Search­ing for he­roes in ‘GoT’

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

IF you plan to start watch­ing “Game of Thrones” but have not yet seen any episode nor read the books, please know, dear reader, that this es­say is some­what dark and full of spoil­ers. I wanted to write about hero­ism, con­sid­er­ing to­mor­row’s hol­i­day, but more ur­gent ques­tions sur­faced, like whether Jon Snow and Daen­erys Tar­garyen might tum­ble into each other’s arms in to­mor­row’s sea­son fi­nale. They shouldn’t, in my opin­ion.

But this show’s pro­duc­ers are so happy to in­dulge their fans’ whims that you never know what Jon and Dany might end up do­ing. He has gazed into her bright eyes and seen her grief. She has seen him vul­ner­a­ble and shirt­less.

They have ex­changed looks so charged, they risked melt­ing our TV screens. A match is in­evitable. Or is it? GoT, es­pe­cially in its ear­lier sea­sons, mes­mer­izes be­cause of the ef­fort to craft char­ac­ters that are not one-di­men­sional.

It is a show with­out ob­vi­ous he­roes or easy choices. To­gether, Jon and Daen­erys might de­feat the un­dead hordes march­ing to­ward Wes­teros, but they would im­prove their chances vastly if they strike an al­liance with Cer­sei, the queen from House Lan n i st er.

Would you align your­self with a mur­derer, if it meant sav­ing other peo­ple’s lives? Since the be­gin­ning, Cer­sei has re­mained one of the show’s strong­est char­ac­ters. She is as ruth­less as she is driven, the kind of per­son to whom in­cest and mur­der are mi­nor ob­sta­cles on the way to power. It was Cer­sei who set in mo­tion the events that killed Ed­dard “Ned” Stark, a loyal man who wanted noth­ing in life but to keep his fam­ily safe and to serve his king well. He failed at both and lost his head.

“When you play the game of thrones,” Cer­sei told Ned in the show’s first sea­son, “you win or you die. There is no mid­dle ground.” Maybe this is one rea­son be­hind GoT’s ap­peal.

It lets us watch in­di­vid­u­als and dy­nas­ties pur­sue power, of­ten bru­tally, with­out hav­ing to suf­fer their pur­suit’s con­se­quences. We may even feel like cheer­ing for them, as we did when Daen­erys or­dered her dragon to torch her en­e­mies.

“Game of Thrones” en­ter­tains us with spec­ta­cles that in­volve flam­ing swords, time travel, at least one zom­bie po­lar bear, and dragons, when our real-life enig­mas are too grim to con­tem­plate. For in­stance, what do we make of it when chil­dren die in the hands of those we thought would keep them safe, and yet

most of our friends and kin stay silent? Is this a sit­u­a­tion that al­lows for a mid­dle gr ound?

One of my fa­vorite lines from “Game of Thrones” be­longed to Jaime Lan­nis­ter, Cer­sei’s pro­tec­tor, lover, and brother. He was on the verge of poi­son­ing one of Cer­sei’s most for­mi­da­ble en­e­mies, Queen Olenna of House Tyrell, when the queen warned him that no good would come out of his de­vo­tion to Cer sei .

(Be­cause, you know, she is de­vi­ous, ruth­less, and mur­der­ous.) Jaime re­sponded, “When peo­ple live in peace in the world she has built, do you re­ally think they will wring their hands over how she built it?” That mo­ment took my breath away. (Con­fes­sion: the ac­tor who plays Jaime Lan­nis­ter, the su­perb Ni­co­laj Coster-Wal­dau, tends to have that ef­fect on a lot of women.) But I thought about what his char­ac­ter said and how cur­rent the warn­ing felt.

Few he­roes sur­vive the “Game of Thrones” be­cause too much is asked of them. One had to hold a door even if it meant get­ting stabbed and clawed to death, be­cause it was the only way his friends could sur­vive. Ev­ery­day hero­ism seems so much eas­ier— stand­ing up to those who do wrong or be­ing an ally to those who are de­fense­less— yet so few find the courage to do it. — Isolde D. Amante

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