Monday, June 3, 2013

Dystopian Musings + Game of Thrones Recap

I've talked about many things on this blog, including why human beings need stories, and why dystopian literature is so popular. The two--not surprisingly--go hand in hand.

My silly, two-year-old
niece, Eve.
I live with my sister, who has a two-year-old daughter named Eve. Her financial situation is a rough one. She makes ends meet, but there is often too much month left at the end of the money. My sister is not the type to get herself into a financial bind. (Quite the opposite, actually. She’s someone who's always in control of her life.) Unfortunately, her circumstances were not her choice.

Three months after her daughter was born, her husband of two years simply decided that he didn't want her anymore. He dropped her and his infant daughter off on my dad's doorstep with hardly a glance backward. Now my sister is a single mother, trying to provide for her child. She works a low-paying job during hours that her daughter mostly sleeps so she can spend as many waking hours as possible with her daughter. She could qualify for a higher-paying job, but it would mean sacrificing time with Eve, which she's unwilling to do. The result is that, until Eve is old enough to go to school (still a few years away) my sister will simply not make much money.

These situations are part of life, and my sister is one of my heroes. She never looks behind. She can get frustrated with her situation at times, but she’s always looking forward, with no regrets. It’s not her fault her ex is a douche bag. It’s not my fault I haven’t found a sweet, good-looking, wealthy man to marry yet, who'll pay my bills for me. ;D We experience, we cope, we move forward

This is why we need great literature. When we come across a hero or heroine that isn't afraid to take their lives in their own hands, do what must be done and save their world, we can't help but live vicariously through them. It empowers us to deal with our own lives and gives us courage and hope.

It always amazes me how “out there” people think these concepts are. If you start talking about how humans need to feel empowered and find ways to take their fate in their own hands, people look at you like you’re a dangerous animal. They talk to you like you're mildly retarded and need to be coaxed gently toward the psych ward.

I've been called many things: a nerd, because I read so much; paranoid, because I believe in being prepared; a bible thumper, because I have traditional values. 

I don’t consider myself backward or superstitious (if I did, I probably wouldn’t be writing dystopian novels for a living) but I’ve been accused of it. Most people aren’t brazen enough to say such things to my face, but sometimes I wish they would, just so I could try out some of the awesome comebacks I’ve come up with. (Curse of the novelist to think about the most effective, memorable way to say things.)

And if given the chance, would I remain calm and collected, explain my beliefs in a polite, non-confrontational way and bring them around to my way of thinking?

I’d like to answer yes, but somehow I doubt it. I think my reply would be something more along the lines of,

“And yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…I’ll have my bible, and my .380 auto. And I’ll be good to go.”

Hey, I never claimed to be a diplomat.

So, here’s to doing the things that make you feel empowered in your own life, no matter what anyone else thinks, and no matter what the world throws at you, be it annoying co-workers, a sluggish economy, a corrupt government, or a zombie apocalypse.

It’s my opinion that, when dystopia descends upon our society for real, it will be the deep thinkers, (read: the avid readers) that save the world. They won’t be Clark Kent-types or Tony Starks or Thor (much as we’d like to drool over those guys all day long). It will be the normal joes who save the world. The ones who have children to raise, jobs to do, and selves to improve. People like my sister.

As for me, I prefer to write characters who aren’t afraid to do what must be done, even as they deal with the human fears we all share. (See sidebar for links.)

After all, what’s the point of being a backward bible-thumper, if you can’t get a great dystopian novel out of it?

Game of Thrones Recap

Ah episode 3.9. The one with the Red Wedding. This is the episode everyone has been waiting for and I thought they did an excellent job portraying it. For me, I always wanted a little more confrontational drama (even in the book) but they showed what did happen in the books very well. Remember, this recap will contain blatant spoilers, so read at your own risk!

We open with Robb and Catelyn making war plans. Robb has finally (seemingly) forgiven his mother for letting Jaime Lannister go. With the fall of Winterfell after she warned him about trusting Theon, he finally sees the wisdom in seeking her council and does so. They bond over plans to annihilate the Lannisters. You gotta love family moments like these.

Meanwhile, Dany makes plans to sack the city and free the slaves. Her advisors--Mormont, Barristan, Dario, and Grey Worm don't entirely see eye to eye, but she gives her orders and sends them into the city. Long story short, it's a bloody fight, but eventually the city surrenders to the Mother of Dragons. And she makes calf-eyes at Dario. A lot. (Poor Mormont!)

Sam and Gilly reach the wall. We only get a few minutes of their conversation, but it's cute and Sam throws in his plan for getting back over the wall. One that may or may not cause him to cross paths with another character. Just sayin'.

Meanwhile, the Hound takes Arya closer to the Frey's castle where he plans to sell her for ransom to her brother. I've talked before about how they make the Hound less fierce in the show than in the books, but especially this season I think they've done Arya a bit of a disservice. Part of it is that they cut so much of her travels with Gendry and Dondarrion's gang, which means cutting some key scenes for her. As a result, she seems much less spunky than usual. I miss her sharp tongue and scathing wit. It's not that she necessarily said more in the books, but because it was from her point of view, the reader understood more about her reactions. I was hoping they would verbalize it a bit more to bring those reactions across. But alas, they didn't. She and the Hound assault a perfectly innocent pig farmer and take his wagon, before heading toward Castle Frey. There's also a good bit where Arya talks to the Hound about the fact that he's afraid of fire, and references the fact that she knows a killer (Jacquen). This bit does show her rebelliousness a bit and suggests that she hasn't forgotten her assassin friend. Anyone else hear that evil laugh echoing in the background? No? Just me? Okay moving on.

LOL. Nice.
Bran's group comes to the old mill and hides out inside it. I actually thought they handled the Bran-getting-into-Hodor's-head scene very well. Then Jon shows up outside the mill with the wildlings, and Bran gets into his wolf's head, killing most of them and helping Jon to escape. Soon after, he sends his little brother away under Osha's protection, knowing Rickon probably won't survive north of the wall. This scene was poignant and well-executed, in my opinion. My sisters were a bit angry that Jon left Ygritte behind, and I had to explain his reasons and motivations to them. But obviously they're having an emotional reaction to it, which is a good thing. :D

Then comes the Red Wedding. They actually stuck very close to the actual sequence from the book, with the one major exception that Robb's pregnant wife was present. It was totally disgusting when they stabbed her belly, but it doesn't surprise me that they killed her character off. She was much more prominent in the show than in the books, and with Robb dead they will have little use for her in the plot. Still, I thought they handled it well. It wasn't exactly as I envisioned it, and yet it was exactly as described in the book, so I was quite pleased. I thought that Catelyn especially did an excellent job with her part. My sisters were appropriately flabbergasted. 

I'm sure Mr. Martin is hiding out in a Swiss bank vault somewhere until the angry fans cool down. We have only one episode left, in which the characters will have to deal with the repercussions of the Red Wedding. And I wonder if King's Landing will see a wedding of their own. Joff's nuptials loom, but whether the writers will do it in the next episode or push it until next season remains unclear.

So, what did everyone else think of this episode. Did you think the Red Wedding was handled well?

1 comment :

  1. No HBO, so I'll have to catch it later when the season is released.