Monday, September 14, 2015

Throne Zone

The early Emmys are in--the technical ones not ready for prime time--and to no one's surprise the big winner is Game Of Thrones.  It's been three months since season five ended, so I thought it'd be a good time to look back and see how it turned out.  There are more than six months till the next season, so there'll be plenty of time to argue about it until then.

I'm sorry to say that season five appears to be the weakest so far.  Why I can't tell you.  Maybe the show is getting tired.  Maybe they killed off too many good characters.  Maybe they ran out of original story from George R. R. Martin and had to create their own stuff.  Maybe the original was simply moving into weaker areas from a strong beginning.  In any case, the question is has the show peaked.  There are only, supposedly, a few more seasons to go--we're past the midpoint, so it's time for the story to rally itself (even if the ending is, as threatened, bittersweet).

Let's look at the various areas of action and see how things turned out.

The Wall And Beyond:  Most fans thought this was the most successful part of the season, especially with Jon Snow finally facing the White Walkers. I find the Wall one of the less interesting places in the show, and the big battles among the least interesting things about the show, but "Hardhome" was a pretty good episode.  And I liked the interplay with Jon and Samwell and a few others.  Do I think Jon is dead?  Not completely--too much has been set up about his past for the storytellers to end it all here.  But the show is just perverse enough that maybe he is gone--you breathe nothing, Jon Snow. In general, some good stuff here, but still some listless moments, considering how many people were in and out of Castle Black.  (And while we're at it, what's up with Bran?)

The North:  There's Winterfell, which had a few good moments, but not enough.  Ramsay Bolton is the new most hateful villain, but he doesn't seem that tough, so I don't understand why he wins so easily.  Perhaps he'll get his comeuppance, but even so, the "new" Sansa didn't do that much at her new/old home until the last episode.  Perhaps she and Theon, who took long enough to do something, will finally get some action next season.  Worse was Stannis.  We spent a lot of time with him, and his fate, after all this, was to perish over very little.  (And killing his daughter was the most wrenching thing the show ever did.) What was the point of getting all that gold from Braavos?  What was the point of the Red Lady doing all that magic?  What was the point of appointing Ser Davos as Hand?  What was the point of setting up a match between Brienne and Stannis when he's about to die anyway? (Brienne takes on some big names, though generally when they're not at their best.)

King's Landing:  King's Landing has been the center of action for a long time, but something was missing.  Perhaps it was the fact that all the main Lannisters except for Cersei either died or left, so it seemed a hollowed-out place.  Letting the religious group get the upper hand was a tactical error, and a sign that Cersei isn't in control, but it seemed much ado about nothing. It led to a famous Walk Of Shame, that might even with Lena Heady an Emmy, but really was that whole plot necessary?  Not unless it leads somewhere.  Meanwhile, the Tyrell's were pretty tamped down, too.

Dorne:  Pretty much everyone agrees this plot was a total washout.  The new characters of Dorne weren't half as good as the ones we saw in Season Four in King's Landing.  And while you'd think Jaime and Bronn would make a good team, their plan wasn't much, and didn't add up to anything.  The whole season's plot was pointless except for the killing of Myrcella, which could have happened any time.

Braavos:  This wasn't bad but was probably the most disappointing plot of all. Arya was the one character who never failed, but they grounded her. The whole season was about her learning a trade (killing people) but by the end, she apparently hasn't learned and will have to start all over again next season.  Arya has always been on the move, going from one mentor to another, but she returned to Jaqen who had a lot less to do and even less to teach her than usual.

Slaver's Bay:  As long as Daenerys is on the move, learning things and circling Westeros, she's doing fine. The whole idea (which I gather is Martin's) that she should stop and learn how to rule is dumb.  Even if she figures out how to rule Meereen, who cares? Nevertheless, the action around this area was probably the best part of season six.  I could have done without the Sons Of The Harpy (even if it was the main plot) but Dany trying to deal with an unhappy populace, and having to deal with her dragons as well, was good stuff. Even better was what was happening on the way to Slaver's Bay.  Good old Tyrion, first with Varys, then with Jorah, trying to get to Dany, was fun.  Better than that was when they finally got there, and both Tyrion and Jorah had to prove their worth.  This is the kind of material that makes Game Of Thrones the best show on TV.

So overall, while entertaining, still somewhat disappointing.  They only have ten hours in a season, yet they seemed to be stalling. Too many characters would sit and wait for several episodes before anything happened.  I only hope they solve this problem next season, and also start contracting the ;plotline--it's gone as wide as it needs to go, time to start pulling the actors back to the essence of the story.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well they are going to have to do something with Dorne having invested this much time in it. My guess is that they will be the backbone of Dany's Westerosi support. Similar desert-y backdrops in Dorne and Meereen.

There a re couple book threads still out there which I still think will pop up (though in some cases they would be have to come in from different angles now).

Also seems as if the 1st episode child-murdering (attempted) sibling-boinking Lannister twins might evolve to sympathetic characters.

Big White walker battle coming I feel- with a who is worse angle? Them or the burners who follow the Lord of Light. Bran's spooky tree people might be a small 3d party who tips the outcome.

Ramsay and Roose are getting dull- they have to go this year. (Although I could see Roose - who has a little Littlefinger in him wangle his way into being on the winning side.)

The Iron Islanders will no doubt be heard from again too. Can't waste your Viking characters. Maybe Summer Islanders too for casting opportunities but that's a wild guess

6:01 AM, September 14, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I'm guessing with Qyburn's help Cersei is going to clean house in King's Landing, starting with the religious nuts. After she consolidates power, the Lannisters and King's Landing will find themselves officially at war with Dorne, though who will go where I don't know.

As for the Iron Islanders, I suppose the show will bring them back, but this is the danger I'm warning about. Time to start contracting the story as it reaches its conclusion. Everything should be converging on King's Landing one way or another, and instead we keep seeing new characters in new places taking our action farther afield.

9:31 AM, September 14, 2015  

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