Spoiler alert: This article contains plot details from the most recent episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, so avert your eyes if you haven’t seen it yet.
Game of Thrones doesn’t care your comfort levels, that much is clear. The plot routinely revels and wallows in gore and guts.
But last week, a newborn baby was fed to the dogs.
This week, a child looked defiantly into the eyes of Jon Snow, before he was hanged.
As 12-year-old Olly was killed, the camera panned across his face, bulging eyes, black with death – just in case we ever wondered what a child looks like after a hanging. I’ve never wondered, but now I’ll never forget it.
As we watch Olly’s small, swollen face, I’m left wondering whether there’s any point in watching a show when you spend five whole minutes fast-forwarding the lurid bits. (That’s a whole five minutes that could be spent on plot development. Not in the revelry of another child killing scene.)
Like 12-year-old Olly who died in this week’s episode. Post continues after video.
The “death by dog” scene in last week’s episode broke the cardinal unspoken rule of television: babies don’t get murdered. Infants die, yes. But they die in childbirth, or in utero, or by some divine accident. I’m pretty sure this is the first time a baby has been eaten by a canine on television. What is the point of this violent act? To show what a twisted bastard Ramsay Bolton is? I think they did a pretty good job of that in the previous seasons with the torture of Theon (who, you’ll recall, lost his penis to Ramsay’s perversions).
It’s hard to believe that depicting the murder of infants and children in Game of Thrones is doing it any good. I don’t think it does anything to enhance the plot, or the characters. All it does is make me shift uncomfortably in my seat and hit the fast-forward button.
Let’s take a moment, and recount some of the times GOT has snuffed out the lives of children, some unceremoniously and others in dramatic fashion.
1. Lady Walda and baby eaten alive by dogs, set upon by Ramsay Bolton.
2. Shireen Baratheon burned at the stake, on orders from her father Stannis.
3. Pregnant Talisa Stark, stabbed at the "Red Wedding".
4. The murder of two village boys by Theon Greyjoy.
5. Joffrey Baratheon poisoned at his own wedding feast.
6. Mycah the butcher boy, murdered by "The Hound."
7. The hanging of northerner Olly, by none other than Jon Snow.
8. Craster's infant sons born out of incest, left for dead in the snow (eventually turned into whitewalkers).
9. Stable boy murdered by another child, Arya.
10. Baby murdered in a brothel, after he was discovered to be a bastard child of Robert Baratheon.
Do you think Game of Thrones crosses the line in depicting the murder of children?