Game of Thrones, Season 3 – Really??!?
Another season of Game of Thrones has passed, another year of tragedy and dashed hope.
The show has absorbed George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and is presenting it to us as truly and entertainingly as it can. Sure, while HBO is the one place where this show can exist because of certain subject matters (medieval debauchery, royal incest, epic armies, and magical creatures), Game of Thrones is unquestionably successful. Each episode costs something in the range of 5 million to produce – a cost at which HBO laughs at all the way to the bank – and the production of which is relatively quick. Season 4 is already slated for a release in 2014.
So how was season 3?
I’m having some difficulty articulating my feelings about the show. I enjoy it immensely, I have a Sunday ritual of seeing it on a big screen at a friend’s place of business (more on this later), and the show led me to the books, which I devoured ravenously. On the other hand, I have some serious questions about the adaptation of the story that is going on here, especially in the wake of the season 3 finale.
BY THE BY – SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN ALL OF SEASON 3 FROM HERE ON IN
I walked away from the season 3 finale feeling yucky and despondent. I was starting to think that the show had taken a nasty turn towards The Walking Dead (sucking, in other words), but I couldn’t articulate the thing I wanted changed. In each season that came before, the really shocking or dynamic moments happened in episode 9 and then the whole story gets a bit of a wrap on episode 10. Well, you can’t get much more shocking or dynamic than the Red Wedding, so the next episode should have some calming effects on its audience, right? Bleh. I needed to figure out my frustrations and turned to many sources. I messaged my friend Craven in the UK, waiting for him to see the episode and get his feedback. Here’s how that conversation went…
Craven: All done, seen it, sound off!
Me: Didn’t like the end. It really feels like half a season. And they gave nothing, NOTHING, to the poor fools who put everything in on the Stark side and lost it last week. Too much of the Greyjoys and I don’t care for them a lick. I think I might know too much to appreciate the storycraft that this season provided, but I’m of the opinion that next season better be rip-roaring and filled to the gills with deaths and fights and Oberyn Martells. I really needed a cliff-hanger or a tease at the end of this and was really disappointed with dim-witted happy fest in Yunkai.
Craven: I was waiting on something big and juicy. I half expected a teaser of Coldhands if nothing else. But, I’m not surprised that the Bran element was a damp squib. He has been the worst part of the season. Jon/Ygritte was totally different, I hate the way they are playing Shae this season, and what the hell is Jamie doing back before Joffrey’s wedding?Me:
Yes, yes, and yes, and I have no idea. Dani had a good point while trying to talk me down – no one likes the first half of things. This season was a necessary evil if we’re to get all the goodies of the next part.
But most of it just feels like it was scenery chewing – Dany, Melisandre, Theon, most of the Rob Stark bits – lots of the show dragged this seasonCraven: She is right. Amie liked the end, but she is a massive Dany fan. Amie hasn’t read any of the books and this season has started to lose her interest a little bit. She doesn’t get why Bran is so desperate to get beyond the wall for a start, lots of things have been glossed over. She has said that without me as a running encyclopedia she wouldn’t have got most of it. Made me realise how little people just relying on the show are given. I was cussing the screen at Roose Bolton, then in discussing with Amie it occurred to me that there has been no real explanation about who he is really. She thought he was an adviser to Robb. The show hasn’t fleshed out who Roose is at all. That’s a shameMe: Yes. And I saw that starting to not unfold in season 2 and he kind of got some screen time in this season, but not like enough to really get the betrayal and cunning evil that is the Roose. My biggest fear is what happened to my friend who doesn’t read and relies on just the show. He was CRUSHED after the Red Wedding – a broken man. And he turned to dark forces: wikipedia. He ruined the rest of the series for himself.Craven: Hopefully next time we will have a tighter focus. And oh god, I hope the Red Viper is done justice. Bringing Dorne into it is going to rock the people just watching the show. For me the best parts of the season have been any scene involving Charles Dance.Me: Or the Queen of Thornes. Old Emma Peel is a godsend!
Craven: Yeah, she has been incredible. It always comes back to the same core actors in my book: Varys, Littlefinger, Tyrion, Cersei, and Tywin. They rarely drop the ball and if they do it’s never acting ability that lets them down.
I forget… when does Euron Crow’s Eye show up?
Me: Next book. But the Greyjoys are messed up anyway. They can show off the Iron Islands for a whole season getting that malarky figured – that’s such a farce.Craven: It was quite stirring stuff on screen but yeah, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Theon was lambasted for taking Winterfell with 13 odd men. Yet, “Yara” goes off to take the Dreadfort with 50. Good luck with that. Casting Euron and Victarion will need to be handled really well.Me: The casting is amazing – I actually have no qualms about anyone and trust them completely (Daario being the exception that proves the rule). Everyone added in season 3 was picture perfect: the Blackfish, Thoros, Beric, Qyborn, the frog twins, Mance, and my favorite – Tormund Giantsbane.Craven: I consider you my contemporary on all things Game of Thrones, we should unite on a season wrap up or something.
Me: We have an accord then.
We had some of the same issues – and I deleted the book spoilers of that conversation – but I think it all boiled down to this: every season before had a cliff-hanger, some tease to cling on to for more, but this season’s ending was dull. The show put their all eggs in the Red Wedding basket and didn’t do enough to bring its viewers out of that hole. Too many people believe that the bad guys are going to win – which leads to my friend who spoiled the rest of the story for himself. There’s a significant cause and effect there that disturbs me about the story-telling in the series. My friend, who is a significant dork and not new to harsh fantasy realities, could not take the shock of Robb and Catelyn’s deaths and almost vowed from seeing the show ever again. (There’s a ton of attention to this phenomenon on Twitter – go look up @RedWeddingTears)