Game Of Thrones

Monday, June 10, 2019

Back in 2015, I stumbled upon a catchy tune and since I liked it, I set it as a ringtone on my phone. It was the theme song of the series Game of Thrones. I was totally unaware of what I had done... See I don't watch TV much. I prefer reading. And I was surely not into watching a series and having to wait to know what is happening to the plot and the characters in it. My sister and a friend urged me to watch the 4 seasons that had already been aired and to start watching the current fifth season. I was reluctant and got caught up with work and life and forgot all about it... until March of 2019. It seemed that most people I knew were awaiting the last season eagerly and yes, you guessed right, I got caught up in the hype as well.

And so, about a week before the official launch of season 8, I finally acquired the previous 7 seasons and started my GoT marathon with the goal of being ready on Sunday at the premiere of the first episode. I wanted to watch the first episode of season 8 with everybody else. That particular April week was pretty hectic at work: I was taking a 3-week vacation and had to set everything up in such a way as to be able to benefit from the long awaited relaxation time away from the office. And I was flying out on April 11 and would be airborne until April 12. That was a lot of time on planes and in airports, which came in handy: I don't sleep in moving vehicles and could therefore watch several episodes of the series in the skies.

I did finish watching all 7 seasons within the 7 days. Don't ask me how I did it while working and getting gifts and packing for my long trip. On Sunday April 14, 2019 I was impatiently waiting in front of the TV set in my friend's living room. I was all excited and even set the recorder on previously to make sure I could re-run and watch the episode just in case something happened during its airing. I would end up pre-recording each of the 3 episodes I watched in Brazil. And I did rewatch episode 3. But let me write here a small overview of the whole story before giving you my 2-cents worth of the finale, that didn't really disappoint me since I cannot be counted as a GoT fan, even if my ringtone is still the theme of the series and both my phone screensaver and background picture are GoT material...

The storyline unfolds in the continents of Westeros and Essos where notable families are fighting each other to control the whole of the Seven Kingdoms and conquer the Iron Throne. It is therefore a succession of treachery, duplicity, nobility, honor and conquest that unfold as you go through the episodes. The audience witnesses the evolution of several characters over the span of the seasons. The most interesting evolution was Arya's in my eyes. She is the third child of Eddard of House Stark and her tomboyish behavior makes me watch her closely. She is left-handed - like me -, disdains sewing and other ladylike activities - hmm also much like me at her age -, and "suffers" of wanderlust - ok, I will stop pointing out our similarities. What caught my attention is mostly her bravery and resourcefulness and how she handles delicate situations. At her opposite, her elder sister Sansa has a character that horrifies me, not so much for her liking music or poetry but rather for being a naive child developing into an opportunistic woman, whose main goal is to find a prince and become queen. On another hand, Cersei Lannister, whose sheer will gets her to become the first Queen Regent in the history of Westeros and the last monarch to sit on the Iron Throne, is portrayed as an evil person, whose only concern are her children. Hating her husband, King Robert, for calling her Lyanna on their wedding night, she is romantically involved with her brother Jaime, the real father of her three children, her cousin Lancel and later on Euron Greyjoy. Her true love Jaime will return to her in the last season and they will die in each others arms as Daenerys, also known as the 'mother of dragons', is burning down the capital of King's Landing. Daenerys' ancestor, King Aegon I Targaryen, had founded the city which expanded under his descendants. The Iron Throne had been created with the swords of the subjugated enemies of the united Seven Kingdoms and it will be melted away by Drogon, before the dragon flies away in grief and with Daenerys' body in the final episode. This symbolizes a new era in which the future monarch is not an hereditary one but an elected individual. Jon Snow, who had fallen in love with Daenerys, his aunt by blood, still assassinated her to stop the bloodshed and the violence that she had started under the pretense of fighting tyranny and what she called "breaking the wheel" of slavery. Her intentions were certainly honorable as she waged war against injustice and serfdom. She stops being the merciful or compassionate liberator she started out to be when she killed the woman who betrayed her and made her loose both her husband and unborn child. To me, while understanding all the horrific pains, losses and betrayals she withstands, Daenerys had too much of a vengeful megalomaniac. Others have been raped, abused, used and broken and did not evolve in the same way. I would often tease my friend, an avid fan of the series, about liking Dany. To come back to Jon Snow, of his real name Aegon Targaryen, and who grew up believing he was a bastard to Eddard Stark, he appears as a mature and perceptive young man, who is compassionate and ultimately a loved, leader-born fellow and who ends up becoming King of the North. His death experience would keep the fans hyped to his adventures and the audience cannot but be in owe of a man who remains loyal to his origins and the family that raised him all through the plot twists. One cannot have a very chiseled opinion about Tyrion Lannister, the younger brother of Cersei and Jaime, who is a dwarf, and is mostly wittingly sarcastic. The "Imp" has to overcome intricate situations but never ceases to love his siblings and remain true to what he believes is the right thing. He is the one who indirectly suggests to Jon to kill Daenerys, even though he was her hand and truthfully tried to advise her all along. The long monologue he delivers in the finale is politically epic yet a bit long of a tirade.

Contrary to the first 5 seasons that were appealing and always made me feel like I couldn't afford to blink, by the end of Season 6, I was getting a bit fidgety. I blamed it on sitting too long on the plane without being able to move my feet. And so I kept Season 7 for when I would have landed. 48 hours would be enough to watch all the episodes. I started to loose my interest in Season 7 and had to force myself to remain alert and notice details. I almost fell asleep through the first 2 episodes of Season 8: too long diatribes and not enough action for my taste. Episodes 3 and 5 of Season 8 were the most interesting in my view and the last episodes show cinematographic beauty. The most epic scenes were in my eyes the Long Night in the Great War against the White Walkers and the Battle of King's Landing. For the Long Night, humanity unites, despite differences in tribal, cultural and ideological beliefs. Although the filming of it is quite dark, which is obvious as it takes place at night, the battle is between the living and the dead. Originally created by the Children of the Forest, the natives of Westeros, as a weapon for protection, the  White Walkers are lead by the Night King. The only two substances capable of killing the Night King and his wights is Valyrian steel or drangonglass. And it is Arya who saves the day by jumping down from behind the Night King to kill him. He swiftly turns around and grabs her throat and the wrist holding the dagger. Suffocating, Arya drops the Valyrian steel blade out of her left hand and catches it with her right hand to drive it into the chest of the Night King. This kills him and instantly shatters him, his White Walkers and all of his magic into ice. Now that this count has been settled and the war is won, Daenerys and her allies move towards the capital to win back the Iron Throne that had been usurped from her ancestors some 300 years ago. Riding Drogon, Daenerys first destroys the Iron fleet, then moves on the take out the anti dragon scorpions surmounting the city walls. With her help breaching the city gates, the remaining forces of the Unsullied, the Dothraki who had survived the Long Night and the other armies who had joined forces with Dany enter the city triumphantly. But Dany doesn't stop here. She does not seem to accept the surrender of the Lannister forces and systematically burns down the city and turns it to ashes, killing thereby hundreds of innocents. Jon is appalled and tries to talk some common sense into Daenerys but their once strong bond has faded. Having lost love and its support, Dany chose fear to impose her rule and this is what makes Jon tip against her and break his heart by murdering her...

True, the last season could have probably been written differently. It seems that the general message delivered was rushed and the storyline is quite different from the first seasons. I do understand the fans feeling deceived. Several other possible endings would have presumably been more popular. However, in my lay woman's eyes and perception, the story had unfolded in a very plausible way. This is seemingly the case because, early on, I wasn't able to strongly connect to the character of Daenerys. Is it because I went through a marathon and watched all the episodes without pausing in between? Maybe. Maybe not. The series is based on "A Song Of Ice And Fire" by George R.R. Martin and I was told the books are even better than the series. I am looking forward to buying the complete set and reading it once the final book is out. The author said in an interview that his end would be surely different from the series. And as Tyrion Lannister said so well in his finale speech: "There's nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it." So let's wait and see... 

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