Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Unpacking the Trajectory of Biblical Themes on Television

Occasionally I have ideas for recurring series of entries into this blog, and on equally as many occasions, I either forget what that series was or begin to write about something else.  Religion on television is something that excites me greatly, and about which I write often, albeit in different guises.

One of my favorite elements of a show to write about and to watch in action is the role that religion plays, and especially specific references to Catholicism and Christianity.  "Lost" was notorious for doing this, none moreso than the Baptism scene in season 6.

Pay particular attention right around the 2:20 mark.

Television is filled with these scenes, making it one of the best mediums to express this idea.  This is the kind of freedom that television has: because of it's sub-hour nature, and 13 hour season, writers can pack all sorts of themes and imagery into one episode or even one season, and bring the show to a higher level.  One of the greatest things to study about and to read/watch is man's relationship with God.  And because we ultimately live in a Christian society, these images speak to so many different people.

So for this week's Biblical Themes, we're going to take a look at "Game of Thrones" and the episode from 4/1, "Remember the North."  As predicted here, "Game of Thrones" was one of the most likely shows to embody this religious discussion and to carry it forward.  Fantasies, by nature, are a study of the human world in a make-believe setting.  And there is no greater desire by man than to understand the supernatural.

Keep in mind, also, that I am watching this show as someone who hasn't read the books.  Thus I don't know what comes next in the story, just what's happening currently on the show.

With Robert Barratheon dead and Joffrey on the throne, it is only natural that someone else would try to lay claim to it.  So when it's discovered that Joffrey is not Robert's true son, there is a rumor that Robert has a bastard living in King's Landing, and he should be the true king.  When word of this gets out, that there is a true King out there, all bastard children are slain where they stand.

The Slaughter of the Innocents lives on in television form.  Young children killed before their mothers, all in the hope of protecting the mortal king on the throne.  Herod would be proud of Cersei's command.

The other main element in this episode takes place between the red-haired priestess and the traditional gods of Westeros.  Spitting in their polytheistic ways, she declares belief in one God, the true God of Light, who knows what is best for the lands and for the kingdom.  This is blasphemy to the people, who know there are man gods, and the belief in this one heathen God is repulsive.

This the same road that "Battlestar Galactica" traveled down, which made for some excellent television (and theology), as the cylons proclaimed their one God and his glory, contrary to everything that the Colonies had believed in for so many centuries.

This revelation of One God in "Game of Thrones" carries with it the same weight, that instead of many gods, some good some bad, there is one only one God, who is all good and powerful, and who wants one person to rule, and who has actually chosen that person to rule.

Whether or not Stannis Baratheon ends up being overthrown by a shepherd boy remains to be seen.

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