As the stated in the title, there will be a SIGNIFICANT amount of Game of Thrones spoilers in this blog so for any and all of you that are behind this season, STOP READING RIGHT NOW.
I MEAN IT.
ARE WE GOING TO HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN?
BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO.
GO WATCH GAME OF THRONES IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY.
IT’S PRETTY DANDY.
So I think it goes without saying, but last week was a particularly devastating episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’ All of the motifs were there for the Viper to come out victorious against the Mountain. The romantic kiss, Oberyn’s tricks, and heroic music. Oberyn fits the classic archetype of Han Solo and Jack Sparrow. They aren’t supposed to die. In the end, they are the ones that are supposed to save the day with their roguish charm, keen wits, and impeccable luck. Just watch this crowd react to the scene as it plays out.
I think just about everyone had that lingering thought in the back of their respective minds that this show should never be trusted when all of the motifs are in a neat little row. If anything we should be more suspicious. You can see this realization hit a few people in the video above.
I am not here to write exclusively about the fight however. I am instead here to discuss the scene that I feel encapsulates not only the episode, but the entire season: Tyrion’s beetle story.
So why am I analyzing the beetle scene? I’m glad you asked, Tyler. I think it serves as a nice sequel to a blog I wrote about a month or so ago about the death of Joffrey.
You see, like any monologue in a Coen Brothers movie, this scene is darkly funny while thought provokingly ambiguous.
In the scene, Tyrion and Jaime reminisce about a mentally challenged cousin named Orson that had a penchant for smashing beetles. While it never really concerned Jaime, the senseless death of those countless insects troubled young Tyrion to the point of obsession. He never got an answer as Orson was eventually killed by the fatal kick of a mule.
“Why did he do it? What was it all about?”
It baffles Tyrion to such a degree that he brings it up on the day he will soon find out whether he will live or die. The siblings come no closer to an answer, and the most troubling thing is that there isn’t one. There was no point to all that death, and in a way, that reflects the War of the Five Kings.
If there is a god or gods, GoT paints him, her, them, or it as someone who resembles Orson: killing for absolutely no rhyme or reason with no subscription to any sort of higher plan.
It speaks a lot to Tyrion as a character. This entire season he has been struggling against people with motivations beyond his control and understanding. He is an innocent in someone else’s senseless game. This applies to the gods, but also his father and sister, who have hated him since he first drew breath. He understands intellectually why they hate him – for the death of his mother – but he cannot understand why they continue to blame him for something he had no control of, and now finds himself facing death for another murder he did not commit as a direct result.
The senseless violence of Orson mirrors that of both the Mountain and the deceased King Joffrey, thematically speaking. Neither character had any real reason for committing their respective atrocities (orders, boredom, etc.), and as a result countless lives were ruined and lost to time.
On a larger scale, the Orson and his beetles reflect just about every character put on display in this episode. Sam thought he had a plan (albeit a very, VERY stupid one) in sending Gilly to Mole’s Town, and instead put her in the direct path of the Wildling raiders.
How about Ser Jorah? He has been Daenerys’ most loyal and trusted advisor for ages, but he began as a quiet traitor for King Robert in the vain yet understandable hope that he would be able to return home after his banishment. When his early misgivings are revealed, he finds himself banished again. Does it matter that the letter is from Robert’s main backer, Tywin Lannister, or that its contents are relayed by Robert’s main bodyguard, Ser Barriston? How about that Jorah has saved Daenerys time and time again? No, and no amount of irony can break his fall.
The Stark sisters are well versed in the unfairness of the universe at this point. Both finally become privy to the fact and each responds differently. Sansa enters the game under the tutelage of the guy who outlined the whole fucking show and its point last season, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, the man who orchestrated this entire series. And Ayra? How does she react after she learns that she has been denied another reunion due to her aunt’s demise after walking half-way across the world with the Hound? The only appropriate way of course. She has been robbed of her last chance at safety, and she finally gets it. Life is a joke.
There’s the Iron Born who put their trust in Theon -er- I mean Reek. It rhymes with stink. So what was their reward? A flaying at the hands of Ramsey Snow. What was his reward? A title and the honor of finally receiving his father’s name; a bastard no more. He and his traitorous father even get a sweeping shot together worthy of the great cinematic heroes as if the cinematographer and score has themselves with the pair. History is indeed written by the winners.
Even hopeful scenes – such as the budding romance between Grey Worm and Missandei – have a tragic, senseless undertone to them. They will be forever denied the love they could have had due to the Masters. And sadly enough, without the Masters, the couple would have never met in the first place.
And Oberyn? He came to King’s Landing for revenge. He came to fight the Mountain for revenge. Not Tyrion. He dies because of his insistence that the Mountain dies because of his crimes, not because he is simply the guy tapped to represent the crown in a fight for an innocent guy on trial. For all of his talk, wits, and skills, Oberyn’s head still got squashed in the end like one of Orson’s beetles.