Warning – may contain spoilers.
We’re talking season six here. The season that has surpassed the books – which is to say that all of those people who read the books (myself included) can no longer sit in smug superiority. We don’t know what’s going to happen anymore. Not that the series and the books were ever entirely meshed, but the main plot points were pretty much bang on.
It’s exciting to be in this position. I imagine there will be some die hard fans out there bemoaning this state of affairs, but I think it speaks of a beautiful relationship between the series’ creators and that brilliant novelist, George R. R. Martin.
One thing that has struck me, though, is the way viewers complain that ‘nothing happened’ in an episode, when in fact a helluva lot always happens in every episode. I think that what they really mean, is ‘the plot hasn’t come to fruition yet and I’m desperate to know what will happen.’
The thing is, people mistake this for the series ‘losing its way’, when I think that, really, it’s about viewers not wanting to wait anymore. We’re either so used to comfortable television – you know, the kind that hits you over the head with each plot point and yells ‘DID YOU SEE THAT ARC, DID YOU?’ – or to binge-watching box sets, that we can’t cope with being held in a state of narrative tension anymore.
But here’s the thing. Narrative tension is good. It’s what makes you go back for more, it’s why you turn the page of a book. It spurs you on, it gets you excited, and, most importantly, great narrative tension does not tell you anything that it doesn’t have to until the punchline. And that’s why we love GOT. Not just because it’s great and it has Kit Harington. Mmmm. Lovely Kit Harington. But because it refuses. Refuses. To satisfy us. The clever bastard. So thanks Game of Thrones people, you great big narrative teases you, for making us wait.