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11 times ‘Game of Thrones’ got it right about Sri Lanka’s state of politics


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 GAMES: Stark
 

All good things must come to an end. Good Governance, ‘Avengers,’ ‘Game of Thrones’. While the first was not very good and the second went mostly well but was bad in bits with a sad endgame, the last of these got ugly in the season and series finale. Here, for those of us who like parallel universes in which nothing is as it seems, are some odious comparisons. 

1. There is a true leader among us somewhere

Jon Snow learns from Samwell Tarly that he, Jon, is actually Aegon Targaryen – the most likely successor to the Iron Throne over which the Seven Kingdoms have fought for time out of mind… and oh, as a sign of his heritage, the bastard son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark learns to ride a dragon (a heritage of the Targaryens).

In a milieu where our main houses have let us and themselves down, everyone’s on the lookout for a high-born saviour. I’m sure many minor characters have told the likes of Kumar Sangakkara that he’s fit to be the best among the rest to lead us to glory. If there’s one problem with this, it’s that Sanga – like Snow – is shy and effacing of self… for all his strategic advantages. I’ll also eat my hat if Chevaan Daniel hasn’t thrown his in the ring… for at least prime ministerial but possibly future presidential stakes. There be dragons to tame along the road for the likes of these.

2. Some people never learn because they’re too naïve and trusting

Ser Jaime Lannister rides alone to Winterfell where he reveals to the Northern Kingdom’s lords and ladies – who had distrusted Daenerys and doubted Cersei – that the latter had deceived Jon Snow… there were going to be no Lannister armies sent up north to help humanity combat the Night Walkers. This betrayal prompts Daenerys to dismiss the usefulness of her hand Tyrion Lannister – who, despite everything nefarious and underhand his sister Cersei had done for seven straight series, tended to trust her word…

Do I need to force the parallel? Our erstwhile Coalition against Corruption is Cersei through and through. It’s just that you and I – like Tyrion: savvy in every other respect except as regards our established political leaders – haven’t all yet quite seen through the parties we still tend to trust. Shame on us! 

3. Expect the unexpected from minor players

Arya seduces Gendry (who is later formally recognised as a Baratheon) but rebuffs his marriage proposal; Jaime formally knights Brienne of Tarth (and then promptly beds her); Bran proposes himself as bait to lure out the Night King, who wants to destroy the Three-Eyed Raven (whose memory of history threatens the White Walkers and their deadly intentions to wipe out humanity)

Where the usual suspects have failed – and keep failing time and again – there are some bit players and relatively minor characters who could pull a rabbit out of a hat. I’m keeping an eye on the likes of Rosy, Mangy and Ruwan W.

4. Valour and strength in numbers don’t always win

When the combined forces of the living face the Army of the Dead… the Dothraki are decimated, the Unsullied fall in unimaginable numbers, and Ser Jorah Mormont – who once betrayed her trust by spying on her – sacrifices his life in Daenerys’ service

Sri Lanka’s military and its intelligence arm are arguably among the best in the world after decades of internecine warfare. They could win big over home-grown extremists every time. If not for the fuddy-duddy, fumbling-bumbling, often foul-play suspected political mandarins who rule the roost and sacrifice the valorous in our security setup by exposing the nation to defencelessness through petty politicking and personal lapses.

5. There’s a reason why true leaders wish to remain anonymous these days

Jon reveals his Targaryen claim to Daenerys, as well as Sansa and Arya… with diverse results – Dany wants him to keep it a secret because of what it will do to him, them and her claim to the throne; Sansa tells Tyrion, sensing an opportunity to have her foster-brother anointed as the true sovereign over the seven kingdoms; and inscrutable Arya sets off for the south, hell-bent on assassinating Cersei who currently occupies the Iron Throne

Think about it. If your political opposition was to be a former strongman-bureaucrat who batters and bruises his political, military and civilian foes with equal despatch – would you be able and willing to say “under the bludgeonings of fate, my head is bloody but unbowed”? I can think of someone who once did – and he’s not in the land of the living any more… 

6. Expect serious setbacks if you’re riding into battle against tyranny

At Dragonstone, Daenerys’s army – bound for King’s Landing – is ambushed by Euron Greyjoy’s fleet and Rhaegal her dragon is killed by ship-mounted scorpions

However, those opposed equally to innate tyranny and technical incompetence to rule alike may have no choice if they or we want to salvage the last fading chances left to our homeland. So saddle up, Sanga – or any other would-be saviour of a benighted nation! Anyone? Chevaan’s already campaigning as if he’s on a crusade! 

7. Also, expect some real shockers along the way

In a shocking episode titled ‘The Bells’, the head count mounts: Varys is burned by Drogon upon Daenerys learning that he has tried to contrive the Iron Throne for Jon Snow; Jaime Lannister kills Euron but is mortally wounded (later he will die under the ruins of the Red Keep with his sister-lover Cersei in his arms); in a tragic Clegane faceoff, the Hound kills the Mountain, but only at the cost of his own life… and most surprisingly of all, Daenerys – whose trajectory had taken her full circle from victim to liberator to oppressor to victim once again (this time, of her own uncontrolled temperament), indiscriminately lays waste to King’s Landing while a shocked Jon and Tyrion watch from the rubble of the demolished capital city below

The good will go about stirring up apathy wherever they go, in opposition to anyone who emerges to challenge the standing order. The bad will fight tooth and nail – in the House and on the street en route to the polls – to secure the status quo to their advantage. The ugly… well, we all know who once rode a fiery dragon to war – and threatens to do it again. In fact, he’s likely to use fire in peacetime! Woe to the people he plans to save… ’ware such saviours and deliverers, who don’t know they’re nothing much more than war criminals!

8. In the heat of the moment, one’s true character will stand out

Not merciful in victory, the Unsullied execute surrendered King’s Landing troops – on Daenerys’ orders

This may be one reason why the executive on both sides of the present political divide hesitates to nominate our former martial commander as minister of law and order. The field marshal himself seems to perform better with parliamentary skirmishes seeming to be his forte these days…

9. No one as arrogant as the righteous ruler

Not one to rest on her laurels, Daenerys announces to her blood relative and erstwhile lover Jon Snow that she plans to ‘liberate’ the rest of the world at the head of her conquering armies led by a single dragon. Do her intended liberated wish to be free? They don’t get that choice, nor other would-be saviours and deliverers – so she tells a troubled Jon… leading him to assassinate her in his arms a few fatal steps away from the fated Iron Throne

Once upon a time, we stood by the personality (I use the term loosely) who best epitomised a liberal democratic approach to nation-building, transitional justice and all that jazz. Only to see his house of cards tumble in the aftermath of last year’s coup’s defeat. Only to recognise, much to our dismay, that our cardboard hero not only has feet of clay, but is a democrat abroad only in order to be a tyrant in his own party. Hope you won’t be fooled again, civil society and civilised academics and professionals? 

10. A pyrrhic victory awaits the persevering

Tyrion puts his rhetorical skills to good use in persuading the noble leaders of the Seven Kingdoms to institute a sort of appointed monarchy. Later, he deploys his diplomacy in reorganising the Small Council to rule Westeros wisely in the absence of their new king, Bran the Broken – who comes to the throne unexpectedly, but after clever convincing of the Westerosi aristocracy by Tyrion… for which he is rewarded by being made Hand of the King to Bran the First of his name…

I see the honourable speaker making what seem like all kinds of helpful suggestions about governance and politics these days... rather than get on with select committees and the like, under his mandate. Trust he – and the body politic – will come to see these moves as unconstitutional at best and ambitiously unwarranted at worst. The worst treason could be to do the right thing for the wrong reason.

11. It all ends in tears

In a ‘Stark’ ending for fans and critics alike, as well as the characters concerned, Arya departs to the uncharted West (“what’s west of Westeros?”); Sansa is crowned Queen in the North; and the tragic regicide Jon Snow – unbeknownst to his peers save a few close confidantes as the true king of the seven kingdoms – is banished to the Night Watch north of the wall…

I know some fans of GOT who think the finale ended on a note of justice denied to the rightful or noble and pure. For it was hardly the cliff-hanger or closure we sought – and some of us still seek… in spinoffs, for e.g. Sorry: the fully satisfying extended version will not be televised in real life. However idealistic aficionados may be, it almost always ends in tears. Therefore, let us learn the lessons of history – and prime-time pseudo-historical soap opera.

(Journalist | Editor-at-large of LMD | Writer #SpeakingTruthToPower)


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