Google “Why is Tyrion stupid now?” and you’ll be served nearly 5 million results. It’s not just disgruntled fans asking this question, either. Earlier this season, Sansa tells him, “I used to think you were the cleverest man alive.”
Emphasis on “used to.”
It’s indisputable that Tyrion has made some baffling mistakes: He trusted Cersei would help the North fight the undead. He also trusted he could persuade her to call off the war entirely. He sticks by Daenerys’s side, too, even as she is clearly morphing into her father, the Mad King.
Maybe we’re giving old Tyrion too much credit. Sure, he’s always been fantastically witty, and he’s certainly knowledgeable. Plus, he’s done some great things, such as crafting a winning strategy for the Battle of the Blackwater. (Even then, he required his father’s last-minute cavalry attack to win the battle.)
But he has made major mistakes. This is nothing new.
Tyrion is something of an addict, as culture critics Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald mention on their podcast, “The Watch.” When we meet him, he’s spending a healthy amount of his time in brothels. Otherwise, he has a bottle of wine glued to his mouth.
But let’s put aside the booze and the prostitutes and focus on Tyrion’s other addiction: drama.
One thing we know from the start is that Tyrion’s father, Tywin, and his sister, Cersei, despise him above all else. Yet, rather than live out his days as his father expects him to — hanging around brothels or marrying his beloved Shae and staying out of all things political — Tyrion continues to insert himself close to the very powers that want him dead.
He continuously hints that he knows Jaime and Cersei threw Bran from a window in an attempt to murder him — even though he knows his sister would love a good reason to off her little brother. He also knows Catelyn Stark is seeking answers, and probably revenge, for what happened to her son.
Still, the supposedly brilliant Tyrion allows himself to be set up by none other than Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger), a man who never met a soul he did not betray. Littlefinger insinuates that Tyrion is to blame for Bran’s attempted murder, which leads Catelyn to kidnap Tyrion and thus start the war that kicks off all the trouble we find Westeros in now. When Tyrion finally finds freedom again, he doesn’t do anything to Littlefinger. Instead, it’s water under the bridge.
Meanwhile, Tyrion makes more and more enemies, at great risk to himself and seemingly without cause. When he becomes the Hand of the King, for example, he insults everyone, particularly Cersei. Oh, and King Joffrey, whom he slaps across the face. So it’s no surprise that Joffrey focuses an inordinate amount of his treacherous attention on Tyrion. The young king routinely mocks his uncle, up until the moment just before his death, when he pours wine over Tyrion’s head.
Why not just, I dunno, stay away? But Tyrion can’t do that — he’s addicted to being near the center of the action, and he makes mistakes because of it.
Then there’s the Shae situation. Blinded by his love for her, he brings her to King’s Landing while he’s married to Sansa Stark. There is no possible way this could go well for him given his father’s disdain for prostitutes, which Tywin routinely mentions. Eventually Tywin starts an affair with Shae and persuades her to give false testimony against Tyrion while he’s on trial for Joffrey’s murder, all but assuring Tyrion’s execution.
Despite all his highfalutin rhetoric that he wants peace in the Seven Kingdoms, Tyrion kills Tywin, effectively leaving Westeros to be ruled by Cersei, the supposed villain of this whole story — the person who will lead the “bad guys” in the final fight.
He continues to make mistakes once he gets to Essos. He’s kidnapped by Jorah after insisting no one will recognize him (even though he’s one of the most recognizable people in the entire kingdom). And he chooses to trust the very slavers in Meeren who Daenerys considers enemies, only to be betrayed by them, which is exactly what Grey Worm and Missandei said would happen.
So I’m not sure why we’re all suddenly surprised when he suggests that capturing a wight is a sensible plan or that he can trust Cersei. Tyrion is many things — lucky, funny, charismatic and a blast to watch.
But he certainly isn’t always wise.