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Posts Tagged ‘Daenerys Targaryen’

I’ve always described Game of Thrones as an eight-year object lesson in Stockholm syndrome. Almost every important story arc is about somebody coming to identify with their captors or kidnappers. How many times has somebody fallen in love with or identified with, those who have captured, degraded or beaten them, robbed them of their true selves? How many times have captives taken kidnappers’ values as their own? Theon was a hostage. Sansa was a hostage. Lyanna Stark. Arya. Daenerys. Jamie. Jon. It’s not one plotline. It’s more than half of them.

And after a week of reading unhinged rants by fans angry about this season, I’m starting to think the last hostages were the audience, the people too closely identifying with characters who “suddenly” did indefensible things, when in fact they had always been doing indefensible things. We cheered on revenge; we put our hopes in outcomes that couldn’t possibly be good and people who couldn’t possibly succeed in moral ways. Beheadings. Burnings at the stake. Crucifixions. Daggers in the heart. We were always happy to let these things happen to the right people–and that has always been the meretricious nature of fascism. (Our favorite character Tyrion nicely bright-lined this problem last night in the finale.)

So the show in the end did the absolute right thing: made us see our addiction to wrongness and did it in an accelerating pace the way all good fiction does as it races toward its end–in a frenzy of action that excited and shattered us in equal measure. That is so very difficult to accomplish. I think the show completely lived up to its promise and was right to break our hearts. We live in a world where good people turn evil out of political and religious conviction, as well as from conviction in the movements they join and from the false esteem they place in empty symbols (red hat, anybody?)

Spoiler here: Did Daenerys Targaryen turn evil too fast? She’d been fighting for innocent victims her whole life, right? Well, she’d also been crucifying and burning people, too. And doing so mostly out of conviction in her own destiny. Her empathy had always come in part from being downtrodden herself. And the moment she lost that empathy was the moment she finally seized total power–and knew the potential that the downtrodden of the world will never know. She’d had her closest advisors either die or turn on her and the only political capital she had was the fire and blood she’d always promised. I waited for this scene to feel forced to me, like the writers were coaching me how to feel over my shoulder. I never did. And trust me, I’m a writer of fiction. And a former critic. I know when it’s happening. My anger and sadness came from knowing that this change in a character, who had developed a obdurate existential quality all her own, was totally inevitable.

One of the most heartbreaking things was Tyrion’s insistence to Grey Worm that he still wanted to fulfill his queen’s ideals, even though his queen needed to die to fulfill them. It was a tragic admission that the queen and her ideals could not together be. Virtue and power come into conflict. This show isn’t Shakespeare, but the parallels to Caesar should have been obvious and should have been the context we put this tragedy in.

I was just asked in a chat room about why I singled out Arya Stark as a serial killer when she lives in a world of killers. I was just using the dictionary definition, friend … and you’ve employed moral relativism here why?

I’ve also seen chat room fanatics argue the show owes it to fans, the ones who kept the show alive, to give them more of what they wanted. In other words, they should have been pandered to more. As the great comedian Julie Brown once pointed out in a TV sketch, when fans write the shows, we end up with nothing but women in bikinis playing volleyball.

But my sincere condolences to the Game of Thrones fans who have been let down by their heroes and, especially, their feminist heroines this month. I am shocked and saddened to learn that so many people did not seem to understand what show they were watching for eight years.

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