Pretty much everyone I know is in to Game of Thrones. My cousin and I were “this” close to having a theme party. In many ways GOT has captivated me in the same way that Star Wars captivated me many years ago. Except for a significant detail: Game of Thrones lacks a main character. There’s no Luke. No Han Solo. There are variations on Darth Vader but they’re constantly shifting. The shifting loyalties and moral directions sound more like the brilliant Cohen brother’s film Miller’s Crossing. “Up is down, black is white. It’s all straight as a corkscrew.” Jaime Lannister is turning in to a “good guy?” Tyrion actually has a heart. The once-cute dragons (nipping, dragon-purring) are horribly lethal and uncontrolled. The beauty of the story, as is true in life, is that heroes are born from shifting circumstances and reflection while villains find something in them that you’d never anticipate. GOT gives us the “thing” that Tolkien never realized: passionately real people.
Life is not predictable. Nor are people. The good become the bad. The bad become the best. And in the process they all make mistakes. Learn. Reflect. Grow. Devolve. Evolve. Re-invent. Such is life in Westeros. Such is life.
Relationships make the difference between victory and defeat. All of the original “heroes” who are still alive have found a person, one relationship or two, who help them stay their course despite arrows and accusations. Even though the relationships themselves may change over time the characters who weather the storm are the characters who create the best (if oddest) bonds and bedfellows.
To go from “bad” to “good” in GOT is becoming a common theme. People do change. Public heroes, private villains. Private saints and public sinners. But the journey towards Good in a practical and moralist sense is the heart of GOT. Despite the post-modern construct of moral relativism Good actually is, well, good. There is good in Westeros. Tested though it may be there is a “good” that is important to the arc of nearly every character (White Walkers notwithstanding). And the ways in which characters move from pole to pole is the best illustration that we are inherently Good.
Winter is coming. It’s always coming. But the will to push it back and find life and love and purpose is inherent in every character. And every character is THE main character in Westeros. As it is with all of us.