Around this time last year prior to air, I authored a Looking Forward for Season 3, Episode 9 that discussed traditions and in the process, may have accidentally coined the phrase, the Epic 9’s.
But admittedly, I had no true idea as to whether or not the prior two season’s ninth episode climaxes were just a coincidence or if we were in for a dramatic event of historical television proportions.
Then the Red Wedding happened. And the internet exploded. And the following days were filled with a media frenzy that could only be compared to, well, nothing.
The question is, is there any way in hell the tradition can effectively be maintained?
Historically, series television of the past has predominantly followed the trend of a cliffhanger/climax for their respective season finales. For one reason or another, Game of Thrones began a tradition of climax on the episode prior to.
Not that a refresher is needed for this lot, but here is the elementary trend that looks to be on a continuing course:
Episode 109: Dramatic Death
Episode 209: Battle of Blackwater
Episode 309: Dramatic Death(s)
Episode 409: Battle at the Wall
In regards to 409, what has been disclosed thus far is that the entirety of the episode will most likely be at the Wall. If this fact holds true, it would likely mean: No beheadings in King’s Landing; No Stannis invasion (unless the GoT teleport machine get tripped); And no wedding (unless Cersei and Loras are taking vows, or in an attempt to be with Jon, Ygritte takes the Black). Both are either highly unlikely or invariably impossible.
But before we get into expectation of the arduous task of carrying on the Epic 9’s, it might be relevant to review the shocking ends (and trends) of this Season alone. Here goes:
Episode 401: Death of Polliver
Episode 402: Death of Joffrey
Episode 403: Death of Pissing Champion
Episode 404: Death of Baby (or at least, the death of baby as being human)
Episode 405: Death of Locke, Rast, and Karl
Episode 406: Death of justice
Episode 407: Death of Lysa
Episode 408: Death of Oberyn (and quite possibly, Gregor)
This season could arguably be considered the “who will die at the end of this hour” season. Sans 406, it is a noticeable trend that has led many to criticize the series for being predictable in the sense that someone at least somewhat significant is likely to lose their life near or at the end of every episode.
In fairness, it is also at least a portion of what has led to GoT becoming the most watched series in HBO history and one of the highest rated shows on television, for we never know who will meet their demise or how it may transpire. The show (and presumably the books) has somehow kept the known unknown full of shock and intrigue.
My enquiring mind wants to know, can the shock and awe be maintained for the already signed and confirmed Seasons 5 and 6? And in a way, the answer to this question in my mind begins with this Sunday night.
If in fact this episode takes place entirely at the Wall, can it be one that continues the institution that has become the annual climactic installment? Can the biggest fire the North has ever seen compete with the extravaganza of visual feast that was the explosion of wildfire? Is it even fair to expect the expectation of continued excellence that we anxiously await for 10 weeks out of the year?
Thrones has rarely disappointed me, and I have no reason to believe it will on Sunday. Even with the obvious misfires, the show hits on enough cylinders to make the bumps in the road excusable. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is just nothing.
But there is an expectation that I can’t ignore; a level of shock value that I want to talk about at the water cooler on Monday morning; the fulfillment I get when the morning show talking heads who know nothing try to explain to their audiences why twitter exploded the night before; and the joy of the true reaction videos of the Unsullied army.
Maybe the shock of this years’ ninth episode has been spread over the course of the Season this year as implied in pre-season interviews. And maybe it wouldn’t matter due to my admission of the unrealistic expectation I have even if that expectation has been created by the author and the show-runners themselves.
But I don’t care. You blew our minds when you poisoned Joffrey. You broke my heart when you had Lysa fall to her death. And you melted our brains when you crushed Oberyn’s head.
We’ve only got two experiences left before we are rendered thirsty again for another long nine and a half months of drought. Melt it again. Break it again. Blow it again. May the Battle at the Wall be as blistering as the wildfire at Blackwater. And long live the Epic 9’s!
“Unbowed. Unbent. Unsullied.”
I can be found meandering on twitter @ozofthrones. Join me.
PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF THE UNSULLIED ARMY. NO SPOILERS IN THIS THREAD. A MAN AND A FURY THANK YOU.