Saturday, May 23, 2015

Did Game of Thrones Jump The Shark?

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS, and theories within! You have been warned!

Last week’s episode of Game of Thrones threw the Internet into the most interesting firestorm I have ever seen. It’s almost a cosmic event, seeing hardcore Liberal feminists standing with Christian Conservatives to condemn the same show, which serves as a guilty pleasure for both groups. To be clear, Game of Thrones is not a show for the average Christian Conservative. It is bloody, there is a lot of (often) pointless sex and nudity, and the show features endless cruelty toward the few good characters within the show. There is little, by way of virtues, to attract the good Christian… and yet I must confess that it is among my favorite TV shows, even though I wholly admit, it should not be. But has it finally gone to far, even for me? Do I agree with the storm of people demanding boycotts? Possibly.

Ned Stark: The symbol of decency and honor in Westeros.
(MAJOR SPOILERS!!!) My wife and I both used to watch this show together. Both of us would just divert our eyes during some of the more unnecessary content. We both lamented the fact that editing this show down to a PG-13 level would be cake, and that HBO has done this for Australia, but not for us. In fact, we get mocked when we complain about the more objectionable content. And yet, we put up with it because the overall story was THAT GOOD.

Game of Thrones is not the Hero’s Journey though. Yet despite that, it’s story is rife with characters who have been wronged, and one keeps watching hoping to see them get the justice they so richly deserve. The show often brutalizes those characters, but then you have moments when justice does come their way, and the payoff is great. Still, those pay offs are few and far between, and the producers, and George RR Martian run the risk of chasing people away. At the same time, its that reality that no one is safe, which keeps the audience held in suspense.

Cersei Lannister: The real power in Westeros.
As I said, my wife used to watch the show with me, until the end of Season 3, the Red Wedding. My wife stormed out of the room saying she can’t take it anymore. When I asked if she was at all curious about how it all ends anymore she proclaimed, “I know how it ends, all the Starks, die, Daenerys dies, her dragons die, Tyrion dies, they all die and that B*&^h (Cersei Lannister) gets to rule it all!” An apropos prediction as Cersei’s rotten and psychopathic son, king Joffery Lannister, was killed early the very next season. Remember those small moments of justice paying off in a big way that I mentioned?

The Red Wedding was too much for Becky. She sat out season 4. But as someone who read the books
Lady Stoneheart, by Azad Injejikian
I held out for one reason, I knew about Lady Stoneheart. For those unfamiliar with the book, Lady Catherine Stark is resurrected by the Brotherhood without Banners, but because she is dead for so long, she had already begun to decay, she is as much a monster as she is a mother on a quest for vengeance. And in the books, boy does she get vengeance, murdering Lannisters, Boltons, and Freys ,  wherever she can find them. But oddly, the show didn’t use her.

Instead, Sansa Stark, (one of the most prominent survivors of the massacre of the Stark family) starts to stick up for herself. She is “rescued” by chronic liar and manipulator Petyr Baelish, who positions himself as a protector, but then reveals himself to be a creepy old man, infatuated with her, because she looks so much like her mother.

Sansa has already been through immense physical and psychological trauma. Her innocent dire wolf, Lady,  was executed by the queen’s command.  Her father was murdered right in front of her. King Joffrey then make her stare at his decapitated head. Joffrey then makes it a point of interest to torture her daily and routinely, in some instances very literally. She is held captive as he family goes to war to avenger her father and rescue her. She is held hostage as she learns the horror that her brothers are murdered by a longtime family friend (I know, I know, Theon didn’t actually kill Bran and Rickon, but this is Sansa’s POV.) She remains a hostage of the Lannister family as most of her remaining family is butchered during the savage Red Wedding. She does not know that her sister, Arya, is still alive, or even the fate of her half Brother, Jon Snow. (Don’t get me started on the Jon Snow parentage theories please. He is Ned’s Bastard, and until I see otherwise in the book or on screen he is Ned’s Bastard.)  Then, her aunt accosts her after seeing Petyr Baelish kiss her, and tries to kill her. Petyr talks her aunt down off her murder high, but then throws her aunt out the moon door, and her aunt falls to her death.  As far as Sansa knows, she is the last of her family.

Is Sansa Lady Stoneheart?
Having lost so much, Sansa has surprised everyone by largely just taking all the abuse, firmly believing that if she just went along to get along, that all would be well. I call this the Mitch McConnell philosophy. However, the end of season four Sansa does something unexpected. She lied to cover up Petyr Baelish’s murder of her aunt. Then, at the very end of season four we see her descending a flight of stairs dressed to kill. We all thought that Lady Stoneheart might be making an appearance after all, but not as zombie Lady Cate… as a Stone Cold Sansa Stark.

But then we are now half way into season five. We have seen Sansa taking lessons on how to play the game from Petyr Baelish… who then betrays her by wedding her off to the very family responsible for the massacre of her family during the Red Wedding. He encourages her to use the opportunity to avenge her family…. So…. Lady Stoneheart time? Then Baelish betrays her again, selling out her location to queen Cersei Lannister. Then to top it all off, Sansa’s new husband is the psychotic Ramsey Bolton, who is much worse than Joffrey, who also delights in tormenting her. Worse, he takes the opportunity to sexually assault her on their wedding night. There is simply no way to justify that, and so that was the moment Conservative Christians and Liberal Feminists united in a massive rage quit of the show.

That was almost a full week ago. Since then, the Internet has been ablaze with all kinds of scrutiny this show has not seen since the Red Wedding.’s Milo Yiannopoulos satirized the situation by alleging hypocrisy in that people are angry about this act of violence against women, all the while ignoring the horrific violence that has befallen the male characters. -1 But I don’t believe this is what it’s about. Nor do I believe it to be about the divergence of Sansa’s story arch between the books and the show. This rape was not done to Sansa in the books. Sansa, in fact, isn’t anywhere near Winterfell in the books. But inspite of the unjustifiable cruelty, and the fact that it is an invention of the show, and not in the books, I think people are angry because this happened to Sansa Stark, and we, as an audience that has now spent some five years (more if you read the books) watching Sansa and her family suffer, are tired of seeing Sansa and her family suffer.

The Hero's Journey is what GRRM is seeking to destroy.
I think, personally, that I have to give George RR Martian props for moving away from the Hero’s journey. However, based on the reaction to the Red Wedding, and based on the reaction to Sansa’s wedding, there is a sense that the series has jumped the shark. Now is the time for the family to finally have their revenge, and justice to prevail. I believe that the writers and producers need to tread very carefully here, if Sansa does, as I strongly suspect she will, “merge,” if you will, not just with Ramsey’s mistreated wife in the book (Jeyne Poole), but also with the vengeful wraith that her mother becomes in the book (the feared Lady Stoneheart), the show will continue to be worth watching. 

If Sansa does not find that aspect of her mother within herself, however, if we are to see her continue to suffer, and if they (as I suspect they might) kill her half-brother Jon, (as he appears to have been killed in the last book), then it may not be worth putting up with the show’s  excessive violence and nudity anymore. It may no longer be worth it to put up with all the show has that is unnecessary and excessive for those moments where justice prevails and the payoff is big.  A Song of Ice and Fire may have started as a deviation from the Hero’s Journey, but when the Heroes have suffered this much, it’s time to end the experiment. Maybe the heroes who have died  won’t get resurrected, but it is well past time for a return with the elixir. If
My theory? Jon is Ned's bastard, but marries Daenerys...
But he will be a zombie...
we start moving in that direction, I will watch the show, awaiting that sweet, sweet justice as Sansa bathes Westeros in the blood of Boltons, Freys and Lannisters, and Daenerys and Jon team up to bathe the wicked of Westeros in Fire and Ice (respectively) and make the world right again. But if all that’s left is the continued torturing of Sansa Stark… I don’t think there’s a show to return to.

But that’s just a theory! A Game of Thrones Theory! Thanks for reading!

(With apologies to @mattpatt of Game Theory. It was there, I had to. Love your show by the way!)
Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think I’m a horrible Christian doomed to hellfire and damnation for watching this awful, yet really amazingly good show? Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog, and if you’re George RR Martian, please don’t kill a Stark just because I disagree with the direction of the show!

1-Game of Thrones is relentlessly sexist-but not against women, Milo Yiannopoulos,, accessed 5/23/15


  1. 'Martian' and 'Catherine'? I think someone read the wiki and watched the show and thinks its the same thing.

  2. 'Martian' and 'Catherine'? I think someone read the wiki and watched the show and thinks its the same thing.