Though Game of Thrones started off as a very low fantasy show, in the series’ 6 year (and counting) run that has quickly changed. In a world that had almost no magic to begin, Game of Thrones is now drowning in magic, dragons and all manner of supernatural weirdness. In “The Door” however the HBO show might have finally gone one step too far. Time travel is now a part of the Game of Thrones canon and unlike all manner of other weirdness it’s hard to see how it will fit.
Time travel is of course not the first time that Game of Thrones has introduced a potentially world-breaking new idea. There are a ton of weird things that have happened in Game of Thrones but they almost always get balanced out. Here are just a few times the show has had us wondering — WHY?
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Killing Off Main Characters Is Heartbreaking and Now Completely Acceptable
The first big shock Game of Thrones was when they killed off the “main character” Ned Stark. In actuality Ned wasn’t so much the main character as he was the main impetus for the plot but Sean Bean was on all the posters so every fan just assumed Ned was going to be the hero. While Ned’s death caused some fans to rage ultimately it was the greatest thing Game of Thrones could have done. Ned’s death really started the whole messy and bloody saga. Without Ned’s death there is no War of the Five Kings, there’s no Red Wedding and there’s no killer black magic shadow babies. Speaking of which….
Magic Is Totally Normal, When it Has Its Limits
There’s no getting around that the image of Melisandre killing birth to an assassin made purely of shadow won’t be seared into our collective retinas until the day we die. Melisandre going from not pregnant to full term and giving birth in the course of about 5 seconds will forever be one the biggest jaw-droppers on Game of Thrones. Melisandre and all her Lord of Light magic powers are totally weird. Whether it is resurrection, extending life to ridiculous long means or the aforementioned shadow babies, the Lord of Light can do insane things.
The reason it has all worked is because there are very clear rules. Melisandre, and various Red priests and priestesses have been clear on one point. Their magic is not limitless. It costs something and the well will eventually dry up if they use too much. It’s magic but it is magic within limits.
Dragons are Too Cool Not to Exist
Speaking of paying prices, season 1 closed on the first real event of supernatural wonder. Dragons were born into the world in the season 1 finale after we were told that dragons had died off years ago. Since dragons are one of the biggest staples of high fantasy fiction this should have been the first hint that Game of Thrones was not just a show about hardened medieval politics. Yet no one really lost their mind (in a bad way) when Dany hatched her dragons.
The reason being that dragons on Game of Thrones have just become another animal or creature. They are capable of a lot of destruction but they are still just creatures. They might be intelligent but they’re not the super intelligent dragons of most myths. Dany’s dragons don’t speak telepathically or otherwise. They don’t have personalities beyond one being slightly more aggressive than the other. The dragons are really no different than the direwolves that were introduced in the first episode. Well, except that the dragons have all remained alive and direwolves are dying quicker than their owners, the Starks.
Ice Zombies are Real Because Winter Will Come, Eventually
Speaking of something else that was in the very first episode, the White Walkers have been on the show since the very first scene. A White Walker attack literally opens Game of Thrones. Undead ice zombies were pretty much the introduction to the show and Game of Thrones was still considered “low fantasy” for a very long time. There’s a simple reason for that too. The White Walkers are not that complex of villains or characters.
There is obviously something magical to the White Walkers and as of “The Door” we know their supernatural origin. Yet for all intents and purpose the White Walkers are just the personification of an idea. The White Walkers are essentially a living metaphor.
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It would be very hard to make the audience care about the idea that winter is coming. It’s just weather. So that’s the purpose of the White Walkers. They exist to give the audience and the characters something more to care about than the coming of snow. They are a threat that lacks humanity and just has one purpose: to kill.
But Time Travel Might Be One Step Too Far
The problem with time travel being introduced is that Bran can time travel and effect things throwing everything out of whack. There seems to be no limit to what Bran can do with his powers. Unlike the followers of the Lord of Light, Bran does not need to “light his fires” to tap into his powers. Bran’s only limitation is his morality and impulse control.
This is a problem because “The Door” proved that Bran pretty much as the worst impulse control. It’s understandable, he’s a teenage boy. No matter his age, Bran ruined everything in the course of 5 seconds during “The Door.” Bran couldn’t let go of his curiosity and because of that he got his direwolf, the Children of the Forest, the Three-Eyed Raven and yes, of course, Hodor killed.
Thankfully on Game of Thrones, time is a closed loop. If Bran goes back to effect the past he will only be putting into motion something that has already happened. There are no resets or alternate timelines in Game of Thrones‘ future. While encouraging, this doesn’t change the fact that Bran now has too much power for one person. There’s a fan theory that the Mad King Aerys was not actually insane but driven to that point by Bran. Much like Hodor, Bran broke Aerys’ mind by time traveling to the past. By trying to fix things, Bran actually ruined it all.
Even if this isn’t true, it still could happen. Bran has the capability to do it. It’s too much influence for one character to have, Bran is so powerful that is makes pretty much every other character obsolete. Game of Thrones is an ensemble show and at this moment in time Bran is pretty much a living god. Who cares about the tussle for the Iron Throne when Bran can pretty much drive them all into insanity.
But what do you think? Is Bran’s new powers of time travel and manipulation too much?
Game of Thrones season 6 airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO.
(Image courtesy of HBO)