Game of Thrones Season 5: The Woes to Come

Warning: Book spoilers. Ranting. Nerd rage. Etc.

Winterfell burns no more. Of course it was glaringly evident last season that Sansa’s television story arc had caught up and gone beyond her book storyline, as we’ve had only a handful of Sansa/Alayne chapters since A Storm of Swords. George may have released a new Alayne chapter in an attempt to catch us up a little, but Sansa is off to meet her destiny, full speed ahead, in the season 5 opening episode, The Wars to Come. While I have been longing to see the maiden slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow I shudder to think what Dan and Dave have in store for her.

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I have never wanted to see Dan and Dave’s fan-fiction take on the end of Thrones. Which is probably why I have spent several months ignoring most of the Game of Thrones news. Hearing how much better the show is than the books makes put my head in the dishwasher. This is a strange phenomenon you see. Fantasy and science-fiction books generally don’t make it out onto the commercial market unless a film or series is made. In most cases science-fiction and fantasy films don’t actually attract a ‘general’ audience, sci-fi and fantasy nerds watch the films and buy the books. Game of Thrones has been marketed, and been embraced by, a ‘general’ audience. The Song of Ice and Fire series embodies a lot of the medieval-style landscapes and feudal societies traditional to the high-fantasy genre, which is of course familiar to anyone who has enjoyed a historical fiction show. It’s not surprising the series was popular, George was actually a very well-respected, popular and hugely successful author well before the  series. But now I get people asking me ‘what do you mean fantasy books are always this long?’, ‘why does he spell the names weird?’ ‘this isn’t realistic’ (but dragons are always fine).

I was hoping George might get Winds of Winter published in time for season 6, but it really no longer matters when George gets his books finished. A series that has almost been twenty years in the making will finish up in the hands of Dan and Dave and HBO and anyone who was in denial (like me, who has spent several years in the throes of it) now has to accept that we are going to get the full Dan and Dave version of A Song of Ice and Fire‘s conclusion. Pretty damned baffling for an author who has pointedly refused to entertain the idea of another writer finishing his books if he dies before he completes them.

Dan and Dave are also in a huge hurry, despite mulling over book three for two seasons. Now they’re cramming the last four books into three seasons. Dan and Dave signed on to make a movie after they finish Game of Thrones, which is probably what all the hurry is about. They might be tired, it will be over ten years by the time the seven series are completed. So despite George and HBO executives public lamenting that the show is being cut short, because cut short it will be, Dan and Dave are adamant they will do no more than seven seasons. While I was entertaining the idea that new writers/producers could just take over, that would require George to put his trust in more people and reveal his ending, and the next writer/s having to write themselves out of the corners Dan and Dave have placed themselves in. There’s little use trying to make changes now.

More characters being killed off in the show that are still alive in the books

More characters being killed off in the show that are still alive in the books

Now that the writers are deviating so widely from the books and creating many lame filler storylines the quality of the show is seriously declining. It is easy to see why. Clearly Dan and Dave don’t actually write as well as George does (you know, the author of those ‘boring’ books the wildly successful series is actually based on). The first three seasons stuck reasonably close to the canon. By season 4 some of the storylines needed to cross over to introduce elements from books four and five. But because Dan and Dave are now indiscriminately trimming the ‘fat’ from the cast, killing off people who haven’t died in the books, abandoning vast storylines from the books and introducing all new plot lines of their very own, the descent into chaos and ruin has begun. Buckle up.

Last season the showrunners not only revealed their spectacular lack of understanding of various characters, Cersei and Jaime being the main problems, they also showed an embarrassingly pedestrian view of the fantasy genre in general. Last season we were subjected to fireballs (seriously?), this season, it’s nipples on breastplates. Last season we suffered through their fan-boy adoration of Cersei Lannister, and their tiresome sad faces and sombre tones imploring us to remember Joffrey was ‘just a boy’. Millions of fans worldwide ignored them completely and celebrated by plastering the internet with grotesque, sticky-faced pictures of Joffrey’s death mask. This season we’re likely to see Cersei’s arrest as a terrible ‘tragedy’. Look I love Lena Heady too (who doesn’t?) but this ‘clever’ and ‘misunderstood’ version of Cersei is just so false and dishonest to the original character that she barely resembles her. Give it a rest already. And for the love of dragons, please stop ruining Jaime’s character.

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It’s clear they love Cersei so much they’re prepared to overlook continuity, as episode one’s opening scene would indicate. I was very surprised to see Cersei’s scene with Maggy the Frog, with Maggy several decades younger than her book counterpart. But no matter. If I am remembering correctly they usually don’t do flashback scenes. I was expecting the ‘Valonqar prophecy’ which would have actually fit in with the show, but they left it out. Instead they focused on Cersei’s marriage to Robert and her children. They also made an error in the opening scene as Maggy told Cersei she would have three children. Only Dan and Dave, back in Season One, gave Cersei an extra child, a black-haired boy who died, a ‘trauma’ she shared with Cat Stark after Bran was injured. Of course in the book when Cersei fell pregnant to Robert, Jamie arranged for an abortion, so she actually did only give birth to three children. It’s Dan and Dave who gave her four, all to make us feel sorry for her of course.

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Varys’s storyline also seems somewhat muddled, with him claiming he has supported Daenerys all along – wasn’t that Varys who was encouraging Robert to kill her in Season One? No matter. That can probably be explained away. But the dialogue between Tyrion and Varys was just gauche, especially Varys’ jarringly modern use of “our country”. That’s what happens of course, when the showrunners have to move away from actually adapting material and write their own dialogue. We’ll see plenty more of it over the next three seasons.

I don’t know why Loras is there, other than to remind us he is gay. Yes, yes we get it. You think you’re very progressive. Also, Loras is gay. Remember the cringe-worthy explanation of Oberyn’s sexuality we were given last season? Thanks Dan and Dave, maybe you’ll tell us about the birds and the bees next. Perhaps Loras will be given some clothing again soon.

I have not watched any of the leaked episodes although I have seen many dire, spoiler-free warnings about the internet exploding after they air. Sansa and Baelish appear to be heading towards Winterfell and the Boltons, without Harry the Heir. Heading towards Winterfell could be a simple matter of rallying allies against the Boltons to take it back (as there seems to be no other army from the Vale accompanying them) but both Sophie Turner’s comment that she filmed a ‘super-traumatic’ scene for season 5 and Iwan Rheon saying he was very disturbed by some of Ramsay’s scenes and didn’t really want to film them isn’t giving me much hope if Sansa is heading somewhere in Ramsay’s vicinity. I really hope I am wrong.

Tyrion is heading straight for Daeny rather than tarrying with his slave storyline, and I suspect they’ll pick Jorah up on the road somewhere. Now Prince Aegon seems to have been abandoned Varys is heading straight for Daeny as well. Sir Kevan has reappeared, perhaps just in time to be murdered? So at this point we might expect Daeny to move against the Lannisters, or whoever is on the throne by the end of the season, by early season six. Why don’t we just finish it off in six seasons and get it over and done with?

Next week, Arya (hooray!), Dorne (which almost didn’t make the cut), and maybe some nipples on breastplates.


About The Author

Olga Hughes is currently pre-occupied with fairy tales, fantasy, misanthropy, medieval history and the long eighteenth century. She has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts and is currently majoring in Literature and History at Deakin. She has contributed to websites such as History behind Game of Thrones, The Anne Boleyn Files and The Tudor Society.

7 Responses

  1. Underdogge

    Is it possible that the fact that the child actors are not so little anymore has something to do with the timeline for finishing the series. Although I am younger than GRRM it’s not by very much and I hope for an ending to the series before I leave this planet…..I agree that things have been changed but despite that the first episode of series 5 did hold my attention, so I didn’t find it hateful the way Olga has. I must own I was surprised they cut the character of Arianne Martell and they have made show Ellaria (this season anyway) quite different to book Ellaria. I was sorry they made show Jaime murder Alton (the show replacement for Cleos) back in season 2 – Jaime was never goody two-shoes after all and THAT scene last series was not very well executed. Hope this doesn’t cause offence Olga, but I am SO GLAD show Daario does not have blue hair (though it did go from blonde to brown between seasons; one might even have thought he was a completely different person).

    Reply
    • Olga Hughes

      Oh I miss Daario’s blue hair LOL. And Tycho didn’t have his great big hat last season either. I think they’re a bit conservative with the male costumes.
      I think they’re worried about the younger actors but I don’t find it that problematic, unless you sit and watch the seasons one after the other you don’t really notice from year to year. Except for Isaac, who grew about nine foot last year. But as they made them a couple of years older to begin with in the show I don’t find it jarring.

      Reply
  2. Carey

    I still like the series. I love both the series and the show. I hope to see both conclude. I’m not excusing Dan and David, I dislike the changes like the exclusion of Arianne who is my FAVORITE character in all the books and making Trsytane older and fusion his role with the now missing Quentyn and changing Tyene, but I still watch the show because I like it, the acting, the characters and everything just as I love the books. I still cross my fingers though, hoping no rougher changes but lol I have a selfish reason for that, it offers me an escape from my injuries. It is like Disney Marvel movies. They’re different the comics and some changes I don’t like as well but they’re still entertaining.

    Reply
    • Olga Hughes

      I’m mainly preoccupied with the Theon and Rickon’s fate at the moment. They are already writing season 6 so I don’t think there’s going to be much, if any, of George’s material to go on after this season is finished. Even if George gets Winds of Winter out before the series finishes D&D will have to follow whatever narrative they have planned for series 7.
      In that case of course we don’t know how much they will have changed besides what we already know. And we still have the books to look forward to.

      Reply
      • Carey

        That is true, you have a point there. Let’s hope that he still goes by his gut and his original plan because he told them how everything is going to end, so here is fingers crossed that the books goes as he plans them to be 🙂

    • Underdogge

      POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT READ AFFC/ADWD

      Do you think they have given some of Arianne’s part in the books plot to Ellaria in the show, Carey? Some posters had speculated thus on the “WatchersontheWall” website. I quite like Ellaria being a peacemaker in the books but from what I have seen from clips so far they seem to be making her “badass” this season.

      There were also some people speculating that Sansa’s show arc might be being written to take the part of Jeyne Pool who has been cut from the show (so far at least) and I thought “No” but – again from watching clips – it seems possible they might have the right of it; I’m not too keen on that change if it does come off. Then I have only seen clips so I can’t be 100% certain that’s the direction in which they are going. There was a YouTube video with D&D and Kit Harrington and John Bradley talking at the Oxford Union – going by that D&D said they did respect GRRM’s work and wanted to do it justice and that they wanted to end up in the same place going by what GRRM had told them.

      Reply
  3. Underdogge

    I’m not sure if this is where a comment of mine went AWOL from. From what I recall I said that I had now caught up with episode 2 of the series – and that I had liked the nod to Lyanna Mormont as the Mormont women has [so far at least] been missing from the show, albeit there were some women in the Red Wedding scene who might have been Mormonts without being named. There may have been more but it’s best not to waffle on too much so I’ll keep it to this.

    Reply

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