A warning, this is rife with spoilers from Game of Thrones.
I’ve always disliked Shae. It was this little thing under the surface of how selfish she was. It reminded me of my ex, and I found it even more reminiscent when I found out Shae was one of her favorite characters. Of course she was.
GRRM did a brilliant job with Tyrion’s lover. When Tyrion came home and offered her wealth, riches, and safety, she threw it in his face and said “Give me more.”
“If my family finds out about you, they’ll kill you,” Tyrion would say, knowing his spiteful dad very well.
And so his whore would respond, “No they won’t. I don’t care. If you really loved me you’d introduce me to them. If you really loved me I would be staying in your room. If you really loved me….”
Tyrion at the end of the day would be battered and broken, because he loved her beyond reason and would do anything she requested, unless it put her life at risk. Then he would do everything just short of what she would request, and he would attempt to make it up to her in a dozen other ways.
It’s a strange type of abuse, a very subtle one, where you put up with the demands because you love them and because you’re afraid if you don’t, they’ll leave. And you couldn’t live without them beside you. Everything she does is just on the borderline of being acceptable, not quite to the point of pushing Tyrion away. It’s understanding how much slack you can give before it breaks, and when you need to reel in.
Then we reach the point of crisis in their relationship. Tyrion comes up with a plan where Shae is set up for life and silently sent away so she isn’t killed.
She refuses. She deserves better. She will not leave because she is owed by Tyrion, and to that, Tyrion should have been asking a long time ago, “What do I owe you?” She was a common whore that he purchased for a night, became smitten with because the Imp truly has a romantic’s heart, and she used him with a level of precision seen in military strikes. It didn’t take me long to see she was a festering wound upon Lord Tyrion’s soul, and he suffered it like a champ.
Then we reach that critical point. You think to yourself, “No she wouldn’t.” But the truth is she’s a bitch. She has always been a bitch. Out of love, Tyrion sends her away, with money, and he has to do it as forcefully as Arya pushing Nymeria away. And she bit back. There will be those who justify what she did next, but there is no justification. All Tyrion did was out of love. All she did was out of greed. What did she do next?
I imagine, if his heart had not been visibly shattered in that moment, Tyrion would quip, “A simple thank you would have done for all the things I gave you.” And she’d likely quip back, “Like herpes?” But that’s neither here nor there.
I always had the feeling that she was going to do this. Others saw her as strong and independent, but she’s a plague, a vengeful parasite that will kill its target when released. And she did her best to bury Tyrion, and succeeded. Tyrion’s response, I think, is one of the greatest Tyrion moments so far.
In short, I just think GRRM did a brilliant job of making Shae the woman she was. She was a woman I was familiar with. And when she came out to accuse Tyrion, it didn’t shock me one bit. Because she’s a bitch, a whore, and a greedy femme fatale. I weep for Tyrion.