Long Island is “Game of Thrones” country.
Don’t believe me? Ask your neighbor these two little questions — “who will survive unscathed? Who will not?” — and if they don’t think you’re talking about the current Yankees squad, then settle in for an afternoon-filled chat about both topics.
I recently asked a few fans myself.
Here’s what they had to say:
BETH SEDER, LEVITTOWN
Seder, 44, who runs CrossFit Cobalt in West Babylon, came late to “Thrones,” or about four or five seasons in by her count. Then “I binge-watched and then binge-watched them again, and then again after that. I liked that it was so complicated — and that you could watch three or four times and still catch something new.” Her favorite characters are Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).
How does she want this to wrap? “A (Dany) Targaryen/ (Jon) Snow baby is going to happen. It would be nice, it would be cool, if somehow the kids started the world over again the next summer (when the long forthcoming winter ends) but that’s wishful thinking. I think the end is going to be horrible — everyone you want live dies, and the Night King takes over.” She laughs at her grim prediction, then sighs: “I’m not sure.”
GIL RAPPOLD, CORAM
Rappold, 51, is a world-class fantasy fiction expert and well he should be — he owns and operates Brothers Grim Game and Collectibles in Selden.
“I am a huge reader and have been a fantasy guy since my mom bought me Tolkien back in ’78,” he says. “I have a library [with] 10 or 12 shelves full of books.”
“But I could never get into “A Song of Ice and Fire.’ Then the show came out. I’d certainly heard about it and read about it and figured OK, let’s check it out. I will say the sterling moment was when Ned Stark (Sean Bean) gets his head chopped off. That wasn’t expected. I thought (eldest daughter) Sansa (Sophie Turner) would save him or something would happen and he’d get a reprieve and get away. It was like ‘wow,’ just a defining moment for me [and] I loved it. I’ve read so much over the years and the good guy always seems to get away or manages a miraculous escape. But this was gritty and realistic.
“My worry is that there will be a kinder, gentler ending — either that or they keep up with the grittiness. In the end I have to think that Cersei (Lena Headley) gets it, but I don’t know. I’m flummoxed … Daenerys? I have a feeling something bad will happen to her. That moment of glory when she finally takes back her throne? I always feel something will happen right after that.”
ALEX GAMBINO, SELDEN
This 30-year-old who works as a quality control tech for AMC in its Bethpage facility has a link to “Thrones” unlike few other fans — he screened almost the entire 7th season before it aired. How is this even possible, unless your name is “George R.R. Martin?” Here’s how: Gambino once worked as quality control specialist for HBO in its Hauppauge offices.
“They have someone check it right before it goes to air, or a couple of months before, just to verify that nothing got chewed up in the (production) process,” he says.
“I actually didn’t like the show initially. I watched a couple of episodes in the first season and nothing drew me in. Fast-forward a couple of years, and I was in college and watched season four live. It [then] took me three days to get through the other three seasons.”
“I was a big Tolkien fan and one of the theories behind [‘Lord of the Rings’] is that he had been so affected by World War I that it had bled into ‘LOTR.’ One of my best friends is a history teacher and we talked about how World War II related to ‘Thrones ‘ — how the dragons, for example, were atomic bombs, or whether the Night King and the White Walkers were Nazis. That’s what drove me into it.
“My favorite endings are tragic endings where the heroes make the wrong choice … I want to see the White Walkers take over, but I know that won’t happen.”
MEL NORMOYLE, HOLBROOK
Normoyle, 35, explains that after she watched the first episode, she “went straight to Border’s and bought then read the entire book series. I was instantly enamored.”
She had three or four favorite characters, including Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) “who is this immovable force yet she will never stop being who she is, no matter what. She is always true to herself.”
Her dream wrap? “I’m hoping Daenerys is able to break the wheel — her famous line from the fifth season — and melt down the Iron Throne and let the kingdoms rule themselves, and where there will be some semblance of peace.
“Jon’s role? Even though people think he would be the ideal king, he’s never wanted to wear the crown, and didn’t want to be lord commander of the Night’s Watch either. When he finds out who he truly is” — a Targaryen, also Dany’s nephew — “I think he’s going to absolutely panic. He doesn’t want the responsibility and has failed twice at that already. He’d be an excellent adviser …”
The ending, she says, will likely be “a tragedy that will make everyone say ‘I love this’ and ‘I hate this’ at the same time … Heroic characters are built to sacrifice themselves to protect the greater good. I have a feeling no one is safe and no one gets a trump card.”
FABRICE GAILLARD, CENTEREACH
Gaillard, 28, is a bartender at Westfield Sunrise Mall’s Bar Louie. He’s also a “GoT” superfan, with the books and the episodes — watched over and over — fueling his obsession. He was also late to “Thrones.” Friends knew of his long-standing passion for sword-and-sandal epics. Try this, they advised. He did. “When Ned (Stark) got his head chopped off, you knew you were in for a story. You also knew that anyone had a good chance of dying. That was really cool, so I watched, then watched again and again and here I am.”
Gaillard says he’s most enthralled by the “GoT” “universe, a vast sprawl across books and screen. “There is this entire (Westeros) history that people don’t even know about. His favorite character is “Arya (Maisie Williams). She is so compelling: She has great strength and courage, but is also what we might consider a ‘tomboy.’ She likes sports (certainly swordsmanship), loves to be outside all the time. She’s active, she’s really fun …[and] by the time she gets to the House of Black and White, this girl has survived so much trauma and has literally been on her own. She’s become a really fierce woman and she’s someone who resonates in real life.”
How will this all wrap?
“I don’t care — as long as Arya survives.”
BONIFACIO DIAZ, OLD WESTBURY
Diaz, 27 — “Bono” to his friends — lives in Old Westbury with girlfriend, Michelle Belio. Both are entrepreneurs — he’s involved in e-commerce, she’s a dog trainer — and both are devotees, but not immediate ones. “Whenever something is popular, I naturally stay away from it,” he says. Then “I gave [the first season] a shot then the second season, “ and he then started streaming the third.
“I became hooked.” He watched it again, then again with Michelle, and then — “because there was a year and a half before the next season” — they watched again. And again and again. Wash, rinse, repeat — for all the other seasons, too.
They become emotionally invested. Really invested: “Michelle had a nervous breakdown when Hodor (Kristian Nairn) died” in season six. (Bono’s probably kidding.)
“I think a lot of characters are going to die. I like villains and I feel that they’re often the masterminds [of the plot)]and all the hero does is save the day. Villains cause chaos. But with that said, I think everyone is going to die.
“I’d kind of like a happy ending — maybe Jon and Daenerys on the throne. That’d be cool but so predictable — good guys, good happy endings, that’s not what ‘Game of Thrones’ is about. I’m expecting something pretty treacherous to happen.”
Jacky Altilio, 29, is a court stenographer who lives in Bethpage. Here’s the story of her obsession, via email:
“What I’ve loved most about ‘Game of Thrones’ is the complexity of the show, and how many layers there are. The first time I watched it, I got all the way to the end of season 7 and as much as I knew what was going on, there was just as much that I didn’t even know tied together. I am re-watching it now, and every episode I realize (or someone else points out something) that makes me say, “Oh! I totally get it now.” I like shows that make me think, and this one definitely gets my brain working.
“I’ve been trying to decide how I want to see it end, and I know that I want someone we least expect to take the Iron Throne. Everyone seems to think it will be Jon Snow or Daenerys, and as much as I love both of them, I don’t see that happening. I actually think one, if not both of them, will die. I just know that I want Arya to live. She’s been one of my favorite characters from the start.”