Essay: “Game of Thrones” and the uncomfortable deviation from the books

got-18may15Essay: “Game of Thrones” and the uncomfortable deviation from the books

Three perspectives can come from the summation of this season’s episodes:

Didn’t read the books, but knows about the deviation:
“Oh my God where are they going with this? Where are they going
with this? Oh my God!”

Read the books:
“Whaaaaa!?!?!?”

Didn’t read the books, doesn’t know about the deviation:
“This show is fantastic”

Season five of “Game of Thrones” has narrowed in on a handful of specific storylines from Sansa Stark to Jon Snow. Some of these are loosely based on the books; some aren’t at all.

If you are the first guy I mentioned, like me, and you have read all of the articles about the things that “weren’t in the books” then this show is giving you anxiety attacks.

Spoilers Follow

The worst moment in all of “Game of Thrones” occurred last season. It was also an unnecessary deviation from the books. After we fell in love with Jamie Lannister during his expedition back to King’s Landing. He then rapes his sister at his own son’s funeral. This was completely misplaced because the story was not, and still isn’t, trying to make us hate his character. Show co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss explained this by saying the “rape” became consensual by the end.

All of that, and especially those comments, can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Fast forward to today where Oberyn’s “Sand Snake” daughter is trying to kill an innocent girl and randomly shouting exposition. The majority of plot-lines in “Game of Thrones” right now don’t follow the books simply because they are running out of source material. This leaves the creators with the task of creating some new plot-lines. While the Dorne story isn’t quite working right now, other manufactured storylines are.

Sansa’s storyline is excellent. Providing one of the more shocking scenes in “Game of Thrones” history just last episode. This new rape scene has been called “controversial,” which is silly. It’s been clear since the beginning that “Game of Thrones” takes place in a harsh, brutal, and unfair world. Unlike the Jamie/Cersei rape scene though, this rape scene was entirely motivated. We hated Ramsey Snow (or Bolton), but the show wants to make sure that we really really hate the guy, and that we sympathize with Sansa Stark even more.

This is an example of how deviations from the book can still work.

Spoilers End

game-of-thrones-season-5-episode-6-1-e1431928984318-1940x1088The source material drove “Game of Thrones” to success early on. Unlike “The Walking Dead,” the source material was used as a strict guideline. Deviations would only happen when they logistically needed to happen. No adaptation can translate from medium-to-medium perfectly. “The Walking Dead” always used their own content as their driving-force and just referred to the source material when they needed it. Both shows are financially successful, but “Game of Thrones” was clearly more critically successful for this reason.

Right now, this is uncomfortable. Many storylines have been put on hold (hopefully not indefinitely): the Greyjoy storyline, Rickon, Gendry, and many others (the list will just frustrate you).

game-of-thrones-season-5-572604Who knows if changes are made due to studio/contractual obligations, or because of other pressures that are beyond us as an audience. Earlier they made everyone aware that the Bran Stark storyline would be put on hold, up until that point the show was present-oriented, or at least it seemed. It’s likely that a lot of what we saw of Bran Stark was occurring while what we’re seeing now was going on.

There can be so many logistical problems with doing a show like “Game of Thrones” that’s not just based on a novel, but a series of novels. From keeping actors under contract for so long, or so little, to the show literally catching up to its own source material. George R.R. Martin still has a few books to finish, and by all means he shouldn’t rush them. But contractually this show can’t just stop and wait or they could lose members of the cast/crew and fans could become disinterested over long periods of time.

Do Weiss and Benioff know what they’re doing? We all certainly hope so. It’s important to try and have the third clueless perspective. Because, not taking into account the source material deviations, this show is still pretty damn good.

There’s a lot to consider here. In the end we just have to bear with the decisions made by the show’s creators. George R.R. Martin has stayed close to production, so hopefully any decisions made in the plot are easily tied up in the upcoming novels.

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About Matthew Durham

Passionate about Film, TV and Video Games. BS in Film. Post-Production Editor for The Golf Channel and Writer for TheMedia10.com

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