Made to be Broken: Game of Thrones Thread

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Spoilers within. And let’s keep book spoilers out of the comments as much as possible, so that those who don’t know what’s going to happen beyond tonight can have the experience I did, of yelling “WHAT THE SHIT GEORGE RR MARTIN WHAT THE GAH HELP NO GAH NO SERIOUSLY GOD” and chucking the book across the room.


If you thought, really thought, about all the things that keep you safe, you’d go blind screaming mad inside of a second.

If you thought about the rules that hold the world up, the rules that look to you like the ocean looks like a fish, the rules that have no names because nothing this deep does, you’d stop breathing.

If you saw the strings that held us all together, if you saw how thin they were, how loose the knots, you’d be so frightened you could barely move.

There are all these things that are done and not done, every day. There are all these things we count on. That everybody isn’t lying to us all the time. That you are as sacrosanct to others as you are to yourself. That in the next ten seconds somebody isn’t going to crash through your door and hurt you, the ones beside you, the ones you love. That your next breath won’t stop in your throat. That your next swallow won’t choke you. That even a total stranger will be your friend, or at least not your enemy. That everyone you meet won’t reach out with a knife.

It’s not that we take these things for granted.It’s that we have to take these things for granted, in order to continue being alive.

Robb and Catelyn and Edmure and the Blackfish took for granted that they had guest right. It was ironclad; eat of another’s bread and salt beneath his roof and he was bound to let you leave unharmed, lest the gods curse him forever. They counted on that, the way we all count on things. The way we count on a thousand things, the way we have to in order to walk around on the planet. Robb is a dumbass in the books, okay, trusting and impulsive and most of his good ideas were Cat’s, but the one thing I have never faulted him for was walking through Walder Frey’s door and expecting to be safe.

Crimes against hospitality are the most severely punished in this world, in every world, because they transgress against that which holds the world up. Read the Bible if you want to see what the greatest sins are: Robbing a guest, beating a traveler, turning away those on a journey who come to you for help, refusing to make room at your hearth for outsiders. This comes from living in ancient places where the stones were dry and hot to walk upon, and there was no water. This comes from a time when we all traveled on foot, and places less than a mile away were strange as the moon. To be a guest is to be vulnerable, and so we made these rules.

We are all guests sometime, all under someone else’s roof. We are all vulnerable, sometime, and so we are all protected by the rules we all agree to follow.

If that means nothing, if the rules are thin air and nothing more binding than that, if Walder Frey and the Lannisters can strike the Starks down and sin against something so bone-deep and blood-simple, if they can do this and not be destroyed by the vengeful gods they instant they commit that sin, then none of us are safe anywhere.

That’s the story we’re telling now in Westeros, to our sorrow.

And Cat’s.

Sweet holy mercy CAT. All’s forgiven, writers, all is forgiven, for disappearing her during this season, for making her passive and victimized and blank, because that was a turn worthy of the source material. I didn’t like Catelyn Stark much when I first started this story, and it was Michelle Fairley who turned me around on her (the same way Sophie Turner turned me around on Sansa). Michelle Fairley whose face, when the doors slammed shut, turned my stomach inside out, and I knew what was coming. You felt the cold draft on the back of her neck, felt her heart start pounding, felt her fury. She doesn’t know, that all her other children are still alive. She thinks Robb is all she has left, and when they take him, they take her with him.

Quick takes: I loved this episode. LOVED IT. Loved it, because, as with Blackwater, it was the most faithful to the story I loved in the first place. The jealousy and tension between Jorah and Ser Barristan the Hot, the way Dany trusts Grey Worm above everyone, the moment Jon betrays Ygritte and the way she knew it was coming all along, the Stark children hiding and then splitting up, Bran slipping into Hodor’s skin. They sacrificed almost nothing, and it was tightly written and beautifully acted. Arya and Sandor should make a road movie, I’ve always thought, and that kid’s thousand-yard stare makes me remember she and Sansa are related, and how crazy good is Maisie Williams, that she can make me think of a character we haven’t seen for two weeks in just the way she doesn’t blink?

WORD to the Frey girls who wanted to have a fivesome with the Blackfish.

The Boltons scare the living shit out of me. The Lannisters are nasty and scary, sure, and they’ll cut you as soon as look at you sideways, but the Boltons are the guys who pull out their calculators and slide rules, make up a spreadsheet, and decide that indeed the numbers favor you dying today. It’s not that they’re vicious or hideous or vengeful; it’s that they’re not built for any of those things. And believe me when I say that Roose Bolton is the least scary of the ones we get to meet. If I ran into a Bolton and a Lannister in a dark alley and had two bullets in my gun I’d shoot the Bolton twice.

Walder Frey, now? Walder Frey’s not cold, though his horrifying little chuckle at the end echoed in my head through the silent credits. Walder Frey is something else. Walder Frey, all he is, is someone for whom the rules no longer exist. He gave them bread and salt, cloaked them as a bridegroom cloaks a bride, in his protection. He acknowledged the rules. He showed them the rulebook.

And then he took out his knife. And the rules disappeared.

A.

9 thoughts on “Made to be Broken: Game of Thrones Thread

  1. Eric says:

    Which is the reason I stopped reading his books. Lets see, who can I kill/maim/destroy now that people really like for no good plot reason at all.
    Lame. Lame. Lame. Lame.

  2. Eric says:

    Not ALL life is a Greek tragedy. Yes, bad things happen to good people, it’s just that bad things happen to ALL the good people in his books. Makes it very trying and not entertaining at all. The idea of tragedy is that it should be over come. Thats why Greek tragedies, alot of Chinese theater and now their modern cinema and of GOT, are a waste from the opening scenes. Why? Because you know that everyone they get you to care about is going to DIE.
    Wow, cool an other disapointment, like I don’t have enough of them in my life already.
    Thanks, but I will pass, but please, feel free to enjoy my portion lame.

  3. joel hanes says:

    Greek tragedies, alot of Chinese theater and now their modern cinema and of GOT, are a waste from the opening scenes
    Like those other noted lame wastes of time, Hamlet, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Candide …
    I understand your point, but disagree mightily.
    If your life gives you happy endings, more power to you.
    (Although if it gives you nothing but happy endings, you’re in danger of ending up as shallow and immature
    as Sansa in GoT episode 1, or the Koch brothers, or Paris Hilton.)
    Houseman advises those who demand jollification and happy endings to drink heavily :

    Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
    For fellows whom it hurts to think:
    Look into the pewter pot
    To see the world as the world’s not.
    And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:

    But for Houseman and me and for many others, some of the main problems of life are
    “Why are there no genuine happy endings in real life?
    Why does suffering and grief happen even to good people?
    And how should I behave if that’s so?”

    Therefore, since the world has still
    Much good, but much less good than ill,
    And while the sun and moon endure
    Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
    I’d face it as a wise man would,
    And train for ill and not for good.

  4. Eric says:

    Sigh…ok one last time, although this is alot like trying to grab smoke.
    Yup, I sure do like happy endings, or at least an ending where the main characters that I care about get to live. Maybe they haven’t solved every problem and maybe the “Bad Guy” is still out there. But there is still a tomorrow for them. Now the reason I like those kind of endings is that I am, at heart, an OPTIMIST. I LIKE to believe, in my fiction and in my real life, that events, tragedies and obstacles can be over come.
    And my point about fictional tragedies, and this includes the classics be they English or Greek, is that once you read a few of them you know how the rest of them will end. No suprises. Everyone dies. Spiffy, just what I need another downer.
    The world sucks enough as it is, and while fictional tragedies might be a reflection of that world, not many of us are Danish princes, a Moor in England, or star crossed lovers (either Chinese or English). Also, while the particulars of a character may be of no particualr importance, it would be the pain and trauma they go through that would appear to the the main point of the whole story with the underlying theme that they are ultimately doomed in the end and that, no matter how they struggle against it, their fate is already (literally) written in the stars.
    This all seems so pessimistic to me. Why revel in the negative? We are surrounded by it day in and day out. I prefer the more positive endings because I see the world and my life that way. I refuse to wallow in tragedy or to accept its inevitability and I fight against its effects everyday.
    When things go sideways is a great way to describe hurdles to be overcome, not to be overwhelmed and destroyed by. Shakespere wrote as many comedies and farces as he did tragedies, why then are his tragedies considered his best works? Why not To Tame a Shrew, or Much Ado About Nothing?
    I would prefer that my life concluded in a happy ending. Like everyone else I have had my share of bad things happen and tears shed. But all in all I have read most of the classics and I truly appreciate the art and style of them. However, well I have made myself clear about them elsewhere. GOTs, for all its thousands of pages is, IMHO, nothing but an indulgence in self imposed disapointment. I’ll still pass thank you.

  5. Clay says:

    I’ll stand up a little for Robb here. Everyone seems to be ragging on him. Remember, he beat the pants off the best living general in Westeros (Tywin Lannister) three times. Tactical brilliance is something that shouldn’t be completely discounted. OTOH, like a lot of great generals, he’s got serious blind spots. He sort of reminds me of Patton. In one battle, there’s probably no other general you’d want to have, but Patton was strategically and politically blind and was often his own worst enemy (see slapping soldier incident). It’s a miracle that today he still has the reputation he does.
    Also, the moment where everything goes sideways is a wonderful thing to key in on. That moment when the crossbows come out. Think of the moment on Macondo when the workers saw their boat, which they’d worked on for years, up in flames, with 11 of their friends with it. Think of the moment when everyone saw the Challenger blow up. The moment when the ground started to shake in Haiti in 2010 (current count: 316,000 fatalities, BTW). The moment where not even the ground beneath your feet is a given.

  6. Maitri says:

    “The idea of tragedy is that it should be over come … Because you know that everyone they get you to care about is going to DIE.”
    Robb was a noble king, but a dumbasserific one, and this was his price to pay. You make a solemn promise to a known weirdo like Walder Frey and then renege on it following which you execute Lord Karstark and piss off a gigantic chunk of your bannermen and army and then top it off by waltzing into Casa Frey and offering Edmure Tully instead of a king, and then what do you expect? Catelyn was surprised and enraged by Roose Bolton’s betrayal but not Frey’s.
    And, come on, only three Starks (four, if you count Talisa) are dead so far. The Red Wedding is hopefully the crescendo of tragedy for the remaining Starks to overcome. Wonderful family, but they’d better start wondering why their elders were killed.
    I’ve been thinking about the fate of the Starks and all of the characters given there are only two books remaining. Is the idea of tragedy that it should be overcome? I loooove the idea of all the Stark kids reuniting to kill everyone else and take over Winterfell again, froget Westeros, but will not be surprised if there isn’t a single Stark left living at the end of Book 7. Not all life needs or has resolution and a neat little bowtie at the end. Now that’s lame.

  7. joel hanes says:

    GRRM had good reason to destroy Ned and Rob and Catlyn – these characters made fatal error after fatal error, in an environment in which you win or you die.
    It’s loyalty that kills Ned.
    It’s love that kills Rob and Catlyn and Talisa.
    The excellences the of the characters, the best things about their personalities, are exactly the traits that seal their respective dooms.
    Aeschylus would have found this plot both comprehensible and appropriate — the fates of his hero-kings and those they love are similarly grim, and for similarly good reasons.
    Pity and terror are never lame.

  8. Maitri says:

    At least they didn’t do that thing with Grey Wind. I wondered how they would depict that scene if it came to pass. Phew.
    Knew it was coming and still handled it like a five-year-old Sansa would have. Poorly.
    Winds turn quickly. The Lannisters would be wise to pay attention to this fact.

  9. Maitri says:

    Do not watch this Benioff and Weiss Red Wedding debrief while eating lunch.

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