The Jon Snow Debacle; And When Ned Stark Wielded A Lightsaber

            The Game of Thrones crowd, book readers and show watchers alike, feel as if their skin has been repeatedly flayed for the past week after He has risen in possibly the show’s least spectacular plot reveal.

No one can blame them.

Everyone’s favorite character – an assumed untouchable – was treated as a poor plot device for a season cliff hanger.

Jon Snow’s resurrection seemed so effortless by the red enchantress that it could not possibly satisfy the craving show watchers have had for months and book readers have had for years. It all seemed so unMartin-like. King George does not write like that, they cried. He is edgy and outside the box. Yet it was as old fashioned schlock as old fashioned schlock can get – predictable, rushed and pointless.

Try to understand why the audience was mad. It wasn’t because Jon Snow wasn’t dead – we all knew that – it was just we were expecting something more imaginative to have taken place.

Yet when it comes to storytelling, the fault was not in the resolution of the plot. It was the origin of the plot itself. (Forgive me for attempting to provide logic in a world of dragons and demon smoke babies.) Jon Snow’s resurrection didn’t make sense because his assassination didn’t make any sense. The Night’s Watch commitment to their sacred code of honor to wage war with the wildlings simply does not hold water politically once the wildlings had already crossed into Castle Black.

The invading Army of the Dead is real, and like winter, is coming. This is not a Jon Snow hallucination. Multiple crows saw the White Walkers first hand at Hardhome. It is impossible to fight that army without the legions of the Free Men. The need for allies and numbers should have deterred our celibate watchmen.

Crows still want to have a grudge? Then it has be dismissed after the wildlings were already in the compound. Because the only reason to keep the thousands of wildlings from killing the hundred or so of the Night’s Watch is Lord Commander Jon Snow.

Without him as a buffer, the Night’s Watch is as good as dead.

Cue large giant break down. Cue large giant smash soldiers. Cue overrunning of the castle.

And yet Allister Thorne is bewildered by this development.

“How could this happen! Why would these savages be so angry that we just murdered the man who saved them all from becoming ice slaves?”

We can’t even argue that the Knight’s Watch didn’t value their own lives and would greatly sacrifice their own to kill the traitor Lord Commander, because they all tossed their swords down the moment that Tormund was ready to start cracking skulls.

Politically, it all just didn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense. The only person who would not have this foresight and not understand the true ramifications would be a boy – say a boy whose family was murdered by the Free Folk. He would be blinded by revenge. He would not consider that Snow’s death would mean that the Crows would become meat for the wildlings. It was to meant to be done alone.

Ollie should have been the lone gunman.

This plot point was doomed from the start, unless the resurrection is not the end of the plot line, and that Snow has significantly changed since his eyes have reopened. Can episode three erase the bitterness the fans have feeling after two lackluster episodes, filled with several poorly executed murders of somewhat important yet forgettable characters?

The hierarchy at Game of Thrones may be starting to lose grasp on the show, not that it would prevent people from watching, but by leaving them frustrated and unfulfilled. Like most great shows, they eventually suffer from Lost Syndrome – when a show it so damn good and expectations are so damn high that the resolution rarely is near impossible to be clever enough to compare with the show’s earlier seasons. Then plotlines become desperate instead of imaginative. And then you end up in purgatory, time travel, or a deus ex machina which deviates far from the core of what the show once stood for.

Martin can save the day, right? He’s imaginative and creative, right? He’s got us this far. Right?

Well.

I’m not so sure if I buy that. Martin’s genius is probably that he’s made you think that he’s a genius. His dialogue is second to none for a fantasy novel, and he excels at very different point-of-view character writing styles, but he can often be extremely long winded in his descriptions while creating unnecessary chapters and plot points.

He is a master story teller before being a master wordsmith, which is not an insult, as most writers are usually one over the other. And because he is a master story teller, he understands that Jon Snow could have never died without the character finding out and reacting to his lineage. Game of Thrones prides itself as portraying its storylines as if it were real life and not a story, and in real life people die before they fulfill their story arcs, but here’s a secret. It is a story – and Jon Snow and Denaryius Targaryen aren’t going anywhere for the time being.

Don’t bet against Martin, you want to tell me. They killed Ned Stark. No one has ever done that before, right? No one has ever killed an older warrior in the beginning of a story to ignite fury and rage in the pupil, prompting them to create a crusade against evil. Right?

Well, a long time ago in a Westeros far, far away, there was another Ned Stark who was not so eager to rush into battle yet was mentoring a reckless yet humble youth. His death would not stark spark a war, as it was already in motion, but instead add a personal touch to it a character worth following sets to avenge his master’s death.

Give me movie editing software and let me add ten more minutes of face time and a riveting speech about the evil of Galactic Empire, and you have Obi Won Stark. What is dead in the Force may never die.

Ben Kenobi’s pupil has been split in half, as the innocence of Luke is portrayed by Jon Snow while the rage of the angry, black cloaked Jedi who tore down Jabba’s palace is portrayed by Rob, The King of the North. As for Luke’s sister, Leia’s feistiness and aggressiveness (Arya) yet ladylike courtesies (Sansa) are still in play as well.

Maybe I’m reaching. But it’s not like there are twins who kiss in both stories. (mic drop).

Martin’s true ingenuity and deviation from standard storytelling is how he does not regularly allow the characters the revenge the deserve. That is his true power. The Joffreys, Balon Greyjoys and Roose Boltons all get the justice they deserve, just the man or woman who passes the judgment rarely gets to swing the sword.

So while I’ve defended the resurrection scene (which is really a backhanded compliment because the plot line to kill him was so weak), today is the day we find out just what exactly Martin has up his sleeve when it comes to Jon Snow.

If he has returned as the same character who made us cringe when he was betrayed that cold stormy night at Castle Black, then Martin has failed us. But if a new character has emerged with different motivations and function in the story, then Martin wins. And we should not be shocked. It is simply good old fashioned story telling at its finest.

 

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