Sunday, October 4, 2015

Show Verses Book: Game of Thrones

In wake of it's recent awards, HBO's hit drama series Game of Thrones (based off of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire) has been getting lots of widespread public and critical attention, however despite it's success, Game of Thrones is a mediocre adaptation of it's source material and has been under siege by of the book's fans. This of course comes in reaction to the showrunners David and Dan making some rather questionable changes to Martin's vision going beyond what is necessary to account for a show adaptation. For this post, I will be focusing mainly on the changes in last season and the season previous to that, in order to illustrate my belief that the books far surpass the show in terms of narrative and complexity of character.


Character Changes for Stannis:

  • Since being introduced in the second season as the true heir to the throne of Westeros, Stannis (aka The Mannis) Baratheon is shown to be a stern, grumpy, bumbling, lecherous, military failure in the show due to the fact that the show runners "didn't like his character." Which is due to the fact that they do not understand the book Stannis, a man with a deep seated sense of justice and duty, which is only equal to his Machiavellian prowess with intrigue and his status as arguably the most skilled tactican and strategist in the series. Stannis also shows an iron will and an exceptional love for his family. 
  • All of this was cast aside however in the show when HBO decided to make him lecherous rather than asexual, inept rather than the Westerosi equivalent of a Greek strategos, cruel rather than just, and ambitious rather than dutiful. 
  • However these changes pale in comparison to the ultimate injustice perpetrated by those bumbling hacks David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, they made Stannis Baratheon (the man who survived 2 years of brutal siege warfare by eating rats and book leather to survive due to the filial duty he had for his brother) sacrifice his own daughter after his rations were destroyed for one night by the deus ex machina intervention of "20 good men" sent by a man with zero military experience. Burned his daughter alive for some rations, just to further game of throne's reputation as the show where people die (rather than the book where the hero doesn't always get a break).

Character Change for Sansa:

  •  Sansa Stark has had one of the worst lives of any character in the series which is saying a lot. She was married off to an inbred megalomaniacs who beheads her father. She was beaten by him, forced to have her father's severed head presented to her, married to a dwarf, framed for murder, and finally spirited away by the deceitful schemer who has creepy feelings for her. 
  • We think that the schemer Petyr Baelish will be nice to her due to how he feels for her and in the book he does, he gives her everything she asks for and helps train her in the art of westerosi court intrigue so she can get back at those who destroyed her family.
  • However, in the show, Sansa's agency is stripped from her. She is sold like cattle to the literal cruelest person in Westeros as a political bargaining chip who is known to mistreat women. She becomes a stereotypical damsal in distress, every escape attempt she makes is met with failure before she is brutally raped for the sheer shock value of it.
Plot Change for The Night'sf Watch:

  • Let me start with the one change I actually enjoyed, the battle of Hardhome was excellent, one of my favorite episodes of the series. A truly epic fight scene punctuated by the emergence of the Night's King reanimating the corpses of dead wildlings. However even this marvelous episode can't make up for David and Dan's horrendous decisions this season.
  • Lord Commander Jon Snow lacks all of the complexity that he shows in the book, he has one setting: brooding teenager. As well as a bizarre scene where Melisandre the Red Witch attempts to seduce him just so HBO can show just a little bit more nudity. Many of the supporting characters of the Night's Watch die heroically against the wildlings, however these deaths have weight to them and are therefore emotionally justifiable. The show also botched the execution of Janos Slynt as the character growth moment for Jon Snow.
  • The final episode of the season included what I consider the biggest failure in conveying a powerful emotional feeling to the audience, and that is the ambiguous fate of Jon Snow. A group of Night's Watch dissenters attempt to Brutus Jon for being too nice to wildlings in the show. However in the books it is because Jon breaks his vows by participating in the wars of the realm giving the assassins grounds to oust Jon from power as well as create a philosophical dilemma on doing what is best for the Night's Watch, or maintaining your honor.
Plot Changes for the Riverlands

  • David and Dan exchange a wonderfully nuanced plot arc of Jaime Lannister on how he becomes a better man, commander, and diplomat. for a buddy cop story of Jaime and his hilarious sidekick Bronn going on misadventures in Dorne with the foxy femme fatales known as the sand snakes. Bronn and Jaime have a god-awful fight scene with the sand snakes and even worse dialogue. Following this is yet another trite and uninspired death scene for pure shock value by the showrunners.