Most of my reviews for the INCREDIBLY popular HBO series Game Of Thrones have been from the “how is this different from the book?” perspective. Some of the changes I really liked, some of the changes I really hated, and some made no goddamn sense in the grand scheme of storytelling.
THAR BE POSSIBLE SPOILERS HERE. If you haven’t caught the last two/three episodes of season six, you may want to turn back now.
I think that’s been my biggest problem with the past two seasons of the high fantasy series, a lack of cohesive writing. Sure, every single line of Tyrion Lannister’s (Peter Dinklage) is crafted to be quoted by scores of folks on their twitters and facebooks, to be printed on tshirts and bumperstickers. But does that make up for the poor storytelling?
The show USED to be compelling, the first two seasons were spectacularly crafted in their visuals, dialog, and character development. The writers did their job, and you gave a shit about what happens to the various characters. Well ok, you either wanted someone to kill everyone and survive themselves, or you wanted to see the character get killed for revenge or comeuppance or similar. That started to go away at the tail end of season 4, when things got stagnant and predictable. This isn’t just from the point of view of someone who knows the books backwards and forwards, this is from someone who’s job it is to watch and review things.
Season 6 intrigues me because we’ll get to see some things (theoretically) not yet touched on in the show, but already completed in the books. Like the Kingsmoot of Pyke, where following the death of Balon Greyjoy, Asha- I mean YARA Greyjoy and her uncles Victarion and Euron Crow’s Eye vie for the Seastone Chair. The Damphair, another Greyjoy uncle and the holy man of the Drowned God, is one of my favorite characters from the books, much in the way that Ser Davos is. He has his own set of morals, he knows what is expected of him, and he does what he believes is needed. He will put things in motion that will effect the future of all the Krakens. I’m pretty disappointed with how they dealt with the madness of the political Viking blindside that happens. No sign of Victarion, the OTHER crazy Greyjoy uncle who is supposed to show up and lay claim to the salt throne. So, minus 1 point for lack of compelling peril.
The continuing saga of one Murder Child Arya in Braavos is probably my favorite storyline currently, maintaining the integrity of the source material, but also branching off into it’s own beast. Keeping Jaqen around was a good choice I think, and not just because I think he’s pretty (but really, he is). We’re learning more about the Faceless Men, and that’s something I’m thankful for.
The saving of Sansa by one Theon/Reek was a brilliant move, attempting to bring him back into some semblance of the young man he was before his break. I still really wish the show would have built up his reveal as Reek, discovering that in the book was a moment of shock that I enjoyed. (Yes, maybe this makes me a horrible person, but I like not knowing what’s going to happen, I like not being able to guess the next step.) Sansa’s reunion with Jon at Castle Black was one of the few and far between moments of Stark happiness (ha, get it?) in the otherwise darkness of their family.
And we can’t ignore this, right?
Because HOLY crap, this is beautiful. Yes. All the yes. +10 points.
And at least we finally know Hodor’s backstory? I am heartsick that we’ll lose Kristian Nairn in the cast, his gentle giant’s warmth has been wonderful since the beginning. We’ll have to wish him the best of success with his pretty darn good DJ tours and performances. The ongoing question of who Hodor was/is, answered in one phrase we’ll all have flashbacks hearing for cons to come.
I could be annoying and again point out the big stink that Emilia Clarke raised about her character’s nudity on the show, and how she got her contract changed so she didn’t appear naked anymore…..but the Unburnt once again went to her primary weapon, naked fire walking. In the Horse Klingon-I mean Dothraki city of Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys was subjected to the gathering of Khals, who would decide her fate. Would she stay with the widows of downed Khals, would she become spoils of war, or would she be killed? The Mother of Dragons took a page from her Mad King father’s book, and “burned them all”.
Tyrion and Varys should just rule the world, between the two of them, things would suck less for everyone. Will the peace stand? Will the appearance of yet ANOTHER red Priestess change things for the absentee Queen’s court? I did really like Kinvara’s implied maester’s chain detail on her robe, though.
Yes, many questions were raised by the first six episodes, mostly ones about Sam The Slayer. Will he finally get to Oldtown? Will he make it to the Citadel and meet Alleras who I’m still 90% is meant to be Sarella Sand (unless Shae was actually Sarella Sand sent from Dorne to spy on the Lannisters, which would make sense)? Will he see the dragonglass candle burning and learn the magic? Only time will tell.