Home / World / Game of Thrones: 14 Reasons Why Lady Olenna Is the Show's Best Character – Vanity Fair

Game of Thrones: 14 Reasons Why Lady Olenna Is the Show's Best Character – Vanity Fair

This post contains frank discussion of Season 7, Episode 3 of Game of Thrones: “The Queen’s Justice.” If you’re not caught up or don’t want to be spoiled, now would be the time to leave. Seriously, I won’t warn you again. Skedaddle.

Are they gone? Good. Let’s dive in.

As far as deaths on Game of Thrones go, this was a fairly dignified one. Lady Olenna of House Tyrell went out on her own terms. Bless Jaime Lannister for giving her that, at least. As far as the show is concerned, the ancient House of Tyrell officially dies with Olenna—the series has never been concerned with Willas, Garlen, or any of the other minor members of the family. So that’s it; the rose is dead on the vine. This particular turn of events makes Olenna’s boast in Episode 2 that she had out-lived all the wise men around her because she didn’t listen to them seem. . .not the cleverest thing she’s ever said. Daenerys might want to keep listening to Tyrion for the time being, even if Olenna was endlessly entertaining.

But just because the Queen of Thorns is gone, that doesn’t mean she’ll soon be forgotten. As the dangers in Westeros have ramped up, there’s been less and less time in the HBO series for the kind of acid-tinged banter Olenna deployed so expertly. So let’s remember happier, quippier times in the history of Game of Thrones with a loving tribute to Dame Dianna Rigg’s Kingslayer (oh yes) character.

Olenna vs. the Iron Throne: It’s all the rage now to say that the Iron Throne isn’t the most important prize to be won in Westeros, but Olenna was dissing the seat of power way back in Season 3.

Olenna vs. the Tyrell Motto: Lady Olenna (originally of House Redwyne) may be enormously proud of the power and riches associated with her family, but that doesn’t mean she has to love everything about it. She’s right: the Tyrell house words are stupid, and she’s not afraid to make a fart joke or two (much to Sansa’s mortification) to get her disdain for the flowery motif across.

Olenna is even willing to throw the other members of House Tyrell (except her darling protege Margaery) under the bus. (Don’t get her started on Mace.)

So, what would have made better words for House Tyrell? No clue, but I do know they probably should have let Olenna have a crack at it.

Even that evocative little phrase would have been better than “Growing Strong.”

Olenna vs. Sansa: Olenna’s actually fairly nice to Sansa—nicer than almost anyone else in King’s Landing. But make no mistake—that kindness was largely because Sansa was useful to Olenna, first as a source of Joffrey intel and then as a potential political marriage for Loras. Still, it means a lot that Olenna would entrust Loras (the oft-named “future” of House Tyrell) to Sansa. But when the Stark girl wasn’t around to hear it, Olenna made her opinion of her very clear.

Olenna vs. Serving Boys: We don’t mind when Olenna knocked that random Cheese Boy around, did we? Damn straight she gets her cheese when she wants it. Things are a little less hilarious when she turns that sharp tongue on our precious Podrick.

Show a little more respect, please.

Olenna vs. All Other Murderers: We can only assume that Olenna was merely trying to show up every other murder in Westeros and beyond with the brazen and clever way she took out King Joffrey in the middle of his own wedding. (A wedding, we might add, that she paid for.) It’s not entirely clear that Olenna was planning to murder Joffrey when she had that little pre-wedding chat with Cersei about how mothers are always trying, fruitlessly, to keep their sons from dying. “We shower them with good sense,” she says, talking as much about her son Mace as she is Joffrey, “and it slides right off like rain off a wing.” If she knew then what was coming, this is ice cold.

But Olenna absolutely did know what she was about to do when she dropped this little condolence to Sansa Stark while lifting a poison gemstone from her necklace. Clucking about “monsters” killing men at weddings while simultaneously pocketing her murder weapon? Frigid.

She kept her poker face even as Tyrion grabbed the poisoned goblet to give to Joffrey, and even shouted out for someone to help the dying king she murdered. As far as kingslaying goes, I think we have to give her credit for doing it with the most style.

Olenna vs. Gardens: The Queen of Thorns says early on that she takes most of her meetings in the King’s Landing gardens because she’s worried about all the spies in the castle. But that doesn’t mean she has to like it. Listen, if you’d lived most of your life in a place called Highgarden, you might be done with shrubs too.

Olenna vs. Varys: Surely the best meeting between two characters in the history of Game of Thrones. They have so much in common! A love of brocade robes, secrets, and murderous plots! But when Olenna’s first attempts to scheme with Varys went awry (they both wanted Sansa to marry Loras), she threw in with the much dicier Littlefinger instead. It has, frankly, all been downhill for House Tyrell since then.

Olenna vs. Tyrion: The only other person on Game of Thrones with a tongue to rival Olenna is the Imp. They didn’t share many moments together, but in the one scene they did have, she emerged the rhetorical champ.

Olenna vs. All the Jewelry Makers in King’s Landing: I’m sorry, did you labor over that particular bit of craftsmanship for weeks? The Queen of Thorns couldn’t care less.

Olenna vs. the Sand Snakes: As we discussed last week, this little Season 6 interaction felt somewhat fan-service-y. Still, you have to admire the efficiency with which Olenna shut down not one but three Dornish warriors.

Olenna vs. the High Sparrow: In the end, I suppose, we have to say that the Sparrow beat Olenna. Maybe not in this exchange, but he is indirectly responsible for wiping out most of her family. Still, “little fellow” is a brilliantly dismissive nickname for the High Septon.

Olenna vs. Tywin: Very few people got the best of Tywin, but Olenna put the Lannister patriarch a few times when she a) called his prized daughter, Cersei, too old, b) implied that he must have tried messing around with other boys when he was young—come on, not at least once?—and c) brazenly brought up the Lannister’s dirty little twincest secret.

Tywin matched her move for move, which is why, after he died, Olenna kept telling Cersei how much she admired her late father. She may not have liked him, but these two would have been a formidable ruling pair.

Olenna vs. Cersei: In the end, Olenna’s fiercest opponent proved to be the Queen of Tarts: Cersei Lannister. The traded barbs and, in the end, murdered each other’s children. Woof.

It would be lovely to give Lady Olenna the advantage here, but we have to point out that she was the one who gave Cersei the idea for the wildfire plot in the first place. Taunting the Queen Mother about her unpopularity and pointing out that she’s surrounded by enemies on all side, Olenna wondered if Cersei thought she could take them all out by herself. As it turns out, she did.

Olenna vs. Brienne: But we’ll end this little tribute not on a failure, but on a high note. There is literally only one single solitary person (other than Margaery) that Olenna ever heaped praise on during her multi-season Game of Thrones tenure. The Queen of Thorns absolutely loved Brienne of Tarth. And that, well, that’s just good taste.

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