With the fighting pits reopened, a coming wedding between Daenerys and Hizdahr, and Jorah and Tyrion drawing ever closer, Meereen will soon see some interesting events unfold. But given what we know so far, what can we expect to happen in this city of former slavers and slaves? The following CONTAINS SPOILERS.
What are the Fighting Pits and why has Dany refused to open them for so long?
This week’s episode saw Daenerys Targaryen finally give way to the pressures of the Meereenese, and reopen the fighting pits of Meereen. Until now, Dany was willing to continue fighting the Sons of the Harpy tooth and nail, but with Ser Barristan dead, she has decided to change her approach. Rather than accept Daario’s authoritarian proposal of “clearing the streets”, she has decided to make amends and do what she can to prevent further bloodshed.
That is, unwilling bloodshed. As Hizdahr zo Loraq said, “traditions are the only thing that will hold this city together.” It seems that Daenerys now plans to follow that advice not only by marrying Hizdahr, but also by reintroducing a cherished tradition of Meereen: pit fighting. But what exactly are the fighting pits and why was the decision to reopen them so pivotal for Dany and her regime?
In the books, the fighting pit is referred to as Daznak’s Pit and it was the arena in which slaves and masters alike enjoyed the spectacle of gladiator matches. But Dany’s abhorrence of slavery has prevented her from reopening the pit until now, on the condition that only freedmen will fight as contestants.
As we saw last season, not all of the former slaves find themselves content in freedom. Like the elderly tutor who came to speak before Dany, the books have the former gladiators somewhat lost in the new Meereen; with the pit being closed, they find themselves without a profession. And with former slaves and masters both calling for the pit to reopen, Dany has decided to comply with their request.
Why would Daenerys want to marry Hizdahr?
Dany has no affection for Hizdahr whatsoever. But as many members of the nobility have realized, personal desires must sometimes be eclipsed by duty and responsibility. Daenerys sees Hizdahr as a potential ally and a marriage to him as a means of appeasing the more traditional sects of Meereenese society.
By marrying Hizdahr, Dany can use him as a go-between for her new regime and what remains of the old one. Raising a noble of Meereen to ruling status also promises to calm the rest of the elite class, and presumably the Sons of the Harpy as well. But if the show is to follow the books on this development, Dany may soon discover that Hizdahr zo Loraq is not all he seems.
What can we expect for Jorah Mormont?
It can be hard to predict a character’s fate once his or her story has deviated from the books. But with George Martin’s revelation that the show writers will be killing off characters whose lives he has yet to end himself, it may be reasonable to expect Jorah’s story to wrap up this season. Especially when one considers that pictures from the set have shown him fighting in the pit. Not to mention the fact that he now has greyscale climbing up his arm.
The last scene of this week’s episode did happen in the books. Only instead of Jorah fending off Stone Men and saving Tyrion, it was a character named Jon Connington, who also contracted greyscale during the encounter. Connington has yet to die, but has made peace with the fact that his days are numbered. If Jorah comes to a similar conclusion, could this lead to him taking on some heroic but ultimately fatal task?
Without Quentyn Martell being cast, Mormont may be replacing him as the man who frees Dany’s dragons and meets a fiery end. The show has let two storylines merge before, but this particular deviation may prove deadly for Ser Jorah.
What about Tyrion?
Without Ser Barristan to take control after Dany’s coming absence, will Tyrion assume that role? It’s certainly plausible. Tyrion and Dany will cross paths much sooner than in the books, but with the latter’s approaching disappearance on the back of Drogon, what will the former do with his time? Assuming control of the city and bringing the Sons of the Harpy to justice seems a very fitting development for Tyrion; something to reassure him of his own competence and cement his loyalty to a cause.
If he does indeed replace Ser Barristan as the savior of Meereen, it is safe to say that his style of command will be quite different. Tyrion will probably not be doing any fighting as the old Kingsguard did, but Grey Worm might at the Lannister’s behest. Regardless of what awaits in Meereen, the coming episodes will be wildly entertaining.