I’ll disclaim this as such: I never had feelings about Robb, or Jeyne, or Robb/Jeyne—meaning, no antipathy, and came into the show with nothing but endless curiosity as to how it’d be treated, because the show shedding light on underdeveloped characters can lead to some pretty interesting business.
Interesting business: not yet to be found. I’m unstintingly annoyed with what the show chose to make Jeyne, now moonlighting as Talisa. The only way I’ll be appeased is that if she is a Jeyne who’s never had a brother, by the way, because this is begging deconstruction, and fast. Because at the moment it’s the only thing on the show that simply is a trope, rather than working (with whatever success) to take a trope apart, and it’s ridiculously conspicuous.
Here’s the thing. ASOIAF/GoT as Feminist Text™ is, uh, debatable—it’s a mixed bag of just about everything, quality-wise—but it’s definitely, deliberately a deconstructive one. Tropes are set up to be taken apart: honor, chivalry, and all kinds of rebellion. Essentially, the things that are so often easy in fantasy stories are shown to be difficult to the point of untenability here: the more palatable the morality to the readers, the bigger gap between the ideals and the reality. Nobility in heroes, Feminist Fire in heroines—it all comes at a significant cost. (Ned Stark dies for his nobility. Arya Stark learns how very difficult it is to buck the rules and throw off the constraints of nobility and become a saucy lady knight!! And if you didn’t get that from her showing, Cersei Lannister will happily catch you all the way up on the pervasive fuckery of the patriarchy.)
So to have a character—any character—swan in and seduce the noble young king (played straightforwardly so) with the purity of her ideals, and to have that played fully straight, rings false and leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It feels like a model or an appeasement and it’s badly written. Like, we can’t watch the mistreatment of the underclasses (e.g. Ros), we have to have Talisa in Robb’s (thus our) ear reminding us how bad the class dichotomy is? We can’t watch Sansa choke on the costs of courtly femininity, we need Talisa telling us that she ran away to do something better than that, telling us how easy it was to give everything up and indicting the world she left behind as unstintingly shallow?
Mm. Nope. Everything here is too pat: the plucky lady nurse, the noble lady who Threw Off The Constraints Of Class-Based Femininity To Go Do Good!, the clumsy functionality of her as his conscience, the way their sex played out like a reward, not just for him for being an A-OK model young king (this plot is doing neither of them any favours) but for her superior brand of femininity as opposed to the nameless Frey girl’s lackluster model of faceless female obeisance to society. It’s an easy rebellion in a series that’s about making those rebellions hard; it’s not borne of cost, and it’s spoon-fed to the audience in a way that nothing else there is.
Coulda done anything. Did this. It’s a waste of potential and also time, it’s not well-written in big, obnoxious, dissonant ways, and I need the other shoe to drop, because the wait and the bluff is not just dull, it’s dull and lazy in narratively caustic ways. This needs to be false fast, because if it’s true, it doesn’t say anything good about what the show thinks the audience expects from its female characters—or should I say, its Strong Female Characters™.