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[personal profile] kaffyr
Doing It Via Game of Thrones

Because I have thoughts about the most recent season of Game of Thrones, which just ended Sunday, and because I've listened to too many vloggers talking about the episodes WITH WHOM I DISAGREE AND THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY WRONG ON THE INTERNET, and because it appears to be the one thing that can jolt me into writing. 

Really.

By "writing" I mean disjointed thoughts presented in rather lazy and unpremeditated fashion, lacking the benefit of intellectual discipline or an editor. 

And of course, I judge the season with my Watsonian goggles on, because
I can't be trusted at all to be Doylist with books or live series that I love. More, I work with the faan's and fic-writer's eye for filling in plot holes. I love making sense of things that don't make sense, by figuring out how to make those things logical within the world I love. I love creating the necessary context to do so. I am, thus, a completely ridiculous and ultimately Cheap Date, when it comes to buying into the universes I love.

Also, I've read all the books (although I need to reread them over the next year), and have kept up obsessively with the show via recaps, reviews and YouTube clips until this season, so anything I say can be greeted with an extremely jaundiced eye. 

Plus, since I've already used the word "also," I might not be grossed out by things other people are grossed out by. Make of it what you will. 

So here we go:

1) To all the people who bitched about Bran knowing or not knowing everything, all the time, despite being the Three Eyed Raven, or who bitched about him being "mean" to people with his emotionless affect? FFS, this is a teenager who lost his mobility as a 10-year-old (or so) when he was pushed out a tower window, spent at least six or so years on the run from the people who killed his father, mother, and older brother, in the wintry North, while dealing with the confusing onset of brain-meltingly weird power, then got even more of that power info-dumped into his head when his supernatural mentor died sooner than expected. He's got powers in his head that he still doesn't understand or fully control, he's losing his own personality under the weight of that info-dump, but he can't regularly benefit from it. Of course he's not going to see, get, or understand everything that flows into his head the minute he gets it! Plus, a little reminder that he's one of the three surviving Stark kids - a phrase that translates from Westerosi and High Valyrian as "Most Seriously Fucked Up Cases of PTSD in Recent Fantasy History." Even his slip up with Sansa, telling her how beautiful she was in her wedding get-up, is understandable; he's going to focus on the beauty of the dress and not what happened afterward because he's still essentially a kid, and the rest of the vision would have been horrifying, but he blurts things out because he's, in the vernacular, fucked up. Give the kid a goddam break, oh-so-snarky vloggers!

2) I'm not grossed out by Dany and Jon falling in love and having sex. Yes, they're aunt and nephew; I don't care. In the world of Westeros, in House Targaryen, where rulers wed their sisters in order to keep their line pure (and perhaps so that dragons could smell their blood, hmmm?), in a world where there are very few Great Houses and therefore where Great House marriages between first cousins are probably not unknown, and with a couple of people raised on opposite sides of the world? That qualifies as NBD. They certainly aren't, say, a brother and sister raised in the same house by the same parents who've had a secret affair for years and generated three children (and possibly one more) out of that relationship. Ahem. So, yeah, aunt-nephew love affair in House Targaryen? Color me unsurprised and undisgusted. (As to whether the love affair will end well or badly? I don't know, but I expect it will cause heartache for all involved before a final decision gets made by the people involved.)

3) I assume that Arya handed the dagger to Sansa in her chamber, then went to the door, made sure it was locked, and sat Sansa down to tell her, "Look, Baelish tried to play me with an all-too-easy to find letter that you wrote. Just to throw him off the trail if he was listening in the hall, which he does a lot - and to do one last check of your courage - I pulled a little bit of play-acting for him. Now, here's my plan; let's go talk to Bran, shall we? And while we're heading to his bedroom, let's review what we've told each other about our lives since Father was beheaded - everything we've talked about since our reunion in the crypt. We'll use the information to strategize with Bran and his visions. Time to take Littlefinger down, don't you agree?"  Of course they'll have talked about those lives to each other - and Arya proves it after Baelish's death by telling Sansa that she, Arya, couldn't have survived what Sansa did. She wouldn't have known what Sansa went through unless they'd talked, no? Yes, I understand the writing should have handled that better, but ... WATSONIAN THOUGHTS ONLY, LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.

4)
Also, I disagree with everyone calling Tyrion stupid this season, apparently because his strategy of taking Casterly Rock didn't work and because he proposed heading north to get a wight with which to convince Cersei. First off; it was a smart military strategy that didn't work, not a stupid strategy. It might not have been a brilliant strategy, but it was reasonable for him to believe that Casterly Rock would be a rich prize, and a great staging area for further southern incursion. For a non-military guy, he did a good job. You're not stupid just because you've been out-thought. His suggestion of getting a wight was, again, a smart one. He knew that if anything could convince his sister, something like that would. He'd had to switch horses from "Let's win the Iron Throne!" to "OK, we've all got to band together to fight the Night King" in mid-stream, and he had no experience of beyond the wall except what Jon told him. That Jon undertook the mission in such a reckless fashion is to be laid at his feet, not Tyrion's. As for meeting in King's Landing - that was the only place they could have convinced Cersei to meet, so he had to get in there and convince the one person who might coax Cersei into the meeting - Jaime.


Well, that was satisfying. Thank you for your patience. 

Date: Saturday, 2 September 2017 11:56 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maruad
I wonder if I am one of the very few people in North America who hasn't seen any of the shows or read any of the books. One of my sons has them all but I just haven't had any inclination to be bothered with them.

Date: Sunday, 3 September 2017 12:02 pm (UTC)
promethia_tenk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] promethia_tenk
I like your thoughts about Bran. I've not been bothered by him this season, but I have never found him a particularly compelling character or one it was easy to get in the head of. Which is a pity because from time to time I've sat back and thought about his situation more abstractly or read something like what you wrote and found him a lot more interesting. Someone made a vid about him with the first maybe two seasons which was excellent. I may have to try to find it . . .

I'm not grossed out by Jon and Dany, but I do find them apocalyptically dull.

I kinda thought the execution of Peter Baylish storyline was badly handled, but I have been 100% on team Sansa Gets Wise and Feasts on the Beating Hearts of Those Who Would Subdue Her since, like, season two, so overall I'm putting it in the win column. I think your little scenario of what went down between the Stark siblings makes a good deal of sense.

Re: Tyrion this season and also a bit the Jon/Danny stuff, Elisi and I were talking in my journal about the difficulty of reconciling the traditional fantasy and the gritty, realpolitik elements of this show and how the showrunners seem to be turning full-bore for the fantasy ending. I'm wondering a bit now if there might be a bit of a set-up going on there? Becuase I agree, while Tyrion has been made to look stupid, he has not actually been stupid this season. He's consistently given some pretty good advice, but he's operating out of the realm of the realpolitik. While Dany and Jon are pushing more and more into the fantasy/hero realm and deciding they need to do things because NOBLE and HEROIC and, at least for Dany, the AESTHETIC. And it's kind of set Dany and Jon working at cross-purposes with Tyrion. Right now the show seems to be siding with Dany and Jon like we're heading into a traditional fantasy ending, the heroes get married, the kingdom prospers. But there's still a whole season left?

Date: Monday, 4 September 2017 01:16 pm (UTC)
promethia_tenk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] promethia_tenk
Whereas he's been one of the most interesting characters to me. I don't know what that says about me, but I find the story of a young and gifted child being afraid of his own abilities (in Bran's case he was deservedly afraid) to be very compelling. I'm also going by my response to book Bran, so perhaps my view is suspect.
Is there anybody who's both seen the show and read the books who can properly untangle the two in their heads? I do agree that there's something quite compelling in there with Bran's story. I suspect if he were more of a central character (in the sense of more of the narrative time being devoted to him) I'd be more invested in him? There's so much competition in this fictional universe, though, so he's always fallen a bit by the wayside for me, mentally. *ponders* It might also be that his story has been so separate from everybody else's for so long (I had similar difficulties staying invested in Arya when she was off in Braavos). I tend to gravitate to the characters who have had the most meaningful interactions with the widest range of people. One of my favorite aspects of the later books/seasons has been having these disparate sets of people brought together. It's like you can suddenly feel tectonic plates moving as this chunk of the world collides with that chunk, which is the thing I do like about Jon and Dany meeting.

But pretty, you must admit. Heh. I actually find them pretty interesting, too. Then again, I find damn near every character in that world interesting in some fashion.
It's an incredible strength of this world, that it has such a range of intricately layered characters. There's always somebody to be invested in. I have a few perennial favorites and then I tend to go through phases with the rest of them? There are very few characters who I haven't been interested in at some point, but it tends to depend on which stage of their story they're in and which other characters they're interacting with most. I liked Jon best while he was North of the wall. Dany in season one and then again when Tyrion joined up with her before they came back to Westeros.

Jon I find interesting because he's constantly trying to find his footing in a world that insists on changing him - and coming back from the dead tends to do that. I like the fact that he doesn't like being a hero, and doesn't think he is one. And I've been cheering Dany on for a long time; she's a human in process of finding out that she's more than human, and she's fascinating to me for that reason.
*ponders* It's interesting. What you've described of what you most like about Bran, Jon, and Dany's stories I would all loosely describe as kinds of super hero origin stories. And I have, I admit, always been rather resistant to super hero stories and other anointed individuals, except in fantasy worlds where everybody has special powers. I don't like it when there are characters who seem to have a narrative trump card over everyone else, and it's something I've always loved about GoT, that every character had their strengths and their weaknesses, and you never quite knew who would end up on top of any particular exchange. I do enjoy a good story about a person discovering and developing strengths they didn't know they had previously (thus my love of Sansa, and a good portion of Jon's elevation through the Night's Watch), but there's a fuzzy narrative line than GoT has always flirted with, over which you start to understand that certain individuals will be narratively, perhaps divinely favored, and something's happened this season where I have felt the line crossed and it irks.

Regarding Baelish, I think Aidan Gillen killed it (see whut I did thar, har-har) with his performance, most particularly in the instant before Arya slit his throat: he did a little sag that told me he knew he was dead, even though he couldn't help but keep talking, he knew he was dead in that moment.
That did work very well.

I'll need to jump over to your journal to join the talk about reconciling traditional fantasy, and realpolitik, the difficulty thereof. I ultimately think the two can be wed if the writing is good enough
Basically the conclusion I came to, though by this point I'm not sure if things are set up to be able to do that. (This article is the context for the discussion.)

I really have to ask you about the AESTHETIC bit; that caught me unawares
Dany, for a long time, has had a keen sense of how to do things with that bit of extra dramatic flair in order to leverage more power out of a situation. Rolling in late to the meeting on her dragon, for example.

They feel more like people who didn't grow up in a pride of lions desperate to survive, like Tyrion; it feels like real humans brought up in a different paradigm - a Stark paradigm, and with Dany, really no paradigm at all. Despite being told she's a Targaryen, she has had to invent herself the whole way through, and she's still inventing herself. She wants to be the hero, but she's really still a little girl, or at least the smart, passionate teenager who told Tyrion she was afraid of being in the Great Game.
You're not wrong. None of these characters fall purely in any corner, and it's a universe that truly does reward a very Watsonian reading of its characters. There's a slightly more abstracted, literary vein in which I've enjoyed thinking of the story, though, in which we've started out in what appeared to be a gritty, unweilding, intensely political world into which, gradually, magic has crept [back] in and, with that magic, a sense that someone who follows a noble/heroic template for their actions will be rewarded. So we have, for example, Ned Stark, who is stupidly noble and killed for it at the beginning of this thing (I liked Ned a lot), and Jon who general conducts himself in a manner very in line with Ned's values, would seem to meet his foster father's fate, and yet is brought back to life.

Sadly, I don't think the heroes will get married and be happy. I think some folks will get out alive, and a few of those will achieve peace and perhaps justice. But I think Jon will end up giving his life again, and ensuring that he doesn't come back, as long as he can take the Night King with him, to save Dany and his unborn child and, oh yeah, the Starks he loves, and the world in which they live.
I could see that happening, yes.

(As I said, even though I come up from the Watsonian depths occasionally to take a breath of Doylist air, I always return to the depths to live there.)
Heh. Enjoy! GoT isn't generally a fannish thing for me. Between this and talking with Elisi, this is probably the most words I've ever expended on the show. It's mostly a watch, enjoy, move on with life kind of deal.

Date: Sunday, 3 September 2017 03:15 pm (UTC)
sarren: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarren
Just watched this season this weekend. I love that Tyrian follows Danaerys because he wants the world to be a better place for all people.

I have no issue at all with consenting adults having sex with whoever they want to. Certainly not two people who meet as adults and have no clue they're related. I don't even care about Jamie and Cersei, since I'm assuming they grew up in a toxic family household and basically only had each other to love but didn't actually get together till they were adults (haven't read the books, am assuming she was an innocent when she married Robert, from her relating how she was naïve and loved him and then he called out his dead loves name in bed?) Although I do judge Jamie for going back to her after he'd had some persona growth (yes I shipped him with Brienne).

I would have liked more Stark sibling plotting, but then it wouldn't been such a dramatic moment when Sansa accused Littlefinger. I literally yelled YES, because I had just been muttering about how I wanted Littlefinger to die horribly and had no clue this was IT.

I had no problem with Bran, of course he's going to be hardly human anymore. Also my fave Harry Potter books was Order of the Phoenix, where Harry was messed up and acting out because, hello, teenager with the weight of the world and all that shit that had happened to him?

Date: Saturday, 9 September 2017 06:42 am (UTC)
sarren: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarren
I loved Tyrian and Bron and Shae together, and judged Tyrian for killing Shae (I felt she was in an impossible position), but yeah, he's done so much good since - interesting to compare him and Jamie, the favoured, golden son with all the opportunities. And Cersai, in fact, she had the opportunity to make better choices but is too damaged.

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