Fiction is a really interesting/powerful thing, he said in a generic/bland writer’s voice. Could there be a more generic opening to a column? I’m not sure, but it doesn’t negate the fact that sometimes the most obvious observations are the ones we often overlook. With that being said, fiction is a really interesting/powerful thing. Often times we read, watch, or even playthings for the hero journey. It’s a form of escapism where we can throw ourselves into the role of the leading person and live vicariously through them as they save the day. Not all of us get to be Captain America or Harry Potter but fiction opens the door to experience what it’s like to be the hero. To find a little bit of ourselves in their actions and in their journey. Buuuuut, there is a little secret that we often try from ourselves when experiencing the fiction of our choice. And that is, we’re often drawn to the stories villains.
Why is that? I mean, these are the bad guys. We shouldn’t be secretly excited anytime they appear or in some cases even rooting for them. Is this a reflection of us as individuals? Is there something wrong with us if we relate to a stories villain? Could this possibly mean we’re villains in the making? Should we be focusing more of our time on being the best possible villain we can be instead of rescuing kittens out of trees? All of these are relevant questions that could all be answered with a simple “yes”. It’s easy to be the villain being a hero takes work, that’s part of what we admire about heroes. Villains though… villains despite taking the easy way out, tend to be more complex. Their origin story is often rooted in something deeply personal, after years and years of build-up that can leave some people feeling like, “yeah, I can see this happening to me”.
On top of that, fiction doesn’t’ make it easy for us not to like the villain. Think about it, the villain always looks the coolest. Without fail. Anytime I played with my action figures I always made sure that the coolest looking villain, often times Baron Zemo, would be the mastermind behind any nefarious plot. Cool is an image that any good villain must own. Whether it’s horns coming out of their heads, crazy cool masks, a sweet accent, or sometimes just a dark cloak the villain demands your attention and while you don’t want to strive to be a villain… you don’t necessarily grasp how you can be a hero while looking that cool. We can all see ourselves becoming a villain at some point…sometimes. Maybe. If Susan at work keeps tapping her teeth with her pen…
We’ve kind of been spoiled with a tremendous array of excellent fictional villains in my lifetime. Everyone from Hans Gruber, Thanos, George Lucas, Pennywise, and Lord Voldemort have all raised the bar in villainy. Because when push comes to shove, a story is only as good as its villain. Much like our heroes our villains have to make us believe it’s possible. It’s that secret, dark relation that drives us. We root for the hero to overcome these forces because we want to believe we can do the same. That in the end good can conquer evil. The internal struggle is real. For most of us anyway.
There’s something else that villains are equipped with that help make them stand out, and that’s their ability to gab. Every villain talks… a lot. It’s usually that talking that leads to their takedown, I believe Syndrome in The Incredibles referred to that as “monologuing”. Every good villain doesn’t know when to shut their mouth. No, you don’t need to explain your entire master plan to me right this second. Maybe you should push the little red button, blow up the building, and make off with the cash. Then go on the internet and write a blog piece on why you did it. You know, when you’re at home bathing in your victory. But villains just can’t help themselves. They often get so wrapped up in the contrived bullshit that their spouting that it costs them everything. The arrogance of villainy.
What’s interesting about Game of Thrones is that we have a villain, the Night King, that checks off the majority of boxes from the Awesome Villain Checklist. Does he want to rule the world? Check, dude not only wants to rule the world he wants to thrust it into eternal winter. That’s cold. Does he look cool? Duh, this guy is like an ice Darth Maul. Does he do awful things to infants? He sure does! What about an army of zombies? You bet your ass he has one of those! Has he verbally mapped out his evil plan? Well, uh, no. In fact, throughout seven seasons this guy hasn’t made a peep. Not a groan. Not a sigh. Nothing. The most we’ve gotten out of him is a bit “come at me bro” arm raise. Other than that silence.
Interesting, right? The biggest villain in Game of Thrones has yet to utter a word and we still know everything we need to know about him. Most of what we’ve learned has come second hand through myth, but it’s not like the Night King actions have done much to disprove the speculation. It’s not like he’s going to sit down with Jon Snow and proclaim “I just don’t like walls”. No, this guy’s bad and we know it. He killed a freakin’ dragon people. Good guys don’t do that. Good guys ride dragons… usually. Depending on the dragon I suppose. If it’s Falkor or Pete sure. Smaug, not so much.
Seven seasons of lying on the outskirts of Game of Thrones and the Night King is finally thrust to the forefront. This is his season. The Great War is upon us and here comes the Night King with his army of the dead. Awesome! Let’s do this, my body is ready. As this war approaches and his one on one confrontation with Jon Snow looms over the final season, is it possible that the Night King can get away without saying a word? Does the Night King even need to speak to the ultimate badass villain?
Let’s look at it this way first, what would his voice even sound like? At this point, he can’t come out talking like anybody else. The voice has to match the mystique and right now the Night King is riding all-time mystique highs. If he talks and it sounds dumb he’s going to lose his street cred. That’s a fact. On the other hand, if he does talk then his voice has to haunt my dreams. I’m talking a barely audible whisper that sounds like broken glass, sharp icicles, and the sobs of unicorns. Pretty much the void of happiness. A voice so horrific that I kind of want to throw up just thinking about it while trying to scratch the evil off of my spine. That is literally the only acceptable sound to come out of the mouth of the Night King.
Seriously though, what does the Night King have to possibly say that he hasn’t already shown us? He killed a dragon with the world’s greatest spear throw and then raised it from the dead. He’s riding a zombie dragon for Christ’s sake. He’s said plenty. I’m not entering the final season of Game of Thrones to see Jon Snow and the Night King discuss their opposing philosophies. That’s what we have Cersei for. No, I’m here for the battle. I’m here to see these two in the most epic showdown imaginable. I’m talking snow, swords, blood, and fire. Let the Night King be the first villain in history to not condemn himself by speaking. Could you imagine the Night King getting caught monologuing? It’s almost as preposterous as Podrick ending up on the Iron Throne. What’s he going to talk about? Endless winter? Cooool. Just bring me the endless winter don’t’ talk about it.
The Night King doesn’t need to talk. We’ve got seven seasons worth of statements. Now’s the time for action and the Great War.