George RR Martin has done it again. He has delivered a Game of Thrones season finale to rival the Red Wedding, delivered a masterful last episode to set the net on fire and remind us of the savage beauty and cruelty of the world he has created.
And he has now officially crowned the new biggest shit of the Seven Kingdoms – young Olly of the Night’s Watch. His participation in the assassination of Jon Snow – delivering the final dagger thrust and killing off GOT’s most beloved character – earns him an eternal place in the betrayer’s pantheon.
The reaction to Olly’s act on the internet has been passionate and visceral. Not since young King Joffrey has someone become so hated so quickly.
Yet why do we hate Olly so much? Why don’t we reserve our venom for, say, Ser Allison Thorne, who delivered the first blow? Why has Olly leapfrogged rapist, torturer and murderer Ramsay Bolton in the most-hated stakes? Why are photos of Olly appearing on more office dartboards than, say, Ellaria Sand, who delivered a Judas kiss of poison to the young and innocent Myrcella, or even Stannis “Father of the Year” Baratheon?
Because George R.R. Martin fully knows that the greatest betrayals don’t come from wicked or evil characters who act according to their natures … they come from seemingly “good” or “noble” characters who stray to the dark side in the most shocking of ways. They come from the people you least expect. Your best mates. Your blood brothers.
Just look at Judas, the original betrayer. He was one of the Twelve Disciples, paragons of virtue. You wouldn’t expect that someone who had the early foresight to see Christ as a godly figure would betray him to the ungodly Romans. For most of his life, Judas was probably a top bloke. “Judas?” Yeah, he’s OK,” you might say. “He helped me move all my stuff out of my flat.” Yet his moment of fear and weakness turned him into a hate figure for the ages.
Then there’s Brutus, co-murderer of Caesar. Brutus came from an upstanding family and was touted as the “most noble of Romans”. Even after Brutus sided against him in the war with Pompey, Caesar forgave him, welcomed him back into the fold … loved him like an adopted son. And yet, there was Brutus delivering the last stab in the Forum. “Et tu, Brutus?” Shakespeare has him saying as the quivering Brutus delivered the final blow.
“Et tu, Olly?” Jon Snow figuratively whispers as the boy he has nurtured and perhaps even loved delivers the killing blow.
Again, Brutus stands out as a treacherous prick of the aeons because he was a friend of Caesar and regarded as a man of fine character. We don’t single out Cassius as a betraying shit because, as Shakespeare wrote, he had “a lean and hungry look”. just the sort of wanker you knew not to trust. “Cassius stabbed Caesar?” you’d say in a pub. “Ha! I always thought he’d do something like that. Classic Cassius.”
But if you heard Brutus was involved, you might spit your beer out of your mouth across the room in shock.
And if someone told you Olly had helped kill Jon Snow, you might have the same reaction. For pity’s sake, the saintly Snow didn’t seek revenge after Olly shot Ygritte, the love of his life. A lesser man might have “accidentally” pushed Olly off of the top of The Wall. Yet, Christ-like, Jon forgave him.
Plus there’s something creepy about kids who kill. Like Joffrey. Or that brat from The Omen. It freaks us adults out. Young kids are expected to respect their elders, not knife them to death in the cold snow.
We can only wait to see if Jon Snow comes back to life in the next season. And hopefully this time he doesn’t turn his back on little shits like Olly.
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