My point is this; after all the killings and horrible killings at that, where GoT has revealed itself as a fantasy horror series, we’re left rather numb. George R.R. Martin has a habit of building good stories and beautiful characters or starting good arcs, but then not providing any pay-off.
There are quite a few flaws with the show if you get really nit-picky, but I’ll refrain.
• In Season 1 with Ned’s death they taught us that this wasn’t just about Ned and that they were going against the clichés of the genre. That made us focus on his family as Robb’s arc was well crafted. But then in Season 2 things shifted to Tyrion. In Season 3 with Robb’s death, another protagonist was taken from us, and though that flattened us a bit, it taught us that we should look beyond the Starks. In Season 4 we did just that. Oberyn Martell showed up and though we weren’t sure about him, you sided with him because he hated the Lannisters perhaps more than even us. It’s partly Pedro Pascal’s fault really for why Oberyn’s death was so shocking. Even book readers acknowledge that he made the character even better, even cooler (similarly in a sense with Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister), though his demise was a literal horror show – up there with the worst death thought up for any character to have… (it’s a death that was simply hard to stomach for its very brutal nature) so what have we learned: best not to care about anyone, because they’re going to get dead, horribly dead.
• All men must die, yes, agreed, but there’s more to life than misery.
• In a discussion recently with Joel (ITK’s head honcho) he mentioned his differing view of the show (but I’ll leave him to explain his side when he feels like it) saying that the show holds up a mirror to society. Though I don’t fully disagree with him, and any others who share that sentiment, because yes, man can be lower than animals at our depraved worst and in medieval times, life was harsh and unforgiving and brutal in many places, but similarly, are we to believe that there are so many bad apples in society – this is what I was getting at with the lack of hope in this story. GoT doesn’t really have any optimism about the condition of man and his capability for redemption. Jaime Lannister did a very noble and honourable thing by saving Brienne from getting gang raped – it cost him his fighting hand – but his sordid relationship with Cersei is just too deep to rectify. His relationship with Tyrion on the other hand is without doubt Season 4’s ‘endearing’ fulcrum.
• Game of Thrones is not just about death and that all men must die, it’s also about the nature of death – the way it treats its characters – since they make a statement with each demise, in many cases making it as horrible as possible, in its own way. Joffrey’s death was another example of a symptom of this show. Many were relieved to see him die, but the manner of his death left a somewhat bitter taste because there was no ‘comeuppance’ – in that moment the killing lacked context due to the whodunnit element. And we saw it again in the last episode; in the books it said that the Mountain died in agonizing pain and that his screams could be heard by all in the Red Keep (or something along those lines), which at the very least made one feel that he at least ‘paid some sort of price’ for killing Oberyn – but in the show that’s scrapped completely and all we get is a scene with Gregor Clegane’s almost dead body. Dare I say we were owed what the book portrayed to get the feeling that The Red Viper’s death was ‘felt’ more (reflecting our feelings) and reverberated within King’s Landing – not only that but a scene like this would’ve resonated more with the audience on an emotional level, but no; we got nothing. Whatever pain or shock we felt at the loss of yet another loved character would’ve echoed in this scene but with vague notes of remote retribution. Yes, Dorne will come into play in Season 5, but so what, the moment is gone and what’s left after the sucker punch is emptiness and a sort of disassociation – so effectively the showrunners pushed the audience farther away.
“The flesh mortifies and the wounds ooze pus. Even maggots will not touch such foulness. His convulsions are so violent that I have had to gag him to prevent him from biting off his own tongue. I have cut away as much tissue as I dare, and treated the rot with boiling wine and bread mold, to no avail. The veins in his arms are turning black. When I leeched him, all the leeches died” — Pycelle to the small council, describing the poison eating away at The Mountain
“If ever a man deserved to die screaming it was Gregor Clegane.” — Doran Martell
I’m watching now out of habit and morbid curiosity. I am numb to the characters, not really caring who lives or gets to sit on the iron throne (Khaleesi’s storyline is following the books pretty closely, but in this arc it’s kind of boring). Recently, focus has often fallen on characters we care less about anyway (The Bolton’s; Theon’s sister whom we theoretically should root for; even Bran is only mildly interesting, and were he not a Stark, few would really care).
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