This week's episode of Game of Thrones was a deeply verbal affair, with much pondering on the nature of conquest in Dragonstone, verbal fights up north on trusting Targaryens, and Cersei reminiscing about a place we'd never been before on the show. But then Euron Greyjoy put a stop to all that talk by attacking Yara and Theon on their way back to Dorne, murdering a couple of Sand Snakes and and setting off the biggest naval battle HBO has ever seen. The horror ended only when Theon Greyjoy jumped overboard, when faced with being taken prisoner by yet another mad man.
Why did Theon jump? According to actor Alfie Allen, the entire situation triggered memories of the horror Theon's lived through before.
The sight of blood is going to remind him of physical pain or mental torment. It brings him back to that place, and he's torn as to what to do. The reptilian part of his brain just takes over.
But the choice to jump is also one that is deeply dishonorable. One of Theon's hang ups when he first went home in Season 2 was that his father thought him soft from his time in the greenlands. His takeover of Winterfell was to show himself to be an Ironborn warrior. Now, after years of torture by Ramsay, Theon has actually become that "soft" person his father once sneered at him for, giving into the flight urge, rather than standing and fighting and being taken prisoner.
But let us consider this. If Theon had stood his ground and attacked Euron, what good would it have done? Theon's no use to anyone as the prisoner of another mad man, who has decided to fill in the "evil" slot once occupied by Joffrey and Ramsay. He's even less use to anyone dead.
Yara may in fact be toast, destined for Cersei's black dungeons, if Euron hands her over as a prize -- or worse if he keeps her for himself. But for there to still be any sort of Ironborn resistance to Euron's takeover of the Iron Islands, someone needs to still be a leader. Theon needs to live to fight another day. That is, if the Ironborn will respect him, once they realize he abandoned his own kin and ran.
Allen also had an interesting quote here:
He's dealing with decisions that he made a long, long time ago. Now he's having to face up to those decisions, and the people who it really did affect.
Does this mean Theon is heading back to Dany and Dragonstone with whatever survivors there are? I ask because next week's trailer has Jon Snow also at Dragonstone -- the man who had to lead the Battle of the Bastards to get Winterfell back from the takeover that Theon allowed to happen. Will the Ironborn grudgingly accept Theon back as a leader, only to have Jon Snow punch his lights out, or worse, claim right to revenge and run a sword through him?
Will this fight ruin any hope of an allegiance between Jon Snow and Co. and Team Targ before it's even begun?