Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones Season 8. After Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones, "The Bells," I don't even know what's going on anymore. Black is white, up is down, right is wrong, Daenerys has gone off the rails in the span of two episodes. Friends, I am shook. I found myself blinking in irritated confusion throughout the episode and, to be honest, it took me to the same emotional place I go when parenting leaves me feeling betrayed and angry. So it should come as no surprise that when you're watching Game of Thrones Season 8, the things you've said to your children are definitely going to come in handy... specifically when the credits are rolling and you're left dumbfounded, angry, and at an otherwise loss for coherent words.
Some will argue that the disheartening and unexpected outcomes in "The Bells" made perfect sense. Game of Thrones has never been about expected outcomes or wish fulfillment. I mean, remember how Ned was beheaded? Remember the Red Wedding? The show is famous for twists we never see coming. And I'm really fine with that. (Like, from a narrative perspective, because emotionally I'm still not over Ned.) But until now, pretty much all of the big, gasp-worthy moments made sense based on painstaking character development that had been constructed and cultivated over seven seasons. The conclusion of "The Bells" was based on sudden character changes that might have made sense had they been built over time, but were rushed for a splashier, hurried final season.
Kids do this, too. All the damn time. They're generally not even doing these things for shock value or even on purpose, though. They're just little weirdos. Nevertheless, the perplexed, exasperated sensation I feel as a parent to my children and a fan of Game of Thrones is often the same.
"OMG You're Amazing"
This season wasn't entirely without some good and even really great moments, chief among them Arya destroying the Night King. So just as we are often delighted and in awe of our children to the point where all we can do is sigh or squeal in delighted appreciation, so too has this season given us some pure joy.
Children have this habit of making mountains out of molehills, like when they run to you howling like they've lost a limb and then you discover that they've barely scraped their knee and you can fix the whole situation with a Mickey Mouse band-aid. "Really? All that fuss over this?"
Game of Thrones did that this season with the threat of the "Long Night" — the great battle between good and evil beyond which nothing else matters. It was resolved in a single episode. Even within that episode it takes place over the course of a few hours. With kids that kind of absurdity makes sense, because they're children and to them even molehills can look like mountains. But on Game of Thrones it was just rushed to the point of anticlimax.
"Don't Be A Tattletale"
Sansa, you're trying to start trouble and you know it. Knock it off.
"What Are You Doing?!"
Both of my children, like all children, have gone through stages where their mood, desires, motivations, and sometimes, it seems, personalities, have changed without warning and for no discernible reason. But I don't worry too much, even as I struggle to deal with it, because this is a hallmark of being a child.
This is not what one expects from adults, much less adults in a fictional narrative. Look, there have been twists we didn't see coming and that we might not like, then there's *broadly gestures to 90 percent of what's happened this season in bewildered frustration* which makes no sense based on seven years of mostly excellent character work and storytelling.
"Would You Just Kiss Your Aunt?"
OK, I am a firm believer in the idea that no one owes anyone affection and should therefore never have to hug or kiss or otherwise touch anyone they don't want to. But sometimes it's like, "Oh come on, dude. You're making this weird, she's you're aunt. Just give her a smooch."
Now, granted, the contexts here are wildly different and in the case of Game of Thrones it's a sad commentary on what I've come to find acceptable in this fictional world. But seriously, Jon, get over it and stop making it a thing. You could rule side by side and literally make everyone happy, including yourself. It's not like you knew she was your aunt when you started "kissing."
"I Am In No Damn Mood For This"
This is basically a parenting mantra, because there's so much I'm never in the mood for, to varying degrees of annoyance and justification. You know what I was in absolutely no damn mood for watching Game of Thrones, though? Having the showrunners basically tell me that the women on the show just aren't likable enough to win over Westeros, and they're definitely all too emotional, so we should all be OK with the mediocre white guy with absolutely no experience in government taking over the throne.
No. Damn. Mood.
"Be Nice To Your Puppy!"
Kids need to learn how to interact with pets and, in that process, sometimes they're a little less than perfect or even downright naughty. They might be rough with their pets or pull their tails or even hit or kick. It's up to us to tell them to be nice, because dogs are our friend.
So, and maybe it's because he didn't have parents anymore, but someone needed to tell Jon "Worst Pet Owner Since Ramsey Bolton" Snow that he needs to give Ghost some cuddles and pets and not just abandon him without so much as a goodbye. People say that anyone who's mean to dogs cannot be trusted, so how come Jon is getting a pass here? You be nice to your very good boy, Jon! Because Ghost is a good boy!
"I Feel Like All The Books Lied To Me"
Parenting books never give you the full story. There's so much you will experience "in the field" that is just nowhere to be found on the pages or even between the lines of the best, most thoroughly research books, because children are always discovering new ways to worry us or just be generally bizarre.
A Song of Ice and Fire, the books that serve as the basis of Game of Thrones aren't finished yet... like, very annoyingly not finished but OK, whatever. I've accepted that the show has gone beyond where the books have. But even based on what we do have so far, what George R.R. Martin has written and what showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have put on screen are worlds apart at this point.
"Get Away From Your Sister"
Again, very different contexts between parenting and Game of Thrones, but still a common refrain. Just stay the hell away from each other, for goodness sake!
(Seriously, Jaime, WTF happened to seven seasons of absolutely amazing and natural character growth?!)
"Where Is This Coming From?"
Question to both my children and Game of Thrones: Seriously, though. Where? Where did things take this turn? I'm trying really hard to understand and I love you so much so I'm giving you, like, a lot of leeway here, but I am baffled and, frankly, more than a little angry at this point because stop it. You're being awful. This isn't you.
"I See How Hard You're Trying"
Kids need encouragement. They don't have any sort of mastery over their world yet, and that can be frustrating and leave them feeling hapless.
And speaking frustrated and hapless... Oh, Tyrion. Poor, poor Tyrion. You really are giving this your best efforts.
"Use Your Words"
Kids aren't naturally great at verbal communication, and who's to blame them? It's a skill that must be developed over time. Game of Thrones has had this problem the past season, where dialogue has been replaced with lingering close-ups of meaningful glances and flashy pyrotechnics.
Get back to the basics, GoT.
I'm not quitting on either my children or Game of Thrones, but the latter is only true due to the fact that there's only one episode left.
And, the truth of the matter is, even when either annoys me, I still love them both very much and appreciate the time we spend together.