I’M BACK, BITCHES!! Sorry, I didn’t mean to be overly emphatic or expletive. I planned to begin using “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears once again” but then I thought that would be too Caesarian. I hope I’m using that right. Also, I know it was said by Mark Antony but then the Caesarian joke wouldn’t have come together so, whatever. Anyway, the thing is that I am once again at the precipice of what I foresee to be an unsettlingly boring break and, quite like last time, I thought that I’d come back to writing hollow, fluff pieces about TV shows, books or movies and this time, since I covered some mainstream shows last time, I’ll be doing most of them upon request, in the order of the popularity of request. So, if you’d like a TV show or a movie or a book to be reviewed, please leave a comment under any of my blog posts. In the summer, I had a plethora of requests from people to review the Game of Thrones, and I intended to do so, but a lot of stuff GoT in the way. Apologies for that, but now, I’m going to try and kick off the holiday season with something fun, big and hopefully as enjoyable as two bastards, two completely different characters, one likable and one unlikable (to say the least!) fighting each other. Also, if this is your first time reading one of my reviews, please note that I tend to drop spoilers every now and then so please do not send expletives over text because that just makes me block people (you know who you are).
At this point, before I go any further, I’d like to make it plain that I’m not reviewing the books, only the show. So, of course, Catelyn Stark coming back to life in the show will be as implausible as Gary Johnson roaring to victory in the polls. Any polls.
Undoubtedly, besides the idea of keeping people on the other side of a “Wall”, the Battle of the Bastards was the most commonly referenced Game of Thrones (GoT) of 2016. And with good reason, too: it was the most iconic battle in the most incredible fantasy franchises of our times. GoT successfully took on the most extreme parts of TV—shock and awe went hand-in-hand with drama and mystery to keep the viewer interested and awaiting further deaths at weddings, public apologies, wars, eating-of-heart ceremonies, dinners, lunches and I’m sure a fair few died during breakfast, too. My point is, the show had everything: from Ned Stark’s honor to Jamie’s ambidextrous ability, from Sansa’s fear to Joffrey the aberration (my best euphemism, I swear), from Tywin’s charisma and intellect to Ramsay’s cute little puppies (seriously, the best thing about him) and from Littlefinger’s wickedly cunning smile to whatever it was that Arya was doing in the last few seasons. The sheer enormity of the show and the volume of people, resources, money and places they use is staggering, and even more so when you realize how deep the impact it has on popular culture. I mean, every time I want to mock someone for their lack of knowledge, I can’t but help think of “You know nothing” and how Jon defiled the black robes after he had taken the oath and it’s unbelievable how someone who disparaged the values of an organization rose to become its head #Democracy
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
Despite the Night Watch, however, democracy hardly has anything to do with the show. Almost universally, there is a monarchical/dictatorial rule because s/he had/has a dragon. GoT harkens back to a world where public executions were widespread and popular, not merely euphemisms for when the press viciously focuses and attacks an individual or entity (but apparently that makes you president, so what do I know?). Power reigns supreme, even over knowledge, as Cersei demonstrates to Petyr Baelish, money barely seems an issue for those living in castles and pyramids (yeah, I don’t get that last bit either. Tom Cruise, the famous scientologist, would probably say aliens built that) and the common folk are little more than sword-fodder. Despite its semi-Downton Abbey, part Walking Dead and part some show where your favorites consistently die, GoT manages to do what so many shows today have forgotten to do—it entertains. That sounds simple because it is. So many shows begin to get lost in detailed intricacies and stretching out plot-lines and firing the best presenter they had and watching the others walk out and create a brilliant show with Amazon that they lose the essence of what it means to create a TV show that people just want to watch. That’s the reason a multitude of shows never make it past the pilot or a few episodes. Even someone as famous as Joey Tribbiani had Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E cancelled. GoT, however, has that in spades. It is a fantasy, concerned with politics and feuds among royalty that only a fraction of people relate to, yet it has captured the imagination of millions, weaving together multiple threads, combining a frightening number of rather appalling and frightening characters, with some dragons, a woman who is young and beautiful but is also old and wrinkly, a mad dog (the Hound), a mad guy with mad dogs, a dwarf who shoots his dad in a setting where everyone just wants some time for themselves and the guy who is going to die soon, finding the Queen he loves with the guy she loves who also loves her, thrown in. Oh, and did I mention the crazy, proud and rather messed up lady, the most powerful in the kingdom, who regularly sleeps with her brother, walked naked through an entire city, killed her husband (but brings back to life a giant, go figure), her daughter-in-law, her daughter-in-law’s family, the self-appointed heads of an entire religious sect and basically a fuckload of people.
“Money buys a man’s silence for a time. A bolt in the heart buys it forever.”
Ugh, right about this time, I like to talk about a character that I love and then go in detail how s/he functions but I find myself utterly unable to pursue this headache inducing task. I’m finding it impossible to find an individual who, to me, stands out above and beyond all the rest for some or the other reason. You have to love Tyrion’s sass and panache as much as Baelish’s cunning, Cersei unbroken desire to protect her own as much as Jon’s honorable nature and Theon, well, he was neutered on national TV, he deserves some love. You can hate Ramsay, though, that’s universally acceptable. Bastard kept his dogs hungry for a week. Who does that??? No wonder they ate him. This sort of relates to my earlier point (not the keeping your dog hungry bit, although that’s not cool either) that GoT is simply so wonderful in its individual, idiosyncratic parts and meshes so incredibly when the threads run parallel or when they collide head on, that it just is awesomely entertaining. The politics, the deaths, the deception, the magic, the dragons, the subtle feminist allusions in an overly patriarchal world and the gray-nature of the characters make for this wonderful mixture of really spicy curry that any Indian would be proud of. And rightly so, because damn, it tastes good. For every boy that falls out of a high tower, Daenerys walks out of a burning enclosure, naked, for every time Jon Snow comes back to life, a person’s eyes are squashed out from the back of his brain and for every time Ramsay Snow creeps the fuck out of me, someone in the Seven Kingdoms drops dead. The show, the writers and producers and all the directors have been able to streamline so much of raw entertainment in just 6 seasons of 10, one-hour episodes, that it is absolutely mind-boggling how they seem to come up with newer and better ways, with each passing season, to blow all our minds. Presumably by blowing up a few on the show. It isn’t easy to give every story line and every character equal, or at least some proportion of time, but GoT manages to do a sterling job of the same and it gives a marvelous result. Wonder what else could have yielded a marvelous result if every participant had been given enough time on TV? Nope, nothing comes to mind.
“Hold the door…..”
Extensive, all-encompassing, exhilarating, 100 ways to kill people—all adjectives that could be applied to the show, and they would all be fitting. Game of Thrones isn’t a show about love and filial problems and how to overcome them or about sexual innuendos and friends around a bar. It is delicate in its foundation, asking people to place faith in the unreality of such a make-believe world, but strengthens the foundation by being almost excessively intricate in detail and a little too visceral in its cinematography of war and nudity. That is all part of the act to create this wonderful homage to fantasy and TV shows with one that is simply about good old entertainment with a nice bit of drama sprinkled on the top and a bowl of baller-lines on the side. It helps that no character is simply black and white. Arguably, the only one, Ned Stark, is easily disposed of earlier in the show, ridding almost every individual not named Ramsay or Cersei or the Bruno-Mars-like-bling-wearing Masters of Yunkai of a substantial moral high ground. Each person, even Jon and Daenerys, have some gray in their character and that is why it is such good drama to watch them struggle with moral and personal decisions that might benefit them but affect someone else greatly. Sigh, looking over this review makes me long to binge watch the show again and wait hungrily for the next season, and I haven’t even talked about Hodor (not for a fear of tears. Certainly not mine) or about Rickon’s sad death (Damn it, you stupid boy! When there’s a man with a bow and shooting arrows at you, YOU ALWAYS ZIG-ZAG!!!!). There is just so much crammed into this show that if you haven’t seen it (Why the hell not??!!), reading this would make you feel as though GoT is probably just bursting with a shocking number of things that would make it tough to follow and even tougher to remain interested. But I can assure you it’s not. That’s part of the magic. You are in a whole other world (no, you potheads, not like that) and yet you somehow aren’t lost but are so closely engaged that it draws you in and makes you want to see more of it. And it’s the perfect time because “Winter is coming” so as soon as you get home, get warm and binge watch the show because after a semester or a term of hard (meh) work, coupled with this (*^%!&^*#^) year coming to an end, we could all use a little vicarious frustration release, perfectly found in the blowing up of the Sept of Baelor, the war on the Blackwater and Jon Snow versus Ramsay Snow.