Game of Thrones Season 5 vs. A Song of Ice & Fire: Round Three
WARNINGS: This article contains spoilers for all published books of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series, as well as all aired episodes of the HBO show Game of Thrones that is based on that series. Additionally, there is some speculation about what’s to come in future books/seasons of the show.
It’s official – now that season five is finally (finally!) over, Game of Thrones has made me eat my own words over and over (and over) again.
At this point I’m not even sure if there’s any point in comparing this season to the books anymore, because the show took things in so many weird – and at times, downright awful – directions that I’m officially putting myself in the “this is just really bad fanfiction” camp.
Which is honestly just sad, because there were some great moments this season that were ripped right from the pages of the books. One of the things I questioned in Round 2 was Cersei and the Tyrells and what the changes to their story lines meant for her walk of penance…but in the end, the Tyrells seem to have disappeared for the time being, and Cersei’s walk was as book-accurate as it could have possibly been…right down to her arriving back at the Red Keep and being scooped up by Ser Robert Strong.
The thing is, the show passed many of Cersei’s worst actions on to Joffrey, which made her walk even more difficult to watch – and I doubt it ever would have been an easy thing to view, in the first place. I was surprised that they dragged it out as long as they did; this was truly one instance where it being close to what happens in the book made me cringe (over and over again).
Also cringe-worthy – but in a much different way – is whatever’s going on (or maybe rather NOT going on) with the Tyrells. Littlefinger showed up in King’s Landing just in time to offer Olenna some help (we can assume he meant turning Olyvar over to her), but as far as we know, Loras and Margaery are still being held captive by the Faith…and have been for a while. They might as well be added to that abandoned plot line boat meme that’s been floating around the Internet.
Speaking of boats, when we last saw Jaime he’d just left Dorne to return to King’s Landing with Myrcella and Trystane…but that was left pretty open-ended when Myrcella was poisoned and died when they were still in sight of Dorne. This entire situation was just weird, to me – first Myrcella telling Jaime that she knew he was her father and that it was “all okay”, topped by Ellaria killing her with a kiss? Obviously Cersei’s prophecy from the books means that her children will all die before she does, so I don’t actually take issue with Myrcella’s death, except for the fact that the means and timing of it were practically nonsensical. Will Jaime turn the ship around and head back to Dorne? Will Trystane really be allowed to take the seat on the small council now that Myrcella is dead, or will he be killed in kind? Did Ellaria think about anything at all when she decided to take her revenge in such a manner? And can the show version of the Sand Snakes just not talk or fight, ever? Because pretty much everything they do in the show is eyeroll-inducing, which is sad because they’re such great characters in the books.
Another thing I mentioned in Round 2 was that I actually liked some of the changes they were making with Stannis, but leave it to Game of Thrones to take those changes and throw them in our faces. I understand that Weiss and Benioff are claiming that Martin told them about Shireen’s death, but I find it hard to believe that book!Stannis would burn his daughter alive in any manner like what they portrayed in the show. It seems to me that they were just trying to rush his story so that they could shove Brienne into the picture to kill him off right when everything collapsed all around him, and to be honest I just find that to be poor, lazy writing.
On the other hand, although Jon and Sam’s story lines were similar to Cersei’s in that they took a roundabout way of getting those characters on track with their book counterparts, I actually don’t have many complaints. The Hardhome episode was probably the best one this season, despite it exploring territory we’ve not seen in the books, and in the end Sam was on his way to Oldtown with Gilly and Jon had been stabbed “to death” by the men of the Night’s Watch.
Another plot that’s overall a bit different from that in the books, but not maddeningly so, is Arya’s. There may not be a kindly old man – instead we got the return of Jaqen H’gar, and to be honest that makes a lot more sense in the showverse (rather than adding in an entirely new actor/character…plus who doesn’t want to see more Jaqen?). That said, the fact that they took her story a step farther than in the books (by having her kill Meryn Trant), only to then take a step backward by having her go blind after that kill. At this point, though, Arya and her story are kind of the least of my worries, because I’m much more invested in the mess going on with her sister.
Unfortunately for Sansa, she has lost her entire story line, instead having taken on Jeyne Poole’s, right down to her leaping from the walls of Winterfell with Theon. Part of me is just glad she has apparently escaped from Ramsay, though of course that doesn’t outweigh the travesties they inflicted on her this season. In my Round 2 post I said that the only way I would be able to move on from that “sick, twisted turn of events is if she never actually has to marry him.” Unfortunately, she did, and on top of that Ramsay then raped her. We’ve already said quite a bit on that front, and I also know quite a few people who stopped watching the show at that point. To be completely honest, it was difficult for me to keep watching it after that happened. That said, we at The Geekiary finished out the season, but there’s a good chance that we will not be reviewing the show next year. Stay tuned for more information on that front.
Last but not least, we come to Dany and Tyrion. I can’t say that I disagree with the show’s decision to get Tyrion to Meereen, though everything that happened in the season finale – Varys’ timely arrival combined with the fact that Tyrion is essentially supposed to rule the city along with Grey Worm and Missandei – is silly at best. Though perhaps not as silly as the scene where Dany is surrounded by a khalasar…seriously, where was Drogon? Are we supposed to believe that he wouldn’t smell/hear/see/sense that many people/horses and at least come around for a bit of food (if not coming to Dany’s aid)?
(As a side note, Daznak’s Pit being The Big Thing in episode 9 was kind of disappointing. It was an exciting scene, to be sure, but the battle at Hardhome seemed far more episode-9-worthy, to me. Between that and the fact that the rest of episode 9 – and much of episode 10 – were chock full of stumbling plot lines, this was by far the worst end they could have given to an already crappy season.)
The problem with season five is that when it wasn’t being offensive/downright awful, it was boring. Despite having so much source material to pull from, Weiss and Benioff have gone off on their own path, and it’s not a good one. Plain and simple. Can they make up for this messy season next year? Perhaps some parts of it. But they can’t take back what they did with Stannis, and they really can’t take back what happened to Sansa. On top of that, I have serious concerns that they will move forward and ignore the repercussions of some of these decisions, because they know this show is a juggernaut and can’t be stopped.
I for one may have finally reached the point where I can separate the show from the books, but that doesn’t mean I have to like the show…and I really kind of don’t. I have a lot of thinking to do before deciding whether to bother even watching next season, that’s for sure.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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