The story form of Game of Thrones? (Season 1)

“When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”

Pretty much the point of the entire series.

When the Lone Wolf Dies


Maybe, it was like Chris’ Hudson Hawk example of a skipped dram genre? I didn’t see either, but when Chris showed that part of Hudson Hawk at a weekend workshop, it was very clear what was going on. As I scan through comments here, it comes to mind.

I think you’re right about this. Jon keeps trying to adapt himself to what’s going on around him. He’s literally the guy who says, “I never asked to be King in the North”, “I never asked to be heir to the Iron Throne”, “I never asked to be . . .”

There almost always seems to be multiple players sharing a perspective that the MC needs to change their approach, but doesn’t the IC represent not just the argument about change, but the pressure to change? Tyrion whined a bit in the final episode about how Jon should take over, but that didn’t create much pressure for Jon to actually change his approach any more than Varis’s brief words in episode 5 accomplished anything. All through this season, however, Dany in both word and deed has been pushing Jon to change. And there’s no question that when he does flip, it’s because of her final words.

Also, sorry Jim, but trying to make Ned Stark the IC for season 8 seems like a reach. He’s mentioned a couple of times, but not even really in a context that would make Jon think he should change his approach. If anything, Jon spends most of the season (and series) thinking he is doing what Ned would’ve done. If anything, the disaster of Ned trying to take control of the Iron Throne after Robert’s death only argues why Jon shouldn’t intervene.

Again, I actually think there is a complete storyform to season 8. The pieces are all there, it’s just that when we watch it, we can’t help but bring all the stuff from the previous seasons and feel like the characters aren’t behaving the way they should. But if you treat season 8 as its own six-hour movie, everything feels pretty signposted. It just happens to not be a very good six hour movie.

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Characters are not real people - just vessels for holding perspectives, and the meaning of the narrative.

The Influence Character perspective is an alternative approach to solving problems. If anything, Dany is on the same side as Jon, willing to go it alone to achieve what she wants - and what she believes is her duty (destiny).

“Love is the death of duty” is something Jon Snow learned in Season One and something he held onto for the entire show. Saying 5000x “She’s my Queen” is simply his character reflecting back to us that resolve – duty over love.

Tyrion turning it on him to say “Duty is the death of love” is a means of playing into that justification as a means of bringing up the fact that him choosing duty over love, thinking it’s about Danerys, is actually him choosing duty over the love of his family - the love of the pack.

The entire show is about family–in more ways than many are comfortable with. Everyone chose family over duty, over honor, and often succeeded in a way that many of us would find reprehensible–however, they succeeded.

Jon was the one lone wolf - the one choosing duty above all else. His final act was a sign of love towards his family and a signal that he was realigning with that perspective. The lone wolf dies, but the pack survive. This act of choosing family over duty succeeds, but at great personal cost…or so it would seem…

The emotional hiccup in the narrative is his escape into the North and the smile at the end. A Success/Good ending, when it should have been Success/Bad to fit with the rest of the narrative. He should have been left at Castle Black piling ice blocks one on top of another to help build the Wall for the next Winter.

Also - Dany’s emotional arc completely skipped over the 3rd Signpost, if not a significant portion of the 2nd. If you read most commentary about The Bells episode most were totally OK with her taking that action, it just didn’t feel justified in the moment. That’s a reflection of a loss of integrity in terms of plot progression - emotional plot progression.

You could take any quad of items and see easily that an essential part is missing. For instance:

  • Future: i’m going to be Queen and break the wheel and everyone will love me
  • Progress: Crap, everyone I love is dying or betraying me. Nobody likes me.
  • Past:
  • Present: Fine, let it be fear and you’re all dead.

Looking at the Red Keep is not enough. That’s not Past-ing, that’s kind-of-sort-of saying, hey, things used to be bad for my family.

You’ll see some super fans try and cut together a montage during that moment where they throw in flashbacks and memories of days gone by as a way to fill in the blanks (everyone intuitively senses this missing part, they’re just not sure how to make it all work). Even that isn’t enough, but if you read enough feedback, you’ll see that many would have been happier even with that little bit.

There are tons of plot progression arcs that skip over Signpost 3:

Arya and Sandor - hey, let’s get revenge, ok. hey, don’t come with me. ok. thanks for everything. (2 and 3)
Jamie and Brienne - you should be a knight, wow, thanks. let’s have sex. awesome. ok, bye. why? i don’t care about innocent people. oh…(3)
The Gold Company - we’re bad ass. oh, we didn’t think she would come that way. (2, 3, and most of 4)
Bran - i don’t want it. why did you think i came here? (2 and 3)

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There’s a ton of stuff to unpack there, and a lot of it would first require establishing the full storyform itself which feels like more work that the show is worth, but I’ll try to show where I’m having some trouble following your logic.

It looks like you’re equating duty as subject matter to destiny as a Dramatica element which I’m not quite following – not least because I’m not sure if Destiny is actually the issue here. Jon’s fundamental conflict with Dany isn’t about her destiny, it’s about how she plans to achieve it. If she just said, “My destiny is to rule the Seven Kingdoms, but don’t worry because I can do that through mostly peaceful means now that Cersei is dead” he’d be fully on-board. The only thing that pushes him over the edge is when she says she’s going to do it by continuing to kill her enemies until there are none left. Jon clearly believes she is meant to be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms all the way through.

Put simply: the conflict between them is about whether or not it’s okay to kill everyone who disagrees with you in order to achieve a better future for all.

I’m trying pretty hard to stick to Season 8 for all the same reasons you point out that one has to approach the Marvel movies as individual stories and not bring in backstory from previous movies.

That feels like a stretch (the “love of the pack” thing) compared to a much simpler interpretation that Tyrion is saying Jon’s duty is the death of his love – i.e. “your duty is to kill Dany”. But also, looking at the awkward dialogue writing here, I’m not sure I’d weigh too heavily on a turn of phrase.

The show is about lots of things. It’s about family, it’s about duty, it’s about not being in control of who you love, it’s about the desire for power, it’s about how believing you’re best placed to be in charge always leads to tragedy for everyone. It’s also a show about how being honourable doesn’t work, either. Finally, it’s a show about how “succeeding in ways many would find reprehensible” just means you get power for a short time and then die horribly.

If you had to look over the entire series (which I’m trying to avoid as best I can, but you brought it up here so I don’t want to ignore it) and you had to try to frame a single statement about the OS, it would probably be, “There’s no such thing as winning a war.”

I think we agree on this. The real end of the story for me felt like the moment when he tearfully asks Tyrion if he’ll ever know whether he did the right thing and Tyrion basically says no.

That’s because they’re thinking about Dany from several seasons ago, not the Dany who enters this story in the opening of season 8 episode 1: a queen determined to take power who thinks others are trying to keep it from her.

You’re imposing a signpost order here that I’m not sure yet where it’s coming from. You want a signpost of The Past: “What the f**k do you mean you’re Aegon Targaryan and have a claim to the throne???” (end of episode 2 – note that the writers intentionally didn’t have Jon reassure her that he didn’t want it. They go straight to the battle with the Night King.) The conflict here emerges from the past.

I’m not clear why you’re treating each of these as if they’re throughlines in and of themselves. They’re not in season 8, which is kind of my point: this is the first season where it really just is about one storyform. All those people you mentioned are side characters in this season. It would be like complaining about Hawkeye not having a big enough arc in Captain America: Civil War (see how I managed to bring that back :wink:

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This would be evidence of a balanced inequity, which is to say there is no inequity in opposing views - no conflict, nor motivation for a narrative. Tons of back and forth arguments, but not the kind of thing one looks for in a Main Character and/or Influence Character perspective.

It’s OK to kill everyone who disagrees
It’s not OK to kill everyone who disagrees

are both fixed attitudes.

The Main Character Perspective and the Influence Character perspectives are two completely different approaches to resolving an inequity that can’t exist in the same place at the same time. Universe and Mind. Not Mind and Mind.

I wasn’t tying her issue to the Dramatica definition of Destiny, just that what she thought was her birthright gave her justification to kill everyone–that it was her duty to free Westeros. And she was going it alone.

The idea that it ended with a montage of all the Starks suggests that it was important for the writers to show, or prove, the premise of the series - that, however misguided, the pack survives when it sticks together.

The turning point for Jon was when Tyrion asks if Sansa will bend the knee. That’s an Influence Character moment. Universe or Mind. Duty or family.

If we’re just looking at Season 8, there are several other narratives playing out from beginning to end (the ones mentioned above) - meaning they have their own notions of a storyform, large and small. They’re all deficient in the same way that the central narrative is deficient and missing key moments of emotional progression.

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Sure, but that’s not what I said. Setting aside that I wasn’t trying to phrase it in a Dramatica premise form, what I said was: the conflict between them is about whether or not it’s okay to kill everyone who disagrees with you in order to achieve a better future for all.

If you wanted to break that out into a conflict, you could say:

I will bring about a better future for everyone [universe] vs. It’s wrong to kill everyone who disagrees with you no matter the purpose [mind]

I’m totally open to the possibility that I’ve still got it wrong, but that does seem to me like the basis for conflict.

The pack literally splits apart to the farthest reaches of the continent. I agree that they did a montage, but I think that was simply to show where all the major characters ended up (the only non-dead ones being Sam, Tyrion, Jon, Sansa, and Arya.) The series itself opened with the Starks, so it makes sense that it ends with us seeing them at the end.

I’m not saying Tyrion isn’t part of the influence perspective, just that Dany’s is the perspective that forces him to change his approach. While Tyrion and Dany are on opposite sides of the final episode (note that they weren’t for the entire rest of the season), the fact is they still share the same approach: “sometimes you have to do terrible things to bring about a better future.”

I agree that Tyrion’s words carry weight, but even then, Jon tries to get her to agree not to kill everyone to get her way. When she makes it clear she won’t, he murders her (“sometimes you have to do terrible things to bring about a better future”). It’s not a duel, there’s no warning, there’s no honour in it. If Dany had realized Jon wasn’t going to be loyal to her, she’d have killed him just as quickly (only with dragon fire)

It’s not about choosing duty or family. If Sansa turned out to be a tyrant, Jon would’ve gone against her. It’s about saving the future versus holding to your principles, so yes, universe or mind, just not duty vs. family.

There are always other narratives playing out in anything longer than two hours. Can you imagine even six hours of nothing but one storyform? No side characters having arcs, no subplots, nothing?

I go back to that old chestnut Captain America: Civil War (and not just to annoy you):
The Black Panther arc (going from angry orphan to merciful ruler) is no less a story than Arya and Sandor (which is miniscule by comparison).
The Winter Soldier storyline is vastly richer and more distinct than the Golden Company who weren’t remotely presented in this season as being a storyline (just because someone says, “look at that awesome army over there” a couple of times doesn’t actually make the life and death of that army a story)
Bran has no storyline outside the OS: he exists to be the bait for the Night King and then get put on the throne later. He’s a useful side character because he can constantly say stuff like, “It doesn’t matter what you did because it was needed to bring you here.”

I think on this point more than the others I’m having trouble following your thought process: why do you think those relationships and characters represent broken storyforms rather than just being side characters doing their thing and (occasionally) reflecting on the broader themes of the season?

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Anytime you have a demonstrable change in approach - the likes of what we see with Arya or Jamie - you have a storyform. Sometimes that storyform reflects the thematic material of the overarching “main” storyform, other times it maintains a separate purpose.

Objective characters do not “change” - only subjective characters do. Arya’s desire for revenge is a core motivation. She decides to turn around and head the other way with absolutely no development in-between. Jamie suggests knighting Brienne, but then all of a sudden completely changes his approach the next morning, with no development in-between.

Both changes are subjective in nature - they are a shifting of point-of-view, which means there is some intent, or some purpose to the change. Regardless of whether or not they’re reflections of the larger storyform (I don’t believe they are), or whether they are their own thing - they still require the kind of emotional and logical progression that a storyform affords–otherwise, their changes do not make sense.


Jim, I can tell you why this doesn’t make sense.

Because I can fill in the equivalent past for Dany

Past: In the past I only attacked those who misued their power and was merciful and embraced those without power and they loved me.
So the let it be fear aspect is polar opposite to her journey.

Thank you for this, btw, now I know why this arc is so broken.

Okay, so this is kind of hinted at when she says to Jon “no one here loves me” but it’s very unsatisfying.

Just as a thought experiment, would it have worked to find a way to deliver some kind of ultimatum to the people of King’s Landing? Somehow, she tires to reminds them of how she treated the slaves in Meereen (Past), tells them to rise up and fight and their lives will be spared. But then Cersei reminds them of what happened the last time a Targaryen was in power (Past), so they don’t rise up… or something.

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You’re welcome :wink:

Btw, you can do it with any quad. I only chose Universe because it’s one of the easiest. Since the argument/storyform isn’t fully formed you’ll be able to use any set of 4 items to perceive hers or anyone else’s plot progression.

Ha! Which means I was right, way up top. There isn’t a complete storyform. This also makes me feel better.

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If this is a Succes story, who is the Protagonist?
My first idea was Dany, but it doesn’t work in this case…

This video covers so many of my objections to the final season of GoT.