As an avid Game of Thrones watcher, I enjoy reading what other people have to say. R and I talk about the show a lot and we have interesting reactions. I’ve followed the reactions to the “wedding” violence, the “rape” violence, and the unexpected “snuffing” of a variety of characters, from Ned to Shireen.
A lot of this has resulted in a loss of interest in whatever story is developing on my part. I have favorite characters: Jon Snow, Arya, and Tyrion. I have minor likes, sure, but to eliminate a character is to eliminate a path or narrative line. One of the more interesting developments in the final episode of the 5th was Cersei’s humiliation walk (this may or may not prompt a change in character) through King Landing, where one of the great ones is “finally” yanked down beneath the level of stones. But the psychology would tend to add up to a reliance on retribution narrative: even though Cersei became or has always been an unlikeable, but interesting character, the audience will want some measure of justice in the form of revenge against her tormentors, in this case, the Sparrows. But is this a persistence or pattern that can be sustained as a “totality.”
This is where my interest is starting to lag. It would appear that the driving elements of plot have a lot to do with this “affect” toward “someone getting theirs” after a long list of doings, plotting, or interest seeking. Who doesn’t want to see Ramsay Bolton “get his,” for example, for the laundry list of evils he’s committed. But even Raskolnikov does not stay Raskolnikov.
The problem is if Ramsay does “get his” then what and so what? I’m starting to wonder at this type of strange narrative entropy of retribution goads (a goad can provoke or annoy). First we have a significant jaw-dropper in whatever developing arc (Jamie rapes, for instance) or event that would serve or suggest to serve that something is causation. A case in point in terms of event is the hapless Stannis. The audience must wonder why we went through all this meander only to end with a form of narrative throttle.
Does the raping Jamie serve his character either in terms of cause or lateral implication? I seriously wonder about this, as this would seem to only suggest someone else’s “vision” and not his, a “statement” about relationships in the Thrones world rather than a careful study of Jaime’s potential, given who he’s become or who he’s becoming.
Whether Jon Snow lives or dies doesn’t matter, but his story should matter, whether he lives or dies. Of course, we don’t know the “grand narrative,” though I suspect it will become a fight between the Zombies and the “not” Zombies. But there’s a reason why Sam and Gilly are interesting as characters. There was a reason why Cersei was interesting, though unlikable. Arya has yet to teach us something. One reason for sustained interest goes back to ideas about character in fiction: we expect the unexpected not the expected, the unpredictable not the predictable. In this idea about character, genre doesn’t matter.