I got into GOT through the first series – the moment Ned had his head on the block and it started doing the shots to the different characters around him, I distinctly remember looking at my wife after rolling my eyes and saying something like “oh look here somebody comes to save the day” and then waiting with this smug face. When the sword came down and his head came off I popped such a Roll With Pride Rolling Dice Sword Vintage Shirt major boner at having my first expectation subverted – I’ll never forget it. Exactly. All the good subversions subvert the expectations the viewer or reader brings with them to the work.
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It should have been obvious he was fucked before he even marched into the throne room. But we were used to how characters like Ned usually are treated in fantasy, so we looked at the most unlikely scenario as a Roll With Pride Rolling Dice Sword Vintage Shirt given, and we’re shocked that the most likely one played out. Same with the RW, Robb made bad decisions that would logically lead to the Karstarks and Frey’s betraying him, based on what we knew of both houses, he relied on and trusted Roose Bolton despite knowing he was an untrustworthy and power-hungry vassal.
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Bad subversion, on the Roll With Pride Rolling Dice Sword Vintage Shirt another hand, uses the story and world to set up viewer/reader expectations and then subverts them. This is a cheap bait and switch. At best, when it kind of works, the work is clear that the information we are getting may be unreliable, so we can’t get too upset that we didn’t discern what was bs or a red herring. You see this most often in certain genres like horror or mystery where it’s almost expected but it can be used in any genre. At worst, we have no reason to believe the info we are given is unreliable, and the subversion comes as a contradiction to what we know about the world and its characters. That’s the problem with so much of what happened in the last couple of seasons.