Game of Thrones Crushes Our Heart Like a Bug

June 2, 2014 5:12 PM

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As Tyrion observes this episode, the idea of trial by combat reveals a great deal about the gods who supposedly demand bloodsport in exchange for justice. Game of Thrones is a sort of bloodsport too, but one with a diametrically opposed purpose: not to offer us justice, but to show us how foolish it is to expect it from a world ruled by senseless violence. The finale of the episode offers the sort of shock that is starting to become familiar, the kind that still leaves us feeling just a little bit betrayed: Why didn’t the story end the way it was supposed to? Why do these horrible things keep happening? It’s the same question Tyrion asked about his beetle-killing cousin, the one he never figured out how to answer. Why?

In Game of Thrones, at least, the lack of answer is the answer: There is no reason. There is no “supposed to.” There is no justice. The gods, if they exist, aren’t noble protectors or moral judges, but something far more terrifying: little boys who simply like to smash things into a pulp. If we hold...

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