Yes, that’s right, there are TWO Musing by Moonlight posts this week, because I have ALL THE FEELS about Game of Thrones and need to express it after the finale of Season 5.
Is George RR Martin The Only One Keeping It Real?
I haven’t read George RR Martin’s epic fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire, and I don’t expect to. It’s somewhat different to the TV show Game of Thrones, which I love. It’s the same reason I won’t read The Seeker of Truth, because I loved the remarkably different TV show Legend of the Seeker. This discussion is purely about the Game of Thrones TV show as adapted from Martin’s books.
This post is full of spoilers.
You have been warned.
Game of Thrones is a shocking TV show. I can never predict who is going to win or live or die. This is because for some reason George RR Martin has this uncanny ability to recognise clichés, tropes, and traditional storytelling and subvert them into the unexpected.
- While the first surprise was little Bran being permanently paralysed (this is fantasy, surely they can find some way to magically fix his legs?!) the first shock was not in fact Ned’s death.
- It was Lady, taking the place of Nymeria, who had attacked Joffrey when he threatened her human, Arya. Lady’s death was so unfair it seemed like something was going to happen to help her get away unscathed. But nope.
- And that ‘expecting our heroes to escape’ continued. And we wept salty tears of shock as they made stupid-ass decisions and faced the consequences – the consequences of the time being brutally murdered.
- Ned was our hero. Ned was THE hero of season 1. And he died right near the end. How could the show go on without Ned? But it did. Martin subverted reader expectations of a saviour at the last minute. We as an audience have been trained to believe that the good guys always win, that heroes in danger will be saved.
- So we adjusted and figured our new hero would be Ned’s eldest legitimate child, Rob. But then Rob and Catelyn were murdered. Who are our heroes now?
- Robert Barathion’s eldest bastard? Gendry went missing after escaping with his life. For all we know he’s rowing in circles around the world.
- Ned’s bastard? Jon was stuck at the Wall doing Wall things. When given the opportunity to become a legitimate heir, he declined. His vow to the crows was more important than his Stark family.
- In other places, Danearys lost control of her dragons and decided to stay in the east rather than conquer Westeros so soon.
- Then Joffrey was killed on his wedding day.
- Tyrion’s true love betrayed him and didn’t repent at the last minute, and continued to betray him by sleeping with Tywin. So he murdered both of them.
- Oberyn was murdered by the Mountain. Cocky, heroic, vengeful Oberyn, who looked like he was about to win…
- Then Arya didn’t mercy kill the Hound. Arya, who had developed a strong morality, a good sense of right vs wrong, who gladly murdered those who did her and her friends wrong, walked away from a mortally wounded Hound.
- Brienne failed to protect Renly. And Catelyn. And Arya and Sansa.
- Sansa was raped. Everyone expected Theon/Reek to go crazy and save her from Ramsey, but he didn’t. No one busted in to save Sansa at the last minute. That’s not how stories are told, it’s not how we’ve come to view damsels in distress. Damsels in distress get rescued, damn it!
- The guy Daenerys was going to marry to solve all of her problems was murdered.
- And then that thing happened at the end of Season 5 that has about half the fandom declaring they are SO DONE WITH THIS SHOW.
These are but a few examples of how Martin and the TV show writers subverted reader expectations and defied traditional storytelling to keep the story not only
- Full of conflict and
- Surprising, but
I’m always surprised by the outcomes and the effects character choices have on the overall narrative.
The only problem with all these deaths, where the good guys often don’t win, is that there is a decreasing number of characters to root for. But that’s another issue entirely I might explore in the future.
PS RAMSEY BOLTON IS MY FAVOURITE CHARACTER, OH GOD PLEASE I HOPE NOTHING BAD HAPPENS TO HIM.