Real Tears for Fictional Tragedies

Warning: This post alludes to characters deaths in HBO’s Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords, Star Trek: Into Darkness. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers to the best of my ability.

On one hand, it was a great weekend. I spent Saturday with my girlfriends, just hangin’ at the mall, catchin’ a movie. Just a couple of twentysomethings doing how sixteen-year-olds do. (When we were sixteen, we were not hanging out at the mall. We were partial IB and are now making up for lost time.) On Sunday, Chris and I went to the Japanese Festival at the Devonian Botanical Gardens and enjoyed the gardens, the culture, and even the rain. We got to watch an amazing taiko drumming performance. The actual physical power of drumming is one of those things to file into the writer section of my brain.

On the other hand, I spent a disproportionate amount of the weekend in misery. I’m not a big crier, though a recent blog post would indicate otherwise. This weekend’s incident wasn’t quite as intense as the one I just wrote about; this weekend didn’t involve the same degree of inhabiting agony, and one of the incidents involved a happy ending so YAY. The other incident was just part of the long downward descent into grim and utter darkness.

Why, yes, one of those incidents was the Red Wedding! Which synonym for awful tipped you off?

First, the more minor incident, which was seeing Star Trek: Into Darkness with my girlfriends. God bless them for going to see that movie with me – they had both seen it earlier in the week, but were gracious enough to dote on me because Chris will not bring himself to watch the continuation of “new” Star Trek. I am not a dedicated Star Trek fan. I watched the occasional Next Generation episode after school, but the majority of my Star Trek knowledge is from general pop culture. I do know enough about Star Trek to know that if Spock is crying, you should be crying. If you are not crying you should consider the possibility that you are a robot.

The scene in question was perfectly done. There was lots of man-crying, which I have a slight(ly twisted) obsession with. The movie as a whole was great, in my non-original-series-dedicated opinion. That scene in particular was mesmerizing and painful in its execution. And, as I said, there is a happy ending.

And then Sunday. Red Wedding Day. I read A Storm of Swords last year, but I knew most of the plot details from the book after Googling it as soon as I finished A Clash of Kings. I was so annoyed with A Clash of Kings that I decided to look up everything that came next to decide if it was worth continuing with the series or not. Luckily A Storm of Swords is amazing to the nth degree even in synopsis form, and thus I continue on with the Song of Ice and Fire books.

I’ll be honest. I don’t care much about spoilers. I think that if the only thing a book/film/TV show has going for it is the element of surprise, then that’s just not enough for me. There should be a degree of craft to every step of the execution, too, and that’s what’s much more appealing to me in any art form.

So I knew the Red Wedding was coming. I knew it was going to be awful, and that was my only expectation. The writing, the performances, the direction, everything about it was what the Red Wedding needed to be. There were moments that, for the “Unsullied” (non-book readers) would have been seen as moments of hope, but to we “Sullied” were moments of horrible irony.

Without giving too much away, there is a lot of death in this scene. Main characters, secondary charactes, whole hosts of unnamed and unseen characters are mercilessly butchered in some of the most violent scenes ever committed to the page or the screen. I dreaded reading it, but got through, and there was still a lot of book left to read. But the show ended on that scene and closed to credits rolling by in silence. Viewers have a week to sit before the next episode, and though I can’t speak for anyone else, Monday has been awful.

It was hard to fall asleep. When I got dressed this morning black was the only option in my head. All day has been that weird post-crying hangover, part head cold, part relief that it’s over, part “if ‘The Rains of Castamere’ is stuck in my head for one more minute, I’m going to bash my head against the desk.” Ugh.

Now that is some damn good writing. Kudos to everyone involved in the production of last night’s episode, because it has been haunting me like few other fictional experiences have.

I’m the girl who cries at fiction more than she cries at life – a sign of a pretty good life, if you ask me. The grief will pass, but even then I’ll keep it close at hand in the writer section of my brain. I’ll probably have to play “Map of Tasmania” on a loop for two hours before “The Rains of Castamere” finally gets out of my head. (Talk about beautiful writing – what a beautiful piece of music.)

Oh, and Fun Fact! (Though no one in my family was as excited about this as I was…) The Red Wedding was inspired by real massacres that happened in medieval times. One comes from Scotland, where the Campbells invited the MacDonalds to their castle under the guise of hospitality, only to kill all MacDonalds in attendance. I am proudly half MacDonald! So maybe it’s no mystery where I get my bloody fascinations from.



  1. My sister and I were weeping throughout the scene where Spock cries. Actually, I cried in many parts of that movie. There’s nothing a good story and great execution can’t make you feel.

    I haven’t read the George Martin books or watched the series, but all the hoopla about the Red Wedding made me curious and I watched it on YT. It was horrible. Absolutely horrified me and I’m not even a fan!

    1. Watching the Red Wedding out of curiosity is mighty brave of you! Of course it was horrific, but did it happen to attract you to the book series or the show at all? Martin has said that that scene lost him a few readers, but gained him many more because of the amount of horror and brutality, and the assertion of the fact that no one in this story is safe, which is pretty ballsy in the fantasy genre. Usually the hero survives against all odds or at least gets a glorious death (i.e., not shot to death while your entire family and army is cut down around you.)

      1. After watching that scene I’m even more determined not to go near this book/show! One reason I really don’t wish to read the books is that I’ve read that the last book will be released sometime in 2020, and I absolutely cannot wait that long for a book! Plus I heard it was heavy in the sex scene department, is that true?

      2. That’s totally fair enough. It’s a very brutal story.

        Considering how much story there is, very little of it is sex scenes. There is a bit more nudity in the show.

        Yeah, the completion of the series will be a long time coming. It’s a legitimate worry that the show will outpace the books. And some fans gets suuuper hostile whenever GRRM talks about projects he’s doing that aren’t the book series, to the point where Neil Gaiman came to his defence, saying “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.”

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