Wednesday, 16 April 2014
On the Death of Magnificently Horrible Little Assholes
Its been long enough that I feel like I'm not spoilering anything at this point. Really, if you haven't seen it by now, the hell with you. Joffrey's dead.
And how great it was... but I wonder if this might not also be a problem?
You see, here's the thing: Joffrey was a little cunt. But he wasn't just any cunt, thanks in part to the writing, in part to the director, and in large part to the truly excellent actor who portrays him (Jack Gleeson), Joffrey became the greatest cunt of all time.
We have hated Joffrey for four years now. And the show has, miraculously, managed to ratchet up that hate in almost every episode. Whenever you thought you couldn't hate Joffrey more, suddenly they found a way to make it possible. He had no redeeming qualities, but more importantly he was just the perfect villain, it was almost impossible to feel any sympathy for him. The closest you could come is to wish he had never been born; that, by the standards of normal human relationship toward this character, would be "extremely merciful".
Wishing him a swift and painful death? That would still be well in the "merciful" range.
Jack Gleeson is an amazing actor, and I think perhaps what may have turned out to be a surprise even to the producers/directors themselves was just how great he'd be at being such an utter shit. By all report, in real life Gleeson is a very likeable person, gentle and kind. He's studying theology (he's extremely intelligent, having won a scholarship to Trinity College (Dublin), and spends his time reading Soren Kierkegaard and smoking a pipe:
How's that for a famous pipe smoker!? And from the looks of it, I can tell you its almost certainly a Peterson, which is just the right Irish pipe for a nice young Irish scholar.
So truly, he is a fucking amazing actor, if he, such a nice guy, can channel out all that horrific awfulness and become such an absolutely despicable little twat you just want to strangle with your bare hands.
And we will never see his kind again. Its impossible.
I refuse to believe that Game of Thrones will ever be capable of having a villain of his calibre.
And there's the rub. The problem is, we might have been able to stand it if Tyrion died, or Aria died, or just about any character. Because as awesome as those characters are, you can envision other equally awesome characters arising. But no one, ever, will be as utterly magnificently god-fucking-awful as Joffrey.
And of course, even without having read a single novel, I knew that sooner or later Joffrey had to die. I assume he's died when the novels said he did, but I didn't know this out of spoilers. Nor of course because its what usually happens to 'bad guys' in fantasy. Game of Thrones doesn't do usual; but it DOES do credible. There was no credible way, at this point, within the emulation of the world, that Joffrey would end up "winning" the Game of Thrones. He was just too utterly useless; in the end, his own family would have killed him if no one else did. He was too unstable, too incompetent. The little shit was doomed; and that was part of the fun, in fact, we closed the last episode with a situation that wasn't so much a "whodunnit" as a "who the fuck would not have done it?". Just about EVERYONE at the wedding, and most people who've ever heard of Joffrey on Westeros, would have wanted him dead. He was hated by all.
So now, we've had our great release of seeing the little fucker die; too quickly, not agonizing enough, but then again no death could possibly have been agonizing enough for what Joffrey merited. Who will replace him? Who could we possibly hate as much?
There's no one. I think the 'bastard of bolton' is being set up to take his place, but its just no contest. Bolton's bastard is a sadist and a psychopath but so what? We've seen his kind before. Plus, the sensation we get from that character is that he's just a mentally ill monster. He's not the perfect combination of clearly cognizant of what he's doing, responsible for his own actions, and yet just utterly slimy anyways that was Joffrey Baratheon/Lannister.
My concern is that the show will never be quite the same. What we saw this weekend might well have been the high-water mark. I'm sure there's tons of awesomeness to come, and tons of incredible awfulness too, but it'll never quite be the same to tune in to Game of Thrones without knowing that by the end of the hour you'd have found a whole new thing to hate about the most odious character television has ever produced.
Currently Smoking: Davidoff 400-series Apple + C&D's Pirate Kake