Let's start by getting the spoiler-warnings out of the way, folks. This article is going to discuss a MAAAAJOR plot development in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, so if you haven't seen last night's show and you don't want to hear about it, click elsewhere! In other words, SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT WHOOP WHOOP PULL UP PULL UP.
Okay, for the folks who are still here, let's talk about what happened in the "Baelor" episode that aired yesterday. I'm not watching this show real-time, as we slashed our HBO budget a while ago, but I've been keeping up with some of the critical reception and I've had Thrones tentatively earmarked as something to watch via DVD once it becomes available.
When I do, I'm going to be privy to a fairly massive spoiler that happens in episode 9. That's maybe too bad, but it was reading about this twist that officially got me really interested in checking out the series.
Why? Because it takes balls to kill off a major character, especially in the first season. In the death of Sean Bean’s character Eddard Stark, Game of Thrones took a huge TV risk, since they've essentially set Stark up as a central figure in the show. Hell, he's the only guy on the poster, for crying out loud.
He's the best known actor in the series, and arguably one of the main reasons people started watching in the first place. Although anyone who's read the Thrones novels by George R. R. Martin knew the demise was coming, the move was clearly a shock for new fans of the TV show.
I have mad respect for a show that's willing to get rid of a character you've come to love. As difficult as it is to absorb when you're in the midst of watching it—The Wire, I'm looking at you—it's usually the hallmark of a strong creative team. The Thrones producers are gambling that the upcoming story is compelling enough to keep people watching, even in the wake of a supposedly untouchable character disappearing.
When you invest in a character, it sucks when they die. You feel something. You're pissed, you're bummed, you even get mad at the show. You start paying more attention, because you don't know what's going to happen next. That's impressive television, right there. If you want happy, predictable crap … well, that's what prime time sitcoms are for.
As HBO's programming president Sue Naegle said of the shocker:
Sean brings a giant following, but Thrones is not just about the promise you’re going to see one of your favorite actors week in and week out. The star is the story.
Personally, I can't wait to start watching.
What did you think of Eddard Stark's death? Did it change your feeling about the show one way or the other?
Image via IMDB.com