A psychologist has taken a shot at explaining fans’ reactions to the penultimate episode of the final season of Game of Thrones, that saw Daenerys finally unleash her rage upon King's Landing. With an episode that shocked and divided viewers, the psychologist has attempted to understand the huge reactions that it has drawn from fans of the epic show.
Since episode 5 “The Bells” aired a few days ago, fans have taken to the internet in their thousands, taken aback by the gripping episode that saw their potential heroine burn King's Landing to the ground, in a merciless act of rage and violence that resulted in thousands of innocent lives lost, and a city left in ruins. During the violent episode, viewers watched on in much the same way as Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow themselves – though from the comfort of their sofas – incredulous at the scenes unfolding before them.
As reported on CNET, clinical psychologist Janina Scarlet, self-professed geek and fan of the show, has spoken out about the outpouring of reaction since episode 5, making the connections between the fans' emotional attachment to characters and how this has likely influenced such a huge response. Scarlet explains that fans establish a very close connection with characters such as Daenerys, particularly given the huge arcs that such characters have traversed, from the innocent victim of a ruthless brother, to the Mother of Dragons. In psychological speak, the attachments are termed parasocial relationships, referring to the type of bond that fans can make with characters. Check out what she has to say here:
Parasocial relationships can help fans to feel less alone in their mental health struggles, can inspire hope, and create a dialogue about trauma and recovery. Seeing a person who came from an abusive childhood, experienced violence, assault and tragedy can inspire many other trauma survivors, especially women, to better understand and process their traumatic experiences as well.
For many fans, especially women, who might identify with Daenerys in terms of being a survivor, this sudden change can be both confusing and emotionally distressing. Such story arc can appear to take away from agency that many trauma survivors may develop through parasocial relationships."
Seeing Daenerys suddenly turn from the Breaker of Chains to the burner of innocents has obviously had a huge effect on fans who have followed a character that has arguably had one of the biggest arcs in the show. Many have been left bitterly disappointed by such as dramatic twist, citing the writers as the obvious culprits, given their lack of George RR Martin material to fall back on, with the book series as yet unfinished.
It’s safe to say that fans are hugely invested in the show and, given that it all comes to an end in just a few days, there will be a huge response to its final moments. The show has engaged and enthralled fans for years, some of whom were already fans of the books and others who were new to Westeros and the vast array of characters that it gave us. It’s no wonder that, after all of that time investing in the world and its characters, there will be differing opinions and divisions around how it will close. It’s almost unreal to say that there is only one episode left of Game of Thrones, yet that is the position that viewers find themselves in. It seems that fans will be mourning this series and it characters for a considerable time yet. As for how it will end, we will just have to wait and see.