Allow me to invite you into a moment. You have a Band-Aid stuck to your skin. And I mean it’s really stuck there. Probably to some hair on your arm or something. It has done its job, your boo boo is healed, and now you have to take it off. You have steeled your nerves and steadied your breathing, so you pinch the edge of it beneath your fingers and get ready to rip. There. Right there, that moment. The one right before you endure that special kind of pain only Band-Aids inflict is where we find our characters in Westeros this week.
This is one of the “chess pieces” episodes we see every season. We are witnessing the beginnings of war. The players are moving into place for the next strategic clash (this time it’s Queens not Kings!), and just like that Band-Aid, there are some tough, potentially painful choices that have to be made. Life and death literally hang in the balance, so it’s safe to say every choice is critical. But those are the rules to the Game. No time to waste, so better just rip it off!
If this story has taught us anything to this point, it is that choices made against your nature tend to prove pretty costly (in Westeros, anyway). Just ask Ned Stark. What’s that? He can’t hear you because he has no head? Right. Ned set out to King’s Landing for honor instead of following his instincts and staying in the North where he belonged. Rob fell to the same logic. How fitting that Jon’s turn at following honor blindly would keep him in Winterfell. His true calling is to the south, and even he doesn’t yet realize how true that is. But he made the choice, risk and all.
“That’s not you.” – Arya
I’ll be honest, I had to look up more about Arya’s encounter with Nymeria before it clicked. But it’s perfect. Echoing what Arya once said to her father when good ol’ Ned thought to set her up with the perfectly princess life, Arya finds that her direwolf spirit mate does indeed still reflect her true, boundless nature. “Come with me” she pleads to Nymeria. No, that’s not us, she reminds her. “Come with me” is what honor has continually asked of the Starks. “Come with me” is what madness has begun beckoning to Daenerys, who is already threatening stewards with the fire that made her mad king father infamous. Each character stands at the cusp of answering their true calling.
I’ve seen far too many Christians consumed with their “calling.” Thankfully, none of them lost their heads for it. But the preoccupation to find God’s magical “plan for your life” tends to always become fruitless and frustrating. Our calling is to simply follow Christ. That’s His plan, but I think the reason why we make it harder on ourselves is because other ways seem easier, or more logical, or more right. You know, grass is always greener. Faith, then, leads us through difficult times so that we will find grace.
That brings me to our most squeamish moment of the show since Oberyn Martell’s, err… Mountainous headache. Poor Ser Jorah has a slightly bigger boo boo than a simple Band-Aid can fix. He was called by Daenerys to find the cure and return to her, yet there he sat, nearly ready to take the easier, or more logical way out via his sword. Thanks to Sam, a great deal of excruciating pain, and HBO’s editors giddily cutting between greyscale and stew, healing will begin for Ser Jorah. He can fulfill his calling. That’s the kind of calling we have faith in, and the kind our characters must choose in order to survive. Because the storm will be perilous, but through it, a new beginning will be born.