dude? Janos Slint??? Wait – WHAT is going on swords swords swords!!! Crash! Caching! Crax!!
* Can you tell I’m going overboard? I’ll mention it explicably in the body too but I just can’t help bludgeoning this point toward the very edge of a high cliff. See how easy it is for viewers both outside (us!) and inside (characters!) to lampoon old Craster for his actions? But do you remember when Ned Stark traded his daughter to a soured prince, a boy he knew was stupidly cruel and childish at the very best, for political reasons he knew were foolish and dangerous? Remember when Ned Stark didn’t realize that his “honor” was not worth the lives of his daughters? And that by impinging his honor by “bringing home a bastard son” he was really just being SUPER honorable and sacrificing his wife? Remember how important Robb Stark thought his sisters’ lives were, and his mother’s freedom? Remember when Brienne was the strongest knight in the world who loved Renly with more searing loyalty than the whole army combined, and no one loved her for it but hated her for it and accused her of murder at the first opportunity? Remember when Robert Baratheon (a man who fought boars for fun) hit his wife and told her that bitches should shut the fuck up? Okay now I want to start bringing up a bunch of other stuff that you don’t remember because you have not been to the future or the past of Westeros as I have but I believe you get my point.