Why Game of Thrones sucks

Whenever I hear someone include Game of Thrones in the canon of the “Golden Age of Television,” I begin to ask very serious questions about that person’s taste and critical acumen. Here are a few reasons why:

  • A plot that’s sprawling beyond all reasonable limits — in some episodes, it seems like we’re watching a series of 30-second shorts pasted together. There is just no good reason to have so many ongoing plots that we’re “checking in on” so frequently. Shows like Mad Men and The Wire showed that there is another way: simply ignore the secondary characters till you need them. Instead of following Brianne of Tarth around for three seasons, suddenly she pops back up, and if you have competent screenwriters, they can fill in the background with a few broad strokes instead of tedious exposition. Game of Thrones seems to have picked the worst of both worlds — soap opera-style “checking in,” but often spaced out so distantly that we’ve forgotten about the character.
  • All the characters look alike — white people wearing black, smudged with dirt. That’s 90% of the characters. It may be okay if they had discernable personalities, but they mostly seem to do what the plot requires at a given time. What drives Stannis, for instance? Which one is he again? No one knows or cares.
  • There’s no interesting thematic content whatsoever — the whole point seems to be that George RR Martin has a sick imagination and has come up with a world where everyone is casually violent, then we are presented with hard truths about how casually violent that world is. Whenever the show tries to “explore” “themes,” the attempt is undermined by an over-the-top presentation. Want to talk about the complex relationship between father and son? I know, have the father be casually abusive to his dwarf son and deride him for visiting prostitutes, then the dwarf son discovers he’s sleeping with the son’s favorite prostitute and murders him! How about the dynamics of abuse and Stockholm Syndrome? Well, one approach would be to spend an entire season showing a man being slowly degraded and tortured, to the point where his dick gets cut off — a sequence that, by the way, is never “shown” in the source material, though it’s implied — and then being enslaved to the torturer through fear. There’s broad strokes, and then there’s crayon scrawls.
  • Danaerys’s plot is an absolute shit-show — in this day and age, you’re seriously going to do a full-on White Savior plot with zero irony or self-awareness? And within that frame, you’re going to try to draw “interesting” parallels to US foreign policy (like the suggestion in the most recent episode that they establish basically a “green zone” in whatever god-forsaken hole she’s decided to “liberate”)? If this is the payoff for having an ongoing plot that still hasn’t directly connected to the main plot, all these many seasons later, I want a refund.
  • Can winter fucking come already?! — I am so tired of vague foreboding and fleeting glimpses at the supernatural menace just beyond the wall. Or am I more tired of Jon Snow’s random moralizing? Tough call.

I could go on, but those are my main complaints. Lest I seem totally negative, though, I must admit that the title sequence is excellent. That’s what keeps me watching, at the end of the day.

24 Responses to “Why Game of Thrones sucks”

  1. Dan Watson (@watsdn) Says:

    I think Game of Thrones seems to me a better-acted, moderately better-directed The Walking Dead. Same air of bleakness that appeals to our collective sense of hopelessness and to some degree succeeds at masking how it doesn’t have any good ideas about it. Explores themes like “being a noble dictator is hard”. Same utter failure to be interesting on an episodic level, even though it is a television show and is released to the public in the form of individual episodes. But there’s British accents and nudity.

  2. gbelljnr Says:

    This ended up a lot longer than I expected and it is really a mess, but I don’t have time to edit it, so it is as it is. Don’t take anything in it too seriously. It’s just notes.

    So, I don’t so much follow the characters-look-alike gripe, but I confess to finding the show’s entire aesthetic tedious, and “wearing black, smudged with dirt” is a corner of that aesthetic. The show is addicted to the anticipation of doom, to the portentous register, but has little in the way of philosophical payload in the overarching plot (lifeless, boring, supernatural evil invades from the Nawth) to give very much to that portent. It has nothing of the fascination of history about it, there are no real conceptual transformations afoot, and but the grand narrative of the show is built on the tantric feat of holding the suspense of an approaching Winter (got up in the very first scene) in a sustained way for several years. So they just fall back on aesthetic and mood to do this. The scenery, the emotional and attitudinal styling of the characters, the portentous register of the script (“winter is coming”, over and over again) serve to prolong this mood of indefinite foreboding while the screenwriters tread water and a deluge of money pours in. Genuine adumbrations of the Terrible Future are few and far between. And when they come, they come as a disappointment, because it’s just CG nasties, and CG nasties are not commensurate with the suspense that has now been built, and perhaps nothing could be.

    Aesthetic grimness standing in for actual content can actually work, but only for a bit. There was a certain novelty to “winter is coming” in the early game, but it wears off quite quickly if it is not managed skilfully, and so now I find myself just rolling my eyes as the “winter is coming”s fly thick and fast and unnecessary. They are clearly using these phrases as a crutch, as a quick and easy way of giving the scene and the drama weight, but of course, it backfires horribly. All we get is a mashup of melodramatic cliches and honor-splaining in the worst tradition of martial American television. With the result that I find myself staring at the costumes and the looming backdrops and thinking it is all just tediously overdone; none of this feels real, it is just pre-emptive advertising; it is a failure of dramatic imagination.

    As for discernible personalities I find I don’t have that problem. I actually read the initial books in the 90s, and thought they were OK – certainly better than average pulp genre-fantasy (which is all this is), and often found it hard to discern the characters, especially as the thing became more sprawling and self indulgent as it went on. But, the TV show, at least initially, removed a lot of the tedium for me, and mostly this is because I do like a good actor. Characters are more discernible for me now, because actors do the work of giving half-imagined character constructs some depth and idiosyncrasy. It was a treat to watch Charles Dance and Michael McElhatton. There are, for sure, some terrible actors too. Aiden Gillen is atrocious in it (morphing accent anyone? wtf is going on?). But I rather like the Stannis character in this interpretation.

    The grand narrative of the series is an inevitable disappointment, as discussed above, but I always felt that what was above average about the books, and which was carried over quite well to the tv show, was short-term plot. You say “the whole point seems to be that GRRM has come up with a whole world” and yes, the larger part of “fantasy” fandom believes that this is the actual point of fantasy – to demonstrate one’s genius by “creating a world”, normally in tedious, neurotic, superfluous detail (which the prose must then explore painstakingly and over whole chapters of nothing much else, as if the author was some obsessive, autocratic tourguide). “Fantasy” fandom tends to believe that this was what made Tolkien great. But this is the most debased form of the genre, and it is certainly not what made Tolkien worth a read, and what made ASOIAF slightly above average was that it actually had some plot. Whereas Tolkien gave us something like historical epic in an imagined world, plot was largely absent from Tolkien (as it tends to be in epic), but it worked because Tolkien was immersed in epics of obscure literatures and it is best read in dialogue with those. And of course, he was genrefied by American authors who were not old-world Oxford philologists, and so in the more debased and lucrative tributes to Tolkien, such as the execrable Robert Jordan or David Eddings, what you get is a highly formulaic “fully imagined world” where an entirely generic “orphan becomes saviour of continent amid end-times incursion of otherworldly evil but it’s alright in the end” plot. There is literally no point in reading anything like this: anyone can build a world, anyone can shoehorn a generic plot into such a world. Might as well do it yourself.

    GRRM, it seemed to me at the time, was OK, was actually worth a read if I had nothing else to do, because he gave us actual plot. He still delighted rather too much in the unexceptional “genius” of world-building (and so do his fans, in droves), but he was willing to subvert generic narrative cliches by earmarking characters as protagonists and then unexpectedly killing them off. He constructed believable plots that seemed to have good causal mechanics underlying them, and managed to keep you guessing while driving the plot forward in a way that actually drew some narrative investment from a reader, as long as you could stand trekking through leagues of bad prose and mediocre world-exposition. There was occasionally the feeling of watered down sub-Shakespearean intrigue about the proceedings.

    Of course, this wore off as the reader accustomed herself to GRRM’s limited set of techniques for subverting expectations. Characters that were just too good to be true went from being earmarked for heroic status to being earmarked for beheading. If you liked a character too much, you would find yourself anticipating their execution. The Danaerys storyline never reached the level of plot, instead falling into an entirely linear narrative slog with occasionally surprising progressions. And as the series bore on it became clear that GRRM did not intend to end his book in a nihilistic apocalypse: clearly some of his characters are, in fact, earmarked as the generic “epic hero” of formulaic fantasy; his technique had been to keep us guessing who was the Real Hero by flooding the field with decoys and spending the early years having them massacre each other. It’s clear that at some point Jon Snow will save everyone and the Others will be turned back, and in the end we’ll have a boring uniform elegiac mood with everyone licking their wounds and reciting melodramatic lines about how costly the victory was and daring to hope that things will get better now.

    I got bored with ASOIAF for these very reasons, and in fact, got bored with fantasy as a genre around the same time (around when Hollywood began to debase Tolkien). Fantasy really is 99% reactionary cryptofascist tripe. I expected the TV show to be terrible, but actually, for the first few series, I felt it managed to port across quite well the muscular plot mechanics of the books, while shedding a lot of the neurotic world-building garbage. The world should be a believable setting, not the point of the whole thing, and I thought these priorities were born out in the show. It was not exceptional television, but then I don’t think any television of recent years was exceptional. GOT was passably diverting, and assuaged the neurotic guilt of having never finished the books. My complaint is that, at around the time the books began to become predictable, the tv series is also began to lose steam. And, as of the recent series, where I believe they have overtaken GRRM’s books now, a new problem has set in. The show very much feels like the first draft of the story now. Instead of taking a previously imagined story and reworking it so that it makes good television (a process which actually allows for interesting creative interventions), the thing feels as if the narrative is now being led by the need to write more scenes and to keep the show going. We are in uncharted territory, and it has fallen back on tv scene-writing conventions. The scenes have become less interesting; one-note rehearsals of tedious wisdom already rehearsed many times before; about how “we swore an solemn oath to the night’s watch” and the importance of keeping it, etc etc etc. In earlier series, the plot seemed to consist in having multiple elements playing in any one scene. Now we are lucky if there is even one, and the scene isn’t just happening for the sole purpose of having X character on screen in this episode, making a compliment out of the overused Nawthen English accents, and having Jon Snow say “winter is coming” just one more time. All mood and posture and aesthetic, no plot, no character really anymore, and nothing to do but wallow in it. The plot seems to have melted away, and we are left with, as you say, the mere soap opera of keeping the various strands going, various fan-favorite characters chugging along so that they can all be in position for the big disappointment at the end. Nearly all of the actors I enjoyed have been killed off, and the extant ones have been sidelined or are clearly on borrowed time. It seems to me the weakest actors are the ones who have been selected for greatness, which means the prospect of an epic climax of Grand Bathos.

    And yes, as the plot breaks down and one begins to cast around for thematic or historical content, one runs up against the extremely poor political imagination of GRRM, and the fact that he really wasn’t all that much of a “genius” worldbuilder at all, and the fact that – like all of these pop up fantasy universes – nearly all of his ASOIAF world is made up of clumsily rearranged elements from world history (the Andals having “displaced” the First Men in America, uh, Westeros; an Essos that is both Old World Europe and the East, great walls of china and hadrian, the barbarians at the gates, what was it that happened to the ancients again?) and the really insulting allegory of the Iraq War which doesn’t even know what it wants to say and lunges around incoherently before settling on some trite liberal moral about how the empire should have had more respect for the barbarity of local customs, and that it is noble to admit you were wrong. Oh god.

  3. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Wow, it’s even worse than I thought! This season I have been getting the distinct feeling that Jon Snow is being set up as the One True King, which is just boring (because he’s boring) and sad (because having a woman rescue this misogynistic world would have at least been 1% interesting). And so all our time following Danaerys will have been for naught.

  4. danielimburgia Says:

    Thank you for your co-operation.

  5. Hill Says:

    Their efforts to salvage the disastrous two most recent books is one thing that keeps me watching. (I’m actually pretty impressed with their decisions.) I agree almost totally with the long comment above. It became clear that GRRM had basically no idea where he is going, and without spoiling the books, if you think there are crazy dead end plot lines in the show, there are probably 3-4 times as many in the books, some of them involving characters that TV watchers likely presume to be important to the long term future of the show.

    I still hold out hope for either a progressive ending or one that is consistently nihilistic. I mean… the Red God (or some source of power called the Red God) is clearly real. They can resurrect people and birth shadow assassin spirits. What if the Red God is a stylized version of the OT God, that, e.g. delights in human sacrifice, but only of rich and/or powerful people, loves poor people, etc. I mean… its the RED God. Maybe a Stalinist deity will ultimately carry the day. I can dream right?

  6. Craig McFarlane Says:

    I made some comments on Twitter… a re-iteration.

    Thematically, there are a number of clear things going on, none of which Adam identifies. 1. The intellectual context of the show is clearly rooted in the experience of late sixteenth and early/mid seventeenth century Europe. That is, we see a prolonged struggle between the “Machiavellians” and the “anti-Machiavellians.” This is amply demonstrated through, among other things, the relation of Tyrion, Varys, and Baelish to the kings. 2. Again, especially with Varys and to a lesser extent Tyrion, we see a shift from rule-by-and-for-blood to an abstract political conception of “the Commonwealth.” 3. There is a submerged strain of utopian democracy—at The Wall (who uniquely choose their own rulers), the problem of the Wildlings (the “Free Folk”), and the Brotherhood. That each of these is a sausage-fest only re-iterates the early modern problematic of democracy. 3. Reason and revelation: we see this clearly, again, with Tyrion/Varys and Davos/Melisandre. 4. Following from this, disenchantment and re-enchantment: look to Qyburn, Tyrion’s approach to war, and, obviously, the warlocks and the Children of the Forest (not to mention the wolves and dragons). 5. Contrary to Adam’s criticism about the meandering plotting of the show, the show is fundamentally about footnotes and, thus, scholarly. It is about dead-ends. Unresolved contradictions. Clearest evidence of this, at least from the “source” material, is the recent novella written as a history by a maester. The show (and novels) are deliberately non-epic (i.e., not like Tolkien or pseudo-Tolkien, e.g., Dragonlance style novels).

    I’m not sure how Adam would like people who don’t bathe and spend a lot of time in dirt and mud to look. This isn’t a place for suits—but if you want that, check out Littlefinger. He’s clean, impeccably dressed, and has a dramatic rise from very little to the most powerful man in advertising/Westeros. While I’ll grant that the Daenerys arc is the least interesting in the show (at present, at least), I don’t think her story is as unproblematically white messiah as is often received. Fact of the matter is that she’s a terrible messiah. Makes terrible decisions. And she can’t even keep the people she’s saving happy. Which, of course, brings me to the most interesting arc: Stannis. Claims to be a messiah, no one believes him, no one likes him, total dedication to an abstract conception of the Law. The show is organized around mimetic desire—which likely explains why some people here don’t like it very much.

    Hill: while there are Old Testament aspects to the Red God, his religion is Manichean. If the Red God exists, then so does The Great Other. The power of the White Walkers is as real as the power of R’hllor. At best, Stannis, as the hero of R’hollor, can do is operate as katechon.

    I guess the “tl;dr” version is as follows: the show (and novels) are basically a dramatizing of Foucault’s governmentality lectures and Quentin Skinner’s Foundations of Modern Political Thought.

  7. Adam Kotsko Says:

    This is all very interesting, and I will keep it in mind as I for some reason inevitably keep watching. One question: why would mimetic desire be a special obstacle for me, in your view?

  8. Craig McFarlane Says:

    I’ve never thought of AUFS as especially Girardian.

    There’s also something interesting going on with animals. Not just the totems and the wargs, but also with the deaths of animals. Mountain cuts a horse in half on screen, Tywin dresses a buck corpse onscreen, Ned kills Lady while she’s offscreen, Greywind’s death is onscreen but he isn’t shown until he’s dead. We can compare with Mountain slaughtering prisoners and Ramsay hunting humans, both of which are onscreen. Cf the “dog eating” scene in the Walking Dead.

  9. gbelljnr Says:

    Interesting comments, Craig.

    I think you’re right about Stannis. There is also something characterological going on with him which I think is of interest, and it’s a good performance.

    I also think it’s correct to say the source material and the show are non-epic, and consciously so. Whereas it makes gestures at an epic story arc, it is conspicuous in getting more convoluted and further away from completing it the further into the series it gets, and I think this is done more consciously that it might have been in such sprawling non-stories as the Wheel of Time. As I wrote above, the attraction of the show lies in the decidedly non-epic plotting of the here and now; the hands-on drama that can be had from a large cast of characters with intelligible motivations vying for advantage around some unifying narrative. This is the inverse of a Tolkien, where the advancement of the narrative is more or less incidental, and the experience of each moment or gesture in the abstract is central. This is why I think the GOT written work was once aptly described as War of the Roses meets Suetonius. It inherits both the scale and movement and dynastic romance of the former and the brutal palace intrigue of the latter. It is at its best in pure plot; it falls down when it does anything else.

    I’m not sure I’m in agreement the show is about dead ends and unresolved contradictions, although it has a lot of them. It seems as if the thing continues to limp towards the conclusion of its continental story arc. I have few doubts GRRM intends to tie that arc up, and in an entirely conventional way, too. Given this, it seems to me the dead ends and unresolved contradictions are no more than the byproduct of a fairly average author trying to pilot an increasingly ambitious and impractical fantasy saga through twenty plus years of dwindling inspiration, having had from the day he launched it no very clear idea of where or how he was going to land it.

    I think the irritation with the general aesthetic is about more than wanting “people who don’t bathe and spend a lot of time in dirt and mud” to look less like such people. There are a lot of different aesthetic choices you can make about how to portray people in this sort of situation. In large part, the GOT has chosen the Jackson LOTR aesthetic for this. It seems to me crude and overdone, not so much justified by the parameters of the plot, and more for decoration. At least they’ve elected not to hard pedal on all the schmaltzy faux-Celtic stuff, I suppose.

    My appreciation of the (otherwise potentially fascinating) Littlefinger character in the show has been thoroughly undercut by the supreme oddness of Aiden Gillen’s performance. His morphing accent, his inexplicable mannerisms and the jarring, eccentric quality of his acting generally. He looks and sounds like an actor who is more impressed with himself than he is interested in contributing to the drama. Every scene he is in collapses and exposes the production to me. I have not seen such a jarring performance since Thandie Newton played Condoleezza Rice.

    I agree with you that Daenerys is not unproblematically a white messiah. That too would be a problem, but the real problem for me is the way her messianic qualities are problematized – in a slouching, obvious allegory of the twin messianism of Bush/Blair in the last decade: She is a terrible messiah; so were they. The series plods flatfootedly through this drawn out, predictable morality tale about the dangers of white messianism, splaining each of its tedious, ambiguous lessons to us with all the doggedness of a Twitter liberal. Alright. And yet… we’re still supposed to identify with Daenerys. She is not a Joffrey. We’re not supposed to actively desire her demise. And so the whole thing comes off as typical liberal handwringing about how heavy lies the crown.

    It is on the show’s political subtext I part company with you, because yeah while the Machiavellians vs anti-Machiavallian thread is quite overt, and there’s plenty more where that came from, the series doesn’t really seem to me to have a lot to say about it. It’s just a device. I mean, you can say the show’s intellectual context is rooted in the experience of the early modern period, or you can say the show clearly plunders a dilettante’s reading of early modern history for inspiration. Sure, we have here and there a glimpse of Varys’ commonwealth (as an unconvincing character motive), or of “democracy” in the Free Folk and the Brotherhood, but again, these feel like hamhanded appropriations from world history shoved haphazardly into the general mishmash by someone who has little feeling for them beyond as slogans. He just throws everything in there. Moreso the perfunctory deployment of polytheisms, monotheisms, manicheanisms, and puritanisms; the religious movements of the show lack reality and specificity for me – they seem rather crass, amateurish, caricatures of religious movements, all overbaked and underimagined, the type of which you’d see in Star Trek. They are simply not believable, and I don’t understand why anyone in the series believes in them. I do not see a masterly author advancing some grand political argument in the workings of a giant historical thought experiment. For sure there’s plenty of interpretive room in there, and perhaps that’s all you’re trying to invest in when you read into this lucrative commercial HBO adaptation of a fairly average high fantasy series an expansive dramatization of Foucault’s governmentality lectures and Quentin Skinner’s Foundations of Modern Political Thought. But really, I think that might be overdoing it.

  10. Christopher Rodkey Says:

    This might not be contributing much, but:

    – When I saw the very first episode of season 1, the first thing I thought of was Girard, even down to the theme of the domestication of animals.

    – In the books–and I am not well read in contemporary fantasy or science fiction–part of the episodic charm rings of the pacing of some of the old Heinlein or Asimov novels, which were written intentionally to be published in pulp magazines with some zinger or cliffhanger to, as Asimov confessed, ensure the editor would pay for another installment. It lends itself to this kind of storytelling in the show, and is one reason why, I think, there haven’t been any great films of any of that era’s fantasy novels.

  11. denovodax Says:

    Re: gbelljnr’s line that “the attraction of the show lies in the decidedly non-epic plotting of the here and now,” Douglas Rushkoff makes a similar point that GOT is symptomatic of the “presentism” and “narrative collapse” of our always-on, never-ending newsfeed relationship to time. So, shows like GOT are less kindred, structurally, to traditional narratives with clear arcs, and more similar to stuff like massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) where the desire is more in “keeping the game (or newsfeed) going” than seeking some sort of final resolution.

  12. longstory Says:

    It’s an ideally dutiful audience-attitude for purveyors of proprietary, persistent, large-scale popular fictions: this sense that one must keep up with the latest installment to be informed. Jason Craft’s old anecdote’s instructive: http://www.earthx.org/blog/archives/33 —Game of Thrones may be trying to engage in a dialogue with the epic, but what it’s actually in direct competition with is Marvel and Star Wars…

  13. Craig McFarlane Says:

    gbelljnr:

    Interesting comments.

    There are some great performances: Stannis, Roose, Ramsay, Walder, Tyrion, Varys, Brienne, Sansa, Bronn, Tywin, the Hound, Osha, and Davos are all great. Hodor does well with how narrow his character is. Littlefinger is highly inconsistent. I really noticed the jumping accent between seasons three and four, which we just finished power-watching. It was especially prevalent when he got to the Vale. Deanerys’s circle is a bit boring, especially Jorah, who I don’t like as a character or as an actor. The woman who plays Daenerys is a bit one-note (and only catching up on season five this week, I was surprised that she has suddenly stopped showing her naked breasts). I had hoped for more from Jojen and Meera, who were at least interesting in the novels.

    With respect to the overall arc, I think we are seeing the development of a major divergence between the novels and the show. I don’t believe GRRM has written an episode for this season and doesn’t plan to for the next. The show will outpace the novels next season, for the most part. And we are getting a lot of new plots—like Jamie and Bronn versus Dorne. Part of the problem is that the show has sacrificed what appears to be some of the essential background details that holds the novel plots together. In the novels it is quite clear (on my reading, at least) that Mance and Rhaegar (Ned found him with his sister, defeated the Kingsguard, let Rhaegar take the black, Robert didn’t kill Rhaegar at the Trident, and Aemon assisted Rhaegar in taking on the identity of Mance) are one and the same and it is quite clear that the worst kept secret in fantasy fiction is also being left out; viz., that Jon Snow is a Starkgaryan. Jon, in the novels, is what connects Robert’s Rebellion to the contemporary story.

    If not Skinner/Foucault, then definitely Tilly’s article on state formation.

  14. Craig McFarlane Says:

    Oh, and I think Varys’s motivations are attributable to the story about wizard castrating him he tells Tyrion. There’s also likely something in there about a eunuch, empathy, and wariness of masculine power.

  15. Robin James (@doctaj) Says:

    Can I also add that the theme song that plays during the opening credits sounds like a plodding, trite neo-Romantic-neo-renaissance piece written for junior high band?

  16. Hill Says:

    The Jon Snow as a Starkgaryen is definitely there but only as of the most recent episode.

  17. Craig McFarlane Says:

    I only saw S05E04 last night. Melisandre’s interest in using sex magick on Jon points to his “King’s Blood.” Watching S05E05 tonight, so we’ll see where that goes.

  18. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I hear it more as the theme to an unreleased Zelda game.

  19. Aaron Says:

    I wrote a chapter of my dissertation on Game of Thrones and by the end was so disgusted by the show, that I can’t even watch it anymore. And though I’d still defend certain aspects of the books, I feel pretty fed up with their bloated, increasingly predictable meta-comments on the fantasy genre. Even so, I can’t resist the urge to share a pet theory about the ending, in case it turns out to be right. It goes like this: Jon Snow ends up with a huge northern force at his disposal to fight the Others, and decisively triumphs over the supernatural threat in the north, obviating the need for a Night’s Watch. And it turns out that he was the legitimate son, and of noble blood, and the rest of the Stark children were the real bastards. Meanwhile, Daenerys conquers the south. Instead of going to war, they join their houses in marriage, and start a new dynasty ,with Jon as King and Daenerys as queen. It would kind of line up with the rise of the Tudors out of the Wars of the Roses, who were relatives of the York family on which the Starks are based.

  20. Daniel Says:

    I think this comment thread is showing one area where GoT succeeds, and something like the last few season of Mad Men have failed: it’s fun to speculate about it, and talk with others about these speculations. The show itself is largely incidental, functioning just to move the speculations/chatter along at a decent pace. Stuff like “themes” or “morals” would detract from this; you want to leave as much of that big-picture stuff as possible for the audience to interpolate into the show.

    I’ve been waiting to see the wall fall down since the first episode. I suspect that part of why it’s taking so long for Daenerys to get to Westeros is that nothing that happens in Westeros in previous seasons will actually matter once the snow-zombies and the dragons get to start fighting there. Jon and Daenerys are pretty clearly supposed to end up co-ruling as Targaryen relatives/spouses once they team up to have the dragons beat the snow-zombies, and then all of the quibbling about legitimacy from previous seasons falls away because there will be Targaryens with dragons in Westeros again, and both parts of that make pretty strong claims to the throne. Bran can just end up as a crazy tree-druid, Arya can happily become a magical murder machine, Sansa just needs to get some good revenge in before someone murders her to bring her sad plotlines to a close, and I can’t even remember the name of the other Stark kid and I don’t think anyone cares what happens to him. He can end up ruling Winterfell I guess, just to put a Stark back in place there. I seriously don’t see how the wall can not fall down, or how anything that’s happened in Westeros can be important once it becomes one big battleground for snow-zombies vs. dragons. Nothing that’s not dragon-y can stop the snow-zombies, and the snow-zombies can’t win because they’ve gotten zero characterization so far. And the Red God clerics are pro-Daenerys and can bring people back from the dead, which seems useful.

  21. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Mad Men insists on thwarting plot predictions. I have literally never once made a correct prediction on a Mad Men plot point, and I’m pretty seriously overinvested in the show.

  22. gbelljnr Says:

    Recent episode new depths of laziness. Show was no masterpiece before, but is disintegrating before our eyes. Consider how typical has become each of the plot threads that appeared in that episode.

    King’s Landing – Puritanism/McCarthyism comes to King’s Landing. What banality. Everything plays out with predictable inevitability, foreordained from the first introduction of the High Sparrow. Is anyone genuinely interested in seeing this plot fleshed out, as opposed to seeing what the intended consequences of it are? Why are we being shown every generic plot device? Why are they being damn obvious?

    Arya/Faceless Men – This had better be the last excruciatingly drawn-out, fairly straightforward use of the “hero training in exile” trope. Might as well fast forward through these scenes.

    Sansa/Ramsay/Theon – Not even particularly well disguised sado-porn. Another predictable, formulaic, male-authored rape and sadism assault course for a female character. I mean, she’s a woman, where else could her story go? Not only gruesome, but from a creative perspective, bankrupt. Do they really think they are adding anything with this? Sansa will endure epic cruelties, all lovingly and immersively enacted for your viewing pleasure, and then we’ll be offered some clumsy moral or character twist which will be expected to justify this deluge of aesthetic sadism. But what is obvious is that, for the producers, the seemingly endless violent misogyny justifies itself. Will Theon redeem himself? Who cares?

    Bronn/Jaime – Odd couple road trip. How many times have we seen this device in this series already? Dorne reduced from interesting female power play to nest of one dimensional, cartoonish, villainous female viper antagonists all whip cracking and wisecracking like an episode of Xenia the Warrior Princess. Generic “foreign” accents all over the place. Boredom. Epic fail after the promise of Oberyn.

    Jorah/Tyrion – Odd couple road trip. Bear in mind the Brienne/Podrick plotline (which did not appear in this episode) is another odd couple road trip. Not to mention how many of these we’ve had already. Nevertheless, most buoyant plot in the episode, more owing to the acting talent than anything else. The episode’s one redemption was a cock joke. Consider that.

    Littlefinger’s plot is the only one that doesn’t seem by-numbers to me, and yet the actor is so bad I have to imagine a different performance over his in order to concentrate on it. And even then, his scheme is preposterous.


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