We learned SO much by the time Game of Thrones' super speedy Season 7 ended it may be hard to keep it all straight: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) isn't really named Jon Snow; the Stark sisters (Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams) are plotting together; and Tryion (Peter Dinklage) likes to watch... Or at the very least listen.
Another thing we learned this season is that Game of Thrones was, like, really obsessed with penis. Granted, we didn't actually see peen on screen this season — STARZ is giving HBO stiff competition in that arena — which made the peter patter all the more curious for a show that hasn't necessarily shied away from showing shlongs, albeit with significantly less frequency than female anatomy. In a season where the only sex was awkward, the choice to talk about, rather than show, penis certainly was enough to get our full attention.
For example: the Season 7 finale opened with the revelation that, in Bronn's (Jerome Flynn) eyes at least, Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) show of soldierly might was pretty limp — since her army of Unsullied don't need jock straps. I mean, most of us would look down on an endless legion of troops ready for battle and be worried, or at least impressed. But not Bronn. He surveys a bunch of soldiers and thinks about genitals.
"Men without c--ks," Bronn says ruefully. "You wouldn't find me fighting with an Army if I had no c--k. What's left to fight for?" Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) counters with gold, family, honor — you know, regular things. But for Bronn, gold is basically for sex (with your penis) and families aren't realistic (without penises). Were we silly to think Jaime would enlighten Bronn to the fact that there are all kinds of families, and that cliched performances of cis-gendered heteronormative manhood are so last century? Probably. Because he just replied, "Maybe it is all c--ks in the end."
Oh Jamie. Perhaps a chat with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) about patriarchal gender norms would do you some good.
Bronn's phallic fascination came just a week (or, whatever timeline we're working with) after the ballsy banter in Episode 6 ("Beyond the Wall"). That episode opened with Jon Snow, Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) having guy chat about how to keep your balls from freezing. (IKEA rugs can only do so much, one supposes.)
Tormund eloquently explains that f---ing is best, which demonstrated that, yes, it's true: if you leave men alone long enough, some variation of a pissing contest will ensue. The talk takes quite a turn later, when, as you can see here, Tormund is happy to learn what the word d--k means. Considering that he's the one who outed Jon as being a member of the Itty Bitty Committee, it's pretty clear now that Tormund's Kinsey scale number isn't fixed. Which, good for you Tormund! Will & Grace shouldn't be the only show representing the B and Q in LGBT.
Crude and silly though they are, both instances say so much in context. After years of well-deserved outcry over sexualization and subjugation in rape scenes, Game of Thrones was all about the ladies in Season 7, depicting women at an advantage in physical might, strategic cunning, executive decision making and resisting male exploitation. Perhaps producers included this seemingly inconsequential banter as part of a plan to course correct. Their use of language in these moments makes the men look like arrested juveniles who think with their d--ks, which maybe has something to do with them not being in power? If the goal was to create a commentary on male fragility, then well done.
Or maybe it's a view of vulnerability as strength — like Theon (Alfie Allen) coming back to win a brutal fight after being kneed in the lack of nuts. Because as titillating as the talk was about Grey Worm's (Jacob Anderson) "pillar and stones," as Dany put it, his missing privates was not the focus at all in that unforgettable love scene with Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel). (Side note: how fun is it that one of the most powerful women in the world inquires about her bestie's man's junk like she just left a boozy brunch with her pals Miranda and Carrie?) Grey and Missandei's long-simmering consummation taught us important lessons about laying your scarred self bare to a partner, trusting each other, and what real intimacy looks like. Manhood, Grey Worm proved, does not require a penis. For Game of Thrones, that's a ding-dong to be celebrated: the sound of a bell ushering in what could be a more enlightened show.
Game of Thrones Season 7 is currently streaming on HBO Go. The eighth and final season will likely premiere on HBO in 2019.