Warning: there are spoilers throughout this article.
The latest season finale of Game of Thrones – ironically titled "Mother’s Mercy" (spoiler alert: there is f**k all mercy) – has left me reeling.
Because in all seriousness, what’s the point now? Of course the story remains as gripping and thrilling as ever but, you know what? I simply cannot invest any more emotion in a show that so regularly destroys any attachment I form with it.
Characters are killed off with such routine efficiency, with such gleeful abandon, that forming attachments to them is mentally draining and pointless. This most recent season finale alone put the entire house Baratheon to bed. Gendry (AKA Chris from Skins) and other bastards notwithstanding, Stannis, Seylse and Shireen have now joined Renly and Robert in whatever afterlife they might believe in, wiping out the proud stags forever.
And they weren’t even my bloody favourites. Because as if killing off some infanticidal maniac and his evil witchy wife wasn’t enough, now I must fill a Jon Snow shaped hole in my life. This will be no small task. Because what about R + L = J? What about that, George? Care to fill in the details there? No? You utter bastard.
Yes, yes, they’re just characters, I hear you say; they aren’t real. And while I agree – they certainly aren’t real – why is attachment to characters in GoT such a bad thing, given the monumental outpouring of grief for Fred Weasley, or Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series? Are all fictional characters not created equal?
And even worse, GoT hasn’t stopped at making me miss characters I love. Now, thanks to a traumatic public shaming and heroic moment, I can no longer vent my hatred on previously unforgivable characters like Cersei Lannister, or Reek (formerly Theon Greyjoy). The emotional turmoil that is the GoT franchise means I have to bestow them far more sympathy than I have previously considered, which does not sit well with me at all.
After he betrayed Robb Stark, I spent two happy seasons crowing with glee every time Reek experienced some horribleness. Schadenfreude, as they say, is a beautiful thing. Yet for reasons unknown, the GoT writers have taken even that away from me.
So while I fully intend to fanatically watch season six on its release next year, I am now firmly behind Team White Walker. Those undead denizens of the north know how to treat one another. There's no distant relatives around to secretly arrange a wedding massacre for those guys. Plus, if they do kill anyone else worth feeling sorry for (Samwell Tarly, I’m looking at you), there’s every chance they’ll get brought back to life.
That said, the deaths of two equally unpleasant characters – the paedophile Ser Meryn Trant and Miranda, Ramsay Bolton’s mistress – have given me some comfort. Enough, you could say, to make me wait another 12 months, partly just to see if this comforting, more karmic killing streak continues.
However, no matter how many bad people die, I do still wonder what the point is. With the current body count of loved ones, there doesn’t seem to be one. However, in the end, maybe that is the point: valar morghulis, as they say.
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