Why do we enjoy the fantasy worlds we read and watch so much? Because for most of us, they provide an awesome distraction from real life. Bills and relationship problems are the last thing you are thinking about when massive dragons are flying around, roasting people like marshmallows. It provides an essential escape for many of us who feel we need it. And that escape is often into a world far more fantastic than our own. But what happens when that fantasy world gets so dark and twisted, it is just not a place you want to visit anymore? What happens when what was once an escape turns into torture? This is exactly what the writer and show runners need to ask themselves after the Game of Thrones finale that ran this week. The same Game of Thrones finale that finally caused millions of fans to throw their hands up and say: f*ck this sh*t. A finale that went so far overboard in its cruelty, very few have anything nice to even say about it. Now if you ended your entire show that way, cool. Leave people all messed up and walk away. But to make a finale like that for a show you intend to bring back was career suicide. You just officially made a world too ugly for people to enjoy. Congrats on that. No fantasy series has ever dived so low. You guys must be proud. Obvious spoilers for the Game of Thrones finale ahead. Also, this is a discussion about the show and not the books, so don’t come on the thread busting out stupid spoiler shit please? Thanks.
Too Much Brutality
So this is generally what everyone said to me whenever Game of Thrones would do something REALLY evil and twisted (like the Red Wedding, for example). They would justify and minimize it by saying: Oh, don’t worry, we will get a BIG payoff eventually. Yeah, well if you watched Sunday’s finale, you may now know, we re not getting that. Across the hour of the episode, the feeling in your gut grew. You KNEW bad things were coming. My buddy Matt made an awesome point when the episode ended. He said “this is now a show for self-abusers.” So true. Finally, you could no longer see the good. Wait, let me back it up a little. Again, SPOILERS.
So Arya Snow finally has a moment of pure badassery. Revenge, the first of what fans want to call many. BUT, she strayed off the path of the faceless man and killed someone who she was not assigned or supposed to kill. In their world, this means a death for death. No, they don’t kill her. Just blind her and kill someone else (though even who that was ended up being very vague). Cool, she will be a blind assassin, That is pretty badass, very Eastern influenced, but guess what? It is more brutality towards the Stark family, and at this point, I have reached my limit on that. We get it, the show wants to proverbially (and sometimes literally) ass rape all the Starks, and then MAYBE have one or two survive and rise up. Well guess what? I am not getting there. This shit was just too much.
Next up, we have the redemption of Reek. Guess what? DON’T CARE! He watched his (not by blood but pretty much) little sister get ass-banged, and after that, no respect for this dude no matter he does. By the way, she may not have been ass-banged, but the show is so cruel, I bet you she was. Sorry, that tiny two seconds of redemption did not save the episode for me, series, or redeem Reek for me at all. Once you have let your sister get banged in front of you, pushing a girl over a ledge is really not chivalrous or redemptive. It actually kinda reinforces that you suck in every way, moving on.
One Happy Moment
Next up, some battles we don’t see, Brienne of Tarth kills Stannis, which was cool but small and insignificant among all the brutality on either side of it. It also did not undo the prior week’s trauma of him burning his kid alive. Again, sickness and brutality. That was the moment I begun to question why I watch this show. I realized, it is all rape and murder and betrayal and brutality and a lot of brutality against women, sexually and otherwise. Why was I CHOOSING to go to this disgusting place every week? As I watched the Game of Thrones finale it finally hit me. Wow, no idea, and I don’t think I am coming back.
Making Cersai Into Christ Figure?
Next up, we have the shaming of Cersai Lannister, and the death of her incest baby. One, no one cared about your dumb incest baby and her dumb subplot, so no more on that. Onto Cersai. Now I KNOW we hate her and she is vile and every bad thing that has happened on the show is almost always because of her. BUT, does this mean I want to see her slut-shamed through a city, stripped naked while people throw shit and wave their cocks at her? No. That was sickness for sickness’ sake. And when your audience is sitting there, feeling bad for an evil bitch, YOU did something wrong. Oh, and for those who thought it was her end, NO! Of course not. She had her fleet of fools (is that a zombie Mountain? Wow, that is lame is hell) waiting to carry her off like a Christ figure so she could get her revenge in future seasons. Awesome. No thanks. This show really does enjoy de-humanizing woman, and that scene proved it. Also, how did her hair color change. That was odd. Cool, they made her into Joan of Arc. Screw that noise, that is a fail. For those who think I don’t know my shit, watch this and shut up.
Snowball’s Chance in Hell
Now, onto the last and most utterly damning aspect of this. What I like to call the Snow avalanche. Yes, as many of you know, Jon Snow got slowly stabbed by multiple members of the Night’s Watch for how he handled the moving of the Wildlings (and subsequent death of many members of the Night’s Watch). This was drawn out and very painful to watch, but was not the nail in the coffin. MAYBE BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD SO BAIL RIGHT NOW IF YOU DON’T WANNA GET PISSED. BUT DON’T WORRY BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT. This led to EVERY GOT book fan going on social media and writing stuff like: don’t worry, he might be back *winkwink. NO! NO! NO,NO,NO,NO,NO! One, you don’t do that. You don’t ruin shit for people who don’t know. But also, no one knows! Books and show are caught up, so really, that is just the sign of someone in an abusive relationship proving they are just willing to give the person another chance. And two, the retconning of selective deaths in fantasy is WEAK! That just shows you how “shock tactic” it really all is. I no longer CARE if he comes back. That is the Snow avalanche. People were upset, so this caused other people to go all speculative-spoiler heavy. Bam, all aspects ruined. Also, this:
So everyone shut up, again. Even HE says he is dead.
TV Fans or Victims: When Is Line Crossed?
But even if he does come back, what you are missing here is, I won’t be (and I know of MANY who feel the same way). It is like an abusive relationship of sorts. You show up every week, get beat down, and then show up again the next week. At what point do you say to yourself, this shit is cruel and not fun at all and I am not doing it anymore? That is the line that was finally crossed on Sunday for me. I made excuses after Ned Stark was killed. I made excuses after how sick I felt after the Red Wedding. I, just like a victim in an abusive relationship, kept making excuses and crawling back, only to crawl away beat down every Sunday night. Thing is, this week we (and everyone I was watching with) all looked at each other and collectively decided at the same time that is a universe we no longer have interest in visiting. They can beat us down and hope we will all hold out for some redemption, but the reality we all need to face is, it doesn’t come. They ENJOY beating us down. They enjoy demoralizing and then empowering women. They enjoy knowing they are killing someone you love, or raping someone you care about. They seem to derive pleasure from shock for shock’s sake. That, my friends and fellow geeks, is not good writing. That is the television version of a Serbian Film (NSFL). If you want to keep watching, so be it. Enjoy. I shall not condemn anyone for such behaviors, but I sure as shit wont be a part of them, either.
By the way, got some spoilers for next season on the show. It is a season long rape scene of a newborn baby. Yay, should be awesome. Let me know what you fans think when it comes out next year!