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Who will save GoT?

Fans betraying their urgent need for closure is a phenomenon that comfortably predates the binge-watch era. In 1841, in anticipation of the final chapters of Charles Dickens’ much-loved serialized novel Old Curiosity Shop, American die-hards thronged the piers at New York, asking incoming sailors (who’d presumably read the conclusion in British papers) the all-important question: “Is Little Nell alive?”

Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss will take little comfort from the fact that not only was Little Nell killed off despite being a fan favourite, Old Curiosity Shop, which at one point had a legion of devoted fans (including Queen Victoria herself) is now seen as one of Dickens’ weakest works. Will Game of Thrones’ legacy be similarly defined by its decidedly weak last season — a story that promised the world but delivered little?

The final season’s weak writing has meant that practically no main character’s story arc — with the exception of Arya Stark, arguably — has approached anything resembling a satisfactory resolution. Jon Snow has been blander and even more world-weary than usual. Every third line he utters is about how much he hates the idea of being king. Sansa Stark has been reduced to petty back biting about her prospective sister-in-law and spouting problematic homilies about how her rapists were responsible for the powerful woman she has become.

Tyrion Lannister, supposedly the smartest man in Westeros, has made one naïve political move after another — he failed to anticipate his sister Cersei’s aggression on two separate occasions, he sold his own friend Varys down the river, and he has now been soundly chastised by his queen, warned that his next mistake will be his final one. And the piece de resistance, Daenarys Targaryen, who chained up her dragons after they killed a few sheep that belonged to her subjects (and that one boy from that Meereen village), has now used her last remaining dragon to bring genocide to King’s Landing.

It almost feels like the show’s signature trait — shocking, premature, grisly death — was in fact a mercy (Mother’s Mercy, as the Sparrow, that ultimate Game of Thrones tragic, would put it) that allowed these characters the luxury of not letting Weiss and Benioff ruin their stories.

When you have followed a set of characters for half a decade or more, closure — whether attained through premature death or not — is paramount. Why build up a woman ruler as the champion-of-the-people and then have her massacre thousands in what is possibly the single weirdest take on the ‘women-are-too-emotional-to-rule’ horse manure? Why free an enslaved character, parade her as the face of the ‘new free folk’ so to speak, and then have her die a pathetic death in chains? These are just a couple of head-scratchers Game of Thrones fans have been grappling with these last few weeks.

How, then, can Benioff and Weiss redeem themselves? Ironically, the callous writing of the previous episodes has meant that even a half-decent finale will feel like the denouement of a classic Russian novel. For starters, they can give Jon Snow lines that make him look like anything other than the 90s emo-band groupie he is currently. Make his life and seemingly inevitable second death mean something. Let Tyrion live to advise the future monarch, whoever they are, so that his treasure trove of wine-and-wisdom aids Westeros in a concrete way, finally.

And maybe let Sansa rule the Seven Kingdoms, eventually — there’s no character more suited to rule, arguably, and no sensible voice more soundly ignored. That’d be an ending worthy of the show Game of Thrones used to be, and it’d go a long way towards fans attaining some well-earned closure.


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 9:48:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/who-will-save-game-of-thrones/article27160590.ece

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