Game of Thrones Season Four: The Children
At the end of each year there’s always a recap of the celebrity obituaries for the year. I feel like I should do the same thing at the end of every season of Game of Thrones: Tywin Lannister, Jojen Reed, Shae, Oberyn Martell, Ygritte, Joffrey Baratheon, Jeor Mormont, Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg, Lysa Arryn, Locke, assorted dying peasants, brothers of the night watch, wildlings torture victims and other spear carries in the cast of hundreds. Somehow Game of Thrones made every death a new shocker even if it was just some poor girl chased down by the Bolton Bastard. By the way her name was Tansy.
The idea that anyone can die, that there’s no safe place, is of course an echo of what’s going on in the real world. How much of this can we take before we figure out the savior of Blackwater is a selfish old man that deserves to be shot with a crossbow on the privy. At some point after that we’ll reach the point of the dying farmer and not give a dam about any of the players as long as they stay away. Then again we were ready to take it to the streets if Tyrion died. Since he’s entirely fictional we’re slow learners.
If you look at that list of Game of Thrones obituaries it’s obvious that there was a lot of talent behind the characters. Pedro Pascal took a minor character and made him into Prince Obern the Red Viper. The guy who we all went Oh Come On! when the mountain proved you can’t keep the horror movie monster down. We don’t even care when it turns out he used poison on his spear despite numerous reminders from characters like Mance Rayder that’s not a man’s way of killng. Likewise Rory McCann has made the Hound if not likable at least understandable. While fans of the book were going OH COME ON! When Brienne and the Hound go at it we’re left with a confirmation that the passing of Sandor Clegane is uncertain. Mark him down at MIA and notch up speculation about the Gravedigger. I sense the hand of the true god of Westeros tapping away on his antique word processor.
The Walking Dead has already departed from it’s core material to make great TV. Major characters like Andrea are dead in one and alive in the other. It’s a bit exciting to think that the producers of Game of Thrones might throw us readers a loop and start killing off characters that survive in the books. I’d like to be on the edge of my seat worrying that Tyrion is going to get it in some horrible eye crunching way. Even knowing that he was going to escape the fratricide on father’s day was still riveting. “I am your son. I have always been your son.” Is just the definition of Tyrion Lannister. He didn’t get killed but he did get exiled across the Narrow Sea to the plot morass that seems to mire everyone who heads over there.
There’s no question that Game of Thrones is misogynistic to an extreme and that it’s some kind of right wing fantasy. The trick of the author is that he fills this dystopia with strong women and ideas that fight against the fantasy. With George RR Martin there will always be a dying peasant to remind us that there are consequences when the players forget the people. There will always be women fighting back. Despite being treated like chattel Westeros revolves around powerful women. Daenerys, Arya, and Cersei are doing things their own way and to hell with anyone that gets in their way. Margaery has stolen a kingdom with a kiss and even Sansa the dishrag is enticing Littlefinger.
For me the only false note is the actual fantasy elements. I mean please; a little elf girl chucking fire balls straight from dungeons and dragons? Skeletons that weren’t scary when they first appeared in Jason and the Argonauts? Magic guys living in trees? I’d much rather see Brienne versus the Hound in an all too realistic fight scene. I’d even rather see Stannis even though he is unlikable and has a tendency to start fires. I like it when the characters are mortal and still get up without magic. I’ll make an exception for dragons and dire wolves but the rest of it belongs at the Friday night game table.