I am the last person in the world who should be writing this post. I’ve never been one to wax poetic about GOT as a whole show. For years I had a love-hate relationship with it. I’ve enjoyed it as much as I’ve criticized it, every year finding myself going, WHY AM I STILL WATCHING THIS SHOW. This sideblog name really does say it all. I was Here For The Starks. Everything else I merely tolerated. Last year was probably the only season since Season 1 that I enjoyed wholeheartedly and that’s mostly due to three episodes.
So, this was not the post I planned to write post-finale. I started several posts on other things, left unfinished. But somehow, this was the post that I was compelled to finish. Go figure.
Below, I explore the role of the audience reaction, how assumptions can be used to mislead, and a limited Stark POV can be a narrative strategy. From there, I consider the season’s expectations, flaws, and possible intentions by breaking down one example of the season’s structural writing.
Full disclosure: I discuss my own personal reactions in this, and as a Starks fan that sees Jonsa and Undercover!Jon, I am biased. But far before any of those things, I was a Whedonverse fangirl fascinated by the potential in solid structural writing across a season of television. Over a decade later, it’s still one of my very favorite things to analyze. What results is a weird combination of both a personal and analytical look at this season. Yeah, I don’t know either.
THE AUDIENCE REACTION FACTOR
I’ve sat on my GOT finale thoughts for a good week now. When I reflected on it, I discovered it was mostly because my honest reaction was more in response to other fans than anything constructive about the narrative itself. My years in and out of fandoms make me hyperaware of the black hole that is commenting on other fans’ reactions. I try my best to avoid it.
I’m especially hesitant about my reactions to this show, knowing how fast the deck can be flipped, leaving you cold clocked in the dirt. The minute I’m laughing my head off about one thing, I leave myself wide open for the show to blindside me. As a general rule, I’ve always thought that the second you are sure of anything in GOT/asoiaf, you better watch out. Unexpected has always been the name of the game.
But as GOT Season 7 progressed and more things sharpened into clear view for me, I found it more and more difficult to discuss each ep without including the nebulousness that is this audience reaction factor.
Particularly since 704, I’ve felt that our reactions are a necessary part of the season. It began as just a lowkey feeling but grew with every episode. More and more, I felt like I was purposely being mislead and like a stubborn mule, I dug my heels in to look closer. What I saw was a season laying traps for its audience in the form of missing scenes, unreliable narrator techniques, and misleading dialogue, to use our fears and worries and assumptions about these characters, especially House Stark, against us.