Game of Expectations
Last we saw Jon Snow (and the sanity of most GoT viewing audience), he was laid out on his back, shived like a felon-turned-state-witness. His Night’s Watch brothers having turned his guts into a fun, Winter Is Coming doily.
Since that time, the conspiracy that Snow may not be dead (just mostly dead) has raged on. Despite not a second more of screen time since his martyrdom, the public reaction has somehow spanned the gamut of emotions watching the show typically induces. Shock, sadness, confusion, and then rage.
Now, speculation can rage some more.
Ignoring the obvious for a moment, isn't it fascinating that no one seems to be mentioning the return date for season seven was also part of this tease?
There were sightings of Kit Harrington in Belfast (where GoT season 7 was filming). Every cast member was asked for their two cents on red carpets throughout the summer. There were Zupruder film-like dissections of the final shot, an overhead zoom-in on his face, and whether there is a purple glint in his eye (there’s not…).
Kit Harrington, the actor who plays Snow (like you didn’t know that…), D.B. Weiss, David Benioff, George R.R. Martin, have fallen square in fans’ crosshairs. Though it can’t be confirmed, somehow it feels like J.R.R. Tolkien deserves some flack for this, too.
We fans aren't great at putting on blinders. If we could, all of this fervor would matter. But our appetite for answers has turned bitterly on those that delight in our not knowing. When Kit Harrington insists he’s not coming back, he has a vested interest in our thinking him gone. (The intriguing subplot to this is the question whether most of the fervor is led by those Got fans who are avid followers of A Song of Ice and Fire. Since Snow’s knife-party is the final chapter of the most recent book in the series, the show now having caught up, those readers are now on the same level as the rest of us. Perhaps their loss of knowledge over the average fan, the tickling sensation of the knowing before others has robbed them of a power they so cherished)
Damnit, we demand someone be held responsible for this ambiguity; we demand answers!
Is it absurd that some fans are actually annoyed — nay, upset — with the public handling of a show’s plot developments? Hell no! The show belongs to us. It doesn't belong to them. They make it, we watch it — but we feel what they we want to feel, not what they want us to feel. Shouldn't we get to choose?
No, we shouldn't.
This is a manifestation of the democratization of everything. This is what happens when we can stream so many of our shows from start to finish in an afternoon. Somehow, because it takes three seconds to Google the ending to a book or spoil an entire television series, we have license to justify that our egos be stroked. Our fickle mood swings demand attention. Our entertainment should handle our expectations with tender love and care. We should never have to wait.
Is our price of admission so expensive that it obligates this treatment? Are we Starbucks-ing (‘Excuse me, my non-fat, half-sweet with-room chai tea latte was a bit spicier than I like it, can I have it re-made?’) our entertainment creatives?
If any show in recent memory has tested the philosophy that it isn’t the characters that go on a journey, but the viewer, it's GoT. Our films and television shows are vehicles to draw out our emotion. They always have been. It’s the expressed purpose of these mediums. Our feeling upset by the shock and awe by Snow's death (damn you, Olly...damn you...) in the final moments of the season is entirely the point. It’s the power of the scene that gets inside us.
Fans have dutifully been provided with everything we need to know to determine whether Jon Snow soldiers on. The drama is in the hope (something the show also dutifully snatches away from us at every chance…) he does not stay down for the count. Seeing, as it seems, will be believing. No interview on a Hollywood red carpet can change that.
If fans are looking for someone to take responsibility for this mess, we need only be looking in the mirror, as the show so often asks us to do. It's natural to be high on the drama of the show, the anticipation to see the next batsh*t crazy moment. To channel that as angst against the very people who provide us with that feeling in the first place is backwards. We should be thanking them for getting us in a tizzy.
The best thing is to let the show — and emotional arc — run its course. Our emotions are meant to be manipulated. Let them be. That's why we watch in the first place.
"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death..."
Rhys Dowbiggin @Rdowb @NPBroadcaster