“My legacy will be determined in the coming months. ... It's what you pass down to your children, and your children's children. It's what remains of you when you're gone.”
As Game of Thrones' second-season finale draws closer, the clash of kings grows more volatile. But as the series' various characters find themselves drawn into their own alliances and conflicts, it's become clear that the battle is about much more than the king who sits on the throne. Last night's standout episode, "A Man Without Honor" (which aired, serendipitously, on Mother's Day), was chiefly concerned with the legacies passed from parents to children. Kings come and go, but the history lasts forever. And in Westeros, where everything comes down to bloodline, the name a person inherits counts for everything—and the power a name wields can mean the difference between life and death.
That's certainly true for both Sansa Stark, the highest-stakes hostage in King's Landing. As the eldest Stark daughter, Sansa's eventual marriage will have significant political ramifications for the whole of Westeros—which was also the case a generation earlier, when Robert Baratheon married Cersei Lannister (who once presciently remarked that the entire country was held together by their marriage). The parallels between between Cersei and Sansa are straightforward: Each is a beautiful woman from a highborn family, married off to achieve a political gain. More surprising (and perhaps more telling) is the comparison Tywin Lannister draws between Arya and Cersei. Game of Thrones has surpassed even its source material in making Cersei, who could easily come off as a one-note villainess, nuanced and complex. In her own way, Cersei is as single-minded and fiercely devoted to her family as Arya. Both women have been equally ruthless toward their enemies. And though she doesn't yet know it, Arya has already been slated for her own politically expedient marriage, in a deal Catelyn brokered last season with Walter Frey.