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Rhondinella

Cersei Lannister: Not As Smart As She Thinks She Is

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I think she deserves a lot of blame for how Joffrey turned out.

Back in King's Landing, Joffrey seemed able to acknowledge, if only with Cersei, what actually happened with Arya's direwolf.  Cersei promptly squelched that and told him the truth is whatever he wants it to be.  It's one thing to point out they can craft a made-up story for public consumption; it's another to suggest that Joffrey himself should actually believe it.  This was the same scene in which she told Joffrey that "Everyone who isn't us is an enemy".

Prince Twincest might have been hopeless from the get go, but advice like that didn't help.

Another one of her political gems was when she told Tyrion that ruling was like lying in a bed of weeds and pulling them out one by one before they strangle you in their sleep.  Perhaps if she actually tended to the garden, there wouldn't be so many weeds.  But then she'd actually have to work and not just order people about.

She also another one of the self-pitying Lannsiters whose words should be "Poor me".

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Cersei is utterly captivating to watch, and Lena Headey is brilliant. I have to admit: I actually get a little irritated at how much press Emilia Clarke gets largely because she's a protagonist, when Lena Headey has been arguably the best and most consistant performer since Day 1, in one of the most difficult roles on the show.

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Two things about her performance stuck out to me in tonight's episode:

1. One, when she saved that poor girl from Pycelle. It was almost an act of kindness. Almost! Or at least a nice bit of standing up for other women, like, go Cersei who has always resented this, go, and then you look at her face and she's all, I have GOT TO TAKE THIS OUT ON THE NEAREST TARGET hi Pycelle and while I'm at it let's screw the poor. Great stuff, especially since she managed to also look so calm while doing this.

2. When she was cradling dead Joffrey and just slowly allowed her expression to change from grief to "SOMEONE IS GOING TO PAY FOR THIS" to clear determination.  Great stuff.

I think it was Roger Ebert that talked about the moment right after Luke kills the monster in Jabba the Hut's pit, and how the guard cries, and how Ebert noted that the guard crying was the important bit - showing that at least somebody loved the creature, and that everybody needs somebody to love. (I'm sure I'm misquoting but that was more or less the gist.)  I got the same vibe from that scene.

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What in the world made Cersei go after Brienne?

She was in rare form tonight but taking the extra food from the poor was a low blow.

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I thought Cersei was just going after any target that showed up. Brienne just happened to be in her way, and getting to say something mean about Jaime? Bonus.

I'm kinda hoping Pycelle never had the chance to give that order to the kitchens and in the aftermath of the murder the food will end up with the poor anyway. Though why I try to have any optimism for something good to happen in this show I couldn't tell you.

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We also know from her scene with Shae in Blackwater that she has a hang-up about women not curtseying. Nice continuity, George!

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Cersei was losing her position as queen, as Oberyn reminded her.  She was going to lash out at anyone and everyone she could.  Pycelle, Brienne, the poor.  As they reminded us repeatedly, Jaime is 40, making Cersei 40 as well.  They had Jaime tell us again how vicious she is when he told Loras that she'd kill him in his sleep and abort whatever child they'd created.  Say what you will about Jaime, he does know his sister.  He just doesn't yet know who she's fucking.

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Back in King's Landing, Joffrey seemed able to acknowledge, if only with Cersei, what actually happened with Arya's direwolf.  Cersei promptly squelched that and told him the truth is whatever he wants it to be.  It's one thing to point out they can craft a made-up story for public consumption; it's another to suggest that Joffrey himself should actually believe it.  This was the same scene in which she told Joffrey that "Everyone who isn't us is an enemy".

 

I think Cersei fancies herself as being as smart and calculating as her father Tywin, but this scene is an example of how she's not.  For all his faults, Tywin realizes that sometimes you have to align with people that you may not personally like for the betterment of your own house.  He arranged political marriages with the Tyrells who are the 2nd richest family in Westeros, he made a deal with the Boltons to rid the North of the remaining Starks, hell...he was the Hand to the Mad King Aerys (until he saw which way the wind was blowing and turned in him!  He would never take such a simplistic view of the world as "Everyone who isn't us is an enemy." 

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Every other person at the high table got an uncomfortable at some point during the "war re-enactment", and then there's Cersei:
tumblr_inline_n40p40UMnl1r9mxhh.png

Makes me wonder if Joffrey planned this with mummy's approval, it's a pretty huge failure of wedding planning if no one else in the family knew.

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Couldn't Joffrey have had some kind of death rattle which catapulted some poison into Cersei's mouth so she could be taken out as well?

I'm amazed that Cersei managed to be a bigger asshole at the wedding than Joffrey. That's truly, awfully impressive. God, I hate her.

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Personally, I hope Her Drunkeness lasts until five minutes before the end of the series. Lannister villains are the fun ones, no thank you to a world where all the bad guys are like Ramsay or the Mountain.

What do we make of her interrupting Pycelle? Did Cersei actually mean to help another woman or does she just hate Pycelle more than anonymous Tyrell girls? Or is she just keen to recommend her new BFF, Qyburn?

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When Pycelle was the chief maester (for lack of a better term) he was useful to Cersei because he was extremely loyal to the Lannisters,

Now Qyburn shows up, Cersei sees that he's at least as effective (and apparently better-smelling and less pervy), so now she can just have at it and treat old lecherous Pycelle just like anybody else she despises.

Only thing is I don't think she has the power to remove him from the Small Council, so she may still have to endure his presence in some capacity for the near future.

Edited by Tryangle

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I just remembered one of my favorite little things from the ep. When Tyrion is trying to get Jaime to eat, he tells him to try the boar, which is Cersei's favorite food since one killed Robert. Oh Cersei, just full of useless spite.

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Oh Cersei, just full of useless spite.

I'm still kind of reeling from her overriding Margaery's public order that all leftovers be given to the poor. I'm guessing that Joffrey's death will make that order moot anyway but, just...ugh. Cersei sucks. 'Let the poor starve some more just so that I can twirl my imaginary mustache of evil at having undermined my replacement.' 

And why in the hell would Pycelle have the authority to change the new Queen's order?

Sometimes I feel that Cersei is just a bitch for the sake of being a bitch.

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I'm still kind of reeling from her overriding Margaery's public order that all leftovers be given to the poor. I'm guessing that Joffrey's death will make that order moot anyway but, just...ugh. Cersei sucks. 'Let the poor starve some more just so that I can twirl my imaginary mustache of evil at having undermined my replacement.'

I'm sure Her Grace had nothing but the kindest intentions.

No doubt the poor, not accustomed to such sumptuous fare, would have become ill upon dining on such rich food, even if it weren't poisoned.

Thankfully, Cersei saved the day, just as she saved that poor Tyrell handmaiden from Pycelle's clutches.

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I'm still kind of reeling from her overriding Margaery's public order that all leftovers be given to the poor. I'm guessing that Joffrey's death will make that order moot anyway but, just...ugh. Cersei sucks. 'Let the poor starve some more just so that I can twirl my imaginary mustache of evil at having undermined my replacement.' 

And why in the hell would Pycelle have the authority to change the new Queen's order?

Sometimes I feel that Cersei is just a bitch for the sake of being a bitch.

I don't think Marg really had much independent authority over Cersei mere minutes after becoming Joffrey's Queen. A queen consort really only becomes important once she births an heir. (Which doesn't always happen on the first try. Remember Sansa and Septa Mordane's convo about how she'd be a failure if she produced only girls for Joffrey? Methinks that's why Olenna didn't think it was worth for Joff to consummate the marriage before kicking the bucket.) I didn't wanna say anything while King Crossbow's murder was still a mystery but I feel like other people taking this as a clue that Cersei is more than just a pathetically spiteful bitch were reading too much into it. A Queen mother trying to undermine the new Queen Consort is not that weird to me. If anyone here watched the (very bad) show The White Queen about the real Wars of the Roses, you'll surely remember Henry Tudor's mother, Margaret Beaufort, who is supposed to have been the the mother-in-law from hell to Elizabeth of York. Cersei was the Queen Regent, nominally in charge until Joffrey came of age, (though she hasn't really exercised real authority as such since having Ned's entire household down to Septa Mordane killed to put Joffrey on the throne) and then she was supposed to be shipped away from the capital soon enough anyway. What more could the Tyrells do to her? The alliance was just locked down with a royal marriage so they weren't going to threaten to pull out. Would Margy have gotten Mace to stop paying the bills until Cersei performed some penance to the poor? Or would Olenna talk Tywin into punishing her? I doubt it.

Cersei is very much a bitch for the sake of being a bitch, wanting to make pretty much everyone suffer for her misery. I think you nailed it there. One of my favorite Cersei moments is during Blackwater when she's complaining about being sold like an animal to a stranger, to which Sansa says "You were Robert's Queen!" and Cersei tells her "As you will be Joffrey's. Enjoy!" Cersei is not a nice drunk.

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Cersei is not a nice drunk.

 

Yeah, a drunk Cersei gives zero fucks about politcal correctness or tact. But strangely, I feel that we get a glimpse at the real person then.

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You know when Cersei said, "They hurt little girls everywhere", for a second I felt sympathy for her. Then I realized that she couldn't care less about the "little girls" who aren't of noble blood and then my sympathy vanished.

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You know when Cersei said, "They hurt little girls everywhere", for a second I felt sympathy for her. Then I realized that she couldn't care less about the "little girls" who aren't of noble blood and then my sympathy vanished.

 

Everyone agrees that X is deplorable, if not immoral or reprehensible.  But most only truly care about X if it befalls a family member.  And if a family member should do X, suddenly the family words become "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil".

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I've been doing a rewatch with my sister.  She has just been introduced to the show.

 

In A Golden Crown I think (we watched four episodes last night), Cersei mentions to Robert losing their first boy.  So the story she told Catelyn in Episode 2 about the death of her first child was true. 

 

Season 1 gave me more sympathy for our drunken Cers.  Robert is a jackass to her.  She has a marriage based on hate, a fat drunk husband who routinely fucks whores and admits he could never have loved her.  She has no one, aside from Joffrey and Jaime.  Jaime really just wants to engage in swordplay and sex.  He's admittedly lazy.  Joffrey is awful.  She's stuck at these tournaments with a disgusting and embarrassing husband.  She's also been introduced to her eventual replacement in Sansa.

 

If not for her scenes of crappy parenting of Joffrey and insisting that Lady be killed, I could have almost wished better for her.  But really, she's just a giant bitch.

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S1 Cersei's also responsible for the deaths of Syrio Forel and Septa Mordane, killed when she requested the Stark girls seized, as well as the other unarmed members of Ned's household preparing to leave that day. And there's no reason to let her off the hook for Mycah and blame it all on Joffrey. He started it but she organized that dog and pony show that led to Lady's death. And Sandor wasn't off on some secret solo mission during all this, he was leading a search party of Lannister men, like the search parties looking for Arya and Nymeria. There's no reason to believe this wasn't all part of the same enterprise, no indication that he alone was acting without Cersei's knowledge. I think Ned's death is supposed to be Joffrey's first kill, that it's meant to be significant as his first major act without Cersei's approval, that only happens once he gets his taste of real power and Cersei must face the monster she created and worked so hard to put on the throne. But, yeah, I don't really like Robert either. He should be the more sympathetic figure in their mess of a marriage, but he's just not for me. Robert's murder is one thing I don't hold against Cersei at all. If the man's best friend thinks him capable of killing innocent children, why should I care if their mother defends them? I understand Ned's trying to help them but why have no backup plan, why actually think Cersei fucking Lannister would be grateful for the chance to go into exile like the last Targaryens? This woman told him she was also trained to kill her enemies, proudly confessed to cuckolding Robert, asked what of her wrath, and ended by saying you win or die. Of course she would rather fight her enemies in her own way than run away meekly.

 

Speaking of re-watch, I was watching past Tyrion/Cersei scenes on youtube, because clearly I have no life, and something that popped out at me was that Tyrion never got to make joy turn to ashes in her mouth himself, but Cersei followed through on her threat. As Myrcella left the city, Cersei told Tyrion she hoped he found someone to truly love just so she could take his love away from him. Well, she's done that now with Shae. Took her long enough to find the right woman when she was hiding in plain sight (remember capturing Ros and threatening to kill her if Joffrey was harmed during the battle was what prompted Tyrion to threaten her), but still, Her Drunkenness actually managed to follow through.

 

Gotta say, Gregor 3.0's intro was over the top, but that shot of Cersei calmly stepping over bloody entrails really communicated a lot. And was a nice contrast to her rival Margie calmly walking in streets with mud and other waste to visit orphans in s3.

Edited by Lady S.
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I don't have any sympathy for Cersei, Season One or otherwise.

 

But even if I limited myself to Season One, she'd still be a self-absorbed hateful bitch.

By fucking her brother and bearing his children, she and her brother are responible for a perfectly forseeable succession crisis that would cost thousands, if not tens of thousands, of lives.  But Cersei doesn't care.

 

She was complicit with Bran out the window, then had the gall to commiserate with Catelyn.

 

Rather than trying to calm a tense situation, she always makes it worse by throwing gasoline on the fire, in the form of invectives and flat out lies, for example, Mycah attacking Joffrey or Ned Stark attacking Jaime in the streets of the capital.  Truly someone who never learned you can draw more flies with honey than vinegar.

 

For some allegedly so hurt by her husband's infidelities, her advice to Joffrey was that he could fuck whomever he wanted, whenever he wanted without a thought or care about how that might affect Joffrey's future wife.  But Cersei doesn't care about that because she only cares about herself.  If someone does X to someone else, Cersei couldn't care less.  If someone does X to Cersei, it's a crime against humanity.

 

She also provided Joffrey terrible guidance with her insistence, not merely that their privileged position enables them to sway/form the official story, but that it's the actual truth.  Things have taken a bad turn when even Joffrey, if only in private, can admit what happened with Ayra and her direwolf, but Cersei refuses to do so.  Her, everyone who isn't a Lannister is an enemy was also terrible advice.

 

Cersei justified the twincest to Ned Stark on the grounds that because she and Jaime were twins, they belonged together.  Yet the moment Jaime was out of sight, she took up with Lancel.  She also justified it on the grounds the Targaryens did it.  Except they didn't do it in secret, yet she did, so she knew it was wrong for her.  Plus, it has the faint whiff of one of her most unlikable traits, her constant self-pity.

 

Cersei is always bitching and whining about how difficult her life has been, even though she's had an extraordinarily privileged life, even by the standards of Westeros's nobility, and even though the problems she's has are nothing out of the ordinary.  But to hear Cersei talk, everyone else's life is wine and roses, while her life has been unending torture.

 

And that's before Season 2, where she's worse.

Edited by Constantinople
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Oh, I agree, she's a horrible person. But she's a nuanced horrible person.

She's well-written, well acted, and therefore a lot more fun to hate than Littlefinger or Ramsay or Disposable Bad Slave Master of The Week.

As a villain, I like Cersei, just as I like Tywin and Roose. 

As a surviving character... yeah, if she dies I probably won't hold it against whoever kills her, because there is an enormous number of excellent reasons for people to do so, but until then I like having her around.

For one thing, she's prettier than Tywin. But as far as having her around in real life- hell no. Jaime can have her.

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When Cersei was sucking up to Margaery at Tommen's coronation, Cersei said a couple of times that Joffrey did things that shocked her.

 

At first I thought she might be referring to Ros's murder, but Cersei didn't have any problem ordering the Kingsguard to beat the shit of Ros, nor telling Tyrion that Ros would die horrifically should Joffrey die in the Battle of Blackwater Bay.  Nor did Cersei bat the proverbial eyelash when the Hound rode down Micah, the Butcher's boy.  According to Tyrion, when Cersei was a child she had a servant girl beaten so severely she lost an eye.

 

So just what did Cersei find so shocking?

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Well, he stopped being a good little mama's boy and started talking back to her after getting his taste of power by beheading Ned, that must have been a pretty unfortunate shock to her. And yeah, she had no moral ground to object to his cruelty, and compared the bastard extermination to pulling up weeds or whatever, but I think even  Cersei could sometimes recognize the stupidity of Joff's cruelty, starting with killing Ned. And as Sansa was a valuable bargaining chip, Cersei preferred to mess with her mentally rather than punishing her physically for her family's treasons. She even advised Joff not to strike his lady, but he found a loophole by getting Meryn Trant to do it for him. She also had that oh shit look, along with everyone else, when Joffers challenged Tywin in the s3 finale, and I guess she thought whore torture was bad for Joff's rep too since she blamed Tyrion for starting him on that. I suspect she rationalized her own treatment of Ros as a necessity to save Joffrey. Rationalizing horrible things is another lesson from Tywin.

Edited by Lady S.
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I feel like I should say "RUN TOMMEN"..run...Cersei will not let anyone separate her from her last baby boy.  We can only imagine the influence she will have over Tommen who seems like a nice boy.

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I confess that I hope I get to see Cersei's reaction when she finds out that Jaime broke Tyrion out of prison even though she thought she'd sewn up his loyalty by offering him her vagina again.

 

She even kissed his golden hand! *gasp!* The sacrifice!!!

Edited by NoWillToResist
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I think Cersei fancies herself as being as smart and calculating as her father Tywin, but this scene is an example of how she's not. For all his faults, Tywin realizes that sometimes you have to align with people that you may not personally like for the betterment of your own house. He arranged political marriages with the Tyrells who are the 2nd richest family in Westeros, he made a deal with the Boltons to rid the North of the remaining Starks, hell...he was the Hand to the Mad King Aerys (until he saw which way the wind was blowing and turned in him! He would never take such a simplistic view of the world as "Everyone who isn't us is an enemy."

I actually agree in a way but then I wonder why, when Cersei directly asks Tywin who they can trust, Tywin insists that they can only trust themselves alone.

Minor book spoilers:

I feel like Tywin is largely responsible for the arrogance and narcissism that is a huge part of each of the Lannister children. IMO he is the one who makes it seem like House Lannister is superior to everyone except for maybe the Targayens andeeven then I think he thinks of the Lannisters as being better since they're currently in control more or less. Tywin even married his own Lannister cousin so I feel like they've practically been brainwashed into thinking that marrying outside of the family is almost a step down unless the family in question happens to be royal and even then it might not be good enough. Robert was a king but the Lannisters looked down on him for various reasons (at least four of them did at any rate) including taking pride in the fact that Tywin essentially funding Robert's crown; the Princes of Dorne are tolerated but there's still the vibe that Lannisters feel like they'e better than the Martells (the same is true the other way around to be fair); Tywin very much wanted his daughter to marry into House Targaryen but he still thought that he was a better ruler than Aerys.

While it's a given that he was a better ruler than Aerys , I bring it up because I think Tywin took things like this as signs of the supposed superiority of House Lannister and consequently infected his children with an impossible kind of arrogance that even the strongest of personalities wouldn't be able to resist.

Jaime and Cersei of course have to take responsibility for their own actions and choices but I feel like Tywin very much had a role to play regarding Jaime and Cersei being comfortable with having their long term relationship. Why wouldn't t prefer being with each other when their father makes it seem as though everything else is a step down but they have a duty to suck it up and deal because of loyalty to the family?

Cersei blaming Tyrion for the death of their mother is especially understandable to me because it's the same attitude her father took and didn't trouble to hide. It's not unusual for a young child to be influenced by their parent.

The prophecy merely confirmed her worst fears on that score.

On some level I feel like nobody will ever be able to understand the Lannister siblings as well as they understand each other because of the unique experience of having a terror like Tywin for a father.

Edited by Avaleigh
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I think there's a difference between not trusting anyone outside the family and thinking of everyone as an enemy. Non-Lannisters were all disposable to Tywin, but he knew when to value them when they were useful to House Lannister, like say having a large army and lots of food and money. But that line did make me think of that touching mother/son scene and I do think Tywin's Lannister-first attitude influenced Cersei there, as most of her terrible life philosophy is influenced by Tywin.

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Steve Attewell of racefortheironthrone.com offers IMO the best analysis of ASOIAF out there-he's currently doing a series taking down every chapter in the series.  (Still on ACOK though.) Anyway I think the following essay of his serves as a great breakdown of Cersei's flaws as an actor...

In this chapter, we see Cersei Lannister for the first time as a political actor (as opposed to as a political observer in Bran II). So what should we make of the woman often considered the worst politician in Westeros? Well, I think we can see in this really brief encounter some of Cersei’s strengths and weaknesses become readily apparent, and she does have both (although that doesn’t prevent her from being a deeply flawed and ultimately doomed ruler).

To begin with, the Queen is actually quite good at using Lannister numbers and an understanding of strategic choke-points to her advantage – here, she uses the placement of Lannister gate guards (rather than Baratheon guards, a sign of how successfully she’s insinuated her independent military power into the royal court) to bring Arya before the King before Eddard could get hold of her, put himself as a parent in between his children and the court, or negotiate with King Robert in a private context. It’s a smart political move, and she makes the most of it, just as she will later when she uses her control over the throne room and the person of her son to preempt Eddard’s installation as Regent.

Cersei also has something of a gift for revisionist history, creating propaganda that puts herself on the moral high ground and demonizes her opponents, but it’s a limited one. Her story, that “this girl of yours attacked my son. Her and her butcher’s boy. That animal of hers tried to tear his arm off,” is clearly not believable. Arya’s story is clearly believed over the Queen of Westeros, and Cersei and her son are exposed to public mockery at the hands of Lord Renly, a major political rival. Likewise, when it comes later in the series to coming up with propaganda to smear Lord Stannis and later Margaery, her instant go-to suggestion of sibling incest is laughably bad. On the other hand, her initial story about the supposed treachery of Eddard Stark does succeed, at least initially – in part because for once, she goes with the simplest story.
I think the reason that her first foray into revisionist history fails is one of Cersei’s major weaknesses: she’s not good at understanding other’s motivations or figuring out their levers. She can rather crudely manipulate Robert – she succeeds in publicly shaming him into executing the wolf, she can use reverse psychology on him to try to get him into the melee at the Hand’s Tourney, and she can wheedle him into making Lannister appointments. However, Robert clearly sides against her in favor of Eddard when it comes to the punishment of Arya, and will do the same when it comes to taking Eddard back as Hand. Likewise, she shows no understanding of Eddard’s motivations at all in this chapter, or any understanding that people might be motivated by impulses other than self-interest, and has no way of dealing with Renly at all.

Secondly, Cersei displays a strangely vindictive, scorched-earth approach without thinking deeply about how her actions are syncing with her long-term motivations. It is simply not worth it to spark a vendetta against the Starks, who Cersei already has reason to fear the enmity of (due to her role in the attempted murder of Bran), over a bitten arm and a pet wolf. In the end, she succeeds in having Lady executed, but gains nothing by it – indeed Cersei potentially undid her endgame by alienating her son’s fiancee...

Finally, I’d say Cersei’s biggest problem as a politician is that, because of the fact that her political gifts and education was completely neglected by her father (who curiously seems to have never really taught any of his children his own political skills) and the way that her own gender constraints have created this curdled resentment inside, she’s really only suited to destroy rather than to build. As a usurper, Cersei is remarkably successful – she manages to thoroughly cuckold her husband, eliminate a formally more powerful enemy in the Hand of the King, and install herself as Queen Regent of Westeros. However, once she finally gets to the position she’s been working for her entire life, she has no idea what to do. She immediately loses control over her son’s actions, turning the relative cold war in the Riverlands into an immediate war with the Starks, and has no plans for dealing with either Baratheon beyond trying to command her father to abandon the war effort against the Starks and allow them to pin his army against the walls of King’s Landing.

The most instructive moment comes when the immediate threat to the Iron Throne is crushed; once Tywin actually establishes an alliance with the Tyrells and Martells (a diplomatic coup of the ages), her immediate instinct is to destroy this coalition, because she has no understanding of allies on an equal footing, again because she can’t conceive of others as anything other than servants or enemies...

In the end, though, I think the real question is what Cersei would have looked like as a politician if she had grown up in a context where her gender and her political interests weren’t in conflict. Because for all that the medieval society of Westeros is truly oppressive to women, there are survival strategies for women with Cersei’s interests and qualities that she never had access to at the decidedly woman-free Casterly Rock. Margaery and Olenna Tyrell make the cultural proscriptions of gender work in their favor,

Arianne Martell and the Sand Snakes show that there are alternative cultural spaces in Westeros

, even Catelyn Tully doesn’t let the frustrations she feels with gender-imposed limitations poison her life.

 

Edited by SilverStormm · Reason: Please ensure to tag spoilers in character threads.

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Cersei’s strengths and weaknesses become readily apparent, and she does have both (although that doesn’t prevent her from being a deeply flawed and ultimately doomed ruler).

 

I really hope that the "ultimately doomed' description is not a spoiler....

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Not really-'ultimately doomed' is simply Steve's assessment with which I happen to agree-but her final outcome hasn't yet taken place.  Anyway here's some more from Steve about Cersei calling on Robb Stark to bend the knee after Ned's arrest...

 

 

 

To begin with, as Cersei well knows from her father, a Great House simply cannot allow their members to be treated like this – to allow the Lannisters to assault their head of house and then arrest him, to hold their children captive, is to announce to the world that House Stark is weak and can be attacked without retaliation. Moreover, there’s the fact that Tywin and Jaime have attacked the Riverlands – the extended family of the Stark has spilled blood and lost lands, treasure, and men to the Lannisters, and that’s equally hard to ignore. And there’s also the fact that Arya is still missing and Cersei can’t give her back, which is rather crucial.

At the same time, Cersei knows that Stannis is out there and Renly’s escaped to Highgarden – if Eddard lives and heads for the Night’s Watch, the word is going to get back to Robb and Catelyn about the whole incest thing. Given what Cersei’s done to their family, they’re going to believe the worst about him, especially if Ned’s willing to bend his honor enough to confirm when they hear from Stannis. So at the most, Cersei’s bought herself a few months.

However, the call to come to King’s Landing and bend the knee in person doesn’t quite fit the model of Cersei the peacemaker. Given what Aerys did to Rickard Stark, and now what’ s happened to Eddard Stark, the whole of the North is going to see that command as essentially an order of execution. Either Cersei knows that this is how Robb and Catelyn will see it and doesn’t care – either because she’s underestimating the power of the Starks and thinks they’re too cowed to react like a Lannister would in the same scenario, or because she wants to somehow get them to fight a limited war because she’s got hostages – or she’s really badly misjudged the political situation.

And the saddest thing of all is that this is the height of Cersei’s political control over the situation – the Starks, Baratheons, Tyrells, and Tullys are still largely hypothetical enemies, her enemies in the capitol are in chains, and her family is too far away to take her power away from her. It’s all down-hill from here.

 

Basically, I think Steve hits it on the head that it doesn't occur to Cersei that other Great Houses can be just as proud and fierce as the Lannister's.  She simply assumes they'll all be cowed by the great golden Lions.  It's also why she didn't try to keep Ned on ice, until learning how the battle turned out in the Riverlands, (so she could use him as a bargaining chip,) because she never considered the possibility that Jaime and Twyin wouldn't get a resounding victory over Robb-and might even lose.

 

And Cersei's first day as Queen Regent after Robert's death...

 

 

 

Joffrey and Cersei begin by “read[ing] a long list of names, commanding each in the name of King and Council to present themselves and swear their fealty to Joffrey…[or] be adjudged traitors, their lands and titles forfeit to the throne.” On the face of it, this isn’t a terrible idea – it’s good to make clear who your friends are and your enemies are (although making people choose sometimes moves neutrals over into the enemy camp) and to get the law and legitimacy on your side. However, historical precedent has rather tainted this as a political tactic; the last time a King summoned lords to King’s Landing on pain of attainder, he ended up having everyone who arrived executed without due process of law. Hence, Cersei is immediately inviting comparisons to Mad King Aerys, especially when she includes all of the children of the Houses summoned.

The list itself is rather interesting: in addition to the usual suspects (Stannis although it’s notable he hasn’t actually done anything that could be construed as treasonous yet, Renly, the Tullys, the Starks, all of their associated bannermen, and Beric and Thoros) which is all well and good except for the fact that you can’t really enforce any of this when your enemies have their armies in the field, Cersei goes a bit crazy with naming almost every prominent neutral House in Westeros: the entirety of the Tyrells (“brothers, uncles, sons,”), Doran Martell “and all of his sons,” and the Arryns and their bannermen (although this one falls halfway between the former and latter categories). Given the historical precedent and the reputation of the Lannisters, this action runs the extreme risk of pushing two more of the eight Great Houses into open rebellion. Indeed, the Tyrells will shortly declare themselves for Renly (which was probably going to happen anyway, but Cersei’s actions don’t help).

After Item 1 on the agenda is complete, Cersei moves on to a bit of a cabinet reshuffle: Eddard Stark is out and Tywin Lannister is Hand of the King, and Stannis is out and replaced with Cersei as Queen Regent. In many ways, this is the best political move Cersei makes, consolidating her family’s position in King’s Landing and achieving her life’s ambition of having explicit political authority in her own right, with only “a soft murmuring from the lords around her…quickly stilled.” However, it is amazing how short lived her authority is – by giving Tywin the Handship, she covers his recent treason with the blanket of back-dated legitimacy, but ultimately loses control over her own camp by creating a rival authority within the Baratheon-Lannister court, as we’ll see in A Storm of Swords. At the same time, it’s incredibly obvious that, despite her lifelong ambitions to achieve a position running the Small Council, Cersei really doesn’t have any ideas for what comes next if things don’t go according to plan.

Moreover, while consolidating one’s position is all very well, it’s also true that one critical lesson about feudal politics that Cersei has never gotten is that, in a feudal system, political influence comes from spreading power around, not concentrating it in one’s immediate family. The downside of having so many Lannisters on the Small Council is that you have less bargaining chips with which to expand one’s political coalition (which as I’ve pointed out in Bran VI is also your military coalition). Cersei’s actions here risk alienating potential allies by denying them patronage and constructing an outsider group that’s larger than the insider group.

This is only further confirmed when Cersei has Janos Slynt made a Small Councilor and the Lord of Harrenhal. Immediately, “the muttering was louder and angrier,” as the lords of the court bitterly resent a common being raised to the top of the Lesser Houses as a blatant act of quid pro quo. Moreover, since Slynt is a Lannister creation without any outside power base, it’s another example of the Lannisters keeping all the goodies for themselves. And as Tywin will point out later, this is a major case of Cersei overpaying for a one-time service; she’d have been better off replacing Janos Slynt with some Crownlands lord and keeping Harrenhal open for future political negotiations.
And then there’s the removal of Ser Barristan Selmy – the acme of knighthood, a symbol of honor and virtue, and a signifier of continuity between the two dynasties – and replacing him with Jaime Lannister as the Lord Commander and Sandor Clegane on the Kingsguard. Again and again, Cersei is packing the court with Lannister loyalists, and destroying every element of precedent and stability. While it’s Joffrey’s idea to have him arrested for calling him “boy” and mentioning Stannis (the first sign of Joffrey’s rampant paranoia), the idea of placing him in a glorified cell “north of Lannisport” isn’t much better.

On their own, some of these political moves make sense, and others don’t. But rolling them out all at once sends entirely the wrong message: instead of continuity, we have sudden breaks with precedent; instead of favors being widely doled out in return for loyalty, they’re being hoarded for the Lannister family. And, unlike in the show, Cersei really can’t claim that Joffrey’s at fault – this is her plan.

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I do sometimes wonder if part of Cersei's bitterness about her mother's death is thinking her mother would have raised her as a powerful lady better than Tywin did. Tywin deliberately made Cersei Queen and left her in charge of the Lannister legacy in King's Landing until she made him Hand again after Robert's death, so it's not like he never trusted her at all and wanted her kept out of the way. He grows disappointed with her due to how Joffrey turned out and the rumors of his illegitimacy, but why put her in such a position in the first place without teaching her what to do with such power? Not being smart enough is more reason to educate someone, not less. I think Cersei was right that it was her gender that made Tywin not guide her, he certainly wasn't grooming a completely unwilling Jaime because he had the most aptitude for ruling. But since I think Tywin did want Cersei to hold power behind Robert, I don't think it's so much that he thought women shouldn't be political as that fathers traditionally raise sons and mothers educate the daughters.

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I think Cersei was right that it was her gender that made Tywin not guide her

 

I think Tywin doesn't believe daughters need guidance; they need to be obedient to their father. Hell, Cersei is a grown woman and he's decided she will marry Loras. She yelled at him that she was not some brood mare and he bellowed back that she was his daughter. I think that says it all. Her vagina is his to direct as he pleases for the 'betterment' of the Lannister name, and she is supposed to just fall in line and do as he says.

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Yeah, but not like Cersei was alone in that terrible marriages scene. I think Tywin believed all his children were his to command, even as adults. That was a big flaw in his 1,000-year dynasty ambitions, who is going to direct all their moves with him dead? On their own they're just going to make even more disappointing life choices.

 

And yes, I've been following racefortheironthrone's reread too. I don't agree with all his conclusions, but Cersei's early political moves do look worse in retrospect. Can't really say she outmaneuvered Ned Stark when it's not like she did anything to receive the valuable help of Littlefinger and Ned himself. Though she did work to manipulate Sansa into doing what she wanted with the letters, not that outwitting a naive girl is really something to brag about.

Edited by Lady S.

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Yeah, but not like Cersei was alone in that terrible marriages scene. I think Tywin believed all his children were his to command, even as adults.

 

Equally, isn't that true of all 'children' in that time? Viserys bartered his sister into marrying Drogo; she had no say in it; Catelyn arranged for Rob to marry a Frey in order to make an alliance; Margaery was lined up for Joffrey (and now boy Tommen) to cement those families, Tywin ordered Tyrion to marry Sansa to secure the North etc.

 

Men and women have been bartered/sold/traded into marriages by their families for ages. I'm just surprised that Tywin was lining up Cersei for another round of "take one for the Lannister team". I can't really blame her for thinking "hey, fuck you, man. I already married one asshole for you! I've done my part!" ;)

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Equally, isn't that true of all 'children' in that time? Viserys bartered his sister into marrying Drogo; she had no say in it; Catelyn arranged for Rob to marry a Frey in order to make an alliance; Margaery was lined up for Joffrey (and now boy Tommen) to cement those families, Tywin ordered Tyrion to marry Sansa to secure the North etc.

 

Men and women have been bartered/sold/traded into marriages by their families for ages. I'm just surprised that Tywin was lining up Cersei for another round of "take one for the Lannister team". I can't really blame her for thinking "hey, fuck you, man. I already married one asshole for you! I've done my part!" ;)

 

Is it that surprising?

 

She's the Queen as well as the heir to Casterly Rock and she's still of child bearing age. It's a chip that someone like Tywin really couldn't resist. I'm just surprised he wanted to marry her into the Tyrell family. Margaery has already sealed that alliance by being betrothed to Tommen, it would have made more sense to try and marry her to someone else, whose allegiance he was still seeking.

 

In any case, as the head of a house Cersei would have been expected to marry again, and conceive another child who would not be heir to the Kingdoms, but heir to the Rock. Tommen would've inherited had Joffrey lived, and I suppose Myrcella is lined up now. But having a single heir, and girl at that isn't the most prudent strategy to continue the family line.

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Robb chose to enter into his marriage alliance, Arya was the one bartered away with no say in the matter. Betrothing daughters and underage sons is one thing, but Tywin had no right to command Tyrion or Cersei. Widowhood is supposed to be the only way a woman really has freedom in this type of world. For example, look at Lysa. Joffrey gave away Sansa at her wedding because her father was dead and her brother was a traitor was a traitor, Lysa also had a dead father and traitor brother but everyone acts like it's her choice to come back into the fold and no one but Petyr need be personally involved. She also mentions to Petyr that men had been after her ever since she was widowed, and we saw those guys in s1 all eager to kill Tyrion for her, Hoster was still alive when she was first widowed but no one felt the need to go to him to broker a marriage.

 

Would Cersei even be considered at a good childbearing age at around 40? I thought Olenna had a point there.

 

Anyway, so that scene with Qyburn in the premiere was I guess just him treating her allergies or something. There only to establish that they're besties now so he can be her personal mad scientist. 

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She's the Queen as well as the heir to Casterly Rock and she's still of child bearing age. It's a chip that someone like Tywin really couldn't resist. I'm just surprised he wanted to marry her into the Tyrell family. Margaery has already sealed that alliance by being betrothed to Tommen, it would have made more sense to try and marry her to someone else, whose allegiance he was still seeking.

 

Thing is, I always wondered if at least part of the reason Tywin was so anxious to marry Cersei off again, (even he didn't say it aloud or even admit it to himself,) was because he wanted to remove her as Queen Regent and out of KL.  He wasn't impressed by her performance as a political actor OR a mother, and he thought it would be easier to run things with her gone.  After Joffrey died, I think that desire was intensified because clearly he was hoping to mold Tommen to be Tywin's idea of a proper King-one who could rule even after Tywin was gone, (which Joffrey obviously couldn't have) and he preferred to do that without any interference from Cersei.

 

 

Cersei's early political moves do look worse in retrospect. Can't really say she outmaneuvered Ned Stark when it's not like she did anything to receive the valuable help of Littlefinger and Ned himself. Though she did work to manipulate Sansa into doing what she wanted with the letters, not that outwitting a naive girl is really something to brag about.

 

I wouldn't say she 'manipulated' Sansa so much as browbeat a teenage hostage to do what she was told.  In any event, no great skill involved.  And for all his notorious blunders, Ned actually would have beaten Cersei if it hadn't been for Littlefinger.  It wasn't a triumph for her really so much as Lord Baelish.  Not that she ever realized this which is another weakness of hers.  

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as the head of a house Cersei would have been expected to marry again, and conceive another child who would not be heir to the Kingdoms, but heir to the Rock. Tommen would've inherited had Joffrey lived, and I suppose Myrcella is lined up now. But having a single heir, and girl at that isn't the most prudent strategy to continue the family line.

 

But would Cersei's kids inherit Casterly Rock? The kids wouldn't be Lannisters...they'd be whatever family she married into. It's one of the reasons why, once Jaime joined the King's Guard, I was surprised Tywin didn't just suck it up and put his money on Tyrion (his sole remaining male heir).

 

 

I always wondered if at least part of the reason Tywin was so anxious to marry Cersei off again, (even he didn't say it aloud or even admit it to himself,) was because he wanted to remove her as Queen Regent and out of KL.

 

Mmm, interesting thought. Makes a lot of sense.

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Cersei is only the heir now because Tyrion is a fugitive and convicted regicide. She definitely wasn't the legal heir back in s3, or Tywin's chosen heir, since his 3.01 scene with Tyrion established that he still considered Jaime to be his heir. Cersei dismissing Barristan was a bad move but I think Tywin was planning to use that precedent to his advantage even before he found out Jaime had lost a hand. Surely he would have mentioned a new heir for Casterly Rock if that was part of Cersei's duty instead of only saying she should reproduce again to combat those "disgusting rumors", I think he definitely just wanted to get rid of her. He was trying to separate her from Tommen and felt he could better control Joffrey.  She was put into a position of power and Tywin felt she failed, so he was going to completely take over, which would include the regency. 

Edited by Lady S.

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But would Cersei's kids inherit Casterly Rock? The kids wouldn't be Lannisters...they'd be whatever family she married into. It's one of the reasons why, once Jaime joined the King's Guard, I was surprised Tywin didn't just suck it up and put his money on Tyrion (his sole remaining male heir).

 

Yes Cersei's kids would inherit the Rock. The Lord's children and grandchildren inherit before any others (unless they are bastards), despite their official last name.

 

To continue the line, the heir would usually "become" a member of the House and take the name Lannister. Frankly, the name isn't as important as the lineage.

 

So for instance if Cersei were to die now, Myrcella would forsake the Baratheon name and take the name Lannister and become Myrcella Lannister; Lady of Casterly Rock. By the rules of Westorosi inheritance all of Tywin's children and grandchildren and great grandchildren etc. would come before his brothers and other members of the House.

 

In AFFC, they talk about how Robin Arryn's heir, since he has no brothers or cousins, is a boy named Harrold Hardyng, because he is the grandson of an Arryn woman. If he were to actually inherit the Eyrie, he would take the last name Arryn and become Harrold Arryn

Edited by Maximum Taco

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Technically speaking, I don't think Cersei is the heir any more now that Tywin is dead.  I think she's now the Lady of Casterly Rock
 

So for instance if Cersei were to die now, Myrcella would forsake the Baratheon name and take the name Lannister and become Myrcella Lannister; Lady of Casterly Rock.


Poor Uncle Kevan, cheated out of his inheritance by Cersei & Jamie's bastard.

 

I like to think Kevan will turn to Team Stannis in exchange for being recognized as Lord of Casterly Rock, Cersei being debarred for her treason against Stannis.  But I don't think Uncle Kevan rolls that way, even though he must have heard the rumors about Joffrey/Tommen/Myrcella's parentage  by now.
 

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Technically speaking, I don't think Cersei is the heir any more now that Tywin is dead.  I think she's now the Lady of Casterly Rock

 

Poor Uncle Kevan, cheated out of his inheritance by Cersei & Jamie's bastard.

 

I like to think Kevan will turn to Team Stannis in exchange for being recognized as Lord of Casterly Rock, Cersei being debarred for her treason against Stannis.  But I don't think Uncle Kevan rolls that way, even though he must have heard the rumors about Joffrey/Tommen/Myrcella's parentage  by now.

 

 

Actually Kevan wouldn't be cheated by Myrcella inheriting, since she's not inheriting as a Baratheon, but a Lannister. And she IS a Lannister on both sides--she is twice Tywin's grandchild, being the daughter of his oldest son, and the daughter of his only daughter. She is completely entitled to Casterly Rock. Robert Baratheon never disowned her as a bastard, and so she's also entitled to inherit after Tommen, as a Baratheon.

 

Tommen inherits before her, but since he can't very well go to Casterly Rock, he'd doubtless give it to her, in the absence of any male heirs.

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Tommen as King can keep the Title of Lord of Casterly Rock and put a royal minister in charge for running things if similar to English system (and probably others) and hand the title out later if he wishes. 

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Actually Kevan wouldn't be cheated by Myrcella inheriting, since she's not inheriting as a Baratheon, but a Lannister. And she IS a Lannister on both sides--she is twice Tywin's grandchild, being the daughter of his oldest son, and the daughter of his only daughter. She is completely entitled to Casterly Rock. Robert Baratheon never disowned her as a bastard, and so she's also entitled to inherit after Tommen, as a Baratheon.

 

Tommen inherits before her, but since he can't very well go to Casterly Rock, he'd doubtless give it to her, in the absence of any male heirs.

 

Myrcella isn't a Lannister, she's a bastard.  She has no claim to Casterly Rock.  Nor does Tommen for that matter.  The Lannister/Tyrell regime may choose to lie about this, and Kevan may go along with the lie, but they're still falsely claiming something for Myrcella to which she is not entitled.

 

Nor does it matter that Robert Baratheon disowned Myrcella.  He never disowned Joffrery or Tommen either, but that's not stopping Stannis from claiming the Iron throne.  Nor did it stop Ned from recognizing Stannis as Robert's heir.

 

Which is why I think it would be cool if Uncle Kevan claimed his rightful inheritance and flipped to Stanns.  With Tywin dead, and Tyrion fled, I need to see some Lannister action in Westeros next season beyond Cersei swilling wine.

 

But, as I said, from what little I've seen of him, I don't think Uncle Kevan is the type to do that.  More's the pity.

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