Why you should give a damn about House Greyjoy in Game of Thrones season 6

Greyjoy isn’t exactly the hottest House in Game of Thrones. Search for Ironborn on Google and the third result that comes up (after ‘The Ironborn’ and ‘The Ironborn Game of Thrones’) is: ‘The Ironborn are idiots’. In one Reddit thread, people contemplated whether the Greyjoys have literal brain damage from their drowning-style baptisms as babies. They might, for all I know. It’s a valid point. But on top of that, I just don’t like them. Every scene in the Iron Islands is cold and unpleasant, the characters haven’t done anything of value and there’s way too much obsession with the ocean. I get it, your priests wear fishing nets and you bury your dead at sea because you’re fans of water. Don’t go on about it.

House Greyjoy has barely been mentioned for the past several seasons, with Pyke being completely wiped off the map of Westeros in season 5. But season 6 promises a resurgence of the Drowned God and his sea-drenched followers, and it’s all down to one man.

Before this season, I was under the impression that the Greyjoys had outlived their welcome. That much like the Sand Snakes in season 5, the Greyjoys were given a chance to be relevant on the show and everyone squandered it. The characters, the writers, even that one intern whose job it was to bring actor Alfie Allen a jacket after Theon’s baptism scene in season 2. That’s right, I’m blaming him/her/them too.

Instead of watching the warriors of the Iron Islands plunder the lands and cause havoc for the other houses, we got an entire season of torture, failed rescues, and more torture. Not that we haven’t enjoyed it, though not nearly as much as Ramsay Bolton, obviously. But come on - how many times do we need to hear about Ramsay’s “little present” to the Greyjoys before they actually do something real about it? 

Luckily, there’s a rainbow on the sea’s horizon, and his name is Uncle Euron. 

Euron is pretty much the Captain Jack Sparrow of Westeros. He’s a vicious, take-no-prisoners pirate who lives life as if he’s constantly looking in the mirror to remind himself how awesome he is, like Yul Brenner from Cool Runnings: “I see pride, I see power, I see a badass mother who don’t take no crap out of nobody.” That you do, Euron, that you do.

Euron’s spent the past several years pillaging and plundering the seas after Balon banished him for violating another brother’s wife, or seducing her, depending on who’s telling the story. He’s cocky and full of bravado, like Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne, but he’s also violent and cruel. After all, his ship is named Silence because he ripped out the tongues of all his crew members. If he becomes King of the Iron Islands, his reign would give Ramsay Bolton a run for his money. Ramsay may be wicked, but he’s also pretty stupid. Yes, Ramsay, go ahead and threaten the sister of a guy who’s just come back to life and has the support of thousands of Wildlings. Nothing bad will come out of that whatsoever.

Also, Euron wears an eyepatch, because only cool guys wear eye patches. 

Euron came back during the second episode of season 6, Home, and wasted no time offing one of my least-favorite characters on the show, Balon Greyjoy. Balon was one of the worst rulers on Game of Thrones, making awful decrees like ‘let’s ignore Robb Stark’s peace offer for no reason’ because he thinks he’s good at leading when he’s actually terrible at it. Don’t be a bad leader, Balon, that’s supposed to be Dany’s job.

What’s interesting is Balon’s death fulfills the three leeches prophecy from Melisandre all the way back in season 3. That’s when Melisandre destroyed three king’s blood-filled leeches in the fire, casting blood magic against rulers who could oppose Stannis Baratheon. Robb Stark died first, followed by Joffrey Baratheon and now Balon Greyjoy. This could pave the way for Melisandre’s new pet project, Jon Snow, to arise as the new Prince of the North. But it also leaves a huge gap in leadership in the Iron Islands, and it’ll likely go to Euron.

Sure, Theon just threw his weight behind Yara’s claim to the throne in the last episode, but come on, we all know she’s not going to get it. If she was, why would they have introduced Euron in the first place? Plus, in the books it’s Euron who gets the Seastone Chair. I know we’ve deviated considerably from the books, but if they didn’t want Euron to rule they probably shouldn’t have brought him into the show at all. That guy is destined to rule.

In the books, Euron unites the Ironborn in a new mission to control all of Westeros, giving the Greyjoys new purpose as the true Vikings of Westeros. Instead of hiding on Pyke with nothing to do but sulk, Euron sends out his ships to invade along the coast, going as far as Oldtown. Hey, guess who’s heading there right now to become a Maester? Let’s just hope Little Sam stays out of harm’s way. 

Later on, Euron sets out to court Daenerys Targaryen and unite their kingdoms in marriage. This places Greyjoy in a key position of being part of the actual Game of Thrones, with Dany needing ships and Euron needing an army. Of course, Euron might have Dragonbinder, a dragon horn from Old Valyria that is rumored to control dragons. If he is in possession of Dragonbinder, like he claims to be in the books, then his intentions may be less true love and more ‘let’s conquer the dragons.’ But man, wouldn’t a marriage between Dany and Euron be fascinating? She needs an upgrade from Daario, that’s for sure. 

Of course, there are plenty of things that have to be changed between the book series and Game of Thrones, should they be going the King Euron route. The other Balon brothers were removed from the family tree between the first and second season, even though we’ve already met Aeron, who’s a priest. If Euron is the only one brought back, and others like Victarion are left out of the show, that leaves a gap for who will act as emissary to Dany. Given that Theon is already back home, that’s a position he could easily fill, especially given his, well, “physical resemblance” to the Unsullied. 

There’s also the question about what role Yara will take in the future of the series. Yara’s arguably the best thing about the Greyjoy plotline so far (not that there was much competition), but her future in the books is less than bright. Basically, she gets married off and kidnapped, though in the book it’s by Stannis, who’s still in a pre-dead state. Currently, Yara is a strong contender for the Seastone Chair, and her intensity and confidence could make her a capable ally for Euron, or a formidable enemy. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. 

The Ironborn have been a wet stain on Game of Thrones for several seasons now, but the Iron Islands’ latest arrival promises a bright future for the pirates of Westeros. I cannot wait to see Ramsay Bolton put in his place, and by that I mean put on a pike, and for Euron Greyjoy to emerge as the true psychopath of Westeros. What is dead may never die, especially if you’ve got a cool eyepatch.