Monday, May 18, 2015

Game of Groans

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(Spoilers etc.)

The Atlantic came through with a pretty good commentary this morning about last night's installment of Game of George R.R. Martin's Sadistic Rambling Plots on HBO. Bottom line: another rape. And all the other plot lines are becoming threadbare.

It's true that Peyeter Petyre Peter "Littlefinger" Lord Baelish is a scoundrel—but in real life (that place where all TV viewers hang out, even while watching TV), someone who scounds just for the sake of scoundreling becomes annoying. There has to be a trajectory, a long view, an end game.

The whole point of Game of Thrones used to be that all of the minor players who thought the Iron Throne rightfully belonged to them were coming together in one place to claim it. But Little Peter, er, Littlefinger, just spins around making deals against past deals to secure future deals. As a pimp, he was interesting, especially when played against the Costello to his Abbott, the portly Lord Varyss. But now he's just confusing. A character who's loathsome solely so that viewers can loathe him has no real purpose. He pimped Sansa out to Ramsey and Ramsey treated her awfully; when there's no shock, no outrage, only a disgusted "here we go again" (as one member of the WB viewing party put it), your show's in trouble.

And to be honest, GOT lost its mojo a while ago. Having killed Ned Stark, The Hound, the Brienne-and Jamie sexual tension, Theon "Biggus Dikkus" Greyjoy before he became a zombie, and all of the other good actors, roles, and subplots, we're now left with:

- a Mother of Dragons—i.e. the only character and throne claimant who possesses tactical nuclear weapons—who's just been sitting around watching her dragons become rebellious teenagers while she chains them up in a dark cave instead of training them to fly hostile fire missions on her command.

- a brother of the "real" king who had a chance to ally himself with a fierce tribe of warriors who've survived endless winters, but instead had their leader executed because the guy wouldn't "bend the knee." (You want allies to support your odds-against position on the board, seems like your knees should be bending, not theirs.)

- Cersei Lannister, aka the Woman Who Always Looks Like She's Smelling Shit, still powerful even though she has no father, brothers, or sons to support her, and still alive even though the religious fanatics she allowed to seize her power know she's an incestuous temptress.

Remember the "Red Wedding" fan reaction videos, made by GOT fans who'd read the books, filming fans who didn't know what was coming in the wedding reception that killed off much of the remaining likeable cast? Gasps, screams, horrified no-no-no-no-no-no-nos, covered eyes.... But turn a camera toward the WB staff on Sunday night and it'd be mostly rolled eyes, shaking heads, and groans of disbelief as a once-proud show takes yet another wrong turn.

However badly things are going, we pledged way back in Season Two to stay with the show, for better and for worse, as long as one character remains. When he's out, we're gone. Although diminutive, for five seasons of ups and downs he's been a constantly colossal narrative high point—and thanks to last night's episode, we now know that not all of him is small. We're talking, of course, about The Dinkles.



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