Game of Thrones familiar to Nepalis
Every Monday morning for the next few months a lot of Nepalis young and old will be up early to watch tv. No, not for the Champions League, but for the latest episode of the last season of theGame of Thrones.
Our own bloody history of palace intrigue and royal feud perhaps make Nepalis familiar with the conspiracies, back-stabbing, violence, and belief in the supernatural that are staple fare of the HBO series based on the novels of George RR Martin. Those who think there is too much blood-letting, gratuitous gore, or an unrealistic plot only have to look back at Nepal's own history of massacres at the Kot, Bhandarkhal and Narayanhiti to know that the stuff is all too real.
The royal massacre of 2001 is still fresh in many minds, and would have made a great tv series to beat any melodrama that Bollywood or Hollywood could concoct. We in Nepal may be ahead of the rest of the world in real-life bloodbaths, but are still behind in their artistic representation. That must be why we from the land of the erstwhile 24 Kingdoms take vicarious pleasure in bloody feuds in the 7 Kingdoms of Westeros.
And if you miss the next episode (who wants to wake up at 6:45 AM?) there are plenty of cafes in town that have started holding screenings on Monday evenings, some free and some paid, where you can join fellow GoT addicts.
There is nothing earth-shattering in the first episode of Season 8, in fact it leaves the viewer distinctly underwhelmed. There are some predictable meetings that flash back to Season 1 Episode 1 almost ten years ago. Sure, Jon gets on his dragon for the first time and flies off with Danaerys to romance in a mountain, and sure, Arya faces her captor The Hound, but there is nothing extra-dramatic or memorable. Especially after a searing end to Season 7, these plot lines barely create a ripple. That was perhaps to be expected of the first episode, however, because it is only setting the scene for the finale.
The episode did have its moments: one of which was that Cersei, as usual, has a new lover, but this time her brother is not by her side to save her from her foolish dalliances. The fact that she orders her beloved (pun intended) brother Jaime killed is quite a shocker, even for Cersei. Meanwhile, the other queen Danaerys, known to flirt with women when she likes to, misses it badly this time, as she comes across a battle-hardened Sansa Stark whose looks belie her steeliness. The interaction between the two women, friendly up front but simmering with resentful sparks below, is something to behold.
And this brings us to the crux of the finale, which has been plaguing fans for two blank years: what is going to happen now? You know it is the beginning of the end when the episode goes back to the very beginning, with a huge retinue marching into Winterfell. Nothing seems changed, and yet, everything has changed. The Starks are not the innocent fools they used to be, and yet, they continue to be noble fools.
Game of Thrones is famous for decapitations galore and moral ambiguity in a plot that is like a cross between Rana sibling infighting and The Sopranos. For the past few seasons, as the story focuses on the threat of the Night King's Army of the Whitewalkers, there have been clearer heroes and anti-heroes. Everything is looking good for Jon Snow, and the much admired Danaerys Targaryen. Is the show moving towards a typical happy ending after all?
Viewers will also notice that the colour palette for this season is relatively muted. Blacks, grays, and the occasional white on Danaerys, but none of the vibrant blues of Margery or the flamboyant yellows of Ellaria. The colour range owes a lot to the fact that winter has come to the wintry north. But it also befits the sombre mood as the White Walkers' Army of the undead has finally broken through the magical ice wall. The costumes are stunning as usual, and there is much to enjoy visually, even apart from the drama. The revamped title sequence, for one, includes new locations, new stories, and interiors of the castles that we previously only saw from outside.
The big reveal of the episode, Jon Snow's lineage, was not a big surprise to viewers at all, who have known for quite some time who he is. But finally, something has changed, and the next episode will hopefully see more action along these lines. All along, Jon Snow knew nothing, and now, he knows something.