Beautiful and inspirational speech by John Bradley on being comfortable with yourself

John Bradley, who played Sam Tarly in Game of Thrones, had a beautiful inspirational speech on accepting himself and being comfortable with finding his own way through life. He used to feel shy and sorry about himself before Thrones, until the two Executive Directors chose him for a very important role in arguably the biggest TV show ever in history. They chose him because of his virtues or what he considered as his failures. I can relate to the shyness and the self-consciousness.

Like him, I often went to bed, thinking that when I woke up, some things about myself would be different. In the past, I got jealous of folks who were more famous and richer than me, especially my peers. The jealousy has been reduced over the past few years after digging into how to live a happier life and the harm of jealousy. Nonetheless, the trap of jealousy and self-consciousness is always there, lurking around and waiting to take over at any time. It’s a real constant struggle to keep it at bay. I am sure that I am not the only person with that struggle. It feels encouraging to hear from a real life case study, especially a famous celebrity bravely talk about it.

And now our watch has ended

I wanted to jot down something right after the episode when the feelings were fresh, but the courtesy of not spoiling other viewers made me wait for 24 hours. So here we go.

The show in general

Last night was the last episode ever of Game of Thrones, one of, if not the most successful TV show in the history. As an avid fan, it is bittersweet to see the end of the show. On one hand, it’s great to finally see closure after years of following the beloved characters. On the other, what do I look forward to every Sunday night moving forward?

The show was originally based on the Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin. The longer the show went, the more it deviated from the book. It continued till the end of season 5, when the show already went ahead of the books. The criticisms started to pour in regarding the quality of the plot. The critics do have a point. Holes, to an unacceptable extent in some cases, began to show. Negative reviews peaked in the last season, especially in the last four episodes. On top of unreasonable plot lines and events, the show made horrible mistakes in editing, including the famous Starbucks cup in episode 4, Jamie’s hand in episode 5 and the water bottle in yesterday’s episode. Since the show was known for attention to details, viewers’ barbs were deservedly warranted. It’s impossible to find an excuse for such mistakes when you had two years of preparation and shooting.

Regarding the declining quality of the script, I, like millions of fans, was disappointed of course. However, it’s important to remember that a movie script is different from a book. GRRM has been working on his 6th book since 2011. It takes a lot of time to build out the world that he created. Meanwhile, the writers only had much more limited time to work on the script. Plus, it is challenging and expensive to keep up with the tapestry of characters and plot lines that GRRM may have come up with himself.

Additionally, being true to the original works would mean more seasons. Some of the actors and actresses spent 10-11 years on the show. It’s understandable that even though the show brought their career to new heights, they may want to go something else and grow out of the characters for which they have become famous. Take Kit Harington, who played Jon Snow for instance. He repeatedly said he would love to be able to say: he is no longer Jon Snow and that he wouldn’t accept a role like that again, unless it was really really appealing. Jamming many storylines into a limited number of episodes definitely resulted in plot holes and criticisms.

The last episode and the ending

The ending is indeed bittersweet. Many beloved characters died. Jon was sent to the Wall. Meanwhile, the Starks fly high again after years of agonies and tragedies. Good-natured characters such as Podrick, Brienne, Samwell Tarly, Ser Davos, Bronn and Tyrion got a satisfying outcome.

However, I did have serious problems with some points in the finale. Why did Bran have a better claim/story than Sansa or Jon Snow if having a good story were the criterion? What’s the point of having the Night’s Watch and the Wall now that the Night King was dead and the Free Folks were already accepted? Why were there still many Unsullied and Dothrakis after the Great War? A lot of Unsullied were killed in Meereen and in the raid of Casterly Rock. And why did Drogon spare Jon’s life? He is a Targaryen, but Jon killed Dany and should have been dead by the dragon fire. The whole season made his whole true identity, which is the biggest secret of the whole kingdom, truly irrelevant.

Final thoughts

Regardless of the show’s flaws, I still love it and feel lucky to live through the culturally impactful series. The show emphasizes the value of honor and loyalty, exemplified by characters such as the Starks, House Mormont, Theon, Brienne, Jamie and so on.

Now that the show is over, I really look forward to the books. I highly recommend that you read them. Here are a few great passages:

All that ended abruptly the day his father returned from a sojourn in King’s Landing. That night at supper Tyrion surprised his sire by walking the length of the high table on his hands. Lord Tywin was not pleased. “The gods made you a dwarf. Must you be a fool as well? You were born a lion, not a monkey.”

And you’re a corpse, Father, so I’ll caper as I please. “You have a gift for making men smile,” Septa Lemore told Tyrion as he was drying off his toes. “You should thank the Father Above. He gives gifts to all his children.” “He does,” he agreed pleasantly. And when I die, please let them bury with me a crossbow, so I can thank the Father Above for his gifts the same way I thanked the father below.

A Dance With Dragons

The moon was a crescent, thin and sharp as the blade of a knife. The days marched past, one after the other, each shorter than the one before. The nights grew longer. No sunlight ever reached the caves beneath the hill. No moonlight ever touched those stony halls. Even the stars were strangers there. Those things belonged to the world above, where time ran in its iron circles, day to night to day to night to day.

A Dance With Dragons

Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell’s grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan’s stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow’s smile. He used to mess my hair and call me “little sister,” she remembered, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes.

A Feast For Crows

“How could I not love him, after that? That is not to say that I approved of all he did, or much enjoyed the company of the man that he became… but every little girl needs a big brother to protect her. Tywin was big even when he was little.” She gave a sigh. “Who will protect us now?”

Jaime kissed her cheek. “He left a son.”

“Aye, he did. That is what I fear the most, in truth.”

That was a queer remark. “Why should you fear?”

“Jaime,” she said, tugging on his ear, “sweetling, I have known you since you were a babe at Joanna’s breast. You smile like Gerion and fight like Tyg, and there’s some of Kevan in you, else you would not wear that cloak… but Tyrion is Tywin’s son, not you. I said so once to your father’s face, and he would not speak to me for half a year. Men are such thundering great fools. Even the sort who come along once in a thousand years.”

A Feast For Crows

“Game of Thrones” Keyword on Google Trends

Hundreds of millions of people around the globe love and watch the show. Game of Thrones needs no introduction. As the two-year wait ended on Sunday, the show is back on with the last season ever. I did a little bit of experiment to see how popular it is on search engine.

Since I use Google Trends as the tool in this experiment, it’s good to revisit what Google Trends is. I’ll let one of their own explain it

Trends data is an unbiased sample of our Google search data. It’s anonymized (no one is personally identified), categorized (determining the topic for a search query) and aggregated (grouped together). This allows us to measure interest in a particular topic across search, from around the globe, right down to city-level geography.

You can do it, too — the free data explorer on Google Trends allows you to search for a particular topic on Google or a specific set of search terms. Use the tool and you can see search interest in a topic or search term over time, where it’s most-searched, or what else people search for in connection with it.

Source: Google News Lab

To display different levels of online interest, Google uses a scale of zero to 100 for the index. Here is how Google defines the metric:

Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.

So what is the difference between this season and last seasons in terms of online interest? Below is the chart I took last Saturday with the “Game of Thrones” keyword. The spike in 2017 was during the premiere of season 7.

Taken on 13th April, 2019

Here is what the chart looks like at the moment. Same market, same time frame, only a few days apart

Taken on 17th April, 2019

The previous spike in 2017, as shown in the screenshot above, looks like Arya next to the Mountain, which is the expected spike this week. Data from Google predicts that folks will search on and talk about the show a whole lot this week.

While the data clearly shows an increase in online interest, it’s only an index and there is no telling on how many searches this season garnered compared to the previous seasons. Plus, it’s not clear on what contributes to the spike. Is it because of the household name Game of Thrones already possesses? Is it because of the wait? Is it because of the finality of the show? Or is it because of the strongest marketing push I have seen from HBO?

I find it a very interesting phenomenon. A show like GoT has been aggressively advertised. Magazine covers, interviews on TV shows, newspapers articles, behind-the-scene clips, several trailers, a viral tactic to place the full-sized thrones in undisclosed locations around the world, a red carpet in New York, you name it. If anybody says that brands such as GoT don’t need marketing, show them what has been done in the past few weeks. They are not dumb and they don’t throw money at unnecessary tasks. But at the same time, I wonder how the marketers can analyze and objectively pinpoint whether the marketing actually works for a show like GoT.