HBO's insanely popular hit show Game of Thrones made its grand return last month, and the world rejoiced. Now in its seventh season, with just one more remaining, the program is hurtling toward a conclusion fans have been anticipating since it first premiered in 2011.
WARNING: The following will contain spoilers for Season 7 (and 1...?), so proceed at your own risk.
We're three episodes into the current season and we've already seen things we've been (im)patiently waiting for, like Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen meeting for the first time and Bran Stark's long-overdue return to Winterfell. We've also been witnesses to the brutality exhibited by Queen Cersei Lannister on a regular basis, as she strives to rule the Seven Kingdoms. On that note, back to season 1.
As pointed out by Redditor pnr32 in the r/gameofthrones subreddit on Monday, Robert Baratheon had a little chat with his then-wife Cersei in episode 5, about war strategy. The conversation starts with Cersei addressing Ned Stark, whom Robert requested to stand in as his right-hand man—literally, as the Hand of the King.
Cersei Lannister: [teasing] I'm sorry your marriage to Ned Stark didn't work out. You seemed so good together.
Robert Baratheon: [dryly] I'm glad I could do something to make you happy.
Cersei Lannister: Without a Hand, everything will fall to pieces.
Robert Baratheon: I suppose this is where you tell me to give the job to your brother Jaime.
Cersei Lannister: He's not serious enough. I'll say this for Ned Stark: he's serious enough. Was it really worth it? Losing him this way? [Robert places the cup on the table and stands]
Robert Baratheon: I don't know. But I do know this: If the Targaryen girl convinces her horselord husband to invade and the Dothraki horde crosses the Narrow Sea... we won't be able to stop them.
Cersei Lannister: The Dothraki don't sail. Every child knows that. They don't have discipline, they don't have armor, they don't have siege weapons.
Robert Baratheon: It's a neat little trick you do: you move your lips, and your father's voice comes out.
Cersei Lannister: Is my father wrong?
Robert Baratheon: Let's say Viserys Targaryen lands with 40,000 Dothraki screamers at his back. We hole up in our castles. A wise move. Only a fool would meet the Dothraki in an open field. They leave us in our castles. They go from town to town, looting and burning, killing every man who can't hide behind a stone wall, stealing all our crops and livestock, enslaving all our women and children. How long do the people of the Seven Kingdoms stand behind their absentee king, their cowardly king hiding behind high walls? When do the people decide that Viserys Targaryen is the rightful monarch after all?
Cersei Lannister: [pours herself wine and sits] We still outnumber them.
Robert Baratheon: Which is the bigger number, five or one?
Cersei Lannister: Five.
Robert Baratheon: [holds up his left fingers] Five...
Robert Baratheon: [clutches his right fist] ... one. One army, a real army, united behind one leader with one purpose. Our purpose died with the Mad King.
Reviewing the conversation now, as we watch Cersei do whatever it takes to become the ultimate ruler, and it's clear she didn't take Robert's advice to heart. Her strategy is ruling out of fear and power, not unity. But she does have her own personal monster of Frankenstein at her side, on top of ideal Westeros real estate, a ruthless army and, oh yeah—a bunch of fucking wildfire, which she's already proven she's not afraid to use. (Unless she's already used it all? Stay tuned for more on that, I guess.)
Whether she has a united front of many houses, or the one squad directly underneath her thumb, Cersei is going into battle like a certified G. And hey, you kind of have to respect her for it.
Episode 4 of season 7 drops Sunday, Aug. 6. An HBO hack was reported this week, so definitely beware of spoilers in the meantime.