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There’s a big reason I’m worried about tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones: the dynamics of gender and political power. /1

#GameofThrones #GoT #WritingCommunity
Even though the show has been foreshadowing Daenerys’ villainous turn since season one, the pacing and colliding character arcs are in danger of turning a dramatically interesting twist into one heck of a sexist letdown. /2
Imagine one way the show might end. Cersei and Dany unleash (further) horrors on King’s Landing, vying for the title of Mad Queen as much as the Iron Throne itself. For the sake of the realm, one or maybe even both are killed by their male lovers. /3
Jon then proves his nobility by being the only one to actually turn down the throne, reinforcing the show’s theme: that power and its pursuit always lead to horror. Jon heads north, to hang out with Tormund and poor Ghost. See? The Free Folk were right to resist being ruled. /4
Taken individually, nothing’s inherently wrong with any of these arcs. They’re true to character. But viewed in juxtaposition? The implication is that only women commit the sin of political ambition. And they’re so dangerous that they need to be put down, for the good of all. /5
Men, on the other hand, hold power only reluctantly, or not at all. In fact, that’s precisely what makes them such desirable rulers, and why everyone is so excited about the, uhh, shiny new candidate that’s emerged in the race. /6
In a show that includes dragons and ice zombies, this take on gender and politics may well be the most fantastical element.

Again, is that the message they intend to send? Of course not. But. /7
The show is often careless about the optics of its plot points, because the writers don’t think about them as part of a whole. Like wiping out the Dothraki in the first moments of the Battle of Winterfell just so we could have the neat visual of their fiery swords going out. /8
Or fridging the one woman of color left on the show.

Staggered across different episodes in a longer season, the resolution of the Cersei vs. Dany plot and Dany and Jon’s character arcs wouldn’t land so catastrophically. But with the hurried pacing of this season? They do. /9
But there’s a related problem. The show’s concluding a story that the books began in 1996, without thinking about how that conclusion would resonate with viewers in 2019. When GRRM first sketched the main character arcs, he was writing a deconstruction of fantasy tropes. /10
Among them? The reassuring idea that the good protagonist with the noble ideals will always do the right thing. That we, the readers, can sit back and trust them. In the books, Dany is a viewpoint character. And for a long time, she’s the only viewpoint character in Essos. /11
That means we only ever see her actions as she herself sees them. We accept her rationalizations as much as she does. She’s the hero. We trust her. But GRRM is telling a story about the horrors of power. /12
The subversion is that even an idealistic young protagonist who wants to make the world a better place is terrifying if they get enough power, and believe in their quest enough. Book Dany is a kid with magical nukes. A person like that should actually be feared. /13
As a character, she was always meant to be another GRRM Surprise. And for a deconstruction that began in 1996, that’s a great story. But is it the story fans of the character in 2019 wanted? Consider: how many characters like Dany have we gotten to see on the screen? /14
Are the viewers who love Dany and want to see her on the Iron Throne wrong for not “getting” the deconstruction the show was adapting, or are they reacting to seeing a kickass female protagonist that they’ve been following for a decade turn evil in the last two episodes? /15
And will they feel like the showrunners turned Dany evil all so it can retroactively be the lost prince orphan boy’s story after all? Literally the most common fantasy archetype there is? Yes, Jon is the ‘ice and fire’ of the books, but are fans of the show required to care? /16
Look, I see the dilemma. Change the expected ending, and fans of the book like me will howl. Keep the ending, and the politics of 1996 land with a thud. Times have changed, and that aways makes adaption hard. /17
But just because you’re adapting a work from an era with different politics doesn’t mean you’re free from criticism. Storytellers are always responsible for the stories they want to tell, and why they want to tell them. The audience always matters. /18
Anyway, enjoy tonight’s episode. And let’s hope GoT doesn’t kill both a pregnant woman *and* the Mother of Dragons on Mother’s Day? /19
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