…show me the glint of light on Daenerys Stormborn’s hair.
There’s this saying in writing–show, don’t tell, and that’s what was wrong with the last couple of all-important episodes of Game Of Thrones.
It’s all over the internet today, how Weiss/Benioff demolished a whole lot of character arcs in their rush to the finish. Maybe they went overboard making sure EVERY fan prediction for the characters didn’t happen. Maybe they are just that clueless. Bottom line, they told us things rather than showed us, and that’s just unacceptable.
The writers, whichever were at the helm for each particular episode, have been dragging along the Targaryen family curse from day one. They tapped it every now and again, but Daenerys has been the champion of the oppressed, the savior of the innocent, blah, blah, blah all along. Right up through the Battle for Winterfell, she has held that role. Two episodes later, she’s burning every man, woman and child–including her own soldiers!–in King’s Landing while her true enemy (Cersei) watches from the Red Keep, untouched. She’s in the god-damned window! For now, you see, Dany is mad. Gasp.
Driven mad by the fact Jon has more of a claim to the throne, by virtue of his noble penis. Driven mad by learning she’s her lover’s aunt, which is no-nevermind to a Targaryen, but is a no-go for a Stark. Driven mad by the fact that while he’s beloved all over Westeros, she will never be. Driven mad by the quick betrayal of one of her staunchest supporters, the loss of her most devoted and beloved Ser Jorah, the death of both her dragonchildren. She’s a woman, you see, and her emotions have gotten the better of her. Oy. Sure, all that could drive most people mad–but in two episodes? Really, not even two, because it was set up in the largely non-eventful episode #4.
There was time to make that all happen and, while I’d have hated it for reasons I’ll expand upon in a moment, I’d have lived with the disappointment, maybe even have found reason to be okay with it. But considering the writers TOLD us–through other characters, mind you–all about Dany’s descent into madness but never showed it to us (outside of a few well-acted moments on Emilia Clark’s part, so kudos to her) and then stripped her of her entire character arc, I just can’t accept it.
And now for at least as big an issue as the writing itself–It’s not just Dany. ALL the women in the story are stripped of everything they are. Everything.
This story evolved from “a clash of kings” to “a clash of queens.” Two women, brutal, ambitious, determined, strong, decisive even when it hurts women, battled for the Iron Throne. One gets a soap-opera ending (? I’m not convinced Cersei is dead) while the other is stripped of everything she was. And then there was Sansa, to a lesser degree, as she fought for Winterfell. Setting aside the, “Without the insert horrific abuse here, I’d still be a little bird,” line (which I obviously have not), in the actual battle, where was she? In the crypt, accepting the fact that, “The bravest thing we can do is be honest.” Bullshit. But ok. I’ll accept that as part of her arc. She’s not a warrior in that respect. But then she swears to her brother (Jon gets to be all kinds of stupid and naïve without ever losing his power, mind you) that she won’t tell his secret, and five seconds later, she’s telling Tyrion.
And then there’s Brienne. Freaking Brienne of Tarth, after her huge, beautiful moment of becoming Ser Brienne of Tarth, gets reduced to a weeping wreck, wrapped in a Stark-style robe, begging Jaime not to leave her. What the actual fuck? One romp in the furs with the magical dick of gold and she’s no longer who she was? LOVE DOES NOT, SHOULD NOT DO THAT TO ANY WOMAN, least of all Brienne. And certainly not in the span of moments! It was ridiculous.
In today’s social and political climate, the women of the story losing the throne, losing their minds, losing their dignity, LOSING EVERYTHING THEY FOUGHT AND SACRIFICED FOR so that the Dude Who Doesn’t Really Want It can have it all stings so hard. And make no mistake, with the burning of King’s Landing, Dany will NEVER sit the Iron Throne. Never. So when she unleashed dragonfire down upon the city, we all knew it was the end for her. A couple of weeks ago, when the women saved Winterfell, we were given a token. As usual. What the men giveth, the men can taketh away. And it’s total bullshit.
Cersei, Dany, Sansa, Brienne, Arya–they all fought as hard, harder, than any man in the show. For their loved ones. For power. For their birthrights. For their honor. And now, with a pale bit of writing, they’re reduced to the same ineffectual female characters too often found in fantasy fiction.
All hail the power of the penis mightier (than the sword–get it? I stole it from Saturday Night Live. Jeopardy parody. Hey, it’s appropriate, in this context.) Maybe Arya (who rode out of Kings Landing on a white horse, no less) will be the one to save the day. Maybe she’ll sit the Iron Throne. Maybe Sansa will come down from Winterfell and do it. Maybe Cersei isn’t dead after all, will rise out of the rubble and reclaim Westeros. Anything is better, at this point, than Jon. (A character I’ve actually liked all along.)
And, to be honest, had all the stripping and demolishing of characters not happened, I’d have been ok with Jon on the Iron Throne. It’s where HIS arc has been going all along. And that’s the thing–all the male arcs have been built, remained consistent, and have–thus far–been believable. Yes, terrible things happen to the men too, so don’t even go there. Seriously, don’t. I remember Theon/Reek.
The old woman’s prophecy said Dany would attain the throne, and turn away from it. But the old gypsy said Cersei would die at the hand of her younger brother (another tidbit that got bandied about for apparently no reason) and that didn’t pan out, so prophecies come to pass as apparently randomly as they do in real life. Red herrings to throw us off the one Arya got from Melissandre, about her closing brown eyes (Walder Frey), blue eyes (Night King,) and green eyes (Dany? Cersei?) being real? Who knows? At this point, a lot has to happen in the final episode, but nothing is going to take the sting out of the way things have gone down these last two weeks.
Being the brutal optimist, I’m still crossing my fingers that a satisfactory ending is in hand, that the writers aren’t flubbing it completely, and have us all up in arms to make that BIG ENDING all the better.
We shall see.