Game of Thrones: Has the writing for season 5 jumped ship?

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have had quite the load on their shoulders when it comes to adapting this season of Game of Thrones. A Feast for Crows, the book for which much of season five is heavily based, is polarizing among fans. People usually love or hate Feast, and I while I don’t necessarily hate the book, I can agree that it is the slowest moving of the five. The majority of the book focuses heavily on King’s Landing and Dorne, the latter of which has been largely left out of this season. The showrunners warned us that there would be some pretty sizable departures from the books, a significant change to a show that has been surprisingly faithful to it’s source material. This filled some book fans with a mixture of excitement and a smidge of apprehension, for this was brand new territory for us. Anxiously, and tentatively we awaited what was before us.

WARNING: I tried, and ultimately failed at avoiding spoilers. So, you have been warned. Some spoilers for the show and book will follow.

At this point, I’m left largely disappointed in this season. I know it isn’t over yet, and I’m expecting somewhat of a big payoff, but the writers are kind of taking a big, fat swan dive with some of their story arcs. Personally, I feel like too much is different, and none of it has been an improvement.

I know last week I was supporting the writers for taking a risk with Sansa’s captivity in Winterfell, but this episode just changed her into a damsel in distress. It was same old, weepy Sansa, and almost humorously evil Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay wasn’t in the books NEARLY this much, which made his sequences much more interesting. Now we’re stuck seeing his stupid, grinning little face every episode, as the writers vainly attempt to conjure up increasingly evil stuff for him to do to try and amp up the shock value. Sadly, the story of Reek and the Boltons in the north is just getting…boring. Ramsay is just comic-villain evil now, and it’s a real shame.

Then we have Gwendoline Christie, whose talents are going to waste as she spends her scenes leering at stuff. Her and Podrick’s scenes in the books were some of the slowest as well, with her essentially almost finding the Stark girls on many occasions and not doing much else. There were a couple of chapters that were quite interesting by the end, though (you know what I mean). Hopefully Weiss and Benioff are smart enough to include them on the show, because jaws would drop on the floor.

Dany’s story has been pretty uninteresting, very similar to the books. Not similar to the books was how the show handled one of my favorite characters! Barristan Selmy died needlessly on the show. His arc was getting increasingly more interesting by the end of book five, and instead we have to suffer through those god-awful scenes with Daario, or the even MORE awful Missandei and Grey Worm scenes. The show has successfully ruined Grey Worm AND Barristan the Bold for me. Not even the prospect of Tyrion suddenly coming into contact with Daenerys is that interesting. I preferred the stuff with Jon Connington, personally. It gave some insight into Rhaegar’s background.

A lot of characters have been left out. Virtually all of the Greyjoys (save Theon) are all but absent from Westeros. Where’s Asha (or was it Yara on the show)? No more reference to Melisandre, and her leech fires? Balon Greyjoy was supposed to bite the big one a couple of seasons ago, and most of the TV audience is going to forget that dude even exists by the time he’s brought up again. No Euron, no Aeron, no Victarion, no kingsmoot. Nothing from Pike or the Iron Islands. Now, recently I did read a casting call list for season 6, and a lot of the descriptions of the characters sound quite like the Greyjoys, so it’s very possible that they’re waiting until next season and focusing this season on the goings on in Sunspear. If you watch the show, Sunspear is the capital of Dorne. The show does a pretty lousy job at showing the audience what Dorne even is.

Naturally, it makes sense to wait to address some of these characters’ stories. 10 episodes is not a lot to tell this complex tale, so condensing each season to focus on specific storylines isn’t all that surprising. I can’t really fault them there. Still, it’s pretty unconventional for a show to introduce important characters way into its sixth season.

I don’t even know what to think about Dorne. I personally loved the story of Arys Oakheart, the turncloak Kingsguard that was seduced by Arianne Martell in order to usurp Tommen’s claim to the throne in lieu of Princess Myrcella. Arys dies honorably (arguably foolishly) attempting to protect Arianne, getting cut in half by Areo Hotah. Gerold Dayne (known infamously as Darkstar), takes matters into his own hands and attempts to kill Myrcella, but instead cuts off her ear and damages her face.

Instead, they give us this ridiculous plot with Bronn and Jaime. I swear that the people behind Game of Thrones know nothing about who the hell Jaime Lannister is. He is one of the most interesting characters in the books, because he does some serious growing. The maiming of his most important appendage changes who he is and what he stands for. He wasn’t Cersei’s rapey errand boy. He is busy negotiating the surrender of Riverrun, and is nowhere near Cersei’s conflict. Cersei sending him to Dorne doesn’t make any damn sense, anyway. Dorne was already pissed off at the Lannisters because of what happened to Oberyn. Why in the purple fuck would they risk their alliance and all out war just to get Cersei’s daughter back? She isn’t THAT stupid. Just the writing team. Jaime realizes Cersei is poison at this point. He doesn’t go on a 007 quest with his gimpy hand. It’s just absurd.

I really don’t like that the show tries to paint Cersei as a quasi-sympathetic character. She is arrogant, foolhardy, and ineffective at ruling. When Jaime isn’t there to fill her bed, she gets down with several other people. In that scene from last season, it is actually Cersei who seduces Jaime into banging her upon his return, not Jaime uttering “I don’t care” and forcing himself upon her. Cersei is at least 90 times more likely to rape somebody than Jaime is. It is good seeing more of Bronn, though. Jerome Flynn shines as Bronn, and is kind of half the reason I watch the show anymore. That dude is pure gold. Even though Bronn is supposed to be living the dream in Stokeworth right now.

And LORAS? Jeez. Way to fucking scapegoat gay people, HBO. Martin wrote Loras perfectly. He didn’t just go out and yell “he’s gay!” at everyone. If you blinked while reading, there was a chance you could miss the subtle clues pointing out that he may be homosexual. Not that it mattered anyway. Loras was never put on trial for dude-banging. It just didn’t happen. He did get severely injured trying to capture Dragonstone, however. That would have been a much more interesting scene compared to the typical “religious fanatics condemning a gay man” trope. His character deserves better, and so do we.

There are a couple of shining stars this season, however. Diana Rigg is dynamite as Lady Olenna, the no-nonsense, get-shit-done matriarch of House Tyrell. Seeing her talking down anyone in her path is always entertaining. Also, newcomer to the series Jonathan Pryce is absolutely killing it as the High Sparrow of the Faith Militant. I love his character. He seems like a sort of bad guy, when he is actually the most pure and pious on the show. He is incorruptible when it comes to the wicked scheming prevalent in King’s Landing. It’s great.

Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has been brilliant. He writes intriguing plot points with a distinguished subtlety that just plain isn’t on the show. Game of Thrones focuses way too much on shocking the audience with blood, wieners, boobs, and melodrama, when they really should be worrying about a cohesive story that at least makes a little bit of sense.

I’m sorry. I know I’m complaining a lot. I just think that if you’re going to bother to change up an astonishing amount of details when adapting a much beloved book series, at least try and make the result at least as good or better than it was. Otherwise, the change is meaningless and does little to serve the show.

Not a lot of you will likely care. I realize that none of it is real. It is a work of fiction, after all. I think this season has been particularly jarring for me because the show was actually doing a surprisingly good job at maintaining faith with the books up until this point. Now it just feels like the writing team has jumped ship a little bit.

What about you guys? Is there anything from the books that you wish would’ve made it to show? What were some of your favorite, or least favorite scenes of this season thus far? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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