Now that its pay cable reign has come to an end, Game Of Thrones has carved out a place
in television history as one of its most beloved shows and also one of its most
controversial. Adapted from George R.R.
Martin’s series of acclaimed novels, it delivered a sprawling tale of intrigue
between multiple kingdoms in a mythical bygone era. Over eight seasons, it
brought the fantasy genre into the mainstream in a way that shocked and
delighted a fanbase that grew with each year.
It also had one of the most hotly debated final seasons
of any show ever. Schlockmania’s quick, spoiler-free take: between having to
continue an adaptation without source material and deciding to wrap things up
in a six-episode season, showrunners/creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
rushed events and character arcs that needed a few additional seasons to unfurl
smoothly. Thus, you had changes in character behavior that felt unnatural,
shorthand plotting that often felt implausible and an overall feeling that the
story got to what could have been a satisfying end place in the wrong way.
That said, the journey is still worth taking for the
genre-minded viewer: the first five seasons in particular are really strong.
The scope of the production is mindboggling for television, feeling like an
epic movie in virtually every episode. Best of all, there is a sprawling cast
of characters brought to life by a fantastic ensemble of actors. One of the
great strengths of Game Of Thrones
was its ability to handle develop rich and involving arcs for multiple
characters at once.
The following is the first half of a list of Schlockmania’s
favorite characters from the show, with explanations for what makes them
noteworthy. It mostly shies away from
the expected lead characters in favor of the second and third-tier players who
made vivid impressions with less time than the more prominent characters in the
narrative. Watching their journeys was
the most rewarding part of Game Of
Thrones for Schlockmania.
Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann): this
character begins as your typical bad guy’s henchman but when the machinations of
the Lannister dynasty force him to question his role, he sets out on a journey
into the hinterlands that becomes a journey into self. There are certain fixed
elements to his character that align with the show’s narrative – namely his
drive for revenge – but he develops a new appreciation for relationships,
mentoring and interacting with others who have different outlooks on life. He also a beautiful way with blunt-force
insults that he never loses at any point in his journey.
Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey): there are a few royal
houses on this show that are led by children who get unexpectedly bumped into
the ruler’s chair by fate and the rules of family dynasty. None of them are as ideally suited as the
youngest Mormont. Despite her youthful age, she’s a pretty good judge of
character, loyal to those who show her the same quality, unafraid to speak her
mind and brave when men three or four times her age are hesitant to act. When
it’s time to fight, she’s willing to shoulder the weight with the rest of the
Lord Varys (Conleth Hill): He’s an advisor to kings and
queens, brutally pragmatic when it comes to making political moves and a
“master of whisperers” who is frequently ahead of the other
characters when it comes to gossip and secrets. He seems to be a charmingly
loquacious villain at first but he comes to reveal his humanity in layers as
the show goes on, proving he is someone with a sympathy for the underdog
because suffering as an underdog motivated him to get where he is. It helps
that Hill has a magnificent, honeyed style of line delivery: he could recite
the phone book and make it sound musical to the ear.
Ygritte (Rose Leslie): she is the female
“wildling” that Jon Snow falls in love with during his time separated
from the Night’s Watch. She is brave, a
formidable fighter and forthright in ways that no woman is south of the Wall so
it’s no wonder he’d be attracted to her. Loyalty is the flip side of her
fierceness so when his original duties lead him to betray her love, her desire
for revenge is as intense as that love.
Leslie’s performance thrills and frightens in equal measure without ever
losing the viewer’s sympathy or interest. Listen out for her signature line –
“You know nothing, Jon Snow” – which takes on multiple shadings when
used in different scenes.
Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha): The mystical/fantasy side
of Game Of Thrones reaches an apex
in character form through this mysterious figure. At first, he is an enigmatic
but skilled fighter who aids Arya when she comes to his aid. He later becomes a
dark mentor figure in her journey when is she weighing her decisions on issues
like whether she wants to gain power at the loss of self/history. Imagine if Yoda was morally ambiguous and you
get an idea of his vibe. He remains
compelling from his first moment onscreen to his last, even when you’re
questioning his motivations.
The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce): This character represents one of the best and most convincing portraits of religious fanaticism Schlockmania has ever seen in fiction. He defies the usual image of the fanatic by being soft-spoken and ascetic in ways we don’t normally associate with people who proclaim themselves to be godly oracles. However, he gradually reveals he is as manipulative and dangerous as any aspiring monarch in this show, an arc that is all the more impressive in how plays out because he does it without theatrics. Pryce’s performance here is one of his finest.