An Open Letter to Benioff & Weiss:
The lens of TV and film limits our perspective, creating mystery and drama in a way that could never happen in real life.
Any character with normal eyesight and average intelligence would never be surprised, kidnapped or killed by the various monsters, zombies or bad guys lurking just off screen.
The real suspension of disbelief lies not in believing in the existence of a world of magic, dragons and competing gods, but in accepting the stupidity and irrationality of characters making arbitrary and unbelievable decisions for the sole reason that it was the only way the writers could find a way to move the story line ahead.
For the last couple of seasons, in spite of those huge emotional moments that walk the fine line between fan service and clichéd movie shorthand, Game of Thrones has stretched us beyond our ability to believe in the world created by George RR Martin, because the most skilled and beloved characters — survivors of six seasons of gut-wrenching twists and turns — have failed to be consistent and rational.
Many of us have complained about the impossibility of someone getting stabbed multiple times in the stomach and days later being able to perform like a world class parcour athlete. Or the ridiculous idea that a small island kingdom that has no trees and a limited population could build and man a fleet of ONE THOUSAND SHIPS, after a large number of sailors stole the best ships from the existing fleet. And we have seen Monty Python inspired spoofs on the speed with which a tag team of human, raven and dragons could complete what could be two thousand miles to rescue heroes that are on the verge of freezing to death or getting killed by an army of zombies.
But the thing we can’t abide is to see Daenerys lose her edge, Tyrion become completely inept at scheming, Jon make the same lethal mistakes over and over again yet survive, or believe that someone trained in the art of telling lies and sussing out the truth would be duped by a single message that everyone else in the kingdom either knows about or wouldn’t care about. It’s enough to make us think the real name of the show should be:
That’s why tonight’s season finale was so satisfying.
It was one of those rare instances where characters acted like real people, seeing everything behind the curtain and then acting in a rational and consistent manner:
- Sisters might actually talk together off screen and consult with their all-knowing greenseer of a brother to determine who the real traitor is in the North.
- An evil queen might finally show some real human emotion as she witnesses the threat of the undead, agree to a truce, get pissed off at one of her adversaries and call off the deal, almost kill her brother, and finally agree to do the rational thing and fight the common enemy. But because she is evil and short sighted, she does exactly what she has always done: lie to her enemies so she can stab them in the back.
- Meanwhile, the book worm who was almost alerted to the most important piece of information in all the Seven Kingdoms by his girlfriend, before he shut her down before, not only took what appeared to be a meaningless journal with him, but read everything off screen so he could deliver the most crucial piece of information in the entire story to the greenseer who knows the parentage of our hero. (Just in time to cut to the incestuous sex scene every fan has been dying to see all season.)
- And the disastrous side effect of the ill-conceived suicide mission that almost seemed to work has now allowed the most dangerous threat to mankind to destroy the one thing that has protected the world for thousands of years.
Episode 7 restored my faith in the show runners’ ability to sail the uncharted waters of those unwritten books we’ve been waiting for.
Perhaps I was too hasty to put you on those water skis. Carry on, my wayward sons.