I’m being blunt because the show is blunt with us. And in my distaste I went to research coming events in the books because I’ve reached that point where I just don’t care anymore, so I went to see if this is worth my time, and I’ll say that it is troubling. In some ways the coming stories are intriguing in their own right and will make for compelling TV, but there’s no escaping the fact that this show/story has lost parts of itself it can never get back.
Why is hope important?
Humans are born into believing in good, and that man should believe in it and its ability to triumph over evil. GRRM has a habit of killing off or ‘downgrading’ already scarce honorable characters whilst keeping around the despicable ones.
Ultimately, I always ask: where’s the story (or truth), whose story is this, what’s this actually about and why do I need to care about it? Because, as a writer I must ask these same questions of myself and the stories I tell; ALL writers must. Perhaps the underlying message is that no matter how tortured we are, its in our nature to constantly come back for more. I have to say that building up to S4 I was as enthusiastic as they come, feeding off any news-worthy item, looking at all the sneak peeks and trailers in anticipation of one of my most favourite TV shows – but, right now, regarding Season 5 my enthusiasm has waned drastically. When it lands I’ll get to it in my own good time minus any eagerness. I read a Vanity Fair article recently, tackling the issue of the series catching up to the books – the writer said he’d read all the 5 books already published and, in his opinion the first 3 are excellent, the 4th is good and the 5th is “shaky”.
Bearing in mind this is one writers opinion and that the 4th and 5th books do happen simultaneously in the timeline. Book 4 introduces many new characters and explores some elements never mentioned before, whilst book 5 returns to the old faithful characters like Jon Snow and Dany and her dragons (or so I’m led to believe). These two instalments are buildings blocks toward Book 6, much as 1 and 2 built towards the book 3. So after all the character deaths thus far, G.R.R.M. would need to introduce fresh personnel to continue the saga. In the meantime though, it’ll be interesting to see what the showrunners cook up as their inevitable Ep 8/9 climax’s because if bookreader’s consensus is to be believed, there aren’t any events with the same gravity and shock value as Ned’s beheading/The Red Wedding/The Purple Wedding/Tyrion’s trial. Those are high/low points that’ll be dificult to emulate, but they resonate because we cared about the characters involved, and if you don’t care for the remaining characters anymore (Tyrion and Jon notwithstanding) your story will suffer. The truth is that if they kill off those characters, what’s left; audiences will merely tune in out of habit and mild intrigue – but isn’t that what we’re doing already. Only the BBC show ‘Spooks’ was as adept at killing off its main characters, with only one lead managing to get out alive (if memory serves).
One glaring omission of the show, is the character of Lady Stoneheart – many fans of the books were upset at this as she plays a big role (esp. in book 4), but since the show creators have omitted her, one can only surmise that she is not a major factor in the greater scheme of things and how everything ultimately ties up in the end – yet another false hope on GRRM’s part then? [one theory is that Arya will inherit parts of the Lady Stoneheart storyline in her journey of becoming an assassin]
“I take no joy in mead nor meat, and song and laughter have become suspicious strangers to me. I am a creature of grief and dust and bitter longings. There is an empty place within me where my heart was once” — Catelyn Stark
Mind you, investigating some of the prequel material and stories that came before events in the books, it does make for fascinating reading, even though I’m grateful some of those events weren’t recorded on film since there’s only more misery and brutal deaths to count. The fascinating parts encompass the world building and interconnectedness of the characters. For instance, Petr Bailish is the catalyst for events in the whole of GoT with the hand he played in the death of Lord Arryn resulting in Ned becoming Hand of the King… One can only admire GRRM’s ability to wind all this together, and I hope for his sake (and ours) that the ultimate ending is worth all this pain and suffering…
Speaking of spoilers; one of, if not the most integral mystery of GoT has been the identity of Jon Snow’s mother. In Season 1 Ned and Robert talked about her on the Kingsroad where Ned names her as ‘Wylla’; despite this, there’s been a rather strong theory circulating that Jon actually isn’t Ned’s bastard at all, and that he’s actually the result of Rhaegar Targaryen’s kidnapping and rape of Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister, who’s death remains something of a mystery too) and that Ned took Jon simply to hide his true identity (it does hold water, however there are still holes in this theory, *although when you think of it as ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ and you combine Stark [wolf/Ice - also the name of Ned's sword] with Targaryen[Fire] – it certainly clicks…). Personally, I like the idea of Jon being Ned’s bastard better, but that’s just the sentimental me.
With little to no hope for the characters, what remains of the hope for the show itself going forward?
It’s like holding sand in your fists, and just when you think you’ve got something tangible and solid to hold on to, it disintegrates. And what does that teach us, if anything?
When the dust settles on the final book in the series, the final episode, what then, what will we have learnt, and what will that be worth? As writers, we’re often drawn into an exercise wherein we remove the best elements or characters of our story – the goal simply being to see if whatever’s left still remains a good story – and currently, in terms of what constitutes good stories, GoT is failing this test as GRRM took the exercise to heart, flaying his best parts. What was once one of my most revered shows, has now become just another TV show (still containing great performances and writing mind you, to stay compelling) – so where it once was one of the best shows, it’s now just a good show…
A mantra repeated quite often is “man is just sacks of meat” flesh and bone and that honour is not a virtue but a cumbersome burden – and that is all – but is it?
– Am I reading too much into this or missing the point, I certainly don’t think so? Have your say.
“You are an honest and honourable man, Lord Eddard. Ofttimes I forget that. I have met so few of them in my life… When I see what honesty and honor have won you, I understand why.” — Varys to Eddard Stark
And to end off with a quote from George R.R. Martin speaking at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, after saying that the show doesn’t inform what he writes…