It’s about one moment,
The moment you think you know where you stand
And in that one moment
The things that you’re sure of slips from your hand
And you’ve got one second
To try to be clear, to try to stand tall
But nothing’s the same,
And the wind starts to blow – Jason Robert Brown, “The New World,” from Songs For A New World
Ever since “The Children” wrapped up Game of Thrones’ fourth season, I’ve been humming the opening from Jason Robert Brown’s brilliant Songs For A New World. The song is all about defining moments when you realize that the future isn’t coming anymore, but the future is upon you, and the things you thought you knew mean nothing. (You know nothing, Jon Snow!)
Season 4 of Game Of Thrones was all about recalibrating from The Red Wedding and the end of The War of The 5 Kings. Personally, I liked this new, more sprawling, completely chaotic world, though I totally understood why a lot of people were describing this season as “fractured,” and “thematically void.” But then “The Children” happened. Oh God, did it ever hammer home the point, visiting all of our young heroes (except Sansa, who’s story wrapped two episodes ago, but who’s final moments fit in very well with the rest of the characters we see here.) and showing them either closing out old chapters, or opening new ones. I’d also put Tyrion in this camp. Although not one of the children or teens that I think mainly got the focus there, his finale fit well into this theme as well.
Tyrion’s story this season, which early on lost him his wife, his lover and freedom, probably held a lot more suspense for those who hadn’t read the books. Turns out that knowing Tyrion escapes, but not before murdering Tywin and Shae in moments of revenge fueled rage, takes a lot of the interest out of those conversation between him and Jaime in his cell. I remember reading those scenes with rapt attention. But, watching them, while I admired the skill in translating them from those involved on the production side, and the performances of Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, I didn’t feel any real urgency to them. And the finale moment, which I had been looking forward to since, well, since I read A Storm of Swords, completely underwhelmed me, especially after the fireworks of Tyrion’s speech at his trial.
Then there’s Sansa. Poor Sansa. (Seriously, have you spoken to a GOT fan who doesn’t just sigh and say “Poor Sansa” when you bring her up?) After killing Joffrey with a necklace. Or well, after Little Finger and Lady Olenna killed Joffrey with a necklace, Sansa had to go to the Vale and be terrified for a while, but then, in the end (two episodes ago) we saw that Sansa has learned a lot from her time in King’s Landing. And of course she “knows what (Baelish) wants.” Which is her. In bed. Or pretty much anywhere, I’d guess. She’s going to use his desire for her to get ahead or at least stay safe. But I also don’t see her actually having sex with him. Then she’d lose her leverage. And she’s not going to do that again. At least, I hope she doesn’t.
Jon Snow has dealt with a lot of transitions since the pilot. He went from being the second class, but still admired son of Ned Stark, to the angsty kid no one noticed on the wall, to wildling spy, to accused traitor, and now he’s, well, he’s become a man. His two big finale moments were his counseling of Stannis and Davos. He proves that yes, he’s still Ned’s son. (Or is he? I have my own thoughts on that particular matter.) But he’s also his own man. The things that he’s done and seen have changed him, it’s really that simple. He asserted that. Also his decision to take Ygritte’s body out beyond the wall before burning her. It’s a sweet gesture to his lover and shows how deeply he understands the Wildlings.
As for Bran, who received the win for the finale in my eyes, he’s about to learn how to truly tap into his magical powers. Look, I’m the first to admit that I roll my eyes every time Bran showed up on screen and I’ve skimmed through more than the fair share of his chapters in the books. But this is when his stuff goes from being dry and expository to magical and super cool, so I’m excited to see this and not have to bite my lip every I want to explain how cool heart trees are and how Bran can…ooops, see, SPOILERS!
And Dany. Poor, misguided, up on her high horse Dany. The Mother of Dragons got a double whammy in the finale. Turns out not all of the slaves in Mereen like freedom. The older ones who had grown attached to their masters and masters’ families wanted permission to return. I couldn’t have been the only person who thought of Scarlett O’Hara and Mammy right? Anyway, then it turns out that Drogon killed a little girl and flew away. So, Dany had to chain the other two in a basement and it broke her heart. It’s almost impossible to imagine how hard this must be for her. This woman is all about freedom, but she had to decide to chain the dragons to protect her people. Sucks to be Khaleesi these days you guys. Like big time.
And finally there’s Arya. Arya embodies my whole Songs For A New World theme probably best of all. Because she ended the season on boat towards Braavos, off to find her fate. (Which is my favorite part. Seriously, I love nothing more than Arya’s adventures in Braavos, and cannot wait to see how they’re adapted.) The season ended with a main character smiling, feeling something resembling hope when she considers the future. And this isn’t even getting into what happened with The Hound, as amazing as that was.
That’s what’s kind of amazing about this ending. Dany and Jon (a combo I would like to write about regularly in the future) put childish things aside, stepping into adulthood in big ways. Meanwhile, Sansa, Bran and Arya have things to look forward to for the first time in a long time. They have some measure of control over what’s happening to them.
So does Drogon, even if his brothers are now in chains.
A new world calls across the ocean
A new world calls across the sky
A new world whispers in the shadows
Time to fly, time to fly…