Characters, Stories, and Failure in Game of Thrones Part II
A quick look at a couple characters and we discredit one new fan theory.
Characters. Stories. Some we don’t get invested in. Others we get so invested in so deep any word against them is considered sacrilege. A comment against a character is an insult against the actor. Call Arya Stark a Mary Sue (She’s not, it’s just really bad writing on the part of David Benioff and D. B. Weiss) and you’re going to be greeted with all sorts of call outs. If you explain death has no meaning in Marvel movies fans of the Marvel Comic’s cinematic universe are likely to give you the social media equivalent of a punch in the nose.
Regardless of the plot holes and inconsistencies running through Game of Thrones, and there are a lot in the series (For example: how does Arya who is “trained” as an assassin become a soldier with skills to match? How did Euron manage to build a thousand ships in such a short amount of time?), the series has had some of the most dynamic characters in recent television history.
When Sansa Stark was first introduced she was the very definition of the spoiled brat. She wanted to be in King’s Landing more than she wanted to be in Winterfell. The glitz and riches of King’s Landing were more alluring than the cold of the North. She sided with Joffrey after a Nymeria bit him. She went to King’s Landing willingly only to find things in the capital weren’t all golden and after the death of Ned Stark things got even worse for poor Sansa. She suffered Joffrey’s torments, cruel intentions from Littlefinger, and was raped by Ramsay Bolton.
Now Sansa is the Lady of Winterfell. She’s not taking shit from anyone. She plotted with Arya, off screen we were told later, to eliminate Littlefinger. She helped unite the North to fight the Night King and his army of the dead. She also betrayed her brother’s confidence and told Tyrion his secret. Whether she knew it or not letting Tyrion in on the family secret made have lead King’s Landing being burnt to a crisp.
It seemed when Jon and the armies of the North left Winterfell Sansa wouldn’t be in the series anymore. However, her position in the series may change after Sunday’s hit-or-miss episode, “The Bells.” Fans are doing a quick readjustment on all their other Game of Thrones theories. Now GoT theorists are predicting Sansa and Tyrion will rule the Seven Kingdoms together. Given Sansa’s past with King’s Landing and her new position in Winterfell this is one prediction that will probably not come to pass. There’s also not enough time to get Sansa to Winterfell, convince Tyrion and Sansa to rule together, hear Jon say he doesn’t want the throne (again), and kill Daenerys.
Recently, the actress Jessica Chastain made some social media waves with her comment’s regarding the Hound and Sansa. She took exception with Sansa telling the Hound her past experiences made her who she had become. Chastain claimed she was never a little bird and she didn’t need the experiences to become a phoenix.
Except, Jessica doesn’t understand some basic fundamentals of storytelling. Characters are a lot like Newton’s First Law of Motion except replace object with character. A character is going to remain the same unless something acts upon the character to make a change. There was nothing in the story that would have changed the Sansa character from a weak timid girl more interested in shiny things into the commanding Lady of Winterfell. Chastain and many of her Twitter followers would have Sansa change overnight with no reasoning behind the change. Unfortunately that’s not how a good story works.
Notice how Chastain makes no mention of Theon Greyjoy’s treatment at the hands of Ramsay Bolton. Theon went from being Ned Starks’s ward and a supporter of Robb Stark’s secession to a pretty wicked ruler of Winterfell who killed children. Theon had a change of heart after his treatment at the hand’s of Ramsay Bolton. In the end, he gave his life protecting Bran from the Night King.
Did Theon have to be enslaved, tortured, humiliated, and then castrated in order to be called “a good man?” The easy answer is “no.” However, if we answer no then Theon has to come to the conclusion on his own that his past deeds were wrong and that he betrayed the Starks, a family who called him family in all but name. How was he to come to this conclusion on his own in a way that would feel authentic and not cheat the audience? Simply stated he could not come to this conclusion on his own. If we use Chastain’s logic having his manhood snipped was not the answer, but Chastain is not interested in violent actions against men.
Fans are full of theories. Since the series ran longer than George R.R. Martin’s novels the fans have been obsessing over theories and what theories will or will not come true. When their predictions come true (Daenerys burning King’s Landing) they’re all in an uproar. Now a new theory is making some minor waves. The new theory says Bran will do his Three-Eyed Raven trick to travel back in time and right the wrongs. This may make some fans happy if he changes some bad character development, but overall it’s one of the worst ideas to come along in quite some time.
Time travel is one of the worst tropes and crimes a writer could make. Time travel is the solution to bad writing. When the writers on Heroes wrote the series into a corner they turned to Hiro to go back in time to change history.Ten years of Marvel movies, the big snap event that brought fans to tears, all discarded because of time travel. Contrary to the views of a lot of fans the time travel and now the introduction of a multi-verse serves one main goal for the MCU and Disney. The time travel trope and multi-verse allows Disney to keep the cash cow of Marvel movies churning for years to come.
Unless the movie or series starts with the premise of time travel at its core (Think Back to the Future, Primer, Time Lapse, Timecrimes) it can only lead to bad things. Time travel is a tricky element to add to any story. It often makes a story more confusing than it needs to be. Time travel eliminates any good will a story may have built up with its audience. Death means nothing when you can go back in time to undo the death so the character can have sequel after sequel (See: Spider-Man: Far From Home, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Black Panther 2).
If some fan theories are correct Game of Thrones isn’t immune to the time travel trope either. This Mashable article about how Bran will travel back in time, save everyone, and in the process become the Night King is just one of many articles floating around the internet and posted tweets on Twitter. As theories go a Bran who travels back in time to become the Night King to save everyone is too ludicrous to imagine. However, we have to remember the only reason Weiss and Benioff had Arya kill the Night King and not Jon was because no one expected it.
If Weiss and Benioff do go down this road it will ruin what was once one of the best series ever to air or stream on a television. Which fan theory is correct and which ones are wrong will have to wait until Sunday. The final episode is not going to make everyone happy. If we get an ending fit for the series though it will make a lot more fans happy than angry. At the very least, don’t put Bran on the thrones.