Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.9: A Critique

Lots has been written about the stunning conclusion of Game of Thrones 3.9.   One thing they all have in common is none were disinterested - the ending evoked powerful reactions in everyone.   Here, then, are mine -

  • The agent of the three deaths, though logically motivated, was too minor a character to support this kind of extraordinary change.  At least with the death of Ned, it was carried out by his highest profile enemies, the Lannisters.    In the case of Robb, his mother, and his wife bearing his child, the hand of death is a lord's who hardly mattered in the story until his execution-ordering moment.  True, Walder Frey is apparently in some sort of league with the Lannisters, and the motive of revenge against Robb for breaking his vow to marry Frey's daughter makes sense, but this combination of motives is insufficient, I think, to carry so huge a burden as the death of such crucial heroes and heroines in our story.   Maybe the narrative is trying to tell us that big-ticket horrible things can happen for relatively minor reasons, which you don't pay enough attention to - but, if so, that's not as satisfying in a story as big horrors happening for big reasons.
  • Once again, as with Ned, the good are shockingly slain.   I like to think of the world, even in fantasies, as a place in which unexpected bad things can happen to both the good and the bad.  The Lannisters so far have all but escaped unscathed.  Over in dragon land, there seems to be a more equitable distribution of deaths meted out.   But in the war that has been the central theme of our story since Ned's killing in Season One, the bad surprises continue to beset the heroes much more than the villains.
There were, nonetheless, some admirable touches in this brutal episode.   Jon's leaving Ygrette is aggravating but warranted - he correctly realizes that he's most needed elsewhere.   Arya's struggle has all but reached Homeric proportions - just on the verge of being reunited with her family after all of these years and travels, she arrives just in time to witness a destruction of the Starks that cuts even more deeply than the killing of her father.   And the ascent of Bran's mental telepathic powers is awesome, for want of a better word.

So I'll continue to be a devoted Game of Thrones viewer.   But I'll yearn for a better way that Robb, Catelyn, and Talisa could have died, until the series convinces me otherwise.

See also Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere ... Game of Thrones 3.3: The Heart of Jaime Lannister ... 
Game of Thrones 3.6: Extraordinary Cinematography ... Game of Thrones 3.7: Heroic Jaime

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