asoiaf

This Is It: The End of Game of Thrones Will Be The End of ASOIAF

Introduction & Caveat

May 19th, 2019, saw the end of Game of Thrones, after eight tumultuous years. Through this final season, one refrain in particular has resurfaced time and again: well, it won’t be like that in the books. Right? Arya won’t kill the Night King, Daenerys won’t burn innocent people after the Others are defeated, Jon won’t retire beyond the Wall in true superhero fashion. Right?

Wrong, friend.

Before I get into why I think this is the same ending we’ll get in the books, I do want to lay out one important caveat:

I understand I might be wrong. I do! I am going to argue my opinion and my case as persuasively as I can. But I understand that the only one who really knows is George R. R. Martin, and he ain’t talkin’.

Okay. With that said. I think this is the ending we’re getting in the books, almost 1:1. I wasn’t convinced at first. But I’ve had time to sit with this for a while, to mull it over, and to read up on other critics who saw the art in the story. And I do truly believe that:

  1. Game of Thrones is, overall, a good story
  2. This is the same story we’ll see in the books

I won’t try to convince you of #1 here. But #2? Hell yes. I’m tackling that bad boy from three different angles. In the first section, I will look at what GRRM himself (more…)

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Game of Thrones S8E05 – “The Bells”

Outwardly: dumbly, I shamble about, a thing that could never have been known as human, a thing whose shape is so alien a travesty that humanity becomes more obscene for the vague resemblance.
Inwardly: alone. Here. Living under the land, under the sea, in the belly of AM, whom we created because our time was badly spent and we must have known unconsciously that he could do it better. At least the four of them are safe at last.
AM will be all the madder for that. It makes me a little happier. And yet … AM has won, simply… he has taken his revenge …
I have no mouth. And I must scream.

A masterpiece.

This episode was masterpiece.

In Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, the main character is reduced to little more than a puddle of jelly, stripped of all visible humanity. Yet his mind remains, and he must scream. Some interpret this as a depressing ending, purely horrifying – oh my god what have they done to this man, this is awful! Others, though, see it as almost a humanistic ending – despite all the unspeakable horrors wrought on our protagonist, the human, the bare, screaming, soul of man remains.

Anyway, Game of Thrones!

Masks

In this episode, our protagonists are stripped of the social constructs that once held them together, reduced to their barest, basest desires and impulses. Their masks slip, and the eerie light (more…)

Game of Thrones S8E04: “The Last of the Starks”

Woah! Spoiler alert there, title of the episode! That makes it sound like we’re thinning out the Starks a little! Haven’t you ever heard of common decency? (Alternate titles for the episode include “No Country for Old Wolves” and “Last Day At Summer Camp BLOWOUT Extravaganza.”)

Before the episode aired, at least a few of the actors referred to the upcoming spectacle as “Shakespearean.” Spot-on. Tragedy runs bone-deep here, in every haunted look and half-earnest laugh. Romance and idealism burn and fizzle against the overwhelming bleakness like Dothraki candles in the wind. At the center of it all are Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, the titular Ice and Fire, thrown into chaos and storm at last.

Chains

Every character in this episode tries to escape the shackles of the past. Dany sees herself becoming further and further removed from her people – and this time, she’s not in Meereen, where she can tell herself that her real goal is Westeros, that of course these people won’t like her. This is it, for her. She’s at the top, and it is hollow, and bitter, and she is growing more lonely by the second. You can see it in her face at the banquet: she’s so close to her goal, and so, so far from what she wants.

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Game of Thrones S8E03: “The Long Night”

More like the long fight! Golly! What a lengthy battle!

With only three more episodes remaining, we are decidedly in the Endgame now. The time has come to confirm (or shatter) long-standing fan expectations for the story. In my writeup for episode 1, I mentioned how much of the show was now being written around those fan expectations. The writers anticipate audience reaction and either write to elicit that reaction or subvert it.

In this, the most earth-shattering battle scene ever put to film (in terms of human rights violations for the crew, i mean jesus), you can absolutely see the way the writers are working around what they think the audience will expect. It’s a game of double-bluffing. They can’t foreshadow things too much (or so they think), but they also can’t just ass-pull every plot point. They’ve said as much with regards to the Sansa/Arya conflict in season 7 – most of it was misdirection to build up to a very surprising twist (Littlefinger’s trial).

Perhaps no moment glistens with the silvery slime of fan expectations quite as much as (more…)

Game of Thrones S8E02: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

Last week, I wrote a great deal about the dialogue in “Winterfell.” I wrote about how it felt as though the characters were essentially static, just sort of saying things at one another without developing too much in any particular direction. Last week’s episode was written by Dave Hill.

This week’s episode was written by Bryan Cogman.

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The Price of Power is Abomination: Jeyne, Lysa, and the Neverborn

Introduction: A Bride Fit for a King

There are discrepancies and mistakes in A Song of Ice and Fire. Inevitable in a series of this size. One such mistake – infamous for a time in the fandom – has to do with the child-bearing suitability of a particular pair of hips.

When Catelyn Stark first meets her daughter-in-law Jeyne Westerling, she describes her thusly:

“She was pretty, undeniably, with her chestnut curls and heart-shaped face, and that shy smile. Slender, but with good hips…”

When Jaime Lannister meets Jeyne – now a widow – a book later, his description conflicts:

“Jeyne was a willowy girl, no more than fifteen or sixteen, more awkward than graceful. She had narrow hips, breasts the size of apples, a mop of chestnut curls, and the soft brown eyes of a doe. Pretty enough for a child…”

Theories abounded for a time. Was this really Jeyne that Jaime met? Was it an impostor? A decoy?

As it turns out, it was a mistake. George R. R. Martin has said as much firsthand; secondhand reports confirm this, and later editions of A Feast for Crows remove Jaime’s reference to Jeyne’s hips entirely.

Both times, Jeyne is described in terms of her fertility and sexuality. She is either fecund or sterile, but there’s no room for her to be anything other than a vehicle for childbearing – and childbearing at the whims of her family, and those who rule her family.

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