Game of Thrones (GoT) is an epic adventure into another universe. We are teleported to the two continents of Westeros and Essos, seeing sword fights unfold, hearing of squires, direwolves, and whitewalkers. We behold the three-eyed raven transformed, and sight ‘the oldest profession in the world’. Based on George R.R. Martin’s chronicles, the series equivalent has been lauded for a massive and talented ensemble, sumptuous filming locations, and superb storylines. Both loyal and casual observers have been debating the show since even before its run. I must admit that I only started watching GoT early this year. I have taken in almost every episode of the first six seasons, but I’ll probably skip the last one as I heard it wasn’t up to par. While I admit that the show has been over for months, allow me to provide my informed opinion of the programme.
When people talk of GoT, ‘the greatest ever’ and ‘in a league of its own’ are common reactions. I would admit that GoT is a very good programme and may even have the distinction of being called great. However, I would stop short of calling it as one of the best, even though it is one letter away from GOAT. Regardless, GoT is unlike perhaps any other programme on telly. The period drama is not a novelty. With its depictions of war and brothels, Rome would come to mind. How about The Vampire Diaries? The Tudors? Even Spartacus? These shows have varying degrees of success, but none soar higher than GoT.
Since GoT is epic in scale, multiple storylines are necessary. There’s Jon Snow with the Night’s Watch together with his trusty sidekick Sam. He breaks from tradition in his dealing with the wildlings but his daring and EEO makes for a great Lord Commander. Meanwhile, Dany is the mother of dragons who recruits armies so that she could claim victory at King’s Landing. Emilia Clarke essays a solid rendition as the aspiring Queen. Then there’s Stannis Baratheon, who calls himself ‘the one true king.’ He is bunched with Sir Davos and the Red Woman. Tyrion Lannister may not be physically imposing but makes up for it with wisdom. Peter Dinklage gives the role of his career as Tyrion, winning three Emmy’s along the way. Not only is he guileful and witty, he also does a pretty good Briton accent. We follow Arya Stark from the North and beyond, as she makes enemies and allies. She would work for Tywin Lannister, live on the run, before finding Braavos. She repeats the names of every animal on her hit list, vowing to avenge her family. Valaar Morghulis (‘All men must die’).
GoT is rife with backstabbing, traitoring, secret alliances, misogyny, even barbarity. In some cases, women are not treated well. The ending to season 5 is exhibit-A. There is a balance of injustice and retribution. Oftentimes, the scumbags get what they deserve. This is a long list and the best example would be King Joffrey, who stands as the most vile, retched, detestable character on the show. After his reign of terror, he met His Maker. Walder Frey butchered an entire clan; he ended up being butchered himself. Tywin Lannister sentenced his own child; he got an arrow for his troubles. Whether it’s royals, lowly soldiers, or influential clergies, poetic justice does not discriminate. However, in some instances, the good guys perish: what befell the Starks would be a fitting example. Myrcella Baratheon was another unwitting casualty. The series displays the relevance of power dynamics: how people handle this. Many would kill for it, and when it’s finally theirs, they’ll make sure to eliminate the threats, even if this is their own kin. The biggest prize of all, the biggest carrot dangled, is the Iron Throne. Through six seasons, only one family has sat on that imposing chair, though many covet this.
While other series seek to dispel myth, GoT revels in them. That’s why dragons are featured, paraded as Dany’s pets who do her bidding. They annihilate all her enemies. Then there’s direwolves, who function much like dragons, though they are less majestic. Who could forget the magic water in Braavos? Or milk of the poppy? The whitewalkers remain the most feared villains; they snatch babies, but are they real? Even the actions of some characters seem stuff of legends. During his trials, Tyrion averted disaster as two gentlemen agreed to fight for him. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case in real life. When the protagonists are in danger, someone – or something – would intervene. Even Jon Snow had seemed superhuman given the right healer.
In this regard, GoT plays more like a videogame than TV production. We see the turrets, the snow-capped mountains, the garrisons, the battle scars. If we were to judge a series on the merits of its choreography, GoT easily gets a 5/5. The programme is one of the most visually astounding projects on TV’s for all of its run. Have I mentioned that it has killer plotlines? I have not read the books, but I heard they’re really something. They also require a lot of hard work, thus making me admire those who could spare the effort. The show has done exceptionally well when cleaving closely to the source material. However, GoT has gotten only mixed results when doing otherwise. In particular, the last season had been a little mess.
Thanks for the memories
The show does what great series have done: giving viewers a bit of everything. From laughs to magic, anger and bitterness to satisfaction, action to walls of silence, GoT is escapism. I remember meeting a die-hard once; this was before Season 8. He told me that he’s sighted every episode so far. He might have even done the books; I couldn’t remember. ‘I love Game of Thrones’, he admitted. Seeing the sun set on GoT is rather sad; I was hoping for another 3 seasons. Yet maybe season 8’s mixed bag is an omen: GoT has run its course. Like all good things, GoT must come to an end.