Game of thrones

Jon Snow adrift: ‘Game of Thrones’ doesn’t quite know what to do with its greatest character

Warning: This article contains spoilers about the seventh season finale.

(This article has spoilers about the final episode of the seventh season.)

Over seven seasons, the writers of the HBO series Game of Thrones have created a world that has enthralled audiences unlike much else in recent TV history. While the season delivered some big moments – armies of ice zombies, huge dragon fires, a naval siege – the show has received a fair share of flak for rushing over the story to the point of ridiculousness.

Nowhere is this deviation from the well-charted plotlines and character development more apparent than in the case of Jon Snow. The human symbol of the song of ice and fire of George RR Martin’s novels, the erstwhile bastard of Winterfell, the King of the North, and as we now know, the true heir to the Iron Throne, was always the underdog we wished would find a place to call his own.

From episode one, Jon Snow has been the hero Westeros needed and deserved, but he thankfully chose to involve himself with bigger and more substantial battles than the ever-chaotic and layered politics of the capital at King’s Landing. He has come a long way, changed and hardened by his many adventures, and by death.

And while we still love Jon Snow, developments in this season have been undoubtedly unreasonable, illogical and convenient.

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Inside the seventh season finale.

We are close to the culmination of an epic tale (the final season will be telecast either in 2018 or 2019). Everything else in the middle has been rushed, reducing travel time from one part of the world to another to that akin to teleportation. But we let it all slip to watch Jon Snow survive, yet again.

Jon is a good fighter, but only because someone is somehow always there to save him – Maester Aemon at Castle Black, Stannis Baratheon, Melissandre, the Lord of Light, Knights of the Vale, Sansa, Daenerys Targaryen, Uncle Ben beyond the Wall. If he is indeed Azhor Ahai, or the flaming sword of Azor Ahai that will defeat the Night King, Jon sure needs a lot of care and upkeep.

Character development is a result of years of writing and storytelling, which the writers seemed to have completely ignored this season. The big lavish gestures do distract the audience from the loopholes, but never long enough for them to not notice how these shock-and-awe scenes are ruining the more intricate plot that was created with the help of smaller, significant, loaded moments.

As the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon was lost and often alone, but considerate of the lives around him, be they crows or wildlings. Now, as the Lord of Winterfell, he has the support of his family and all the great Northern houses, but he is more reckless and illogical than ever. He is committed to fighting the good fight, but doesn’t seem to care who dies in the process.

However glorious and satisfying the Ramsay versus Jon fight was in the last season, there was no way Jon could have survived without the help of the Knights of the Vale. But he persisted, losing many warriors, Rickon, and Wun Wun the giant in the process.

In the seventh season, Jon left the North unguarded to go convince Daenerys Targaryen, the queen of the dragons, to fight the Army of the Dead with him. He has also bent the knee and sworn fealty to a queen none of his men will be willing to accept – a queen who toggles between being a breaker of chains and a raging monarch who burns down entire houses if they don’t support her.

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Battle of the Bastards.

Jon’s struggle was so much more glorious when he wasn’t royalty. The lords and ladies and kings and queens of the realm have been riddled with guile, hatred, deceit, violence and disloyalty, with the exception of Ned Stark, who died way too soon for us to see the merits of goodness in Westeros.

On the other hand, the wildlings, or the free folk, such as Mance Raydar, Tormund, and Ygritte, championed freedom and fought the hierarchies and brutality that kept them out of the system for centuries. Jon understood what Mance, Tormund and Ygritte believed in, and fought by their side (however briefly). That is the Jon that Ygritte and the rest of us fell in love with. Not this new awkward lord unable to hold his own castle.

It’s not only Jon’s royalty that makes his struggle less interesting. The illogical scripting of the seventh season is also a culprit. The one thing the script did deliver on was the much-awaited meet-cute between Jon and Daenerys, something the internet has been waiting for and has happily christened “Jonerys”.

But as we know now, Jon’s true name is Aegon Targaryen, the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and Daenerys Targaryen is his aunt. The show has never been shy of incest, but it hasn’t legitimised the concept. Cersei Lannister, who has borne her twin Jamie’s children, is the second most awful villain after the Night King in the seventh season. And inbreeding among the Targaryens is hardly celebrated as a great idea – Aerys Targaryen was, in fact, the “Mad King”.

Even though the Targaryens never frowned upon incest and Jon is half-Targaryen, he is too honorable to be okay with it. It also makes his claim to the Iron Throne much stronger, and since Daenerys believes that she was born to rule the seven kingdoms, this could create trouble in their relationship.

The stage has been set for the final season. The Great Wall has fallen and the white walkers approach in numbers larger than ever before, and they’ve got an ice dragon. The Greyjoys are off to fight their own fight, and the Stark siblings have finally rid the seven kingdoms of the diabolical Littlefinger. Cersei is alone in the Red Keep, with Jaime having left to fight the dead to protect the living.

Now more than ever, the realm needs the Prince that was Promised to buckle up and get his act together. Winter isn’t coming. It’s here.

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Army of the Dead.
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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

Watch Rome Now

For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.