GAME OF THRONES:
The brilliance of David Benioff and D. B. Weiss’s GAME OF THRONES, as adapted from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, is that the storytelling mixes the subject matter of myth with the ironies of fiction. Out of this merger the telling builds a mammoth clash of politics:
On the extreme Right, the autocratic, narcissistic Cersei of House Lannister, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms. On the humanistic Left, the graceful, compassionate Daenerys of House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, who also calls herself Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, as well as Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Breaker of Chains, the Unburnt.
Cersei embodies retrogressive, patriarchal tyranny. Temperamentally, she’s pro-feudalism and anti-change. A narcissist at heart, she feels contempt for her subjects and forces them to obey her whims without choice.
Like the royal families of ancient Egypt, she enjoys incest with her brother and gives birth to their three children. She indulges superstitions, first forcing a witch to prophesize her dark future, then doing every ruthless thing she can to hide her secrets and escape her fate.
Daenerys embodies the future-leaning, open-minded spirit of progress. Temperamentally, she’s anti-feudalism and pro-change. She feels a passionate empathy for those, like her, who are socially and politically oppressed, and offers them the free choice to follow her or not.
As she says to Jon Snow, “So many men have tried to kill me, I don’t remember all their names. I have been sold like a broodmare. I’ve been chained and betrayed, raped and defiled. Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. In myself. In Daenerys Targaryen. Not in any gods, not in any myths…” Daenerys denies myth; Cersei lives myth; in Westeros, both become legends for opposite reasons: The people trust Daenerys, fear Cersei.
But then, into this bipolar world the storytellers ingeniously triangulate the third thing: The Night King and his obedient masses of White Walkers. Next season, the tension between myth and fiction, with its clash of despotism versus freedom, will fade into the background while the writers answer questions of who lives, who dies. Death has no politics.