But this very dark season should also force us to accept the possibility that it’s really not that kind of story: as we’ve noted many times before, Game of Thrones is no fairy tale. Fairy tales are often about children being threatened, and defeating the monsters, and finding their way home, and growing up to live happily ever after. We all still long, understandably, for that comforting formula, in nearly every story we encounter.
More mature works, however—and Game of Thrones is one of them—recognize that our fears change as we grow older: they recognize that “growing up” is not a solution, but an expansion of problems. They realize that home is a responsibility, not a safe haven. They acknowledge that there’s no such thing as “happily ever after.”
They recognize—as this long, dark season has done—the sad, uncomfortable truth about what the end of childhood really means. It means we stop being quite so afraid of monsters, and we start being afraid of becoming monsters.