Game of Thrones season 7: An ode to Olenna Tyrell


With a new piece of Game of Thrones season 7 art released by HBO, it’s time we reflect one last time on Olenna Tyrell and her impact.

For the past week, I’ve semi-joked about my mourning Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones. Yes, she’s a fictional character who has done some horrible things. Her role in the murder of Joffrey Baratheon, which she talks about in her final scene, was pretty nasty, after all.

But Olenna is not the kind of character we get to see very often in media. Old women usually have knowledge, if we get to see them at all — but it’s more often in the form of magic. The old crone who knows the dark arts is a common archetype even now.

Olenna doesn’t have magic. She has her smarts. She knows how to give the kind of speech that still gives us chills, and she still looks pretty good despite being a grandmother. (Also, she can drop the c-word practically casually. That word’s come up in this show before, but usually not out of the mouths of women, and her using it to refer to Joffrey demonstrates some very interesting gender politics.)

So, it’s only fitting that her Game of Thrones “Beautiful Death” poster is gorgeous and nasty:

Artist Robert Ball, in the accompanying blog post linked above, notes that:

"“The pain in the scene is really Jaime’s.”"

So, here you have Olenna Tyrell, knowing that she’s lost completely and totally. She accepts it from the moment that Jaime walks in. In my discussion of “The Queen’s Justice” in terms of fashion, I talked about how her clothes become a way for her to say good-bye to herself. That’s picked up in the black rose here, which symbolizes Olenna per Ball.

But the golden hand really fascinates me here. It’s clear that the blood running down is from somewhere higher up and actually fleshy, but on a visual level, it still looks like Olenna’s rose drew blood from gold. Look at what the two of them wear in that final scene. Jaime’s all in armor, the commander of his queen’s armies, and Olenna all in her fine fabrics.

Ball’s right, though: Jaime is the one who leaves bloody and beaten, and Olenna gets the last word. How often do we see that in media for women? Not very.

That’s the kind of character that helps elevate a series. We got it right when we talked about “The Queen’s Justice” and its best feminist moments: Diana Rigg played her to perfection.

Next: Who will die in Game of Thrones season 7, episode 4?

This is probably not the last time we’re going to talk about Olenna, because she’s still amazing, although Sansa is picking up the snark banner and flying with it at the very least.