Warning! This blog is dark and full of spoilers
It was a fateful week in May when I finally decided to start Game of Thrones.
For years, I had avoided the ‘hype’ around the HBO hit show, always secretly insisting that I wasn’t missing out on anything. I ignored countless conversations and recommendations to watch.
Originally published on Huffington Post
No, I wasn’t one of those people who repeatedly insist on telling everyone they know that they simply do not watch Game of Thrones (Well done you! Would you like a medal?) I simply continued to shuffle uncomfortably in my seat and come up with excuses as to why I hadn’t watched it yet, when the truth is, I had none. It was always on my list, I just simply hadn’t got round to it.
Lo and behold, just before episode four of the last season aired, I crumbled to peer pressure and began an eventful journey into Westeros and encountered arguably the greatest spectacle on television quicker than you can say “bend the knee”. After ignoring the show for eight years – I inhaled the entire show in just two weeks.
I flew through five episodes a day, squeezed in on weekends and my evenings after work. As I wrapped up the 71 hour and 17 minute Game Of Thrones marathon, three hours before the finale episode was due, I sat and wondered about all the different ways this episode could go. Who would end up sitting on the Iron Throne? When 2am on Monday finally rolled round and I had finally stopped fighting with my live stream, the recognisable theme music began for the very last time and I was ready – or at least I thought I was.
Watching for two weeks may give you the familiarity needed to follow the story but there is always some element of ownership missing. I didn’t have the eternal wait between each season, but the ambivalent luxury of digesting everything all at once. I immediately decided that Khal Drogo (oh, hello) deserved lots more airtime (when he wasn’t being incredibly problematic or romanticising the idea of a toxic and abusive relationship, that is), but the Red Wedding and the deaths of Catelyn, Talisa and Robb Stark left me traumatised with no emotional support line to ring up. I hid under my duvet when Oberyn Martell was crushed by Gregor Clegane, and laughed when Joffrey Baratheon and the deplorable Ramsay Bolton both (finally!) met their end. Tyrion Lannister had plenty of iconic quotes, but special shout out to King Tommen, who we simply did not deserve because he was too pure and ethereal for this harsh world.
Arya Stark absolutely had the best character development over the entire series, but it was Sansa Stark who had the greatest transformation, when she went from being victimised and vulnerable to the strongest of all (I am so proud of her!) – the Queen of the North and knight Brienne of Tarth’s friendship was also very underrated.
After just two weeks of this escapade, I don’t even feel like I’ve ‘known’ Daenerys long enough to call her “Dany”.
Talking about Queen Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Protector of the Realm, Khaleesi of The Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and whatever else she is known by (yes, you will put some respect on her name) – her fall from greatness is something I didn’t see coming, despite my seventy-three episode binge.
Daenerys was probably my favourite character from the beginning. Overcoming adversity and transforming into the Mother of Dragons who seemingly spent her time abolishing slavery and freeing slaves, forming alliances and standing up for what she felt was right made her admirable and a beacon of hope, before she ultimately ended up with the most tragic ending of the entire series.
Her journey from fan favourite and feminist icon to a bloodthirsty war tyrant has been all but predictable. The turning point came in episode five of this last season, where consumed by her power and blinded by her grief of losing everyone close to her such as Missandei and Ser Jorah, as well as two of her dragons (R.I.P Rhaegal and Viserion, still not over it) Dany decided that Queen Cersei Lannister and Kings Landing’s surrender was no longer enough, she wanted more. When the bells rang, she indiscriminately began massacring thousands of innocent people and burnt the city to the ground – so it’s no surprise that when the “Mad Queen” finally got to the iron throne, there was no one there to greet her, apart from Jon Snow.
A poignant scene soon follows where Dany tries to justify her actions to an emotional Jon Snow who appears to forgive her before he reluctantly pulls out a knife and stabs her. Ending her plight for the iron throne, which she hadn’t been able to so much as touch. If that wasn’t enough, Drogon soon appears and melts the iron throne in a fit of rage and metaphorical tribute to his mother before picking her up and flying her away. Guess we now also have a motherless, angry dragon on our hands. Fantastic.
Imagine waiting eight whole seasons for Daenerys to take the Seven Kingdoms and then this happens? I couldn’t help but ask, what even was the point? It’s as if her character has spent so long being good, the narrative had to be sped up to ensure she succumbed to her entitlement and surrendered to the madness she was so destined to descend into. I still felt there wasn’t enough subversive groundwork for this twist, despite, the first few seasons being littered with mentions of her father, the “Mad King”, it still seemed premature.
Going back to Cersei Lannister and her brother Jaime – I’m still annoyed that one of the greatest TV villains we’ve ever had died via a brick. A brick!
What I probably enjoyed most about Game Of Thrones, was being able to catch up in my own time. I pored over in-depth reviews, read nuanced critiques and scrolled through forums, all whilst flying through the seasons. In all honesty, I’m not sure any other show would ever compare.
I regret nothing and I’d do it again.
When you talk about immersive, majestic, superlative storytelling at its very finest – it appears Game Of Thrones has always been the show. And it will always be, the show.