Column: Confessions of a ‘Game of Thrones’ binge watcher: 5 things I couldn’t bear to see again

Culture columnist/critic

When you binge-watch seven seasons of “Game of Thrones” in three weeks, you need to be prepared for a few things.

Winches get a rather remarkable number of close-ups, particularly in establishing shots. Jon Snow never doesn’t look worried about something, not even while having sex. Men relieve themselves anywhere, any time, but Westeros women apparently do not urinate. Melisandre is a pretty terrible witch. The Night’s Watch “give me your criminals and rejects” plan seems obviously flawed from the get go. Podrick Payne could very easily be another Baratheon bastard and walk away with the whole thing. And there is really only so much even a talented cinematographer can do with people walking through the snow. Again.


Also, there will be certain scenes you will find too painful to watch again. Or at least I did.

Note: Spoilers ahead (obviously).

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1. The death of Shireen

Knowing the fate of Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Danielle Ingram), I could barely watch any of the scenes in which she appeared, spreading literacy and sunshine among whoever had the bad luck to run into her ghastly parents — the unrelievedly grim and selfish Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and his wife, the pinched and murderous religious fanatic Selyse (Sarah MacKeever). But when it came time for Shireen to be burned to death by Melisandre (Carice van Houten), I simply could not. You are not forgotten, Shireen.

2. The death of Oberyn Martell

Even the first time, you knew it was coming. The man who represented Tyrion in judgment by combat actually defeated the barely human Mountain, but then he made the classic mistake: Instead of claiming the victory and ending it, he monologued. Well, actually he danced around, demanding that the Mountain admit he raped and killed his sister. But in doing so, Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) made another rookie move: He got too close to the wounded bear. With a few deft moves, the Mountain (Hafthor Júlíus Bjornsson) was up and, in what may be the single most gruesome television death on record, crushed Oberyn’s skull like it was a pomegranate. It had some narrative value — the Mountain really is an animal — and I can’t say I felt too terrible about Oberyn’s death. But still. Saw it once, don’t need to see it again.


3. Shae’s betrayal of Tyrion

In a story littered with heartbreak-by-betrayal, nothing has been worse (so far!) than fan favorite Shae (Sibel Kekilli) turning on the man she really did seem to love just because he wanted her to leave Kings Landing for her own safety. The look on Tyrion’s face as his former lover testified about him killing Joffrey, which he did not, was just too painful to bear.

4. Ramsay Bolton in action

And, indeed, the whole “flayed man” situation. I am not saying the many scenes of Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) at play — torturing Theon (Alfie Allen), setting the dogs on his stepmother and her baby, hunting down a former lover in the woods — were not necessary to establish how truly vicious and deranged he was (OK , the hunt in the woods was not necessary). But this being a repeat viewing, I already fully understood how evil he is; I worked the fast-forward feature fairly vigorously during the more gruesome bits.

5. The beheading of Ned Stark

I have seen this episode multiple times, but I still don’t really think it’s going to happen, even though I know it will, because it is such a horrific act of injustice and Sean Bean is just so great as Ned, and his daughters really are Right There. So each time, I wait for the last-minute reprieve. The only benefit of knowing it will never come is that I have time to look away when the actual deed is done.

But the winches, they are always fascinating.

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