As a big fan of the books, I’ve grown increasingly more dissatisfied with the TV series as it’s progressed. I’m well aware that as an adaptation, changes have to be made. In the case of Game of Thrones, most of the changes have been done as a means of simplification or in order to manage budget limitations. There have however been major changes which continue to baffle me & some of the changes have resulted in me hating large parts of the show.
When the end of season 5 caught up with the books, I was hesitant to continue watching the show. The only reasons I chose to continue watching were that I knew for a fact certain moments/events would be spoiled for me via Twitter or Facebook, & because certain comments by George RR Martin reassured me that the show wouldn’t actually spoil the books that much. There’s also the fact that the show has killed characters still alive in the books, changed the order of events, removed large chunks of story & rearranged the location of characters in order to suit the story.
I was therefore surprised to find that this season is actually one of the best so far.
Everything great about the previous seasons is still great here. The costumes, cast & special effects are all amazing for a TV show.
One of the most noticeable changes made to this season is in the pacing. Game of Thrones has by no means been a slow burning storytelling show, but in the first few episodes, events fly by rapidly. You can tell that the writers are now determined on getting to the end of the story.
This has caused a couple of issues though. Characters now jump around the world at a glaring speed. In one episode for example, Jon Snow & Sansa travel to three far apart locations in the blink of an eye while other characters’ stories progress very little. This is a problem that has plagued the show before & it’s somewhat excusable because the show can’t get bogged down by characters constantly travelling.
Another issue presented is forced upon storytelling. In order to suit the needs of the story & the writers; characters do things with little explanation or contemplation. Jon Snow for example leaves the Nights Watch without so much as a thought & Sansa doesn’t tell Jon about a large army she has, just because the writers wanted a Lord of the Rings style surprise In the big battle.
These are slightly minor grievances though. One of the big problems this season is how predictable it is. Up until the final episode, everything that happens can be seen coming a mile off. For example, who wins the battle, Jon’s parentage and Benjin Stark’s return. The only major surprise of the season was in the first ten-fifteen minutes of the amazing final episode. One has to consider the fact that the first book is now twenty years old so fans like myself have had a long time to guess, predict & theorise about certain plot elements. We were bound to predict some of them. It also turns out that Jon Snow’s mother’s identity has been one of the worst kept secrets, but it does make things interesting moving forward.
Game of Thrones is an amazing show. It’s unfair to compare it to the books & instead it should be judged on its own merits. However, that’s easier said than done. I love the books, having read them all multiple times (as well as the spin-offs & supplemental books), I therefore find it hard not to compare the two versions of the story. But, the merits of the show cannot be denied. It continues to do things never before done or seen on TV. The final two episodes of this season are not only amazing episodes of the show, they’re amongst the greatest episodes of TV ever made.