Game of Thrones: Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things

“Time was a face on the water, and like the great river before them, it did nothing but flow.”

Stephen King

It’s the fourth episode of the first season of Game of Thrones, and, dare I say it, Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things is a little…slow-moving, at least in relation to the preceding episodes. It’s mainly character and situation set-up: a new recruit at the Wall, a bloody tournament in King’s Landing, a little Viserys-baiting by way of light relief. The pace, it seems, is beginning to settle down – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: it’s nice that we get some insights into Tyrion’s character, his black humour, his unexpected capacity for pity, his general air of freewheeling confidently through life. And Jon Snow’s arc, in which he learns some basic human decency, continues at a leisurely pace here.

Is this, I wonder, why Game of Thrones is so popular, both as books and as television – the fact that it doesn’t seem to be moving towards any kind of endgame, ever? Admittedly, I’ve only seen the first series, and not touched the books, but George R.R. Martin seems set to churn out those novels until the end of time, and certainly there’s no “goal” towards which the entire story seems to move, as there was in, e.g., Merlin (the war between Morgana’s Forces of Evil and Merlin’s Forces for Good). It works more like a soap, actually, albeit a fantastical one, in which characters come and go but the world stays the same, and the values upon which that world operates. And it’s more the character arcs we’re interested in, rather than any external plot development, as it might be in, say, a Murder Mystery series.

As you can probably tell, I’m still trying to work out why Game of Thrones is so compelling, because I’m pretty sure I’d hate to read it. Hence the large percentage of Random Babbling you get in my Thrones posts. Sorry about that. This is the danger of L-space, I’m afraid.

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