Since we’ve all already made up our minds on if this season is “good” or “bad”… I don’t want to waste your time. Again, I don’t want to waste anymore of my time. So let’s keep this as brief as this past episode was bleak.
The true tragedy of Game of Thrones is not that sinful characters never became saints, or that the quality of story crafting arguably diminished. It is the revelation that the worldview of the story is despairingly nonnegotiable, terse, and callous.
Layers of dramatic intrigue and plot complications served as unlikely sources of optimism, distracting the viewer from more apocalyptic potential outcomes. Maybe so-and-so will sit on the throne, maybe so-and-so will survive, maybe these people will change for the better and “do the right thing”. But…
The Bells, as tumultuous and questionable the characterization execution maybe, peels back those final layers revealing that bitter thesis underneath. The characters and the audience suffered defeat together, not that the CGI bad guy punched harder than our heroes’ punched, but rather collective faith and confidence in narrative and character arcs were misaligned with grim truths.
That’s not to say I feel the plot point in question was unfitting. Frankly, it was distressingly quintessential. For the all the developments, and twists, and herrings, the heart of who these people are beat till the very end. Robb was impulsive, Jon is obstinate, and Deaneries was, evidently… wrathful. This saga asserts that, when a wager is placed upon the worst and core nature of a person, death ensues. Burning King’s Landing is a twist by definition, but falls straight in line with the narrative’s attitude towards calamity and the human condition.
But I digress. But then what? What is The Bells, and what do we do with it? To regurgitate narrative theory I read up on at 2 AM , a story’s language is a binary relay between negative and positive value changes. HELL YEAH moments and DAMN IT moments. Catharsis is a drastic shift or change… but there’s such a thing as negative catharsis.
Let’s view The Bells as a correspondent to Breaking Bad’s Ozymandias. A cathartic negative value change that illustrates the disheartening essence of the narrative in catastrophic fashion. And there’s the simplicity to two of my favorite episodes of television, I find no need to call them “best.”