Nostalgia is like a foetal crouch for the soul. This pandemic has been an engine, fast tracking our need to get back to the safety of a warm and golden time, which never really was.
People are stuck at home watching reruns from childhood. Here in India, mythological hits from the 1980s are raking in Game of Thrones ratings. Trapping the past in sepia-tinted euphoric recall, we could be making over our past life, treating it like episodes from The Wonder Years, airing in India now. That ’60s show from the ’80s knew how to package childhood memories and present them to us in a soft cloud. Winnie’s hair was always dancing in the wind, Kevin was eternally innocent, his father strong and brooding, his mother a sweet nurturing figure, his brother a universal bully everyone seemed to enable, mainly because soft focus distorts reality.
Revenge is a dish best served cold. That old Klingon nugget comes to mind in reckoning Game of Thrones. In this mash up of medieval epics, folklore and English history, conceived by George R R Martin, we have been warned from Season 1 of the television adaptation of the book series A Song of Ice and Fire that “Winter is Coming”. It is going to be very, very cold, and with it will come all things bad. Many characters in the Game of Thrones universe are motivated by the frostiest feelings of revenge, feelings that eventually drain protagonists of the humanity they possessed at the start of their fictional journeys. Their motivations are pared down episode by episode to something glacial and inhuman, comparable only to the mythical nemesis from the series – the otherworldly White Walkers, who are preparing to rise against the living in the coming winter.
The desire for revenge consumes Arya Stark, played by Maisie Williams, by the end of Season 5. Revenge is also the motivating force in the life of Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister. She is willing to plot against anyone who dares to usurp her powers, including her brother Tyrion. Her vengeful manipulation sets in motion a series of events that leads to the murder of her ruthless father Tywin at the hands of Tyrion. Tywin had knowingly sentenced an innocent Tyrion to death at Cersei’s behest. Revenge or the need for it seems to be the primary emotion bringing back audiences season after season.