I’m glad Daenerys burned Kings Landing. No, it’s not right that she did it after they surrendered. That violates the rules of war, and it’s not fair that innocent civilians were killed in her rampage. But we saw this coming as far back as Season 1. You knew this would happen. It’s been foreshadowed since the beginning. Her father meant to do it before Jamie killed him, and her brother certainly would have if he lived to see the West. All Daenerys did was pick up the mantle and bring it to fruition.
You really didn’t see that coming? Of course not. There are two reasons why:
The first problem is that we now live in a society where nothing has consequences. Parents don’t teach kids that life isn’t fair anymore. And I’ve recently come to the shocking realization that there are people – adults! - who don’t realize that there are some things in life that can’t be fixed, and you have to learn to live with them. True story: six months ago, I had a talk with somebody who didn’t believe that asthma is incurable. They truly thought you could decide not to have symptoms anymore and they would stop. I wish. Unfortunately, my bronchial tubes didn’t agree. Obviously, this person didn’t grow up with a chronic health issue AND bury all of their grandparents by their 15th birthday. I’ve always known that life isn’t fair and some things are irreparable. I’ve lived with a health issue that requires daily management since birth. But it seems that we’re now living in a world with a generation who’s knocking on the door of middle age and no concept that they have absolutely no control over reality, other people, or even themselves in some cases.
Wow. Just wow.
The second problem is that we're completely oblivious to the people around us. "I'm busy" has become the new success catch-phrase of the 21st century. The problem is that we get so bogged down keeping up with life that we have no idea what's happening with the people around us. So we get surprised. You see the signs all around you that people are too connected to their phones, and don't talk to other people. Now, we're getting surprised by fictional characters as well. That's pretty sad. It's bad enough that we don't know/care what's happening outside of our home, but when character on TV surprise you then there IS a problem. No wonder you hear so much harping on "emotional intelligence." It seems that we don't have any!
So we scream that Daenerys burned the city. We forget that she watched her child (Rhaegal) and her best friend (Missandi) die because Cersi just had to push her buttons and prove her power. We forget that she’s grieving and exhausted after battling the Night King (and an army of death personified). We forget that it hasn’t been that long in the show since she lost another child (Viscerion), and in fact he had to be killed AGAIN a couple of weeks ago. We forget that she was raised by a family who taught her that she has a birthright to the throne and is struggling to reconcile that fact with the fact that nobody in Westeros knows or cares much about her.
We complain that she acted completely within her nature and circumstances, and to rise above that was highly unlikely. She’s disappointed. She’s grieving. She's hurt and keeps getting hurt. Of course she isn't thinking straight. Nothing makes sense to her anymore, and she's been thrust into two wars. And we expect her easily rise above things in a few episodes that we ourselves struggle with in mid life? Hmm. We really don't know how to deal with anger in our society. It's even more uncomfortable to deal with anger in women. I wonder if there would be as many objections to this week's episode if her brother had lived and done the same thing. I'll bet not. But the discussion of anger and gender is one best tackled in another blog entry at another time.
Sure, people can rise above, but the real question is WILL they rise above? Sadly, the answer is “no” sometimes. We need to learn this. We need to get as comfortable with this reality as possible, because it’s going to happen in real life. You will get burned by somebody pursuing their own interests. You will get stabbed in the back by people trying to save face. You will get stepped on by people trying to get ahead. You will be betrayed by people you thought you could trust. You will be rejected by some people for no reason other than their own personal biases. You will suffer the consequences of other peoples’ mistakes. You will be disappointed to learn that you think more of others than they think of you. That’s just life. Game of Thrones showed us that this week. As we used to say before this “feel good” generation rose: life happens. It’s just an uncomfortable truth, so we reject it. If only we could reject it in reality but alas, life isn’t fair and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.
Yes, what Daenerys did was awful. There’s no excuse for it but if you know storytelling methods, then you should have seen it coming. And frankly, Cerci is awful and she got what she deserved too. Heck, I wish Drogon would have gotten her first. Having the sanctuary of the Red Keep collapsing on her, while appropriately symbolic, was too good an end for her.
I think Game of Thrones is coming full circle. Yes, it seems a bit rushed, but endings are like that. It always rolls faster when you’re coming to the conclusion. The momentum rises until you roll into the ending. Plus, this is fantasy, folks. Scifi and fantasy aren’t afraid to tackle the dirty issues of life. If you want a feel-good ending with a Christmas Day wedding, go watch a Hallmark Channel movie. This might be too much for you. This art isn't afraid of the reality it reflects.
I know, art is about escaping reality, but there's a fine line. We need to face it in our fiction if we really want to process it larger scale in our personal reality. I think the people who are uncomfortable with the events of this episode need to ponder their personal experiences and beliefs on the unfairness of life and the general predictability of human nature.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a good rest of the week.