Jon Snow and the Art of Delayed Gratification

11:03 AM

Although I released a post last night addressing Game of Thrones season 6, episode 2 (which aired last night), I needed a bit more time to prepare myself to talk in more depth about Jon Snow's resurrection. There was just something about this particular scene that warranted a bit more time, a period with which to understand and connect with it on a deeper level. Perhaps this is exactly the point that the showrunners/director wanted to get across to the viewer by shooting and editing this scene in such a particular way; that there is something excruciatingly satisfying in the delayed arrival of a long anticipated moment.


I think that this particular scene was expertly shot and edited. Clearly Jon Snow's death was a symbol to many characters of the loss of something significant (even though that "something significant" would likely be defined differently depending on the character or fan you ask). For some it was the end of hope against the whitewalkers, for some the end of order on the wall, and for some, perhaps, the virtual end of the honorable House Stark. For all of the meaning it may have had, I believe there was a general consensus among the fan community that death would not be the end for Jon Snow. I, for one, have been waiting with bated breath and an unhealthy feeling of anxiety throughout both of the last two episodes just waiting to know how and when Jon would be resurrected.


In the age of the internet where binge watching makes no one wait and the answers to just about any questions are hiding behind our smartphone screen, the writers and director of this episode certainly made the fans "sweat it." This episode certainly brought it back to the fine art of delayed gratification, where every passing second made the reveal just that much more sweet. I am not going to lie, with every departure from that room and every millisecond that passed between Melisandre's completion of her sorcery and the moment Jon's eyes finally gaped open, I found myself yearning more and more for the satisfaction of Kit Harrington delivering any expression or sign of life in exponentially frantic fashion. It was almost as though I was playing a game of "are we there yet?" except my questions were, "Is he alive? Is this happening? Is he alive? Is this HAPPENING?...."


The directors and show-runners were clearly and easily playing with the emotions of a generation of viewers that are not  obliged to wait for anything. Until the last second I was wholly convinced that Melisandre was not the answer to the return of Jon Snow, that he would cease to be resurrected (at least for another episode), and I would have to rest my hopes on another resurrection possibility. But I must say the delayed gratification of this moment made the entirety of the event that much more sweet. I am sure that my poor neighbors could hear my exultation through the walls when it finally happened.


Perhaps after so much anticipation for Jon Snow's return, we the audience have been served a sweet lesson in the art of waiting. Although I do not anticipate ending my unhealthy binge-watching habit anytime soon, I am certainly convinced that stepping back from the constant onslaught of immediate satisfaction from time to time, taking a moment to enjoy the moment, and allowing a bit more time to build toward a more satisfying end might, in fact, be worth every excruciating second of the wait.

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9 comments

  1. I have to say, the secrecy that the HBO team pulled off on Jon Snow was really amazing. They've got eight more episodes coming up with him and no one leaked that he was alive again? That's truly impressive. We now are just as anxious about what the meaning of his coming back is. Apparently when Dickens used to serialize his novels, supposedly people stood on the docks of Boston waiting for the new episodes to arrive by ship. HBO Sunday night has gotten us into a similar sense of anticipation about new episodes and you are quite right to contrast it with the binge-watching narcissism of most media consumption. On some level this anticipation builds a community that doesn't exist with Netflix.

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  2. My husband and I have a running joke about how he is too impatient to read fiction books and that's why he sticks with studying cinema. In all honesty, though, I speed read through fiction books because I just can't wait to find out what's happened. We really do live in an age that longs for instant gratification. However, based on the info on the Dickens groupies, it may not be exclusive to this time period. Even more than merely needing gratification - I think it's just one of the powers of story. It's what makes narrative so compelling -- we want to know.

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  3. It was interesting when you mentioned how you were waiting for Jon Snow's resurrection but that, when it happened, you were still surprised by certain aspects of it (e.g., Melisandre's involvement). I felt the same way: I was expecting Jon Snow to come back in some form, but I was not expecting it to happen like this and so soon.

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  4. I think HBO did well with the long anticipated scene of Jon's resurrection. Also, I have to credit Entertainment Weekly who had the interview already conducted about Kit's apology. They could have easily leaked that, but respected the show. Although I know you were hoping for the pyre scene where he was burnt and resurrected, I think it could still happen. Since he was resurrected, I'm wondering if there will be an uproar, which will cause Melissandre and Jon to be burned for their use of black magic. Might still happen, and it'll be interesting to see where it goes in episode 3!

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  5. Super interesting take on "a generation of binge watchers" - we really do expect instant gratification, don't we? I think HBO did a great job reminding us that sometimes waiting for what you want is 10X more gratifying. I'm super happy that Jon's death (while yes, predictable) wasn't leaked to the public.

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  6. I think deep down all the fans knew that Jon couldn't be gone (or at least desperately hoped he wasn't..) But I was actually thinking that Melisandre wasn't going to be able to bring him back and we would have to wait for another episode. I found myself watching the end of the episode yelling "are they teasing us or is this happening already?"
    I also think that something that makes the show so appealing is waiting every week to see what happens next. It keeps us guessing.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the comment, Bard of Highgarden! I agree. They really had me going at the end of that episode!

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  7. Check out my latest blog of the SNL skit making fun of how long it took for Jon’s resurrection. I feel like after I watched it the second time, I could appreciate that scene much more. The first time, I just really wanted it to hurry up. I am so impressed of how HBO kept it all under wraps. I love to binge watch, but there is just something so satisfying about the thrill of Sunday nights each spring. It will be difficult to adjust to not seeing it every week.

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  8. Check out my latest blog of the SNL skit making fun of how long it took for Jon’s resurrection. I feel like after I watched it the second time, I could appreciate that scene much more. The first time, I just really wanted it to hurry up. I am so impressed of how HBO kept it all under wraps. I love to binge watch, but there is just something so satisfying about the thrill of Sunday nights each spring. It will be difficult to adjust to not seeing it every week.

    ReplyDelete

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