The season finale of “Game of Thrones” aired last night on HBO, which means I have a very long year ahead of me. To make myself and thousands of fans feel better, I’d love to start a discussion about what the series did right and what it did wrong. I’m going to throw a few arguments out there to get it going. Now, I’m a huge fan of the books and the series blew me away. So many shockers, fantastic casting and…
Yes, that last word would have been a spoiler. I know there is a great divide between people who have read the books and people who have not. So here’s how it will work. There are spoilers below if you haven’t watched the finale. I won’t spoil anything in future books and I’d appreciate it if the commenters don’t either. However, I may hint at something. You’ve been warned.
To continue…dragons! Yes, HBO ended the season with the final, dramatic moment of the first book, which means they’ll be spending a lot of dough on Season 2. That final shot of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) naked and unburnt (strangely, still with hair, unlike the book) was a powerful one to end it with, and left me slack-jawed when I first read it. One of the reasons this show has been so successful is how close they’ve stuck to the source material, and I hope that continues as the show goes on.
Now, there was one particular moment that veered away from the books to the detriment of the show, and that was the relationship between Daenerys and Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). The casting was brilliant here and it never fails to amaze me how those actors speak in a created language and never once stumble or fail to get their emotions across. But the first sex scene between them was little more than a rape in the show. In the book, it was more of a seduction scene. I understand why it was done that way, but in the end, it robbed us of the full impact of Emilia Clarke’s performance. As we watch this girl (who is in her early teens in the book) sacrifice everything to save Drogo’s life, agonize over her love dying and finally kill him out of mercy, those of us in my viewing room last night who read the book felt the need to explain to those who didn’t that yes, she really was deeply in love with him. We also had to explain a bit about why. I mean, that first sex scene…yikes. What was so compelling and heart breaking for readers lost quite a bit of impact for first time viewers. (Let me say here that I watched with a very large group last night, made up of those who read the books, those who didn’t and people who watched a marathon last night and people who have been weekly viewers.)
Let’s talk about the women in the show…did any of you read the EW article on whether or not Game of Thrones was anti-feminist? I think we can finally put that to rest, don’t you? The women in this book are strong…alright. Not Sansa (Sophie Turner). But all the rest? There are two women from the second book that I’m dying to see cast. My friends, if you’ve read the books, please let me know who you’d like to see play those roles. I know you know which ones I mean. Please try to keep it spoiler free or be very clear about what you’re about to say. I think one of them in particular is going to be a tough one.
Ah, Sansa. A bit of a dishrag, no? Poor thing. I’m at the end of the third book, so I’m not sure where she goes after that, but there was a moment last night with Joffery…a look in her eyes that makes me wonder. And that brings up another point. I watch weekly with someone who hasn’t read the books and I continually have to explain that, no, so and so is evil right now. No really. Yes, I know they seem to be doing something nice, but that happens later and…sigh. There are quite a few characters that turn around as the books go on. I’m afraid that I’m seeing too much of it too early on. A certain royal, a certain soldier…it’s understandable that the actors have to find justification for some of their actions, but I think a lot of who these characters will be has already come across.
Let’s talk about naked exposition. Yes, all monologues come with breasts in this show. As soon as a character launches into a story about the past, there are naked women washing themselves after a romp or auditioning for the role of whore. There is a lot of information to process in this series and people do tend to tune out during speeches. However, if what you’re having them say is so important, maybe boobs aren’t the way to get them to pay attention. I have no problem with nudity and used sparingly, naked exposition is a perfectly fine device. But maybe there is a better choice in certain places. Maybe some of the exposition isn’t actually necessary. Last night’s discussion about kings and the madness of an earlier one could easily have been left out in favor of more time with Bran and his three-eyed crow or the horse lords or the boys on the wall. That said, perhaps there would be more people into Shakespeare if naked people showed up on stage during every soliloquy.
And now, the death (again) of Sean Bean. The man has made a career of wonderful death scenes, but the one last week was heart-squeezing even if you knew it was coming. The gasps and screams from the viewers at last night’s marathon were window-rattling. Personally, I think that’s part of the brilliance of the series and the show. When I first read that scene, I threw the book across the room, never intending to pick it up again. (I might have done that when they killed Lady as well.) Of course, I only lasted a few hours and I just had to know what happened. I did the same thing last night when another beloved character died in the third book. I even cheated and checked Wikipedia to see if I was wrong about what I read. I know many people, including one last night, said that they might not come back to the show after getting so invested in Ned Stark only to lose him. But this series and show is about the starkness of life. (Yes, that was intentional.) Just like real life, no one is safe. People die, even when you love them. Doesn’t it make you care just that much more? To know that this may be the last precious moment you have with someone? This is a world with children wielding swords and zombie-like walkers from beyond the wall. It’s not day care.
So, let the discussions, love fests and arguments begin. As always, I read all the comments and I’ll be weighing in as well. Let me leave you with this thought: If Peter Dinklage doesn’t get an Emmy for his performance, the world makes no sense and I will lose faith in humanity.
If you’d like to discuss with spoilers, take the conversation over to Twitter @jennabusch.
Winter is coming.