Okay, a view disclosures before we get underway. If you haven’t seen the last episode of season five, there are going to be spoilers here so look away now. Also, I am writing as an avid show fan, who has not read the books at present but has watched the show since its commencement. If that in anyway invalidates my opinion to any book readers out there then you too are free to leave my musings.
Have they gone? Good. Here we go.
There can be no question that Game of thrones or GOT as It’s also known as is one of the biggest television successes of recent years. Aired on HBO originally and in UK on Sky Atlantic, I and many other people I know have been avid fans of the series since its commencement.
One of the most anticipated plot lines of season Five was the Sand Snakes of Dorne- the 3 beautiful and feisty warrior daughters of Oberyn and Elliara Sand. Oberyn was a big hit with fans in the short period he had in the show and every time I see that final scene in which he fights the Mountain, I find myself resisting the futile urge to shout for him to get out of harm’s way. There was a lot of chatter online and much anticipation of the debut of his daughters. However, when the sandsnakes made their eventual appearance audiences were left cold. First of, there was the long, drawn out speech in generic foreign accents before one of them threw a spear into the head of the poor chump captain of the ship who took Jamie Lannister to Dorne. Then, there was the fight with Jamie and Sir Brone of the Blackwater. The same show that brought us the battle of Castle Black misfired with this power rangers inspired mêlée. The final clip of the big bloke with the axe taking about a week to swing it into Jamie’s face, before saying, “It would have been a good fight when you were whole,” was also much parodied.
So what went wrong? Well, in this case casting seems to be an issue. The three girls are all lovely looking additions to the landscape, but it almost seems like a different show when you compare their acting skills with those of Leana Headey as Cersie who can drip hatred through her teeth and the scene in which she simply flicks her eyes to see the entrance of her cousin accusing her of an illicit affair before the High Sparrow is breath-taking in its simplicity.
But there is another issue. Just before season five, there was an announcement that the timeline for the book and the show were going to diverge somewhat. Whilst I welcomed the idea, the reception to many of these departures has been decidedly mixed.
It’s clear to see why this is. For a start the show is nipping on the heels of the books like a marauding gang of white walkers. We are now at the same point in the timeline as the books, albeit with some characters dead who are not yet dead, and some still alive who should be dead. There’s another reason though. Thronecast, hosted surprisingly well this season by Sue Perkins and the ousted former host, reduced to sifting through e-mails, Jamie East had the actor Ian McElhinney who played Sir Barristen was decidedly miffed as he had read the books and knew his character lived on beyond the point when the show called time on him. This, of course, keeps the book readers on their toes.
some people who have religiously devoured the books, felt it was their duty to go on website forums and drop key plotline spoilers about the forthcoming plotlines. For example. I knew that Rob Stark was going to die, that Oberin Martell was going to lose his battle with the Mountain and that Jon Snow was going to be killed by his own kinsmen. Although to be fair this last spoiler was down to some numpty on my local network firing a comment off about the Night’s Watch murdering Jon when someone asked why was the police helicopter out in our local area. This was doubly annoying as I had been avoiding looking at any GOT info on any websites all that day.
So maybe this is a way to combat the spoilers. However, there could be a fatal error in the quality of the show in departing too far from the books plotline. A lot of people were doubly upset at the rape of Sansa by the fiendishly evil Ramsey Bolton nee Snow. Not just because it was a shocking scene, but because it doesn’t take place at all in the books. Likewise, the burning of Stannis’ daughter to garner the Lord of Light’s favour seems to have gone down like a lead balloon with said Lord of Light and the viewing public alike. Maybe book reader’s cant spoil it for the rest of us, but is it a price worth paying if they take such major detours from George’s original vision?
There is some chatter online that Mr Martin is not best pleased with some of the departures, but is having to keep quiet due to the clause of his contract. That may be true, or it may not and only the author himself would be able to answer that.
However, what is clear is that show may be becoming somewhat self aware. One example of this could be when Stannis corrected the grammar of his hand Davos Seaworth. Some people liked it. Some thought it was a nod to the grammar police who troll the net looking for too, to, two misuses. Then there was the incident in which Melisdandre turned to Jon Snow after his rather stoic, but probably wise, rebuff of her advances and uttered the immortal chat up line.: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” If the show wasn’t jumping the shark at that moment, it certainly was stepping over the dragon. Though it made me laugh, which was probably the intention, it did leave me thinking that next season we might hear Cersei utter the phrase, “Hodor, Hodor Hodor!” Hopefully when her brother is nowhere near the vicinity though.
All in all, GOT season five was a mixed back, possessing some of the most shocking scenes and twists, with one of the best episodes of any television series ever in Hardhome, with maybe one of the worst episodes of the show so far immediately after, Dance of Dragons.
I personally think that now the show and the books are at the same point, there will be few divergences and show will grow stronger. Perhaps cut free from the restraints of the book, the writers lost their way at times, but there was certainly a lot of promise in season five. And lets be honest, a bad episode of Game of Thrones is far better than the best episode of a lot of other television programmes.