Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Game of Thrones Season Four Finale - Part One

I am no longer sure what the message of Game of Thrones is, and whether or not that's a good thing.

(This episode is nothing but spoilers for the Season 4 finale of Game of Thrones. Usually, I don't like to mention that spoilers even exist in something because if I know that if there's a big twist in a movie or TV show, I spend the entire time looking for and expecting that twist. If you tell me [spoiler alert] for something, I know there's going to be a twist and then no matter what it is, I wasn't really surprised, was I, asshole? But, since this is Game of Thrones, you already knew that spoilers existed, so I don't mind saying so now.)

Up until the fight with Brienne and the Hound, I was certain that the show was leading up to a point, and that point was that pragmatism beats idealism. Take a look at some of the tragic downfalls in GoT and a trend emerges. Ned Stark's adherence to honor and loyalty to his dead friend not only costs him his head, but arguably the lives of many, many others. Robb Stark's marriage for love instead of consolidating military power costs him his life, his wife's, his unborn child's, his mother's and most importantly, his dog's. Just recently, Oberyn's desire to hear The Mountain confess cost him his life and almost Tyrion's. There was a couple times where Ygritte could've killed Jon Snow and she didn't, presumably out of love, which cost her life. Drogo wanted to please his wife, so he stopped the slaughter of the goat herder people and then listened to his wife's advice about being cured just to make her happy. In this situation too, Dani's desire to save her husband led her to black magic, which took the life of her baby.

There's also a few things less of a tragedy that occurred, but still put people in precarious situations. Robb Stark's decision to behead Kastark was a poor move politically and militarily, but still the right thing to do. I'll give Ser Rodrick's death partial credit here, because while he does uphold his honor by refusing to follow Greyjoy, this death is more about Theon's downfall than Rodrick's adherence to his honor. Also, every shocking or dishonorable thing done usually results in some sort of boon for the characters who performed it. The Red Wedding is a pretty good example of a devious undertaking that won a war and saved thousands of lives. The Purple Wedding was openly dishonorable and cowardly, leaving one man to die in place of the true murderer and saving thousands of lives. Using Reek as a trick to gain Moat Caitlin turned out pretty well for Ramsay. Killing his cousin got Jamie freed from Stark's holding cell.

Everywhere you turn in this series, people doing awful things gets them rewarded. Again, the lesson seems to be that being pragmatic keeps you alive and usually better off than being honorable or romantic, which gets you dead and sometimes shamed. Tomorrow we'll talk about why Season 4 is special.

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