Between Arya Stark’s cold-served revenge and a stunt cameo from some little-known redhead, Game of Thrones’ Season 7 premiere nearly overshadowed the character it meant as a scene-stealer: Pilou Asbaek’s pirate king Euron Greyjoy.
Yara and Theon’s murderous uncle saunters into Cersei’s throne room to offer his hand in marriage with the full confidence of a man dressed in Hot Topic couture circa 2009. So much black leather! Guyliner, ahoy! Is that an asymmetrical neckline? He’s a bad boy, dear reader. A villain. Don’t let his soft resemblance to the guy from Dawson’s Creek fool you: Euron’s presence this season is a game-changer for Westeros.
Euron steps into the Red Keep fresh off his rejection from another queen, Daenerys Targaryen. (The goth makeover starts to make sense, doesn’t it?) Dany aligned herself with Euron’s nephew and niece last season, leaving the newly crowned Iron Islands leader to turn directly to King’s Landing for his chance at the Iron Throne. If he weds Cersei, he’ll have strengthened her forces by a thousand ships. That gives her a fighting chance—likely her only fighting chance—against Dany’s massive armada and dragons.
Cersei’s situation is increasingly desperate. King’s Landing is currently in a four-pronged enemy grip with the Sand Snakes in Dorne, a grieving Olenna Tyrell in Highgarden, Jon Snow in Winterfell, and Daenerys now back in Dragonstone. As Jaime tells her, the new queen of the Seven Kingdoms actually rules, like, three kingdoms “at best.” That’s in part thanks to Arya, who just massacred an entire house of loyal Lannister allies, the Freys.
Still, a queen doesn’t just marry the first murderer to waltz into her throne room and propose. While clearly intrigued by Euron, Cersei heeds Jaime’s warning about trusting a man who killed his own brother. (“It feels wonderful, you should try it” is Euron’s cheeky reply in front of Jaime.) She turns him down but he counteroffers immediately: He’ll bring a “priceless” gift to woo her.
There are a handful of solid guesses about what that gift could be; naturally most are disastrous for Team Let’s Survive Winter. One possibility is that Euron gifts Cersei Tyrion himself, the little brother she’s wanted dead for years out of the mistaken belief he killed Joffrey. Another guess might be Yara, Ellaria Sand, or perhaps the grieving Olenna Tyrell—any of Cersei’s enemies brought to kneel before her would be a “gift” befitting the mad queen.
There’s also, however, the tantalizing possibility of a new MacGuffin: a magical horn Euron claims to possess in the books that allows one to control dragons. That would certainly come in handy for Cersei. In A Feast for Crows, Euron claims he found the horn, called Dragonbinder, “amongst the smoking ruins that were Valyria, where no man has dared to walk but me.” You’ll know it by its “bands of red gold and Valyrian steel graven with enchantments,” he says. “The dragon lords of old sounded such horns, before the Doom devoured them. With this horn, ironmen, I can bind dragons to my will.”
He’s never proven any of that, so take it with a grain of salt. (Heh.) The horn also kills whoever blows on it, so there’s fine print to go along with it, too. We’ll see whatever the gift is by Episode 3 of this season, “The Queen’s Justice,” when Cersei “returns” it, according to HBO’s official description. But even after she does, we’ll see plenty more of Euron Greyjoy, the man tasked with stepping into Joffrey and Ramsay’s villainous shoes—and who seems determined to drive a wedge between already-distancing lovers Cersei and Jaime.
Euron’s shit-taking, straight-shooting charisma was enough to sway the Ironborn to elect him ruler over Yara, who, you know, only trained her whole life for the gig. (We’d call him the Donald Trump of Game of Thrones, except he actually won the popular vote.) He’s now positioning himself as a wedge between the Lannister twins at a particularly sensitive time. Jaime and Cersei’s last son has just died, a blow Cersei is too far gone to even talk about despite Jaime’s gentle attempts at connecting. Meanwhile Euron is firing off jokes about what he could do with two hands instead of one—and earning a wry, charmed smirk from the queen.
Co-showrunner Dan Weiss has described Asbaek’s Euron as a pirate with “rock star swagger who doesn’t give a shit.” (See: guyliner.) Asbaek himself, meanwhile, pins his character down as a “fucking idiot douchebag” and an “impolite selfish child”—not “100 percent evil” like Joffrey or Ramsay, but “more like a hooligan.”
“He’s kind of a joker type,” Asbaek told EW. “He doesn’t take anyone too seriously. He doesn’t take himself too seriously… So where he’s much more like a demon in the books, he’s much more f-ing enjoying himself here. I want to show a guy who just loves it. Those psychopathic sociopaths I’ve met in my life are smiley and well-mannered and they’re the biggest pricks in the world.”
Sounds kind of like who Jaime used to be, before he met Brienne and lost his hand and came home to a drastically changed dynamic with his sister/lover than the one he had left. Before all that happened, Cersei had looked to him like a mirror image of herself. He projected strength, competence, power—things she wanted for herself. Without his hand, she recoiled from him. And now she’s got her eye on Euron. Disaster has been prophesied for Cersei even beyond the deaths of her children. How long until she pushes Jaime away for good?