Baude, Masur, and Strahilevitz on the Finale of "Game of Thrones"

Transcript

(00:00:02)

This audio file is a production of the University of Chicago Law School. Visit us on the web at www.law.uchicago.edu.

Strahilevitz: (00:00:20)

Hi everybody. Thanks for joining us for the geek-out session. I ran into Will Baude in the, uh, in the stairwell one day and he and I have been talking about Game of Thrones since, you know, for years, years and years. And um, uh, and I said, oh, you know, finale's coming up and you did a, an auction item about Game of Thrones. What if we just got together in a classroom and talked about Game of Thrones and then saw if any students came or not and, if no one came, but it'd be fun if students came and we could hear all your reactions too. Um, and then Masur came up through the stairwell and I said, hey Masur, wouldn't you like to join such a thing? And Masur probably didn't really want to do it, but he felt bad.

Masur: (00:01:03)

And I said, Game of Thrones? Never heard of it.

Strahilevitz: (00:01:07)

So here he is. Uh, anyway, um, maybe we'll just, uh, so thanks all for coming. We'll make this like interactive, so think of it as a Greenberg seminar, but not in our houses. And uh, uh, and um, although I do spend about as much time here as I spent in my house, that's kind of, you know. All right. But, um, uh, let's talk about reactions to the finale, but we can also talk about the entire series. So Baude, let's start with you.

Baude: (00:01:35)

Uh, so one of the best decisions I made this year was to read as many spoilers as possible before every episode, which meant that I was not nearly as disappointed by all , if that makes sense. I can spend more time just like trying to like, but focus on the positives and, well, and then so I have to say, I will say this as well. So basically for every episode this season, I watched the episode, I think that wasn't as bad as I expected. And then I talked to Jonathan Masur who says, why weren't you bothered with the following things? Ideally become extremely bothered by them. Um, some more, more or less my reaction to the finale as well. Although, uh, you know, so in terms of the overall plot points, like I feel like a pretty satisfying way to the end the series in terms of things like writing or like plot holes things I normally watch a show for, I was like, I feel like that was not great but, but successfully hit all the plot points. So that was, that was not too disappointing. Uh, so I like the fact that apparently the end of A Song of Ice and Fire is the Magna Carta. Uh, like a group of nobles come together. They said to keep the king but like Hopsin promises at this time, the king will be better in some kind of institutional reform; kinda nice. Uh, I do have, I did find myself left with like questions though. Uh, so--

Masur: (00:02:56)

Really? You don't think it tied up all the loose ends? Surprise.

Baude: (00:03:00)

So here are my five. Alright. Oh my God. Why isn't Tyrion in A Song of Ice and Fire? Like, I get the joke of making fun of Tyrion for thinking that he'd be included and actually he's not, but I'm like genuinely confused how this book is going to cover things like the death of Joffrey Baratheon, who usually has the cover, without mentioning Tyrion at who's like I, there's this, I just find the whole thing. I like genuinely puzzled how one could describe this plot without Tyrion. Uh, I, yeah, I just thought, I don't even, I don't even get it. Two: is winter still coming? So, so nobody's talking about things like food and like suddenly the weather seems to have gotten a little bit better and like the, you know, so I can't tell and I wondered like winter was coming was because of the dad and the night king and they were like bringing winter with them and if they're gone, winter is not coming. On the other hand, if like the, the seasons like global climate change, has just hit Westeros and it like dramatically the changes, the economy and farming and everything, I would have put it, somebody mentioned that too. So I just like no idea.

Strahilevitz: (00:04:03)

Sansa's clearly thinking about getting through the winter in a way that nobody in King's Landing or what's left of King's Landing seems to be.

Baude: (00:04:10)

So would she, she still is. She was at some point. Yeah, she did a lot of planning. She was back when the Night King was coming and then it like remains a mystery, whether he's just well died, but now they just have enough food again. I can't tell this. Uh. Three: why is Bronn, why did it, why did they decide to give Bronn-- Highgarden and counsel?

Strahilevitz: (00:04:30)

Oh! Bronn!

Baude: (00:04:30)

Not Bran, but Bronn like who they, who they made promises to when he was like a crazy person with a crossbow, but like it's not clear why anybody, Tyrion or anybody else, would feel the need to fulfill those promises.

Strahilevitz: (00:04:42)

Okay. I thought you were going to Bran-question-mark. I should question.

Baude:  (00:04:45)

Never question Bran. If the reason Jon had to go north at the exile was to keep the peace, between the Unsullied and everybody else, once the Unsullied go and get on the boat, why can't Jon come back? Even if you're like on the illegal Pharma list, I think that the king can grant a reprieve for somebody on the Wall. So why can't he either go to the North, if like Sansa, will let him or come to Westeros if Bran will let him? Is it that his siblings actually don't want him back? I don't even, I don't even, I just don't get, I don't get why, why Jon can't come back. And fifth, uh, how does ink work in Westeros? So-- [laughter] after Brienne writes like pages and pages of stuff about Jaime Lannister, like immediately after finishing with that, she just like shuts the book. Are we supposed to, I like to believe that's because she wanted to write it down but didn't actually want it in the book. So now all the horribly blurred and nobody will actually be able to read what she wrote, but I think it's, no, I think that they have magical fast drying ink in Westeros.

Strahilevitz: (00:05:45)

They just edited out the ink drying. Come on. But you really want to see, you really want the 20-second pause while she's just [mimics writing] that's what you want in the finale of Game of Thrones?

Masur: (00:05:57)

Right, you didn't have enough time to watch Bran tell Sansa that Jon was a Targaryen, didn't have enough time to watch Jon confess to murdering Daenerys, but you would like to see the ink drying. I don't think it would've been the 20 seconds worth spending.

Masur: (00:06:12)

Fair enough. That's right. You're done. Okay. Am I supposed to talk about-- you want to go next?

Strahilevitz: (00:06:17)

We should answer Will's question. Do you want to take three and five and I'll take--. Sure. I don't know if these are, I mean I'm not, I'm not even sure that these are like the, these are, these are good questions. I mean there are a million others, right? Like why is there still a Night's Watch and, and if so, what are they watching for? They said, but I mean I have the same reaction, right? No, no more White Walkers and the, the um, the Wildlings are their friends now.

Masur: (00:06:41)

So that didn't bother me as much, because I think that the answer was it's politically expedient to have a Night's Watch even if does nothing useful, which wouldn't make it the first federal agency like that. That's why like, they didn't know about the White Walkers for a long time. So they had to have the Night's Watch anyway, Anyway, for all they, for all they know here are more. They had the Night's Watch to watch for the wildlings. Right. Who are now, their allies, especially the allies of the North, which is the kingdom that is nearest to the Wildlings. But how long is that gonna last? I mean, that didn't, that didn't bother me of all the things that-- Where did Drogo, you know, this is again, you're up. Right. Where did Drogon go and will Drogon ever come back? Why did Jon confess? Did Jon feel the need to confess? Did Jon feel compelled to confess? Um, I, I'm gonna just, I'm gonna offer like a very slightly, it's quite a different, just sort of two minutes of remarks on this. I don't know what kind of conversation we want to have about the show. I just want to sort of say something very different kind of at a macro level about the last season of the show, which is, um, you know, from, I guess I would say that from the minute they started chasing the White in season seven, I've been very, uh, bothered by all of the ridiculous twists and turns that the plot has taken. And I think that the writing has become unbelievably and to-- quite obviously lazy, that they don't have to have a reason anymore for someone to do something. They just do it to further the plot scheme.

Masur: (00:08:03)

But over the last couple of episodes, I don't know, I was saying to a student earlier today that I think I've gone through the five stages of grief about this. I've sort of come to grips with all of that and it's been helped along the way by the fact that the, like everyone on the Internet is, is equally, outraged or even more outreach than I was. And also that I could walk three doors down and trigger, Will about all this stuff also, and then he would become really outrageous. So it's like, I felt like other people were sort of taken up the outrage and I don't have to, um, sustain it on my own anymore. So I just, the thing I wanted to say about the show was amidst all of these ridiculous plot turns that were motivated, uh, not at all or very poorly, you know, there were still, I thought, really wonderful, great moments even in the last two seasons, which were so much weaker. So the Tyrion-Jaime conversation in the tent where Jaime was a prisoner in episode five, the Tyrion, sorry that Jaime-Cersei's sort of final moments before they both die, Tyrion and Jon in Tyrion's jail cell. And then also things that are visually spectacular, like obviously the, you know, the burning of King's Landing, which was visually spectacular and horrible. Um, but also I even thought, I mean as sort of hackneyed as it is, and it's a little bit hackneyed, the shot of Daenerys framed by the columns with the dragon wings behind her, I thought was remarkable and spectacular. And so I think that there's, you know, we, we can, we can do an infinite amount of making fun of this show and the bad story choices that it may, um, starting with Bran-question-mark, but I do think that there are, there are lots of, there have been lots of redeeming moments over the last couple of episodes even. And I, I'm trying to enjoy the redeeming moments and not let the story ridiculousness spoil it for me.

Strahilevitz: (00:09:42)

All right. So, uh, I wanted to, uh, try and respond since I think you responded to none of Will's questions.

Masur: (00:09:48)

I couldn't tell if that was serious or not. I didn't feel like we should, I felt like these are unanswerable questions. We should just leave them hanging out there.

Strahilevitz: (00:09:55)

All right, so where's Tyrion? So the thing is like Maester Ambrose is writing the Song. Uh, and uh, you know, Sam titles it, I guess, but, but Maester Ambrose-- and it's always history is written by people who aren't there, who were sort of hearing about this stuff second hand. So Maester Ambrose is in Citadel, like what does he know? He seems, we saw him in the earlier episodes when he was interacting with Sam. He seems like removed, and I think the sort of point that I took away is these kinds of narratives of history.

Strahilevitz: (00:10:25)

Like, we don't really know if Richard the, Richard the Lionheart did any of the things that people tell us or we don't really know if this sort of--

Masur: (00:10:33)

Actually, who does Maester Ambrose say killed Joffrey? Since everybody thinks it was Tyrion or Tywin.

Strahilevitz: (00:10:39)

Yeah, I mean I just think the story, I mean I think that I took away was the story that's likely to get written up in that book will be a completely inaccurate representation of what actually happened. And so the benefit for us, the viewers, we get to see what actually happened and then maybe later on we'll find out, you know, that it turns out that this was filtered by some removed maesters. At least that's what I, and maybe it was just a joke, like maybe Tyrion really is in the Song at great length and they were just being cliche.

Baude: (00:11:08)

It's their version of dozens of short jokes they told about Jon throughout the last season. They were like, we can't, we can't tell short joke about Tyrion because it's too obvious. So let's tell a different story.

Strahilevitz: (00:11:17)

It's too easy. All right. Um, uh, okay. Why does Bronn get Highgarden? I think there's a good answer to that because a Lannister always pays, pays his debts. So you're right that the contract was not valid. It was a completely coercive contract, obviously so, but at the same time, and this, this shows up more in the book, it's like the idea that a Lannister pays his debts is just a huge, huge factor, especially in the earlier books. Basically if you're Tyrion Lannister you can go anywhere, you can do anything and you're essentially the one clan in Westeros that people understand. All right. At the end of the you'll make, you'll make good on that. Okay.

Baude: (00:11:55)

I know why Tyrion wants to do it, but some of that hierarchy does not belong to Tyrion Lannister, so he has to get somebody like basically Bran to give it to him. Yeah, he's basically running the show.

Strahilevitz:  (00:12:04)

Okay. I mean so Bran is uh, so, so here's, here's what I sort of took away from that, from the final episode. Like if we think about the first episode, Robert Baratheon is nominally in charge of Westeros and he could not care less about any of this stuff. He is completely disengaged. He's uninterested. He was really good at wielding, uh, um, you know, a hammer in battle and killing people and he was a pretty good tactical general apparently. And otherwise he's totally unsuited to governing. But what he does is he sort of knows his own limitations and he says, all right, I'm going to have this really smart Hand. First it's John Arryn and then John Arryn dies. So I go find Ned Stark and that's the person who's going to worry about running the king, the kingdom and I'm just going to go get drunk and, and you know, um, uh, and sleep with, sleep with various, everybody, women who are going to produce various bastards, uh, uh, you know, one of whom winds up in a good position and the rest of whom, I guess it might wind up murdered.

Strahilevitz: (00:13:03)

So it seems like, it seems like we basically come full circle to that again. We've got, okay, we've got a king who's not interested in the things that Robert Baratheon was interested in, but what they share is a total lack of interest in policy and governance and government. And so you kind of had this interregnum where first Joffrey was king and then Tommen was king, and then Cersei was king and you know, Joffrey's-- Tom, Tommen wasn't interested, but Joffery and Cersei all thought that they were interested in governing. Um, and my sense is maybe that's more the exception than the rule. And the rule is to sort of, you find this capable administrator -- call him Ned Stark, call him Tyrion Lannister -- you hope that he's well motivated and then that's the person who really runs the kingdom. So if Tyrion Lannister says, Hey, there's this guy Bronn, I kind of promised him high guard, this is the most valuable of the seven kingdoms.

Strahilevitz: (00:13:57)

This is the one that produces tons of wealth and food, Bran's like, yeah, okay, whatever. I can go find a dragon. Uh, and uh, and so he has to pay that debt. The other thing too, I think is you start kind of see this in the final scene where they're around the table. Like Bronn's actually pretty well motivated, right? So he comes up, um, you know, poor, he's not from the nobility, he's, you know, self made person. He's actually made a series over the course of the, of the, of the books he's made and TV shows. He's made a series of like really smart decisions about who to ally himself with. So Bronn, if you remember, I think this is season one, he's just kind of hanging out in the Eyrie and he happens to be there. Uh, no one knows exactly what he was doing there.

Strahilevitz: (00:14:43)

And then Tyrion demands trial by combat and Bronn steps forward and he says, I'll be your champion. And then Bronn bests this, you know, high born noble man, uh, in combat because the high born nobleman is sort of, you know, trying to do all these fancy fencing things in bronze, just like slam. You're not, you're not going to see this coming and I'm going to kill you and push you through the moon door. Um, and so that's Bronn's moment and all of a sudden Bronn has an affiliation with Tyrion Lannister, which is a huge deal if you're just a nobody, you know, talented sell sword. And then Bronn's like, oh, I'm going to attach myself to Jaime, I'll attach myself to Cersei while it's convenient, then take this offer to Jaime and Tyrion. Okay. Now, so you know, Bronn is almost, like he's actually, he's pretty honest. He's very smart. He's going to have the interests of the, of the, um, of the common folk sort of. He's willing to pay for our various improvements, improvements. He has the priorities! He's willing to pay for the boats. He just really wants the brothels as well.

Masur: (00:15:43)

"Various improvements." He's going to pay for improvements of the brothels at the expense of the drinking water.

Strahilevitz: (00:15:47)

But he actually cares. He cares. I think he cares about the people in Westeros in a way that the typical, the typical lady or Lord of Highgarden would not cause they're totally, cause they're totally removed from this stuff. So actually Bronn's not a bad choice and he's, and he's going to be fairly loyal to Tyrion.

Strahilevitz: (00:16:05)

Um, I didn't want to Filibuster, but let me think about what, which of um..can Jon come back? Can Jon come back? I think Jon can, but probably doesn't want to come back. So, so I guess I would take the position that Jon would have been a better ruler of Westeros than Cersei, and he would've been a better ruler of Cers-- of Westeros than Dany. But he would not have necessarily been a better ruler of Westeros than Tyrion Lannister or John Aaron or Ned Stark or any of the, you know, kind of.... Qyburn maybe is a better ruler of Westeros than Jon is, I mean.

Panel: (00:16:44)

So Jon's just like the Josef Mengele figure in this sceanario, you know? Yeah. He's pretty good at dealing with dragons. I don't know why you need to go with Nazis. I know. Where did I ever get the idea that maybe Nazis should be invoked? I can't imagine where that came out.

Strahilevitz: (00:17:07)

Clearly, you-- clearly, there's nothing, there's nothing in the finale that reminds anyone of Nazis.

Strahilevitz: (00:17:13)

Um, but I guess what I would say, it's clear that Jon's heart is in the right place. It's clear that he's a great soldier. He's just strategically is terrible and makes poor decision after poor decision, whether it's the Battle of the Bastards, whether it's stuff that's happening North of the Wall, whether it's decisions about disclosing things. But, but here's, here's what I sort of want to say about John. The one out-of-character thing that Jon does in the entire series is he murders Dany in a way that's really underhanded. And so I think probably after he did that, he doesn't want to be king anymore and he kind of doesn't necessarily want any responsibility of governance. He thinks it was probably the right thing to do. He would probably do it again if he had a chance to. He's basically going to carry the guilt around for the rest of his life. And so I kinda think it's a welcome, it's a welcome exile. And what, what it reminded me of, and one of the final scenes, there's this part where Jon sends a quote to Tyrion and Tyrion's like, did you come up with that yourself about the relationship between love and duty? And John says, no, it's actually, this is something Aemon Targaryen ,the Maester, uh, at, um, uh, like Castle Black shared with me.

Strahilevitz: (00:18:34)

And I think there's a really interesting parallel between those two characters. Both of them were in line to be the Targaryen king and both of them, through their actions, took steps to not be the Targaryen king, I think. And there was clearly a lot of affinity between the two of them and I think he sort of regarded his decision to kill Dany and then confess to it and accept the punishment that would come as basically just following in Maester Aemon's footsteps of Yes, by right, I should be the king, I'm gonna do something voluntarily to remove myself from that. And then I'm going to live with the consequences and experience some regret, but it's probably the right decision for me and my character. So I think it makes sense.

Panel: (00:19:14)

Okay. Uh, should we open it up for students to say things now? I think we should open it up for students to say things now? That's a great idea. Ask things. Say things, yell at us. Alright. Disagree. Agree. Vehemently. Disagree.

Strahilevitz: (00:19:31)

We are, I can say we are being recorded for subsequent podcasts. So uh, uh, feel free to speak in a way that disguises your identity. If you don't, you don't want your comments shared with the world. You over there whose name I will not say as a result, you are no one.

Audience: (00:19:46)

It was the podcast. Um, what the heck was the point of the entire faceless-man plot line. So Arya, he goes over to Braavos for like a full season. Um, she gained this way overpowering ability. She comes back, she used it. She used to like bake one guy into a pie and we never hear of it again.

Masur: (00:20:05)

And she kills all of the Freys. There were like 200 people.

Audience: (00:20:07)

It's not very useful.

Strahilevitz: (00:20:09)

All the Frey men, she kills all the Frey men.

Audience: (00:20:13)

Yeah, but she didn't use any of the faceless man skills.

Audience: (00:20:17)

[inaudible]

Audience: (00:20:20)

Yeah but that's the faceless man, not the Anything Else man.

Audience: (00:20:22)

Yeah. Well the Night King happens to not really discriminate between living and dead, so that tool at good, but like she uses everything else.

Strahilevitz: (00:20:29)

So I really in that position, so I really wonder how this is going to get written up in the books. [laughter] Just are you there? books. I believe in the books. Okay. So, uh, they will, the day

Strahilevitz: (00:20:42)

After episode three airs, and I'm talking to Henderson about Game of Thrones and we're sort of bemoaning um, the episode, um, and I think, uh, you know, basically what the two of us agreed on was this was how that episode should have gone. Um, uh, there's a crowd of Whites around the Night King, you see suddenly one of the Whites you see standing next to the White King put a dagger in the, in the Night King's back and then the Night King sort of shatters and then you cut away, you see, uh, the Ice Dragon, you know, fall to the ground and then you see all the other Whites fall to the ground. And then there's one White standing there. What's the deal with that way? And then you do the, Oh, it's Arya. I think that, I think, my guess is that's probably what's going to happen in the book to make it more plausible than just she jumped out of the tree or whatever it was that allows her to, that allows her to get there.

Strahilevitz: (00:21:40)

And I think that that would have, that's basically that's the only way you can get to the Night King, is by disguising yourself as a, as a, as a dead creature and he might've not had the power to sense what was that as it is, you kind of see this White Walker like look back and then Arya comes in and that didn't make a lot of sense. I do want to say though that for Arya to wipe out all the Freys was a pretty significant moment of Stark family vengeance. So I want to say that it's not nothing but my guess is in the book they'll have her use her faceless man abilities beyond just being able to sneak up on people quietly to take out the Night King. What do you, what do you guys think?

Baude: (00:22:19)

So I do think this, this is the dilemma of the show runners, right. Some sympathy is that for the first several seasons they were just like, only hitting most of the plot lines in the books that seemed important and the cut out on a few, but like, but for the most part if it was in the books and got a lot of time, they seem to have become relevant later. And then when it becomes clear that they're going to have to finish the show and the books aren't going to exist, they have to begin with a basic outline from George R. R. Martin on what he wanted to do and their strategy at that point is just to like close off all plotlines they possibly can, uh, without sort of remorse. Like the prophecies go away all of a sudden, and this is one of them, so we'll, we'll find out later. I'm not convinced the Night King is even going to be in the books. Uh, but, but we'll see. I'm, I am convinced that there will be books, I believe.

Audience: (00:23:02)

I just want to know if like either your ideal king on the Iron Throne at the end or like your ideal last scene before the cutaway.

Strahilevitz: (00:23:13)

Yeah. Who should, who should be the rightful, if Westeros is to have a king or queen and who should be the, who would be the ideal leader?

Masur: (00:23:23)

Bran. I mean, look, I think, I think that there's, I think there's a very obvious and straightforward argument for Sansa. I mean, Sansa is the capable one. Sansa is, has proven herself to be a good leader. You know, um, Sansa did as much as any of these folks to prepare them to win the war against the Night King. I will say, I thought I was going to be, you know. Look, I ride with all redheads. I thought, okay, I was going to be, I thought-- or Tormund, it can be Sansa and Tormund together. I thought I was going to, I thought I was going to be 100--

Strahilevitz: (00:23:55)

I'm on team Varys now

Masur: (00:23:59)

I thought it was going to be Sansa. Um, 100% Sansa all the way. But I will say there is-- there is one thing that gives me pause about that, which is that, you know, the show has reminded us over and over again that the best ruler is someone who doesn't crave power and Sansa, there's a little, little too much Cersei in Sansa, which by which I mean more than zero, um, to make me absolutely comfortable. She's clearly become a very skillful operator. She clearly wants to power and the autonomy that comes with it and everything else. And you know, you could imagine a world 30 years from now in which Sansa, uh, you know, maybe Sansa was selected by the council and they're supposed to take, pick someone else when she dies when Sansa actually decides that she wants her children to hang onto the throne after her and starts engaging in Machiavellian machinations to make that happen.

Masur: (00:24:48)

So I have very slight concerns about Sansa and I do think there's actually an argument for someone in the Jon-Bran vein who really doesn't want it, doesn't want the power, who would rather be, who would be off, you know, swimming in a waterfall somewhere, flying in a raven or whatever and it just is not going to do anything to try to hang on to it after the fact. And so there's a sense in which I think that while Bran becoming king is not set up at all, it's not a terr-- like it's, it's not a terrible choice. Kind of in the grand scheme of things for the people of Westeros.

Strahilevitz: (00:25:21)

Will, do you have a view about the perfect king?

Baude: (00:25:26)

No, I have. So I guess I did think that, I think when they had Tyrion suggest to Bran that he should be Lord of Winterfell and he said, I don't want it. And then they have Tyrion say that Jon, sometimes the best king is the one who doesn't want it. I think we were expected already then to put two and two together for sure. Yeah. I don't really want any more.

Strahilevitz: (00:25:43)

So part of, um, so I, one thing that interested me about that scene is remember immediately before the White Walkers attack Winterfell, um, Bran is over by the fire hanging out and Tyrion's like, Oh, I think I'm going to go talk to Bran for an hour and a half. And they didn't really show any of the conversation. Um, but that conversation must've been very significant. And I think during that conversation, Bran must have revealed a lot of information to Tyrion about his ability to see the future, which I think is a pretty useful skill to have if you're king. Right? So you see no evidence [laugh] see all the paths [laugh] see all the paths, see the many futures, know what's coming, know what's happening.

Strahilevitz: (00:26:27)

Um, have the ability, I mean there is, you know, there's a missing table, there's a missing chair at the table and Tyrion, convenes the small council and there's, gee, there's no master of spies. Like you don't need a master of spies when Bran is the king and he can walk into any animals, you know, animals, uh, uh, brain and see what's there. So...

Masur: (00:26:45)

I mean, I will say I think that this point, it illustrates the sort of what I think is going to be ultimately frustrating about this line of this whole entire sort of line of reasoning or way of thinking about the show, which is, no, no, not, not wrong or [inaudible], just frustrating, which is so like, let's imagine that that's exactly what goes on in that conversation. We have no idea. Of course it doesn't help Tyrion make any better decisions over the next three episodes. I, he used to be bad about everything, but let's imagine that that goes on there. So then immediately begs the question, you know, can he merely see the future or can he do things that will actually affect the future? If he can really see the future, but it's unchanging then like what's the point? He can't prepare better for it. He can't alter it. Nothing. It doesn't help. If he can affect the future. Like, you know, hey Bran, like where were you when Daenerys, was killing a million people in King's Landing and like where were you? So I think that we can sort of spin out these questions and then answers into greater questions at infinite length and it will only drive us to sort of other, I don't know if plot hole is the right word, but other sort of conundrums that are equally unsatisfying as the one that we started with.

Strahilevitz: (00:27:47)

So the one that-- I have an answer to the question. I think probably of all the people who were assembled at the council in terms of like who would have been the best leader, I think probably, there's a good argument for Yara Greyjoy. Uh, you know, I think probably the leader of Westeros needs to be-- So, you know, certain people like Brienne of Tarth is super smart and extremely righteous and has great morals and you know, in a lot of respects would be a really good leader. In that society, maybe not the right leader because you probably need to be at least a little bit violent or vindictive or be able to inspire fear in a way that's, uh, maybe Brienne of Tarth cannot. I guess I'd say the same thing about Davos, super smart, super crafty. You know, Tyrion's making mistakes, right and left. Jon Snow's making mistakes all over the place.

Strahilevitz: (00:28:37)

Um, you know, it seems like when, when Davos is, um, is offering counsel as Hand, I can't think of a single bad decision that Davos advises. He's usually, on the right side where Stannis Baratheon's concerned, usually Davos giving Stannis good advice and then Stannis ignores the advice and that's what gets them into all kinds of trouble. So I think Davos very smart, very wise, comes from a common folk that's, that's an add, but maybe doesn't quite, cause sort of fear. I think there's pretty good, uh, argument for, for Sansa. I think there's a pretty good argument for Yara Greyjoy. She's trying to prevent the Ironborn from doing terrible things. She's trying to sort of make them into a more, um, sort of... where pirating is not there one trick pony. They don't want to just live on raiding and pillaging. She inspires loyalty in her people and Yara would have been good.

Masur: (00:29:31)

Caitlin, did you have a candidate?

Audience: (00:29:33)

Um, well a theory that I thought would've been great is um, if Tyrion kills Dany and then ends up with Gendry on the throne and a Stark as his Hand. So it ends the exact way it starts with the Baratheon - Stark - Lannister killing a Targaryen.

Baude: (00:29:49)

Cool. I like it.

Audience: (00:29:52)

I think I want to push back on the idea that Bran doesn't want to be the king. I think that he, um--

Audience: (00:29:56)

[laughter]

Audience: (00:29:59)

He all of a sudden for the whole season, he's used to say that he's a Stark, he's a three-eyed raven and all of a sudden he was fine with being a Stark again. And also he's the one who told Sam to tell Jon, knowing that Jon would probably, would be this, he would tell Dany and there'd be this issue and then that would probably lead to her death. And then he put a big bang. And so I just feel as though, I'm curious your thoughts on the idea that he genuinely doesn't want it.

Baude: (00:30:27)

Bran set it up all along. The answer to where was Bran during the destruction of Kings Landing is, yeah, he knew that would happen but it had to happen for him to get, you know, for us to be where we are now. It was all preordained.

Masur: (00:30:39)

Someone suggested to me that the move they were looking for was at that council, everyone says, okay, Bran's king, and then Bran stands up out of the wheelchair. The incredible Bran healed himself, setting up eight year long sequel. Bran going from, I'm not really Bran anymore to oh sure I'm Bran the broken. I'd be happy to be your King, is one of the many things that's weird about the last episode.

Strahilevitz: (00:31:06)

Is it Isaac Hempstead? Is that the name of the actor? Do you think, do you think the character was written that way or do you think Isaac Hempstead is just a bad actor? No, definitely I wanted to, you know, I won't. Yes. Cause, um, Maisie Williams turns, you know, it's really when you cast someone at a really young age, there's always a deep danger. You know, you might get, um, uh, you might get, if you cast Hermione Granger, it might turn out, she might turn out to be a great actress, but you might get Ron Weasley, who it turned out to be only a so, so actor there and so, uh, [inaudible] so I'll put my name, I'll put my name by no. We notify the acting. I forgot about that. So, uh, uh, okay. So is it just that, you know, in the books he's going to turn out to be a character who's more plausibly got the charisma necessary to occupy that office and you know, sometimes the king has to negotiate, sometimes the king has to win people over. Is that just that? Is that just poor range and, or is it like, oh no, he's actually a really gifted, actor at being someone with no personality. Yeah. Yeah.

Baude: (00:32:26)

So the actor did an interview at the beginning of this season in response and acknowledge that he basically seemed like a wet noodle for the past and said that they talked the writers of how to solve that problem this season and the solution was to kind of had lean into it and to like be extra weird so they could go over this like the kind of weird kind of vibe for awhile and I can actually be, he falls. At the end he's like, it'd be great if you could say I can't be your king Bran cause I'm still the three eyed raven or something and so by the end he seems to have forgotten about that too. I do suspect the all of the show runners total impatience with all the like prophecies, seeing the past, etc. is like a real loss to Bran. Like presumably the books will get a lot more on Bran's ability to like know what happened in the past and know what happened in the future and that will make it seem more compelling in some way. Even if he's still up Wendell, but...

Masur: (00:33:19)

I feel like we should call on Dan because he's going to win the McAdams game and the least he deserves is to get to say something.

Audience: (00:33:24)

I can suffer a thousand natural shocks about incomplete big plot lines, but it just felt very sloppy. So Cersei and Jaime are killed by about three pounds of rubble and she's crawling like, still strange, right there and then the Unsullied don't kill Jon when they find out that he killed Daenerys. Like I just don't understand what happened here. Any sense of duty to logic or plausibility? If you want to let the prophecies go by the wayside because you just don't know where they're going, that's fine, but it's just so incoherently put together with this cut scene for three seconds, like that's supposed to be a new episode or something.

Masur: (00:34:01)

There are a million of these. I mean, we could probably make up a list of these 30, 30 moments long, just in the last three or four episodes alone. Like why? Why does Dany take her ships and sail to Dragonstone, thereby setting up the Euron ambush that kills Rheagal? Why, um, why when Dany's standing outside of King's landing with like a million gigantic crossbows pointed at or do they not open fire on her et Cetera? It's at just because that's kind of how they needed to move their plot along. Like it's, it's, it's unbelievably sloppy writing in a lot of these different respects. So Oh, I just put that in. There are two levels on the initial that confused me on both. So there's the like characters do inexplicable things only because the plot commands it, which is like sloppy writing and lots would happen. Reconcile then is the level that like dragon's crazier than a Walker, which is, I literally cannot even tell what I was supposed to pretend happened.

Masur: (00:34:49)

Like I'm like I just can't even tell what parts of the Red Keep are intact or not like by the end. Cause like I thought the whole thing kind of collapsed, like substantial portions of it were gone and but then like they seem to be using large, but the small council, the small council, were using the ratio or even like I thought the whole room that Jamie and Cersei were in collapsed, but apparently like they've just been standing out of the archway, like the teleporting last season just like got me in the same way. Like I just literally can't tell how people moved around or where they are when things are happening even apart from the why. And that makes it just really hard for me to..to take it.

Audience: (00:35:27)

Do you think that Euron Greyjoy is going to like matter more than the books cause he felt like a throwaway character in the show.

Masur: (00:35:33)

Yes. In the book he had-- in the book, I think he, the book, He has uh, a horn of dragon binding, uh, that presumably is going to be used rather than the stupid crossbows, uh, as the method to possibly bring the dragons down. And presumably he will get a dragon and various much more exciting things will happen. In the book, he's also, he was also like scary and creepy rather than this like, I don't know, just kind of like pretty scary and creepy in the show. Obviously I have him like sketchy and creepy, but not like he's, he's playing sort of like bizarro of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, easy.

Strahilevitz: (00:36:07)

Yeah. I kind of, I liked the greater Greyjoy chapters in the books. Um, I even like some of the Dorne chapters in the books until you guys are the most recent book and then it goes, it goes off the rails. But, um, the Greyjoys are kind of more interesting in the show in the show let's on, I think. And obviously when you have to condense it, condense a ton of books into a little bit of shows, stuff is going to go by the wayside. But like, uh, Euron's, I think uncle? His uncle's an interesting character. Um, they get an in the books, they get into a lot of this sort of mystical aspects of the Iron Islands religion. And, uh, the ground god and all that stuff. So I thought the actor did a mostly good job.

Audience: (00:36:52)

Um, I thought the dragons are Dany's arc. [inaudible]...the execution of the Mad Queen storyline in that episode and the half that it happened over. So I was just wondering what your thoughts on that were.

Strahilevitz: (00:37:07)

I mean, I-- look so, um, uh, I do think we should talk about gender. I think a all male, you know, three dudes [inaudible] talk about it then the three of us. Um, after that we can talk about race I think, which we're equal well qualified for. Okay, good. Um, so, uh, I think what I will say is, look, I was not a fan of the, of the fifth, uh, of the fifth episode this season. Um, was that fifth episode, the burning of Kings Landing? Yes. Uh, I, I think it would have made perfect sense to me if the bells ring and then Dany goes and torches the Red Keep entirely, that's fine. That's within character. Um, I think sort of chasing after civilians, setting kids on fire just doesn't, didn't make any sense for that character. I think that the, um, you know, I think that the, the finale actually made more sense of it. So I understood Dany in the finale to not be insane, but rather to be someone who has this sort of messianic belief in her own abilities and started to believe our own press clippings in a way that had kind of always been there in that character. I think as soon as she goes through the fire and survives the fire and then the baby dragons are born, she gets this, um, uh, you know, has your confidence grown. She's no longer the little sister of Viserys. She's now, you know, someone who's destined to rule and, and has these magical abilities and this magical bond with the dragons. Um, and so I kind of just wish that, uh, the fifth episode had been more like the sixth where we can try and piece together a rationale for her actions that don't cause her to appear to be a monster, but cause her to appear to be, you know, someone more in line with other dictatorial personalities who maybe started out thinking some good things and wound up massacring lots of innocent people along the way. And history gives lots of examples of people like that.

Strahilevitz: (00:39:17)

So maybe the way to do that is, um, uh, is to make in her mind the people of King's Landing seem in some way complicit with the murder of Missandei. Like just have people there in the aud-- show cutaway, it adds 10 seconds, cut away to show like commoners gathered by the gates where Missandei is beheaded and have them cheering or just do something to where you can sort of say, all right, it was obviously an overreaction as a war crime. It's terrible. But she had some reason to, you know, to hate the children in Flea Bottom or the, you know, or, or the commoners cause as is it just, it just does it, you know, just go to King's Landing, wipe out Cersei, wipe out her power structure and then get on with it because the commoners of kin lan-- King's Landing or just frighten people.

Strahilevitz: (00:40:13)

So how do you think that the sixth episode where she gives that speech, where she has that conversation with Jon, where you get a better sense of exactly what she's thinking and she becomes kind of like a Lenin or Stalin type figure. That made a lot more sense to me than just, you know, this like wild eyed, um, this wild eyed murderer of inflicting mass casualties.

Baude: (00:40:35)

I got here, I agree with a lot of that. Uh, I guess I'd say like in general, I did not have I did not have a problem with that being the end point of her arc, but I had a lot of problems with how we got there. Uh, some of which are just related to like what Lior just said, but, but I guess too, like again, I remain confused at the end of the season even what we're supposed to think. And as between some combination of a mental break which apparently Targareyns have, a messianic belief in her own press or just like rational cost-- rational, ruthless cost benefit analysis, which she alludes to at some point. That like for millions of people in the future, it'll be worth it for the sort of like deterrence factor, whatever that she has on King's Landing.

Baude: (00:41:14)

I just, I remained confused at the end where they're supposed to be all of those or only some of those, and if so, which ones. I do also think and the like the show-- in the spirit of lazy show runners -- that part of how they, they often like to substitute sort of shock for some sort of more satisfying narrative, uh, thing. I think they did that here by making it happen so suddenly they wanted to get sort of like more shock at the expense of, I dunno, like, like exploring a lot of this stuff. And I suspect they also like part of the extra affects of shock came from going out of their way to make her be this kind of sympathetic like character and sort of partly for feminist reasons too. Like all lives they-- They knew all along they were like jetting that up to like, uh, like cruelly yank it away at the last minute. And that, that seems like maybe not the best way to handle it even if that's like where you're going.

Masur: (00:42:08)

Yeah, I mean I agree with this as well. I liked the, I thought that the Daenerys-Jon Scene in episode six was terrific and I liked that version of Daenerys and understood that version of Daenerys. But what she says in that scene cannot explain what she did in the previous episode. It just, that's the Daenerys who believes she's a messianic figure and just reading your own press doesn't just light everyone up, uh, all of them lock, stock and barrel like that. And so, um, you know, the show has so frequently been about these sorts of terrible choices that people are being put to where they have to make a decision, you know, love or duty and any number of other sorts of choices that the characters face. And so the Daenerys that I thought they were setting up with a Daenerys who had to decide between getting to sit on the Iron Throne herself, and which would mean killing innocence or sparing innocent lives, but not getting to sit on the Iron Throne.

Masur: (00:42:53)

And of course, what she does in episode five does not involve that choice at all. The war is over. She's won, the bells are ringing and she just decides to slaughter literally everybody, um, nonetheless. So I thought that that was a, there are a million ways that the show runners could've had her kill a lot of innocent people, but if hadn't made much more sense, had been truer to what the progression of her character, we'd seen that they did not pick the right one. And I'll say something that's a little bit more generally about this also. I mean, obviously I think Daenerys was the repository of a lot of, um, sort of a lot of thinking about like the role of gender in the show. And she was obviously this very powerful woman who was this liberator, but of course she wasn't the only one. You know, Yara takes the Iron Islands and Ellaria Sand takes over Dorne and Olenna Tyrrell comes to run the Reach and Sansa and Arya's role and like everything else. And so,--

Strahilevitz: (00:43:43)

Catelyn Stark.

Masur: (00:43:45)

Uh, yeah. Right. Um, um, and so Cersei, of course, and so, um, you know, I think that the sort of loss of Daenerys as that character by itself could have been tolerable. To my mind, like the last straw on that point was when Tyrion is standing there in the dragon pit and says, you know, nothing unites everyone, like a great story. And he's, you know, who's got the greatest story? Bran! And he picks like Bran, whose story is so much worse than the two sisters who were standing on either side of him sitting on either side of him. I just thought that was, you know, like the epitome of the show runners forgetting what they were doing and forgetting what the show was supposed to be about.

Strahilevitz: (00:44:23)

Or also displaying the sexism that exists in Westboro, see Society, you know? Um, absolutely. Although sexism, the Tyrion was not supposed to be sharing himself just yet.

Audience: (00:44:32)

Yeah. So Sansa ends up Queen in the North, but that was really frustrating to me just in the sense that why would everyone be like, who would pull the North Queen political situations here? Like why would the Dorne--

Masur: (00:44:48)

Yeah, right. But the Dorne's like, Actually, while we're at it quiet.

Strahilevitz: (00:44:55)

And the Iron Islands. I think Yara basically negotiated with Dany a deal that says the Iron Islands are going to be largely independent under your role and Dany's like, yeah, that's fine. And she's just like, no, we'll go ahead and start kid. I don't like to dance. Question. I don't know that we're going to have good answers.

Baude: (00:45:12)

So I wasn't, the North had had a long history of independence and then the northern part of Westeros for much, much less time than it had been independent, which Sansa alludes to.

Strahilevitz: (00:45:24)

Yeah. Dorne, you make the same arguments for Dorne. Yeah. Yeah. [inaudible]. I mean they haven't really built up the character yet and maybe they didn't want to give him any speaking lines other than yes or whatever.

Masur: (00:45:39)

While we're on the dragon pit--

Baude: (00:45:41)

sitting there, eating a Bagel..

Masur: (00:45:41)

Was that Howland Reed. Uh, so, so sitting between, uh, sitting between Sam and Edmure Tully was somebody, I spent a lot of time-- we don't know who they are and whose clothing is neither Northern or Southern. Who might be the speculation then? It might be Howland Reed. But if, so like...like I don't know, I don't want to be more bad if it is or it isn't. Like if not, who is it? And if, so like--

Masur: (00:46:07)

There's another guy who is sitting next to Royce, he does not look like your [inaudible].

Panel: (00:46:15)

Is that Robin? Oh, Robin Arryn [inaudible] other like that with a beard again. Yeah. But I don't know who that person was. You know, they don't tell us who that is but he also looked to northern, but how many representatives of the, you know, how many votes is the North getting? Well the way Sam Tarly's there presumably for House Tarly which is not one of the seven kingdoms? Correct. Right. But he wasn't, but he didn't need to [inaudible] it was clear. I mean I think that Davos-- Davos basically says that-- Davos points out to us, these are just all the people you've gotten to know in this show and Davos is the one who says like, I'm not sure I get a vote. I mean this, we were all thinking like you're sir, sir Davos and you command who exactly? So he just points out it's just a bunch of people we've gotten to know.

Masur: (00:47:01)

So it means, makes sense that Sam is there. Also Sam is maybe not Maester at that point. He's not a Maester yet. I have the same thought. I considered asking why on Earth Bronn is not at the council. Right. Cause Bronn's Bronn. But I think that right, exactly. I think Bronn has not been given the Reach yet and maybe Sam has not become a maester yet and that's what explains both of those. But maybe the whatever, like what is Davos doing voting on this?

Strahilevitz: (00:47:21)

Maybe the other guy there was the guy who was in charge of the Reach until they, or in charge of Highgarden until they gave Bronn, asked very warmly to be in charge of Highgarden. Anything is possible. Gotcha.

Audience: (00:47:34)

Uh, so one comment and one question is Professor Strahilevitz was saying earlier is that the whole out of character act that Jon does through, through the entire series is killing my parents. I guess I want to see if maybe there's a chance that there's another in that he abandons the night one, the Night's Watch at the very end and not so, in another subject without spoilers, but it's partly very similar to the, uh, plotline in Avengers with Captain America where that character's struggle is so much about him living his own life for himself and it goes to being a public servant. And so I took satisfaction in the fact that this really is like something that Jon wants to do. He sort of decided what to do with his own life for the first time.

Masur: (00:48:17)

Can I turn this back around for a second? So is your interpretation that when Jon goes North with the Wildlings that he's just forget it to the Night's Watch, he's going to go out and live as a Wildling up north? Does everyone agree that--? That was what I thought also, but I would hardly say I'm confident about that.

Audience: (00:48:30)

It's certainly debatable, for sure. And then the question is, um, Kit Harrington in an interview said, um, well everyone, everyone's sort of going to be frustrated by this ending and you should think about this as the way when you finish a good book, you're sort of always unhappy about it and there's not necessarily a way that this could be satisfactory to everyone. And without that being excused for all these things highlighted here. I guess it's kind of interesting to me that this, like The Sopranos ending goal, last ending, like are hugely contentious and most of society seems to think that those endings failed in some significant way. And I'm wondering if that should change through the way you think about this.

Baude: (00:49:12)

So I remember Jonathan and I had this conversation earlier. So I don't buy this excuse 'cause when I finish a really good book, I think. Wow, that was a really good book. And I think back to like, Wow, and they really set it up but they thought it through and that's really impressive. So I, you know, I do, I said whatever this from my point of view, really just the incentives and contract law of life set up with these shows, right. The, like, you invest in the show runners and after a certain number of seasons, like their, apparently, their incentives to sort of like really put their all in the last couple of seasons is diminished because they can now like get other opportunities and they want to move on and they're tired of it And apparently we don't have enough sort of societal incentives for them to do a good job. And I wonder if we should find some way to do--. Like more shows should be like the Americans and Breaking Bad, which had a really good successful endings and managed not to screw everything up and fewer shows should be like Lost or whatever like The Sopranos where there's a cop out at the end. So there ought to be either like a major award more important than the Emmys for like actually ending your good shows, and some sort of major penalty for retroactively screwing it up because apparently they are going up.

Masur: (00:50:13)

It's a contracting problem. Like we, the people of the world would have happily paid HBO to pick a couple of different show runners and make the thing last 10 seasons. But somehow we, we, we are unable to write that, uh, that mutually beneficial contract.

Strahilevitz: (00:50:25)

I will say like once, uh, George R. R. Martin, you know, alienates his interest in the franchise to Disney, which will happen, Disney will go and make the sequels and we'll have, you know, hopefully that'll happen while Maisie Williams is, you know, an appropriate age to still play Arya, the dread pirate Arya or whatever [laughter] Whatever calling her. That's great. Um, and you know, maybe we'll have an opportunity to sort of do the, you know, the Tormund and Jon buddy film, you know, up north and do all of that, all that stuff. I do sort of second the Americans and, and um, Breaking Bad as, as sort of epic endings that really worked well and were true to the quality of those shows, you know. But by the same token, like I kind of really liked that the ending of The Wire, which is just kind of a, okay, things are just going to keep going and Baltimore still screwed.

Strahilevitz: (00:51:17)

And um, I really liked the episode, the ending of Cheers, which will, which will date me. But if you've ever seen the rerun of Cheers, it's just, you know, the whole show is about people in a bar sharing each other's company and Cliff Clavin and this sort of one of the-- he's just like, you know, the secret of life. It's just, it's having comfortable shoes. And it's just like, that's, you know, that's cause he's a mail, he's a mailman and so it was like really important that mailmen have really comfortable shoes. And then it's just kind of like, you just kind of see these people talking and they drift off. And you know, I think there's two styles of, to me, successful endings. One is just the okay Breaking Bad, we sorta tied up everything in a bow or The Americans, we really, you know, there's this huge, two huge surprises, amazing acting, which I, and then there's this kind of like, okay, all we're seeing is this, you know, this, we're just, we're just carrying along these people's lives for a period of time.

Strahilevitz: (00:52:12)

And maybe there's no super satisfying ending. And to me, I think a good defense of the, of the Game of Thrones ending is it's basically that. Like, you know, this was a really important seven, eight, nine years in the history of Westeros and all the characters were changed and then Sansa's going to go off and do her thing and Arya is going to go do her thing and maybe it'll be more about that. And maybe there isn't. But, um, you know, at least other than Dany, the characters maybe, I don't know about Jaime, we haven't talked about Jaime's arc. But other than Dany, I think you can make an argument that all the main characters sort of went out in a way it was compatible with the, with the characters they were over the course of the seven years.

Audience: (00:52:58)

I was wondering for each of you, what he thought the most disappointing or undeserving death throughout the whole series was. Or who the most deserving was. For me, it's Peter Baylash.

Panel: (00:53:08)

Maybe the Night King. That's a pretty good one.

Strahilevitz: (00:53:31)

I would, I would go, um, the Red Viper. I just thought he was such a great, he was such a great character. I mean, and also I guess I would say, um, uh, um, oh shoot what is, what is Stannis Baratheon's daughter's name?

Baude: (00:53:29)

Oh, Shireen. Okay. That was-- God.

Strahilevitz: (00:53:31)

That was, those were--. For me actually, those were the two, two deaths that were just absolutely brutal to watch. And now I'm a book reader, so I knew about the Red Wedding and I knew about some of the other things that were going to happen, but I thought the Red Viper was just a remarkably terrific character. And to have him go out that way was, was really awful. Shireen, don't get me started. I mean that's, that was, uh, that was, that was terrible, but maybe necessary for the plot in the, uh, in the show. I am a big-- in the books, I'm a big Stannis Baratheon is the rightful heir to the throne of Westeros person. So I'm kind of hoping that in the books it never comes to that. And he won't, forfeit, forfeit his claim to the throne by murdering his daughter. 'Cause that's, that's the, where I am in the books and in the books, he's still alive.

Masur: (00:54:19)

Yes. I mean I think that there are a couple different ways to interpret that question. One of which is, you know, which is the death that was sort of the most devastating or the loss of a character who we prized the most, most and were sad to see go. And by that definition of the question, I, I'm, I'm with all of Strahilevitz's answers. I still cannot watch the Shireen death. It's too terrible. And I was really sad about the Red Viper. But the thing about those deaths is that they are, in my mind, they're true to the story. Like it makes perfect sense that Stannis would do everything including burning his own daughter to try to get on the throne. It makes sense that the Red Viper who's this sort of cocky guy would, would um, spike the ball before he gets into the end zone and get killed by The Mountain and sort of shows you that it's kind of indefatigable nature of The Mountain and so on and so forth.

Masur: (00:55:03)

So another way of interpreting the question is like, who is the character where the character seems so important and the death seems so trivial compared to the importance of the character. So, uh, for me that's the Night King, but I, I agree with the Little Finger characterizations. [inaudible]

Baude: (00:55:18)

I have two, I'm going to the second under patient. I have to, I'm torn between. One is Thoros of Myr, who for like, for a very long time, Thoros and Beric Dondarrion are this like duo and they're like the main symbol of the like weird power of the Lord of Light and like keeps coming back with this mission. And then on the like the stupid mission north of the Wall, it's only there to serve the plot that kill off Thoros for like no obvious purpose other than to like heighten the stakes for Beric. And because he was sort of the most expendable character who is still sufficiently important to send north of the Wall, which was like one of the most, I felt like we descended into one of these Star Trek episodes where you sort of know who's going to die because they're the like unnamed red shirts.

Baude: (00:55:56)

And I thought that the demotion of Thoros from like, you know, second most important priest of the Lord of Light after Melisandre to like random red shirt north of the Wall was disappointing. But the other one might be Rickon Stark, like, like all the other Starks [inaudible] come on, have some major importance to their arc except for Rob Stark. You know, Rob and Ned both die and in this like important and like earned way. Uh, and then Rickon just like randomly killed for being sort of like in the wrong place at the wrong time. And I think this specially as a book reader, so on the books, Rickon has disappeared properly to the island of Skagos, which probably has unicorns and like something important is going to happen based on like the whole, like he's not seen for a long time and he's all like a magical, a weird place where like-- George's even alluded to the fact they're unicorns in this world, but they're nothing like what we think they are. And I just like, I really want to know what's going on and in the show, they just bring him back to be randomly killed so that Jon can be one of the many stupid things Jon does like, yeah.

Strahilevitz: (00:56:56)

Are the Manderlys involved in sheltering Rickon, am I remembering that correctly?

Masur: (00:57:00)

I think so. Yeah.

Audience: (00:57:01)

Yeah. Yeah and Bran. Okay. So I just want to talk about maybe the show as a whole and the cultural significance in the real world. I mean, to me, I mean I feel I'm lucky to be a part of it. I was not there at the beginning, I haven't read the books. I don't know if that makes me irritating. I started watching it senior year of college. I was talking to my friends and I was like, you know, this probably how like Star Wars felt in the seventies almost, I don't know if that helps with that sir. [inaudible]

Strahilevitz: (00:57:32)

I did see, I didn't see Empire Return of the Jedi in movie theater when it came out. So, Taking my Fred Flintstone dyno car in order to reach the theater.

Audience: (00:57:45)

Print out your tickets on a type writer.

Strahilevitz: (00:57:48)

Yeah. So I do think what I mean. So, um, I was born in 1973. Star Wars came out in 1977 and I had the action figures when they first came out, but I don't think I saw the movie until maybe a year or two after it came out. Um, I think Star Wars felt like a distinct cultural phenomenon. There was a very big deal that would lend itself to these sequels, but to be honest, so did E.T., the Spielberg movie from 1983 which I think actually if I remember correctly, grossed more than Star Wars did or Empire. Um, so, you know, we went through and I feel like, you know, maybe for, maybe for some of you that is the Avengers movies or, um, uh, or, or some of the other, uh, sort of iconic programs.

Strahilevitz: (00:58:40)

Um, I do think it's interesting that Game of Thrones has become a global phenomenon so, so quickly. So, um, you know, how many, how many millions of people around the world are really invested in this, in this story. Um, that would've been true of Star Wars. That would've been true of E.T. But I feel like the, um, you know, with a motion picture, it becomes like, okay, this is something that people talk about for two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, and then it's out of theaters. And I think what's distinct about this is sort of the global plus it's taken, you know, nine years from, from start to finish. I don't know though what

Strahilevitz: (00:59:22)

I mean, I don't know if the global, I mean, Game of Thrones is, was what a lot of people will think of when they think Hollywood around the world. And I don't know sort of what they make of it in China or Ethiopia or Paraguay or you know, I just, I, I really would sort of love to watch it in an audience of non Americans and see what resonates, what doesn't resonate, that kind of stuff. What do you guys think?

Baude: (00:59:50)

I just, I just want to second what, uh, Masur said at the beginning. I guess like for all the complaints, I do think the fact that like 20 million people wanted to like watch the finale of a show about dragons. I just find like, so affirming and it makes me no longer feel like as much of a nerd, uh, now that's happening. But, but the one thing that we think about the phenomenon, I would say that it's also different from Star Wars is because they're always also been the books that have been a more niche, uh, like not as many people have read them, but some people do. Like that's always created even like within Game of Thrones fandom, these weird hierarchies between like people who are book and show people, people who like read the books first. And I know somebody actually was still, will not watch the show. He's just convinced the books are gonna come out.

Baude: (01:00:30)

It doesn't want to be spoiled for the books, although I don't know if they successfully avoid the spoilers about, about, about the show for the next 20 years. It's going to take George R. R. Martin to write the next book. Um, and I say this--. So when the show came out, I had a friend who was telling me to read the books for many years and I had ignored them and the show came out. I did not watch the show, but I thought, oh well I guess I'll start the books now because apparently is going to become a thing. And then I so loved the books but I started the show, and along the show kept reminding me how good the books were. At first, in a good way because I was like, wow, it's amazing when they pare out all the crap in the books, like how compelling this plot is! And then wow, it's amazing how they got away from the books. The books were really good. Um, so I ended up just another difference. But yeah.

Masur: (01:01:11)

I'll just say quickly. I mean I thought it was remarkable and sort of wonderful how it was this last piece of monoculture and how it kind of united everyone, we were all talking about the same thing and it went on for years, years and years. We were all talking about the same thing and how much we loved it, you know, and it united everyone, because we all loved it so much. It has kind of United everyone in their hatred of it as well. And I'm sort of in, I kind of appreciate that at some level. Like I think it's, it's very, it's been very healthy that the, you know, the collected populous has had a sort of cathartic moment, a spewing their rage towards Benioff and Weiss out onto the internet.

Masur: (01:01:43)

And I think that's good that we all get to experience that together and sort of seek fellowship in one another and our disappointment in the shows of failings in the last episode. Uh, but nonetheless, I mean it's, it's been very significant and people are gonna, you know, five years from now or actually much, much sooner than that one. The next spin off or sequel or a prequel comes out, everyone's going to forget how disappointed they were about epis-- season seven and eight, and we're all going to be just as excited to see the next one. And if it's good, we're all going to latch onto it in exactly the same way.

Strahilevitz: (01:02:11)

And I will say, I'll be contrary. And I actually kind of, I liked, I liked the finale. I thought it was more good than bad. I was, I think the comparison to Lost, that was, oh yeah, that was a cluster. It's terrible.

Masur: (01:02:23)

On a "how did the series end scale" of zero to 10 where, you know, Breaking Bad as a 10 or something like that. This is like a four or a three and Lost is like a negative 17. All right. Maybe we should do one more and then call it since it's getting late and people have other places they have to be.

Audience: (01:02:40)

There were a lot of things like purporting to take the mantle. Uh, there's like a little time TV show. Which TV show used dark materials like whole bunch of um, fantasy series. Which long time fancy pants are excited for, myself included. What are you guys excited for?

Strahilevitz: (01:02:58)

Hmm.

Audience: (01:02:59)

If anything.

Strahilevitz: (01:03:02)

I dunno, I'm kind of thinking about just watching the Veep episodes I missed and then cancelling my HBO subscription.

Masur: (01:03:12)

Yeah, I got, I don't know, I'm going to say I'm going to say a hype for me, a hyper cliched thing. Uh, which is, which I bet you know what it is already, which is, um, you know, I think that one of the things that was great about Game of Thrones was that for the first let's say five or six seasons, was that people did things that made sense for them to do. They behaved according to the incentives that were placed in front of them. They acted in rational ways, you know, that drove them towards places that you could understand and bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. And there was no rhyme or reason to it. It was ugly and messy. Like the real world, it showed you like some aspect of the world like that. Yeah, there's like a lot of dragons and sword play to go with it. But like that for me was what was so great and in some ways transgressive of the first six seasons. If you like that kind of television then you should all go watch The Wire if you haven't already because The Wire is the very best of that, um, all encapsulated and it does not end on a three out of 10 or whatever.

Strahilevitz: (01:04:09)

Yeah. And maybe it, maybe another recommendation, maybe that's uh, if you haven't seen The Wire, you absolutely should. Um, another show that really does that incredibly well where there actually is a final chapter of it is Deadwood, which was another show that ran on HBO. I really strongly endorsed Deadwood. Um, it ended too soon, but there's going to be a two hour movie to finish the thing off. It's just a beautifully written, gorgeously acted wonderful story to be told. And it has the same aspect of it's really good television for smart people in the way that it's best Game of Thrones could be. Um, I think even at it's worst, The Wire is really good television for smart people. And I think of Deadwood is really, really good television for, you know, discerning people who really like puzzles and intricacies and that kind of stuff.

Panel: (01:04:58)

Should we? Okay. Thanks for hanging out guys.

(01:05:06)

This audio file is a production of University of Chicago Law School. Visit us on the web at www.law.uchicago.edu.