Magazine article The Spectator

Television: Game of Thrones

Magazine article The Spectator

Television: Game of Thrones

Article excerpt

Credit: James Delingpole

Which character are you in Game of Thrones ? For me it's got to be the imp, Tyrion Lannister. As Ed West suggested in his erudite Speccie article a few weeks ago, Tyrion is about the only character with a vaguely sympathetic 21st-century mindset as opposed to a ruthlessly pragmatic medieval one. Persecuted since childhood because he's a dwarf, he understands -- as his fellow members of the ruling class generally do not -- what it is to be marginalised, downtrodden and thus empathetic.

And the other reason to identify with him is that he's not going to die. I say this without any knowledge of what happens in George R.R. Martin's books. It just strikes me that Thrones without the Imp would be like Hamlet without the Dane. Tyrion is our touchstone of humanity in a world otherwise characterised by savage cruelty, incest, torture, severed heads, heaving breasts, lust, betrayal and -- praise the Lord! -- more heaving breasts.

Facing his greatest challenge yet: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

This week on Thrones found our hero facing his greatest challenge yet: how on earth was he going to escape being executed -- on trumped-up charges, of course, for life in Thrones is relentlessly unfair -- for the murder of his revolting nephew King Joffrey?

At first -- plot spoilers ahoy! -- it seemed as if he would get off with a pardon in return for 'taking the black' -- i.e., accepting warrior-monk exile in the Wall. But then the rug was ripped from under our feet. Shae, the beautiful whore who so loved Tyrion (and whom he so loved in return), unexpectedly reappeared to testify against him. And instead of pleading for clemency, as had been the plan, Tyrion decided to go out with a bang -- cursing his family, damning everyone in the courtroom, throwing his life into the lap of the gods by demanding that his fate be settled by trial by combat.

Game of Thrones is now probably the world's most popular TV series. It's hard to be sure because so much of its audience views it via illegal download. But we do know that just recently it broke the record previously set by the final episode of The Sopranos for the most viewed telecast ever to appear on the subscription-only channel that financed it, HBO.

Now that even President Obama is a fan (he gets his episodes sent in advance to the White House), HBO's decision to back it looks like a no-brainer. …

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