For the past nine weeks I've been watching HBO's "Game of Thrones" after A. kept geeking out about how gripping George R. R. Martin's fantasy book series has been. Although I've enjoyed the episodes, criticizing some of its lackluster beginnings and getting attached to some of the characters along the way, none have incited as much rage and emotion as the season's second-to-last episode.
I mean seriously?? What. The. Crap?!
First off, a quick background summary for those who aren't familiar with the show straight from A., who's read all four books that have been published so far:
"Game of Thrones" is about a few very powerful families, each with their own code of honor and ethics, vying for the throne of the kingdom. Though it is billed as a fantasy series, it is more of a political and character drama; the world is incredibly rich with history and fully realized characters using their best traits to their advantages (or disadvantages), but magic has all but died out from the realm. The Starks oversee the cold North with honor and justice, while the rich Lannisters and powerful Baratheons joust for control at the heart of the realm, with King Robert Baratheon and Queen Cersei Lannister at the center of it all. Meanwhile, the exiled children of the previous king plot their return to their rightful kingdom with an army at their backs. The dominoes begin to fall when King Robert comes calling on Ned Stark to help him keep things in order and Ned finds that something isn't quite right...
The action begins right in the first episode, but because there's so much ground to cover, some 20-odd core characters to introduce and plots to establish in a mere hour, it comes off harried and confusing. As someone who had never heard of these people before or familiarized herself with this world, I couldn't tell a Targaryen from a Baratheon so when a shocking scene ends the episode, I'm left feeling...absolutely nothing. I really didn't care enough yet. But it just serves to show how the series has improved tremendously from there because now? NOW? Holy crap! I didn't think I'd be so shocked and in tears, hating A. as much as that damn brat Joffrey for getting me invested in this stupid show and then leaving me completely unprepared for what would occur. So I just sat there in silence trying to grasp the enormity of what just happened in last night's episode.
For the last couple of weeks, I've cycled through several emotions as I watch an episode. At first, I'm eager to see what will happen next, begging this one for hints with no success. Then there's the anxiety and tension that comes with the surprises, gore and the supernatural ish that freak me out. Then the shocking twists come in and by the end of the episode I'm both angry that I put my mind and body through that anguish and still secretly excited to know what could possible follow that. I don't think there's ever been a show that has put me on such edge each week and actually leaves me wanting more. Apparently this series compels you into a life of masochism.
Now I guess when you have that many important characters you can afford to get rid of a few at whim, but Jesus, be kind to your viewers! People just get killed off with no regards for our feelings. The writers bring us this far, make us get attached to them and for what? To rip out our hearts without remorse? It might be a tired T.V. cliche, but I quite like when the good guys come out on top and miraculously escape unscathed NOT when they're fatally betrayed with no chance for revenge.
Too bad that's exactly what makes the story so damn captivating: no one is safe. It's thrown out all the rules and given us something unexpected, something worth discussing long after the episode's through. "Winter is coming," the characters keep warning of the looming years of darkness that will fall upon the realm. If this is only the beginning, the gods only know what the hell lies up ahead.
Have any of you been watching "Game of Thrones" too?