By the time the sixth season of Game of Thrones rolled around, I felt tepid about the show at best. Season five had almost entirely lost me — there are only so many terrible things that can happen to the 8,652 main characters before it feels like overkill. And while the premiere did rekindle my enthusiasm slightly, one moment in the episode struck me as far more electric than the rest: The Sand Snakes’ swift, brutal coup in Dorne.
I confess that I’ve loved the Sand Snakes, the bastard daughters of the late Oberyn Martell, from the moment they showed up onscreen in the fifth season. Like me, they’re ethnically ambiguous and look great in earth tones. (The similarities end there; I don’t know how to handle a weapon and I’m not quite so cavalier about showing my breasts to strangers.) And though they’ve received minimal screen time during Game of Thrones, that can be easily remedied. HBO should give them their own spinoff series.
Now, Sand Snakes: The Sitcom would be slightly — slightly being the key word here — more lighthearted than the gloom and doom we’re used to on Game of Thrones. It’ll be set in Dorne, after all, where the sun is shining, the wine flows free, and the woman are expertly trained in battle and hungry to avenge their dead father.
The show already has a solid central cast in the form of half-sisters Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes), Nymeria (Jessica Henwick), and Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers). Obara is the fiercest one, Nymeria is the cunning one, and Tyene is the wacky one. To further drive these differences home, each Sand Snake has a fun weapon of choice: Obara throws spears, Nymeria wields a whip, and Tyene uses daggers. HBO execs: Think of your hit series Sex and the City and Girls — but with murder!
Ellaria Sand comes in to round out the whole crew. Played by the astonishingly regal Indira Varma, Ellaria was Oberyn’s lover and is Tyene’s mother; she rallies the Sand Snakes and leads them through their strategic attempts to consolidate power. I envision her channeling Sophia from Golden Girls’ spirit in this spinoff, if Sophia regularly killed with no remorse. (R.I.P. Myrcella.)
So nobody’s questioning that the Sand Snakes can fight. And they’re more or less poster children for the “strong female lead” category on Netflix — or they would be, if they had the chance to be leads. But their banter is what hints at what could make a spinoff so entertaining. Take the scene in Sunday night’s episode when Obara and Nymeria challenge Prince Trystane to choose one of them to fight to the death. He opts for Nymeria, and before she can even get a crack of her whip in, Obara sticks her spear clean through Trystane’s head. “You’re a greedy bitch, you know that?” Nymeria spits out at her half-sister. That levity — delivered during a particularly gruesome moment — is a welcome relief from the usual mood in Westeros, where things generally oscillate from bad to worse.
Though they’re some of the most compelling characters on Game of Thrones, I fear that the Sand Snakes are doomed to remain underdeveloped, overlooked in favor of dragons and a maybe-dead guy. And based on the sisterly dynamic, fighting prowess, and the high stakes of their work we’ve seen so far, it’s a shame. The Sand Snakes are fantastic, borderline misandrist heroes. They deserve an hour slot of their own.