Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones up to Season 5, Episode 6.
Anyone who’s listened to The Pundit Podcast or followed me here probably knows that I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. It’s by far my favourite show on TV, so when I say Game of Thrones is hitting a slump, it’s a slump that most TV shows might be happy to have as a high point.
However, Game of Thrones isn’t most TV shows. Last night’s episode left me slightly disappointed and I was having trouble putting my finger on why. Matt Atchity of What The Flick? mentioned why, at least for me. Game of Thrones has become a lot of people’s favourite show by doing the unexpected. Think the noble, honourable hero is going to win? Think again. Think good people won’t suffer at the hands of the bad? Think again.
We’re now in season five, though, and good people suffering is no longer a surprise. Instead, it’s what we expect to happen. The show does an excellent job of eliminating the people we identify with, leaving us someone else to identify with and eliminating them. The trouble is, when that happens enough, we grow wary and stop identifying with anyone.
And that’s a death knell for a TV show. It may be shallow, but we all want someone to identify with in a show. Someone we want to win. For me, this season has been a succession of reasons not to identify with characters. Arya’s storyline is boring, I never liked Danerys much, Jon Snow is tedious and brooding, Sansa is still an innocent in a dangerous world, Cersei is just an idiot, Jamie never had enough depth for me, Littlefinger is too badly acted (sorry), Tyrion is just being dragged around, Varys is nowhere to be seen.
And the six million other characters aren’t all that interesting. Which is another problem the show has. I mentioned it at the end of season four (which I thought was going to be the low point), that there are way too many storylines. Ten is still manageable, but there have to be fifty now. In ten hours of television, that only leaves them an average of twelve minutes per storyline per season.
A lot of people seem a little dissatisfied with this season, worried that the show is no longer following the books. Others are saying that we have to have faith in the show creators. That’s another area where I’m wary.
On Walking Dead people said the same thing: have faith in the show creators. It turned out that when the show seemed to be falling apart, it was falling apart. Game of Thrones is looking a little wobbly, just like Walking Dead was in season three. I really don’t want it all to fall apart, but without careful attention it may well be headed that way.
I sincerely hope this season proves me wrong. I’d love for the last four episodes to be the greatest episodes ever. Episode six of season five would be in my bottom three for the show, though.
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