Game of Thrones: Did it Do Right to Those Who Survived?
The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones premiered on April 14, 2019. Few weeks later we viewed the last ever episode of one of the most successful and longest running fantasy drama shows on television: Season 8, Episode 6 aka The Iron Throne.
What happened in the finale episode? A quick recap.
This will most probably be the most recalled and remembered scene of the finale episode. It was almost like a finale inside a grand finale. In this scene, the lords and ladies of the fictional land of Westeros, meet for a panel discussion so they can mutually find a new ruler to command the Seven Kingdoms.
Tyrion Lannister, call him a dwarf, an imp or a Halfman, and now a Kingmaker, one who will be cherished in our memory for his wit and intellect made a surprise—and compelling argument— in support of a character named Bran Stark. Well, let’s give it to him because none other on the panel was capable of this perspective. He made the following best speech ever!
“What unites people?” Tyrion asked. “Armies? Gold? Flags?” No. It’s stories, he said.
“There's nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. And who has a better story than Bran the Broken? The boy who fell from a high tower and lived… He's our memory. The keeper of all our stories. The wars, weddings, births, massacres, famines, our triumphs, our defeats, our past. Who better to lead us into the future?” According to Tyrion, Bran has a special power that would make him a great ruler—he was the keeper of the kingdom’s stories.
Did it do right to those who survived?
The Keeper, the King
Bran Stark, the keeper of stories, the storyteller is crowned the King of Seven Kingdoms, actually six because Sansa Stark asked to keep the North independent. We take interest in history because it is a great record of good stories and their storytellers who ruled the world. However, here’s the thing about history: until the lion learns to write, history will always be told from the hunter’s perspective.
Women leadership: Biases and Barriers
Sansa Stark, Queen in the North. And that’s how we got a woman leader (with small stakes though) as she kept coping with strategies, sufferings and betrayal to become more hardened and learned to be able to lead and succeed as a woman. Women have begun to make their claims for leadership but the imbalance still exists.
The head of a Political Head needs to be political
Jon Snow, the 'rightful' heir to the Iron Throne had almost begun sounding like one but then he was eliminated because he betrayed his queen. Jon’s a good commander, a good tactician and warrior, a protective brother, loyal lover and a faithful friend but by the gods, he still has no idea how to play the Game. His head lacked political thinking and that was his biggest disqualifier.
Survival of the Smartest
Tyrion Lannister, the king of wordplay. A man who spent his life being dismissed gained mastery by serving as the Hand of both, King and Queen. His survival until the end and catalyzing the king selection process, are nothing but a measure of his intellect.
A True Warrier is a Default Journeyor
Arya Stark, the faceless woman and a maleficent assassin. In one of the biggest unpredictable twists, Arya ended up being the one to get a surprise jump and defeat the White Walker leader, the Night King. In fact, if it wasn’t for the three power puff girls, Melisandre, Lady Lyanna Mormont and Arya Stark, there was no promise of daylight (after the Long Night) for the living. So while her siblings had pretty much of Westeros instead of sticking around she set sail alone into unknown lands to find out “what’s west of Westeros.”
Brienne, Davos, Sam, and Bronn earn a seat at the table of the new small council. They’re all good people as we know them.
Well, that’s how the series gave us a closure by doing away with literally every bloodthirsty or unstable member of the cast and redeeming each of the Stark family members with a fair payback for all their losses.
The Power of Storytelling
“Storytelling is our specialty. It's the basis for everything we do as a species”, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari suggests in his first book Homo Sapiens. 1,00,000 years ago there were 6 human species on this planet and today there is just one: us. What lead to the extinction of others and our survival?
We cooperate effectively with strangers because we believe in things like gods, nations, money and human rights. Yet none of these things exists outside the stories that people invent and tell one another. There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money and no human rights—except in the common imagination of human beings.
It was our ability to create, narrate and pass on these stories from story-tellers to story-listeners that made us the most powerful ruling species of this planet.
Storytelling in Business
Apart from artificial intelligence, virtual reality and IoT, the other buzzword causing waves is ‘storytelling’. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand. It is what forms a perception about and around your business.
Successful people in business understood this concept and made it work in their favor. Would anyone love Apple if it didn’t believe in “Steve Jobs‘ Myth?” Would anyone trust Tesla or SpaceX if it didn’t believe in “Elon Mask’s Myth?”
If you ask a monkey to loan you a banana in exchange for a banana and a half in a year time; the monkey will not only eat it but also throw you a stone. Why? Because the monkey does not believe in the “interests’ myth.”
Our ability to believe in stories, allowed us to form large and complex societies. In fact, our brains allow us to cooperate at the small-scale level. This is because there is only a certain threshold of information that our minds can handle before plateauing. According to Harari, if we could not believe in stories, it would’ve been impossible to form groups of more than 150 individuals.
A good story speaks to us in ways that numbers, data, and presentation slides simply can't. Every day, our users make judgments and decisions about the products and services we provide based on the way we present them. Removing insignificant aspects of information presentation can have surprising effects on people’s perceptions and behavior. Psychologists call this the Beauty-in-Averageness Effect.
We find it easy to recall stories that were simple, sounded familiar and fluently told. Familiarity is a strong motivator of human behavior. In general, people like things that are familiar because they align with our perspectives and don’t require as much mental work as things that are new and different do.
Thus, we had many fans rant as the finale of Game of Thrones wrapped up. A great story with great characters whose ending was lacking as some of us who could not relate to the character developments and others couldn’t connect with the climax. It lacked familiarity, fluency and simplicity resulting in a cognitive overload for the fans. And so, the question still remains and will probably haunt us forever:
"Did it do right to those who survived?"