Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 1: Winterfell

I have a one week break. In this time I’ll have to look back at where I’ve been. I’ll reassess myself and my progress this semester and yes I will admit, I will redo some labs. I hate doing this kind of homework because it’s work I either did or should have done before. I should be enjoying myself this week. There’s a great double feature from criterion I want to get to.

Game of Thrones has been off the air for well over a year and the first episode back is like the homework I don’t want to do over break. It’s not necessary but there’s knowledge there we absolutely need going forward.

Game of Thrones has always been about breakdown (a lot of people like *subversion* for this but I don’t). Breakdown of people (the greater social trust crisis in Westeros), the breakdown of storytelling conventions (degradation changing a character is the most used technique in the series rather than the conventional cumulative character choices thing), the breakdown of this very complicated fantasy world (the various ways people do not believe in the various gods, the ways those gods fail their believers, the way the world/climate is revolting, the ruins of a greater, grander more excellent world all around with the main characters fighting for the bones of these places labeled from a more interesting time).

For all the Mi’Lords and Mi’Ladys out of these characters’ mouths, there’s never a sense of constructive meaning, really, to all the allegiances and fights. The show starts with breakdown and it just keeps breaking down. Cause and effect are important to storytelling and in the same way that not every story needing to be about heroes, not every story needs to be constructive. We get a lot out of stories like Dan Gilroy’s film Nightcrawler, a film that supposes the existence of a hungry twitchy, familiar villain, places him in Los Angeles local media, then watches dominoes fall around him. He’s the wrecking ball, his existence is the dramatic driver.

So in a similar way, we start season 8. We are literally looking at the last hole in the wall from the last dramatic wrecking ball. If you have been gurgling on the thousands of hours of surplus enthusiast materials (God help us all subjected to the content machines), most of this episode will be anticipated if not entirely understood to pretty much have happened in the mind of the fully apprised, detail captivated viewer.

Where were the characters last time, who were they and now a slight pivot, a lean, a small choice, a conversation – the set up for how it may all fall apart this season for them.

In Game of Thrones, you get the sense that these characters will never leave anything behind. No one, not one character in the smallest way leaves this world a better place really. You either win or you die, there’s not that complicated grey area that we have here in the real world, where small humane actions between people in their own small way add up to more, a richer more purposeful universe than just a bunch of titles, natural resource tiles out of a catan board game, with localized arbitrary sociological quirks mish mashed in a tangible details world building blender.

Like a pre teen boy throwing trash in a camp fire, burning whatever comes to mind or hand, there are some interesting colors that come from the breakdown of complex things. The only question that matters to me now is what will be left when this cable tv show is out of fuel. What will it all really, ultimately mean.

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