For days, my wife Margo has been telling me how much she is enjoying this final season of Game of Thrones. Because I do not watch Game of Thrones, this has meant absolutely nothing to me. So I asked her to write down her thoughts. Many spoilers follow.
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Dear Fellow Game of Thrones Brethren, those disheartened souls who have penned their petition for a rewrite of the eighth season of the imposters’ reign, I say: “Take care in where you send your ravens.”
Good on you for clanning together but take heed: Disappointment has always been the theme of Game of Thrones. We know well that House Stark members, et al, have had their unfair share of stark endings: beheadings, red weddings and countless near-death experiences for remaining kin. This has kept us religiously pining most Sunday evenings.
I confess that I too was ready to leave the show after the sixth episode of the fifth season, that awful wedding night of still-sweet Sansa Stark to the most despicable Ramsay Bolton. (Note to Joe, other Non-Watchers and those who have not yet caught up: Be warned that this overflows with spoilers! In that scene, Ramsay rapes Sansa while his psychology experiment and prisoner, poor Theon, watches), Winter had arrived, the scene incensed me. Why inflict upon us that dispiriting moment when we had already endured 1,001 horrors that might have sent us all screaming from our televisions? It was too much. I boycotted the last of the fifth season.
But, alas, I missed the medieval fantasy and the evil that lurked from the north and the south and all of Westeros. That damned, ominous image of the throne wouldn’t go away, taunting me. I had to admit to myself that I cared deeply about a saga of 2.4 million characters trudging through mud and blood and jostling for power. Here was a political calamity that I could watch without any real-life consequences — other than losing a few, favorite characters every other episode. And, like in video games, sometimes the best of the characters got a second life. The final episode of Season Six — with so many strong female characters — made me happy to have given GoT a second life.
And so, speaking of confessions, I have truly enjoyed this final season. I have delighted in the scheming and alliances and friend and foe farewells. The long night before the White Walker battle was perfect for our time and place, it was a cathartic escape to see destruction on such a large scale in a world set to battle winter and unjust rulers. Hurray to Arya Stark — ah, to remember when the wee lass could barely hold her sword Needle — for growing into a warrior and after a long dark, dark night, obliterating the Night King and his horde. Hurray for the return of magical Melisandre and her light show.
To be honest with you, I was surprised that more of our key characters didn’t meet their end at Winterfell. How this show has made me callous? How am I questioning not the characters’ deaths but their survival? Who have I become?
Of course, there needed to be an army left for Jon Snow’s queen, Daenerys Targaryen, to march on King’s Landing. The show has always done a remarkable job of revealing and exploring battle strategy, of placing us at the round table of the medieval RISK gameboard. The penultimate episode finally made us experience battle itself. War should be awful, and this was a truer result than the bells tolling and all the fighters going home. Dany’s Drogon’s orange dragon fire and the green wildfire flames while evil queen Cersei watched was like a twisted and fulfilling homage to Sleeping Beauty’s battle scene.
Speaking of corrupted power, there have been countless hints that our beloved Mother of Dragons turns crazy. Khaleesi/Dany has spent half her life raising her triplet dragons, which is not at all the same as raising, say, llamas. It’s frustrating in this year and week in America, that women cannot control even a fantasy world.
But I loved the idea that one episode made us mistrust our silver-headed heroine and question Tyrion Lannister’s cleverness. As much as we hungered for Cersei to meet her doom, I viewed her passing with not a small amount of pity. That’s good storytelling. Even though Jamie Lannister also had to die returning to his sister/lover.
Now the end is near, and we cannot count on anyone to stay savvy or sane or alive, and I have so many thoughts and questions. Will there even be a throne to sit on after the finale? (My guess is Drogon’s last breathe melts it.) While I want Jon Snow to lead what’s left of the Seven Kingdoms, I think his heart remains in the North. Perhaps Sansa Stark outwits Khaleesi as this season seems to keep foreshadowing the Queen’s doom.
Nevertheless, GoT is not like the world, there are no Russians messing with real elections, and I can still go back to the moments of hope: Arya training to fight, the loyalty of Jamie and Brienne of Tarth, Khaleesi and her advisors (including Tyrion and Missandei) sailing to Westeros and returning to her old home, Dragonstone. I cheered for the hope of a better future.
So GoT petitioners, I sympathize with your drive and purpose. But I urge you, when Westeros leaves our screens, to petition in our own world so that we can defeat our own White Walkers and winter.