Game of Thrones Griping 14: Am I Watching This Show Wrong?

By Bob Case
on Jul 14, 2017
Filed under:
Television
This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

Picking up where we left off, the Great Sept of Baelor is now a pile of scorched rubble. The Queen, Margaery Tyrell, and her brother, Loras Tyrell, are both dead. So are Kevan Lannister (head of House Lannister) and Mace Tyrell (head of House Tyrell). So are Kevan’s son Lancel, small council member Grand Maester Pycelle, head of the Faith the High Sparrow, at least seven Septons and Septas who were to judge the trial, and dozens of nobles and other spectators. Oh, and then King Tommen jumps out of a window.

So that’s the King, the Queen, the heads of the two most powerful houses currently remaining in Westeros, both of their respective firstborn sons, the head of the continent’s dominant religion, and presumably a big chunk of both the religious and political leadership of King’s Landing, and, by extension, all of Westeros. All dead. Even by this show’s standards, that’s quite a butcher’s bill for one episode.

The most obvious suspect by far is Cersei Lannister, who was conspicuously not at her own trial shortly before it burst into flames, and whose son, the King, died in a highly suspicious way, with her giant murder-zombie as the only possible witness.

So the people of King’s Landing do the obvious thing and crown her queen.

In honor of the occasion, she wore her special evil shoulderpads.

In honor of the occasion, she wore her special evil shoulderpads.

The most common and plausible explanation for this turn of events I’ve seen given is that there’s no one left to challenge her. In a sense, that’s true – virtually every other named character in King’s Landing is now dead. But I’d always flattered the show’s world-building chops to assume that there are other non-named characters who, even if they’re not given specific personalities, would react to the destruction of almost the entire government with dismay.

Do the Lannister soldiers not care that she appears to have murdered the head of House Lannister? Do the Tyrell soldiers not care that she appears to have murdered the head of House Tyrell? Do the Sparrows, who we’re led to believe are numerous enough to threaten the Crown itself, and who can’t possibly have all fit into the Sept before it blew, not care that their incorruptible and magnetic leader is dead? Do the common people not care that the King has died under highly suspicious circumstances, not to mention the Queen, who we’re shown was very popular?

This show often presents itself as, among other things, some kind of extended meditation on the nature of power and how it works. That meditation is of limited value when the rules by which power operates can’t manage any semblance of consistency. Just a couple of episodes ago, the Faith’s presence was so oppressive that the Queen of Westeros couldn’t even have a private conversation with her own grandmother without a chaperone present. The whole thing that made the Sparrows threatening was their combination of numbers and fanaticism. “You are the few,” the High Sparrow tells Lady Olenna, “we are the many.” Now he’s been killed, the equivalent of the Vatican lies in smoking ruins, and Faith apparently can’t muster any kind of objection to the prompt coronation of the obvious culprit.

I suppose there are hypothetical ways this could have happened. Maybe she offered the city’s remaining living authority figures cushy jobs or promotions, maybe she spun a convincing lie to the public about who just killed practically everyone, maybe she secured the loyalty of the Lannister and Tyrell soldiers by… oh, I don’t know. Doing something or other. Maybe somehow everyone collectively decided that the woman who was a disgraced criminal yesterday, and a mass murderer today, should be Queen tomorrow.

But if you want me to believe that an implausible and highly complicated thing happened, you can’t have it happen offscreen with no explanation. Common sense says there should be rioting in the streets, and Cersei being strung up by an angry mob, not an orderly transfer of power.

I suppose its possible that this will be somehow justified, or at least acknowledged, in the coming season, but I don’t consider it likely. If I’m wrong, we’ll know in just three more days. In the meantime, I’m going pick what I believe may be the smallest nit I’ve ever picked.

The Smallest Nit I’ve Ever Picked

In lieu of devoting any screen time to explaining how Cersei managed to avoid being tarred and feathered by almost everyone in King’s Landing, we’re treated to another of the show’s famous torture scenes. This time it’s Septa Unella, who she’s somehow managed to kidnap and imprison in the Red Keep.

I thought I`d be able to get some kind of `wineboarding` joke out of this scene. But all the ones I came up with just made me queasy. Torture can be gratuitous in the same way violence and nudity can.

I thought I`d be able to get some kind of `wineboarding` joke out of this scene. But all the ones I came up with just made me queasy. Torture can be gratuitous in the same way violence and nudity can.

Cersei delivers a speech which I guess is meant to show how her character is primarily motivated by hedonism or something.I could probably do 1500 words on the nonversation’s close cousin: the nonologue. Season six was when I really started wishing this show would be more subtle with its Emmy bait. It ends with “I said my face would be the last thing you saw before you died. Do you remember?”

Then she sends in FrankenGregor, and he removes his helmet. I remember being confused when I first saw this, and I still am. Didn’t she just say her face would be the last thing Unella saw before she died? Are we supposed to take from this that FrankenGregor doesn’t have a face? Because even though it’s kind of dark, and even though his face looks all gross and zombie-ish, he seems to at least have one.

Cersei leaves the room. FrankenGregor is apparently going to torture Unella now, so is Cersei going to come back and show Unella her face just before he finishes her off or something? Look, I get that this isn’t a big deal. And I get that “my face will be the second-to-last thing you ever see” is not as cool-sounding a line. I just can’t help but be impressed sometimes at this show’s dogged determination to get even the smallest details wrong.

And that, I believe, was the smallest nit I’ve ever picked. I’m sure you’re impressed. With that out of the way, now seems like a good time for me to have a crisis of self-doubt.

Am I Watching This Show Wrong?

This show is extremely popular, almost universally acclaimed by critics, and drowning in awards and accolades. Millions of viewers are eagerly awaiting the seventh season. I, on the other hand, by this point basically think that the writers are straight-up hacks. Am I just watching this show wrong?

Even grumpy old me has to give it some credit. For example, it’s generally very well acted. Even the actors I was suspicious of at first (mainly the young ones) seem to have mostly found their feet. And the old pros – your Charles Dances, your Diana Riggs, your Jonathan Pryces – are a joy to watch when they’re given even just a little bit to chew on.Though I am a bit bitter about them casting Max Von Sydow and then giving him practically nothing to do. The CGI is also impressive, though obviously limited by budgetary concerns.

As for the writing, well… there is one thing I’ve noticed about the writing. It seems like the writers don’t always understand consistency of setting, or of character, or sometimes even basic cause and effect. But there is one thing they do seem to understand: hype.

People get hyped for this show. I remember the nearly frothing anticipation that built up in advance of the Gregor-Oberyn fight, or the as-yet-unrealized Cleganebowl. Many are straining at the leash to see Daenerys and company finally land in Dorne (assuming that’s where they land), and for Jon and Daenerys to finally meet, for the wall to finally fall. I realized that this show reminds me of something. It reminds me of pro wrestling.

International tag team champions.

International tag team champions.

I don’t mean that as criticism. I never quite managed to get into pro wrestling myself, but I don’t have anything against it either, and even admire it in a way. Telling a crowd-pleasing story is a skill like any other, and pro wrestling writers (the good ones, at least) are experts at it.

You can tell by the lingo of the trade, which I’ve found useful even in other contexts. Terms like face and hell, the heel/face and face/heel turn, concepts like pushing and jobbing – though I don’t often like jargon, in this case I think it serves a valuable purpose, and indicates that the craft can reach a high level.

But we don’t talk about pro wrestling the way we do other TV shows. Critics don’t review Smackdown the same way they do The Sopranos. They don’t (usually) write long thinkpieces on its themes, ones that describe how the sequence where the ref fails to notice John Cena sneaking a folding chair into the ring is a cutting commentary on America’s crumbling faith in our institutions. Wrestling isn’t that, because, for the most part, it doesn’t try to be that.

But Game of Thrones does try, and critics take it seriously. They discuss the show’s depiction of political and power dynamics, even though its political and power dynamics operate by Calvinball rules half the time. They discuss what the show has to say about an authoritarian, patriarchal culture, even though the setting’s misogyny seems to turn on and off like a lightswitch at the convenience of the writers.

Even if this show was pro wrestling, would it be good pro wrestling? I think I would say it was frustrating when the promising High Sparrow/Margaery angle got sacrificed to push Cersei. Or how I don’t like that they keep going for the same kinds of cheap heat over and over again. Or that the writers are determined to push Euron Greyjoy even though he’s not getting over at all.I’m not actually a pro wrestling guy. I might be using some of this lingo wrong.

And I think – and this relates to the whole “gitchy feeling” stuff I wrote way back in the olden days of early 2017 – that many of them realize this. I’m going to do something unusual and just copy-paste a section of a review of “The Winds of Winter” (the final episode of season six) from The Onion’s AV Club. Here it is:

…it’s even tidier than that, barreling through any potential complications just so it can get to its ending points. Take the Dorne bookend. The very term, Dorne, embodies the second act’s shortcuts by being a no-fuss catch-all for anywhere in Dorne, most often its capital, Sunspear. In my day you had to learn the sigils and the words for the lesser houses to understand what was going on. Olenna arrives in mourning, and Varys is on his way out because he has to get back to Meereen in time for Dany’s departure. He can’t just wait for her to get there for some reason. Anyway, he’s there in Dorne to help broker an alliance between the Tyrells and the Martells on one side and the Targaryen queen on the other. So what has Ellaria been doing all this time? Ever since she took out her region’s ruling men for their inaction against the Lannisters? Apparently she’s been busy waiting patiently for the narrative to activate her. And the Dornish citizens who abetted or accepted her coup? They’re fine. Real go-with-the-flow types, unlike every single Dornish character with a name. For that matter, what has Olenna been doing? Did they intercept her on the road, or was she raising an army, or is she army-less because the Tyrells are out of power now? Who’s to say? All that matters to the producers, even more than the sight of her learning what happened to her family, is that she join Team Dany. Meanwhile Dany agrees, at Tyrion’s behest, to leave Daario behind to keep the peace in Meereen while she’s gone. Yes, there’s peace in Slaver’s Bay—make that the Bay Of Dragons. Dany decisively ended the insurgency. But what about the ex-slaves who were unhappy with the free life? On the one hand, Daario’s right: “Fuck Meereen.” But Game Of Thrones can’t make such a big deal about how hard it is for an occupying ruler to assert her own justice on a city and then just wipe its hands of the nitty-gritty. Or I guess it can. Welcome to season six.

The reviewer, Brandon Nowalk, gave the episode a B+. Does the description above sound like a B+ episode of television to you? The entire reviewYou can read it here. is possibly more critical than the excerpt I listed. Nowalk’s review isn’t the only example of this happening. It seems like people are rating this show highly out of habit more than anything else.

Will this trend continue? Or bend? Or break? We’ll find out soon enough. The plan right now is to start doing reviews of new episodes as they come out – and they’ll be on Monday, rather than Friday. So I guess I’ll see you all Monday, where I’ll review the season seven premiere.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] I could probably do 1500 words on the nonversation’s close cousin: the nonologue.

[2] Though I am a bit bitter about them casting Max Von Sydow and then giving him practically nothing to do.

[3] I’m not actually a pro wrestling guy. I might be using some of this lingo wrong.

[4] You can read it here.


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From the Archives:

  1. MarcellusMagnus says:

    Kevan Lannister (head of House Lannister)

    Is he really? According to the wiki, Cersei is the Lady of Casterly Rock after Tywin’s death in the books. Westeros generally operates on male-preference primogeniture (except for the Iron Throne), under which sons and daughters of the deceased are ahead of his brothers in the line of succession.

    Frustratingly, the TV series doesn’t seem to address this in any direct way. When Tommen (after Margaery’s suggestion) was trying to convince Cersei to move to Casterly Rock, he could have easily framed it as “I need you to rule the Westerlands in person” instead of “Don’t you miss your home and your family?”, but nope. Kevan does seem to act like he’s in charge of the Rock, but I don’t remember any explicit confirmation of that, either.

    (Sigh.) Another example of those “Calvinball power dynamics”, I guess. The showrunners kinda have the mentality of their play-within-a-show Ned:
    “The line of succession.” / “What’s that mean?” / “The proper progression.” / “What’s that mean?” / “The lawful ascension.” / “What’s that mean?”

    • Grudgeal says:

      I’d argue head of the house and lord/lady of the house’s ancestral home isn’t the same thing. For example, Renly was lord of Storm’s End after Robert became king, but Robert was still head of house Baratheon (and Stannis was technically head of the house after him, but few seemed to acknowledge it). Cersei would have inherited the title of Casterly Rock from Tywin by default (Jamie and Tyrion both being disinherited), but it wouldn’t surprise me a moment if house Lannister’s soldiers and its bannermen deferred to Kevan as the head of the house (given that he was older and male).

      Head of the house would be the person who would ‘speak’ for house Lannister, and Cersei, being married into house Baratheon, may have been passed over for that post because of it. This may be just me guessing, but I’d assume that if Edmure Tully never existed, Brynden Tully would have become head of House Tully upon Holster Tully’s death instead of Catelyn.

      • MarcellusMagnus says:

        That is a possibility, but “you own the castle, I own the armies” sounds like a very untenable situation that would lead either to frequent infighting or the fracturing of great houses and their realms, and we don’t really see that in pre-Conquest Westerosi history. The 8000-year-old internally stable kingdoms and unchanging ruling dynasties strain credibility even under the most charitable conditions, but this would be way too much.

        Plus, power relationships in feudalism worked on a personal basis. Vassals swear fealty to their liege lords (and receive lands in exchange for military service), not houses to other houses. The “legal entity” that owns holdings and armies and has vassals is not the noble house but the lordly/kingly title (e.g. the Duke of X, or the Z-ish crown).

        • Grudgeal says:

          Very true. In that case I’ll re-work my answer slightly.

          The ‘headship’ of House Lannister following Tywin’s death is likely very conflicted, as de jure law says one thing and de facto circumstance says the other. Cersei holds the Rock by rights, but on the other hand Kevan is a seasoned military commander with at least two hundred men under his command and has been Tywin’s right hand for going-on thirty years. Since neither are in the Westelands, the role of feudal lord in abstentia would be the castellan of the Rock, who is appointed by Cersei.

          Thus, I think Cersei is likely the ‘head’ of house Lannister directly following Tywin’s death, as she holds the Rock, but she loses it during the events of A Feast for Crows due to her mismanagement of the Faith of the Seven situation. Kevan becomes de facto head of house Lannister as a result, as Cersei being imprisoned (and Tommen underage) leaves Kevan as the next in line according to both law (younger brother of Tywin) and situation (directly commands all of house Lannister’s forces in the east, as Cersei is no military commander). There’s also the question of who’s Warden of the West, which by tradition is the title the Westerlands lords pledge fealty to: Cersei didn’t take it (she’s already queen regent) and Kevan didn’t want it unless he was also made regent, so the post passed to Daven Lannister.

          Long story short, the question of who’s in charge in the Westerlands was likely in a holding pattern after Tywin’s death, with most houses carrying on as normal until the situation got less messy. If it had come to a situation where a head of house Lannister was required (i.e. inter-vassal conflict, or the Westerlands having to go to war), things could get complicated.

          • Gethsemani says:

            By most medieval European inheritance laws, Cersei would be waaaay down on the list of succession to any part of the Lannister inheritance. Not only is she a woman (putting her far down the list by default) but she’s also married into the Baratheons, which effectively means she’s considered a Baratheon for succession purposes. This is actually a problem in the ASOIAF-continuity, as both Martin and D&D seem to flip-flop a fair degree on whether or not married women (Cersei, Cat, Maergery etc.) are considered of their maiden house or their married house. We frequently see that both Cersei and Maergery have stronger ties to their maiden house, but De Jure they are supposedly Baratheon and Lannister, respectively, and while Maergery at least pays public lip service to this fact, Cersei’s flagrant disregard for her husbands house is tantamount to treason.

            Anyway, this is a long winded and roundabout way of saying that most likely Cersei shouldn’t have any succession claims on any part of the Lannister legacy. Tywin’s brothers and their children are still about and eligible for succession, and it is only once they are out of the picture that she, as the oldest daughter of the oldest male sibling, would be considered a potential successor.

            This is yet another minor gripe I have with the entire thing. For all the ways that the misogyny is played up, especially in terms of sexual violence, there are many, many ways in which Westeros is actually a lot better in terms of how it treats women then historical medieval society was. It always makes me feel as if the main reason the misogyny of Westeros is mentioned so often is so that we can have some casual rape thrown in as short hand to remind everyone that bad shit happens. Because obviously Westeros is a place where noble women also has quite a lot of de jure power and a strong standing in terms of succession… Up until they have to be raped or sexually abused for plot reasons or to remind us that ASOIAF is dark and gritty.

            • Grudgeal says:

              Medieval Europe was a pretty big and long-lasting place, though. There are several famous examples of women inheriting (though obviously, not as many examples as men); the Angevin Empire was built on the inheritance of Eleanor of Aquitaine, we have Matilda of Tuscany and the Empress Irene of the ERE, and queen Margaret of Denmark who inherited (and ruled) all of Scandinavia. Heck; Wikipedia has a whole section on Medieval women rulers by century.

              If Eleanor of Aquitaine could inherit the Duchy of Aquitaine while being Henry II’s queen, I see no reason why Cersei couldn’t inherit Casterly Rock while Robert’s queen.

            • EmmEnnEff says:

              In ASOIAF, by law, a daughter comes before a brother. (And in Dorne, an elder daughter comes before a son.)

        • Joe Informatico says:

          We can’t really say anything universally definitive about how “feudalism” worked as a whole, because for centuries it was a constructed assumption based on a single document from a specific time and place (i.e., 12th century northern Italy), and then projecting the terms of that one document on all European societies over a thousand year span. It’s kind of like taking a snapshot of the legal and socio-political workings of US society in say, 1946, and assuming all Western liberal democracies worked exactly that same way from 1776 to the present. The reality was far more complex and varied greatly over time and place. That’s why for the past forty years, medieval scholars have been moving away from the term.

      • Droid says:

        You could well have different laws of succession for the head of a noble house (whose title makes him leader of all the unlanded members of that house, but not commander over any person holding a landed title, because they are no longer considered part of the noble house’s “court” or “influence”, even if they are still considered family members / members of that noble house) and the lands that go with it.
        In this case, Casterly Rock would have male-preference primogeniture succession as a direct vassal of the King of the Seven Kingdoms, and the Leader of House Lannister would be a title under seniority succession, without any direct loyalty to the Kingdom (even though the eldest family member would almost never be landless and therefore be a vassal of either the king directly or the lord of Casterly Rock through their landed title).

        Did I play too much Crusader Kings?

        • Grudgeal says:

          Did I play too much Crusader Kings?

          No such thing.

          And, incidentally, to put it in CK2 terms: Casterly Rock is inherited through Agnatic-Cognatic Primogeniture. The ruler of the Westerlands region is the Warden of the West, which is a king-tier, agnatic-only, viceroyalty title given by the king. This title has always been handed out to the current holder of Casterly Rock (de jure capital of the West) until A Feast For Crows, when Cersei (queen regnant and also the holder of Casterly Rock) gave it to Daven Lannister (an unlanded knight). Incidentally, the other Wardens in the series are Eddard Stark/Roose Bolton (north), Jamie Lannister (east, only de jure as the Vale lords crowned Robert Arryn as their Warden) and Mace Tyrell (south). There are also the two viceroyalty Lord Paramounts of the Riverlands and the Stormlands (Hoster Tully/Edmure Tully/Petyr Baelish and Renly Baratheon, respectively), the Absolute Cognatic Primogeniture Prince of Dorne (Doran Martell) and the Agnatic Primogeniture Lord of the Iron Isles (Balon Greyjoy)

  2. Wraith says:

    Most stories do a little cheating or fudging of the rules to help the good guys win. Game of Thrones cheats to help the bad guys win.

    * Taboo against kinslaying that forces Tyrion to flee the continent with an irrevocable stain on his reputation? Oh Ramsay can just do it with impunity.
    * Asha spends eight episode travelling all the way around the continent with “the Iron Islands’ best killers” to rescue Theon? Ramsay can fight them all off shirtless, they just stand there as he fumbles with the keys to let loose his dogs right in front of them, and Asha just decides to leave.
    * Melisandre very clearly has great magical powers and has never been wrong about future events in the past? Well she is this time when she convinces Stannis to burn his only child and heir.
    * Stannis is the most seasoned commander in Westeros and is marching on Winterfell? “Twenty good men”are enough to crippled his army, half his army deserts him, and he just marches up to Winterfell like a rabble with no plan at all to be easily killed by the Boltons.
    * Killing the entire leadership of Dorne in the middle of their own stronghold in front of their own guards might have some serious consequences? Nah. (FORESHADOWING)
    * Bastards can’t inherit? Well the Sand Fakes can now. (FORESHADOWING)
    * Blowing up the entire leadership of the kingdom might have some cataclysmic socio-political consequences? Nah Cersei’s just Queen now with no legitimate claim.

    It’s a cheapened version of a great saga and it’s sad.

    • Joshua says:

      I guess the earlier foreshadowing would be Cersei and Littlefinger in Season 2 where she says “Power is Power”. So, if the show-runners want you to have power because you’re audacious enough and make a good villain, you have power. Rules and traditions don’t matter.

      • Grudgeal says:

        That philosophy can work; I’d argue half the appeal of Xykon (from Order of the Stick) is how much he plays that worldview to the hilt. In a show that’s based on a book series that puts so much stock in the chains and fetters of rules and tradition, however…

        • Wraith says:

          It’s ironic because when I first saw that scene I immediately got vibes of Xykon’s “Power equals power” monologue, which was absolutely brilliant.

          They mused so much about the nature of power in S2 (probably because ACOK did) and then abandoned any sense of subtlety or nuance as the show went on. Now, power is whoever is most willing to kill the most enemies the most dead the most quickly.

          • Shen says:

            Only as an analogue, it really doesn’t fit. Cersei’s power is political and everything she has relies on the complicity of others. Xykon’s whole point when HE says “power is power” is that if it relies on anyone else, or if it can be easily lost, then it isn’t really power. Certainly both were great little character moments, but I definitely came away from Xykon’s speech thinking he had power and came away from Cersei’s thinking she was arrogant and overly-prideful.

          • Colin Smith says:

            “Now, power is whoever is most willing to kill the most enemies the most dead the most quickly.”
            Maxim 6 : If violence wasn’t your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it.

      • Felblood says:

        You can eat that cake, but you can’t go around pretending you still have it.

        People are going to want to know what happened to that entire cake.

  3. Rob says:

    I thought I was alone. I’ve been saying since parts of season four and on that the show’s writing is getting worse and worse and everyone I talk to seems to act like it’s just as good as it ever was. I still like the show, but when you start noticing the writing and stop buying the characters actions, that’s not a good thing. I started with the show then switched to the books after season one. For me Stannis is still alive, the Dornish still aren’t great, but way better than the shows depiction, and Jon Snow really might be dead. Arya is still training in Braavos and Grenn and Pip are still at the wall.

    • Zekiel says:

      I have two explanations for why people continue to like shows even as quality declines (which are generic rather than specific to GoT since I’ve never even seen a single episode);

      1) People get gradually more invested in the characters as time goes on which naturally means they want to keep watching to see what happens. Since they are invested in watching the show, it makes sense psychologically to want the show to be good (in order to justify the time investment) so people convince themselves it is. (That sounds really patronizing but its just human nature and I do it myself in other contexts)

      2) Style over substance. *How* a story is told matters a lot more to many people than *what* is being told. So if you have good acting, good direction, good visuals, good music etc, many people will enjoy it, even if what the excellent actors are saying is cliched or nonsensical, and the plot doesn’t make any logical sense. Again, this sounds patronizing but I’ve realised its absolutely what I do myself – for instance Mass Effect 2 is one of my favourite games in spite of the fact that its plot is absolute tripe and some of its dialogue too.

    • Grudgeal says:

      If you want a community of booksnobs, I recommend the forums over at http://asoiaf.westeros.org/. There’s also a site called The Fandomentals (https://www.thefandomentals.com/tag/game-of-thrones/) that was originally founded by a pair of show critics; they tend to run long-form analysis of the show’s foibles much like here, but with a different slant to it (they’re far more caustic about it for one).

      Personally I liked GoT’s first and second season, but I think the show has become progressively worse since the beginning. There were a lot of interpretations and show-only content already during season 1, some of which worked (Robert’s scenes, mainly) and some of which did not (Renly and Rose), and it only got more and more out of hand. At this point, the thematic differences are so dramatic that any gripe I might have about original content has been completely overshadowed long ago.

      • BlueHorus says:

        There were a lot of interpretations and show-only content already during season 1, some of which worked (Robert’s scenes, mainly) and some of which did not (Renly and Rose), and it only got more and more out of hand.

        Oh, hells yes. Do you remember the Fookin’ Legend of Gin Alley? There was an early warning sign if ever I saw one.
        Who would have guessed then that the entire show would become that bad?

  4. Christopher says:

    In the meantime, I’m going pick what I believe may be the smallest nit I’ve ever picked.
    The Smallest Nit I’ve Ever Picked

    I always love when you do this, it’s funny. I haven’t had a lot to contribute on account of only seeing the first season years ago, but I do enjoy reading these.

  5. MarcellusMagnus says:

    Oh, on the topic of The Smallest Nit You’ve Ever Picked:

    FrankenGregor is apparently going to torture Unella now, so is Cersei going to come back and show Unella her face just before he finishes her off or something?

    Yes, that’s exactly the implication here. Unella will be tortured on a recurring basis, and Cersei will be there for the end. I mean, Cersei explicitly said “You’re not going to die today. You’re not going to die for quite a while” before calling in FrankenGregor. I don’t think you can be any clearer than that :)

  6. Darren says:

    “would react to the destruction of almost the entire government with dismay”

    I mean, they might be there. Looking at the modern political scene, I would say that “reacting with dismay” and “actually able and willing to do something about it” are completely different things.

    • Gethsemani says:

      Sure, on the modern political scene. This is supposedly a mostly-historical medieval political scene, where each time a ruler dies there’s about a 50/50 chance that it will trigger massive political in-fighting (especially if a majority of the ruling high nobility dies at the same time) and where the common folk would rebel once or twice every decade because they had so very little to lose if they took up arms to protest perceived injustice.

      In the case of Cersei, a publicly hated Queen Mother well known for her shady politicking, ruthlessness and greed for power, it is unlikely that neither of the two above would just roll over and let her ascend into undisputed power. Especially not when a potential heir to the throne (Stannis Baratheon) is still around and Cersei just lost her entire political power base by firebombing it. For all their scheming against her, the Tyrells and their money and soldiers was what propped up and legitimized the Lannister crown.

    • Alex says:

      But in modern political scene “reacting with dismay” often means “feigning horror for political effect.” Unless you’re dealing with something like Turkey’s descent into autocracy, you’re not really talking about an existential threat to the state as we know it. A fugitive decapitating the state, the priesthood and the remaining great houses all in one swift blow before taking the throne for herself is such a threat.

    • Will says:

      The United States experiences something basically equivalent to a bloodless coup every four or eight years. Westeros I suspect has had a bloodless coup literally never. The modern, historical and GoT fictional political scenes are not terribly comparable.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Do the Lannister soldiers not care that she appears to have murdered the head of House Lannister?

    Probably not.They always did obey her,even when she wasnt the ruler of the house.

    Do the Tyrell soldiers not care that she appears to have murdered the head of House Tyrell?

    They probably do,but without a leader to follow they arent just going to one by one start rioting against another house.

    Do the Sparrows, who we’re led to believe are numerous enough to threaten the Crown itself, and who can’t possibly have all fit into the Sept before it blew, not care that their incorruptible and magnetic leader is dead?

    What are they going to do anyway?A few years back they had literally no power,until cercei uplifted the church once more.The church had great power,sure,but it was a very short period when they had it,mostly due to their leadership.

    Do the common people not care that the King has died under highly suspicious circumstances, not to mention the Queen, who we’re shown was very popular?

    And time and time again,the people have been shown to be rather ineffectual.The most they managed to do was throw shit at the king once and attempt a rape at someone destined to be raped by the king.And even then,they were more proactive than in the time of the mad king,who planned to burn them all alive.So yeah,the people arent going to do anything.

    The show may have a very cynical outlook on the populace,the police,soldiers and the church,but at least it does consistently show everyone being ineffectual without someone leading them.And also,this is what separates westeros from the other continent,where they are happy to riot big time when they dont like the ruler(though even there,its the elites who riot,not the lowly peasants).

    • Geebs says:

      Arguably a fair few historical popular uprisings have taken over a nation’s capital only to fade away when the leadership was suddenly killed. The Peasants’ Revolt springs to mind.

      None of the Sparrows apart from the High Sparrow are depicted as having much leadership potential, or indeed any brains at all.

  8. Matt Downie says:

    Cersei did lose the Tyrrels, didn’t she? They probably went off to team up with Dany’s guys.

    The Sparrows are currently leaderless. They probably wouldn’t get organised enough for a proper revolution in the time it took to crown Cersei.

    The Lannister soldiers presumably stayed loyal to Cersei because she’s paying their wages, so what else are they going to do. So at the moment she has Lannister soldiers and Goldcloaks or whoever keeping order in the city, and anyone who believes she blew up the Sept will have good reason to be scared of her.

    So it’s not implausible she could get away with it.
    On the other hand, this is part of a trend where people commit blatant murder and everyone just accepts it, and I think they’re overdoing it. Ramsay murders his dad? Oh well. Ruler of Drone murdered? Whatcha you going to do? One Greyjoy murders another to seize the throne and confesses? Hey, what’s a little treason between family? Littlefinger murders Sansa’s aunt in front of her? No need for an alibi or an alternative suspect; she’ll cover for him…

    • Brandon says:

      Olenna is MAD. And I guarantee she ordered the Tyrell soldiers away from King’s Landing and stopped all food delivery to the capital.

    • Wraith says:

      It’s actually very impossible if you know the book context. The thing about the books is that they meticulously show the logistics of power for every major power bloc. For two entire books, it is made abundantly clear that the Tyrells are propping up the Lannister regime, not the other way around – they have control of the food supply, a very influential propaganda apparatus boosting their public image, and a huge, nearly-untouched army parked right outside the city. The Lannisters have barely held together and their military forces are severely depleted, so while he lives Tywin turns a blind eye to the Tyrell political shenanigans in trying to gain more and more influence at court because he knows he can’t afford to lose them as allies. Cersei doesn’t give a shit because she’s a paranoid, delusional narcissist.

      And other players understand and respect their power too. Throughout Margaery’s incarceration by the faith, her father is understandably pissed. He does a 180 while marching his army on Storm’s End and parks them back outside the city, refusing to budge until Margaery’s trial is completed. The High Sparrow knows he can’t provoke a Tyrell military response, so he cancels Margaery’s walk of atonement and it’s heavily implied in TWOW preview chapters that Margaery is eventually found innocent of her charges.

      But in the show none of this matters. Cersei can blow up the entirety of House Tyrell and their troops are either no longer extant or don’t care.

  9. coffeedog14 says:

    The idea of not being shown the consequences of Cesei’s victory is one of the various things I’m willing to forgive the series for. they have a limited running time, and this episode was about getting her to the position of queen. It was big and dramatic and made sense to her vague character arc of constantly seeking more and more power at any cost.

    Now, I will be far less forgiving if in the episodes to come they show her position as “strong” or “lasting”. The only allies she hasn’t burned are the lannisters (depleted and far away) and the riverlands (the freys are cowardly, opportunistic, jaime actively threatened their position earlier in the season, their leader also just died, they are currently fighting a rebellion). so really just the lannisters, however many of them are left.

    I think the implication should/is supposed to be that if Cersei wasn’t already in the castle with the crowns, she’d never be crowned. Her control doesn’t/shouldn’t realistically extend beyond the walls of the red keep where her murder zombie can keep her safe. She’s basically become the mad king aerys with improbably less support, and much like the mad king she’s stranded in her castle, using wildfire on the populace, without a care for the political realities of the situation.

    Now, given the writing team, I fully expect none of this to be brought up and for her position to be seemingly unassailable/totally fine thank you whenever somebody comes over to dethrone her, and for her to still be able to raise an army large enough to be a problem. But I am unwilling to criticize them just yet on this point.

    still loving this series btw!

    oh, also, quick listing I made in my head:

    North: King of the north!
    Vale: King of the North!
    Riverlands: Loyal (but probably not helping)
    crownlands: loyal (but their existence seems to be forgotten frequently)
    westerlands: Loyal
    stormlands: probably not loyal but does the show even remember they exist?
    iron islands: Rebel
    The reach: Rebel
    dorne: rebel

    man this kingdom is messed up.

    • MarcellusMagnus says:

      I wholeheartedly agree. I can accept “she is in control of King’s Landing and the Westerlands, and nothing more” without detailed explanation, as long as no one outside those spheres starts behaving like they consider her to be the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.

      At this point it’s hard for them to actively discuss Cersei’s lack of legitimacy without drawing attention to Ellaria’s or Jon’s.

      Riverlands: Loyal (but probably not helping)

      Given Lord Walder’s horrible dynasty management skills, I expect the Riverlands to be in a state of anarchy while House Frey is busy with the mother of all succession crises, until one of the rebel factions swoops in and reinstalls Edmure Tully as Lord Paramount.

    • Fade2Gray says:

      I completely agree about the importance of her being in the castle when all of this was going down. I think it’s easy to overlook just how important castles are in a medieval setting. Even if she only has a handful of loyal men (and it’s strongly implied she has more than that at her disposal) she would likely be able to hold the castle against the entire city. She could easily just sit in the castle and crown herself queen (whether or not anyone else acknowledges the legitimacy of her claim is another matter entirely).

      I will agree that it’s a little odd that Unella just magically appears in the castle though…

      • ehlijen says:

        Jaime also just returned from the river lands with presumably another decently sized contigent of Lannister troops, so yeah, she has the strength to hold the castle.

        But to me, the lack of a reaction from the rest of King’s Landing is still a grave oversight. Mostly, I think it’s a sign that the writers weren’t sure yet if they had room for any ‘unrest in King’s Landing’ plot arcs in the next season, so they chose not to set any up.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Yeah.
      Cersei has the title of Queen – and that’s it. While she’s nominally in charge of Kings Landing (and House Lannister), next season is going to be the fallout of her actions, which will probably be more war etc. Much better explored next season.

      Though with the show being written the way it is, prepare for her to be the next plot-armoured villain (Ramsey II)…

      But…in general, blowing up the sept and thinking that would help fits. It’s such a Cersei thing to do. Its so in character it could have come from the books…up to and including Tommen’s suicide/rejection of her.

      That scene with Septa Unella can go blow a goat though.

  10. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    “Are you watching the show wrong?” Eh… it seems like it yes. Your small nit is entirely explained in the dialogue for example. Cersei is NOT going to have her enemy killed right then and there. She explains in detail how she’ll be tortured for a LONG time first. Which makes sense, Cersei was tortured BY HER for a long time. Why would she offer up a quick death as revenge? Your missing this suggests to me you’re both nitpicking AND paying very little attention. Basically, you’re paying attention to what you WANT the show to be doing and NOT paying attention to what the show is ACTUALLY doing.

    Regarding your main complaint… it suggests to me you don’t understand how television writing works. This is the finale. Something big is going to happen to make the viewers think about the next season. They’re NOT going to spend a great deal of time with the legal transfer of power and minutiae of minor details. How would that even look like?
    Scene 1: Scene with Lannister soldiers where they explain that as long as they get paid, they will accept whoever is the leader… basically.
    Scene 2: Scene with Tyrell soldiers, they explain they are fleeing the city to regroup with their leadership.
    Scene 3: Scene with Sparrows, they explain that they’re too confused to do anything. Some want to fight the crown, some see the explosion as proof that their moment is over, some are just scared and hungry and confused and no one is taking responsibility to DO anything.
    Okay, we’ve just spent 25 minutes on stuff that’s completely not important and could have been inferred by anyone who’s watched 6 seasons of this now. Good thing we have 10 more characters to catch up with in an hour! If the show wants you to think “this group will be upset or will do something” it will invent a representative from that group and have them do something. The fact that there are no named characters among the Lannister troops, or the Tyrell troops, and all of the named Sparrows are dealt with directly should TELL you that those factions are out of the game for now.

    • vvvvvvvvvvvv says:

      “They’re NOT going to spend a great deal of time with the legal transfer of power and minutiae of minor details.”

      the wire says hi

    • kanodin says:

      You’re not really even disagreeing with him, you say it’s tv writing like that makes it ok to be hackneyed and only focused on the next big scene.

    • Angelo says:

      About the first part: you misunderstood.
      The point Bob was making is that, whether Unella was going to be killed right then and there or sometime in the future, the line

      “I said my face would be the last thing you saw before you died. Do you remember?”

      SHOULDN’T be followed by Unella seeing somebody else. When you make that kind of reminder to a threat/promise you should put it into action right away, otherwise it defeats its purpose. And just to be clear, “putting it into action” in this context doesn’t mean “killing Unella immediately”, but “making so that Cersei is the last person Unella sees for what’s left of her life”.

      As for the second part, there are many things wrong.
      First off, Bob isn’t suggesting that the final episode should be long-winded and boring. What he’s saying is that they made a bad writing decision, because Cersei becoming queen like that doesn’t really work. Ok, the show TELLS us that nobody is in the position to complain, but it shouldn’t because it’s absurd.
      Secondly, you’re taking for granted everything that happened beforehand. Who ever said that tweaking the final episode is the only way you’re allowed to fix a narrative?
      And thirdly, your example proves nothing. Just because you can’t think of a way to make it work doesn’t mean it couldn’t work. Hell, you could probably solve most problems by having a roundtable discussion among appointed authorities where they decide they have to accept Cersei as queen for some reason. Or also: use the revolts AGAINST Cersei, or even her execution, as the climax to the final episode.

      • Henson says:

        “I said my face would be the last thing you saw before you died. Do you remember?”

        “Well, I was wrong.”

        *In walks big threatening zombie bodyguard, ready to torture someone to death. Cut to black.*

      • Daimbert says:

        When you make that kind of reminder to a threat/promise you should put it into action right away, otherwise it defeats its purpose. And just to be clear, “putting it into action” in this context doesn’t mean “killing Unella immediately”, but “making so that Cersei is the last person Unella sees for what’s left of her life”.

        Unless the point of reminding her of it there and then bringing in someone else is to make it perfectly, crystal-clear that Unella isn’t going to die any time soon, which is what Shoeboxjeddy was alluding to. Cersei tortures Unella for a good long time, reminds her that she had promised that Cersei’s face would be the last thing she sees — implying the immediate death which, for Unella, might at least signal an end to the torture, even if only by death — and then reveals the new torturer and leaves to make it clear that the torment is going to continue.

        It’d be a nasty and vindictive plot … EXACTLY what Cersei would do.

        • Xel-chan says:

          I think that the phrasing is just bad, which leads to the confusion. If the line is quoted exactly as above: “I said my face would be the last thing you saw before you died. Do you remember?” Think of when you use the phrase “Do you remember?” When do you use it? When the time of the action/result/consequence has immediately happened or will happen immediately after that. “I told you you would burn yourself if you played with the fire. Do you remember?” or “I told you the test was today. Do you remember?” You don’t tend to use it for events far off in the future. So the line as written totally implies that the person will be dying NOW.

          If the person is not going to be killed for a bit and is just being reminded of the threat, they would be saying something like this: “Remember my face will be the last thing you see before you die.” Or even: “I said my face would be the last thing you saw before you died. Remember that.” These imply that the listener will be living for a while.

          Frankly it just seems like poor writing that should have been caught by someone.

          (It should be noted that I do not watch Game of Thrones and so have only the above piece/comments to work off of. So I don’t know if the normal dialogue generally sounds like how real people talk.)

          • MarcellusMagnus says:

            Honestly, the rest of that dialogue makes it quite clear that Cersei is pulling a cruel bait-and-switch here.

            See the script:

            CERSEI: I said my face would be the last thing you saw before you died. Do you remember?
            SEPTA UNELLA: Good. I’m glad to see your face. I’m ready to meet the gods.
            CERSEI: What? Now? Today? You’re not going to die today. You’re not going to die for quite a while. Ser Gregor.
            GREGOR enters the room.

            • Angelo says:

              If that’s really what it’s meant to imply, then it’s an incredibly awkward way to set up a bait and switch.

              • Shoeboxjeddy says:

                It makes complete sense in context. Do you have a bait and switch that isn’t “awkward” for comparison? That is how a bait and switch works. You make a person think one thing and then switch it on them, to trick them. So Cersei says something that would obviously make the Nun think she’s about to die, waits for a reaction, then pulls the rug on her, that she will instead suffer for a long time first before dying.

                • For the record, that’s precisely how I took the scene in, too. “Oh, y’know how you’re seeing my face now? The last face you’d see before your death? LOL, like your death is coming THAT soon and swiftly. You wish! We got some brutal goings-on you’re gonna suffer for a good long while first. Dedicated personal abuser: please step in.” It’s hard for me to parse it as anything aside from that.

    • ehlijen says:

      “They’re NOT going to spend a great deal of time with the legal transfer of power and minutiae of minor details.”

      Yes and no.

      We didn’t see the means by which Cersei seized control enough to bring about her coronation, which is not minutia, but rather an important plot point and an opportunity for character material (does she threaten, negotiate, send in the troops?).

      We did see Cersei being crowned in a scene that conveyed little otherwise, which is minutia.

      The crowning scene wasn’t bad or wrong, but given that as far as the episode told us, Cersei has done nothing between the explosion and getting a shiny hat and crappy chair than:
      -torture an unimportant nun
      -cry for the dead son she neglected because she was busy with the point above
      …we really needed to see something more about how she got the throne and, more importantly, plans to keep it. Especially since the editing was trying to convince us that enough time had passed for Varys’ trip to Dorne and back to Mereen in the meantime.

      Holding a throne takes allies, and we’ve been told and shown this season that Cersei has none or next to none, and strength, and we’ve been told and shown that Cersei has very little other than her zombie. When and how did these things change, or if she’s been hiding her true power, how did she do this and do her powers entail?

      That’s not minutia, that’s plot critical information.

      • Shoeboxjeddy says:

        Well, the “what comes next” is the next season. The first episode of the new season has Jaime saying, explicitly “we don’t have a lot of allies left.” She had enough power to take over the crown, aided by Lannister men on site. And that’s about it.

  11. Thomas says:

    The thing you did with the review excerpt was fantastic. Really pulled the rug from under my feet to hear that was a B+ review

  12. syal says:

    My understanding of the ‘trial by combat’ option is the idea that God will interfere to protect the righteous man and slay the evildoer. So, if the Church’s trial of the Queen ends with all the accusers going up in flames, the populace could well take it as divine intervention on Cersei’s behalf. Especially depending on how well they understand wildfire, which as far as I remember has only previously been used to drive off Stannis’ invasion, which could again look like divine intervention.

    • TheJungerLudendorff says:

      Which could be an acceptable explanation, if the authority figures manage to sell it like that.

      But considering that a lot of people know that wildfire is a thing, there will probably be many people with suspicion, and many of those people will have military and legislative power.

      Also, if that is the explanation that the show is going for, it needs to actually show (or at least tell) us that. Right now we really have no idea what the common folk think of all this, which means all we have is speculation.

    • ehlijen says:

      Or she could have blamed Tyrion for the bombing. He’s a known murderer, a known user of Wildfire, a known enemy of the establishment and conveniently not around to defend himself.

      And it wouldn’t have taken too long to add a bit where Cersei, after sitting on the throne, vows to find and kill her traitor brother once and for all. (It could even give a personal tone to the coming war with Danerys, which it is otherwise lacking so far.)

  13. Steve C says:

    I’m one of the people that completely agrees with your criticisms of Game of Thrones and yet I still watch it. There’s a simple reason: lack of options. TV is a desert of choice. Game of Thrones is a liquid in that desert. It might be water. It is a muddy, fowl tasting thing that makes me gag. It’s still the only thing for miles.

    I read the first few books years ago. I stopped before the red wedding, because of the red wedding. When the Freys first went to Rob I immediately saw the betrayal coming. I realized it was going to be a bloodbath and that everyone was going to die. I considered it and realized how much I didn’t care. There were no characters I liked. That’s when I put down the books for good.

    The plot of the show is off the rails. It is bad. Regardless it is still good actors with bad material and they are carrying it. The spectacle of it all is still good. There’s no other epic fantasy political show and I’m thirsty.

    • AndrewCC says:

      I disagree. There’s so many good shows on TV, that it’s almost ridiculous. If you’d said that there’s a lack of good fantasy/medieval series, I’d be more inclined to agree.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Do you count netflix as tv?Because if you dont,then I disagree that there are that many good shows on tv.

      • Steve C says:

        Name 3 shows that have high production quality and quality acting that Game of Thrones brings to the screen. I’ll even name two to get you started “The Expanse” and “Orphan Black”.

        I kind of count Netflix and kind of don’t. I love being able to binge watch shows. Except that then they are gone and there’s nothing to watch again. Game of Thrones is one of the few quality* shows that is still trickled out over the course of a season.

        (*”Quality” in this case being defined as production and acting. The plot is crap of course.)

        • ehlijen says:

          How has Orphan Black’s plot held up? I loved the first season, but I was starting to feel minor BS overload by the end of the second and then got distracted by other shows.

          The Expanse, well, you need a high tolerance for darkness to enjoy it (it’s both literally dark and/or faded in most shots and the plot is figuratively dark, dreary and most of season 1’s arcs end in futility). I didn’t have that tolerance so despite loving scifi, I didn’t watch past season 1.

          • Steve C says:

            The plot in OB hasn’t held up at all. It’s like GoT in that it is ok as long as you don’t think about it. The current season is the final season. While it is still fun to watch, it needs to end.

            I have a very high tolerance of both types of darkness. I liked the first season of Expanse so much I read all the books.

            • Thomas says:

              Yeah, it’s got way too clear in OB that they’ve never had an end goal planned out. This season is a small uptick in quality, so at least it won’t end at its lowest.

          • guy says:

            I still like Orphan Black, but I have to admit that the plot kinda fell apart. For me, the biggest issue is that they spent seasons 2-4 hunting a MacGuffin that they really shouldn’t need; the protagonists want the genome of the original to fix a disorder the clones have that makes them sterile and then kills them. Except the main protagonist doesn’t have the disorder, so her genome should be all they need.

  14. Alex Broadhead says:

    I assume that Cersei didn’t plan for Tommen to kill himself – after all, she prevented him from going to the trial that she knew was a deathtrap. While she’s fatalistic about her children (due to the silly prophecy from her youth), I don’t think she was trying to hasten its fulfillment.

    • ehlijen says:

      In the book, she was obsessed with trying to save her children (and the more she failed, the more she cracked).

      In the show, she cares more about torturing a nun than about explaining to her son what happened.

      • Shoeboxjeddy says:

        Tommen didn’t kill himself because his mom didn’t talk to him soon or long enough. He killed himself because his mom killed his wife, and no amount of talking could have EVER resolved that for him.

  15. AndrewCC says:

    The show’s attention to the detail of the various plots has certainly been slipping a lot lately.
    I blame G.R.R. for it exclusively. He’s so slow with he books that HBO has no choice but to take the overall plot points they can extract from him and make them work somehow.
    The solution would be to just have G.R.R. just stop writing the books and write for the show fulltime, but I don’t know how well that would work, from a personal and plot quality p.o.v. since the show has diverged massively from the books’ plot already.

    • ehlijen says:

      While GRRM certainly holds some of the blame, I don’t see how it absolves the show writers from their responsibility for delivering quality writing.

      They’ve clearly shown they are willing to cut content from the books and diverge from the set plotline. They’ve done this as far back as season 1 (almost everything about the riverlands was cut).

      What’s happening now is that the writers aren’t even willing to commit to their own plans and are trying to hold as many doors open at the end of each season as they can. That’s on them as much as it is on GRRM.

  16. BlueHorus says:

    It seems like the [show’s] writers don’t always understand consistency of setting, or of character, or sometimes even basic cause and effect. But there is one thing they do seem to understand: hype.

    Hype…and spectacle. They can do spectacle very well.

    I think they’re always writing with the next big set piece in mind, or shocking twist, or big reveal. Just connecting the dots between big, dramatic events, and things like ‘coherence’, ‘logic’, and ‘character consistency’ can all go hang.
    Sort of an extension/ similar to the Lindeloffian Method.

    Example: while running for their lives from ice zombies, Bran Stark and Meera Reed suddenly stop. Bran drags himself out of his sled and over to a tree, in order to see into the past.

    Someone like me (and maybe Bob? that’s the impression I get) would say “WTF are you doing? The past will always be there! Keep running! This is not something a real person would do in this situation!”

    The show’s writers, though, laugh. “Bitch please! If we confirm R + L = J, the internet will go apeshit! They’ll be talking about it for days! You can keep your ‘good storytelling’, hype is what works for us.”

    ….And somehow it works. After the episode The Door (in which we learn why Hodor can only say ‘hodor’), I thought it was one of the most retarded things I’d ever seen. But browsing the internet, I discovered that people actually though it was a good twist.

    Go figure.

    • Wraith says:

      I agree. There was a high “Holy Shit Quotient” throughout S6, but of all those moments I think “Hold The Door” fell flat the fastest. Not only was the impact of the moment dulled by the hilariously blatant budget-trimming bridge-drop on Summer minutes before, but everyone about the scene was ridiculous when you step back and take it all in in a vacuum.

      * Hodor’s big moment is holding a door closed under a tree. How climactic. Also WHY IS THERE A DOOR THERE FOR A CAVE UNDER A TREE?
      * Hodor became brain-damaged because Bran time-travelled into the past and possessed him in order to perform actions as his future self (ROFL)
      * “Hodor” is a ridiculous contraction of “Hold The Door” and this is meant to be taken seriously

      Literally minutes after the episode ended I was left wondering why the origin of Hodor’s mental deficiency and slogan needed to be explained in the first place. The only actually useful plot development to come out of it was Bran learning how to actually use his power to affect both the past and future. At least the finale was a high enough high to take several days to wear off.

      • AzzyGaiden says:

        To be completely fair to Hodor reveal, it has been strongly implied (if not outright confirmed) that this comes directly from Martin and is not a show-only development.

        As to why we need to know Hodor’s origins, I suspect that Bran’s Greenseer/time travel abilities are going to play a larger role in the final seasons/books, and Hodor is a way to introduce how things can get fucky.

        • BlueHorus says:

          If it’s true that GRRM is behind the ‘hold the door’ twist…then I think less of him, TBH.

          It can’t be stressed enough how contrived the situation was. A door to a tree-cave. The sad, needless deaths of Summer and the Children of the Forest.
          All in service of answering a question that didn’t need answering – and the answer was ‘time-travel shenanigans’?

          Of course, Martin might (eventually) write the situation better, so that it’s less contrived.

          The only actually useful plot development to come out of it was Bran learning how to actually use his power to affect both the past and future.

          Is that what happened?
          I know that the guy in the tree (Three Eyed Raven?) said he was going to teach Bran important things, but what I saw was the two of them going to a random point in the past and just standing around in Winterfell’s courtyard, doing nothing. While in the real world, their friends and protectors got slaughtered.

          Totally a useful thing to do.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            If it’s true that GRRM is behind the ‘hold the door’ twist…then I think less of him, TBH.

            I remember reading that he did tell the writers that the reason for hodor losing his mind is some time traveling/possession shenanigans.But whether it was a door in the forest,or somewhere else,or a door at all,that remains to be seen.

            Totally a useful thing to do.

            Because that was only the start.But when bran interacted with something in the past,they reacted to him.And the hodor thing was showing him that he actually does have an impact on the past.He learned that on his own,and at a cost of hodors mind,because he was not careful.

            • BlueHorus says:

              What the scene needed was Raven acting like he was teaching Bran something.

              Hurriedly saying “This is how you see this. This is how you do that. Don’t ever do this, because you’ll change the past. Now you try.” Etc.
              Or making magical energy flow into Bran’s head. Or taking him to an especially important point in the past. Or telling him the history of the Greenseers and how they work, as fast as he can.

              Just….something. Something better than standing around watching nothing happen on a random day in Winterfell’s past, while in the present zombies are attacking them.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                He was teaching him how to watch the past.Which should come before interacting with it.And he did not expect the zombies at that moment,so his lessons were cut short.

                • ehlijen says:

                  He know the zombies were coming. He knew Bran had alerted the white walkers and that they’d come. He knew they didn’t have much time.
                  And he’d shown Bran nothing but watching the past before this, including this same moment.

                  The scene just before the attacked needed one of two things:
                  -A sign of hurry from od tree guy, any sign. Just something to make clear that he was doing anything different now to before, when he was not aware of any incoming danger.
                  -A sign, any sign, that the old man knew this was the only timeline in which Bran would learn what he needed to learn (which included Hodor becoming Hodor as Bran also needed to learn how to warg him on the way here).

                  As it was, continuing with lesson plan “stand still and watch for hours” in the face of an inevitable attack and defeat made the old man come across as being the worst teacher ever.

                  Remember that all we see him do is make Bran watch the past. He never explains anything, barely even talks at all. Letting students figure things out is fine, but a teacher still needs to actually speak about the subject at some point.

                  • BlueHorus says:

                    Maybe he just forgot. He is pretty old – and part of a tree – after all.

                    “Was there something I was supposed to be doing? Something about White Walkers? I can’t remember. Ah well, I’m sure it’ll come back if it was important.

                    Say, what’s that screaming?”

                  • Shoeboxjeddy says:

                    The point of seeing the past is that Jon’s parentage is important. Presumably a Dany/Jon alliance will be key to defeating the White Walkers. And him being half Targaryen is what will seal that deal.

                    • ehlijen says:

                      Yes, it’s important.

                      My issues isn’t that Bran is being taught what he is. My issue is that despite initially freaking out that Bran alerted the white walkers and muttering something about not having a lot of time, all we see him do with the time they have is stand around doing the exact same thing as before, slow pacing at all.

                      That is not a hurried man cramming knowledge down Bran’s throat under time pressure, that is not a man worried that he’s too late. So he went from worried to apparently not worried at all. Why? What changed?

                      I get that as, effectively, a time traveller to some degree, things like time pressure might be meaningless to him, but if that is so, why is he agitated that Bran alerted the white walkers?

          • stratigo says:

            Martin isn’t the patron saint of good writing and pretty much everyone describes a feast for crows as a dreary slog.

            The books are good. The show is good. Neither stands up when you super scrutiny them. And the show has especially fallen to contrivance since the red wedding, but it’s an issue the books had as well.

  17. FelBlood says:

    I’ve found that I enjoy Game of Thrones quite a bit, but then I only catch random episodes in isolation.

    So I get to pretend that this would all make sense if I knew what was going on.

  18. Kavonde says:

    As a pro wrestling fan myself, I have to say that the comparisons between GoT and WWE are actually pretty profound. The Mountain v. Viper duel, at least among my circle of friends, definitely had a sense of “big match” hype to it going in. And I can’t help feeling the same about Jon Snow or Danaerys as I do about a John Cena or Roman Reigns; they’re not bad or anything, but the writers seem to be insisting that they’re the top babyfaces we should all be cheering for, despite the fact that almost everyone else on the roster is way more interesting.

  19. guy says:

    I have to note that in fairness, “I’ve killed/disinherited everyone else in the line of succession and am now king/queen by default” worked surprisingly often in actual history, notably including with Charlemange. However, if there’s anyone else with even a fragmentary claim still around anywhere, people who hate the ruler by default will flock to back them.

  20. Shen says:

    I think I like the pro-wrestling comparison more, but I always equated it to a soap opera. Less telling of a coherent story and more making sure you watch the next one.

    But I’d always flattered the show’s world-building chops to assume that there are other non-named characters who, even if they’re not given specific personalities, would react to the destruction of almost the entire government with dismay.

    Gotta say, this has been my problem from pretty much the beginning. The whole thing turns on various characters wanting to rule Westeros and frankly, I can’t for the life of me think why. The entire ugly country is populated by two distinct groups: half are passive to a psychotic degree, blithely accepting whatever political situation is forced upon them when they’re not scraping together just enough brainpower to bake a decent piece of bread and the other half are always on the edge of flying into a snarling frenzy and raping the first half to death. Through this lens, Joffery has been the only relatable character as he seems to have an idea of what he wants to DO as king: be a hedonistic bellend. I can only imagine all other contenders have the same motivation.

    • AzzyGaiden says:

      You’re right that Joffrey is the only character who seems to have actual GOALS beyond “being the boss”. While he was always presented as a hateful little prick, in the first season his shitty attitude allowed him to see the flaws inherent in the system more than, seemingly, any other character. At one point he actually suggests that a standing army would make more sense for the needs of the Iron Throne than the patchwork, ad-hoc system of divided loyalties Westeros is currently operating under.

      Contrast this with Dany, whose motivations to be queen despite the Mereen quagmire have never really evolved beyond “it’s my right.” In the early seasons (particularly the Qarth arc) this attitude was shown to be immature at best, but then the writers discovered the hype machine and now that same entitlement is presented as empowering. All we know about her as a ruler is that she violently destabilizes established governments that she personally finds offensive, while happily accepting the institutions that benefit her personally. There’s no reason to think she would be a better ruler than literally a random person off the street.

      I might once have been willing to believe that the writers were trying to say something about the nature of power, but I just don’t trust them anymore. People like Dany, so we need to root for Dany.

      • Gethsemani says:

        Interestingly, Stannis also had a fairly clear reason for wanting power, believing that it was his legacy after Robert’s death and that he has to accept the call to duty. The irony is that this echoes Dany quite a lot (both consider themselves legitimate rulers by birthright, both strive to become said ruler), with the twist that Stannis does it less for personal glory and more out of a sense of duty, while Dany is mostly in it for herself. Stannis has committed exactly one morally reprehensible act (killing his own daughter) yet he’s a bad guy, while the woman who’s not above mass executions at a whim, leaves “liberated” people to fend for themselves without the tools to do so, destroys the holy place of an entire culture and subjugates them “White Man’s Burden”-Style and pretty much leaves a city in ruins once it served its’ purpose to her is supposed to be the good guy we should root for?

        I am totally on board with your sentiment that I don’t trust the writers anymore. They took the morally ambiguous crapsack world that Martin provided and then proceeded to royally miss the points Martin are making, to make yet another show of Good vs Evil. Only the characters they’ve adapted as Good are not exactly heroes due to Martin’s characterization and the Evil people tend to have some pretty valid points (ie. Cersei).

        • stratigo says:

          she left mereen to her boy toy and his army. Whether that was smart or not is debatable, but she didn’t just sail off going “See ya suckers, I got me a rusty throne to plant my ass on”

        • Alex Broadhead says:

          Stannis has committed exactly one morally reprehensible act…

          Uhhh… So assassinating his own brother, burning ‘heretics’ who fail to convert to Red Godism, executing prisoners of war – those are morally OK?

  21. Dork Angel says:

    The line continued with Robert Baratheon’s “sons” but they’re all dead now (as are his brothers and his daughter) so if we go back up the line, we get to his widow (Cersei). I doubt she was “voted in” and like most rulers just showed up with the most soldiers (and in her case an un-killable zombie bodyguard). Most of the other ruling classes were most likely at the trial and dead now. Common folk will have learned to just go with the flow…

  22. General Karthos says:

    Okay, I’ll bite. You’re watching it wrong.

    You came to this show and this review DETERMINED to hate the show. Give me ANY show on Earth, and I can write a fourteen part essay on why it’s a bad show, whether it’s been universally praised or universally panned. It’s an easy thing to do to go against the people who like a show, to tear it down, to point out its flaws and turn those into gaping wounds.

    I don’t know what the point of this whole series was. Was it to put your name on the map as a critic? Was it to fan flames of argument? Or were you just feeling cranky, and looking for something everyone else enjoys to hate on?

    If you don’t like the show, then don’t watch it. I mean, seriously…. Your negative reviews will encourage ten times more people to watch it and look for the bad than to not watch it because of your statement about the bad. So if your goal is to hurt the Game of Thrones series, this review does exactly the opposite. The only thing I can think is that you have a desire to put yourself on the map (of criticizing tv shows; apparently you’re good at ruining people’s fun regarding video games too. I haven’t checked it out, and I don’t intend to. At least Shamus is amusing when he ruins games for me. :p) by flying in the face of general opinion.

    There are problems with the show sure.

    But I intend to be watching it in one and a half hours, and enjoying the [censored] out of myself, because I choose to have fun watching TV, rather than to critique it. If that makes me stupid, or whatever, however you want to label me, then so be it. I assume you’ll be watching too, for more reasons to hate it, and I can only approve of something that improves the show’s rating. Since I assume you won’t be pirating it, since that would undermine the whole principal of your argument.

    If you’re getting something for free that you ought to be paying for, then you have no right to complain about the product. I’m paying for my GofT experience.

    Are you?

    • Shamus says:

      So you decided to defend the show by going after the critic. It’s like you’re trying to fill out the bingo card of reflexive fan defenses:

      * You’re biased against the show.

      Always a fan favorite, because the critic can’t disprove it. Of course, you can’t prove it either. So rather than going there, you could better spend your time focusing on what Bob might be getting wrong.

      * If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

      You can say this about literally anything, but it doesn’t invalidate the criticism. You’re basically saying you want the critic to stop expressing their opinion because it annoys you. Moreover, I could simply turn this around, “If you don’t like Bob’s reviews, don’t read them.” See? That doesn’t accomplish anything.

      * “The only thing I can think is that you have a desire to put yourself on the map”

      Bob has made it pretty clear that he’s motivated to do this because the show bugs him. (Much like my Mass Effect series.) Maybe his arguments aren’t persuading you, and MAYBE he was inattentive when watching the show, and MAYBE his expectations are unreasonable (I wouldn’t know, I have no experience with GoT) but simply accusing him of arguing in bad faith puts you into the realm of personal attacks and does nothing to defend the show. His points are either valid or they aren’t, and his motivations don’t change that either way.

      * “I choose to have fun watching TV, rather than to critique it.”

      That’s fine. But if you’re not interested in a critique, then why are you reading a critic???

      * “If you’re getting something for free that you ought to be paying for, then you have no right to complain about the product.”

      Anyone has the right to complain about anything. Bob’s series is clearly an outlet for people who aren’t happy with how the show is going. None are your arguments are going to convince those folks they’ve actually been enjoying the show this whole time.

      In short: Be cool. Enjoy the show. Don’t make it personal.

      • General Karthos says:

        You’re right. I shouldn’t make it personal. *Sigh* I just don’t enjoy the tone of his series the way I enjoy the tones of yours. I shouldn’t read it, given that, but I do because… I don’t know.

        That said, I think there is some legitimacy in the idea that if you’ve been pirating the show the whole time, you shouldn’t be complaining about it. (I don’t know that he has; maybe he has a subscription to HBO, or HBOGO or something. I have HBO, so I’m not really sure whether HBOGO can be purchased separately; I just know that I get it as part of my subscription.) I mean, when you’re paying for a product, and that product falls short of your expectations, then complain away.

        But if you’re pirating a show (or a game) and you don’t enjoy it, it’s like complaining that the candy you stole from the supermarket tastes bad. Okay, so it did taste bad, that’s true. But unlike the people who paid for it, all you got was a bad taste in your mouth. The people who paid for it got a bad taste in their mouth and they paid for it.

        Not that I can stop anyone from complaining (and I don’t think I can persuade anyone they’ve been enjoying it all along) but I have very little sympathy for pirates. Even when I was virtually (and in fact, literally for a time) penniless, I never stooped so low as to pirate.

        I think what we (the reviewer and myself) have here is two different benchmarks or reasons for enjoying or not enjoying a show. I’m looking to enjoy myself, and if I have to ignore some Fridge Logic, or a few problems in character reasoning, I’m willing to do that.

        I’ll give an example. In Star Trek: DS9, it has been discovered that there is a disease that one of the main characters has, and it’s been discovered that it was actually genetically engineered. It affects only that character’s species, and has no way of mutating to affect other species. But the assertion is made that if someone developed the disease, they must also have developed a cure. There is no logical reason to think this is the case, but it is treated as fact. Furthermore, the assumption is that if someone is sent to destroy a cure that supposedly—but does not really—exist (a ruse!) than said person must be able to recognize the cure, so he/she would know what the cure actually is.

        This is patently absurd, and the jumps of logic make little sense, but it makes for a decent sequence of episodes so I’m willing to overlook it.

        Of course, I am speaking as someone who has watched episodes of the show (Game of Thrones) once, or at most twice, and always within hours or days of release.

        Maybe when I go back to rewatch the whole thing in a couple of years, I’ll be able to watch it with the calm detachment and see what you’re seeing, or agree that it’s enough to ruin the series.

        For the time being, I agree with many of the reviewer’s assertions, but I disagree with the conclusion drawn from them. The show’s not perfect, certainly. It just doesn’t bother me as much.

        Hopefully that explained my position a bit better, and avoided getting personal about it.

        P.S: I prefer the books…. I’m just not sure we’re ever going to get another one.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I don’t know that he has; maybe he has a subscription to HBO, or HBOGO or something.

          So why do you assume that he is a pirate then?To strengthen your claim?

          But its irrelevant either way because:You arent paying for Bobs content.You are getting it for free,so you have no right to complain.See how stupid that claim is?

          As for your initial statement,if you went back and read what Bob wrote about the show,then youd know that he DID enjoy the first few seasons of the show.So not only did he NOT come predetermined to dislike it,he actively went from liking it into disliking it.Making your initial statement utterly wrong.

        • stratigo says:

          I agree with most of bob’s critiques and still highly enjoy the show (Stannis torching his daughter almost broke me admittedly.)

          It’s good fun TV.

          If Cersei wins in the end I’m leading a riot to DnB’s house though

        • ehlijen says:

          May I suggest dropping the piracy line of argument? Intended or not, those paragraphs read as a backhanded accusation that Bob is pirating, and either way, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the quality or validity of the review.

        • Mousazz says:

          I’ve actually read study summaries (although I’m too lazy to provide sources, so take it with a grain of salt; google it yourself if you want validation) that claim that, to avoid the feeling of buyer’s remorse, purchasers tend to delude themselves that the quality of the product they paid for is better than it actually is to justify their purchase. If that’s true, then Bob’s whole critique would actually be more valid (or at least less biased). It would also explain the general public’s reaction to the latest episodes, as noted by Bob in his “Am I Watching This Show Wrong?” segment – perhaps some viewers didn’t specifically pay for GoT with money, but they still invested time and emotions they don’t want to see squandered.

    • Syal says:

      I don’t know what the point of this whole series was.

      It’s Emperor’s New Clothes stuff, where you think everyone’s buying into an illusion. And it’s fine for the fans to say “we know he’s naked but he still looks good”. There’s room between speaking your mind and trying to change someone else’s. But if you think he’s got clothes you have to show us.

      On my end, I’ve read the books but never seen the show and have no desire to, and it’s nice to have a window into this aspect of pop culture, delivered in a relatably cynical nitpicky style. Especially now that the show’s past the books and we get to wonder whether a problem is an invention of the show writers or whether it’ll show up in WoW.

      I also like Atlus Shrugged. Let me tell you about enjoying flawed things. (Also, while aSoIaF is better written, I think it shares more themes with AS than people would like to admit.)

  23. Bunkerfox says:

    Bit late to the party but I want to say something that has bugged me about Cersei becoming Ruler. That is, how the hell did she became ruler?! She has NO claim to the throne. She, as far as I know, would not be next in line to in wear the crown as she has no Targayen blood (to the public knowledge. It’s hinted her and Jamie may be bastard children of the Mad King)

    And this might be an “But in the books argument” but it’s still important in the world of Westeros. The Iron Throne is an Agnatic Title. Only males can inherit it. And you can only choose heirs based on the male line. This is a MASSIVELY important part of the lore. Civil Wars which left thousands dead have been thought over this very idea. Then suddenly everyone goes “Well, this woman with no claim to the throne seems to have murdered everyone important. let’s make her Ruler and break with all our tradition just for the hell of it!”

    This isn’t even disregarding the source material, it feels like it is actively spitting on it

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