Sunday, June 14, 2015


Buckle your sword belts, folks. It's that time of year that Game of Thrones fans fear above all others—the end of the season. Which means the dreaded season finale is almost upon us. (Tonight, to be exact.)

Never in the history of the cathode ray tube has a popular TV series so relentlessly abused its loyal fans as GoT. Based on the mammoth series of books by George R. R. Martin, still being penned as we speak (five volumes and counting), this is a series that ended its first season with the decapitation of the guy everyone assumed was the hero.

It was as if Don Draper got run over by a cab after one season, or Walter White blew himself up in a meth lab. Talk about the element of surprise! 

Since then, dedicated Thronies understand that their favorite characters are on shaky ground with each new episode. No one is safe, however high up in the narrative food chain they appear to be. "Trust No One," as they used to say on The X-Files, and the ones we don't trust the most are the GoT writers.

Dinklage as Tyrion: don't call him a hero
And Martin gives them plenty of opportunity to wreak mayhem. His books are set in a fantasy world not unlike the Late Middle Ages in Europe; transport is via horseback, ship or on foot, weapons are forged steel, and combat is hand-to-hand.

And there's plenty of it, with some 10 to a dozen royal houses and various upstart factions (I tend to lose count after about seven or eight), from an increasingly broad spectrum of neighboring and foreign lands, all vying for the Iron Throne, whose king or queen rules all. (Nominally, at least.)

Daenerys and her alpha dragon: timely reappearance
Fortunately, as the GoT universe expands, there are plenty of heroes to go around—along with anti-heroes, would-be heroes, and characters who occasionally blunder into heroism by sheer accident, not to mention antagonists and outright villains. Lots and lots of the latter, villains for whose demise we avidly root for.

Sadly, villains in the GRRM universe seem to have a much longer shelf life than the good guys. But when they do meet their just deserts, oh boy, look out!

Like last year's Season 4 finale (SPOILER ALERT if you're still catching up with it on Netflix), when Tyrion Lannister finally put an end to the evil schemes of his reprehensible Daddy Dearest. Thronies were screaming like demented World Cup fanatics.

Harrington: Snowblind
Tyrion, the witty, roguish dwarf played to acerbic precision by the great Peter Dinklage, continues to be the best reason to watch the show. This year, Season 5, has fulfilled the promise of its teaser poster by sending Tyrion on a fateful (and not entirely voluntary) voyage to the Eastern realm of dragon girl Daenerys (Emilia Clarke); one of the baby dragons she helped to hatch in the first season made a timely reappearance—all grown up now, thanks very much—in last week's episode.

Fans have been waiting a long time for Tyrion and Daenerys to join forces, since they are two of the very few characters we consistently root for. A third is Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), bastard son of initial hero Ned Stark (now deceased). Jon Snow always tries to do the right thing; exiled to the monk-like brotherhood of the Night's Watch, he's been elected their commander—just in time to lead a desperate campaign against the undead armies of the demonic White Walkers.

All three of these characters were in extremely dire straits as of last week. The suspense is killing me.

(But, sshhhh, don't call them heroes! We know what happens to them.)

Btw, if you fear GoT withdrawals after the imminent end of Season 5, get ready for: Game of Thrones: The Muscal! No, not really, but that's the premise of this very funny video in which Chris Martin of Coldplay envisions just such a horrible hybrid—to the dismay of several cast members. 12 minutes, complete with songs—check it out!

Also, if you needs further proof that Time Marches On, here's a fabulous fun pic of the kids of GoT back in 2009, when they were first cast. (The series debuted on HBO in 2011.) That's little Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) in front, Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Richard Madden (Robb Stark), and, yes, that's Kit Harrington (Jon Snow).

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