Using Game of Thrones to understand how Plots work

WARNING SPOILERS S6 Ep 7 The Broken Man

Game of Thrones has a reputation for ‘breaking the rules.’  An oft cited example is the beheading of apparent protagonist the patriarch Stark,  in season one. Many people die in Game of Thrones – the good and the bad.  But, I contend this is not rule breaking. Game of Thrones is driven by plot – and the plot is the GAME.

That is why I I don’t think Arya will die right now. Not because ‘we’ don’t want her to but because it would make no difference to the game. Everyone else already thinks she’s dead. In what way would her death rearrange the chess board? What would push the story forward is not her death, it is who comes to save her and who her next alliance is. Of course, she could have her face stolen and then…

It is no coincidence that the Hound reappears in this episode. Will he go and seek revenge?  I think he will. I think he and Arya have just made the same decision – to reject the teachings of a ‘group’ who might have offered them something (peace, power) and go their own way and do their own thing.

Will Jon lose against Bolton? He might. Vulnerability against the White Walkers is driving the conflict in the North. The scales will tip back and forth.

In Game of Thrones you can’t root for the hero and know they will win. We worked that out in season one. In fact, I am torn. With nuanced characters who do despicable things (push children out of windows) and redeem themselves with honour like Jaime Lannister up against Blackfish I don’t know who to root for. I don’t know Blackfish but he is a Tully and a win for him is a win for heinously betrayed Catelyn. Who will keep the castle? I don’t know. It depends on what serves the plot, and the plot is the game of thrones.

I could be wrong in all my guessing and this is the true power of powerful and surprising narrative.

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