Game of Thrones Griping: Introduction

By Bob Case Posted Friday Jan 27, 2017

Filed under: Game of Thrones 239 comments

This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

Greetings, Twenty-Sidians!Twenty-Sidites? Twenty-Siderians? I’m Bob, also known as MrBtongue, and I’m the blog’s newest shiny object. You may know me from such Youtube smash hits as MrBtongue complains about the Mass Effect 3 ending, MrBtongue complains about EA, and MrBtongue complains about Bethesda.

Today I’m here to complain about Game of Thrones. I’ve complained about Game of Thrones beforeHere’s the video., but that was a broader criticism of the spirit of the show. In this series I’ll be getting into the nitty-gritty. In fact, the way I pitched this to Shamus was that I planned to do for Game of Thrones something like what he did for the Skyrim Thieves’ Guild questline.

It’s the sort of thing I hadn’t entirely realized there was an audience for â€" but if Shamus’ own reader polls are any indicationThis one indicates an encouraging appetite for “bloviating on a game for months.”, there is, and I now see an opportunity to pick every nit the show has to offer for a crowd that will cheer me on the whole way, or hopefully at least not throw virtual tomatoes at me.

Because I should make one thing clear from the outset: I come to bury Game of Thrones, not to praise it. In my opinion, the show – and in particular the show’s writing – is now bad. Not average, or mixed, or inconsistent, but just plain bad.

It's like the Olly of shows.
It's like the Olly of shows.

It wasn’t always bad. In fact, for the first three seasons I think the writing was good, if not quite great. It was a competent adaption of a very difficult-to-adapt series of novels. Since then it has been (in my opinion) on a steady downward slope into its current state, where virtually no individual thing that happens onscreen makes any damn sense to me anymore. Game of Thrones is quite popular, so I imagine many of you reading this right now might read the last few sentences as harsh to the point of being unreasonable. Well, part of why I’m writing this is that I’m worried you might be right.

When I said that Mass Effect 3’s ending was bad (see above), I’d like to think I was in good company. At the very least I was in numerous company. Lots of people shared that opinion â€" some of them made me look downright indulgent by comparison. By contrast, the online existence of the full-bore Game of Thrones hater is a lonely one. Sure, it has its hatedom, but said hatedom is squirreled away in relatively remote corners of the internet. The dominant consensus is that the show is good. Review aggregators are not always unblemished founts of truth, but both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic show positive reviews nearly across the board â€" and that’s not even taking into account that it’s gobbling up Emmy Awards like candy, including writing awards.

So when I look at the latest season and see nothing but a hot mess of contrivances, poor pacing, bizarre characterization, and general nonsense, I can’t help but doubt my own critical faculties. “Am I really this much of a drag?” I ask myself. “Why can’t I just enjoy the show, like everyone else?” Well, I have a hypothesis that explains why. That hypothesis takes some explaining, but it starts like this: people are not enjoying Game of Thrones as much as they think they are.

What I hope I'm not right now.
What I hope I'm not right now.

Let me explain: if you’re a regular at this blog, you may already be familiar with the term “story collapse.”If not, you could try reading this series of posts by Shamus. The short version is that “story collapse” occurs when narrative problems pile on top of each other to the point that the audience simply gives up, assumes that the authors plain don’t know what they’re doing, and loses interest in the proceedings. It’s not any one inconsistency or poor choice that does it; it’s an accumulation of them. I consider Game of Thrones in its current state to be an intriguing live test subject of a story whose collapse is imminent with many viewers. To make a concrete prediction: I believe that, between now and the end of the show (two more seasons, probably), story collapse will have come in force to Game of Thrones to the point where its reputation will be permanently damaged, even with those who currently enjoy it.

Of course, I could be wrong, and if so I’ll have to come up with some explanation for why you can’t say you told me so. But until then I want to give you a glimpse of what the future might look like.

The Canary in the Coal Mine: The Rape of Sansa Stark

Like I said above, Game of Thrones receives almost universally positive reviews from critics. It’s HBO’s current flagship program, which is the most prestigious rank a TV show can have. But there have been cracks in its reputation’s armor, and those cracks were most evident during season five â€" particularly the plotline that saw Sansa Stark brutally raped by her husband Ramsay.

Feminist-leaning critics objected to yet another example of sexual violence being used as a plot device. But even critics that you wouldn’t ordinarily put in the “feminist” column were put off by the hamfistedness on display. This came as a surprise to me, to be honest. I had already begun to dislike the show by this point, but I was surprised at how swiftly the backlash came, and the number of directions it came from. This type of content was hardly a new thing: the very first episode in the very first season had a rape scene, and it’s used female corpses as set decoration many times since. Why did this particular straw break the camel’s back? For those of you already bracing yourself for trouble, know that I don’t mean to either condemn or endorse the criticism here. But whatever else you may think of it, it got HBO’s attention.

For once the writers felt obliged to defend their work, and their defense went like this (paraphrased): “Sansa is now the wife of a violent sadist in a Medieval-European style setting where women had very little in the way of rights or recourse. This is exactly what you should expect to happen in such a situation. To depict such an act is not necessarily to endorse it, and can in fact be a way of condemning it. We could not pretend that this is not how events would have played out within the universe we’re depicting.”

Taken on its own, outside of any context, that might have been a good defense. But it landed with a thud among the suddenly unfriendly critics. What was the context that gave it the lie? What was the original sin, for lack of a better term, of season five’s Winterfell storyline?

It certainly wasn't an overabundance of vivid colors.
It certainly wasn't an overabundance of vivid colors.

To answer that question, it’s useful to compare it to the events in the books. At that point I should note that while I am a book snob (meaning I like the books much more than the show), I don’t think that any deviation from them is automatically bad. There have been some show-only scenes and character interpretations that I’ve very much enjoyed. However, in this particular case the comparison between the two is useful. So what happened in the books when Sansa went to Winterfell?

The answer is nothing. In the books, Sansa and Littlefinger both stayed in the Eyrie, and events in both the Vale and the North played out so differently that they only vaguely resemble their show counterparts. This difference between the original and the adaptation is not a problem in and of itself, but it does create problems. Whatever else you may think of the Song of Ice and Fire novels, I think anyone who’s read them would at least agree that they’re complex. They feature multiple interconnected plots and character motivations. In the midst of such complexity, you can’t expect to be able to just yank two major characters out of one storyline and drop them unceremoniously into another without creating a host of narrative problems. And when the show’s writers shuffle Sansa and Littlefinger from the Vale to the North, they… well, create a host of narrative problems.

We’ll examine those problems, and in doing so get to the good stuffThe nitpicking., next week.



[1] Twenty-Sidites? Twenty-Siderians?

[2] Here’s the video.

[3] This one indicates an encouraging appetite for “bloviating on a game for months.”

[4] If not, you could try reading this series of posts by Shamus.

[5] The nitpicking.

From The Archives:

239 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Griping: Introduction

  1. Matt Downie says:

    “So what happened in the books…?

    The answer is nothing.”

    This is the basic reason as to why I currently prefer the show to the books, even though the show is frequently frustrating.

    1. Grudgeal says:

      Do you mean because the show has faster pacing, or because of how they compress multiple storylines into fewer ones for ease of watching?

      Because I’d argue the Vale storyline in the books isn’t ‘nothing’ (and it looks to be getting a payoff in the next book), it’s just a very different type of story than what the show abandoned it for.

      1. Kylroy says:

        “….and it looks to be getting a payoff in the next book…”

        So, for the foreseeable future, the payoff is, in fact, nothing.

        1. BeardedDork says:

          To be fair so far in the books the payoff for Daenerys existing at all is nothing. She has encountered at all a grand total of two character’s who have anything to do with the events in Westeros.

          1. Torsten says:

            So the books and the series has that in common.

            1. The books collapsed in book 4 for me, so my interest in the show (I don’t watch TV in general ANYWAY) has always been nonexistent.

            2. General Karthos says:

              Except that in the books she was all geared up to invade, then decided to liberate Slaver’s Bay (first/instead), but spent all of book 5 (after not appearing in book 4) sitting in Mereen doing nothing except almost being assassinated a couple of times.

              If people thought the show was frustratingly slow, imagine waiting years for a fifth book and then having nothing happen over more than a thousand pages.

              1. Cubic says:

                Hollow laugh. The last good book, vol 3, was published in 1999.

            3. Daemian Lucifer says:

              At least in the show theres the payoff of seeing dragons burn people to death.And seeing Emilia Clarke walking naked out from a fire is a pretty cool image.Say what you will about books,but that face in front of a blazing inferno just cant be conveyed with words.

    2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Yeah, it feels like, after a while, the book is complex for the sake of complexity. Whereas the show has more “obvious” payoffs which I would call… you know… good payoffs. Like the difference in what Brienne ends up doing between the two works.

      1. BenD says:

        I don’t think the books would seem this way if the author occasionally wrote some, but with the series in limbo possibly forever, the lack of progression in the novels is a fair point.

      2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I lost patience with the books 2/3 of the way through Game of Thrones. Crippling complexity has been a problem with the series from the start, and appears to have gotten worse with protection from editors.

        At this point, I begin to suspect that Martin realizes he’s written himself into a corner, and is hoping to die before this realization becomes widespread, so that extracting the story from that corner can be someone else’s problem.

        The show-runners don’t have that luxury.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          I sincerely doubt he’s “hoping to die”, that’s a bit harsh. More likely, he’s WAY more concerned with maintaining a quality of life than finishing with the series. He’ll do the things he cares the most about, with the assurance that a lot of the pressure will go away when the TV show ends, as that will be catharsis for an audience much larger than the “readers only” group.

        2. BeardedDork says:

          I’ve met him and he does realize that he’s written some problematic stuff that takes the story in a direction he wishes it hadn’t gone. He sounds convincingly like he has plans to fix it, but HBO eats up most of his time.

        3. Cinebeast says:

          He just devoted himself to writing full-time — no cons, no conference with the showrunners, no public appearances. So, it might take a while, but at least he’s working hard.

      3. Geebs says:

        They’re not even complex, as such. More stuff happens than a casual reader can keep track of, but much of it could have been compressed into a couple of sentences of reported speech. The rest could have been made clear by introducing characters properly and providing some hook to give the reader a sporting chance of remembering who the hell they are when they re-appear two books later.

        1. Decus says:

          Yeah, his writing strategy doesn’t really fit with his release schedule at all. Even long running serial novels with regular releases will take a paragraph to recap stuff from a few releases ago, but when it’s multiple years between releases and you’re not doing that your readers are gonna have a bad time. I feel like even as an author you’re going to have a bad time if you aren’t writing those recaps out for yourself every now and again, at the very least mentally.

          1. Thomas says:

            Rereading the Harry Potter books I was surprised how much time JK Rowling would spend recapping the story and reintroducing characters in the beginning. And that’s a series that released really regularly, was mostly straightforward and who in the world would start with say, the 5th Harry Potter book.

            1. Joe says:

              Kids would. When I was a kid, I started with whichever book I could get my hands on. Many was the series I read either out of order, incomplete, or both. So while I read Harry Potter in order, I appreciate the idea of a recap for those who read the way I once did.

              1. Ivellius says:

                As a former kid myself, you’re a monster.

                1. djw says:

                  At the age of ten I read “The Two Towers” before I read “The Fellowship of the Ring” because nobody told me it was wrong.

                  1. Jarenth says:

                    I read Peter F. Hamilton’s entire Void Trilogy before I got into the Commonwealth Saga, even though the latter is a prequel to the former and the former references dozens of dozens of small details that you’re supposed to understand.

                    “Oh, because you were a kid, Jarenth?” No, I was like 25 at the time.

            2. Olivier Faure says:

              Then there were book series like the Animorphs, which I could read completely out of order, because the books are self-contained and each book has a recap of the previous ones.

        2. Cubic says:

          Book 5 could have been replaced by this:

          *** A few years later ***

  2. lllventuslll says:

    Hey MrBTongue, excited to see you on here writing for the site! As someone who has mildly enjoyed GoT but whose interested has inexplicably waned over the last couple of seasons I’m looking forward to hearing your investigation as to some of the pitfalls and mistakes the show makes. Good luck with the bloviating!

    (Also, about the story collapse, I think they might just get away without people really losing trust in the story if they end the show as soon as they say they are going to, so there’s the excuse you can use ;) )

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

      There’s also “Wait until it ends” syndrome among fans, where they defend a faltering story by insisting that the ending will make it all work. Then, when it doesn’t, they blame the ending.

      Mass Effect 3 obviously fits this pattern, but another series that got hit hard with it was Bleach.

      For those of you who don’t read Japanese comics for children, Bleach was a popular shonen manga series that drove itself right into the dumpster. Right up until the last few chapters (18ish page issues of the comic, for those who don’t know the lingo.) of a 686 chapter manga people were defending the final storyline with the insistence that the author had a plan for everything, and that it was all going to be awesome.

      Then it ended in as a completely incoherent mess. Loose threads were left everywhere, nothing was explained, and even with the end a couple of chapters away the author seemed to be wasting panel space on unnecessary bullshit. The ending had few defenders, even among the diehards.

      Instead, they insisted that Kubo (the author) had been rushed, that the series had been cancelled prematurely, and that he really had a bunch of epic plans that we’ll just never know about. There’s no evidence whatsoever for this- in fact, it’s almost certainly false, since some of the time-wasting decisions were made after the point where Kubo would have known that he was running out of chapters.

      But the reality is that it was obvious very early into the story arc that he had no idea where he was going. By the time the ending was announced it was already far too late in the storyline for the main villain to have not been given a basic motivation yet, and the number of Chekhov’s guns that still needed to be fired greatly outnumbers the targets to fire them at. Fans still insisted that Kubo would make it all work, right up until we found out that there were only a few chapters left.

      My point is that it may only be in retrospect that people admit that the show fell apart a long time before ending. Some people, once emotionally attached, take a *lot* to unattach, and so will keep watching until the series ends and the attachment can fade, letting them look back and admit that the last few seasons weren’t very good.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        Bleach had been a complete and total loss for like 3 arcs before the ending. And that’s why I’m still enjoying it (still reading the unfinished English version here). It to me is like a version of One Punch Man that is an unintentional satire of all the dumb as dirt shonen tropes. EVERY SINGLE FIGHT is some variant of:

        “I refuse to use my FULL powers because you’re an ant compared to me, check out my amazing NORMAL powers.”
        “Those are amazing and I’m going to lose… PSYCHE, my powers are impossibly great. You’ll lose in five seconds now!”
        “Oh dang, I’m shocked…. by how much BETTER my REAL TRUE powers are.”
        “Agh, I’m legitimately going to lose now… except for my TRUMP CARD, nice try CHUMP!”
        etc et all.

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          It’s been observed that Kubo seemed to forget how to write a battle where one side isn’t curb-stomping the other. Each power release might switch which side is being curb-stomped, but battles almost never feel like they’re actually close contests. It’s always whose trump card trumps the other guy’s trump card.

          And then there’s Yhwach, a villain who has the writer so firmly in his pocket that it completely breaks all credibility that he’ll ever be defeated without plot bullshit.

          God, Bleach makes me want to write a Shamus-long rant about the Thousand Year Blood Arc and how immensely broken it was.

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            I just got to the section where a teammate betrayed them. (Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!) It would actually be much more surprising if he had NOT done so. I can’t wait for the drawn out explanation of how exactly it was 100% necessary to betray them, no matter what and then the emotional fight that follows that up.

            I’m being semi-serious about looking forward to it, because I really do think it’s accidentally successful satire. If I took this series seriously, they would have killed it stone dead for me a long while back. As you say, the fighting is terribly, terribly written, playing more like a Yugi Oh Card game than a martial arts duel.

            1. Bloodsquirrel says:

              If you’re talking about who I think you’re talking about, then you’re already giving the story too much credit.

              Spoilers for anybody who’s curious:
              Nobody believes that Ishida is actually loyal to Yhwach, at any point, ever. His friends don’t buy it, Yhwach doesn’t buy it, and the rest of the Sternritter don’t buy it. Haschwalt, who can actually see the future, straight-up tells him that he knows that he’s going to betray Yhwach. Then, thirty seconds later, Ishida tells his friends that he’s planning to betray Yhwach, after barely having bothered to move out of earshot of Haschwalt, and is *shocked* when Haschwalt has taken the two steps necessary in order to get back into earshot and now knows about his clever plan! The whole thing is utterly pointless.

        2. Ingo says:

          General anime rule of thumb:

          Whoever transforms last wins.

      2. Henson says:

        I see a similar phenomenon to the “wait until it ends” attitude, but it has less to do with unjustly defending than with the structure of a certain kind of story. It’s similar to the issue of Story Collapse, taken from a different angle.

        There are two main ways to create a series: (a) have a plan from the start and stick with it (b) let the story develop based on how things play out from event to event. Both of these approaches have strengths and weaknesses. Approach (a) results in greater narrative focus, but can feel forced and unnatural if events don’t work the way they did in the author’s head. Approach (b), on the flip side, makes events feel like a natural consequence of what came before, but as a story progresses, it becomes more difficult to give it the focus a formal story needs: events have spiraled out in a million different directions, as natural events tend to do.

        So you can have a series like Lost with approach (b), continually going from event to event in a way that captures the audiences attention, only to completely collapse at the end because all the elements don’t make a coherent picture. There are plenty of series you could name that have the same problem. And this is exactly the same risk that Game of Thrones, both TV and novel, carries with it. The question becomes: Is this all heading somewhere? The audience can’t know unless they “wait until it ends.”

        1. Thomas says:

          And external factors would definitely prop up a potential story collapse until right until the end.

          If you’re uncertain if a part of Game of Thrones is good, or even leading anywhere, you just think “this is a super critically acclaimed franchise and all my friends love it – so the writers probably know what they’re doing and I should keep faith”

          I mean it makes sense, sometimes I’m half way through a Phillip K Dick book and part of me is saying I’m currently reading a rambling bit of nonsense, but the other part of me says that he’s a renowned author whose hugely influence and has written some books that I love, so if I stick with it and search for some meaning, I’ll probably find it.

          1. Commento says:

            That is the same experience I had with Kurt Vonnegut, only my doubts began right at the start rather than half way through since his books literally begin with his drawings of assholes…

        2. Elemental Alchemist says:

          There are plenty of series you could name that have the same problem.

          Like Mass Effect, for instance. It’s pretty clear the only plot thread they had going into a planned trilogy of games was “suddenly, Reapers”. It’s unsurprising it became an absolute mess, even without the restructuring of the narrative team behind the scenes.

        3. Peter H Coffin says:

          And the challenge/problem with Type a stories is that they’re basically impossible to get on television unless you’ve got *incredibly* deep pockets or are absolutely willing to commit to getting EVERYTHING done in 12 or 13 episodes, and even then it’s a really tough sell. It all comes down to that 12-13 episodes are filler for shows that used to be successful but fail hard enough to get cancelled mid-season. Nobody expects them to do well, and renewal is an uphill fight. They’re supposed to be as cheap a way to fill the timeslot as possible.

          Everything longer than that is a gamble. If you get a whole season (22-26 episodes), then you’re betting on being successful enough to last about five years, because that’ll put about 100 episodes in place and that’s enough for stripped syndication (where it can run five days a week for half a year before repeating). If you make it that far, the show isn’t going to lose money and every episode beyond is a solid investment instead of a shaky bet. So it’s really hard to plan for long shows because you don’t WANT a defined end point anymore. The more show you have, the more money you make. And you critically can’t quit after 22 or 44 episodes because that’s not really enough to get the syndication, which brings nearly as much revenue as the show running new did.

          Edit: forgot the deep pockets part. If you’ve got a patron organization that CAN fund your entire series, for however many episodes that is, then all bets are off. You can run it exactly as long as it takes to tell your story and then be done. (This is how many BBC produced shows run. They’ll have some number of episodes, with a solid arc of story, then end. They might start up another run if they do well enough, but the arcs are always short enough that if that doesn’t happen, there’s not too much left unresolved. Web producers like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc are adopting this model as well, because they too have comparatively lots of money to spend, since they’re not having to fill 20-25 hours a week of programming, which might mean funding 30 shows at once.)

      3. MadTinkerer says:

        Kubo wasn’t rushed: he was burned out. He was burned out long before the series ended, and couldn’t hold everything together because humans can’t do that. Bleach fans who loved the Soul Society arc so much it blinded them to the problems the rest of the series had, wanted to believe that Kubo was as superhuman as his characters.

        He tried so hard, but his mistake was trying to produce a product with too much good quality on an unrelenting schedule that normally forces people to produce mediocrity. (If you don’t think typical Manga is mediocre, and good Manga is the exception, you haven’t consumed as much Manga and Western comics as me. Western comics can seem even more mediocre at times, but my theory is that’s mainly because I can’t read Japanese and the worst of the worst never gets translated, thus raising the mean quality of translated Japanese comics. I should stop before this parenthesis turns into an article.)

        As for me, it was clear that he was stalling even during the Soul Society arc. It started strong and finished strong, but when the first major storyline of your manga resembles the Frieza saga in the beginning and resembles the Spiderman Clone Saga by the end, that’s a sign that the series is doomed. (I’m not saying Soul Society is as bad as Clone Saga: I’m just saying they had identical structural issues caused by identical creative problems.) The Soul Society arc is when he first ran into trouble, but was able to save it the first time because he wasn’t too burned out at that point.

        As for the rest of Bleach, I have a protip for new readers: stop at the end of the Soul Society arc. I know it looks like it ends on a cliffhanger, but everything really important is resolved and that cliffhanger doesn’t lead to anything good. The series does not get better from there, and it really is more satisfying to just pretend that it’s the end of the whole thing. Think of it like the end of Mass Effect 1: the only Mass Effect game ever produced.

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          I think the SS arc had the advantage of giving Kubo an open field to play in, whereas later in the story things had calcified too much and Kubo got too complacent in retreading his old ground and overusing certain characters. The seat-of-your-pants writing style just works better before you get hemmed in by your own continuity. Kubo is also good at giving a good, initially strong impression, but elaborating and bringing depth to things isn’t in his wheelhouse.

          Burnout definitely set in- you can see it in how the art goes downhill- but I saw one video that made a good point that it was being stuck telling a long, continuity-heavy series that went against Kubo’s nature as a fast-and-loose storyteller that helped create that burnout.

        2. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          I’m with you all the way up to the Mass Effect jab. Yes, stop at the horribly outdated game with none of the characterization, that’s the ticket.

          1. tmtvl says:

            Stop at the only game that won’t make you smack your head constantly at how ineptly it’s written.

            *I’m not with Cerberus*

            “I’m only working for Cerberus until we can stop the Reapers.”

        3. Sannom says:

          It probably doesn’t help that although Kubo’s background are inexistent, he’s one hell of a character designer (and a fashion enthusiast, if the colored spread pages are any indication) who designs a lot of them. That much effort put into the art probably didn’t help to make the writing good.

      4. LCF says:

        My use of “Wait until it ends” is more along the lines of “I’ll wait until the last book/episode/etc is out, I’ll see if people still like it, and then I’ll start reading/watching/playing or not”.
        For instance, and for obvious reasons, Mass Effect is right and proper out.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          For instance, and for obvious reasons, Mass Effect is right and proper out.

          Why?The original is still a good game on its own and can be played as a self contained one with no problems.Its rather enjoyable.

          And,if you dont really care for story,then 2 and 3 arent that bad either.

          1. LCF says:

            On one hand, I like finished stories, and may not like the unfinished vibe of ME1 alone (“We’ve just uncovered a terrible menace for the whole galaxy, what are we to do, yadda, yadda…”). Also, there are so many things to read, play, watch… I do not lack for pass-times.
            On the other hand, I might give ME1 a go if it really is self-contained. Some days. I don’t know.

            Now, I’ve read Shamus on the whole Mass Effect effect, I do not need to pay for ME2 nor 3.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Without the events in me2(specifically the arrival dlc),the reaper threat uncovered in me1 is a long time away.Centuries probably,maybe even millennia.So yeah,its mostly self contained.

      5. Alex says:

        Oh god, the “wait till it ends” phenomenon. To me, the new Battlestar Galatica ended up turning to such crud near the end, with piles of uncashed plot coupons, bizarre character motivations, and an infuriating “a wizard did it” finale, which, despite being a two-parter wasted sooo much time on stupid bullshit. GAH!

        And you could see it coming too, as early as Season 3. It all started out so good though…

    2. Nimas says:

      I too add my greetings Sir BTongue, Knight Errant of Errant Littera.

      As someone who doesn’t read the books OR watch the TV series (decided early that it wasn’t for me) I really enjoyed your previous video on GoT. I’m an quite looking forward to this series for two reasons:

      1. I enjoy discussions of why stories do and do not work.

      2. I will be able to snobbishly argue that the book series is far superior to the TV show when my friends bring it up in conversation, without having to have done the hard work of consuming either!

      Onwards and Godspeed

  3. Baron Tanks says:

    Oh boy, as soon as I read the first two paragraphs I knew I was in for a treat. This is the joyous occassion of ‘person on the internet elaborates with many arguments an opinion I happen to share’. Mainly that the show went off the rails in season 4 and never really recovered (although the most recent season at least had better pacing, in my opinion).

    I’m along for the ride!

  4. The Rocketeer says:

    Greetings, Twenty-Sidians! (Twenty-Sidites? Twenty-Siderians?)

    The word you’re looking for is “dorks.”

    …[T]he way I pitched this to Shamus was that I planned to do for Game of Thrones something like what he did for the Skyrim Thieves' Guild questline.

    Gosh, I bet he came.

    I’m really, really looking forward to this. I don’t know the first thing about the show, nor the books. But a praise I think few could gainsay is that you can take pretty much any subject matter and find the interesting discussion waiting to be had in it.

    Throwing down the gauntlet and promising to give your peculiar handling to a subject much-beloved of nerds augurs a lot of popcorn being popped, but if anyone asks, I’m in it for the discussion of the art and theory of storytelling and how it informs character and theme”” which practiced observers of, uh, me, know is pretty dear to my heart, and, if your great video on the subject is any indication, is pretty nearby your gripes with the show.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I don't know the first thing about the show, nor the books.

      Heres a quick spoiler free summary:

      Take the gory treacherous history of medeival europe(england mostly),transport it into a world where occasionally there are some undead and some dragons,and BOOM,you have the hit that swept the world.

      1. Syal says:

        The books also have enormous amounts of metaphor and foreshadowing; I’d say it lives up to the ‘Song’ the title promises.

        (Book: “His teeth shown white like gravestones”
        “Reader: Well he’s gonna die!”)

        1. DerJüngerLudendorff says:

          “Reader: Well he's gonna die!”

          I thought the fanbase just assumes any character is certain to die untill proven otherwise?

          1. Syal says:

            That line’s less than a tenth of the way into the first book, so I didn’t know what to expect from the other characters yet. Once you know the themes, you can look back and go, “oh, thirty teeth means thirty graves!”

        2. Peter H Coffin says:

          And salacious levels of nudity doesn’t seem to dampen the popularity. People like looking at boobs. Who’d have thought?

      2. Erik says:

        the gory treacherous history of medieval Europe(England mostly)

        Not just “England mostly” – GRRM has explicitly cited the English War of the Roses (the Plantagenet civil war in the mid-late 1400s) as the underlying basis and inspiration for the series. My personal belief is that he started going wrong as he started leaving that source material behind and tried to follow his characters to a different ending.

        If you don’t know about the War of the Roses, I recommend at least reading the linked Wikipedia article, and at best tracking down Thomas Costain’s history of the Plantagenets, the last volume of which covers the War of the Roses. It was one of those messy historical times where many of the details are not plausible enough to be fiction. :)

        1. Merlin says:

          There was also a movie about it with Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito.

          1. Henson says:


      3. Joe Informatico says:

        I read Lauro Martines’ Furies, a social history of war in the Late Middle Ages, and now Game of Thrones feels like the Disney World version of the real thing.

    2. LCF says:

      What you have to say is interesting and worthwhile, but throwing down an anchor tag like that with no actual link behind is just cruel.
      I spent two whole seconds trying to right-click it and open it in a new tab. Do you know how it hurts when you finally understand that no matter how much you hover over it, the cursor stubbornely remains a text-selection cursor, and not a hand cursor?
      You are an evil, evil person. Atone for your wrongdoings.

      Apart from this, I too am eager to read some tasteful, understated nerd rage. I much rather read text than watch videos, for I appreciate listening to some jaunty tunes all the while (now playing: Finntroll – Unter Tva Runor).

  5. Fylix says:

    Oh boy! Can’t wait for more

  6. Blake says:

    Welcome MrBTongue, I look forward to seeing how you make me hate something I love.

    GoT hasn’t hit story collapse for me yet, I felt the last couple of seasons were dragging some things out, but the plot hasn’t stopped working.
    But maybe you can successfully ruin it for me!

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Greetings, Twenty-Sidians! (Twenty-Sidites? Twenty-Siderians?)

    The word youre looking for is icosahedra.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      *Psst*… Dodec- is for twelve; a dodecahedron is a d12. A d20 is an icosahedron.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        Not if you use base 18.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I have no idea what you are talking about.

    2. Benjamin Hilton says:

      I always thought of us as Twenty Sidiots.

  8. Nick says:

    I’ve enjoyed GoT and probably will up to the end, but I have a track record of watching any series I get into until the end, no matter how bad it gets (hello, Heroes).

    Still I’m interested in where these posts go, and I didn’t like the Sansa rape storyline that much – so far, I’m on board :)

  9. Grudgeal says:

    Didn’t GoT already get into trouble with the season 4 Jamie/Cersei scene in the Sept of Baelor? (context: The show turned a consensual — if really messed up for other reasons — sex scene in the books into something that looked like a rape scene). I seem to recall it was A Thing people got annoyed over (I was already fairly annoyed by the show at that point, so it was just another drop in the bucket to me). Maybe that blew over faster than I remember.

    Anyway, looking forward to this.

  10. Bruno M. Torres says:

    Oh, yes, this will be awesome!

  11. Chris says:

    I am reading this in your voice.

    1. Me too!
      I don’t seem to do this with most authors here, though. Maybe because I’m much more familiar with your videos right now.

      1. Thomas says:

        He’s using the same unusual style in his writing as he does in his videos, which helps a lot.

        When Rutskarn does the Diecast he doesn’t speak in the same way he writes, it’s a podcast not a video essay.

    2. lloolaid says:

      (I’m also inserting imaginary title cards as I read this.)

  12. JDMM says:

    I also find myself in an odd situation of my viewing of the Game of Thrones series in that while I can easily find reviewers who dislike it they assume it was bad from the books/from season one or are book purists who get mad over changes regardless of how well they might work medium to medium.
    Race for the Iron Throne seems the closest one who can critique the show without writing it off or simply ignoring the nature of changes between text and film
    For myself the series was near perfect in season one however from then on the series encountered pacing problems season to season before sometime around season five they began to abandon internal narrative logic leading up to the horrible North plotline of season six where an unstable psychotic does better than his evenhanded father in handling an army

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    people are not enjoying Game of Thrones as much as they think they are

    As Ive pointed out in the announcement for this,many of us fans of the show dont enjoy it primarily (or at all) because of the story,but because of the acting(and cinematography and music).I mean take a look at this scene:

    People dont love scenes like that because of WHAT is being said,but rather HOW its being said.Later seasons are just as full of such scenes as the earlier ones.The purple wedding,the court scene,the viper vs mountain,brian vs the hound,tyrion vs tywin,ramsay vs his dogs,the prison(s) talk(s),shame,hold d door,etc.

    1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Right – I stopped caring about the plot maybe 3 episodes into season 2. I’d been rather blase about the plot ever since Ned Stark didn’t immediately leave Kings Landing after Robert’s death. I get the show on DVD and generally fastforward large amounts of the show (the parts of Season 1 I cared about summed to about 4 hours) on rewatch.

      I’m here to watch Charles Dance, Peter Dinklage, Conleth Hill, Aiden Gillen, and Diana Rigg make mincemeat of whoever has the misfortune to be sharing a scene with them.

    2. Steve C says:

      Those sorts of scenes are having more and more difficulty carrying the show. They are becoming farther and fewer between. For example, the last season’s battles at Winterfell in particular were awful. How they were shot, the action presented, none of worked for me. They even managed to make Winterfell look like a sad little fort. Nothing like season 1 Winterfell.

      That’s happening all the time in the show now. I believe it has a lot to do with the TV show no longer trying to live up to the books. Books can go to any location, and do anything while there. The writer of a TV show has to factor in all the real world sausage-making aspects of the show. The writer of a novel has no such constraints.

      Game of Thrones is now being written by the machinery of Hollywood.

    3. Matt K says:

      On a related note, I stopped caring about the show as a whole when they got rid of Charles Dance. It took me a while to realize I’d checked out but the problem with the show (and I assume the books, although I’ve never read them or ever will) is once they killed off most of the interesting characters (and made the rest boring), there’s little to enjoy in each episode. The only reason I continue to watch is my wife is still somewhat interested in where this is going (and thankfully, the end of the recent season seems to hint at some fun interactions for the coming season).

      1. Joshua says:

        Well, Tywin dies near the end of the third book, and the fourth and fifth books are generally regarded as a step down in quality for a couple of reasons. Mostly, it’s because there’s a lot of writing but only a little bit of resolution, mostly just people moving from here to there, and because some of the general character conflicts are gone.

  14. Darren says:

    Interesting. My opinion is that the show has gotten better than the books by jettisoning some of the needless complexity and getting to the damn point. I’m not clear when it happened exactly, but sometime around book four the many disparate, unconnected stories stopped being enjoyable worldbuilding to luxuriate in and started to feel like needless padding. They weren’t necessarily bad, but it forced me to confront the fact that a realistically complex narrative may very well be at odds with the focus I desire from a fictional work.

    I’d also like to point out that the show seems to agree with me and is rushing to dispense with many of the plot points that Martin established in the later books. Where you think that the show’s reputation is about to collapse, I think that the show’s reputation will soon exceed the books’ simply because they are consciously streamlining a lot of material that is dragging down the novels’ narrative.

    1. Joshua says:

      Books 4 & 5 should have stayed as one book, and he should have left out the POV from the less popular characters, this latter issue being the big problem with Book 4. It’s like he was determined to expand the mythology at the expense of keeping the narrative cohesive.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        What I heard was that he originally planned a timeskip, but that he found that he was having to put too many flashbacks in, and so decided to just move directly forward, thus resulting in a lot of awkward stuff that might have just been “well this happened over a couple of years” in his original plan.

        Tyrion’s stuff in particular gets really tiresome. He’s not really doing anything of note, the story is just trying to figure out how to get him to Meereen, and all the while we have to listen to him whine and wonder about where whores go.

        By the end of the last book stuff looks like it’s poised to actually get moving again, but his failure to get on the ball with Winds of Winter is making me start to think that his editor just needs to step in and tell him to start trimming.

        1. Joshua says:

          I can see that. I know that I, along with probably quite a lot of fans, was eager to return to Tyrion’s POV, and it seems like it was mostly just a conga line of humiliation and moving him around the board as opposed to actually accomplishing anything of note.

    2. newplan says:

      The show is a senseless disaster. The book is padded nonsense where the author has clearly lost the plot.

      An example of the total nonsense from the most recent season of the television show:

      Sansa and Jon are going from northern lord to northern lord trying to get support for Jon’s claim on Winterfell. Jon was recently known to all of them as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. No one asks him – “hey, aren’t you deserting the Night’s Watch?”. The series started with Ned Stark beheading a Night’s Watch deserter – something every northern lord would do (if not necessarily by his own hand). Meanwhile Sansa is corresponding via raven with Littlefinger and trying to get his support – this is never said specifically but she’s shown writing stuff then Littlefinger shows up later to save the day. Sansa never mentions this to Jon before the battle because she doesn’t know where Littlefinger is. Sure. Wait, what? How was she sending him letters? Did she tell the raven “go find Littlefinger” and the raven did it?

      Littlefinger shows up at the battle and takes everyone by surprise. So Ramsey didn’t have any scouts? Earlier in the show Robb sure had a bunch of trouble crossing the Twins and had to promise to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters to secure passage. This season there was a siege and a battle at the Twins but Littlefinger bypassed them? How? Sure would have been hand for Robb to know that trick.

      Maybe these look like nitpicking but these were actually major plot points earlier in the show!

      1. Bubble181 says:

        As for the Twins, take a look at a map of Westeros. While i haven’t seen the season in question yet, I assume Littlefinger is coming from the Eyrie. From there to the North, you need to pass the Neck, but not the Twins. Robb was heading south to the Riverlands, and didn’t have the time to make the weeks-long detour, or use a ford because of heavy Fall rains. It’s possible the rivers have since returned to their normal levels. I’d say “plausible”.

        As for surprise and scouts: it’s been used before in this series and in many others. Scouting around is pretty much always as good as plot dictates – consider Robb surprising Jaimee, for example, or Gandalf appearing from the East. Not exactly great storytelling, but sort-of accepted trope.

        As for Jon not being beheaded by the first Lord he meets….Well, yeah. Again, haven’t seen the season yet, but if they don’t make a big deal about his death being called out far and wide to everyone, even a “I died by got better!” defense is going to be pretty weak. If his death is known, though, the whole point of the vow was, of course, “until death” – if he’d been married he would be single again too, presumably. So, I can see where they’re coming from, but, assuming no clear pointers to his death and return being well-known, yes, big problem there.

        1. guy says:

          The Neck is all confusing swamplands that are nearly impassible for an army. Getting one through might be possible, but only with full cooperation from the Crannogmen, which admittedly is fairly plausible given their close association with the Starks.

          1. Bubble181 says:

            Right, the Neck. The Twins are further down. Admittedly, certainly in the TV show, they’re portrayed as more or less next-door to one another.

      2. Joshua says:

        “The show is a senseless disaster. The book is padded nonsense where the author has clearly lost the plot.”

        There are reasons why many fans grow concerned about GRRM’s health and age, as there are a lot of parallels between his series and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. Not talking about actual plot points, adult content, realism, amount of magic, etc., but both are Epic Fantasy stories that discuss a growing threat of darkness while the various forces that could stop it are too busy engaging in their own petty feuds to prepare.

        Both also have significant issues where the author reached a narrative high point where it was time to stop expanding on the mythology and start reeling the plot in towards a conclusion, but in both cases elected to keep adding major POV characters and plot threads that brought diminishing returns as far as audience enjoyment. The books then grew ever longer and their release dates were spaced further and further apart. Robert Jordan died at 58 years old and had to have a different author complete his series, and GRRM is now ten years older than that.

        At least there’s supposed to be only one book after Winds of Winter. Here’s hoping he doesn’t try to change that again. George, just finish telling the story you started telling! If there are additional things you think of about the different cultures and histories, get back to them as expanded writings AFTER the main plot is done.

        1. Mistwraithe says:

          It’s OK. I have faith that Brandon Sanderson could finish Song of Ice and Fire satisfactorily…

      3. Harper says:

        I agree with all you’ve said except that the books are padded nonsense, the books don’t fall into these messes of logic nearly as often, they’re much more intricate and there is clearly an ending planned out.
        A big part of the fanbase has the plot mapped out, and they haven’t been wrong yet. And the Winds of Winter chapters released so far have the plot moving pretty quick

    3. Cubic says:

      Martin’s original proposal was a trilogy by the way. It makes sense, civil war, zombies, dragons, done.

  15. Starker says:

    The gratuitous badassery stuff the show does may be over the line, but I don’t think the LotR movies did all that much better, to be honest. Sure, they followed the basic plotline, but there was also plenty of gratuitous and ridiculous stuff like the wizard fight, for example.

    1. Phill says:

      Gaaaah! There is no mind bleach.

      While i did enjoy the LotR movies, almost every change they made from the books was remarkable for how dumb it was. Then the Hobbit did the same, but even more so. Toast films were at their best when they stayed closest to the books.

      1. Leonardo Herrera says:

        Don’t even mention The Hobbit. Poor book.

        1. Starker says:

          Poor Radagast!

      2. Groboclown says:

        Aw. I thought that The Hobbit was a great film that captured the spirit of the book quite well. True, it did trim out some story, but for me, the spirit remained intact.

        Even the main song, “The Greatest Adventure”, is endearing in its own way.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:


          Ahh,that hobbit.Heh.

        2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          The one true prequel.

        3. Elemental Alchemist says:

          Even the main song, “The Greatest Adventure”, is endearing in its own way.

          A great adventure is waiting for you ahead.
          Hurry onward Lemmiwinks, for you will soon be dead.
          The journey before you may be long and filled with woe,
          But you must escape the gay man’s ass, or your tale can’t be told.
          Lemmiwinks, Lemmiwinks, Lemmiwinks, Lemmiwinks,
          Lemmiwinks, Lemmiwinks, Lemmiwinks, Lemmiwinks.

  16. Bloodsquirrel says:

    My opinion on the primary difference between the shocking things that happen in the books and the shocking things that happen in the show:

    The books have the theme of “actions have consequences”. What makes the violence in the book shocking is that it defies narrative convention. It should be very predictable- these are the kinds of things that happen to good people in violent conflicts. But we’re used to stories cheating on behalf of the main characters to stop it from happening, at least unless it’s dramatically appropriate. The books just let it happen. Sansa does some very foolish things in the books because she has a very fairybook mentality. It results in her father being killed, her being held hostage, and eventually winding up in the hands of Littlefinger.

    But then she starts to grow. We see in the books that she begins to harden and become more savvy. The events of the book were shocking, but they weren’t gratuitous. The defied narrative convention, but they didn’t defy narrative purpose.

    The show seems to have taken the wrong message, and puts in shocking things for the sake of being shocking. The Red Wedding was shocking, but it happened because it was the natural result of a series of actions taken by certain characters. The show mere saw that something shocking happened, and saw that it generated buzz and a major emotional reaction from people, so they went out in search of other shocking things that they could make happen without the understanding of the groundwork that made the Red Wedding what it was.

    As for why the creator’s defense falls flat: It’s kind of like defending a scene where a baby burns to death. Yes, you can say “Well that’s what would happen if you put a baby in a fire”, but you’re the one who put the baby in the fire. Sansa’s rape can’t be defended merely because it’s realistic when you contrived to create the situation in which it would be realistic in the first place. The creators fail to give a reason why it advances the narrative goals of the show, and thus fail to justify its existence.

    1. Phill says:

      Not much to add to that, but yes. That all rings very true to me.

    2. Darren says:

      Remember, in the books it’s Sansa’s friend–whose name I can’t recall, because she’s very unimportant beyond giving Theon a reason to stop being Reek–who is married off to Ramsay while being presented as Sansa. For the most part, the show is just replacing a Sansa imposter with the real Sansa; the brutality occurs in both stories. The Vale storyline has possibly been radically changed; we don’t know how different things are with Sansa removed from the equation because Martin has lagged so far behind the show.

      But, given that Martin has given the showrunners a rough outline of where the story ends, the change is likely a lot less important than it would seem.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        It’s like the Red Wedding. In the show, Robb’s wife also dies there with him. It’s very sad. In the book, she lives and there’s a whole thing about “maybe the kid will be something” but eventually that just goes nowhere because George RR had no problem with the show doing what it did. All these narrative culdesacs in the book are just being trimmed off because they end up going NOWHERE.

        1. Darren says:

          Yeah, the Red Wedding is a perfect example. Rob’s wife dies there in the show, she is forced to have an abortion and is rendered irrelevant in the books. I’m not saying the show handles it perfectly, but many changes are the narrative equivalent of scraping barnacles off a hull.

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            That’s not “scraping the barnacles”, that’s removing part of what makes the books nuanced. In the books, the Westerlings weren’t really allies of Robb until he married Jeyne. Killing her unnecessarily would only make it harder to get the Westerlings to bow afterward. How Jamie handles her also shows how he’s developing into a wiser, better man.

            I can understand that some nuance needs to be cut in order to fit the show on TV, but the books aren’t flawed for not just killing her off as soon as she was no longer important. What the books do with her is part of the overall goal of showing a complex, far-reaching political landscape, something that is inherently at odds with wrapping up everything as quickly and as neatly as possible.

      2. Vermander says:

        I think he gave them a rough outline that shows what happens to the various characters and how the various storyline ultimately end, but ultimately the showrunners seem to care more about the major events than the context in which they happen. I am fairly certain Shireen will be sacrificed, Ramsay Bolton will be killed, Kings Landing will burn, etc. but all of these things are probably going to happen under radically different circumstances, often with different characters involved.

      3. Wraith says:

        The problem isn’t that they condensed the plotlines. If you think that’s what book-readers are complaining about in this instance then you’re missing the point. The problem is that Sansa’s very clear character development is put completely on hold or regressed in favor of a combination of plot convenience and shocking the audience.

        Throughout season 4, Sansa is starting to learn under Littlefinger’s wing – to lie and manipulate for personal political gain. She even has one of the most blatant examples of the Significant Wardrobe Shift I’ve ever seen in that season’s finale (and her wardrobe/hairstyle shifts are one of her series-long indications of character development). But in season 5, she is shoved back into the role of helpless, blubbering victim at the mercy of yet another psychopath (who is particularly pampered by the show’s writers compared to his book counterpart) and does precisely nothing but suffer throughout that entire season.

        This is a sharp contrast to the books. A running theme with all of the Stark children throughout the series is their ability to retain their Stark identities. A key element of the drama regarding these character is that by book 5 each are being pushed to the limit to retain that identity. Arya is being trained to be an identity-less assassin by a death cult (yet her tragedy is that she can’t become “no one” because she literally has a piece of herself back in Westeros in the form of Nymeria). Bran is forced to trek beyond the Wall with his companions to become the new “Three-Eyed Crow” under Bloodraven. Even Rickon goes through this, becoming more and more feral over time as he is abandoned by parental figures.

        With Sansa, she is forced to adopt the identity of Littlefinger’s “bastard daughter” (an element the show does away with entirely) and suppress her own identity “for her safety” (and definitely not to fulfill Littlefinger’s creepy fantasies). But a running theme for her throughout the books is that she plays the role and wears the mask but stays a Stark deep inside. So while she learns in the Vale to manipulate others and by extension seize her own destiny it’s heavily foreshadowed that she will ultimately betray and outmaneuver Littlefinger.

        All this is lost in the show. She gets used like a pawn. She gets raped. She loses all agency. And personally, I view her virginity as a key part of her character in the books, and her giving it away will likely symbolize her transition into adulthood, into player, and into being the master of her own fate – I speculate that she’ll give it to someone of her own choosing rather than having it taken by force or given away by some puppet-master. If GRRM wanted to shock his readers in the same way D&D do on a regular basis, he would’ve made his subtext overt by having Littlefinger rape Sansa physically rather than mentally.

        That’s the difference between book and show, and it’s likely that MrBTongue will touch on this major rift when he addresses this particular moment.

        1. Gethsemani says:

          This is spot on. Not only is there a marked difference from the books (where Sansa’s development under Littlefinger is also a lot slower), which matter comparatively little since the show and books have diverged a lot in the last few seasons, but the show couldn’t even keep track on what it set Sansa up for in its previous season.

          The season prior was all about Sansa maturing, becoming more jaded and learning to be pro-active instead of reactive. It even ended with a clear indication that she was no longer a helpless child. Come the fifth season and all that is thrown away so the series can shock us some more. I understand writing out Jeyne Poole (who was a minor character in book 1), but her part in the Bolton storyline was also to show how deceptive and conniving the Bolton’s are. Instead of finding a real Stark, they were content with taking anyone who might pass for one and claim she was Arya, as to give legitimacy to their claim over Winterfell. The series saw her storyline not as a reinforcement of Roose Bolton’s lying ways , but as a chance to show Ramsay being a sadist some more.

          In that way, the Rape of Sansa Stark is not only bad because it screws over all of Sansa’s storyline in Season 4, it is bad because it also makes the Bolton’s more one dimensional in Ramsay’s farcical evil and all of it ends up just feeling as if the show’s writers either have no idea what they are doing or keep changing their priorities.

      4. Grudgeal says:

        Remember, in the books it's Sansa's friend”“whose name I can't recall, because she's very unimportant beyond giving Theon a reason to stop being Reek”“

        Her name is Jeyne Poole. And the fact that you can’t remember it makes me sort of sad, because I like to think that Jeyne illustrates a very important theme in book 4: Namely, that just because a horrible thing happens to a non-main character doesn’t make it less horrible. Jeyne, like the smallfolk encountered by Brienne and the popular rebellion led by the High Sparrow, is an illustration of the horrible consequences the Clash of Kings has had on Westeros as a whole. She’s been a victim, abused and treated horribly, out of sheer bad luck of having the wrong best friend, and the fact that Theon can manage to muster that sort of empathy and aid someone, despite the fact that he knows she’s not Sansa and she’s Not Important, is in itself important. Themes and subtext run through a lot of the book from start to finish, like a red thread, and it gives me enjoyment to read them, discover them on re-reading. By contrast, the show’s just text. Horrible things happen because they’re horrible, there’s nothing to read in it beyond “this is horrible!”.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          There is something to read into the whole sansa thing.While she is being passive,she is constantly being abused,ignored,and handed from one person to another.When she finally decides to do something,she manages to get jon to gather an army,she manages to help him gather allies for that army,and she ultimately manages to get those allies to defeat ramsay.

          Also,like Ive said below,theon did not snap out of it just because one of his friends from before was raped before him,but because she talked to him as well.He saw and did much worse shit earlier,and what turned him from reek back to theon was someone still believing he can stand up for himself.

          Its not the same message as in the books,but that doesnt mean there is no message in there.

        2. Vermander says:

          Exactly. One thing I’ve always like about this series is that a presents a world that doesn’t revolve around the protagonists. Not everyone on the Stark’s side is good, not everyone on the Lannister’s side is evil, and there are plenty of people with absolutely no stake in the fight who still end up getting harmed. We meet plenty of characters who have perfectly legitimate reasons for hating the characters we love.

    3. Vermander says:

      I completely agree. The show places way to much emphasis on shocking outcomes and gruesome deaths. They present a world where anyone in power can murder anyone, anytime they like, with little or no consequences. The worst examples of this were how the Dorne and Kings Landing storylines played out last season. In both cases, someone with no legitimate claim to the throne casually murdered powerful and important people, including their own allies and even blood relatives, and simply declared themselves to be in charge now.

      I’ve always thought that one of the main themes of the books is that revenge is ultimately hollow and self defeating. The characters spend so much time pursuing their own vendettas that they are ignoring the much greater threat coming from the North. But as Bob said in his previous video, on the show characters laying waste to their enemies is portrayed as presented as “badass.” Complex, highly conflicted characters like Brienne, Arya, and Daenerys are presented as walking murder machines on a righteous quest for payback against the people who did them wrong.

    4. ? says:

      I think the rape scene serves a narrative purpose, it’s just that the purpose was created by years of showrunner’s incompetence. Specifically, ever since Ramsay turned Theon into Reek, he wasn’t presented as overtly evil, not compared to the show’s baseline. He murders some people, sure, but Ironborn are not sympathetic victims, and it isn’t far from what Danearys does in Slaver’s Bay. And every scene he gets with Theon he is kind, forgiving and soft spoken. He even gets fairly functional (compared to others) relationship with his lover, he patiently listens to her concerns and reassures her when she is jealous of Sansa. What a swell guy! So how do we get him tied up in a kennel with hungry dogs by next season? If showrunners remembered that Ramsay is supposed to be greater monster than Joffrey, they wouldn’t need to catch up two seasons of establishing character in one scene.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        Er no. Ever since the “I’m gonna chop off your Little Theon and then waggle sausages in your face” bit, I don’t think any but the stupidest members of the audience would ever be confused that Ramsay was a psychopathic mega villain.

        1. ? says:

          The show turned Jamie “the things I do for love” Lannister into sympathetic character. Stannis Baratheon fuels his success with human sacrifices and many viewers rooted for his victory until the very end. Daenerys doesn’t understand that crucifing hundreds of people and leaving their corpses to be desecrated does not garner her sympathy among her subjects. Sandor Clegane is ruthless murderer, so is Arya Stark. Theon “I used to have a Little Theon” Greyjoy betrayed his friends, captured Winterfell by treachery, ineptly executed people, flayed and burned pair of innocent children. Torturing and castrating one of the other villains isn’t exactly a pinnacle of villainy in this world. And Ramsay’s treatment of Theon looks rather positive compared to conditions Jamie was kept in by Robb. Every moment of Joffrey’s screentime was showing off his petty cruelty, at least Ramsay could smack Theon from time to time instead personally washing his back. If Tyrion did the same sausage thing to Meryn Trant people would cheer.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        And every scene he gets with Theon he is kind, forgiving and soft spoken.

        Umm,you mean how he was kind,forgiving and soft spoken in the scenes when he was torturing the guy?Dont confuse manner in which he says/does things with what he was actually doing/saying.The only (somewhat) kind thing that he does for reek is get him a bath,and he did so only so that reek would pose as theon in front of a castle.Thats it.

        He was still an evil bastard through and through.The difference between him and joeffry was that joeffry was a whiny brat,and whenever he hurt someone,he did it in a whiny bratty way.Ramsay did it in a cold,calm,psychopathic and worst of all,charismatic way.Look at how he sic his dogs to rip someone limb from limb.Look how he poses his flayed victim,with a grin on his face.He was constantly being the joker,the fun villain.But while such a villain is fun to watch,its still a villain,a despicable person.

        1. ? says:

          Calling whimpering show-Theon Reek seems inappropriate, so I call him Theon. Show doesn’t give context for that name and jumps from sausage scene to complete brainwashed Theon. My point is Ramsay’s villainy is lost in the Cult of the Badass (to borrow MrBtounge’s phrase) and unlike Cersei, Littlefinger or the Mountain his bad guy status isn’t constantly reinforced throughout the seasons. The show needs to stand on it’s own and can’t rely on book reputation for characters. And in season 5 he was so much on his best behaviour that “evil psychopathy” barely came through.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Show doesn't give context for that name and jumps from sausage scene to complete brainwashed Theon.

            It gives enough context.The sausage scene was just a culmination of a prolonged period of a bunch of torture scenes and fake outs.It is more than enough to show why theon would break completely.And his twitchiness as reek reafirms it.

            My point is Ramsay's villainy is lost in the Cult of the Badass (to borrow MrBtounge's phrase) and unlike Cersei, Littlefinger or the Mountain his bad guy status isn't constantly reinforced throughout the seasons. The show needs to stand on it's own and can't rely on book reputation for characters. And in season 5 he was so much on his best behaviour that “evil psychopathy” barely came through.

            The only time when he isnt shown as an evil psycho is when he is interacting with his father.And then,its suppressed rage.With the only exception being the scene when he finally gets accepted as bolton.

            And since I havent read the books,all of this Im getting just from the show.But I know where you and others are coming from.People are often confusing charisma with being either outright good,or at least not that bad.Thats why they rarely saw tywin as an evil guy,despite how he treated everyone else.

            This is something that Rich Burlew,author of order of the stick,mentioned that he is being perplexed by:How people would constantly praise his bad guys,no matter how much evil they would do.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By contrast, the online existence of the full-bore Game of Thrones hater is a lonely one. Sure, it has its hatedom, but said hatedom is squirreled away in relatively remote corners of the internet.

    You are lucky.I was one of the few who hated how they translated lord of the rings to the big screen,and back then internet hatedoms were even LESS prevalent.

    1. Neil D says:

      Try walking in the shoes of someone who finds the LotR books tedious.

    2. Elemental Alchemist says:

      Book brothers unite! God I hate what Jackson did to the story in the movies.

  18. Joshua says:

    I haven’t watched GoT since the end of Season 3, so I guess I’m glad I got out when it did. I have read the books, so I’ve tried to avoid discussions of the show in that they *might* have some spoilers where the two don’t diverge. Obviously, the big reveal that couldn’t be avoided was that Jon Snow was brought back to life, but there was already plenty of expectation from the book readers anyway, so that’s less of a spoiler.

    I do occasionally find myself in the position of disliking things that are otherwise almost universally acclaimed: Recently, with both Arrival and Rogue One. In both of those instances, I also initially enjoyed the films but story collapse eventually occurred and I left the theatres annoyed.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      The arrival?Please,do tell more.

      1. Thomas says:

        The Arrival is a 1996 action film starring Charlie Sheen and/or a 1991 horror film that Psychotronic Video magazine referred to as a ‘dull movie’

      2. ehlijen says:

        The Arrival (the 2016 scifi movie):

        It relies on a big twist, similar to how the Sixth Sense did. And like in the Sixth Sense, this twist is obfuscated rather than foreshadowed by what the movie does beforehand, because it would be blindingly obvious if the movie didn’t. How well you like the movie is entirely dependent on how well the twist works for you, because while it is quite suspenseful up that point, the narrative is folded back into the absolute simplest shape immediately after and retroactively colours every preceeding scene.

        1. Thomas says:

          (The 2016 film is Arrival, not The Arrival)

          To be fair the obfuscation fulfills a narrative purpose that the event sets up. You experience the film non-linearly so that you see events as things which are happened and experienced rather than as a progression leading somewhere. If you learned that her daughter was going to die at the end, then the story would be about how her choices led to an unhappy ending.

          Instead you see the death of the daughter and (pre-realisation) think of it something unhappy and you regret that it happened. And then after you realise that the aliens and protagonist are thinking of time non-linearly, you see that the daughter had a happy life before her death and something to be celebrated, along with the sadness of her death.

          And what’s more, because it’s in the future (and not the past) like you thought, and you now realise the protagonist can now view the future, you now realise that she knew that her daughter was going to die but to chose to have her anyway.

          And why did she do that? Because the realisation has changed her perspective and now she knows to value moments as individual events to be experienced and not something leading up to an ‘ending’. Which is why the ‘last’ scenes of the film are shown to the audience in the middle.

          It’s a film about how your understanding fundamentally alters the way you experience life, and it’s a film where the reveal (i.e. a change in you understanding), alters what you thought the narrative purpose of the film was.

          You might feel like it’s just obfuscation for the sake of a twist, but to me it’s one of the neatest ways to make the audience follow a parallel journey with the protagonist I’ve ever seen.

          Films should show not tell right? Well the film never tells _or_ shows you why the protagonist made the decision she did with her family. And yet we all know why she did it. Because the _structure_ of the film reveals it to the audience.

          Memento is one of my favourite films, but even Memento didn’t manage to do so much storytelling purely with structure.

          1. ehlijen says:

            I tried to give an objective summary of the movie, my apologies if I sounded critical.

            Personally, I liked the movie apart from how flat everyone but the main character was in the end and how neatly the revelation then ties everything up with a Bowtie of Convenience.

            That said, while I liked Arrival, I can see why others don’t. The movie deliberately shows you scenes out of order not just because the aliens think non-linearly but also because it hides the twist. The writer knew the audience would make certain assumptions and used that. It goes a bit further than the sixth sense where great observation skills will clue you in early by actively misleading the viewer. For some that’s no matter, for others it creates an antagonistic relationship with the movie.

            Also, as a translator, I found the twist hilarious.

      3. Joshua says:

        My reasons for disliking Arrival started before the twist. I didn’t really care for the twist, but that wasn’t my biggest complaint.

        As I said, I did really like the movie starting out, but where the story collapsed for me was during the first translation meetings. Before that point, there were two instances where the character makes points about the difficulties of linguistics:

        1. Forest Whitaker’s character asks her for her impression of a few seconds of alien sounds. She rightfully points out that it’s a ludicrous idea because translation needs a lot more to start with than a few sound snippets.

        2. She gives an example of the risks of making a false assumption when telling her kangaroo story.

        In both of these examples, the movie is making intelligent points saying that in translating languages, context matters.

        But in the initial translation scenes, her methods didn’t seem very inspired to me (beyond the recklessly removing her helmet a la Prometheus). They then demonstrate a few similar scenes like a montage and show several months passing by.

        In addition to this, you have the oddity where the humans are both the teachers and the learners. The Heptapods are purely reactive to them. Can you imagine going into a foreign language class and the entire method of instruction was for the teacher patiently waiting for you to say or write words and then giving you a translation of that word?

        I had a lot of little quibbles that may or may not bother other people, but that’s the part where I gave up on the movie and the little quibbles really just started adding more and more annoyances.

        The next biggest complaint I had was that the ending is resolved in the most paradoxical Deus Ex way possible. The protagonist is able to solve the conflict using information that was *only* possible had she only solved the conflict (and even then it’s far fetched that she would obtain that information).

        Philosophically, I also believe that seeing the future like that and knowing exactly how everything would occur would be a nightmare, not a gift. Welcome to the rest of your life, where every second is Deja Vu. Something not addressed in this “thinker” of a movie.

        Lots of other small complaints, but those are the big issues.

  19. wswordsmen says:

    I can not say if you will get to this or not but my biggest complaint about the show (never read the books is Phalanx tactics exist (S6E9) but only when it is convenient for the plot.

    1. guy says:

      I haven’t watched much of the show, but in the books phalanx tactics are pretty much exclusive to the Unsullied; Westeros runs on medieval knights, the Dothraki are horse-archers, and the rest of the world’s militaries are kind of a mess.

      1. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

        What stopped horse archers from being the game breaker for all armies? Why was, say, Genghis Khan able to use them to such devastating effect while others weren’t?

        Is it normally too hard to train horse archers? Or are they easily countered in some way? Shield walls? Armor?

        1. guy says:

          Training them is really, really hard and largely the province of steppe nomads who ride all the time. They also needed composite bows that literally fall apart in damp conditions to have good range and power in bows they could fire from horseback, and didn’t do too well in archery duels with massed foot archers because they presented larger targets and it’s harder to aim on horseback.

          Lastly, they need a lot of space to run away in and can be cornered in mountains or forests.

          1. Vermander says:

            There’s also the problem that large numbers of horses require tons of grass for grazing. The earlier Hun invasions of Europe basically ground to a halt for that very reason and even the Mongols suffered some major defeats in desert and mountainous settings.

            And while the Mongols were surprisingly good at siege warfare, they very rarely had to deal with a dense network of castles and other fortifications like the ones in Western Europe. Their combat doctrine relies on speed and momentum, take away that advantage and they become seriously vulnerable.

            1. Bloodsquirrel says:

              Keep in mind that, by the time Genghis was on his death bed the Mongols were no longer merely steppe nomads. China was very sophisticated at the time, and the Mongolians took a lot of that sophistication for themselves. The entire thing that made the Mongolian Empire so successful was that they briefly managed to marry the advantages of steppe nomads with the resources and technology of settle societies.

        2. Bloodsquirrel says:

          It’s a few things-

          First off, yes, it’s hard to train horse archers. Horse archers weren’t just a type of military unit, they were the product of the lifestyle of steppe nomads. They didn’t just know how to shoot a bow while riding a horse, they knew how to survive and move as an entire army without a supply train. Every man in their tribe was a warrior, which gave them far more soldiers compared with their populations than agricultural societies. The lifestyle of settled agriculture isn’t suited for raising horse archers.

          Also, this is before a time where you could crack open wikipedia to read up on how steppe nomads lived fought. Their information on the subject was sharply limited, and had to be learned through bloody experience.

          Two, you needed lots of horses to have an army of horse archers. The key to that kind of army isn’t just that they have men with bows on horses, it’s that *everybody* is mounted, and has multiple re-mounts to boot. The entire army can move fast enough to outrun the enemy when they’re advancing, let them get tired and strung out, then turn around and attack. Having lots of horses means having lots of space to graze them. The steppes were well-suited for this, while, say, the heavily-wooded and more population dense western Europe wasn’t.

          Three, there are a lot of political dimensions at play. Genghis Khan succeeded because he briefly achieved political unity among the steppe nomads, something was rare to achieve and never lasted very long. He also succeeded because he was able to play on the political disunity of his enemies; many of the places he attacked were hamstrung by internal hatreds that prevented them from responding as effectively as they might have.

          But the Mongolian empire didn’t last very long before breaking up into separate Khanates and having the mongols themselves start to settle. This was a repeating theme throughout history: steppe nomads would unite under a strong leader, invade, then eventually either break up or come to resemble their conquered peoples so much that they effectively became them and lost their ability to fight like steppe nomads.

          Meanwhile, Europe at the time couldn’t field professional armies at all because feudalism prevented that kind of centralized power. Their armies were made up of a warrior class that served under a thousand different banners, and lacked cohesion when brought together for battle.

          Four, part of what made steppe nomads dangerous was that they had no cities or farms to strike back at. You could invade their lands, but they’d just retreat until you went away or got too far from your supply lines and became vulnerable. Once they started conquering things, they became more vulnerable. They also had trouble laying siege to cities or forts themselves, since it went against what made their style of warfare so dangerous. The Mongols were something of an exception, but only because they incorporated a lot from the Chinese as they conquered them.

          The general pattern was that they would attack when they were strong and you were weak, but when you were strong you couldn’t do much to reprise. They were rarely an existential threat for long, but when they were they could do shocking amounts of damage.

          I’ll plug Dan Carlin here:

          He has a great series on the Khans, which is in the paid archive at the moment, but his Kings of Kings series also goes a bit into how difficult it was to replicate other culture’s fighting styles (this time, it was the Persian inability to create troops that could stand against Greek infantry).

          1. Retsam says:

            I read the first two sentences of your comment and thought “I bet he’s a Dan Carlin fan”.

            (Can confirm, Dan Carlin is awesome. Highly recommended)

            1. DerJüngerLudendorff says:

              Seconded. He recently put out another one discussing the early nuclear period, and the way humanity has tried to cope with the highly destructive balancing act it resulting it.

          2. Xeorm says:

            I think the major point isn’t even the horse archers, but all the logistical bits that allow them to use the tactic. Horse archers are only deadly if you’re able to attack your opponent without them being able to retaliate. That means that you carry all your food with you, and that you don’t have anywhere convenient for them to retaliate. The nomads method of having their food ride with them and gather fodder as they go means they don’t have to worry about collecting food, nor do they need to protect farms or houses.

            Which is why you’ll see nomads be a scourge along the border but never get very far from the Steppe before grinding to a halt. Too expensive to fight back in general, so the way to fight is to give up tribute. At least until the Russians started moving east.

            1. guy says:

              Horse archers can be deadly for settled people, too. Notably at Carrhae and Manzikert, settled civilizations won major victories using horse archers. While they aren’t effective in a static defense, they can pick apart an advancing army heading for their home city. They’re also pretty effective fielded alongside shock cavalry, who can charge in when a force gets disorganized pursuing them or, at Carrhae, when a roman legion went into tesudo formation to defend against archery.

          3. Mousazz says:

            I wonder what allowed Russia to expand into the steppes so rapidly during the 17th-19th centuries.

      2. wswordsmen says:

        In the show the Unsullied despite being clearly based on ancient hoplites are only shown using something resembling the phalanx for the first engagement. After that they just do a bunch of cool looking stuff that is really stupid. It ends up with a major character dead and another nearly killed when use of the Phalanx would have kept everyone alive.

    2. Vermander says:

      The Golden Company is the most interesting fighting force in the books because they use a combined arms doctrine. They have heavy cavalry (knights), highly trained archers, disciplined heavy infantry, and even elephants, all of which are used in a complimentary fashion. No one type of troop is emphasized over the others. For example, their officers seem to appreciate the value of archers, who are treated with contempt by much of the nobility.

  20. Phill says:

    This should be an interesting series, although to be fair I’ve never read the books and only watched the first series of the TV show. That was enough for me to figure out that it wasn’t something that I was going to enjoy.

    Sometimes I’m prepared to put up with the usual HBO “look, we’ve got gore and tits. Oh, and maybe a story too” formula if the story is worth it, but GoT didn’t do it for me. Nothing I’ve read about it since has made me regret this decision, not least the apparent lazy out of using sexual violence as the go-to narrative short hand to establish someone as a villain or to create shock.

    But it will be interesting to get the perspective of someone who seems to have liked the books and started off liking the series, to see how that changed.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I knew books would be more my speed so I decided not to watch the show until I read those. Then I decided to hold off reading the books until the series is finished… I think by this point I’m just going to give up and spoil everything by reading these posts. To be fair I already got a big chunk of stuff through memes and the general cultural osmosis. Maybe I’ll decide to watch the show just to have a better understanding of what’s being talked about.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Sometimes you just have to stop worrying about completionism and just jump into it.

      2. Syal says:

        End of Book 3’s a solid stopping point. Everyone’s finished an arc and most of the plotlines have settled.

  21. Angelo says:

    I’m really happy MrBTongue joined the crew.
    As for the subject, I’d like to express my opinion. I know most will rightfully not give a damn, I’m doing this more for myself than anybody in particular, but being in the minority makes me occasionally want to vent.

    I don’t think the TV show was ever good, and the books are just straight up better.
    I started with the TV show, and it lost me halfway through the first episode no matter how many chances I tried to give it. I then tried the books, and ended up reading all five of them in a row. I eventually watched the entire first season with some friends, and I didn’t regret dropping it in the slightest. I even tried jumping to specific points I liked in the books from later seasons and I still wasn’t impressed.

    It’s not a matter of the show not being true enough to the source material, but how awkwardly it tries to tell the same story (or its own story, eventually). The reason I dropped that first episode was that everything felt incredibly obvious. Where in the books there’s some suspense, surprise and ambiguity, in the show everything is blunt and obvious and predictable. Not in the sense that I could see the plot’s entire shape from far away, but how each individual scene immediately tipped me off about what was going to happen in a few seconds. “this character is going to die”, or “this character is going to turn evil”, or “this happy occasion is actually a ruse”, or “the person who shot this arrow perfectly is not whom you thought”.
    Even the books aren’t exactly flawless, but at least they work adequately. Watching the show makes me feel like I’m being beaten over the head with the script.

  22. Mephane says:

    You may know me from such Youtube smash hits as MrBtongue complains about the Mass Effect 3 ending, MrBtongue complains about EA, and MrBtongue complains about Bethesda.

    I didn’t know you before and haven’t seen these videos, but by the titles alone I see why Shamus got you on board. :D

    1. paercebal says:


  23. MadTinkerer says:

    This can’t be happening. I checked the calendar: it’s January 27th, not December 25th. So logically: this cannot be happening.

    Unless… January Santa is real…?

  24. Zack says:

    I think you’ll find the number of people who also think that GoT is rapidly going off the rails is a lot higher than you might have guessed.

    The overall story started falling apart in season 4, by last season they’d even started losing the coherency of individual scenes. I’ve forgotten most of what happened (except the ridiculous T-2000 girl, dangit) so I look forward to reliving the disappointment with you!

  25. Twenty-sidereals of course. :P

  26. Bubble181 says:

    Welcome! I look forward to it! Also, stuff a bunch of other people have already said.

  27. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

    Shamus glanced furtively over at Bob. “So cynical. So nitpicky.” he thought. “I must know what he eats.”

    He nervously nibbled on a stack of cheese and crackers. Even Minecraft wasn’t distracting him. He had to have him. He had to know why he was called MrBTongue. The awkward camel casing infuriated and intrigued him at the same time.

    “Will he think I’m too old?” he wondered. “Screw. Its now or never.”

    “Hi Bob. I’m Shamus-”

    “Shamus Young. Yes I’ve read your column. Its not as good as mine but then none are.” Bob turned and Shamus’s heart scramble furiously to the top of his throat. So cool.

    He cleared his throat. Say it. Just say it. “So I had a nitpick about your Mass Effect 3 video” he blurted “You say the first 99% of the series is good but I think the problems began at the beginning of Mass Effect 2 when the rebirth of Shepard signaled a shift from a strictly details first approach to the story telling to one of schlocky genre fare.” There. He’d said it. But the moment still hung on him as Bob considered his words.

    Bob reached out and ran a hand down Shamus’s cheek. “Its ok” Bob said. “Many literary works were regarded as schlocky genre fare in their day. Time and scholarly consensus will tell the tale.”

    Suddenly there was a noise. They turned and saw Campster standing in the doorway. There was no way to know how long he’d been there. He spoke so seldom. But Shamus could see it written all over his face. “You used to look at me that way.”

    To be continued.

    “So if we’ve never met, what am I doing in your room?” Bob asked.

    “I was wondering the same thing.” Shamus replied. “The story makes no sense and the author has no grasp of our characters. He’s just making lazy references to bits of trivia from our work.”

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      The story makes no sense

      Oh,it makes all the sense.

      and the author has no grasp of our characters

      Indeed.Shamus would be conflicted if he had to pick between those two.Ultimately,hed end up with Chris whispering “ludonarrative dissonance” in his left ear,and Bob whispering “What do they eat” in his right.

      1. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

        Don’t make me write you into the next installment.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Please.Youre too vanilla to put my kinks into words.

          1. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

            I think you’d be surprised but I’m sure Shamus has some kind of decorum standard.

      2. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

        I almost had Campster comment that my story had a lewd narrative dissonance, but decided to rein myself in a bit on the ‘critics complain about the story they’re in’ gag.

    2. mechaninja says:

      I read … I think only about the first book and a half. I got through the Red Wedding, and spent a lot of time screaming at the book until that point.

      I want to talk about something that I think hung up Martin as much as it has hung up Shyamalan (though apparently his latest is watchable, if not as good as his first few movies).

      And that is sometime I’m going to call self-one-ups-man-ship.

      Where do you go from the plot twist in Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense? If your best trick is a plot twist no one can see coming, and you make a name for yourself, people going to your movies are expecting a plot twist (especially by the 4th movie). How do you write a twist that you can hide within the narrative whereby readers/consumers can look back at the beginning of the story and find the Chekhov’s gun? Didn’t one of Shyamalan’s movies have aliens that were poisoned by water? I’m almost certain I remember someone bitching about a movie I never saw: “then how did they survive 10 minutes on earth, with water all that water in the atmosphere?” That’s an example of a plot twist that he tried to force and didn’t think enough about the ramifications. But ultimately, he was trying to one up himself in terms of plot twist (and one up War of the Worlds in terms of the simple things that killed the alien invaders!).

      In the same way, Martin starts his story with the rape of one key character, and the death of a bunch of others. And then he has to escalate the stakes from there. He has to one up himself with the betrayals, the murders, the … well, mostly the betrayals and murders.

      Starting at 11 and dialing up from there has got to be hard. It must be, because how often is it done without breaking something?

      Martin of course had this problem, and I’m trying to show that Shyamalan had the same problem – and clearly the showrunners are trying to one-up not only themselves but also Martin. There’s too much escalation, and this is the thing that trips up comic books sometimes too!

      I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.

    3. Baron Tanks says:

      Such intensely sensual fanfic. I hope you do one for every entry in this series :P

    4. Thomas says:

      This is wonderful!

      1. Ivellius says:

        Wait, are you Campster’s alternate name?

        1. Christopher says:

          No way, I don’t care about theme park ghost houses at all.

    5. Galad says:

      Ahahah, twenty-sided fanfiction, more please :D

      And welcome to this site, MrBTongue :D

  28. Mike S. says:

    I was prepared to defend the thing with Sansa and Ramsay when it happened, because I thought it was Sansa making a grim but open-eyed choice to play the Game with the cards she had. I figured that with her illusions gone, she had a plan that would gain her power, if at great personal cost. E.g., a year later, Ramsey is dead (poor devil, must’ve been something he ate), and she’s in control of Winterfell as regent to an heir whose title to Winterfell is unquestioned due to his combined Stark and Bolton heritage, whom she can raise as a Stark (albeit trying to impart a bit more worldly realism than she grew up with).

    But no, it turned out that it wasn’t a sacrifice gambit to promote herself to queen, but simply the latest and worst (though hopefully the last) victimization of Sansa Stark. That was disappointing.

    I’d still defend the way it’s staged. Conveying horror through the reaction of an onlooker is a time-honored way of communicating “this is the worst thing you can imagine, far worse than anything we could show”. Especially in a show with the level of sex and violence fatigue this one has, that struck me as appropriate. (Doing the same thing with Ramsay’s death, on the other hand, was ridiculous.)

    1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      This is the great disappointment of the show for me. Cersei earlier makes a point to Sansa about how women in Westeros make use of what they have to gain power -she is very clearly referring to sex, she might even explicitly mention “between your legs,” I don’t recall.

      Paying that off with Sansa doing the same thing to Ramsey would have been pretty good.

      As for the scene itself -I don’t care for it, but the people who lit their hair on fire over it annoy me, because I thought the marital rape scene for Daenarys back in season one was crass and exploitive, too, and I got flak for saying so from the same people who thought the same thing happening to Sansa was the reason to stop watching the show.

      So put me solidly in the Shamus ME3 camp for GOT: the rot was there early on, it just took a while for everyone to notice.

      1. Geebs says:

        Having Sansa charm and betray Ramsay wouldn’t fit either of their characters. Sansa isn’t that good an actress, and Ramsay is too cynical, and too psychopathic, to ever trust anybody, least of all his own wife.

        Ramsay’s entire schtik is to brutalise people into loving him. It worked for Reek (and probably for his girlfriend, given her broad masochistic streak), so it makes sense for him to try to do the same thing to Sansa.

        1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          Charm is the wrong word. I don’t think Cersei charmed Robert. But even without charm, sex is a powerful weapon (Osha demonstrates that, too, just using it as a distraction to help people get away) which Sansa could have used to do something.

          1. Mike S. says:

            Exactly. Robert didn’t neither liked nor respected Cersei, but she was able to bring about his death all the same. Ramsay’s plot armor just needed to lower a bit– it’s not as if there were more than a handful of people who’d bother about his death (if it didn’t threaten their status) once Ramsay’s own father was dead.

            Or it doesn’t work, because this is Game of Thrones and often enough plans go awry and the sadistic villain wins (at least for a while). Starks don’t have a great record going up against them. But I would have preferred to see Sansa demonstrating that she’d learned something from spending all that time in the snake pit that was King’s Landing, and actually have a strategy she was trying to enact, instead of basically recapitulating Joffrey except worse.

            1. Geebs says:

              Osha pretty comprehensively demonstrates that using sex as a weapon really, really doesn’t work on Ramsay.

              1. Mike S. says:

                That’s not the idea. She doesn’t need to seduce him. (Obviously.) The weapon would be the heir that a) he married her in order for her to bear (if he just wanted to abuse her, a wedding would have been superfluous) and b) would have a stronger claim on Winterfell and the North than he does. Combined with the fact that while lots of people are afraid of him and/or need him, his power over anyone not his prisoner derives from that claim (once his much more effectively ruthless father was out of the picture, anyway).

                Obviously, it didn’t happen, and wasn’t evidently a direction the writers were even thinking of– I was just wrong in my read of what was happening. (She didn’t in the event even become pregnant, which is somewhat surprising given the automatic extra angst that would have produced.) It just struck me, win or lose, as a plausible read of her apparent acquiescence to the wedding: one which would have involved guile, physical courage, and the sort of sheer bloodymindedness that world seems to demand of its survivors. (Which is to say, would have shown that she’d taken the lessons she’d gotten from Cersei and Littlefinger among others to heart.)

                She does look to be belatedly coming into all that anyway, just not at that point in the story.

                1. Geebs says:

                  Well, yes, Ramsay knows that perfectly well. That, and the fact that he is the least favoured member of a family that prefers to resolve interpersonal quarrels by flaying people alive, explains why, instead of pretending to be normal around Sansa, he goes straight into Torture Brainwashing Mode.

                  I totally get why people are upset by what’s a pretty upsetting scene, but a) depicting something horrible as being horrible is not the same as endorsing that thing and b) it’s completely true to the characters as they are at that point in the story and accusations that the authors somehow haven’t “earned” the scene ring hollow for me.

                  1. ehlijen says:

                    But what did the scene add? That Ramsay was ruthless? That Sansa was a helpless follower?
                    None of this was new, and in fact should have been the past for Sansa by now but wasn’t.

                    A scene needs to be more than to be true to the characters. If it establishes nothing new about them, what is it for? It needs to be true to the characters while also revealing something new.

                    The scene in question was shocking for being shown, but not for anything revealed in it about those two. Everyone knew it was coming after the drawn out wedding scene. No one expected Ramsay not to do this. The only reason Sansa’s reaction surprised some viewers is because she didn’t do anything, though that was still well within her character.
                    The only thing that was in the least not fully expected was Theon’s presence. Which means that we’re back to the scene where a woman is raped being about a man’s reaction to that.

                    1. Geebs says:

                      Ramsay is acting in keeping with his established character, motivation, and methods. Sansa is the one who changes; as a result of the scene, and other scenes that establish that she has nobody else left to rely on, she finally decides to stop being a victim. Up to this point she has always tried to find a champion, no matter how pathetic; see Ser Dontos. Theon is a familiar figure who she believes will help her; she needs to realise that he is completely broken and that she needs to save herself.

                      As for the scene being about “a man’s reaction” – I don’t buy that reading at all. By this point in the story, Theon isn’t a man either figuratively or, by the standards of the GoT setting, literally (consider how Varys refers to himself). He’s Reek. His reaction doesn’t matter, except in as much as it shows Sansa that he is no use to her.

                    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      None of this was new, and in fact should have been the past for Sansa by now but wasn't.

                      Why?Nothing that happened to he after neds death was as traumatic as that one,and even then seeing her fathers severed head was not enough to snap her out from her passive role.Yes,hearing that her brother and mother were dead was a new trauma,but not as big as her fathers severed head on a pike(though if joffrey had his way,she wouldve seen their heads too,on a plate no less).It wouldve been nice to see sansa grow out of her passive role and finally do something,but she really had no catalyst for that.This new torture brought up by a man even worse than joeffrey was precisely that.

                      The only thing that was in the least not fully expected was Theon's presence. Which means that we're back to the scene where a woman is raped being about a man's reaction to that.

                      Which wouldnt have happened if she said nothing to him earlier.Reek saw far worse things(a man torn apart by dogs,for example),heck he DID far worse thing(burned two kids).So its not the rape that snapped him out,its sansa herself,talking to him.She brought theon back,he didnt just snap out of it because his former friend was raped in front of him.

                    3. ehlijen says:

                      “Theon isn’t a man”

                      That’s besides the point. The amputation didn’t make him something other than a man, it made him a crippled man. For the purposes of the story, he is clearly still a male character.
                      (And even if you want to bring in the hormone change, he’s already been through puberty, unlike Varys, or the Unsullied (who the story also treats as male)).

  29. wswordsmen says:

    Also as someone who cares about Shamus being able to keep doing this full time. Why are you (Shamus) not tweeting about this, and did you ask him to make a short 30s video so his subscribers at least know this series will exist?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      That is a really good point.Shamus did lament earlier that he has trouble reaching to new audiences.Well,heres a perfect opportunity for that.

  30. Leocruta says:

    This’ll be fun. As someone who didn’t really enjoy the books (read the first four, since I was hearing so much about them), and consequently never watched the show when it started, the mania surrounding them has been grating. I probably wouldn’t be so bothered by it if the Malazan Book of the Fallen received similar recognition, but that’s unlikely at this point.

  31. Mokap says:

    Holy shit it’s MrBTongue! Glad to see you on the site.

  32. Merlin says:

    Because I should make one thing clear from the outset: I come to bury Game of Thrones, not to praise it. In my opinion, the show ““ and in particular the show's writing ““ is now bad. Not average, or mixed, or inconsistent, but just plain bad.

    It’s a fascinating world and an awful, awful story, but I put a lot of blame at the book’s feet for that. I massively prefer the show specifically because the acting and production values are often able to elevate the mediocrity of the story itself. It’s trashy, but it’s very nice, often interesting trash.

    You talk about story collapse (and surely will do so more in the coming entries), and I completely agree that it’s going to reach consensus soon, but the problems are not even remotely constrained to the show. Exhibit A: the White Walkers.

    Chapter 1/Ep 1 Scene 1 load Chekov’s gun and set it on the table. Unstoppable ice zombies, snaps and dang! In a simpler story, that’s our main conflict. We segue to meeting our plucky survivors, and a few chapters in they’re on the cusp of a full blown apocalypse. But no, that’s not George’s jam, so we spin for a bit and get to know the political players. And that’s fine. King’s Landing has got some colorful people and interesting conflicts, and we get to lean on the whole “life is nasty, brutish, and short” thing he’s going for. Sure, fine, whatever.

    Meanwhile, we keep cutting back to the wall and getting reminded of ooh, spoopy zombies. And in a way, this works. It’s Hitchcock’s bomb under the table, in a way that fits with the theme that actions have consequences. The Starks, Lannisters, and everyone else are so concerned with who has the fanciest hats, that they massacre each other and shatter alliances just before a relentless horde of undead turn Westeros into Scarytown.

    And it amounts to nothing. This could’ve cohered effectively if the walkers had near the end of the first book/season, the walkers breaking into the north just as the Stark and Lannister armies clash. It could’ve still worked partway into the War of Five Kings, with a sort of point-counterpoint of Stannis’s army being repulsed at Blackwater Bay at the same time that the walkers crash through the wall/Winterfell or the like. (This would come with the pleasant irony of spending years of napalm production just before ice zombies come calling). But instead, we keep spinning into sideplot after sideplot, following more and more characters over more and more of the landscape, to the point that it’s become less a story than a meandering encyclopedia.

    There’s simply been too much time and attention scattered across too many venues, characters, and conflicts for any of this to come to a satisfactory conclusion as a whole. The show has at least tried to abbreviate or consolidate some of these storylines, albeit to disastrous results. But with so little time (and audience patience) left, Dany’s (dreadfully boring) quest for the throne can only be a wet fart of immediate success or failure, essentially cancelling out hours and hours of prior bloat. Jon’s parentage can only be a wet fart of “oh hey, we’re related I guess, by the way hello for the first time.” The White Walkers can only be a wet fart of immediately crushing a few areas and immediately getting smacked the heck down. And so on and so forth.

    It’s almost the same problem as Mass Effect, really. The first entry introduces an otherworldly threat lurking at the far reaches, plus an uneasy political situation complicating it. (ME has the decency to deliver on this threat as part of the plot, whereas book 1/season 1 is essentially 10 different origin stories, but I digress.) Then ME 2 comes along, and the entirety of the game’s story basically amounts to “Yep, still Reapers, I guess.” And then ME3 says “Oh dang, my term paper is due in the morning, better crank this out.” If anything, the main difference is that ASOIAF/GOT made a whole bunch of Mass Effect 2s and is only about to get to its Mass Effect 3 stage.

    1. Vermander says:

      I think it’s sort of the point of the story that no one will end up sitting on the Iron Throne, because it won’t exist anymore by the end. I’m not saying the world will end in an ice apocalypse, it will be saved and Westeros will survive, but a new age will begin without a united Seven Kingdoms. For all that time spent fighting over who should rule, it ultimately didn’t matter. The characters that seem most likely to survive are the ones who were nowhere near the throne to begin with.

      Also, a major difference between the books and the show is that the books seem to be setting up Euron Greyjoy as Saruman to the White Walkers Sauron. He’s sort of an evil version of Bran, who is aware of the supernatural events going down and seems to be trying to capitalize on them to elevate himself to Godhood. He’s already sent his dimwitted brother with a magic horn to steal one or more of Dany’s dragons and he seems to be preparing a massive blood sacrifice to awaken some sort of power beneath the Citadel in Oldtown. But on the show he’s a very minor character, who just seems to want to be King of the Ironborn and has no apparent supernatural influences.

      I can see why the show runners cut a lot of this storyline. It’s introduced relatively late and doesn’t have much to do with the earlier conflicts, but it also helps raise the stakes and gives the characters who aren’t in the North something else to deal with.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        In my headcanon, Varys is a closet republican who plans to lead a 1688 style Glorious Revolution of Westeros, greatly reduce the power of the monarchy, and hand power to an elected parliament.

        He’s simply ambivalent between which Targaryan or Blackfyre serves the roll of William and Mary.

        1. Mike S. says:

          I dunno– Westeros’s model is a couple centuries before that, and there isn’t even the skeleton of a parliament to devolve power onto. I think Varys is sincere in his efforts to find a monarch who’ll rule for the public good as much as possible, and who knows how to recruit and listen to good advisors.

          Maybe Dany is a cross between Henry VII and Elizabeth I (and, I don’t know, Abraham Lincoln), but I don’t think she and Jon Snow are William and Mary.

    2. Syal says:

      I’ve said it before, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ is referencing Robert Frost’s poem about a world destroying itself. The Others (and the dragons) are the main threat, but the story is about how the nobles have lost sight of it and spend their time fighting over a throne that literally carves up the people who sit on it. It’s why I really don’t like that they called the show Game of Thrones; the emphasis is totally different.

      (It wouldn’t surprise me if upon reaching Westeros Daenarys is instantly killed and the dragons are left fully unrestricted to kill and maim.)

      1. Vermander says:

        I don’t think it will end quite that badly for her, but the most popular theory I’ve read says she will be the one who (accidentally) ignites the wildfire beneath Kings Landing. She and her dragons will survive (or at least Drogon) but everyone else is toast (literally) and she’ll be remembered as a destroyer rather than a liberator. In an effort to redeem herself she’ll head north, and perish along with her dragons fighting the White Walkers.

        No matter what, she won’t be embraced as a liberator or the rightful heir. She’s the granddaughter of a hated tyrant who will arrive in Westeros with an army of slave soldiers and blood thirsty foreign “savages,” with a widely despised exile at her side. Plus there’s the three barely controllable fire breathing reptiles she’s about to unleash.

        The show seems to go out of its way to make us cheer for her, but I think the point of her story is that she doesn’t deserve the throne any more than the other claimants.

        1. Syal says:

          I’m more cynical; I don’t think she’ll get the chance to choose a new course, and the walkers will have already come south.

          But I don’t think even George Martin knows what’s going to happen in the end, and the show’s success is probably influencing his book decisions at this point.

  33. Mr Compassionate says:

    I recently enjoyed season 6 despite the hamfisted writing until the end when contrivance met it’s zenith and somehow the entire North and the entire East made two factions within about 20 minutes of on screen and off screen discussion. It’s like they’re in such a hurry for team good guys to unite against the evil Lannisters that they dedicated a single episode to frantically tying loose ends together before season 7 can basically be every single faction s**ting on the incest crew.

    And I agree the show had problems long before the rape scene but I think what tipped it over the edge for people was that he made Reek watch. Every other rape scene in the show seemed theoretically consistent with medieval brutality but somehow Ramsey’s behaviour felt more like some colourful anime villain prancing about doing the worst things imaginable to everybody for practically no reason. You never see Ramsey upset, or sleepy or lonely. He’s an invincible, infallible pet antagonist who’s so pandered to by the writers that if you were in a tabletop RP game and Ramsey was the villain you’d probably think the DM was being a massive prat.

    1. Joshua says:

      Well, he is something like this in the books too. Too much plot armor, or he should never be able to get away with all of the things he does.

      1. Mr Compassionate says:

        Season 6 spoilers ahead

        Especially for me the moment when Ramsay stabs his own father to death in full view of witnesses and nobody calls him out on it is absurd. Like WHAT? Medieval times were sometimes brutal sure but even a noble couldn’t get away with murdering his own dad. Leaving aside insignificant details like the law we have to consider that Ramsey is a barely legitimate bastard child who nobody likes all that much and Roose Bolton is a powerful, well connected nobleman. Somehow Ramsey just blatantly offs his mum and dad then claims all the noble titles his father had without issue. Then almost all his father’s bannermen agree to serve him even though they have no relationship with Ramsey at all. Absolutely absurd.

        So basically I agree, lots of plot armor. Jon Snow vs Ramsey was basically Good Guy Main Character vs Cartoonishly Evil Villain. I wish the show was better than that. On the other hand the battle scene was amazing to watch.

        1. ehlijen says:

          Not to mention that he succeeds in offing his father only because the old man gleefully fondled he idiot ball and hugged his son who he knew:
          -was a psycho
          -liked knives
          -was about to become irrelevant in the power game due to a more legitimate heir
          -was an insane psycho

          It was stuff like that why Ramsay is commonly complained about having plot armour. Things always went his way right until the end. And in the meantime, he offered a very repetitive type of evil.
          Geoffrey was so much more fun to hate.

  34. King Marth says:

    My primary knowledge of the Game of Thrones show’s writing mishandling talk of consent is by comparison to another series that handled tricky questions of consent and the impact on relationships far better, in 11-minute episodes, using animation, targeted at kids.

    Steven Universe exists. None of the immature revelry in bloody/sexual violence, all of the mature discussion of topics from anxiety disorders to the ethics of war.

    Sure, in the Game of Thrones society rape is common. But choosing to depict it sends a message, and if the writers don’t think about what that message is, then what ends up being sent is out of their control.

    1. Cinebeast says:

      I actually really like Game of Thrones, even season 6.

      But I’m glad to see some appreciation here for Steven Universe. It’s probably the best show on television right now.

  35. Victor says:

    This should be interesting for me, as someone who didn’t really like the show and dropped off in the first season, but was able to read all the books. I still haven’t figured out what made me bounce off the show, so maybe this will help!

  36. Phrozenflame500 says:

    The shows have an interesting habit of simplifying the plot via “cutting the knot”, or fast-tracking the plot at the expense of bypassing much of the character development along the way. In some cases this works (removing a lot of Arya wondering around the Riverlands in favour of the Tywin/Arya scenes), but since a lot of the Crows and Dance plotlines focus heavily on the character development over the action scenes you get those weird moments which are pretty clearly justified solely to get an exciting badass moment in. At it’s worst you get Jaime and Bronn vs the bad poossies which was so bad they basically cut the entirety of Dorne from the next season.

    I’m hoping that when TWoW releases after Half Life 3 in the year 30XX we can have a good retrospective on how the books and shows differ in the later seasons.

    1. Joshua says:

      From my experience (having only watched through season 3), the movies heavily cut out the foreshadowing from the books too. There are plenty of things written early on that don’t come back to bear fruit until several books later. To be fair, TV is a bad medium for subtle foreshadowing.

  37. Decius says:

    Our communal noun is “Twenty Sidereals”. If you have to distinguish us from a group of just under two dozen Exalted, good luck.

  38. Axehurdle says:

    I think the reason I still enjoy Game of Thrones is that I expected it to be terrible going in. So I was really pleasantly surprised when it was well written and good. By now it’s really only sunk down to just above where I assumed it would be from the very beginning, which still makes it look really good.

  39. Benjamin Hilton says:

    I’m actually very interested in this series as I stopped watching it a few episodes into season four, pretty much for the reasons Bob enumerates in his initial video on the show. Yeah the acting and cinematography are great, but it got to be such a downer that I just couldn’t summon the will to keep watching.

  40. The Seed Bismuth says:

    Mr. BTongue as to your 4th footnote, I think you mean an incomplete series of 3 parts in which only 2 were made. the vaporware 3rd part never coming to pass because the writer got distracted by zombies, a fitting parallel for game of thrones talk.
    (luv you shamus)

    1. Retsam says:

      Huh, I guess I never noticed that Shamus’s articles on Plot Holes have a “in the next part” note at the bottom of part 2, but no part 3. Maybe Shamus was applying for a job at Valve, at the time.

  41. Tever says:

    MrBtongue! Huge fan. So happy to see you on Twenty Sided. I’m really looking forward to this series.

  42. Christopher says:

    My experience with Game of Thrones is watching the first season and deciding it’s not at all for me. I don’t watch a lot of big American HBO shows because my impression is that they’re all dark, people fuck and rape a lot, everyone involved is either a dick or a dead man walking, every episode lasts for half a movie. But sometimes I like to do stuff with my friends, and one of my friends was very into it. So I watch a season of Game of Thrones and everyone resembling a good guy besides Tyrion is either killed, defeated or has very little screentime, people bone while spouting exposition,rape at the drop of a hat and I don’t like any of them, kids are pushed out of towers, one asshole got melted gold poured on his face and the episodes last forever. It’s less the kind of fantasy I like and more a World’s Biggest Ass championship.

    MrBtongue’s Game of Thrones video is probably the biggest sell I’ve heard on the books, because it takes the stance that they are condemning the violence. It’s still too many books/episodes for me to sit through, but I have appreciated stories in cruel worlds that have a hopeful note before. I just can’t get into cruel political bickering with no hope in sight and nobody to root for.

    So yeah I’ll read the hell out of some GoT nitpicks, good to have you here!

    1. newplan says:

      “Condemning the violence” is a cheap way out.

      Get readers with the violence and horror then “condemn” the violence by … killing off every character that has a pro-social motivation and keep alive the self-interested sociopathic killers because that’s “realistic”. No, it’s not realistic – it’s what a coward – oh, I mean “pacifist” says to denigrate the very idea of bravery. Then he dresses it up in a moral of “condemning the violence”.

      1. Christopher says:

        I don’t know what you’re referring to in particular, but what I’m saying is that I’m fine with a lot of jerks being jerks if it just means getting to a happy ending is a harder challenge for the sympathetic characters. If it’s just a jerk-off I have no interest in any of the parties. From the video, I got the idea that the books may very well end up having the nice characters coming out on top somehow. I don’t think the show will.

        1. Mike S. says:

          I’d be willing to take that bet. I’d guess none among Dany, Tyrion, and Jon Snow will die or do anything that makes them irredeemable before the climax, and that somewhere between one and all of them will be in charge of a large polity (whether or not it’s the whole Seven Kingdoms) when the dust clears.

          1. Syal says:

            I’ll take the opposite side of that bet and say the books are closer to an Atlas Shrugged world where everything was doomed long ago and the best you can hope for is to survive. I bet every single character dies except what’s-his-name. The short one. With the bad dog.

            1. Vermander says:

              I’m guessing the surviving viewpoint characters will be Sam, Sansa, Bran, Davos, Asha/Yara, and Arya. Jon, Dany, and Tyrion all perish fighting the others. Briene might survive, the rest die in various battles or when Kings Landing goes kaboom.

      2. Grampy_bone says:

        This comment nails it on the head. GRRM’s work is relentlessly cynical, dour, and inhuman. It’s the work of a misanthrope who doesn’t like people or really understand them very much. Pity him.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Thats not true.He is simply trying to mimic real world history,only in a fantasy setting.And he is doing well.In fact,he may even have toned down a bunch of things,because real history was far worse.

  43. Daniel England says:

    I stopped watching the show after that Sansa scene. For me, I lost faith in the writers. In the books, I am currently (still) expecting Sansa to join the Game of Thrones in some capacity and work as a contrast to Cersei. Then in the show they take her north and have her get assaulted by someone, everyone who watches the show already was (should have been) disgusted by in order to… what? Create another lady who stoically murders some asshole for the catharsis of the audience?

  44. Phantos says:

    I saw the first three episodes of GoT and concluded that it was a lot of gray nothing. But I’d still see people I know on Tumblr reblog stuff about it and talk about it, most of it positively. Positive in the sense that they still thought the show was good, not positive in the “I am glad that happened” sense. So I figured, maybe it just wasn’t for me?

    But… THAT part is the first time I ever saw big fans of the show on Tumblr that I know start to dislike the show. And it’s happened more and more lately. Particularly with a thing involving the guy who used to be on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?

    I’m more used to being the person in the fandom who sees the story collapse, and feeling like no one else can see it. Feeling totally alone and powerless to stop it, while everyone else is like: “it’s still good, it’s still good!”. That’s how it was for me back when it happened to The Walking Dead, The Simpsons, South Park and My Little Pony.

    It’s interesting for once to be on the outside looking in on that situation. I feel bad for the people who were invested in Game of Thrones for this long, only for it to go right down the toilet. It’s not fun to watch something you care about die pointlessly and stupidly.

    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      South Park and Simpsons can’t really have a “story collapse” because they’re not episodic.

      And I’d absolutely disagree with you that MLP:FiM has suffered anything of the kind.

      1. Phantos says:

        Maybe narrative collapse isn’t what I’m thinking of, then. Maybe it just kind of reminded me of it.

        I guess… “This show sucks now” is what I was thinking of? Those things can go hand in hand. So I guess everything I said there was moot.

        (Except for TWD, Simpsons, South Park and MLP turning into dumpster fires. I stand by that statement).

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          If you think that about the simpsons and south park,then you have no idea what an objectively bad comedy looks like.Sure,Ill grant you that the simpsons did not have seasons as strong as their early ones recently,but plenty of modern episodes were great,and theres always at least one or two really funny things in practically every episode.After almost 30 years,thats extremely impressive.Similar with south park.

          1. Phantos says:

            No, The Simpsons and South Park are terrible. They’re awful, cringe-inducing vomit. They’re anti-comedy.

            They didn’t used to be. I’m not saying they were NEVER great. I’m saying they’ve both decayed so quickly that they’re now just a couple of rotted, shambling corpses, mockeries of their former greatness. I appreciate when those shows were great, or even just decent, but it’s been at least a decade since I could say that.

            I’d still rank their worst episodes above something like Big Bang Theory, but that’s not a high hurdle to jump over. Even the greatest things have an expiration date.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              You dont know anti comedy then.

  45. Game of Thrones is best watched with no prior knowledge of the books.

    Since RR Martin started lagging behind his own schedule and the TV show had to continue and the story universe split in two.

    It plays in the same RR Martin sandbox as the books, but that is the only thing they have in common.

    Call it alternate timelines if that helps understand what has happen.

    Also. If you want the book then read the book. I’m pretty certain there have never been nor ever will be a time where TV series or movie replicate the book 100%.

    A book plays a lot on the way the reader imagine the look of world they read about, with a TV or Movie they see it the way the producers/writers see it/tell it.

    1. ehlijen says:

      I think the British TV version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came pretty darn close to 100%.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        That might be the exception that proves the rule, because (as you’re likely aware), Douglas Adams wrote both the book and the TV screenplay (and the radio play, and the computer game…).

        It was a different time, when you wouldn’t have had a million producers shoving their oars in to make sure everything was going to work for the advertisers and an international audience. (Not that the BBC has to worry directly about advertisers even now, of course. But they do make a lot from overseas sales these days.)

        So, you essentially had the original creator able to focus solely or at least mainly on their own artistic vision! A recipe for success, which of course the show totally was.

    2. Harper says:

      The show was diverging wildly way before they ran out of novels to adapt. Main characters are almost completely different, from book to show, characters like Renly, Brienne, Stannis, Littlefinger, Varys, etc, etc.
      I liked certain adaptation decisions early on, like Ned pointing out Arya to Yoren at the Sept of Baelor, that was absolutely brilliant, but the majority of these changes are so baffling.
      Brienne of the books is an unattractive young woman who struggles with the patriarchal society and her desire to be a “true knight”, in the show she’s basically a Terminator killing-machine played by Gwendoline Christie. And the problem comes from having these different characters play out the same narratives from the books

  46. Neko says:

    As a book reader and show watcher, I like both but for different reasons.

    The books have more depth to them, you can actually get an insight into characters’ reasoning behind their decisions, and while the plot is more tangled it has more consistency.

    The show is pretty, has some amazing actors, and has repopularised mediaeval fantasy settings. It’s pretty obvious to me all the places where the writers have had plot threads meander off into nowhere, but non-book-readers still get a reasonable experience and I get to geek out with them and explain all of the fascinating differences. It’s something to talk about.

  47. General Karthos says:

    I’m not intending to read this series. Shamus’ nitpicking of Mass Effect 2 kinda ruined the game for me. I enjoyed it the first time through (despite the fact that I did have serious problems with working for Cerberus, and screwed them over every chance I got, which was not nearly often enough) but the second time through after reading the nitpicking….

    I haven’t read his retrospective, but I’m finally getting back to enjoying Mass Effect 2. I don’t know that I can face ME3 again, or I may end it with Anderson’s Death and just say the story ended there, the weapon went off, the Reapers were destroyed, but Shepard died alongside Anderson. (THAT would have been a perfect ending in my opinion.)

    My point is, I enjoy the show. These nitpicks will either make me annoyed because I think they’re wrong or unjustified, or ruin my enjoyment of the show. Either way, it makes things worse for me.

  48. topazwolf says:

    I really quite like the books. I see a lot of condemning of them due to their inherently complex and verbose nature, but I don’t think that it’s really too bad. An awful lot gets said and revealed in subtext. For instance:

    The Hound being alive was foreshadowed well before the show revealed it and most careful readers were aware of the fact that he was living as a sort of monk.

    The worst thing that the show does is revealing such surprises to the audience with no build up or reason to care. This turns special moments of thought and consideration of the story into little more than a slight bit of confusion to those who haven’t read the books.

    Then again I’m the rare reader who has read pretty much all of the Wild Card books (even things written by the, frankly, awful Snodgrass because I’m interested in the world and how things develop. In the Song of Ice and Fire, I enjoy the political and social situations just as much as I enjoy the battles and action. I want to know what caused the Doom of Valyria. I want to know what Littlefinger’s and the Spider’s endgame is (though I can already guess as it is).

    That being said, though I enjoyed these aspects I still didn’t care much for A Feast for Crows since the majority of time was spent with characters I don’t like. My dislike for Sansa and her idiocy is so great that I think it may have even transferred over to her actress.

    As for the show, I think it’s starting to develop a real problem of transferring things from the books and (presumably) future events without knowing why they are important. For example Arya’s stupid Terminator chase scene is devoid of the spirit of the books. In the books Arya has found that she is capable of Warging into a cat to overcome her blindness. This ability if it hadn’t been reserved solely for Bran to make him “special” in the show would have changed the dynamic of the scene from being a panicked chase scene to being a thrilling game of cat and mouse as each person attempted to outmaneuver the other. In general, the show knows what it wants to do, but seems to forget why and how it should do it. It keeps dropping plots that are actually relatively important while boiling down absolutely important plots to an incoherent mess. It seems to have even removed the central element of scheming and sneaky manipulation from the show entirely.

    1. topazwolf says:

      For some reason when I went to post the above, the site told me that I had already posted it and then removed my spoilered sections. Apologies for that, though I didn’t mention anything too radical I also didn’t want to ruin anything.

      And it also removed my ability to edit the comment so I couldn’t fix it.

    2. Joshua says:

      I also must admit that my dislike of the Sansa character prevents me from wanting to watch anything else with that actress, including X-Men Apocalypse.

      1. Phantos says:

        Even with what little I watched of it, I too felt kind of… rubbed the wrong way by that character.

        But then it was pointed out to me that the character is a young teenager, which I wasn’t aware of. I thought she was an adult ACTING like a teenager.

        I think I’m more willing to give a pass to teens acting like teens, because… I mean, that makes sense, right? Growing pains and all that. It’s when a grown-ass adult is still acting like that that it really starts to grate on me.

        Maybe this is why I’m a little less harsh on the Until Dawn characters now than when the season first started. Or maybe some characters just take more time than others to open up to them? I dunno.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          But then it was pointed out to me that the character is a young teenager, which I wasn't aware of. I thought she was an adult ACTING like a teenager.

          The funny thing is,in one episode she says that she is fourteen.I had to check,and what do you know,Sophie Turner is actually the age of her character.I was surprised,because she was quite tall.I thought she was at least 16 at that point.

      2. ehlijen says:

        That’s sad. It’s not the actress’ fault how Sansa was written, and X-men apocalypse wasn’t bad because of her. Or at least she was very far from the worst part about it.

  49. AIR says:

    Welcome, MrBTongue.

    I’m glad to see more of your work and that you and Shamus have established a partnership based on your love of each other’s work.

    Looking forward to seeing more.

  50. I watched the first season with not much enjoyment, it might go well or not still, though. The second most chapters though later only if I read in my TL “latest was great!”… Always undeserved.

    Last chapter of second season, huge praise for acting of the guy who plays Tyrion. Eh… It was so bad. It seemed like parody of typical gesticulation and intonation of bad actors.

    But in general, whenever I tried to watch it, I saw a Venezuelan soap opera of serie Z. I always expected something like this

    – You know, Lucinda Bernarda Baratheon, I know your secret, Casimiro Augusto Lannister isn’t your son!

    – You can say whatever you want Lucà­a Fernanda Stark, I know of your deals with Florencio Amador Tyrrell because your dear son Augusto Fulgencio couldn’t pass the exam of basic language.

    And so on and so forth. Such bad dialogue. Ugh.

    From the first season I just didn’t like the gratuitous sex and nudity, though I would have given it a pass if the rest was good. I.e. first chapter’s orgy of the king with the prostitutes, I didn’t see the need to follow them inside and show anything. It could’ve gone in a Lubitschean they enter, camera remains outside and doors close, party sounds, guards outside look at each other, next scene. All is understood and, with the right choice of sounds and timing, could’ve even have suggested something much more wild.

  51. Grampy_bone says:

    The rape of Sansa Stark doesn’t happen in the books because the show passed the books. They ran out of content to adapt and had to run off GRRM’s rough outlines. Her rape in the books will probably be even more sadistic and pointlessly cruel.

    There’s tons of graphic rape, torture, and murder in the books. The show isn’t doing anything GRRM didn’t already do. They actually cleared up a lot of his loose ends and dropped some of the more pointless and obscure plotlines. I’d say they’re doing well with the material they’re given.

  52. Green_Shades says:



  53. Kavonde says:

    I believe that, between now and the end of the show (two more seasons, probably), story collapse will have come in force to Game of Thrones to the point where its reputation will be permanently damaged, even with those who currently enjoy it.

    Allow me to be the first reader, returning from the future, to offer you a heartfelt and well-deserved “yyyyyyup.”

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