I get it. I get it. Game of Thrones is not for everyone. Yet, even if you refuse to sample a single episode, it doesn’t mean you (writers) can’t get some benefit from understanding what the series did right…and then how the story went so horribly wrong.
On my end, I confess I waited four seasons to even start watching—okay binge-watching. There’s something about me liking a show that seems to spell out its inevitable doom.
To be blunt. If GoT wasn’t going to stick around for the long haul, I didn’t want to get too attached.
***Sorry about ‘Firefly,’ btw…
Also, some spoilers ahead for those who keep reading. For everyone else? Feel free to continue day-drinking…
What Game of Thrones Did RIGHT
Go Big, or Go HOME
The single largest problem I see in new novels is the author thinks too small. Superlative fiction is regular life amplified. The more terrible the odds, the higher the stakes, the more hopeless it all feels, the deeper a story hooks the audience.
All the best stories go BIG (literally or metaphorically). There is so much on the line, we cannot help but keep turning pages/watching episodes because we HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.
Humans long for catharsis. The slower and more intense the build up, the better the payoff.
***At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Once hooked, we become so immersed that an intense story experience is the closest we’ll get to astral projection (without years of training or psychotropic drugs).
When it came to going BIG? Game of Thrones set the ‘vastness’ bar so high it made Lord of the Rings seem like a Prius parked next to a Monster Truck.
Suffice to say that, over the past seven seasons, Game of Thrones set our expectations somewhere in the upper stratosphere.
Everything was over the top from the story to set design and film locations, and on and on. The story was boundless, complex, and sometimes infuriatingly detailed.
Also, this last season took over two years to release. Suffice to say we were primed and ready for the promised payoff (more on this later).
Bad Decisions Birth Great Stories
Game of Thrones, Paging Dr. Phil…
Next on the list? Bad decisions. Game of Thrones contained so many bad decisions, it was like seeing what would happen if every supermax prison documentary made babies with all twenty-seven seasons of Jerry Springer.
I think this is what intrigued me so much.
I know many people hated GoT (or refused to watch it) because there’s every sort of debauchery, violence, perversion, and more perversion. Did I mention debauchery?
Trust me, I get it. I finished the series far faster, namely because I used a LOT of the three-arrow feature in my controller.
Okay, yes loads of sex and more sex and weird and weirder sex. Got it. Can we get back to the intrigue and back-stabbing?
Yet, to me, this is what made Game of Thrones biblical in proportions and dimension. I can only speak from my own faith perspective but, seriously.
Game of Thrones was like watching the Old Testament…only with dragons.
Granted there’s honor, family, loyalty, justice and a profound longing for order in a chaotic and cruel world. Humans aren’t all bad all the time.
We mean well.
Alas, Game of Thrones then served these noble intentions alongside heaping portions of power-grabbing, corruption, misogyny, misandry, subversion, false prophets (or not), zealots, revenge, insanity, racism, eunuchs, classism, incest—takes breath—resurrection, false gods, evil generals, prodigal sons, bastards, executions, rebellions, ambushes, demonic creatures, necromancy and….
Meh. Y’all get the point.
Art Revealed in Efficiency
Game of Thrones & Chekov’s Prophecies
Game of Thrones did this incredible job of using…pretty much everything. Before you shout me down, I know they could have done this better but that is for later in the post.
Yet, by and large we (the audience) HAD to pay attention.
Snippets of dialogue, a camera lingering on a book, a glance, the casually mentioned name of a sword, etc. all played a part in the story.
I learned early on to a) take nothing for granted and b) if you think you figured it out? Guess again and c) don’t get too attached to anyone…not even pets.
Prophecy, in my POV, served as the hub for much of the suspense. Everyone had their own idea of HOW the prophecy would be fulfilled, each faction creating their own spoke.
Perhaps this was the wheel that Dany insisted be broken?
There was a tremendous amount of misdirection—which is great—but misdirection can be a double-edged sword.
As a fan, we’ve all tried to figure out how everything would play out.
Some fans wanted this…
The rest of us knew George R.R. Martin and his reputation for dangling a glimmer of hope that our favorite character(s) would live…then tossing them into a literary tree mulcher.
All of this to say that Game of Thrones did an amazing job of keeping us guessing. Short of a tinfoil hat and a wall covered in pictures and red string? I had plenty of guesses myself.
Great stories should use everything. Setting, dialogue, speculation, props all have a job. Nothing should live in our stories rent-free. The trick, however, is to misdirect the audience about how much weight each of these carry.
The greatest compliment an author can ever receive is, “I never saw that coming” followed by “How did I never see that coming?”
What Game of Thrones Did WRONG
Expectations and Reality
Anger is the emotion we experience when our reality fails to meet our expectations. The greater the distance, the hotter the rage.
Ironically, what GoT did right in the beginning is directly responsible for why so many fans are now seeing red.
Early on, GoT held as true to George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire as was possible in the visual medium. I’d only read the first two books, but even I was seriously impressed.
Unfortunately, this grew problematic when the HBO series caught up to the book series far more quickly than George R.R. Martin anticipated. Because Martin hadn’t finished the final books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, HBO had a problem.
There was no way to convey the same level of complexity from the previous seasons that had been based off the published books.
This is why we start seeing deviations around Season 6.
Martin could only offer broad strokes of the various ways he’d intended for every through-line to play out and for the series to end…but that was all.
HBO had to then use the pieces on the board and refashion a satisfactory ending from what they had. #SuckedToBeThem
HBO had already SET the operational tempo for this story. Over time, people either got bored (not fans) or we learned to adapt, enjoy, and even revel in the slow torture (TRUE fans).
Sure, we all moaned and complained, but it didn’t mean we didn’t LOVE to suffer and commiserate about our collective pain.
***Dallas Cowboys fans know this feeling all too well.
Pacing and Plot Puppets
Characters, Like Chess, Have ‘RULES’
Is it possible for a character to do something utterly ‘out of character?’ Sure! Good storytellers create characters who surprise us. If the audience knows exactly what the characters would and would not do, there’s no magic.
This said, having characters shock us is colossally different from a character going completely off the rails and doing a thing because we (the writer) NEED them to.
Plots—notably plots like Game of Thrones—are a giant chess game. There are innumerable variables, outcomes, wins and losses that can be chalked up to strategy (good or bad), fatigue, impatience or even simply not seeing a threat.
A game of chess is only a game of chess because of the pieces on the board. Same in fiction. Plot means nothing without the characters on the field. Story is always made better because each character possesses certain constraints in every scene (move).
In chess, just because we’re losing a match doesn’t mean pieces can suddenly start moving any way we want them to. We can’t move a rook like a knight simply because we want to speed up the game and ‘win.’
Storytelling is very similar. When characters start rushing and acting in ways that haven’t been foreshadowed simply because the writers NEED them to do X, Y, and Z…it’s cheating.
There are very good reasons fans are screaming ‘FOUL!’
Red Herrings & White Walkers
Game of Throne…OF LIES!
Game of Thrones was released in 2011. Pretty sure if there is a GLOBAL following EIGHT YEARS LATER, we would have been okay with slowing the hell down.
Yes, as writers we want to mess with the audiences’ minds, step on their expectations. They will hate us, but also love us for it.
But, there’s a line we shouldn’t cross unless we’re ready for some righteous blowback.
As far as I’m concerned, the HBO ending is only mildly better than if Brandon Stark had bolted up in bed, sweaty….realizing it was all a bad dream.
We have been groomed for eight years to BELIEVE the Night King and his White Walkers posed a serious threat.
Part of why I found myself railing at the heavens had to do with all the petty fighting about who was going to be king or queen or duke or earl of whatever when there was definitive PROOF there were ICE ZOMBIES.
Why I gave it a pass? It is SO human nature. Though maddening, it WORKED. Humans have a loooong reputation of sucking at priorities whenever a crown, a throne, money, revenge, or free Animal Fries are on the line and there to distract us from stuff that matters.
I have no doubts that if an asteroid is going to strike Earth, if it happens on Black Friday, Walmart will STILL erupt in fist fights over who scores the last flat-screen.
So the infighting over the World’s Most Uncomfortable Chair, while ludicrous, made sense in a pathetic way.
Humans are masters of idiotic compartmentalization.
But building up this terrifying enemy just to…and then the waiting TWO years for…..
Winter is Coming…JUST KIDDING!
How many memes, t-shirts, mugs all sported the famous saying, ‘Winter is Coming’? If you even read the first few chapters of the books, you get the impression that winter in this ‘world’ is a threat alone (White Walkers or not).
The entire push to secure the Iron Throne and thus stabilize the seven realms (at least early) largely had to do with the fact that winter lasts a LONG FRIGGIN’ TIME.
So the seven-year winter (possibly longer) was declared and thus presumed imminent.
***Vaguely recalling snowflakes dropping in Season 3? Or maybe that was last night.
But winter NEVER COMES. Well, sort of. More like a Texas winter. All smoke, ashes and fire one day, snow the next, but PICNIC weather by the weekend.
One might have even intimated the ‘Winter is Coming’ to be metaphorical. But again, the Night King and his armies melted faster than an Amarillo blizzard.
Here’s a tip. DON’T make a HUGE deal out of something to simply drop it. This ticks us OFF. Conversely, don’t almost completely IGNORE something then POOF!
Here’s your ENDING!
There WERE Simple Fixes
Game of Thrones & Resting Bran Face
I can appreciate that HBO was in between a rock and an Iron Throne, but slowing down and adding a couple more episodes likely could have at least tempered our outrage.
In the span of a couple more episodes, the writers could have:
a) Made the battle against the White Walkers more than the single largest disappointment since New Coke.
b) Ratcheted the ‘end of the world’ feeling that WOULD entice characters make utterly STUPID decisions.
I’m looking at you, Jaime Lannister.
c) With heightened doom—losses against the Walkers and weather, Cersei refusing to render aid, and the sheer emotional stress that Dany was failing those she’d promised to save—Dany’s final acts of madness would have felt far more organic.
Her zealotry could have grown from subtle (which they already HAD) but then her fanaticism would’ve had a bit more time to bloom in proportion with the threat.
If she believes she’s the ‘messiah,’ the more people die, the more irrational she’d become (contrary to a resounding and relatively easy victory).
With a growing power of White Walkers heading south, along with really bad winter weather that would have limited any advantage the dragons offered, that is a LOT of pressure.
Combine this with losing all her dragons but one…only to have Jon Snow friend-zone her?
I could see someone finally snapping.
She wouldn’t be the first female to set things on fire after a nasty breakup.
We wouldn’t have LIKED her mad rampage, but we would’ve understood/accepted it more easily than the writers turning Dany into Ani Skywalker on a dragon.
d) Finally, with more TIME, the writers could have reintroduced the all-but-forgotten Brandon Stark into the main storyline…as opposed to leaving him some Fur-Lined Macguffin Recliner in the background (to help hide the Starbuck’s cup and water bottle).
Face it, we already had SO many theories of how this would end that adding in Brandon Stark as another contender likely wouldn’t have swayed us much from our own deeply entrenched pet theories.
In the End
Humans are Never Happy
George R.R. Martin is and will always be a genius in my book (as if he cares, but I said it). This post has nothing to do with his writing or storytelling abilities or any lack thereof.
Once HBO did its job a tad too well—Game of Thrones catching up to the published books—they had a real problem. Noted.
***HBO you did a brilliant, brilliant job…mostly.
But, I believe the biggest mistake HBO made—in truth—was they seriously underestimated their fans.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I would’ve rather had a couple more episodes or an unexpected additional season than the rush job that made me want to rend my Mother of Dragons tees and replace them with sackcloth better for rolling in ashes.
Fans Can Be Forgiving if We TRUST Them
We as authors must remember that audiences can be very forgiving if we permit room for them to readjust.
Want to speed up the pacing? Slowly accelerate. Need to floor it? Then give us a Night King or an incoming Ice Age or at least a solid reason for sudden madness, weird left turns, irrational choices and ridiculously bad judgement.
Stuff just happening because it HAS to? It pisses us (audience) off and stories—whether this is fair or unfair—are almost always remembered by how they END.
Keep that in mind 😉 .
Anyway, playing armchair editor/writer is always an easy thing to do. But I hope this blog—whether you watched Game of Thrones or not—can offer valuable lessons to make your own writing better.
Study what HBO did brilliantly, but also be willing to dissect what backfired and why and how to get around those pitfalls.
Your fans will thank you.
***Oh and HBO. If this happens again? Call me. Seriously.
Playing Game of Groans…
What are your thoughts?
Other than the folks who never watched it. I get it and appreciate why. Maybe you have other series that made similar mistakes you could share?
Also, I know I don’t have a PhD in GoT like many of you, but what are your thoughts on the storytelling? I want to hear your opinions!
What did you love? Hate? Miss? Can you think of other ways HBO could have avoided rushing our series off a cliff?
Thanks for playing, and now a mention of what funds the time for me to tear apart all the stories you love to use for Gross Anatomy Fiction Edition.
On Demand Classes: LAST CHANCE!
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A final note these ON DEMAND classes on CRAFT and BRANDING are about to be removed from the server (and possibly not offered again).
All these classes ran long (closer to three hours) so they’re all a bargain…delivered right to you to enjoy at your leisure.
***NOTE: Classes are designed to play on computers (laptops or desktop) and our technology plays nicest with Chrome or Firefox. Many times the recordings are compatible with other devices like tablets or smartphones, but those devices aren’t always able to access the class because of the changes with HTML5. Use mobile devices at your own risk.
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What you said. I am grieving. I will miss the show the way it was before the mad rush to end it so sloppily. Why? After 2 years that was the best they could do? Agreed George RR Martin is a genius. There were so many better endings that could have been layered and built to make sense. So so disappointed. Love your blog.
I stopped reading this post. I’m reading the books. So do the books end different than season 8 which I haven’t watched. (I watched seasons 1-7) Thought I’d finish books first. Two friends on FB didn’t like HBO’S ENDING.
If you are reading the books I don’t think my post will hurt. If George ends the books the same way that just pissed off millions of fans, he’s too dumb to live and he isn’t. I think you’ll just have to disassociate the film version and the book. But thanks for giving a try ((HUGS)).
I was so MAD! Angry. Disappointed.
The imagery of the Drogon flying up behind Dany…still gives me shivers.
But that’s it.
If it was so easy to take King’s Landing, why didn’t she when she had three dragons?
Why did we fear the Night King again? It was all over so easily. I wanted an epic ending. I still remember when they destroyed the Night King, and I was like what?!? That’s it?!? I thought he was this pure fundamental threat?
Now what? Oh, someone still wants the throne. Yeah, whatever. Who cares now? The point was they had to unite to win.
To me, the drive behind the story ended that night.
And the way they ended Jamie and Cersei? Really?!? Where is the character arc? Or lack of one? It was *so* not rewarding. A few bricks did what no one else could.
I get misdirection, but there was so much that wasn’t fulfilled.
Why do we care that Jon is actually a Targareyn? Why…I won’t even go into all of the loose ends. There were so many. And Bran? Really?
Eight years. Eight years, a lot of nightmares, and too much adrenaline. I want it all back. It wasn’t worth it.
Arg!! I am still so upset. I wanted a happy ending. I would’ve settled.
You nailed it. I am a forgiving fan. I forgive that after waiting over a year, the first episode was blackness. I can forgive that Jaime is a fool, that Dany lost it (they did a brilliant job of showing how someone like Hitler can honestly think they’re doing GOOD things). But here’s what I wrote on FB today:
Let’s talk about the last episode. I was okay with were everyone ended up. I was okay with who was king. I only had one problem. And know that it hurts me to say it.
Okay, as an author you have to set up motivations for characters. They have to stay IN character. Many of the characters in GOT represent a human emotion or condition. They don’t have a lot more to them. They had to do that – there was just so many of them. Jon represented courage, and the wish to ALWAYS do the right thing. That’s why the people loved him.
So, in the last episode he all of a sudden has to be told what IS the right thing? He came off like a confused little boy – oh please. In romance we call that TSTL (too stupid to live).
I get it, he was in lust with her. He believed in her. But he just walked through the destruction Dany caused, and heard what she said to the troops. And STILL he had to be convinced that killing her was the right thing?
I’m calling BS.
They broke character way too much towards the end. Arya who’s chanted Cersei’s name atop her hit list for seven long years, finally gets inside the castle at Kings Landing, ready to plunge Needle into Cersei’s cold, cold heart, then changes her mind? After a thousand mile trip to get there? Travel suddenly got much faster. It took whole seasons for some characters to move from Winterfell to Kings Landing then Jamie, who’s in Winterfell when word arrives that a dragon is down and the fleet destroyed, hops on a horse and arrives in Kings Landing almost immediately. They just did stuff that made me pull my hair out.
GRRM really is a genius. He used the entire HBO audience as his beta readers– or at least an idiot check.
Trouble is, the idiocy he found weren’t in possible storylines, they were in chopping off a production run.
Well said. You put everything I was just beginning to think after watching GOT today(a day later than aired). It’s like they just got tired of everything and ended the fastest way possible.
Thank you, this will help improve my writing, especially what not to do.
I read the entire column to my husband (keeps my cold-reading skills sharp and gives me a chance to laugh). HE is a die-hard fan of the series. I am not.
He says to tell you he takes issue with the “Dany’s madness came out of nowhere” that he keeps hearing. That part of the storyline wasn’t rushed. If you go back to the pouring molten gold over her brother’s head, she actually just sat there and let it happen. Yeah, he told her he would throw her to an entire army–horses and all, that decision allowed the golden shower (ahem) metaphor to play out without her reacting was the first step to Dany burning down the world. Crucifying 163 people for that other nailing to a pole without knowing if they did it or not was another one. She set up a purchase of an entire army and turned the dragon on the guy who was doing the sale (way to get rid of a debt, I could use that kind of action with robocallers).
She had to be talked out of burning more than one other city. Getting rid of the entire Dothraki hierarchy, not to mention the healer who botched Drogo’s healing (maybe mistaken on purpose to really poison).
She had a habit of not listening to people who tried to tell her “no” more than once, and repeatedly. It was beautiful, great storytelling because we got so misdirected that she was the “wonderful woman” that many of the characters (looking at Jon Snow and Tyrion) said she was. That little ending timebomb was ticking long before she dragged a tired army to the walls of the city along with an entire army of automatons.
I loved the last season. Had to be caught up by the hubby when I said “Who is that and why did they…” but even watching just the last season I can see great storytelling in how this all went down and I can only wish to have a tiny vial of that wonderfulness in my own series. I can’t speak on what went before and that, in all honesty, made my enjoyment of what was there solid storytelling.
That’s our take, everyone else’s may differ (and that’s great.)
As usual, fantabluous blog entry.
Her madness that escalated to wholesale slaughter of children and women is what came out of nowhere. If you look at the post, I DO say that her rabid zealotry WAS very much foreshadowed. They just needed some time to bridge the gap between ‘a-holes who OBVIOUSLY deserved to be smoked’ and frying women and children willy-nilly. That’s my point, which I think is fair. They DID plant the seeds for what she became…but InstaGrow overnight? #TheHell
This is one of your greatest posts, Kristen. Like many fans, I wanted to hear what others had to say about this season, and especially, the ending. I have seen this problem happen before when not so good writers take over a pros writer’s story. I worked on RRs first movie, Nightflyers, so I saw how they changed everything. We have seasons of GOT where the writers (producers), who put together most of what RR had done fairly well, although (to me), a lot went into a fourteen-year-old boys mind with all the nudity and throw away women characters.
Then we came to the part where the TV writers had to think for themselves, and the whole story, dialogue, concept, fell apart. They wrote this last season like a couple of guys fresh out of writing school who had no real training in how to write characters and why they do what they do. I was appalled.
I learned a lot about writing when I worked on so many major movies, talked with the directors, actors, and some writers, and took workshops with well-known pros editors. A lot of producers/writers in movies and TV, only understand writing from that perspective. As we know, most writers are not good. In movies, people can move ahead for many reasons, and it seldom has to do with how good they are as writers. For those who believe the last season was good writing, they need some more training on what is good writing and how to tell a story.
Your analyses of what went wrong, Kristin, was accurate. Tyrion was basically true to himself. Most of the main characters acted out-of-character. All the things everyone did in the major storyline was because of their culture, upbringing, class, religious beliefs, and personal desires. Those attached to Dany would never change their mind and would have slaughtered all those who went against her, especially Jon Snow. All the High Lords who suddenly changed their thousands-of-years culture to be suddenly brought into the USA’s 2019 politically-correct society… Never.
What Dany did by killing all the civilians made no sense to me, or why she would take out her revenge on them. She killed all the boats, all the enemy soldiers. All she had to do was destroy the castle, which she eventually did. What was the motivation to killed the civilians? It was the motivation for the writers to find a reason to really hate Dany. Just totally bad storytelling.
I’ve been allowed to sit in at writers groups on TV shows and I can’t imagine what was going through the GOT writer’s heads when they came to the ending. Maybe it was a long day and they looked at each and said, “Let’s go get a pizza. We’ll end the life of the most heinous villain from eight years of suspense, who killed some of our favorite characters, by having bricks fall on her head. Yeah, let’s go eat.”
Those two writers/ producers… should be busted back to producing. Not storytelling or writing.
In the additional end of why it all didn’t work, was because of RR Martin. Writing takes a long time. Many writers have an idea of where their story is going, but it comes out as they are writing it. That is most likely why he couldn’t tell the producers what they needed to hear. RR had years to write the last books, but he didn’t. He wasn’t given a deadline, and no one held him to one. Anyone whose been in movies knows that deadlines are sacrosanct. For some reason, these movie producers didn’t follow that tenet.
Apparently, I left the wrong email address, so here’s the proper one.
I was late to join the GoT party and have only watched it up until season 5. Reason being I was going out with someone who liked it and had a DVD player. We split up and I don’t have a DVD player and I didn’t sign up to HBO. So does it appear I don’t like it? On the contrary I thought it was brilliant and clever and all the other accolades associated with it. I guess I will watch the rest at some point. I liked your article. For me it shows how invested fans become and for that to happen and it shows the genius of the writer. Although they say you can never please all of the people all of the time there is a sense from what you and others say that the conclusion was rushed and yes, characters shouldn’t do things out of character. Rules have to be followed and that is a top tip to take for any writer. Thank you. My only worry now will be the amount of rip off’s and copy cats that will try and replicate the phenomena that was GoT but I guess here lies more excellence. It was so grand, so complex, so encompassing that perhaps no one will bother.
So I’m probably one of 10 people on Earth with a TV who didn’t watch GoT, but I completely understand the points made here. And it’s exactly how I felt when I watched “How I Met Your Mother.” The writers created this beautifully complicated, intricate world — and made it funny! — about a group of close friends. My jaw dropped so many times when little details came up that had originally been mentioned a season or two earlier and those details made sense and fit so organically with the current story that taking them out would cause whole episodes to unravel.
But the series finale? Major letdown. I feel like the writers took the (much too) safe route. They bowed in the end to the tropes of the sitcom formula when everything about HIMYM up to that point had bypassed, even defied, all that.
Sigh. But that’s just me. :> Thanks for another great post, Kristen!
It really shows when a series is rushed at the end. Many examples could be cited, including: Lost, Downton Abbey, and Colony. I’m sure there are more that I’m not thinking of, and that others could cite.
Lazy writing exposed is the epitome of what so many fans (and fans who are writers) experienced with Season 6-8 and this series finale ending debacle. The last few seasons were too rushed and all but introduced time travel as characters showed up in Kings Landing within hours of having left Winterfell, a thousand miles away.
Most every scene instead of being epic was an epic fail. The fans know this because they KNOW these characters and that’s why the fan frustration is at such a high pitch with the series ending.
Every action was out of character. Every one. And fans could see it by the time they came to one of the last scenes (a stage no less) where every secondary character (every sidekick) sat in a chair or stood wanting to be king and deciding who would be. And where was the hero in that scene? Nowhere!
Extraordinarily bad writing. Just bad, lazy writing. Exposed.
It was off the rails when Tyrion betrayed Lord Varys. It was a train wreck when Daenerys burned Kings landing to the ground. And then, it became the biggest travesty when the true hero, Jon Snow, became indecisive about doing the right thing, killed his true love (out of nowhere without a second thought it appears), and then failed to be recognized (at all) as the true heir to the throne, which was the biggest secret threading the whole story line together for EIGHT YEARS.
This travesty took place because two cocky, egotistical writers didn’t know or love their audience enough to do the work to know the characters well enough to write an effective ending to an epic story line. They took something big and epic and made it small and forgettable. Lazy writing in action for all the true fans to see and experience for themselves.
After all, this wasn’t Star Wars. This was Game of Thrones–an epic, character-driven story line that was shamefully mishandled by these two writers. Their writing inexperience began to be revealed as soon as they ran out of books to adapt to film. Season 6, I believe… They both should go tend bar somewhere and never write again. Ever.
I don’t understand why folks were disappointed in the Battle of Winterfell. What? You wanted it to be longer? Stretch it out over two episodes? You mean a full hour-plus episode of a bloody, gory battle with Night Walkers and dragons, back and forth, ups and downs, wasn’t intense enough? You needed your blood curdled and nightmares for two weeks, not just one? And of course the Night Army crumbled. We all knew killing the Night King was key, and Arya (perfect choice for the job) did it. It took every army and every knight in Winterfell to pull it off. Two characters who needed redemption – Theon and Melisandre – found it. I don’t see how they failed there.
As for the last episode, I definitely felt cheated. And you are right they needed to make the season longer. The ending felt too rushed. Bran’s character was superfluous throughout. All he did was pass on information. They could have done the entire show without him. If they were going to take that turn, his character needed to be developed much better. And he knew all along he was going to become king? If so, why bring up that Jon Snow is really Ergon Targaryon (don’t know if I got the name right) and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne? Not only that, he was the guy everyone wanted to be king, turning lovers into rivals, which could have set up a much more dramatic showdown. But they raise the expectations that John will (if reluctantly) have to take the throne, only to send him back to the Night’s Watch? He led armies to victory over the Wildlings (including a giant), the Boltons, and the Night Army. And hey, he’s one of two people in the world who can ride dragons. That ending for him, after building our expectations for much more, was just not right. You’re right, it does feel like they cheated just because they had to end it. They forgot about winter that had been all the talk for the first half of the series.
I never watched a single episode of GoT, the adds turned me off to it totally. I’ve seen enough brutality in real life to want to watch it on the screen.
However, your analysis of where and when it went off the rails rings very true to many Sf books and series I’ve read. There was no step at the top of the Stairway and Checkovs Gun was never fired in anger or even target practice.
Disappointing readers is a mortal sin for writers. Screenwriters have it especially hard; but the total fumble, especially with all the promotional gear they sold… they should be flogged with dangling participles until the repent.
I have a unique experience ongoing. I took a Ghostwriting contract for a friend, Historical Biography / Real-life Romance.
I planned out a three book series:
Book 1-Girlhood with Hitler rising in the background, Nazi occupation during teen years, Liberation, First Love and Romantic diaster;
Book 2-Finding Love sort of, raising 4 daughters alone in devastated Europe, living large;
Book 3-gathering wealth, another Romantic disaster, finding husbands for daughters, miracle grandson, finding Jesus, becoming a divine healer, then going to Heaven from a home on the beach, providential message back to the girls- safely home.
And it was all true.
I even wrote out the Critical final Hinge Scenes to the Story arc.
Then, my client got cold feet after Book 1 was 95% written… and now ?????
(Got to earn our chops in a new Genre/Modality somehow I guess.
Only cost me 4 years. Sf is way easier.)
But Hey, she still might pull the trigger on the whole package; but if she does I can see a huge lot of revising in the distant future, till we go to publication. That is if Jesus doesn’t take me home between now and then.
Ah, well nobody said Writing was an easy road to travel.
Love your blog, sister. Keep up the good work.
I’m at Three-Score and Ten +; Starting on that Four-Score stuff.
But, I’m in Jesus’ hands and lovin’ the freedom.
Write on, sis.
We’re Almost Home!
Agree with the comments and the blog, Kristen. What I especially loved about “Game” was the complete immersion in a Medieval setting, its epic scale. It appealed to a wide demographic, to millennials raised on Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” and devotees of “The Sopranos.”
Loved the gritty aspects, the messy ugly aspects to characters, their failings and the blistering conflict. I loved it from the moment I watched the iconic opening and heard the theme music. I raved about it to everyone I knew. That’s why it became such a phenomenon, and enthusiastic word-of-mouth spread as fast as green wildfire.
Daenerys was hellbent on reclaiming the Iron Throne, while Jon was reluctantly led to it. The constellation of the show spun around these two. For me, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen led most of the action, the ultimate “Song of Ice & Fire.” In the last two seasons, their character motivations unraveled, particularly Jon, devolving into a Star Trek red shirt in season eight, and in the finale, became a marionette to Tyrion’s string tugs. His struggle to kill Daenerys was a Cliff Note, especially when contrasted to the anguish over Ygritte. Instead Dany’s body is carried away by Drogon, Westeros’s version of a nuclear weapon, and the rest of the characters shrug it off. “Oh, and by the way, what’s that fiery critter up to now?” Bran’s cool and collected, his ability to Warg means it won’t be a problem. C’mon. What comes next, Drogon huddled over an aviary nest in a live raptor cam?
Many promising story elements either fizzled or were dropped. I still wondered what role Jaqen H’ghar might’ve played. I wondered why the remaining six kingdoms agreed to be a part of the realm, while Sansa asserted the North’s independence. In real geopolitics, would that fly? Wouldn’t some ruler assert: “We want independence, too.”
Also surprising was the cliff-drop of the secondary characters. The secondary characters often made the main characters more likable. I loved Davos Seaworth, Jorah Mormont, Gendry Baratheon, Varys the Spider. Sandor Clegane’s blazing ending, his cynical laughter as he battled his zombie brother at least seemed fitting.
When the surviving Westeros hierarchy debated with Greyworm about Jon Snow’s fate, that defied credulity. The Unsullied and Dothraki had a military chokehold on King’s Landing, countered by Sansa’s threat of the Northmen on standby. Poof, instantly resolved. Here is Sam, Jon’s longtime friend, suggesting an election process that becomes a joke. Compare this to Sam’s rallying cry among the Night Watch, speaking up for Jon Snow as they voted for a new leader. “He (Jon) may be young, but he’s the commander we turned to when the night was darkest.” Sam was going to name his child after Jon, he’s watched Jon fight and lead, time and time again. Yet Sam says nothing.
Yes, I know Greyworm and his men had Jon in captivity, but I can’t see Davos or Sam or the Stark women idly sitting by. Wouldn’t Arya use her face-shifting to her advantage?
Jon earned every position he acquired, even as he refused power, his competence, bravery and integrity won out, often at great cost to himself. Perhaps he was most like Ned Stark and he made colossal mistakes. Most all the characters did. Daenerys’s ambition was held in check by her advisors. I think Jorah often served as her conscience, despite his own fall from grace, and her inability to forgive him no matter how many times he returned to prove himself worthy – until finally she gave in – was an indicator she’d drive a hard line.
I did sense Jon’s admiration of Mance Rayder, the wilding independent streak, the lack of a royal ruling class appealed to Jon. So I wasn’t surprised he left Castle Black with the last of the wildings, I rather liked him walking among them, still in his Crow wear and fur pelt, but clearly admired by the wildings, their affection evident. Seeing the back of Tormund’s head when Jon first returned to Castle Black brought a smile.
Another scene I found objectionable was the Council meeting, Tyrion straightening the chairs, Bronn joking about brothels. King’s Landing decimated and thousands perish, many burned to death, and they’re making sitcom jokes? This was on par with the devastation after the Dresden fires, Hiroshima destroyed – seriously tragic, gutting events. And yet we’re fast-forwarded to banter, an almost lighthearted wrap to the carnage. Even if this scene happened a year or two later after Dany’s destruction, people would still be staggered by their losses of family and property.
What qualified Bran Stark to lead? Being a Three-Eyed clairvoyant wouldn’t necessarily prepare him for a position of leading. Jon Snow had that in spades, he didn’t do it from a dragon’s back, either. I felt his character earned his stripes, over and over, the very hardest way possible. He couldn’t change faces to get the advantage, he had to slog through his torments and challenges and setbacks. He had to do it with will and muscle.
Overall, I loved this series. Totally enthralled by it, I lost myself in YouTuber speculations, laughed at post-episode commentary, re-watched the entire series three times. It’s just that good. I just wish the creators had stayed with George R. R. Martin’s original vision, instead of rushing through the last two seasons, a disservice to such memorable characters. We’ll remember so many lines from this show: “Chaos is a ladder.” “Winter is coming.” “Lannisters always pay their debts.” “The gods flip a coin.”
I’m going to wait until later to watch that show, at times I have the attention span of a goldfish and really don’t need to get sucked into that show! (It sounds great, I want!) No. I quit WoW (World of Warcraft) because I got so addicted to it I wasn’t writing much for weeks at a time. Ooof. I must write, and study and write some more and write many books and work hard at this. I dream big and hope to get out of this HUD apartment off of ssi and give my son a better life, but first I must learn how to write! And hope that my writing is good enough to sell someday.
As for bad book/show endings, I think they might have become burnt out with it all. The same thing happened at the end of the anime Narito Shippuden they kept foreshadowing the big wedding right from when they were kids back in Naruto Uzumaki (this is an epic anime it has thousands of episodes) and built it up to this huge thing and then gave us the wedding as something the characters only mentioned later?
WTH? My bf and I sent over a year watching that and were both excited about the wedding and… no wedding. !@#$ It was great that the big bad went down and everyone was free but… we’ll be forever disappointed. >:( So many tears laughs and shocks on that show. WHY?
The only thing worse then a writer not following through with what they promised or hinted at is never finishing a series. For example, the show Ash vs Evil Dead. I stop at 20 episodes due to lack of funding. RAGE! Stupid HBO.
I’d say a close second to doing that is finding a favorite author buying their books and they never publish another book. #painfulltears
Hey, I made it to your latest posting. 😀 Now I’ll go back and check for any replies.