By Valerie Tejeda
From the moment we meet Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, it’s hard not to like the wine-loving lion who “drinks and knows things” and who is arguably one of the show’s most compassionate characters with some Pinterest-worthy quotes to prove it: “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”
But while he was once hailed as one of the smartest and wittiest men in all of Westeros, he’s made a string of bad decisions since becoming Hand of the Queen to Daenerys Targaryen. Sansa Stark said it best to Tyrion in the Season 8 premiere: “I used to think you were the cleverest man alive.” Keywords: “used to.” Ouch.
There’s no doubt that Tyrion has made some huge mistakes since taking on his role of Dany’s Hand. For a guy who was once praised to be wise, where did it all go wrong?
Things haven’t been easy for Tyrion from the start. He’s faced considerable prejudice and was treated like a monster by everyone in his family except Jaime. In Season 1, he was abducted by Catelyn Stark and accused of a crime (Bran’s attempted murder) that he didn’t commit. He later escapes and is appointed by his father, Tywin, as acting Hand of the King to his nephew, King Joffrey Baratheon (who was the worst).
Using his smarts, he successfully wins the Battle of the Blackwater for the Crown, gets a nasty cut on his face, and is then stripped of his title by Tywin, who demotes him to Master of Coin and orders him to wed Sansa Stark. He’s later framed for Joffrey’s murder and — after his champion, Oberyn Martell, is defeated by The Mountain in Tyrion’s trial by combat — he escapes King’s Landing (with Jaime and Varys’s help) and flees to Essos. But not before murdering his father and his former lover, Shae (it wasn’t one of his shining moments).
Jorah Mormont then captures Tyrion and takes him to Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen. After proving his loyalty, Tyrion becomes Dany’s Hand — even after his failed negotiations with slavers resulted in all-out war in Slaver’s Bay. (Probably the first sign that he wasn’t as equipped for this position.)
Tyrion has had a bumpy journey, but at the end of Season 6 we saw him sailing off to Westeros with Daenerys, and things seemed hopeful. They felt like a match made in heaven. If only that had turned out to be true.
From the moment they arrived at Dragonstone in Season 7, Tyrion offered some not-so-strategic counsel, advising Dany to use the Unsullied to take Casterly Rock. This left her other allies unguarded in different locations and led to the defeat (and death) of Olenna Tyrell and her army by the Lannister forces at Highgarden. In addition, Yara Greyjoy’s fleet was attacked by her uncle, Euron Greyjoy, who captured Yara and Ellaria Sand. In the words of Tyrion in Season 6, “Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face.”
To say Tyrion’s strategy failed is an understatement. “Your strategy has lost us Dorne, the Iron Islands, and the Reach,” Dany said to Tyrion. He also advised her against helping Jon Snow and his crew while they were being attacked by White Walkers beyond the Wall. Yes, going to the Wall led to Daenerys losing one of her dragons to the Night King, but, on top of being plain wrong, advising her against helping an important ally showed yet again that Tyrion really knew nothing about the woman whom he was advising.
But the strangest thing Tyrion has done during his bout as Dany’s Hand is put faith and trust in his sister, Cersei Lannister, who has been nothing but horrible to him their entire lives and has a track record of untrustworthiness.
He believed Cersei when she said she would send troops to the North to fight the army of the dead (he was wrong). He also thought he could convince Cersei to spare Missandei’s life and put a stop to the war altogether (he was wrong). And after all that, as he was setting Jaime free, he even told him to find Cersei, convince her to surrender, and then flee the city with him (really?). It definitely makes you wonder if he’s just that blind to who his sister is or if he’s just secretly loyal to her because they’re blood-related.
A lot of Tyrion’s time has also been spent trying to temper Daenerys’s “worst impulses” and keep her from following in the Mad King’s footsteps. How did that seem to work out? If he had advised Daenerys differently — by not putting so much faith in Cersei — would the Mother of Dragons have ever gone full-blown Mad Queen on King’s Landing in the penultimate episode? Daenerys did what she did because she hit her breaking point after losing her allies, her friends, her troops, her claim to the throne, and even two of her beloved dragons. All of this happened on Tyrion’s watch.
So while Tyrion Lannister may hold a special place in fans’ hearts because of his good nature, charm, witticisms, and affinity for wine, it seems that the man who was once the most clever in the Realm has lost his way. We can only hope that he doesn’t lose his life because of it.