Thursday, 11 June 2015

Has 'Game of Thrones' Finally Jumped the Shark?

I'd like to preface this by saying I'm aware I'm going to come across as some raging-nerd-book-loving-fanboy. I only ask that you stick with me until the end.

Oh, and if you haven't watched Season 5, Episode 9 of Game of Thrones, here there be spoilers.

This week, Stannis Baratheon did the unthinkable. You all know Stannis. He's the guy that came to the aid of the Night's Watch at the Wall in defense against Mance Rayder and his massive army of Wildling warrios. He's the guy who is, by rights, the actual King of Westeros. He's the guy who, after a rocky start on the show, has come around in people's eyes and has a small legion of fans cheering for him.

Well, they were, anyway.

This week, Stannis killed his daughter. Not just his daughter, though; his only heir and the last, trueborn child of his house and bloodline. Essentially, Stannis killed his own future and any legacy he might have had. Why? Well, it was on the advice of a woman who's powers of precognition are shaky at best. She's awfully pretty, though, so maybe that's part of it. Who knows. Here's what I do know:

It never happened in the books.

I know that's getting old hat for people who only watch the show. I'm sure a lot of you are tired of hearing all the comparisons between the books and TV. Normally, I wouldn't mind changes or deviations from the source material, but this one is so far out in left field, I felt I had to say something.

Stannis, as he's been depicted on the show, is quite different from the character in the books. Creative license can do that and I've come to accept it. Until this past Sunday night, that is.

Now everyone who only watches the show hates Stannis. Me, I reserve my dislike for the writers and show runners for portraying him in this way.

You see, not only is Shireen alive and well in the books, but she didn't even join him on his march to Winterfell from Castle Black. Neither did his wife, Selyse. Nor did Melisandre, the Red Woman who goaded him into this and carried out the act herself on the show. No, all three of these characters stayed at Castle Black as Stannis deemed it too dangerous for them to march with him to war.

So why deviate so far from the books like this? I have a theory.

Every season there's been a big shocker near the season's end. Usually in episode 9, but not always. Season 1 was the death of Eddard Stark. Season 2 was the Battle of the Blackwater. Not exactly shocking, but huge. Season 3 saw the now infamous "Red Wedding" and the deaths of Robb Stark, his wife, his unborn child and his mother in extremely gruesome detail. Season 4 was Tyrion killing his father and The Hound meeting his demise at the hands of Brienne.

Now, I haven't seen the last episode of Season 5 yet, but I'm betting it's going to have a tough time topping the human sacrifice of an innocent little girl.

The reason this article mentions 'jumping the shark' is the lack of precedent for this season's shocker. In the books, each of the shocking moments that happened in those previous seasons I mentioned also happened. Some in different ways (it wasn't Brienne who did for the Hound, Robb's wife wasn't even at the wedding, etc) but each with some roots in the source material. This week? Nada.

Well, there was that one plot line in the books....

In A Storm of Swords, the third book in the series, before Stannis marched north to save the realm, he first marched on the Baratheon ancestral home of Storm's End. Once taken, Stannis came home with a ward to foster; one of his brother King Robert's few acknowledged bastards, a young man named Edric Storm. It was Edric that Melisandre wanted to sacrifce to her god because of his "king's blood". Stannis balked at first, but Davos was afraid that he might be persuaded by the Red Woman's charms. So Davos and some men loyal to Stannis smuggled Edric off Dragonstone and shipped him off to another continent to protect him. When all is said and done, Stannis didn't end up punishing Davos for defying him, but named him Hand of the King and heeded Davos' advice more clearly moving forward from that point. Even going so far as to say "He reminded me of my duty, when all I could think of were my rights".

I'm convinced the burning alive of Shireen this season was done purely for shock value. To up the ante, as it were, on a show known for it's deaths and twists. I could be wrong, of course. The guys producing the show know the broad strokes of how the story is supposed to end from the author himself. Maybe Stannis is supposed to commit some damning act later in the novels from which he can never recover. I don't know. But I do know that this particular damning act didn't happen in the books. That, more than anything, makes me think Game of Thrones has, officially, jumped the shark.

No comments:

Post a Comment