Monday, June 10, 2013

The Heartbreak of the Unexpected

Last week, as you perhaps know by now, the "Red Wedding" episode of Games of Thrones aired on HBO.  This episode caused quite a stir--I won't say why, but you can certainly guess.  Here is a clip from Conan O'Brien's interview with George R.R. Martin, in which Conan shows some of the extreme fan reactions to this episode [no spoilers, but profanity]:

Clearly, this is an episode that generates strong reactions among viewers (duh).  And these reactions have led to a lot of discussion about what people think about the plot events of this episode--is this what we expected, does this make sense for the plot, etc.

There's also another [very, very fictional] reaction video--this one of how Hitler would react to this Game of Thrones episode. (If this sounds odd to you: this is an example of the "Hitler reacts" Internet meme, in which the subtitles from a particular scene in the 2004 movie Der Untergang (Downfall) are rewritten.  Der Untergang shows the last days of Hitler's time in power in 1945; the scene used by the meme originally showed Hitler's reaction to the news of the Red Army outnumbering his own troops, but has since been used to show Hitler's reaction to Xbox Live, Sarah Palin's resignation, the difficulty of finding parking spaces in Tel Aviv, and Twitter being down.)

Take a look:

[spoilers after the jump, but only if you watch the videos/click the links]

This parody hits several very funny notes, including jabs at people complaining about spoilers and the requisite Firefly reference, but it also opens up more serious threads of conversation about readers'/viewers' expectations that I find very interesting.
Kat Howard wrote about this on her own blog over here, and her thoughts about how subverting expectations can become a particular author's norm are really interesting and thought-provoking.

So we've covered shock and anger, and moved to more academic discussions of "Red Wedding," but there is another video I saw that touches on a slightly different react--total heartbreak.

[this video is a mashup of the "Red Wedding" scenes with bits of The Princess Bride--watch at your own risk]

Even though I, like Kat, am not a Game of Thrones devotee (I got stuck after the first book and unfortunately do not have an HBO subscription), this final video really got to me--not because of the Game of Thrones scenes in and of themselves, but because of Fred Savage's "reaction" to them.  It reminded me of all the times that I, too, was absolutely devastated by the way a story ended.  And even though at this point, we might know something like this would be coming from Martin, for those who love the characters, it doesn't make it any less heartbreaking.

By Jen Miller